How to live without cable

A year and a half ago, I gave up cable television. I had already reduced my service to a basic account after realizing I was watching an episode of Scott Baio is Single and 45… for the second time. When I moved in with someone who did not own a television set, I decided to try living without cable TV. Since I was brought up on television and LOVED it, I didn’t think I’d last.

Here is a rundown of what happens when you quit cable:

– there is about a three month withdrawl period where I replaced spending hours watching TV to spending hours on the computer.

– I occasionally hear about new shows from advertising, but it’s mostly passed on from my peers. Twitter, blog posts and in-person conversations have helped me navigate new programming launches and figure out what’s worth my time/effort to find a way to watch it online. To be fair, however, I only started watching last year’s new shows (Modern Family, Community) after 10 or 11 episodes had already broadcast – when bloggers were emotionally invested in the show and their write-ups made it sound incredibly interesting to watch.

– Being the late-comer to a new show, I’d like to be able to watch all of the previous episodes to catch up. Since most broadcaster websites take down episodes after a few weeks, here’s where renting a show would really come in handy.

– I’m a little left out when people talk about shows that broadcast the night before. I bought a seasons pass to 30 Rock, but they’re not uploaded on iTunes until at least 12 hours after broadcast on TV. I feel like that guy who taped the superbowl and is trying to get everyone to shut up about the game until he gets to watch it.

– Even though a local station uploads full episodes about 24 hours after it’s on TV, I still bought a season’s pass through iTunes. For shows I like or ones that aren’t time sensitive, I’ll watch it for free online. Shows I know I’ll want to watch again, I’ll fork over the cash. I think if episodes were cheaper, I might buy more. At $2.50 a pop ($3.50 in high def) and 22 episodes a season, I need to pick-and-choose – even with the financial benefit of not paying monthly cable.

– I know NOTHING about new movies coming out. Seriously. When Inception came out, I had no idea what it was, who was in it, etc. Movie distributors are going to need to ramp up their advertising efforts to people like me who have cut the cable cord.

– I miss randomly coming across shows I may like. While I’m a fan of on-demand TV, think about the shows you stumbled upon while channel flipping that you ended up loving? Many people say on-demand television puts the control in the consumer hands, but I’m suspicious as the walled-garden, on-demand content aggregators will have a hard time making money while latching consumers onto unknown titles. Recommendation engines and free episode previews help, but online is missing the human touch of a human content curator who can create a playlist that isn’t based solely on similar purchases or keywords.

– I don’t miss commercials and yet, I still know about new products and services.

– I watched live streaming during the Olympics and the World Cup – and that’s it.

– When I mention I don’t have cable, some people react like I’m betraying the natural order of things. Keep in mind, however, I do work for a TV broadcaster.

Anyone out there also cut the cable cord and have observations? Thinking about doing it?