TV life in a Cable-less paradigm - Your experience?

So, in it’s article Gadgets that will rewrite the rules in 2010 one of the topics that came up is

So, I get the experience of streaming a video of your choice from “teh interwebs”, and streaming a specific video file (i.e. a DL’ed movie) to your TV. The new Boxee box supports Hulu, and the PS3 supports Netflix etc. You go find the show you want to watch, and simply select it. The latest TV Hits seem to be available.

What I don’t quite understand, is if we’re all going to go cable-less, what happens to the following:

[li]24 Hour real time news?[/li][li]Live sports?[/li][li]Channel Surfing?[/li][/ul]

For those who have gone “off the wire”, do you give up these things? Do you watch on tape delay? It seems like the niche shows that are on regular TV aren’t necessarily available on a service like Hulu?

Would you recommend something like this for, say your parents? Grandparents?

I’m really curious about this, since it seems to me that the technology is there, but I’m not sure the user experience is.

Your Thoughts?

I guess I’m one of these people because we canceled our cable, but kept our Tivo. We get Fox, PBS, and one syndication channel (WPIX) by plugging into to our building. We Tivo Nova, Nature, American Experience, King of the Hill, Simpsons, Glee, House, American Idol, and Star Trek TNG. :D. We have Netflix on-demand (XBox 360) as well as regular Netflix delivery. We haven’t used Hulu much at all, I’m not sure if we’ve ever used it.

*We never watched 24 hour news when we did have cable
*We never watched live sports when we did have cable
*Channel surfing does not interest us pretty much ever since we got Tivo, which was like 8 years ago or something. Its been a while since I wondered what was on.
In sum, we didn’t lose anything we ever used or valued.

I wouldn’t recommend it to my parents but then I wouldn’t recommend Tivo to them either – its just too much for them and their brain shuts down. Recently they called the cable company because their DVD player wasn’t working. For reals. Don’t even start in on my grandma. She’s 90 and sharp as a tack but she’s not into technology. She’s the only one in her writing group still using a typewriter, and at least 2 of the ladies who do use a computer are older than her!

Playing around with Google, I found a variety of “reliable” cites that put broadband penetration in the U.S. at anywhere from 27% to 60% depending on who’s doing the study. Even at 60%, it’s way below the 85% or so of people who have cable/satellite and the 98% of people with access to broadcast television.

Leaving the issue of access aside, I don’t see any reason why CNN, ESPN et al, wouldn’t just migrate to the Web.

That said, gadget technology is still pretty cutting edge and requires a user investment in both time and money that a lot of people aren’t yet ready to make.

We haven’t had cable for a few years and use just about all the technology you mention - we stream movies from Netflix through our Xbox, and have a PC hooked up to our TV where we watch shows or movies on Hulu, or the various channels of on demand video/music available with Boxee (alpha, waiting patiently for beta, not the box), DL movies, etc.

For live news - I mostly get my news online now by reading CNN and NYT, etc. , and only during certain events do I care for a live streaming newscast. The election is a good example - we watched’s streaming coverage, at that time via a laptop hooked up to the TV.

For sports, neither of us are huge sports fans, but I like to watch the World Series, so I watched all the games using SopCast and Worked like a charm.

Between Hulu, Boxee,, Netflix and what we DL, there is enough content available to us to “channel surf”, but we’ve just never been huge TV watchers anyway.

I don’t have cable TV anymore, but it’s kind of a double cheat. When I dropped the cable and kept the broadband internet last year, my apartment still continues to receive basic cable (networks, public access, NY1, etc) so I was at least able to watch the Winter Classic hockey game live. And as I mentioned over in the TV piracy thread, I get HD-quality copies of all the shows I watch off of the internet, so the only thing I’m actually MISSING are the national news/sports networks (aka channels that really only work live), channel flipping, and the commercials. And I never want to go back.

I’m like fusoya and I get my shows all from a private torrent site (extremely safe and fast), so I have more television than I’ll ever need.

I’m a huge baseball fan, but when I moved out of my parents house (thus losing cable) I found much more enjoyment listening to the Indians on the radio. The Indians are only on cable, except for a handful of games per year. With my radio, I can go anywhere I want and still hear the game. So I do my gardening or house cleaning or even work-work during games.

I have a “converter box” and an antenna, and get all of my Browns a lot of Buckeyes on broadcast TV. The CBS reception has been shitty lately so I turn off the sound and listen to the radio for Browns games.

I will occasionally go to someone’s house or to a bar specifically to watch a baseball or football or basketball game. Yes, the Internet has forced me to be more social :smiley:

24-hour news - can’t stand it. I’ll read about stuff, download The Daily Show/Colbert, and if need be check out videos online.

Channel surfing - you don’t miss it if you don’t have commercials. Occasionally I’ll check out what’s on PBS during Browns game commercials but that’s about the extent of it.

For movies (and most TV shows if I wanted them), I have Netflix. I don’t pirate movies - or music for that matter. Just not something I’m in to.

This upcoming February will be the one-year mark sans TV for me. With some rising costs at home, it was easier to just cancel cable and go cold turkey than keep paying for something I didn’t really watch anyway. It’s as if I never had it.

Like many in this thread, I get most of my news online through news network websites and newspapers, etc. Like ZipperJJ, I get all of my sports through the radio. One thing I had never really noticed before (but I’m sure was obvious to everyone else but me), is that sports talk radio is virtually 100% live: if a story breaks in the sports world, you hear it first via radio. I loved PTI and ESPN’s various programming, but if something happened between the taping of the show, and when the show aired, the hosts naturally wouldn’t talk about it.

Channel surfing was never a big thing with me. If I’m surfing, it means I’m bored. “Go read a book or do something useful”, is what I’d tell myself.

Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

My take on all the feedback is that it sounds like the practical application of something like the Boxee/AppleTV/etc as a total TV programming source replacement may be fairly limited to a niche audience.

What I was questioning is how real and practical this supposedly NEXT! BIG! THING! could be. I wonder if this is something like landlines getting replaced by cellphones. Now, it’s a fairly easy and painless thing to do. 15 years ago, not so much due to cost, coverage, call quality etc.

I notice two of the posters mention they are still getting some kind of broadcast programming provided by a basic cable service, as opposed to using an antenna. If you had to toss up the old proverbial rabbit ears, would that have made a difference in your decision?

Personally, my TV watching is fairly limited in a precision strike way - get in, watch something specific, get out. I would probably like a solution like the other posters have, but I think I’d have a hard time selling it to my wife. I don’t really watch sports myself, or much else, but a lot of people do. And it sounds like, for the run-of-the-mill person there would be some significant (and possibly unpalatable) changes in behavior required to make something like this work.

I think it would be great if there was the ability for consumers to really price shop for content providers in a way that you can’t really do now. Unless you don’t want TV at all, for most people your choice is local cable monopoly provider X or the satellite services.

We cancelled our cable months ago, because the box broke and we procrastinated about shuffling down to the Cable Office of Doom to get a new one, and it had been two months and we realized we only missed the clock.

We don’t do any of the things that you think would be a problem. We don’t surf channels - we watch things we specifically mean to watch through Netflix, Hulu, or various other means. We don’t watch sports or the news, either. We don’t miss it at all. We do have a media computer hooked up to the TV.

Not at all. I would probably get more channels via aerial, actually - NYC historically has good aerial coverage. And to be clear, I don’t pay anything for the channels I get through the wall. Basically for some reason the cable company cannot stop me from receiving them, we returned all of our boxes and stuff and literally just plug a coax straight into a port on the wall.

I had aerial + Netflix (on demand not yet available) a few years ago in a rural locale - no cable service and I could not afford Satellite TV. Aerial reception was a bit spotty (“Lost” could be frustrating) but ya can’t always get what you want.

We stuck an antenna on the thing because my boyfriend had one lying around. It didn’t pick anything up, and we didn’t care. We just bought a new giant TV and tried it on that one - it works, but all we got was sports and America’s Funniest Videos en Espanol. Which was kind of awesome, really. But I doubt we’ll watch anything over the air unless, say, there’s a hurricane a’comin’.

The internet has made niche shows viable. You can reach people all over the world and they can watch that show whenever they want. With TV, you’re audience has to be available for a specific half hour period of the day (or have Tivo, which is sort of a more recent development). Plus a channel has to pick you up.

We killed our satellite service last fall, having decided that $100 a month was just ridiculous. The vast majority of what we want to see is still available to us:

We have a PC hooked to the TV and an antenna in the attic. Windows Media Center records up to two shows at a time. So we can watch Dollhouse, Glee, How I Met Your Mother and suchlike pretty much the same way we did before. We record shows off PBS’s all-kid-shows-all-the-time station for the children to watch ad infinitum.

That same PC can run Hulu, iTunes, and Netflix Watch Instantly, as well as shows directly from station sites, if necessary. Thusly we watch Stargate, Sanctuary, Top Chef, and also fill in any shows like Glee that might get screwed up by bad weather via antenna.

We are currently watching Fringe and Wonderfalls on DVD from Netflix.

If I’m looking to have something to have on in the background (our typical “channel surfing” situation), I put on Arrested Development on Hulu or one of our go-to DVDs (which we also have ripped to WMC).

I know I will really miss it when True Blood comes back and I won’t be able to watch it until the season is over and it comes out on DVD. This is when the temptation to use illegal download sources is greatest. I would happily pay for the show a la iTunes, but I’m not going to subscribe to a bunch of cable stations I don’t want, plus HBO’s full line up, which I’m generally not interested in, just to watch one show live.

The biggest difference I’ve noticed is I’m much less likely to sit down and watch something crappy that I’m not terribly interested in, since I have to be more deliberate about what I see. If HBO showed Meet the Spartans I might watch it, but I’m never going to rent it from Netflix.

Oh, and I’ve never liked 24 hour cable news - tons of padding, repetition, and paper-thin coverage. We’ve always gotten news from NPR while we shower and stuff, or in the car. And we’re not huge sports fans, so that’s no biggie.

Cable TV is too expensive for me (here in NYC it was costing me $70 a month – thanks for the monopoly, Time Warner!), so I’ve been doing without for about three years now. Plus, I only have one computer, no TIVO or 360 or any other set-top appliance.

Regular non-cable reception in Manhattan sucks, as a matter of fact, which probably isn’t surprising considering all the interference we must have. I don’t know about ‘aerial’ reception, but with my rabbit ears (prior to digital cable) I had very little luck finding a clear, or even a semi-clear, channel.

Unlike the above folks, I do miss channel surfing. It’s rough for me too because I work from home and live alone, so things can get kinda quiet here at times. I’m really too busy to watch much TV anyway, but I actually used to like playing the music channels just to hear some good Broadway / Jazz / Classical tunes. Most of all, I miss the serendipity of finding a nifty classic on TCM or a good documentary / some yummy-looking cooking show on PBS or a Roseanne episode on Nick @ Nite I haven’t seen in a while.

But I make do with Hulu, Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon’s Videos, Surf the Channel, Veoh, YouTube, and of course some network sites too. The only “regular” TV I watch these days is The Office, 30 Rock, Mad Men and The Simpsons. Of those, only Mad Men isn’t available online for free. As far as news goes, that I do miss for instant access to something visual, but I can use radio or the web for news coverage. Not a sports fan so it doesn’t affect me.

I’m moving to Chicago (yay) in about a week. I have internet already ordered for the new place, but no TV yet. I really like my DirecTV here, but the apt building doesn’t allow for satellites, so the only option is Comcast (not an RCN area, or a U-Verse area). I hate comcast with a fury, so I’m going to try and see how long I can go without TV access.

It will probably be easier for me than for others. I have a media center computer setup already, and I have an infrastructure for automatically downloading TV shows as they get put online (how I’ve been watching Showtime and HBO shows lately), so it wont be difficult to adapt that to include all the shows I watch.

The tradeoffs are time, of course. With my DVR I never watch shows as soon as they air, I usually wait at least half an hour so I can skip through the commercials, but I normally watch shows the day they air. With downloading, or with hulu or itunes or whatever, I’ll only be able to watch stuff the next day. That will probably be hard to get used to.

Also, as mentioned above, I wont have ready access to CNN or whatever should some part of the world blow up. I guess I’ll just look online.

Now that I’ve actually read the thread, I feel like I can safely admit that I use boxee and use torrents for my TV shows. If I did go legit and start using iTunes, my home theater computer is a Mac, so I could use Front Row for that and still maintain my 6’ interface. (If I have to whip out my iPhone for wifi mouse/keyboarding the HTPC, I feel like I’m destroying the TV experience)

No cable here and I don’t miss it at all. I get broadcast TV over the air (we have a pretty good selection of channels in Madison) and fill in the gaps with Netflix DVDs or Watch Instantly.

I don’t care about 24-hour news and 90% of sports, all of which you can access on the Internet anyway. My equivalent to channel surfing is figuring out what to Watch Instantly on Netflix.

OH, and wierdaaron, it’s against FCC regulations (with a few caveats) for the apt to not allow dish installation. Here’s a link to the regs.

Interesting. I don’t think I care enough to raise a stink about it, though. I’m pretty sure the reason they don’t allow them is because the wires usually have to run down the outside of the building and then go through a hole into the apartment, but my building has a fully glass exterior, there’s no outside “wall” to my place… you’d have to drill a hole through the glass.