Comcast, I think it’s time we started seeing other people…

My quest for cutting utility expenses didn’t actually start with AT&T, it started with Comcast.

We are at the extreme low end of tv watching in our household.  It is pretty rare that we have the energy for more than a half hour a night, and the only half hour show we actually like is Modern Family.  I think on a good week, we watch about four hours.

Aviva and I made a list of the shows we TiVo that one or both of us watch on a semi-regular basis:

  • Modern Family
  • Fringe
  • NCIS
  • Bones
  • Lie to Me
  • Top Chef
  • The Closer
  • Star Wars
  • Sesame Street 

To get this content, we are paying around $60 a month, or $720 a year.  However, more than half of these shows are broadcast for free over the air (OTA).  The ones that don’t could be downloaded from iTunes or streamed for free.  Even if I had to pay the current $1.99 iTunes price, based on the number of episodes a year, it would still be less than $100.

So why do we need to pay $60 for cable?

Actually, I know the reason why.  We are one of the few families that have yet to upgrade to HDTV, and I have no way to pull in the television signals.  Given how little TV we watch, it just doesn’t seem worth paying $1000+ to upgrade the TV, plus a few hundred dollars more for a HiDef TiVo, since I’m not going back to actual live television.

Then it occurred to me – can I do this without the TV?  I’m fine without high-def, so if I can get OTA into my existing setup, I could cut the cable.  My first thought was to just hook up a digital converter to my existing TiVo and pull in signals that way.  Unfortunately, my Series 2 Dual Tuner has no ability to tune the channels, so I am stuck.

However, It turns out that the new TiVo’s can pull in over OTA channels, provided you hook up a digital antenna.  And, it has a composite out, so I could still use my old TV, just without the high def, which isn’t my goal.  Even better, as a current TiVo subscriber, I am eligible for 33% off a new TiVo, bringing the price to $200.  Based on that math, I would break even after four months of not paying for cable.

The big unknown in my plan is that I have no idea what digital reception is like in my house.  I live in Cambridge, MA, so I should be pretty close to the base stations.  However, since I don’t actually have an HDTV, I don’t have a way to test reception.  I could end up buying the TiVo and discovering that it doesn’t work at all.

TiVo gave me a 30-day money-back guarantee, so last night I decided to take the plunge and order it.  In a few days, I will find out of the reception and composite out work the way I am hoping.  If so, it will be bad news for Comcast.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Comcast.  The bell tolls for thee…

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