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Dish? Cable? U-Verse? OTA? Nothing?

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I'm one of those children of the '70s and '80s who grew up watching television. Like, in middle school, I could've told you from memory the nightly primetime lineups for each of the networks. Joanna and I have always paid for a basic tv package of some sort or another (cable or DirecTV), but we're thinking of making a change -- for the cost savings, because I honestly don't watch more than an hour of tv each week, and for the benefit of our daughter. (My parents recently left after visiting for a week, and for the next two days Rory would walk up to the tv whenever it was off, point at it, and say, "uh oh!")

It looks like we can save some money by repackaging all of our communications services through U-Verse (tv, phone, cell, Internet), but we're thinking of going one step further: buy a couple HD antennas and another Netflix streaming device and get rid of pay tv completely.

What say you? How do you consume tv?

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We really loved U-Verse (great customer service and pricing), but ditched it completely. I bought an antenna that kind of picks up a few network stations and something called CoolTV (it isn't). Ever since then we have not watched TV, use Netflix streaming/DVD and free Hulu + network websites, and life has been very good. We can't always keep up with conversations about what is happening on TV, but have found that means people are forced to have more interesting conversations with us. And my wife and I do these weird things like "talking" and "reading books together."

The antenna is the catch. Finding the right one and being able to position it correctly is tough.

Edited by M. Leary

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Live sports are the issue. If you don't care about that, you could safely ditch it all.

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Buckeye, the Vols and Noles are both stinking it up this year, so whatever incentive I had to watch tv in September is now gone.

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Darren H wrote:

: What say you? How do you consume tv?

I haven't subscribed to cable in years, but I found out at our most recent strata council meeting that our condo might vote soon on whether to get a bulk cable deal ... meaning everyone's strata fees would go up a bit, but those who currently pay for cable would save some money (while those, like me, who currently DON'T pay for cable will end up paying for it whether we like it or not -- but at least we'd be getting it at a bulk rate!).

Hulu doesn't exist in Canada, and our Netflix selection isn't anywhere near as good as what you get south of the border, but lately I've started making a point of watching The Daily Show on TheComedyNetwork.ca, just because all my Facebook friends kept posting clips from ComedyCentral.com and I couldn't watch those clips from my side of the border. And once in a very rare while -- when The Daily Show takes a week off, say -- I'll check out one of the other shows on TheComedyNetwork.ca, like Conan or The Colbert Report.

Apart from hyper-topical shows like that, if I keep tabs on a TV show at all, I generally wait until it's on DVD (and its reputation precedes it) before catching up on it (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Modern Family, etc.).

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Both my wife and I grew up watching lots of TV with our families — enough to remember lots of shows fondly, but not enough to be couch potatoes. I still remember my favorite night was Friday...CBS had Due South and Walker, Texas Ranger back to back. When Due South was canceled (sniff), they replaced it with Early Edition, another show I loved.

Anyway, we decided to not subscribe to any TV plan. We're not interested in live sports, so we just use Netflix streaming. I am interested in some premium shows, but am content to 1) wait for them on DVD, or 2) watch them with friends that DO have premium cable.

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I'll be interested to see how streaming develops and the prices. It could become the answer for those who have always wanted a la carte cable, which cable companies are loath to provide. If I could get the channels of my choice on Roku, cable would be gone.

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Live sports are the issue ...

Particularly if you want NFL ticket, and therefore, it's no contest. DirectTV (with HBO, Showtime, AMC, TCM, and the Sundance and Independent Film channels thrown in for good measure).

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It looks like we can save some money by repackaging all of our communications services through U-Verse (tv, phone, cell, Internet), but we're thinking of going one step further: buy a couple HD antennas and another Netflix streaming device and get rid of pay tv completely.

If you go with the antenna option, let me know your experience. I'm curious as to price, and whether you'll install the antenna(s) (you need more than one?) yourself. We've been trying to pull in a signal on our over-the-air set-top digital antenna for years, with no roof (or attic) antenna to feed off of. It's been a trial, although I can count on one hand the number of times we've had to completely abandon watching a show we wanted to see. But we recently reconfigured our lower level, where the TV is (that's right, the TV; just one) and now NBC, which used to be a challenge to receive, is "no signal found" all the time.

Goodbye "Sunday Night Football."

We'll watch "30 Rock" via NBC.com or Hulu once it returns; we've ditched "The Office" this year.

Anyway, back to antenna installation. People keep telling me, "You can do that yourself." These people obviously don't know me too well. I'd cut into some wire and end up six feet under (where, I'm told, over-the-air TV reception is even MORE difficult). So, years ago, I priced antenna installation with a local company. They wanted about $400 to install an antenna; I don't think that included the cost of the antenna. I had a TV antenna from Radio Shack still in the box, but it was UHF only (or was it VHF only?). They told me that wouldn't do, that I'd need an HD antenna, and that makes sense. But it costs $$.

For the past several years, I've asked myself how long it would take to amortize the cumulative costs of antenna purchase and installation and weighed that against how much it would cost to add Fios (fiber TV via Verizon) to our telecom bill. Antenna is the way to go, but as the years have elapsed, I've watched less and less TV, leading me to wonder if the one-time cost of antenna installation is worth the bother.

Edited by Christian

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We watch very little TV and have been almost exclusively movies for the bulk of our marriage. The only real interest either of us have is my interest in the NBA playoffs whenever the Lakers are contending. But I'm not interested in paying for anything unless they are contenders. Our solution was to subscribe to cable for just a few months, getting a good sign up deal and cancelling before the price went up. We most recently did this this past spring with U-verse, getting our phone and internet bundled together. That was a good experience, but we still weren't interested in paying a monthly cable bill, so we cancelled that portion of the bundle.

Since the digital conversion, we've had pretty much no ability to get network TV with the little, in-house antenna we had. We recently decided to remedy this, buying an antenna and paying about $200 for a guy to come out and install it. It works beautifully. We still watch very little TV, but we like the access to PBS for the occasional kids program, and I certainly don't mind catching part of a football game now and again. Of course, other challenges come with having access to actual TV channels, illustrated by my first-grade son's comment right after school the day we got the antenna: "Now I can watch TV everyday after school until dinner!"

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John: How'd you find the guy to do install? Just Google a few key words? Or was the guy a friend of a friend, etc.?

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No cable. No dish. Just a couple of digital antennas that bring us shaky, stuttering network broadcasts, and only a few of those.

Our bluray player is used primarily for Netflix. I have a half-dozen blurays and several hundred DVDs (many of which came in the mail as promotions). Half or more of what I watch at home comes from the public library.

I watch very little TV these days. Downton Abbey has been worth the time. The Wire was worth every minute, but I saw it on DVDs from the library. 30 Rock is like a really good chocolate chip cookie on occasion. Anne watches a lot of TV on DVD (Dr. Who, Bones, Castle, Buffy, Firefly.)

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John: How'd you find the guy to do install? Just Google a few key words? Or was the guy a friend of a friend, etc.?

Christian, we found him through google. There seem to be several websites (BBB and the like) that gather reviews and that the professionals need to join and maintain their good rating. I actually expected it to be a lot more and was on the fence about the job until we got the quote. When hiring for jobs like this (we also had a window repair recently), I also tend to favor people who live/office in my city. Local just feels safer, more neighborly to me.

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I haven't watched tv at home for about 7 years. I'll miss it once in a while, mainly when I'm jonesing for some Major League Baseball, but I'm generally glad to be without it. If I had cable, I shudder to think of how much time I'd spend channel surfing or settling for mediocre or worse entertainment fare, and I'm quite happy sparing my kids from the pernicious influence of commercials and other junk. Having Netflix and the public library at least challenges us to be selective and (hopefully) find better viewing fare.

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Can you believe how many of us don't have pay TV? I'm astonished! And impressed.

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It looks like we can save some money by repackaging all of our communications services through U-Verse (tv, phone, cell, Internet), but we're thinking of going one step further: buy a couple HD antennas and another Netflix streaming device and get rid of pay tv completely.

We've done that, and we've been very, very happy with that choice. Sure, I have my occasional gripes about having to wait for certain AMC/HBO shows to hit DVD or Netflix streaming, but that's it. We got our antenna at Radioshack, and the quality has been marvelous for all the major channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX).

But really, the only things my wife and I watch religiously are COMMUNITY and PARKS AND RECREATION (we're waiting on 30 ROCK's return). We'll sometimes catch THE SIMPSONS on Sunday evenings, but that's about it. We do spend plenty of time in front of the TV set, but that's usually due to Netflix or our DVD collection.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Do all of you live in [major] metropolitan areas? For me, living in an area so rural that we rarely appear on the local news weather map, just a blank county, if I didn't have satellite service or cable, I'm pretty sure I'd have no broadcast TV at all. Even a digital antenna wouldn't pull in much--assuming I could install it. I don't subscribe to any pay channels (HBO, etc.), so any of those shows that are worth watching have to wait for DVDs.

While there are many, many channels I have no interest in, when my father visits, he really enjoys the ESPN channels & has to watch FOX news, so I guess I mainly keep the subscription for him.

I confess that as a person living alone, I sometimes leave it on just for the background noise. Guess I could use radio for that, but of course, the satellite service comes with numerous music channels, too. One of the cats occasionally tries to catch the news-crawl--extra entertainment value.

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I haven't made the call yet, but it looks like we're gonna get rid of pay tv completely. Thanks for the encouragement.

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Do all of you live in [major] metropolitan areas? For me, living in an area so rural that we rarely appear on the local news weather map, just a blank county, if I didn't have satellite service or cable, I'm pretty sure I'd have no broadcast TV at all. Even a digital antenna wouldn't pull in much--assuming I could install it. I don't subscribe to any pay channels (HBO, etc.), so any of those shows that are worth watching have to wait for DVDs.

We live in a small town on the edge of Pittsburgh suburbs, and our broadcast reception is probably similar to what you'd get in a rural area. I think we just don't care too much about broadcast TV. If we want weather, we'll look online. If we want news, we'll look at newspapers or go online. I'll often want something on in the background while I work around the house, and I usually go with podcasts.

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Well, this thread inspired me to want to cut our DirecTV and when we moved over the weekend (to our first house, whoop, whoop!!) I thought this was the time to do it. But then I found out the cost to cancel was over twice the cost to move services to the new address. So we caved and decided to move the DirecTV to the new house. However, it wasn't meant to be. The installer came today and said that the arrangement of the trees on the property made it impossible for us to get DirecTV and so DirecTV kindly allowed us to cancel for free.

We're FREE! We've had it for almost two years and although we've enjoyed it tremendously, I always felt like we were either using it too much (watching TV shows that we didn't really care about instead of reading or talking) or using it too little to justify the price.

We're looking forward to going back to using digital bunny ears, Netflix, and DVDs. Much cheaper and doesn't allow for as much mindless watching/channelsurfing.

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As of this morning, we no longer have DirecTV. For Christmas, I bought two more Rokus and signed up for HuluPlus, and now I just need to order an antenna. I just wish DirecTV had waited until after the Tennessee-Kentucky game to kill our service. ;)

Edited by Darren H

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Three months later our only regret is that we didn't do it years ago. I even got rid of my HuluPlus subscription. With a $20 antenna, we get NBC, CBS, and PBS, which I only watch for the occasional sporting event. Otherwise, I just don't watch TV anymore. And when there is something I really want to see -- Mad Men, for example -- I just buy it from amazon.com.

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Three months later our only regret is that we didn't do it years ago. I even got rid of my HuluPlus subscription. With a $20 antenna, we get NBC, CBS, and PBS, which I only watch for the occasional sporting event. Otherwise, I just don't watch TV anymore. And when there is something I really want to see -- Mad Men, for example -- I just buy it from amazon.com.

That's great, Darren. I had pushed Sarah on the idea of buying "Mad Men" in individual episodes (I'd heard iTunes was the way to go, but I've never "bought" TV episodes via Amazon or iTunes) but she was cool to the idea. Then AMC posted the season premiere on its website, and I figured I'd watch each episode there. Except that the network stopped posting full episodes after the premiere.

Meanwhile, I unhooked the VCR from our TV the other night so I could hook up the antenna and watch broadcast TV, but the antenna didn't work. I tried a couple of possible fixes, but none worked, leading me to wonder if the antenna is -- gasp! -- broken. I keep telling myself that I did something foolish, that the situation will correct itself. But I'm not sure. And even if the antenna IS broken, I'm not sure I care enough to buy another.

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I love the Amazon model. I bought the HD season pass for Mad Men, which cost about $35 and which bought me lifetime access to the HD version of each episode. I have a Roku for each of our TVs, so I can watch the episodes at any time from any of our TVs and from any web device (computer, iPad, etc.). I wish I could trade in my entire DVD collection for access to the same films in the Amazon cloud.

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