TV Without TV

The BGF has been throwing around the idea of nixing the cable for some time. It's costly, no one watches it that much, and what we do want to watch we can get online. It'd better if we didn't have it.

Would it?

If I were to break down our TV viewing patterns, it wouldn't be consistent. It's not about summer viewership being low either. There are plenty of year round shows or seasonal shows or documentaries that don't live or die by sweeps week ratings. But let's take a look by person. I won't include time slots because most of the time we DVR everything. It's rare I habitually watch a show as it airs unless I'm just too excited to watch it, or it's a news/commentary program.

Mr. Austin - In no particular order, these are the shows I watch or will be watching in the next year. The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Rachel Maddow, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Mythbusters, Dirty Jobs, Lost, Doctor Who, Fringe, Dollhouse, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, hockey games with the Avalanche, football games with UT, Air Force or the Denver Broncos, Futurama, V, The 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2010 Tour de France, the 2010 World Cup in S. Africa, possibly Day One and Flash Forward. This doesn't include random "hey what's on" episodes of The Cosby Show, M*A*S*H, Discovery Channel/History Channel/Science Channel shows or movies.

Ms. A and Miss LA - In no particular order and since they watch TV together, it makes it easy to group them together. I have no idea what they plan on watching or even if they care about what shows are coming out soon. I also may have these wrong. The Closer, The Office, 30 Rock, Entourage, Hung, In Treatment, Big Love, Raising the Bar, and Grey's Anatomy. They also watch Fraiser, Golden Girls and Will & Grace. They don't watch as much news as I do, and unless LSU is playing UT, they don't want sports either. If there's a documentary about marching band, Ms. A is all over it.

The kids. The kids watch what they want, but early in the summer, Ms. A put parental controls on the upstairs TV so on G and Y shows were allowed. Even Spongebob was off the list at Y7. This left most of LMA's tween shows out of the mix. However, they can be found watching: Phineas and Ferb, Handy Manny, Imagination Movers, Electric Company, The Mighty B, Spongebob, Wizards of Waverly Place, Ni-Hao Kai Lan, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. They like watching science shows with me; Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs are among their favorites.

So that's a few shows. Roughly 30 regular broadcasts plus more event type things that only last a few weeks. The networks are all different as well. The ladies watch TNT and HBO almost exclusively. I watch Sci-Fi (screw you I'm not calling it SyFy), Comedy Central, MSNBC and the docu-science channels. The kids watch Noggin, PBS, Nick and Nick Jr.

But here's the question. Can you get any or all these shows without cable? How much can you get with just over the air broadcasts or watching online?

Most broadcast channels offer the option to view the latest episode of most of their shows the next day. Comedy Central and MSNBC will do the same. Sci-Fi Rewind offers some of their line up, mostly about a week after and after that it's only a handful of the latest episodes. It's good if you missed it the first time around, and that's what most stations are going for. If you don't have a DVR but have access to the internet, you can catch up on a show you missed recently. No one has backlogs of MacGyver or Falcon Crest, but new and popular network shows you should be able to see.

But can you ditch cable and still watch the latest and greatest shows?

Yes and no. It's obvious you can, by the next day, watch anything from the big four. You can watch recaps or full episodes from CW, Comedy Central, and a few shows from SyFy. Even if you wanted to watch Project: Runway on Lifetime, you can catch the first episode online. Most big time sporting events have a live feed and even offer more options if they're covered by a worldwide market. Versus offered a live streaming video of the Tour de France, but you could get that from French sites as well. The World Cup will likely have multiple outlets covering it. NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB are all available in some capacity online and live. (Not sure about Nascar.) Kids channels constantly play episodes of their cartoons online. Discovery and History and Science Channel have enough content that'll keep you busy and raise your IQ without worrying about it being a new episode or a rerun. You can even watch Cosmos online.

Add YouTube and Google Video and Hulu to the mix and you'll start making a case for never having to order cable again. But, if you like having everything show up on your TV, you'll have to find a way to connect your laptop or PC/Mac to your television and that you have decent internet connection that'll allow the kind of streaming you'd want.

Also, no HD. As much as the BGF hates when I grumble about dpi quality and aspect ratio, I love HD for Discovery Channel and sports. They want TNT HD for The Closer and NBC HD for the Office so I know it's being used.

But, if you just wanted to watch the show, yes. I believe you could get away with watching many of the shows you watch now without having cable.

Don't tell Ms. A I said that, she'll cancel it today.

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