Do not adjust your sets

English: TV receiverIts almost comical, I think.

Looking back through the blog, it was at the end of May 2010 that our last last TV died and we decided to take a break from cable. Streaming media was still young back then, as were the ways you could catch it. I think Hulu might have been around, but buying a season of something on amazon was a hassle, and netflix wasn’t streaming like they are these days, and they certainly weren’t keeping up with current shows. Amazon Instant? Still in the far distance. This was, as they say, the dark age of streaming media options.

When I refer to “cable,” I am not referring to the ten thousand channel bazaar most people mean these days. For us, cable has and still is defined as basic-expanded cable, that subset of 60-80 channels (when I was a lad, we had 3, and we liked it!) that count as local channels plus the basics. Digital cable is something we experimented with once, didn’t really see the appeal of in comparison to the cost, and never went back.

We ended up replacing that TV eventually, but we also dropped cable for a while (about 8 or 9 months). It was actually a really liberating, freeing time in our lives. Sure, we had some setbacks, the kids especially – its easy to say you don’t watch much TV, until you realize that unconsciously you’ve been using it as white noise while you work in the evenings.

Time moved on.

We bought a new TV, mostly for gaming and video watching purposes. Eventually we added cable back into our diet (its complicated). Since then, though, streaming finally came of age. Today our family, on average, watches more via Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant than from actual “live” TV. We have been known to buy a season of a show off of Amazon so we can watch it on the roku when we choose, rather than trying to juggle our lives around a show we enjoy but that comes on at an awkward time. We are, in fact, so wedded to our streaming options that we have begun to reconsider dropping cable down to the basic channels again.

The comical part?

For completely unrelated reasons, we bought a new TV this weekend. Its a 32 inch diagonal LED flatscreen, which makes it about 12 diagonal inches larger than our last TV, which previously held the record as being our largest TV ever (the TV before that was another 2-4 inches smaller). If anything, besides the fact that my X-Box games and the kid’s Wii games look completely different when they are so huge and crystal clear, our conviction to do away with cable is growing. Why waste money on TV when we already get most of the shows, in better resolution and color depth, with existing options?

We are crazy, I know.

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So, Who Still Watches TV?

English: Animation of a T.V. set.

It could be the friends and acquaintances I keep. Like minds tend to attract like minds, and as such I guess its no surprise that not only do I not watch much TV these days, but neither do the people I spend my free time with. Sure, the kids have their TV shows – they’re kids. But most of my friends (and “peers”) don’t watch TV. At best, we all catch DVR/hulu/netflix/amazon prime streams of shows. Is it actually our fault there is nothing decent on any more? Is it because we don’t watch TV, so the producers had nothing to gauge good vs. bad with?

List of MacGyver episodes (season 1)

And before you think I’m crazy – name all of your favorite shows from the 80’s (assuming your in the right age bracket). Go on. Don’t forget your guilty pleasures, either – MacGuyver, Misfits of Science, Airhawk, A-Team, what else? Family Ties? I’m pretty sure we could go on for a long time doing this. I’m not saying these are quality shows – of my first three listed, only one of them was almost “decent.” But they entertained us in their day.

Now, same¬†exercise¬†– name your favorite TV shows of the 00’s. I’ll give you time to see if you can get anywhere near the list for the 80’s. And don’t give me that excuse, that you didn’t have a life in the 80’s, or responsibilities.

Of course, less memorable shows doesn’t mean that we are watching less, just that we aren’t being moved by it as much. But then I look around and I see folks using all manor of streaming – I’m a heavy hulu/netflix user myself – and very few people I know watch “in real time.” Our actual, physical TV is more a gateway for the x-box and roku than for receiving broadcast signals.

Which leaves me wondering – who’s still actually watching TV?

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