September 29, 2013

Killing Off Cable

Scrolling back through my blog posts, I see I have failed to document my recent explorations in the land of "mass media trends". Although my 50-something life is 2-3 decades away from the 20-somethings that have pioneered this movement, I've joined the ranks of those who have cut the cable.

Of course, being me, it was a gradual process. I toyed with the idea a few years back - had an old analog CRT television that I've owned for 25+ years, so I picked up a digital converter and tried to see what I could get over the air. At that time, and with that technology, the answer was "not much" - so I returned the converter and stayed connected. However, somewhere along the line I realized I was spending blocks of time on the couch watching reality show reruns (Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and Storage Wars were faves) and that was just stupid, so I downgraded my cable to the lifeline or tier - a handful of broadcast channels, TBS, the weather channel, and NECN. And that seemed to work fine - I missed a few things (Rachel Maddow,  Daily Show) but I survived.

A few months back, in a fit of late winter pique, I did a little retail therapy, and bought an inexpensive LCD digital television. While I was there, I decided to pick up a digital antenna, and the combination of reasonable channel selection and the superior HDTV picture made me rethink the cable decision. Specifically, to get HDTV I'd have to upgrade my cable plan to something more expensive (uh, no) and I realized that I got almost everything over the air (plus a few) that I was getting from lifeline.

So I disconnected the cable boxes (I had a converter for a seldom used small TV down in the office) and kept them in a box, just in case I had recriminations. A few weeks later, when Comcast (in their wisdom, and abetted no doubt by efficiencies in the US Postal Service) gifted me with no fewer than four (4) bundle offers on the same day, I decided to take the boxes back and kill off cable entirely.

In the ensuring days, I've been relatively happy with over the air broadcast, although my inability to capture WTNH 8 (ABC affiliate out of New Haven) was causing some angst (Grey's Anatomy is my one primetime vice). So this last week I bought a 100' of CATV cable and ran the indoor antenna (through the house) to the second floor and pointed it south. And voila - WTNH-8 came in (along with a few other lower power stations). I've since run the antenna cable through the basement and outside, and am awaiting a better exterior antenna (designed to mount inconspicuously and with an amplifier which might work even better)

So, here's what I get on my television, over the air and for free:

3.1 - WFSB 3 / CBS
3.3 - Mostly weather / some news

8.1 - WTNH 8 / ABC
8.2 - Bounce TV (african-american)

18 - Four spanish language stations

20.1 - WCCT / CW
20.2 - This TV (movies and reruns)

24.1 - CPTV Main
24.2 - CPTV4U
24.3 - CPTVS (mostly local sports)

26.1 - ION
26.2 - qubo (kids)
26.3 - ION Life

30.1 - WVIT 30 / NBC
30.1 - COZI (movies and reruns)

59.1- WCTX (MYTV-9) - sketchy reception

61.1 - Fox 61
61.2 - Antenna TV (movies and reruns, think Nick at Night)

More content, actually, then the lifeline cable I was buying - the only thing I really miss is NECN which was a decent substitute for CNN / MSNBC mostly.

What makes it work for me is my Roku Box, which gives me high quality shows via several services. Netflix (long time subscriber, via Roku and iPad), PBS (like having a public television DVR, amazing), Hulu Plus (I stopped subscribing but might sign up again if I find some broadcast shows I like). That, plus the ABC and NBC iPad apps (to catch things I've missed) and my media life is doing fine.

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