What's up with this phenomenon? (Won't watch TV ... but will watch TV shows on DVD.)

I have various bohemian friends who never, ever, ever watch TV. A portion because they don’t want to pay for cable, but most of them because TV is evil, etc.

Yet, they will gobble up DVDs of collected seasons of these same shows–Sopranos, Lost, Buffy, 24, etc.

I don’t understand this mindset. How is this any different? How is it less bad? Is it just because it’s on your schedule, and not the networks’? (COUGH–VCR–COUGH) Or because you might have to watch–GASP!–commercials?

I watch TV series on DVD, but it’s either because I’m obsessed with them and want to watch them over and over (Buffy) or because they haven’t been on TV for years, etc. (Star Blazers). But if they were on TV, brand new, I’d also gladly watch them there.

A few possibilities:

  1. Only heard of the series after it had been on long enough to have missed the front end

  2. Don’t want to wait a week to see what happens

  3. Series no longer avilable on regular TV

  4. Don’t want to mess with commercials

  5. Want the extras that most DVD’s come with


The only TV series DVD’s I have were gifts:

– The British version of The Office – Season One
Cosmos box set

I watch cable shows on DVD because I don’t have cable. I would also watch them rather than regular broadcasts for all the reasons you mentioned. The commercials just seem to annoy the hell out of me sometimes, and if I were to get used to watching shows without them, it would be much worse. This season, I missed mroe episodes of My Name Is Earl than I saw in the first run. I don’t own a VCR, because I am done with magnetic tape. Even if I weren’t, though, if I could remember to set the VCR, I could remember to just go watch the damn show.

I do not have cable. I don’t want to pay for it. I don’t want to watch on their schedule.

I do buy some TV shows on DVD but I pick & choose. Very carefully. I do buy a ton of movies on DVD. And yes, a big part of it is that I can watch on my schedule. I don’t tie myself to the TV this way.

It’s also

  • No commercials
  • I don’t buy current TV series normally… Barney Miller. Samurai Jack. X-Files. Third Rock. And I only buy up to the part where it’s demonstrably getting bad.
  • I don’t think TV is evil but I don’t think it’s good. If I have cable, I will watch it… Thus, better not to have it.
  • I don’t particularly like watching something when 75% of the rest of the country is watching it, so every time you turn around, you’re hearing stuff about it. I’d rather be late to the party every time.
  • Most TV is crap.

I think that’s it.
ETA: One more thing. When you watch TV, and they have a particularly exciting cliffhanger, you just have to wait. When I watch, and I get to a cliffhanger and I just can’t wait, I just pop in the next episode.

My reasons for doing it would include 1-4 on Zeldar’s list.

For most TV shows now, I just can’t stand to waste my time watching a show if it’s going to be cancelled after 6 episodes (Studio 60) so I don’t watch anything new on TV (except The Office and occasional Simpsons episode). 24, Lost, Heroes, etc. For all of the big name shows, I’m more than happy to wait 5 years to watch them when they’re wrapped up. If I want to watch 3 episodes in a row I can. I don’t have to rush home to watch my show.

And besides, everything is better without commercials.

ETA: And VCRs are the tool of Satan. I hate them and refuse to spend money on a DVR.

My wife and I have nothing against TV, and we actually watch a fair bit of it, but we just don’t care enough to plan our evening schedule around any particular show(s). When we turn on the television, it’s always “I feel like watching some TV, let’s see what’s on TNT or TLC right now,” never “Oh, it’s 7:00 pm, time for Battlestar Galactica.” If there’s a series I want to see, I’ll catch it on DVD later, when I can watch as many episodes as I want at a time, on my own schedule.

I’m kind of one of those people.

About five or six years ago, I was late paying my cable bill and they shut off my cable. I paid the company, but never got the cable turned back on. I found that I preferred life without TV.

When I had cable, I used to flip on the TV when I walked in the door after work and not turn it off until I was ready to go to bed. I might be reading a book, or noodling around on the computer, but the TV was always on. I knew there were really only about five or six shows that I REALLY wanted to watch, but I was habitually watching way more than that. If I were a more self-disciplined person, I could have 1,015 channels and limit my viewing only to those things that I really cared about, but I’m not actually that self-disciplined.

And, yes, I very much prefer my life without so much commercial content – I read Salon and the Dope and some blogs and online news sites, I listen to NPR, and I watch my favorite TV series on DVD when the mood strikes. I encounter very few commercials in my day-to-day life, and I like it that way.

And I love the extras on DVDs – outtakes, commentaries, makings-of, etc – all worth having it seems to me.

My only real complaint is for sports viewing. It’s inconvenient to have to go out somewhere anytime I want to catch a football game or tennis match.

ETA: But I don’t really GOBBLE UP TV series DVDs. I have quite a lot of the West Wing, a number of BBC series that I would have bought anyway (Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Coupling, Jeeves and Wooster), some old time favorites like Taxi and Rockford Files that were gifts from someone else, and I’m addicted to my first two seasons of House and counting down the days until season three is out – AUGUST 22nd!!!

For me personally, it’s a simple pragmatic matter. I don’t have a TV, but I do have a DVD player on my computer.

Plus the other convenience issues mentioned by others (scheduling, lack of commercials, etc.).

For me, a bohemian that does not watch network TV but does love DVD sets, the two overriding factors are:

  • Intolerance for commercials (this is huge. I find commercials so disruptive and annoying, that I can no longer tolerate them).
  • Ability to watch multiple episodes at a sitting (not having to wait a week).

And a 3rd, less important factor is: ability to re-watch episodes.

Less selfish: the ability to share these disks with friends.

The best examples of DVD sets that all of these apply to are:
“The Office” (original BBC - both seasons and specials)
“Arrested Development” (all 3 seasons)
“Lost” (seasons 1 and 2)

I have not re-watched much of “Lost”, but I have watched “The Office” and “AD” episodes over and over. And I’ve lent these disks to friends, who have then gotten hooked.

Now I realize that DVR’s go a long way in dealing with the first 3 factors. And there are probably ways to “extract” shows onto DVD to be able to share them. But I think when you are not “plugged in” to watching network shows, the idea of a DVR is not all that appealing/necessary.

Lastly, I think an important distinction may be that I simply “can wait” until DVD sets come out. It is pretty much a given that any TV show will be released on DVD. And I no longer feel the need to be “up to date” on what is happening in shows.

I don’t watch TV at all, but I buy TV series on DVD to watch. Convenience, scheduling, and no commercials.

The main reason is probably one of scheduling. I don’t really like arranging things around TV shows, if I remember when they’re on at all. Even if I like a show, I’m active enough that I’ll miss it most of the time anyway.

No commercials is also a big one. Judging by TV commercials, advertising executives should be rounded up and separated from the rest of humanity to ensure that whatever they have doesn’t spread. I’ve never seen such utter stupidity as when I watch TV commericials. There are products I refuse to buy based solely on how bad their TV commercials are.

A good part of convenience is that I’m pretty picky about what I watch in the first place, and very rarely is there a TV lineup I can watch for more than an hour. I like being able to pop in a Simpson’s DVD and watch 2 or 3 hours of something I know I will like while I’m doing other things.

That’s pretty much it for me. Especially the part about commercials.

I almost never watch TV, but I buy TV series on DVD – mostly anime, but some good English and American series. For me, it means I can watch the best of what interests me, at a time when it’s convenient to me (including on a portable DVD player on a plane in the middle of the Pacific), and I can watch things again if I want to. Some of the stuff I watch is probably pretty hard to get even on cable, and I suspect that what I spend on DVDs is less than I’d have to spend on cable to support my tastes.

For about a third of what I’d pay for cable (at a minimum), the Blockbuster Online plan keeps me in tv shows and movies to beat the band. I am watching the Sopranos right now, and I love the idea that I can rip off the whole series over the next year or so, at my pace.

I also love falling asleep to TV series DVD commentary (if anyone was thinking of marrying me). I find that auteur-style TV shows are much more likely to have informed, involved commentary tracks that deal with story, character development, and other stuff I like to know.

Without cable TV, I miss some sports, The Daily Show, and maybe the BBC. That’s it, and to me it’s not worth the extra 60-70 bucks a month when I always have at least six hours of media at my beck and call at any time.

When I had the TV connected, all I did was watch TV. Now it is disconnected, I read, I cook, I do lots of other things instead of blobbing in front of the telly looking for the least irritating thing to watch. I have many DVDs, films and TV series, and enjoy choosing what I want to watch when I want to watch it.
Like many of the others here I don’t like to have to watch adverts during the programme, the whole “I want/have to have a newer better version of something I have which works perfectly well” saddens me.
I also enjoy swapping DVDs with friends, watching a series more than once and not having to wait a whole week for the next installment.
I suppose it’s horses for courses, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t watch telly.

I get sick of the changing times and repeats drawnout over a year for an 8 episode show. Add commericals, and I don’t really find television important enough to watch it when they have it on or all at a sitting. I will watch the 8 episodes in a couple days when what I need done is done. The only exception is Doctor Who for me.

A DVD rental place about a mile from our house has a $20/month subscription plan for 1 dvd at a time. If we want to watch anything, we have to go for a 2-mile walk (technically we could drive, but unless the weather is wretched or our day has been utterly exhausting, we always walk).

This means that we can’t watch television unless we make a concerted effort to do so and we get some exercise first. I really like it that way: it keeps us, for the most part, from letting television suck up our entire evening. No, sucking up great swaths of time is the computer’s job.


My family that way for religious reasons. My wife and I feel that it’s way too easy for my children to encounter what I consider to be inappropriate subject matter on TV (and in commercials as much as or more than the actual programming!), and we can offer them (and watch for ourselves) enjoyable shows on DVD, once we’ve sampled them in some manner.

In addition, we wish to impose on our children the mindset that we control what we watch, when we watch it, with pauses as we deem necessary; we don’t let the TV control our lives’ schedule or even affect it in the slightest, and we don’t feel that if we leave the TV for a single moment of programming or commercial time, we’ll miss something we wanted to see.

On the other hand, I simply can’t comprehend people who tie themselves to the TV! Friendships languish very quickly when you hear time and time again “I can’t come over, Lost is on.” Or whatever show of the week it is.

I don’t hate commercials, I just hate the wasted time they represent. Since we got a DVR we tend to not watch a lot of shows live anymore, since waiting until it finishes recording saves about 10 minutes from a 30 minute show.
Another reason is that the shows flow much better without commercials - or even without having to fast forward through the commercials.
It is also easier to schedule watching the shows. And, a lot of shows I watch are 20 - 40 years old. The original half hour Danger Man is quite good!

I’m with everyone else. There’s nothing “on tv” that I need or want to watch. I absolutely abhor television news and news magazines.

I do watch a lot of tv programming. About 50% of it is from the BBC or Canada, stuff that’s not on here and was never on here. I have a region 2 player for the BBC stuff. I also like to watch series in full - right now I’m working my way through Law & Order.

A TiVo/DVR is a nice mid-way solution (not being tied to a schedule) but you’ve still got commercials and limited space.

A $50/mo investment is not something I need or want so I can watch TV. My time is plenty full, and I watch plenty of television shows and movies without it.

ETA: I really DO miss watching baseball on TV - but when I want to see a game, I go to my dad’s or to a bar or to the stadium. Most nights I listen on my radio while I do work around the house. Lucky for me, Cleveland has the country’s best radio baseball announcer :slight_smile: