“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx
If you’re a TV watcher, how do you get your signal these days? When I was a kid, we had 6 or 7 channels to choose from. My siblings and I took turns being the TV remote, which ever one of us was told by Dad to change the channel or turn the sound up! Fast forward to my junior year in high school when cable TV first came to be-HBO was all the rage. Cinema movies on the home TV-what a novelty! And who among us didn’t say at least once, “I Want My MTV!!”?
Changes in Viewing Technology
Television viewing choices have come a LONG way from the days of the rooftop TV antenna, and with these choices have come some astronomical expenses. We had cable TV from the time we returned to the states in 1991 until 2003 when we took the leap from cable to satellite. Back then I was a BIG football watcher. The installer commented on how great it was that my husband was getting all these sports packages. He just looked at the guy, smiled, and said, “the sports packages are for HER, not for me!
Cable TV started with a promise of commercial-free TV, but once we consumers made the switch from broadcast to cable, the providers knew they had us. The commercials came back with vengeance and no one cared. It’s too bad the prices didn’t go down when the commercials returned. We had our satellite for a LOT of years and spent a ton of money over the years until we finally decided enough was enough. We HAD to get a handle on how much we were spending on TV! For crying out loud, it’s TV-while it’s nice to have, it’s not exactly the smartest way to spend your hard-earned money. Thankfully, technology has changed a great deal in the last 15 years and our choices are much more plentiful and affordable. I’m not going to detail satellite or cable choices in this post only because I’m thinking everyone is pretty familiar with them, how they work, and how ridiculously expensive most of them are! There are some other great choices out there at all kinds of price points-it really all depends on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend.
For basic television viewing, not much will beat a digital antenna. You purchase one time and watch TV without having to subscribe to anything. Your viewing choices will definitely be limited, but your budget will be free of a recurring expense. I did a search of “whole house digital antenna” and found this wonderful article from Crutchfield New Media detailing what you should look for in choosing the best HDTV antenna for your location. There are a lot of variables to consider, such as the terrain of the area where you live, the direction of the transmitter, and the distance from the transmitter. If you’re unsure of which type of antenna to purchase (indoor or outdoor), they suggest contacting your local television station for a recommendation. They want to keep their viewers happy and will usually give you a good suggestion. Some of the choices are DIY, while others will probably require professional installation in order to be done correctly. Still, once it’s installed, the price for watching TV is definitely right! Hello, FREE!
If you’re looking for something more than standard network television, you’re probably going to want to look at a streaming service. Most TVs these days are equipped to either stream the signal directly or to connect a streaming signal device, such as a Roku or Amazon Fire Stick. These devices are pretty inexpensive and connect easily to the USB port on your television. As for the streaming service itself, this guide published by Consumer Reports offers a comprehensive list of both network apps and streaming services such as DirecTV Now and Hulu. One thing to keep in mind with a streaming service, though, is your internet connection. Buffering is pretty annoying, so you’ll want to make sure your internet connection is up to the task. This article from Nerd Wallet is a pretty good guide to the best internet speed for your streaming needs.
After a bit of experimenting we settled on a streaming service that gives us most of the programming we had on the satellite at about one-third the cost of what we were paying for satellite TV. One of the things I have been missing, though, are a couple of shows on PBS that my sister turned me on to. Alas, my local PBS channel is not on the streaming service. Good news-I just discovered America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country on YouTube. Some of the episodes are behind a pay wall but most of them are the best price ever-FREE! I’ve learned a LOT about cooking quality food at home from these shows and I’m happy to have discovered them on YouTube.
So, are you a TV watcher? Have you “cut the cord”? Share how you did it in the comments. Thanks!
Be well and God Bless-until we meet again…