Cut the Cord

by brandt

I never wanted to be “that guy.”  You know “that guy.”  Independent Music-guy who only listens to music on vinyl records (because you can hear the subtle nuances of TV on the Radio’s “Second Song”).  What about Bluetooth guy, who didn’t get the memo that even 2005 thought that he looked ridiculous with a piece of machinery sticking out of his ear.  Film-snob guy who only watches obscure foreign-noir films and refuses to call them “movies,” but calls them “films.”  MMA Guy, who has huge arms but stick-skinny legs from never working out his lower body, wearing skin-tight Ed Hardy shirts while kicking back 5 Red Bull energy drinks and only wanting to watch MMA for “BLOOD!!!!!!!!!”  Or who could forget the penultimate of “that guy”: Trendy Hipster guy.  I could describe this guy to a “T”: Trendy moustache that he tries so hard to stand out but treats it nonchalantly, Buddy Holly eyeglasses, and wearing some t-shirt showing that he was a mathalete at Martin Luther King Elementary circa 1985.  And let’s not forget the Pièce de résistance for Trendy Hipster guy: His abnormally tight jeans, rolled up to show his ankle, followed by either brightly colored neon Nikes or brightly colored Chuck Taylor Converse Hi-Tops. All impeccable. Why? Because he’s Trendy Hipster guy, and he’s got to go to all that effort to look as apathetic as possible.

While I’m not considering myself any of those “guys,” I am worried that I might be turning into a different kind of “that guy.”

Let me set the stage. Before we moved into the house, we started re-evaluating things. We started looking at all the things that were coming out of the budget per month, and tweaking.  There were some essential bills, like our rent, utilities, groceries, gas for our cars and cell phone bills were “essentials.”  I then looked at everything else, and cut a lot of what we either weren’t using, or weren’t interested in continuing.  Things like a gym membership that would be way across town once we moved, or our subscription to XM Radio (which was hard to drop), or some of the smaller things that were following us around.

Warning: Potentially geeky tech talk below.  You have been forewarned.

We noticed back in December that we were watching many of the same TV shows week in and week out; I had my sports, she had her fashion/style channels/programs, and we had our mutually agreeable things.  But we found that we were missing a lot of what we wanted to watch just through schedules.  I’ve gone through a long process of digitizing many of our DVDs and putting those on our 1.5TB internal hard drive for our desktop computer.  At one point I was poking my head behind our TV, and noticed there was a VGA jack, similar to what we have on our computer.  I brought the desktop out and hooked it up to the TV, and magically we had our 1080p 46″ flat screen into a huge computer monitor.  I fed the audio jack into our Craigslist-special surround sound, and just like that, we had a media center.

After that was hooked up, we found that we weren’t watching our cable as much.  We watched a lot of things on Youtube, Hulu, ABC.com, and from the hard drive.  I figured it was because, like I said earlier, we were missing our “scheduled” tv shows, and I didn’t want to have to wait the 30 seconds or so of commercials Hulu required you to watch.

And after typing that sentence, the inner advertising and marketing man in me died a little bit.

We tried to remedy it.  I finagled with our current cable/internet provider, and negotiated an HD DVR deal out of it.  I figured this was the missing link for our television consumption.  This was what we were “missing.”  And then something odd happened.

We seemed to be watching television less.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some “Mad Men,” which I consider one of the best dramas on television right now.  I love me some “Modern Family,” one of the better sitcom/comedy shows out there.  Stewart/Colbert give me my news, SNL gives me my giggles, and I’m finding that there’s not much time in the day when I can watch.

When we moved, we had a discussion.  I told Ashley “I’m thinking about cutting the cable.”  I was expecting a response where I would have to play a pro-con game to make sure that here and I weren’t making a rash decision.   I know, it sounds overly dramatic, but I didn’t want to be in a situation where we regretted immediately the decision to cut the cord.

She said “OK.”

That was it. I was going to make it work.  We were going to cut our cable, increase our internet speed to handle downloading movies, streaming video, all the “media” things you do on the internet, plus get a subscription to Netflix for the streaming-only option.

When we finally closed, we had  the appointment all set up and ready to go for cable installation at the house.  I was nervous.  I mean, playoffs were starting for the NHL, how was I going to watch baseball this summer, and let’s not even think about football season!  Then I remembered something I read about the current state of television and teenagers (which would be considered the tail-end of generation Y).

Their generation never grew up with mix-tapes, or having to listen to the radio all day just to hear the one song you want to listen to.  They never grew up with having to watch MTV all day to catch the newest music video.  They can watch videos on Youtube that have been viewed over 200 million times.  They can go to iTunes and download the latest single from Bruno Mars and have it played on repeat on their iPod in a matter of minutes.  Basically, the generation doesn’t want to WAIT.

And that’s not a bad thing.  We’ve been conditioned to “see what’s on TV.”  There are movers and shakers out there who think that the future of television is on-demand.  That’s the impetus for internet TV.  And you find that television consumption goes down drastically when it’s on-demand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for mindless channel wandering, and that’s what we’ll have a long-range over-the-air antenna for.  And I’ve found ways to work around my sports fix.

At the end of the day, we’ve cut the cord.  And we’re doing OK.  It was weird the first day.  I’m used to coming home and immediately turning on either ESPN or AMC to catch Sports Center or a movie.  Not the case.  I’m used to programming 2 different channels to fully utilize the “last” function on the remote.  Now, not so much. But I haven’t missed it, which tells me it wasn’t really that important to begin with.

So, without further ado, I will make my admission.

I am “I don’t watch TV” guy.  And while “I don’t watch TV” guy usually wants to hold to a high standard of “I find reading more enjoyable,” or “I find television to be mindless drivel,” or wanting to appear as though they have a much more exciting life than to watch television, I have my own excuse.

I don’t watch TV because I’m cheap.  Maybe later we’ll get it back.  And I’ll get my NHL Center Ice package.  But as for right now?  Meh.  I’m good.

PS – There have been requests for pictures/house tours/proof that we actually bought a house.  Give me 24 hours, and we’ll have them up.  We’re just trying to tie up loose ends with our former apartment’s contract, and as soon as that’s taken care of, they will be posted.

Image via and via.

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7 Comments to “Cut the Cord”

  1. Oh man. I’m not a guy, but I might be a few of those guys above.

  2. We only pay $30 a month for netflix and cable because of our living situation. I’m thinking of cutting the netflix though and just using RedBox. sometimes I feel the pressure to keep renting movies and watching them as soon as we get them just so we’re not “wasting” money. redbox for $1…i can live with that.

    • I wish we could get $30.00/month internet. Right now we have 15MBps internet access, which is usually the tier below the fastest that Internet Service Providers will give you. I need it for work, on the off chance that I work from home due to the security that goes with my network for work.

      When we were in college we ABUSED redbox. There are websites out there that allow you to find Redbox codes, and Redbox used to text me every Monday with a free code for a movie. Friday/Saturday nights were rough, especially with college students on dates flipping through EVERY SINGLE DVD that Redbox offered before selecting theirs (taking a good 20 minutes to do so), but other than that, i LOVED redbox!

  3. So what do you guys do instead of watching TV now? I found that when I didn’t have it, I was just online more instead of reading, sports, etc.

    • Exactly like you said, we find ourselves online more. We both still watch TV, but just not cable. Once you realize that you have control over what you view (instead of what the cable company schedules), you get more selective with your viewing. I coiuld go off on a whole marketing rant about how this is the future of television which is going to further segment and divide the vast viewing audience and ratings will become meaningless as the niche markets show up, but it would take me forever to get all those thoughts down.

      Mostly, I’m finding that I watch what I want to watch. I need to catch up on “Justified” on FX? No problem. I want to watch the local/national news? No problem there either (since we still have an OTA antenna). It’s just a weird transition for those first 2 days.

  4. We haven’t had cable since we left the apartment we shared with Ryan. He paid the cable bill (not that he watched tv, he just likes OnDemand) and we watched endless reruns of Law&Order. At the house we housesat, Comcast forgot to cut the cable off so Robert got his History Channel and I got ESPN. Now we have local channels only, iTunes season passes for anything we would watch and just do without the guilty pleasure shows we don’t want to buy (or possibly download some. Maybe.) The only thing I miss watching is Monday Night Football and Thursday Night Football.

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