This came up twice yesterday, which was a little odd, considering it almost never comes up. One co-worker was amazed that we don't have cable, and while I was taking an online survey for a membership we have, one question asked who our provider was, with the only options being cable, satellite, or no TV at all. We have a TV, but we don't have cable, nor do we have satellite. We can get a few broadcast channels, if we stick the antenna out the window, jiggle it just right and stand on our heads. This doesn't mean we don't watch anything, but it does mean we tend to watch new shows about a year after they start and/or get popular. So, how do we do it? And why?
I'll start with the why: Primarily, we don't want to pay upwards of $100 a month for something we watch for less than 2 hours a day (most days less than that). Apart from a few regular TV shows, most of what we watch is hockey or baseball. Our local cable provider does not carry NBCSports (aka Versus) at all, as far as I can tell, and that is one of the main channels for hockey. For satellite, we have to get one of the most expensive packages to get it. Our baseball team is in Seattle, so we would have to pay extra for the special MLB channels anyway to watch the Mariners on a regular basis. If we could get an a la carte option, where we could pick which channels we received, and the ones we wanted were available, we would might go for it.
Another reason is that so much of what we watch is available online. Daily Show? Up the day after it airs - and we wouldn't stay up to watch it live in any event. Hockey and baseball are also available online, when you buy a special package. Most TV shows show up on Netflix in one form or another eventually.
Which brings us to how we watch TV these days. I don't think we are all that unusual, really. We watch some things free, like the Daily Show. We pay for a Netflix subscription that includes one DVD at a time and unlimited streaming, which covers TV shows and movies. Yes, we have to wait a long time for a season of new shows, since most shows don't release the DVD until the next season is about to start. So, we are a year behind on Game of Thrones, Castle, and Modern Family. We are also really late to Battlestar Galactica, but only because we just never got around to it until recently. In addition to Netflix, we also buy Leverage on iTunes right away, so we can see it as soon as it is shown on TV. In that case, we already owned the first two seasons on DVD, and I knew I would just go out and buy the third, so paying to watch wasn't a big deal.
The big things we buy are the NHL and MLB packages. Those are each $100+, but that gets us the entire season, and we can watch almost any game we want. There are two exceptions, the first being our so-called local teams - Texas Rangers, Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals in baseball, and Dallas Stars in hockey (but not the St. Louis Blues) - which is only a problem when our teams are playing those teams. The second is more annoying - we can't see any game that is broadcast on a "national" channel, which includes both broadcast and cable. Since we bought the package because we can't get those channels, this seems rather stupid. And it can be a problem, because at least one of the teams we watch, the Pittsburgh Penguins, is pretty good and has a couple of big stars, it gets put on national TV fairly often. We also can't get playoff games for either baseball or hockey, unless they aren't on national TV.
When we watch shows and games on the computer, we hook it up to the TV (which is not much bigger than a regular computer monitor anyway), so we aren't hunched over the laptop. I know it wouldn't work for a lot of people, my parents included (they always complain about how small the TV is, and how we don't get any channels!), but it works for us.
Now you know way more than you ever needed or wanted to about our TV habits! I promise a return to pretty pictures next time.