Ditching Cable – A Family Experiment

In just a couple of days, I will move with my family to St, Louis, over 800 miles from our current home in Baltimore.  While the move means new jobs for my wife and myself and a new school for the kids, it is also the opportunity to re-evaluate how we live and what we use.

I am an early adopter: I am always looking for the new device, the new way of doing something, the new app.  Fortunately, I am married to a late adopter: my wife balances my impulsivity with common sense and makes me consider whether the new gadget/ workflow really makes sense.

So, a couple of years ago, when I first read on Lifehacker that it was possible to ditch cable and still continue to watch TV, I was ready to save $140 a month on our cable bill.  We already subscribed to Netflix, though at this point, Netflix wasn’t yet producing its own content.  But my wife had concerns: how were we going to get the TV shows that our kids love?  How were we going to watch football?  And what about The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Over the past year, however, we have found more and more fun TV and movies on Netflix (we hit a particularly fun streak of French comedies, for example).  We have continued to purchase movies for the kids on iTunes, and they have really enjoyed the discounted Ice Age animation movie series.

Last month, I bought a Mohu Leaf , a HD digital antenna that costs just $35 and plugs into the back of your TV like good old fashioned “rabbit ears.”  However, the Leaf allows you took pick up all broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS etc.) in high definition for free! Using it, then, we can watch some of favorite mind-numbing shows (remember, we have two small children) such as So You Think You Can Dance, The Amazing Race, and The Biggest Loser.

On Hulu Plus we can also get The Daily Show  plus hundreds of other TV shows.

So for this move, we are going to try a family experiment for three months, or until the complaints from the other three members of my family wear me down.  No cable TV!  We will use a couple of Apple TVs to access Netflix, iTunes, and Hulu Plus, and the Mohu Leaf to watch network TV, in particular, live football.

It’s going to be a major change, but could also save us a lot of money as well as make us more intentional about what we watch.  Wish us luck!