Archive for the ‘ Television ’ Category

Krusty lighting cigaretteSo my cable was switched off in the wee hours of last night. I woke up and my cable no longer worked. It feels like I forgot to pay the bill or something. Or maybe I just choose not to pay the exorbitant price of cable TV when I found myself mostly watching ABC, CBS and NBC. Here goes nothing. Readily equipped with a Mohu Leaf, I’m anxious to see how this whole cord cutter thing plays out. I also have a Mohu Leaf Ultimate shipping that should be here Saturday and a discounted (thank you credit card perks) 3 month subscription of Hulu that I’m planning on starting at the end of the month when all the shows come back in full force. Let’s go over the plan.

We always start the day watching a mix of NBC local news and PBS for some Sesame Street or some Martha Speaks. She’s not always right but still that Martha speaks. Regardless, it’s all free over the air.

Come home from work… What to watch? Perhaps last nights Colbert Report from the web streaming to my Chromecast through Plex. The same episode that Comedy Central would play at 7pm anyway but this one’s free. Maybe I’ll tack on some Daily Show while I’m at it.

Afterwards, depending on what the toddler’s plans are, we can watch some free Crackle. I have a lot of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee to catch up on. I also have a ton of Always Sunny’s to catch up on with my Amazon Prime Instant. I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll have plenty of Hulu to catch up on.

Prime time? Whats on ABC/CBS/NBC? The shows I was watching anyway but paying out the wahoo for. All free OTA. Actually, tonight, I’ll be watching what most of America will be watching. The first NFL game of the season. Except I won’t be paying to watch it. Nope, I’m watching it for free. Just like every Eagles game and all the other football games I would normally watch all day, every Sunday. Looks like I’m on my way to saving $70-80 bucks a month without even blinking. That sounds like a win to me.

I’m still just nauseous thinking about all the money I’ve wasted over the years. All the years I was paying for cable so that I could watch nothing but Stargate and Battlestar Galactica on Netflix. That Summer I watched Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune every night from 7-8. The years where all I cared about was Lost. All those years I was filling up my DVR on ABC, CBS and NBC shows, essentially paying $80+ a month for a hard drive to store free TV shows on. But no longer will I be lighting cigarettes with $100 bills. No longer will I be betting against the Harlem Globetrotters. Nope, I’m no longer handing money over at gunpoint to a way overpowered, overpriced oligopoly (well except for the internet… there’s still no way around that one that I know of). I’m officially a cord cutter.

cable cutterWell it’s settled. Just got off the phone with Verizon and only 2 more weeks until I’m officially a cable cutter. I do have to thank FiOS for making it as painless as possible. With all the Comcast horror stories circling the Internet lately, I was ready for just about anything. Just know you’ll have to call FiOS to get anything done; the online chat support is essentially worthless.

This has been a long time coming. I’ve been testing the over the air for months now and it has its hiccups but it’s completely doable. I’ve changed my watching habits ahead of time (I feel like I’m watching a lot less TV which is probably good) and hopefully we’ll survive the Fall sweeps without a DVR. I know there are a lot of non cable, OTA, DVR options but I’m going to try and save the money for now. And my credit card rewards already got me a deal where I was able to buy 3 months of Hulu for less than the price of 2. I guess that’s really how I’ll be surviving sweeps.

So I thought I’d be switching to Comcast’s Internet only Blast 105 package and have been telling myself their far inferior Internet would be survivable since I’d be switching from my direct 50/50 FiOS line to a shared 105 Comcast line. I thought it’d be a good deal cheaper so I sold myself on it. In the end, FiOS was able to come through and match the price. The savings were too good to pass up.

So in the end, starting next month I will only have Internet in this house. As scary as that sounds, the extra money we’ll be saving brings a tear to my eye. We’re talking probably $1000 year. Those $1000 savings over 20 years compounded at 7% comes to almost $50,000. Or maybe we can afford to take the toddler to Disney World. Regardless, that’s some expensive TV.

Now I only wish Ruben Amaro would put a better product on the field so I wouldn’t miss watching the Phillies as much. That part’s going to suck but Ruben made it all a little bit easier.

Get Rid of Cable – Picture Quality

Only about 2 more months until my FiOS cable contract is up. Honestly, I have already contacted them to see what kind of deals they could give me to stay but they don’t want to hear anything about it; all they keep trying to do is upsell me on features when all I’m trying to do is lower my bill. I can’t wait to call them and cancel. This week I have started my testing phase where I’m trying to use my cable box as little as possible and use my current infrastructure. For instance, instead of watching the new season of Under the Dome that I have on my DVR, i’m using my Amazon Prime subscription through my PS3. Maybe I’m crazy but the picture quality from Prime is noticeably better than my cable. It looks real good. So now both over-the-air TV and Prime appear to have better picture quality than the cable that I pay for. In a week, I’m going to sign up for a free trial of Hulu Plus so I’m definitely curious to see what that picture quality is like. I’ll keep you posted.

On a side note, FiOS threw me a 2 month free HBO subscription for my 2 year anniversary. It’s most likely to try and get me to keep paying for it after the 2 months is up but regardless I’ve been checking it out. Not on the cable box though. I absolutely hate navigating OnDemand. It’s slow and cumbersome and a travesty. Instead, I’ve been playing with HBO Go on the Apple TV which has a way superior interface.

Really, so far, the only thing my wife and I think cable does better is allow us to put on better background TV… you know, the stuff that we put on when we’re doing other things and not really watching i.e. those hundreds of channels you pay for but don’t really need. Our problem without cable is going to be whenever we put something on, we’re actually going to watch it and not ignore it. I’m still not quite sure that’s a problem.

Adjust TV viewing habitsNBC just cancelled their new series Believe and this brings to light one of my recent cable cutter thoughts. Every year you hear outrage from viewers when their new favorite show didn’t make the cut. You spend your time each week getting invested in these characters, these plots, and some executive decides your effort wasn’t worth anything. Firefly, Stargate Universe, Jericho, Arrested Development… all shows with die hard fans but were slashed. Luckily Jericho got a 1 season reprieve and AD was actually brought back to life years later but most shows aren’t so lucky. So this brings me to my point. I didn’t actually watch Believe; I did have 9 episodes stashed on my DVR for summer viewing. They were just deleted. Thanks for saving me 9 hours of my life NBC. I no longer need to waste my time. Instead, I’ll focus my attention on shows worth watching.

I think anyone who enjoys TV would be lying if they said it was easy cutting cable. I think the largest #cablecutter challenge may be learning how to completely adjust your TV viewing habits. Specifically learning how to simply watch the quality old shows you missed instead of worrying about the next big thing or the current hit shows. Instead of watching the Believes and the Almost Humans, focus on shows that you may have missed that you might have on your wish list. If you don’t, you’ll never watch them. There will always be something new on. For instance Breaking Bad is my #1 show on my wish list. That show was not on my radar until a few seasons in and I always wanted to catch up but never had the time because I watched too much other stuff. No cable? Now’s the time. Netflix has Breaking Bad (soon to be in 4K). Amazon Prime on the other hand has 24 and Always Sunny In Philadelphia (which I’ve already started watching). Between those 3 shows alone, that’s seasons upon seasons and hours and hours of cable subscription replacing TV.

I spent over a year watching everything the Stargate franchise could throw at me; most of it was long past the view date. I watched Battlestar Galactica years after airing. I didn’t realize it then but I was on to something. Why was I even paying for cable at that time while I was watching mostly Netflix shows? Foolish. If you’re anything like I was, stop throwing money out the window and start thinking about getting rid of your overpriced cable. There’s tons of content out there. Learn to focus on watching what you can and less on what you can’t watch. If you can’t watch it, put it on your wish list. It’ll be available somewhere soon enough. And if you feel left out when your friends are talking about the new hotness, just remind yourself chances are it’ll be cancelled soon anyway.

New Girl Got Old

New GirlIn the wake of Almost Human getting cancelled by Fox today, I realized it may be time to re-evaluate what I’m watching. With the DVR always around 70-80% anymore, I just made my first cut, New Girl.

The first season of New Girl was awesome. I found myself stopping to laugh and then rewinding multiple times after jokes. It quickly became one of my favorite shows. I’m not sure when it jumped the shark but season 2 was just never able to recreate that magic. Season 3 has been a downright chore to watch. I liked when Schmidt and Cece were together but when he blew up that relationship, that was a downhill moment. They didn’t need to get Nick and Jess together; they needed to keep Schmidt and Cece together.

Probably the worst thing was bringing back Coach. I liked him on Happy Endings but he changed the dynamic on New Girl and I didn’t understand why he was necessary. I also felt when they brought him back, they started dumbing down Winston to a frustrating level.

In the end, everything was good at first but they meddled and it didn’t work for me. In a way, New Girl got old fast. I’m sure since they cancelled Almost Human and not New Girl, it’s doing well enough for them and that’s fine. I just can’t do it anymore.

It’s been a while since I’ve searched for it but it looks like THE MOLECULAR MAN skit is finally on the Internet. I used to look for it all the time and SNL denied us the pleasure of el Hombre de los Moleculos. Here it is in all its glory, taking us all the way back to Conan O’Brien’s SNL hosting gig from 3/10/01. Enjoy it while SNL allows it.

Zenith TVMost people under 30 don’t realize there was a time before cable TV. They don’t remember when your TV was not just the focal point of the room but it was a full fledged piece of furniture; made of wood. Hey, I had that giant wooden behemoth even after I had cable TV, only before cable TV we had rabbit ears. Rabbit ears sucking all those air waves down into our homes and bringing us television that we didn’t have to pay for. We only had to watch commercials. Then somebody decided it was a good idea to make people pay for a bunch of programming no one really needed, still keep the commercials and make a whole lot more money. It all sounds kind of absurd. I pay an astronomical cable bill and I’m still getting bombarded with hours of commercials.

Regardless, in the last 20 or so years, rabbit ears disappeared, giant wooden TVs became hanging picture framed works of art and the pictures are so large and crisp and pausable and rewindable, yet those same old free air waves never really went away. In fact, by 2009, Upgrayedd, in the form of the FCC, found those old air waves and forced them to be digital. And beautiful. And still free. Yes! Free over the Air TV!

So how do I get free over the air TV? It’s easy. If you have a newer TV with a digital converter inside (which I think most TVs since ~2006 have) all you need is some type of antenna. I would assume those old rabbit ears would still work however I actually went out and purchased a Mohu Leaf HD antenna for about $40 to conduct my test. That’s a 1 time fee. Not a monthly stranglehold. And let me tell you, the picture is absolutely amazing; most of the time possibly even better than the cable picture. Full HD TV over the air. Apparently it has something to do with all of those thousands of cable channels coming into your house compressed whereas the over the air signal is not compressed in any way. I get all the basics… CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, FOX, WB plus about 35 more channels of free programming.

If you do have an older TV, like my Sony HD TV from 2004, you will also need a digital converter box to convert that digital over the air signal to your analog TV. It works almost like your current cable set top box. I see them online for, again only a 1 time fee, of sub $50. A family member actually had one laying around unused from when the conversion originally happened so I didn’t need to worry about purchasing it. Again, it turns that Mohu Leaf into a magically free TV experience for older TVs.

So if this over the air TV experience is so great, why doesn’t everyone do it? Well because people get stuck in their ways… people just don’t know about it… people just don’t care… and there are some downfalls of course. Lets go over those downfalls.

  1. You only get the basic stations. What about the cable TV shows that I actually do watch? Some of those 1000 stations actually do have some worthwhile content every once in a while.
  2. Sports! – If you want to watch almost all MLB, NHL, NBA, MLS, La Liga, etc. games, you need cable. Very little is broadcast over the air.
  3. But what about my DVR? I can’t record shows or pause live TV?

Those are the main issues I have run into so far. But there are solutions for most problems and we will go over them in future posts. For now though, it’s NCAA Selection Sunday and I have some bracket work to do. Almost all of the NCAA tourney is broadcast FOR FREE over the air. My cable, that I’m paying money for, will sit idle as I watch CBS for the next few weeks. What a waste.

Get Ready to Get Rid of Cable

I pay upwards of $160 a month for my FiOS Triple Play package and right now I’m being forced to watch TV for free over the air because I’m taping 2 things and want to watch a 3rd. That’s some selling point. A selling point to get rid of cable TV.

I planned on starting a series of posts regarding my thoughts about getting rid of cable but I sure didn’t plan to start it like this. It just happened to work out that I wanted to watch 3 things tonight, like I do on most Monday nights, before I ran into the wall that is cable TV. No, that’s not frustrating at all.

So throughout this series, we’ll talk about the options available, including the over air option already mentioned (yes, just like the Flinstones). We’ll weigh the positives and negatives and I’m sure we’ll discuss many other things because this is a pretty hot topic in my household at the moment and I honestly can’t stop thinking about it. I already got the ball rolling in my house so join me as we take this journey to ditch cable TV together.

Trakt TV Tracking

I’ve spent years documenting my life in almost every way shape and form. Some people value privacy, I apparently am not one of them. I’ve been on-again, off-again, blogging since 1997. I like being able to know what was going on, and what I was doing, at almost any given time in my life. Even if I don’t go back and reminisce. Besides, I don’t do anything in my boring life worth worrying about what “the man” may think.

I had been using Last.FM for a long time to keep track of my music listening habits so when services arrived for TV tracking, I jumped right on board. The problem was, I was using 2 different services which meant checking in at 2 different places every time I watched a single show. Both had pluses and minuses so I just couldn’t make a decision. GetGlue had a better social aspect but GoMiso had the ability to granularly check into specific episodes as well as a way to integrate my check-ins into this site. That was huge.

I persistently made it a few years using both services however the two check-ins just became too overwhelming to the point where sometime last year I just quit. For a while it was quite liberating just watching TV without worrying about opening clunky, sometimes broken, apps but then I realized there was something better. Rather than just check in to shows and movies for the sake of it, why am I not keeping track of what I’m watching? So I found Trakt. I’ve been setting it up over the past few weeks and it’s not perfect but I think it’s a necessary service for someone who watches a ton of TV. I can keep track of what I’ve watched, what I’m watching and what I want to watch in the future. In a world with a thousand channels and a million shows, Trakt helps keep it all organized. It doesn’t have the best way to integrate into this site but hopefully that will come. It also doesn’t have any good, free, iOS apps but their website works real well on the iPad so that’s good enough for now.

Game of Thrones

I just got HBO and am starting on Game of Thrones. It’s about time. All of season 1 is on OnDemand. I’ve got 2 weekends to watch the 10 episodes. Season 2 starts in just a few weeks.

I’m currently watching: Game of Thrones