Free TV Viewing is Wise Choice
By Ken Walker –
With the fading away of July 2014, I couldn’t let the month slip by without noting that this month marked the one-year anniversary of cutting off our cable TV service.
At the time, the financial realities we were facing left me down in the dumps. We couldn’t afford the most basic service, even before the digital add-ons and on-demand services that can send one’s bill into the stratosphere. Yet as I look back, all I can say is: Sure wish we would have done it a long time ago.
Two friends have experience in the cable industry. They had regaled me with stories of employees who didn’t feel like bothering to go on another call and simply checked, “Job completed” on their work orders.
One who later worked for a major satellite provider told of going to install a dish and discovering the home owner had been watching cable for several years, free of charge.
Thus, I wasn’t surprised that our service continued until early October. We only learned it was gone when we tried to turn on the evening news and saw fields of snow on every channel.
Other than not being able to tune in the evening news, not much changed. We still watched most programming the way we had been for several years: on DVDs we checked out from the public library.
We had picked up the habit when both local Blockbuster stores shuttered their doors. Not only were they free, instead of being due back a day later, we could keep them for a week. If no one had placed a hold on them, we could renew them for another week.
Before long, a friend enabled us to watch the evening news again by loaning us his old HD converter box and a set of rabbit ears. That brought in half a dozen channels for free.
When our oldest daughter bought a new TV and gave us her converter box, which pulled in more channels. Unfortunately, most of the new ones were shopping or infomercial type outlets that would put Rip Van Winkle to sleep for another 20 years.
Even though we usually have TV, it is not without interruption. The periodic outages we experience appear to be primarily related to bad weather, which can result in wavering quality or a particular channel disappearing. When all but two channels disappeared for two weeks this summer, a friend said it might be related to a station upgrading its broadcast antennas.
Whatever the cause, most nights now we can watch the evening news, but we don’t bother tuning in for much else.
The first major change no cable brought was ending my habit of flicking on the TV on Sunday afternoons in the autumn to catch the end of the 1:00 pro football game. Then, hanging around for another 30 to 40 minutes to watch highlights.
If I really wanted to know who won, I called up NFL.com on my laptop and got an update in five minutes instead of taking a half-hour. I started getting longer naps and more reading done, too.
Thanks to a helpful librarian, we discovered several PBS and other series that we didn’t even know existed. With one, we watched the first four seasons in 10 months and are halfway through season five. We will do the same with one of our favorite series that we can’t watch live when the current season moves to DVD.
There is also the online option, with many programs available for free. But we don’t do that often. Seems we do more reading and sleeping. Like TV, they’re free.