Sometimes, I hear audible gasps when I tell people that I don’t have a cable television subscription. You would think I told them I went without bathing or hosted dogfights in my garage.
But I’ve lived a rich, full, and informed life without ever watching CNN, HBO, Showtime, or The Cooking Channel. I know, it’s crazy.
In the rare instances when I’m staying in a hotel or with friends, and I have the opportunity to sample some of the programming offered on cable television, I’m certain I’ve made the right decision.
There are the occasional worthwhile cable programs that define an era (the Sopranos comes to mind) with originality, quality writing, and great acting. There may be the infrequent, important news story that breaks on cable. But, let’s be honest, most of it is pedestrian and sensationalized.
There are sports, too, but you could just as easily stroll down to your local pub and watch the game with friends.
I do have specific reasons, other than personal tastes, for not having or watching cable television. Here they are:
1. The Money. To pay in the range of $700.00 to $1700.00 per year, or whatever it is, to watch television boggles my mind. I cough in my coffee every time I even think about it. I’d rather save that money and buy an airplane ticket to Rome. The entire concept of paying for television escapes me. You want me to pay money so you can advertise to me? Balderdash.
2. The Technology. In days gone by, anything that was worthwhile on cable eventually ended up on DVD. So when I heard about good cable programs, I waited, rented the video, and enjoyed the content at my leisure. Now, everything is digital. Why bother with cable now when that technology is dying? Drop it. Get online. Download legally. Stream it. Push innovation. Kill obsolescence.
3. The Cable Companies. I’ve never heard a single good think said about any cable television provider. Why would I give my money to an entity or industry with such a poor reputation? If you subscribe to cable and aren’t satisfied with your service, why continue to give them money?
4. Books. I read while most people are watching television. It’s been a lifelong habit that has paid substantial dividends in terms of quality of life. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
5. PBS. If you’re going to watch television and feel absolutely compelled to pay for it, donate to your local public television station. For the price of a Honey Boo Boo or a Duck Dynasty, you can enjoy informative, thought-provoking, and surprisingly entertaining programs that the entire family can appreciate.
15 thoughts on “Five Reasons I Don’t Have Cable TV”
I have been toying with the idea of getting rid of TV altogether and simply watching what I want online through Hulu or a similar service. My laptop would basically become my entire media outlet. It would be cost-effective and give me control of the content and schedule for program viewing. That is what most of the millennials are doing anyway. Television is a dying medium.
Yes, the younger people I talk to want to watch what they want, when they want, wherever they want. Change will be slow, but probably permanent in the television landscape. Thanks – BGT
Yes! I agree! What a great post! My husband and I have been living without cable for about eight years now. We have one small tv that we keep separate of the main living space for movies and then we watch those deliberately as a family. I LOVE having my couches face EACH OTHER in our family room and not centered on a screen. I love in your book how you said something along the lines of “conversation is the new black.” When we are reading we have interesting things to say. When the TV is off we are forced to speak to each other. Thanks for writing this!
Sofas facing each other–what a novel idea! Thanks for the support! – BGT
Bravo! I speak with people almost everyday who complain about having no time and no money, yet have the full HD cable package in their homes. The irony is obvious to me but not so for them. Most respond with something having to do with wanting the ability to watch live sports, and that’s understandable especially here in the south where football has become a quasi religion. I generally explain to them that an antenna and a roku can basically replace cable, sports included via the watchespn app and the foxsportsgo app, and some of my friends have come around. You’re suggestion of watching games at a local pub is great. Watching in a large group at a pub has always been a GREAT experience for me. I personally use “TV time” to read books, newspapers, and watch various instructional videos on the Internet. I believe that my family is much better off using our time in this fashion versus mindlessly staring at whatever filthy content, wasteful advertising, or divisive talking head our modern culture decides to feed us that evening. Instead, we know the classics. We cook much healthier, more diverse and gourmet meals. We learn about actual history and science, instead of aliens and revisionism. Books and PBS are definitely the way to get ahead in this mtv world. Not to mention you save money and time and are more educated in the end.
Mr.Tully, your book has made available for many what so few of us, it seems, have been taught. I’ve enjoyed both it and the blog over the past year or so, and will continue to pass them on to many. Please keep up the the good work. Thank you,
MG, thank you very much for the kind words. They are greatly appreciated. And thank you for spreading the word! – BGT
No need to keep up the cable subscription to watch sports. You can buy a season pass to your favorite NFL team, for example, and stream games whenever (and wherever) you’d like.
AMEN! We are cord-cutters too, and only ever have tiny pangs of regret when the Oscars are on and we can’t find a way to watch them online! 🙂 Otherwise, like you said, everything is online or can be watched at the local sports bar. Though we do sometimes enjoy a little HGTV binge when we’re at a hotel — ha!
Yes, the odd hotel room does provide a chance to see all that you have (or haven’t) been missing! Thanks for the comment! – BGT
I have also gotten rid of cable t.v. and have not missed it for a moment. Instead of watching television at night, I take my dog for another walk- we meet neighbors, get exercise, and everyone wins. Occasionally, I watch a few minutes of t.v. at the gym while exercising and am reminded each and every time why I don’t miss it. Now, my cable was only an extra $30/month. However, I did the arithmetic, and over the remainder of my working life, that $30/month adds up to about $10,800!
Thank you for this wise and insightful blog. I have been reading it for years and always look forward to new posts.
Thank you, Thrifty Scot Gal, for the comment. Good math! Glad you enjoy the blog! Best – Byron
Loved this book! Read it straight through , finished at 3Am!
Starting over, sure wish I had read it in my 20’s. We have great businesses but not the legacy to leave our children. That’s kinda sad.
Maybe you could do a book of testimonials of start overs!
Thanks, love, love the book, required reading for my many (wink, nod ) children!
At least we live in a beautiful beach town.
Thank you very much. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, if we could only turn back the hands of time…
When our TV broke about a year ago we intended to get another one. But now we find that we are enjoying not having a TV. We subscribe to the New York Times and The New Yorker, I listen to NPR when I’m in the car and I watch The PBS News Hour on line. I certainly don’t feel like I don’t know what’s going on in the world. TV news is like professional wrestling: lots of bright colors and shouting, no substance or depth.
I realize that I’m responding to your posts out of order, and some of the posts are pretty old, but I just discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it very much. Keep up the good work!
Thanks again, Amy! Glad you’re enjoying. – BGT