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
- 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…