Eight Reasons to Quit Cable TV

Two years ago I canceled my cable TV subscription and never regretted it, and you should consider doing it too, for the following eight reasons:

1. Cable is too expensive. At $60-$100 per month, depending on what you subscribe to, that money can be put to better use — and I don’t mean on something other than entertainment. With this budget at your discretion each month, subscribe to Netflix ($10-$30), go to the movie theater ($20-$40) and have enough left over to buy/rent a TV show or movies from iTunes, Amazon or the local video store. Sure, you can’t get everything that’s on TV that way, but once you shut off access to cable, you soon forget about what you might have had if you had it, and focus on enjoying the shows you do have access to.

2. Schedule your entertainment, don’t let it schedule you. Taking control means you decide what you watch and when. Entertainment and art is meant to serve your needs, not the other way around — and being more purposeful about this aspect of your life will net a happier experience.

What about the DVR? Don’t let it trick you into getting a cable subscription. You still have to figure out what channel and time a show is on to record it. If there are too many shows on at the same time, you have to pick which one to record. Annoying. Further, most DVRs get filled with a lineup of content that never gets watched anyway, and then you have to decide which shows to delete. Double annoying.

If you really need that planned entertainment fix, take the extra money saved from canceling cable and schedule yourself a live performance of your favorite play at the local theater, attend the opera or symphony, or just go to the movie theater.

3. Dumping cable is more just to the artists and producers of entertainment. When you spend your money on specific content you want to consume, you are more directly rewarding the producers of that content. Cable gives you hundreds of channels, most of which you probably never watch. None-the-less, your subscription fees go to pay for that cable provider to carry every channel in its lineup. Going al la carte means fewer steps between your pocket book and those that create the content you watch.

4. Alternative content is available for free on the Internet. Several shows I would have never thought possible are available for free as a download on the Internet. And they are very high quality. With your savings, upgrade your Internet access speed so you can download them faster.

Don’t dismiss medium to low quality content either, which can still be entertaining and focused specifically to your interests. In other words, they are more entertaining and rewarding to you. Try doing a searching on YouTube for your favorite subjects or hobbies and you might find something pretty entertaining.

5. Live content is not reason enough for cable TV. For emergency news, the radio is a better alternative. If you’re a hard core sports fan, this may be where the cable companies have you. I don’t have a good argument here, except for the next item:

6. Digital broadcast is good enough. With canceled cable savings you can buy a digital antenna for those must-watch live events, such as the Super Bowl. Movies happen to be my “sport,” so the Academy Awards is the one show that I watch on TV a year. With digital broadcast, it comes through in crystal-clear, high definition.

If you don’t get a good digital signal, arrange to go to a friend’s house for these occasions, or visit the local sports bar and watch it there. Doesn’t enjoying these events with friends make it much more fun, anyway?

7. You will enjoy commercials again. Believe it or not, a sabbatical from cable TV will liven your view of commercials. They are often well produced, entertaining and can be quite funny, especially if you’re watching them for the first time.

8. News is better read than watched. Cable news junky? Cut through the crap and read your news (on the Internet is best). Read for the facts, think for yourself and don’t get caught up in the unending arguments of nothing-to-say pundits on cable news.

You can digest much more information in 30-45 minutes of reading than several hours of TV news watching. Inevitably, clips from these shows will surface on the Web where you can view it in a more goal-directed context (see #2).

But what about …? Some are addicted to the Food Network, or must watch that specific show that just isn’t available anywhere else. This is understandable, but try going without it for a while. It is likely you won’t miss it that much when you replace it with other options that are just as good, if not better.

However, in the end, if there is that one show that is worth the price of admission to cable, then go for it. The point here is to be more conscious of and purposeful about your entertainment watching.

So for those ready to take the plunge, disconnect the cable box and get the highest speed Internet access you can afford for those great alternatives including HD downloads and streaming — and enjoy your TV again.