October 5, 2015

175 Channels and A Tiger

Regular readers know I dropped cable TV several years ago. I just couldn't justify the monthly charge for so many channels we never watched. The number of commercials in a typical network or cable show has become overwhelming and most of what is presented as entertainment, isn't. Both Betty and I felt we were wasting too many hours watching marginal material. So, we became an early cord cutter.

Confession: it is just as easy to get sucked into too many hours in front of the set with only Netflix and Amazon Prime. At a monthly cost that is a fraction of what the local cable monopoly wanted, we have access to movies, TV shows, and original programming - and we indulge ourselves. It is a constant battle to keep the binge viewing under control. 

In a move that defies common sense I have recently committed to satellite TV for a two year deal. Now, I have about 175 channels, again the vast majority of which I could care less about. How many jewelry channels does someone need? But, there is a very definite purpose behind this odd move for someone trying to control time in front of the television: increased family time. 


Proudly displaying the Bengals logo
My son-in-law, and therefore his son (my grandson) are huge fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. Oddly, neither the son-in-law or any of his family have ever lived in this city. In fact, no one has ever been there. 

The attraction is one of those fascinating stories that makes life so interesting: while growing up Keith was captivated by anything to do with tigers. Since the Cincinnati team's logo is a Bengal tiger he became enthralled with the team, and has carried that interest into adulthood.  

Keith's home is like ours: no cable TV. The only way to see his favorite team play is on Direct TV's NFL Ticket channels. So, Betty and I decided to give the family a perfect reason to gather at our house throughout the fall: add satellite TV so we all can watch the Bengals, eat and play together, and spend quality time as a family enjoying each others' company.

Since the Bengals' games usually start early in our time zone, I added a DVR to our package so I can record the game while we are all at church. By the time we actually start to watch the game in real time it is already over. So, we are very careful not to look at anything that might spoil the experience by revealing the ending before we see it. On the plus side, we fast forward through all the commercials so a full game can be seen in under two hours!

Often we will add a family game or movie everyone enjoys after the football game. As the weather cools down I imagine games of croquet and lawn darts in our backyard will keep us occupied. With a large dining table on the back patio and a handy grill, dinner will become a festive family affair.



Satellite TV is an expense that would normally never be part of our lifestyle. But, in this case it is the perfect use of part of our budget and our satisfying journey through retirement. 

Family time makes it all worth while. Oh, and at the time of this writing the Bengals are undefeated with a very solid 4-0 start to this NFL season. 



14 comments:

  1. Sports (from the Olympics to German Soccer, to football to tennis) is the primary reason they will pull the cable remote out of my cold hands only. However we also have a DVR and except for sports never, ever, watch a commercial. I also have Netflix and Amazon prime streamed through my smart TV. That said, there are some cable shows I watch and think the best shows on TV are actually usually on FX, AMC, TNT and the like. Admittedly I have a slightly higher violence threshold as some. My current faves include blindspot, the Blacklist, and Fear the Walking Dead.

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    1. Being away from cable for so long, I hadn't realized the changes that have occurred in channels like the Travel Channel, Discovery, and the History Channel. Now, these are filled with mostly odd "reality" shows or dealing with topics that have very little connection to the channel name. I remember finding lots to like on those three channels. Now, ....not so much!

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  2. Anything that brings the family closer together is a worth doing, in my book. Life isn't easy for our kids/grandkids. It's great when we can provide some fun and see the smiling faces of the ones who are dearest to us. The thing I recently learned about satellite, is their pricing can be very confusing. My monthly fee had climbed to around $90, but a friend told me that when they try to raise her rates, she researches prices of competitors, calls her provider to cancel, but they always drop her rates to match the competitors. I decided I was ready to switch, and when I called, they dropped my monthly fee to $69. It seems they have lots of flexibility when it comes to pricing.

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    1. he satellite pricing is like the local newspaper. They offer me a great deal as a new subscriber (anyone who hasn't received the paper for 6 months) with a provision that the price triples at the end of the 3 month "trail' period. I call to cancel at the end of the promotional period and they give me another 3 months at the special rate.

      Betty and I bought a few new games that are kid and adult friendly. We are anxious to give them a try this Sunday.

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  3. We still have cable because we watch a lot of sports, and many are just not available any other way. That being said, I also have a DVR and record everything and never watch a commercial. For sports, I start watching about an hour into the game, and usually catch up live close to the end of the game. Have thought about trying to go the no cable route, but am not willing to give up my sports. Every two years when my contract comes up, I call to downgrade and can then talk to the people who can deal, and they always give me another acceptable 2 year deal. My cable includes my internet and landline...which I still have because the landline is almost free with the package deal. Have decided that this is an acceptable bill in my budget, and would rather cut somewhere else when needed.

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    1. You have weighed the costs and benefits and made the best decision for you!

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  4. I think tv is sometimes given a bad rap. Like you said, Bob, you can get sucked into too many hours in front of the set with Netflix and Amazon Prime. We can also spend far too much time in front of the computer or ipad screens. It's about balance. I sometimes catch myself about to refuse a social engagement because of something I'd like to watch on tv. And then I scold myself. Really? I'm going to forgo actual face-to-face time for something on tv?! NOT! I support this decision and think the means justifies the end.

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    1. It is about balance and control. Television and streaming services like Netflix offer some tremendously important or purely entertaining options. But, it is much too easy to spend an evening watching programs just because they are on, not because they contribute anything to us.

      Adding Direct TV to our home, along with the DVR, has added a new dimension to our family time. I don't regret the decision at all, and so far there has been no real spike in time spent in front of the TV.

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  5. We just discovered Amazon Prime and it certainly offers options at a fraction of the cost we were paying for cable television. Fortunately, we love outdoor activities so that encourages us to get away from the boob tube for awhile. But we do enjoy good movies.

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    1. Amazon Prime is a favorite of mine, not only for the programming, but also for the free two day shipping of most everything bought from Amazon.

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  6. We still have our satellite TV, and probably a lot more channels than most. Over time we have gotten deals that now give us every premium channel and most every other channel as well. About the only thing we do not have is NFL Sunday Ticket. What was interesting is that the price they have given me will never go up. I realize that is only as good as the word of the company, but so far so good. When our anniversary comes up in early 2016 I might threaten to leave them and see if they will give me complimentary Sunday Ticket next year as well.

    While we have Amazon Prime we have only seen a few movies via that. Have thought about Netflix since I would like to go back and see the old Rod Serling "Night Gallery" series from the 70s. Maybe I'll get the complimentary one month trial and cancel at its conclusion if we don't like it.

    Bottom line, we'll hold onto the TV for now since it gives us a lot, including access through five TVs, DVR, and recording capability through every TV.

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    1. If i had to choose one, it would be Netflix over Amazon Prime. Netflix has a substantially larger library of movies, TV shows, documentaries, and original programming.

      No Sunday NFL ticket? Boo.

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  7. Some people are funny. I have a friend who lives in New York, has lived in New York his whole life, and he's a rabid Cleveland Indian fan. He has never been to Cleveland ... except to go to Cleveland Indian games. He makes a trip there every year. Go figure!

    Netflix? We have Netflix. Our problem is that we can't find much we want to watch. Okay, House of Cards and I liked Breaking Bad (B wouldn't watch it). But what else?

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  8. I am just coming off a Netflix binge and finished four seasons of Scandal in about one week - staying up until 3 AM last night to fit the last four episodes in before we head out on the road for some family visiting. Crazy! Addictive crazy! I am now reeling in my movie viewing to family viewing experiences only and hope to get back to finishing off some short stories and roll back into watercolour painting. We dropped cable years ago and never looked back. We catch the news and even current programs from the computer and of course, my new nemesis, Netflix. Early to bed tonight. No more movies for me for a few weeks!

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