Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Watch TV without Cable

We are "cord cutters" are you? We don't have pay TV and we probably won't. We haven't had cable (dish, satellite, whatever...) since I gave up my Big Life and moved back here. Are we Luddites? Crazy people? Bored? Nope. We just didn't want to pay for it anymore and we are too busy to justify the costs. Plus there may be 900 different channels... but that doesn't mean there is anything worth watching.

Someone asked the other day how to watch TV without cable - here's how we do it.

We watch local channels 'over the air' with an antenna. There was one of those big TV antennas already set up when we moved here. So we just use that. It has it's drawbacks... namely that for some parts of the year we don't get "all" our channels. This means that sometimes we don't get the local NBC or ABC affiliate. Usually tho, this happens are different times of the year and honestly it's just not that big of a deal. I do like to watch Bryan Williams on the NBC evening news.... but if I can't then I just watch whatever channel we get.

Especially since you can get all of the major broadcasts online. This makes it especially easy to get caught up during the summer months when we miss the 6:30 nightly news because we are still outside. We just watch it later. This has the added bonus of skipping thru the stories that I'm not interested in. It's kinda like DVR but you don't have to record anything. It's just online waiting for you.

For my money, "appointment TV" is mostly dead. I understand the value of a shared experience but really - I can't stay up that late. I'd rather watch my shows when I want online. So I also check out the few shows I like on the NBC, CBS, and ABC websites. For instance, tonite I'm going to watch Person of Interest on the CBS website. I can get caught up on the last two episodes on my laptop sitting by the fire.

I still have to sit thru the commercials but it's easy enough just to browse 'the Reddit' or check in with "the facebook" while I'm waiting.

What about the other networks? Don't underestimate my love for Hulu. This is a great online TV site with tons of shows. Usually there is a delay from the broadcast date to the available on Hulu date. This can be a day or 8 days. Why? Because someone is trying to make money off your inability to wait to see it for free - so you have to keep up with it. They normally have just a couple episodes available at a time for free. You can pay for the Hulu+ but really.... I haven't seen any real value for this.

Regardless of the free or Hulu+ you still have to watch the commercials. However, you can "train" the Hulu into showing commercials that you want to see. In the upper right corner there is a "Was this ad relevant to you?" click that I use to get rid of bad or annoying commercials. Pretty much I have it trained to give me car or credit card commercials. Do I want a car or a credit card? Nope but at least they are entertaining and I don't have to hear about the possible side effects of whatever drug they are pushing.

The Hulu also has some of the other network shows from USA, SciFi. Fox, Comedy Central etc. For some of these you need the paid "Hulu +" version... but there are so many options there is surely something to see.

The Hulu has some original programming. Some of it was very smart and very funny. Not huge budgets but some good viewing. I really liked Battleground, The Booth at the End, and ISpy.

If you think I love 'the Hulu' then don't even get me started on 'the Netflix.' We had the Netflix back in the day when you got a DVD in the mail. We hated it. It was bulky and unsatisfying and only ever made me mad. The only reason I signed up was to get a free 30 day trial so I could watch House of Cards. Now I'm completely head over heels for 'the Netflix.' It's my new favorite crush. It costs about $8 a month and it's worth every penny. We can't even go to a move for $8. So for me it's totally worth it.

Folks who have cable might be disappointed with the Netflix because it has a lot of older shows and past seasons. But for me it's a veritable wonderland of shows I've never seen before. Nothing beats the winter blues like binge watching six hours straight of The Killing. Plus they have some newer movies... not a ton of them but it still is worth it.

Even if you don't watch any of their "stock" shows... I can't wait for more original programming from Netflix. House of Cards was stupendous and they have more shows on tap. And unlike appointment viewing where they leave you hanging for a week - you can watch them all at once or over a couple sittings.

And last.... the reason we really don't have cable.... Amazon Instant Video store. This is the grand poobah of why you will never, ever need cable. Anything you want to see is right here. You can get single episodes, full seasons, or past seasons of just about any TV show. They also have just released movies and sometimes movies that are still in the theater!  It's amazing. Really. Even better... if you buy Amazon Prime you can get unlimited online access to many of these shows and movies for free.

Amazon Prime is a yearly subscription that gets you free 2 day shipping of many products on Amazon, tons of movies and TV shows and free Kindle books. Right now the yearly subscription is $79 and there is a free 30 day trial. That's $80 for a year of TV and movies. I know folks are paying more than $80 a month for cable!

Even if you don't have Amazon Prime buying (or renting) movies online is a terrific value...and tons of fun. There are a couple different options. For instance last night I paid $1.99 for episode 2 of The Following. And no, I couldn't wait until it was free on the hulu. Yes, I am a sucker. I can also buy the whole season for a slight discount per episode but I'm trying to be more disciplined. Well see how that goes.

Want to watch all seasons of The Wire. They have them... all episodes or just one. They are all there for your viewing pleasure.

You want movies? Step right up - so many options. Mostly you can "rent" a movie that you will have access to for a couple days (or ten or thirty depending...) or you can "buy" that same movie for more money and you will always have access to it in your "Video Library."

All of this is instant on-demand on your computer. You don't "get" anything but access to viewing. I think this is great because you don't have your house cluttered up with all of those DVD boxes... and there is nothing to return like in the old days of movie rentals. Once your rental period is over the show or movie just disappears from your Video Library. 

The rental fees vary from $1.99 (or less) to $14 or more for new releases. Usually the price drops if you wait a week or so after they are first available. However, I was more than happy to "buy" one of the best action movies ever. Now I can watch all of that heart pounding action whenever I want in full HD glory.

So doesn't this mean that you have to watch on your computer? Yep or your tablet or your Kindle (depending) or whatever device you have. I don't mind watching on my laptop and we can plug a special cable into into our TV if we want to watch on the big-ish screen.

But isn't it all very confusing? Nope. It's just clicking around on your favorite websites.

Why not just get cable because it sounds like we are spending all that money anyway? Not really. This way we can control how much we are spending. And really most of what we watch is free. During the winter we watch a lot more shows because we are stuck inside... but once we get into the growing season I really just catch up on the news.

And one of the big reasons we don't have cable is so that we can avoid all that mindless viewing. You can't really believe that some of that crap they broadcast is doing anybody any good. Once you unplug from what is considered "normal" and you go to selected viewing... it's kind of shocking to see what is considered entertainment. Don't underestimate the amount of marketing and manipulation is going on during the average TV show or movie. Being able to pick and choose and to opt out is really valuable... so for us cutting the cord is absolutely worth it.

What do you think? Can you cut the cord?

Editor's note: Are any of these affiliate links? Yep - but only for Amazon's products. I won't get as much as a "thank you" from the Hulu or the Netflix for linking to them. But I think they are some great offerings and I'm happy to help you get out from under the thumb of cable and traditional networks. So remember if you order something thru my Amazon store,  from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!


Maple Creek Farm said...

Amen sister! We cut the cord 3 years ago and have never regretted it. Only thing I have ever missed was "chopped" on food network, but guess what I just found on Amazon prime this week?! If you prefer to watch on your tv I would also endorse Roku as a cheap, simple, and user friendly set top box.

Cat Eye Cottage said...

We don't have cable either. We watch Hulu and the major networks broadcast their shows for free on their websites. One resource you didn't mention is the library. I LOVE my library for DVDs, both movies and TV series. My system has a wonderful collection of both, even new releases.

Patty@inStitches said...

We 'cut the cord' 40 years ago when we found ourselves farming in an area that only got two stations. The choices were extremely limited and we didn't like the 'buy me' effect commercials had on our children. So one day we pulled the plug, hauled the tv to the shed, and got out the books and games. Raised 5 children on 'family time' and of the 5 only two (with tv addiction spouses) spend any time in front of the tv. Still don't own a tv although every couple of years someone who's getting a new one will try to gift us with one. We just smile politely....

Robin said...

We haven't watched regular TV in almost 3 years. We stream Netflix on the TV, that's it! It's really been quite cleansing not to see all that nonsense and crap! I check the news on the computer and we are good to go!

Unknown said...

Good ideas! I'm thinking about this kind of thing. While I'm not a fan of watching shows on my desktop in the kitchen I might. No laptop here...

Unknown said...

I'm also getting more DVDs free from the library

buddeshepherd said...

There is or was also a "paper" doll kit which uses funny sticky plastic/rubbery/flat stuff as the dolls and doll clothes and it will stick to glass.
So you can use the TV as a sort of "flannel board," to act out stories. It is kind of fun. Don't know how it would work with modern televisions.
Speaking of blowing up the TV. When I was a wee lad I remember hauling grandma's big old TV to the farm "dump."
My elder brother handed me the .22 and said, "shoot the screen, it will be cool."
I did, and he ducked.
It absolutely exploded!
I've tried to replicate that experience many times since but to no avail. LCD screens are particularly disappointing.
Think I'll go dig out my guitar and sing me some Uncle Pete songs. Perhaps make a campfire on the lawn. Later, I will be condescendingly kind to someone I kind of feel contempt towards. Just cause I'm educated and know better than these pathetic reactionary sodbusters who are polluting the soil with their dangerous chemicals.

Unknown said...

I'm linking back to your article, good info!!!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Yep, you can find just about anything online, MCF! Dontcha just love it?

Of course! I totally forgot about the library, WHSteader... Yep a great resource.

"We just smile politely..." ha! Yep. We get looks of pity when we say we dont have cable but we just laugh.

Dont you just cringe at some of the shows, Robin? I keep wondering why anyone would want to war over cupcakes. I mean... they are cupcakes!

A great reminder, LHinB! Yep. I totally forgot. :-) And thanks for the link back!

Yes. I agree with all of this, Budd, but I would totally want a "corn" channel.

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