Forget Cutting Cable, Why Not Cut TV?

Categories Reader Question, Simplifying
why not cut TV

Many PF bloggers are strong proponents of cutting cable in favor of saving thousands a year. Most packages (phone+internet+TV) seem to run around $130-$150 (in my experience). That’s around $1,700 a year.

After cutting cable, though, most people resort to other alternatives, such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

What if you didn’t? What if you decided to cut the cord from television entirely?

I was reading the profile of a couple that had a room listed on Airbnb a few days ago. In the profile, they warned potential guests that they do not have a television in the house, citing the reasons that they don’t enjoy it much, and are too busy to watch it.

That got me thinking …

why not cut TV

Why Not Cut TV?

The New York Daily News came out with information that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV. The typical person gets home from work around 5:30/6. If they plopped down on the couch for 5 hours, and ate dinner while watching TV, that leads them to 10:30/11. Then it’s bed time, but it’s likely that many are glued to the TV for hours after that.

That’s 25 hours a week – you could have worked a part-time job (or worked on a side hustle) in that amount of time!

Ask yourself how many hours a day, on average, you spend watching TV. Then look at the article and compare yourself to the demographic you’re in. Did you really think you spent that many hours in front of the screen?

Is any of this really surprising though? So many of us watch TV as our prime source of entertainment, especially when it comes to sports. TV shows (mostly reality) can be an escape from our own lives. We mindlessly watch some really stupid crap on TV to unwind from a day of hard work.

If you look at the break down from the article, it only gets worse with age, and I have witnessed this. Even though my grandma is very active for her age, if she’s got nothing planned for the day, you’ll find her in the den, watching TV.

What’s worse is that she’ll leave it on, and turn on the TV in her kitchen when she goes in there. It kills me!

My parents are not any better. They often leave the TV on as background noise. They’re not even paying attention to it.

Why do we do this?

Is watching TV a waste of time?

My annoyance with TV comes from the fact that my boyfriend is a chronic channel surfer. He will come home and immediately turn on the TV, and start looking through the channels. This lasts at least a half hour or more, before he finally finds something to settle on.

I am 100% sure we could be finding something way more productive to be doing than saying, “Well, this looks to be the most promising program right now!”

It wastes so much time. I truly don’t get the point of going through every available channel again and again.

It was different at our last apartment, when we had an awesome package (included in rent). We could catch some movies we never saw, and we didn’t want for channels at all.

Now, we have a very basic package which comes included in our rent, but I could really do without it. Most of the channels don’t display well, we have no channel guide whatsoever so it’s even more annoying to find things on TV, and the selection is awful.

I remarked the other day to R that while I’m home all day, never does the TV get turned on. I honestly think R has become a victim of habit. He dormed at college, and got used to sitting around the TV with everyone, trying to find something to watch. He often did this at home, too, when he just wanted to relax, and ended up falling asleep.

I know a lot of people do it for that reason – TV is definitely associated with relaxing. But R has gotten into reading, and it always amuses me when he says he doesn’t have time for it. When we’ve tried to have dinner eating at the island, I couldn’t help but notice R was seriously restless. He’s too used to having something to watch while eating!

My personal take

I couldn’t care less if we had cable or not, and that is the honest truth. Like the AirBnB couple I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve never had any interest in TV. I was more into books. When I was younger, I would take reading over watching movies or TV.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started having “favorite shows,” but it wouldn’t devastate me if I had to miss episodes. Life goes on.

Like some people are addicted to social media, or following celebrity gossip, others are completely obsessed with their favorite shows. I never got it. I’m also not obsessed with sports, so I can’t vouch for that either, though I know a few of you who are!

I just can’t help but think that if we didn’t have TV at all, that we might have a bit more quality time together, or some more time to be productive. I know the channel surfing could be solved by switching to Hulu/Netflix, but I see R just flicking through shows on there, too.

I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss instead of focusing on cutting cable. Food for thought. I’m certainly not advocating that we all go and take our TV’s and throw them out the window =). I’m wondering if we should reflect more on why we seem to value TV.

Let’s talk about our TV habits! Am I in the super minority of people who don’t really care about TV? How many televisions do you have? What if sports weren’t an issue? How many hours do you spend watching TV?

Erin is a total goofball who sucks at writing about herself (though she finds referring to herself in the third person amusing). When she's not editing videos, she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cats, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, sipping coffee, or any random combination of the above.

49 thoughts on “Forget Cutting Cable, Why Not Cut TV?

  1. I definitely went through a phase about a year ago where I was hooked to trashy reality TV. Once our cable bill started going crazy we just cut it all together. I can’t believe how much cable companies get away with. We did purchase an inexpensive antenna so we could watch the winter Olympics but now we really don’t watch much. We mostly watch movies now. I honestly don’t miss cable at all. In fact, I wish we had cut it way sooner!

    1. I’m glad it hear it worked out for you! I think getting an antenna is a great idea to expand your coverage a little bit. I just can’t believe how much they charge, and how much it increases for all the little add-ons!

  2. We cut cable, but honestly, I could definitely cut TV altogether, myself. I really don’t watch much of it and only watch if my hubby and son want to put something on which is usually a movie. I really prefer reading above all other activities. It was a lot for me to coax my hubby into cutting cable, not sure I could cut the TV too, but with the cable cut, the TV is definitely on a lot less in our home.

    1. I’m glad there’s another person for reading! I don’t think R would ever let me completely cut the TV out of our lives; there are always compromises to be made with family =).

  3. We cut cable TV out of our lives a while back. We use an antenna to pick up local stations.

    I think that I watch about an hour or two of TV a day to “wind down.” Typically, I am multitasking. While I watch TV, I am folding clothes, answering emails, reading blogs (yes, I can do both at the same time), etc. It’s rare that I am just sitting and staring at the TV.

    1. I often multitask when I’m “watching” TV as well. I think that’s the best way, as you’re at least still being productive! If I’m reading blogs with the TV on, I’m usually paying 80% attention to that, and 20% to TV, but I prefer reading blogs =). Thanks for stopping by!

  4. 5 hours a day?! Holy cow. That’s insanely depressing.

    I do like TV but I hate how addicted I can get to it. I am the opposite of you- I watch one episode of one show and suddenly become totally addicted! I dont’ let myself watch some shows because I know I’ll like it and want to see the whole series. haha.

    I don’t know if we could ever cut TV out. Mike really enjoys it- but mostly for a background noise type thing. And I will admit that I like it too :)

    1. I know, I thought 5 was crazy at first, but when you think about it, it’s very possible. I’m sure the weekends are worse, too. I think R really likes it for background noise, too. Because we have an open layout, we can be in the kitchen and see/hear it just fine, even if we’re not fully paying attention to it.

  5. We’ve never had cable, but did spend a lot of time after work watching T.V during dinner and afterwards just to relax. I think I would be much more productive if I could cut out T.V…it really sucks up a lot of your time. It should be easy during the summer since most of my favorite shows are reruns. I’ll cut it out after the NBA Finals =)

    1. Haha. I do think it becomes much easier once summer hits and all the regular shows are off. There’s just nothing all that great on! I don’t get sucked into new shows that easily, either.

  6. I cut my ‘Sky’ because it was £50 per month and seemed to be going up. The only thing I miss about it is the movies but now I’m used to it. My favourite channels when I did have sky were the free ones anyway.

    1. It was really nice to be able to watch movies when we had our old package – mostly because it was better than the alternative shows on! But I would never pay for it myself. We used to rent DVDs from the library, but I don’t think the ones around here have a good selection.

  7. We have been married almost 9 years and have never had a TV. I’ve never been a fan of TV. I would rather *do* something than watch other people on TV doing something. If we watch a movie on the computer (once every couple months or so), I have to have my hands busy doing something during the show.

    I’m glad my kids aren’t seeing all the junk on TV. I can’t believe how bad some of the stuff on TV is. If you’ve constantly watched TV you may not notice as much (like the frog in the pot of water as it goes from cool to boiling), but being away from TV and then taking a glance every now and they, you really notice how trashy it has become.

    1. I am so fidgety during movies and TV shows! Glad I’m not alone. I usually have to be doing something else as well, which is why I don’t fare well in movie theaters! And I completely agree that what is allowed on TV has gotten a bit crazy; certainly more than when I was a teenager.

  8. Nope not gonna happen to be honest. lol!! I cut cable but love my Hulu and Netflix (I only pay for one). I maybe watch 1-2 hours per night, but since I’m single and don’t go out much, movies and TV are my entertainment…cheap entertainment. I’d say if it interfered with my life in other ways, like not getting enough exercise or being productive, then I’d examine my habits, but I think I balance everything out pretty well.

    1. From the sound of it, I think you do too! That’s why I mentioned entertainment – I totally understand how it can be cheaper for some people. I don’t think 2 hours a day is extravagant at all.

  9. This is an interesting topic for sure. I think we took the ‘easy’ way out by including it in our renter’s lease. So we essentially guarantee her some form of cable and internet, and we can justify it all by saying that we only pay for 1/3 of it :D I do write-off 1/3 the expense on our taxes, since it’s important to write off just about anything when you rent out part of your house.

    As far as the TV entirely, not gonna happen. Even without cable I would still use our roku to watch things, and knowing me I’d rig up something so that we could watch things through a computer if needed. I also do enjoy some sports like college basketball, football, and soccer (Premier league and international play, for the most part) and it’s really only on cable. Might not justify the whole cost, but it’s something we do to relax and I like to have it on in the background when I work my side hustles. I can relate to R a lot that I really don’t see myself eating at a table or island ever, simply because I’d be restless. When we have kids over I will just so that I have designated time to touch base with them. Then again Victoria and I eat together at church before a meeting every other week now and it is pretty nice to just sit and catch up!

    1. That’s awesome. I honestly have no clue what our landlord’s paid for their entire package, but we always saw them recording shows on HBO so I guess it was worth it to them. They were going to have us pay extra if we wanted another TV in the bedroom, but there was no need. They also allowed us to piggy-back off their internet, so costs were cut there.

      Most of my family are into sports, so I can’t see them giving up cable for that reason. I only watch baseball and now we don’t get the games featuring our home team, so it’s kind of useless! Growing up, we always ate at the table and talked about our day. I think catching up without distractions is key. I know when we go out to eat, we don’t pay as much attention to the televisions (if there are any).

  10. I do have Netflix but I don’t really watch normal TV. I do enjoy being distracted for an hour and just chilling out but I’ve totally changed my TV lifestyle in the last year.

    A year ago, as soon as my daughter was in bed at 7pm, I’d put the TV on and veg out until I went to bed. Nowadays, I work on my blog and other side hustles until around 9.30pm, then I sometimes watch an hour of TV before bed. I only do that because I feel like I need to at least sit next to my hubby for a bit lol!!

    1. I can’t blame parents for wanting to relax for a bit after putting the kids to bed! I totally hear you on sitting next to your husband; I tolerate R’s channel surfing because I’m usually sitting with him on the couch, on my laptop. It’s our “quality time” together during the week.

  11. I’m usually multi-tasking too when the TV is on. If you cut it out entirely you could make some cash for all the TV sets in your house! hmmm…. I like to watch the news though but I guess I could get that on-line. You still need internet though, possibly phone, so your savings above would not amount to $1700/year but maybe closer to $1K / year.

    1. That is true, though I only have one TV and prices have gone down dramatically. I think I purchased mine for $300ish three years ago.

      There’s an offer to get internet for $14/month here, though I doubt it’s very fast. I know people who pay at least $200/month for packages (after getting cable boxes, DVR, special channels), so it really depends. I was estimating based on the limited amount I’ve seen.

  12. I don’t care about tv either, and I could live without cable. We watch something on Netflix most nights after we put our daughter to bed, but that’s only an hour or two. I’ve lived without tv before, and I didn’t miss it!

    1. I’ve tried finding things on Netflix to watch, and I wasn’t very impressed with most of their streaming options. I was pretty disappointed since it would be slightly easier than clicking through channels!

  13. i watch tv on occasion.. but i tend to multi-task. if i am watching television, i am typically on my laptop, or folding laundry, or working on some other project at the same time.

    what i dont like to do is to turn on the tv to “find something to watch”. if there isn’t a game on that i want to watch, or a show i want to see (and I only watch 1 or 2), I won’t just turn on the tv just because.

    great article.

    1. Seems like multi-tasking is the way to go when watching TV! I’m glad someone else agrees that turning the TV just to see what’s on isn’t a great use of time =).

  14. I have both Dish Network and Netflix! Crazy I know. In college, I was happy with just Netflix at a few dollars a month and it has tons of choices. After I moved into my house, I put off getting TV (besides Netflix) for about a year. Then i started getting so much crap from my parents and friends about not having TV, “you can afford it, why not get it” and “you’re not a broke college student anymore”, etc. Only thing was that now I’m not a broke college kid, I’m a broke adult instead. But I got TV anyhow, mostly to get them to shut up. I still only really watch/use Netflix and I’m paying about $60/month for TV (on top of Netflix). When I signed up there was a 2 year contract, much like with cell phones, and if you cancel early it’s a huge costly ordeal. So I guess I’m stuck for now, but I am planning on calling and trying to reduce my bill and possibly returning some equipment for a TV I have downstairs that I literally NEVER use.

    1. That sounds like a good plan! I know quite a few people that have gotten their rates reduced just by asking. My mom tried that once, and unfortunately it didn’t work, but there was only one company providing the service where we lived. $60 isn’t as bad as $130!

  15. We have long ago cut the cable but I wish we could cut too much TV watching too because I know it would mean a lot of savings. But then how do you stop an 80-year old from the habit of lulling herself to sleep with the sound of the TV and immediately opens her eyes once you switch it off?

    1. I do think as you get older, the habit of watching TV gets stronger. Like I said, my grandma is usually watching TV if she has nothing else going on, though she tends to fall asleep while watching! She’ll wake up a few hours later and wonder what happened.

  16. There are so many ways to consume content now that it’s hard to say what’s TV and what’s “streaming video”… We have a TV with bunny ears and Netflix but no cable and we do consume a lot of content. The over-the-air TV is nice to have for sports, though we definitely watch less than we did when we had cable. I know I almost never only watch TV. Like you said, I like having it on while I eat or read blogs or play a video game. I’d say the only shows that I would give my full attention to were The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, and every so often some Netflix serieses that we get into like The Walking Dead or House of Cards. I doubt we’ll ever get rid of TV/streaming video completely, but I think when we have kids it will be off while they are awake.

    1. That’s true – I’m sure there are some people that love watching YouTube videos endlessly as well. We love The Big Bang Theory as well, and watched How I Met Your Mother while it was on. I think it’s a great idea to plan to have the TV off with kids around!

  17. We don’t have cable, just an antenna. I personally could live without watching television. My DH on the other hand enjoys tv to some extent but agreed that we didn’t want to pay for cable. Antenna is our compromise. We also have Netflix but it doesn’t get used all that much.

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    1. I have definitely been there before! When I was actually searching for shows to watch, I sometimes got through seasons in a weekend.

  19. I agree with you – too many people nowadays are so obsessed with TV – myself included! i don’t know if I could ever completely cut out TV from my life. The BF was a film major and we totally geek out over TV, I think it counts as a passion for some. But you’re right – a lot of people just watch it as a habit.

    1. Having a passion for watching is certainly different from watching just to watch. I know some film majors who went to the movie theater to see the same movie three times, but they were studying it!

  20. Like many here, I too have opted for a HiDef antenna rather than the traditional cable option.

    I enjoy watching TV and do a fair share of it, but I am cognizant of what I watch rather than just shifting through channels looking for something “good to watch”.

    That being said, if I ended up never owning a TV again, I’d be good with that!

    Take care EM and all the best.


    1. Hi Lyle! I need to do some research on the hi-def antenna, at least for my parents. I was with them when they opened their recent bill and it’s inching toward $200, which they both agree is crazy, but they’re very hesitant on trying alternatives.

      Being aware of what you’re watching is definitely better than mindlessly channel surfing!

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