Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reducing Our Cable Bill, Part 1

We just went through a process of reducing our cable bills.  I say "process" because it is quite a process with no set way to do it.  There are so many variables, equipment considerations, cords to buy, and information overload!  Here's my journey.......

Digital TV For PC 2
It all started with an eBay deal of the day -- software called Digital TV For PC 2.  It was offered for just over $10 w/free shipping.  I didn't have time to really research what it was about, but we had been discussing finding alternatives to buying cable.  I've learned with the eBay deal of the day, if you find something you want, to just buy it right away.  I've tried waiting and the item is usually sold out when I go back to buy it.

It came in the mail and we installed it on two computers (you can install on up to two computers) and were surprised by the quality of the stations we can get on it--It's great!  Yes, there are over 1000 channels offered, but many are from a foreign country, lol.  I can get the Disney channel through it and there are probably around 100 United States channels--most are news and traffic stations for various cities around the US.  Many of the stations are "unavailable".  I doubt we use the program very much.

No DVRs Required
So, even though I invested in something that we won't use, it was worth the investment to get us started thinking on how we can watch tv other ways.  The first thing I realized was almost every TV show we enjoy is available online for free, usually a day after it airs (with our DVRs we would usually watch TV shows a day or two after it recorded, anyway).  So, our first logical step was to return the DVRs to the cable company and use the free online episodes as our recorded shows.
Returning the DVRs would take us out of the "package" we had with the cable company, so we chose another package with internet and digital cable.  I called twice--once to ask about what packages were available and what was included.  The basic cable and internet package came with only the "light" version of the internet and we needed their high-speed one (so we could get TV off the internet), so the most logical package was the digital cable and internet.  I called the second time to let them know we wanted the package.  They said they couldn't "downgrade" if we were already in a package.  I kept insisting that I needed to downgrade.  I was ready to let them know I would have to go somewhere else if they couldn't do that for me.  We are saving $50/month by the downgrade.

So, we no longer have the DVRs to automatically record things and we are back to the old fashioned way of watching TV--live as it airs.  I do miss the pause feature and have to time bathroom breaks with commercials.  I knew I would have to check TV listings to find out when our favorite shows would air.  I like for TV listings because you can customize with your favorite shows and only show your favorite channels.  Yahoo TV listing has about the same features.  

The first night without the DVRs there were 6 of our favorite shows, two or three over-lapping at the same time!  I made a list of what we should watch live and what can be watched online later.  It seemed overwhelming. (I also had the flu and everything seemed overwhelming!)

The next night only 3 of our favorites were on and not at the same time!!  Much easier.  The next night only one of our favorites was on.  So it looks like there will be a couple of nights a week where several shows are on that will be hard to manage.  We will use the other nights where only one show is of interests to us to watch the shows we missed.

Although this has been a small first step of removing the DVRs, life seems a bit calmed down.  Hubby and I are actually talking more (other than about what recorded show we should watch next) and are more picky about which TV shows we watch.

Watch TV Online
Here are websites that contain full episodes for free:

Some of the links above contain current shows, but also classic TV, such as at NBC you can watch The A Team, Emergency, Magnum PI, Miami Vice and more!

Coming up next . . . Hardware, Cords and Netflix


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