Over a year without cable TV.

Sometime in April of 2006 we made the decision to cancel our cable. I often, like many others, found myself watching TV merely because it was there.

The process of actually canceling our cable with Rogers was somewhat entertaining – they had a hard time believing we wanted to stop watching television and kept offering discounts, free stuff and upgrades.

For me, the worst culprit would be when I would quickly turn on the television to check CTV Newsnet, and somehow would find myself watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Once our cable was disconnected, we realized that there would probably be no reception over the airwaves due to the lovely tin ceilings we have. So, not only no cable, not no TV, period. No great loss.

Life without cable TV?

The perhaps the most pronounced difference is that we now live in a pop culture black hole – I’ll get back to this. We don’t see all the advertisements, latest shows, or the seemingly unending entertainment news.

I get all my news online now, what I like to think of the web/digital equivalent to reading the paper in the morning, selecting what I want to see. I don’t generally read any sports or entertainment news, I just don’t hear about it.

Tracey will occasionally listen to the radio – I will tune into the CBC in the morning, when I’m not entirely ready to get out of bed yet.

During our lunch, we watch a variety of videopodcasts like Rocketboom, Ask a Ninja, Tiki Bar, Ze Frank (when he was still doing his show), sometimes movie trailers, and the occasional YouTube video we have been sent or have stumbled across ourselves.

We don’t go to see a movie in theatre very often – maybe once a month, but we do buy a fair number of movies and television series on DVD – which is clearly our favorite way to view shows, although if Apple would hurry the hell up and release shows via iTunes in Canada, we’d get them that way.

We aren’t chained to our TVs like many people we know, who even in this age of Tivos (and other PVRs) still make sure they are home to watch the latest episode of their favorite show.

When we do decide to sit down and watch a movie or TV show together – it feels different – it feels much more like real “us” time, than before – maybe because it doesn’t happen every day.

The recent CRTC decision to by Sept 1, 2009 allow an unlimited amount of commercials per hour, virtually guarantees that we’ll never get cable again – the ads interfere with the flow of shows.

The cultural black hole.

This is probably the largest aspect of having cut our cable off – we are pretty much unaware of anything going on that we don’t hear about online, from friends, or other ways we hear about things. We do not see the onslaught of advertising for movies, political campaigns, cars, and zillions of other products that they think we need.

There is a serious advantage to missing out on all the advertising, though – instead of impressions based on a fancy ad, we hop onto the ‘net and do some basic research on the products we want to purchase, which I believe, leads to better product purchases.

For movies – which we love, we rely on Apple’s movie trailer site, as well as what we find elsewhere online, or are told about by our friends. One effect I’ve noticed is the increase in independent films we’ve seen (yay little guys!).


While it is true, we don’t quite yet get right-this-second breaking news online – it is getting really close, however, there is very little that we need to now right this second anyway. If there is something we really need to hear about, someone will phone/email/IM etc. If the power is out, we will likely be able to figure that out ourselves.

What does strike me more now is just how much time *other* people spend watching TV. How do some people find the time to follow fourteen different shows each week?

All that being said, thirteenish months in, the loss of TV isn’t that big of a deal.

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