Goodbye Cable, Hello OTA+Netflix

I have some news. This may surprise you. Are you sitting down? I hope you are – or were, since the title kinda gives it away.

We canceled cable.

Which means we also got rid of the TiVos.

And what prompted this? We got a new TV.

Stay with me here – it eventually makes sense.

Our previous TV was old. A 100lb Tube monstrosity kinda old. It worked with the TiVo, but the TiVo didn’t work with digital cable. We were being harassed weekly by the cable company to get a digital box before the conversion to all-digital cable happened, but I was not about to embark on even more channels without a PVR, and with a perfectly good TiVo, I was DEFINITELY not going to pay $700 for the cable company’s sub-standard PVR.

And then the cable company’s internet service really started sucking.

And then Neil got a bonus from work.

And lo, the wheels of change were set in motion.

We bought a fancy new TV. We canceled the TiVo subscriptions. We canceled our cable+internet from the cable company, and went with a new internet provider. We bought a cheap HD Antenna and signed up for Netflix.

We are happy!

We followed the advice in this great HD OTA intro and tutorial for Vancouverites from John Bollwitt. We happen to have a balcony with direct line-of-sight to Mt. Seymour, the site of most of the local digital broadcast towers, and we’ve consistently gotten five channels in perfect, crystal-clear HD (CBC, CTV, CityTV, Global and Omni) with a sometimey 6th (KVOS). This should only improve as more networks make the switch to HD. And just those five channels listed cover 85% of the content we used to watch.

I also signed up for Netflix as soon as it came to Canada. It’s important to note that I am apparently an anomaly in TV and Movie-land. I watch fewer than 10 movies a year (that includes both theater visits and rentals). I can only really manage to follow 3 or 4 TV shows at once. And especially these days, a LOT of stuff is just plain on past my bedtime. This makes the content on Netflix PERFECT for me. There are tons of movies I’ve never seen. There are dozens of TV shows I haven’t yet watched (I’m currently starting Season 2 of MadMen. In network-land it just wrapped up season 4).

Currently available in the US, but not yet in Canada, one can even stream Netflix directly from the particular model of TV I have. I’ve got my fingers crossed that functionality will make it across the border soon. In the meantime, I just hook my laptop up to the TV and watch that way. It’s been great. We’ve also been contemplating acquiring a PS3, since it can play Blu-Ray discs and stream Netflix, though neither of us are much for its core purpose: video games.

It’s been four months since we cut cable, and so far I don’t miss it. I do miss having a PVR, but considering we watch so much less TV now overall, it feels much less of a hassle to wait for a commercial break to pee, or sit through commercials at all on the things we do watch live.

I NEVER thought I’d willingly live without cable, but with so many more options, it’s another bill I’m pretty happy to have kissed goodbye.

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4 thoughts on “Goodbye Cable, Hello OTA+Netflix

  1. gillian

    I was planning on trying out OTA too, I haven’t signed up for cable TV at my new place.

    Here’s a dumb question for you: did you put the antenna outside on the balcony?

  2. peechie Post author

    gillian: we did put the antenna outside. we’re running a cable from it, in the window and into the TV. Putting it up inside didn’t give us much in the way of reception (living in a concrete building also doesn’t help with that).

    I imagine if you have a window with a good Northern exposure, you might have better luck with the indoor antenna than we did. Also, when we got the antenna from London Drugs, the sales person said we could certainly take it home, try it out, and return it if it didn’t work out for us.

  3. Darren

    Good work! The only thing keeping me from canceling cable and just going with iTunes/Netflix/something else combination is sports. I want to watch most of the Canucks games, and an occasional soccer game. Until I can get that in some form of on-demand way, I’m stuck with cable, unfortunately.
    Darren´s last blog post ..Day 4 and Your Father’s Moustache

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