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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No TV; No Problem!

Earlier this year, we had a dispute with a well known television provider. My wife cancelled the service and after Digital D-Day, we realized that we had no TV of any kind. We did not move quickly although we looked in to satellite services and a new cable competitor. As the weeks rolled by, we found we did rather well without TV and still were avid users of video. Today, we discuss our several months of TV free life.

There were absolutely no withdrawal pains. My wife in our thirty years of marriage has been the lightest TV viewer that I know. For me, it should have been tricky as I have certain interests that lend themselves to light but pretty regular TV viewing. And, as a media analyst, I need to keep current on programming. But, we found alternatives within a few days.

Hulu.com bailed us out by providing all of the current primetime programs that either of us watched with some regularity. We also became spoiled watching with the low commercial load. The Hulu.com option was there when we wanted it.

I am news junkie particularly of the business and political vein. Watching CNBC daily via streaming video actually enhanced my enjoyment. I only watched those interviews that I chose to and generally saw only a 15 second spot before each segment. Book TV on C-Span has long been a favorite but, again, I did not waste any time. I could go on-line and pull up any interview that I wanted. The same held true with MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN. I heard Meet the Press on the radio a few times as well.

There were two things that I missed. Some live sports just cannot be replicated and I missed the US Open Golf Tournament and Wimbledon Tennis (I saw Tom Watson’s valiant run as a 59 year old in the British Open Golf Championship in a restaurant while trying to chat with the owner who spoke almost no English). And, a summer without any baseball was annoying although I normally only watch an inning or two. What else? Turner Classic Movies! The great Robert Osbourne gives insightful commentary prior to each film. I learn so much even as an old movie buff that I sometimes watch his preamble and then do not watch the film if I have seen it before.

Netflix filled some holes as did getting an entire season of British mysteries or a year of an HBO series borrowed for free from the library. Of course, I saw no advertising under that scenario.

Many college students that I have spoken to watch very little TV but, like me, they watch a good bit of video although their choices were significantly different than mine.

Also, I must add that when we traveled, we stayed a bit too long with The Weather Channel or Headline News after not having TV for so long.

To my friends and readers in broadcast and cable, I say categorically not to worry. Most people would not be willing or maybe able to do what we did for a few months. The exercise did show how much the world has changed. So much is available in our digital world these days and you get more flexibility and see far less advertising which may appeal to some. If more people go this route, it will likely spread rather slowly, but even if only a few hundred thousand do, it will be one more leak from the depleting reservoir of advertiser supported TV.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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