Is No TV a Trend of the Future?

aTypical Joe: A gay New Yorker living in the rural south.: No TV: a trend? aTypical Joe asks the question, “is no TV a trend of the future?” And it’s an interesting question for sure.

“last night over dinner with two couples here I learned that neither has television at home anymore. One couple cancelled cable, the other cancelled satellite and they don’t bother with over the air. Both have wide-screen high-definition units that they use only for their Netflix DVDs. And both watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report online.

So I’m wondering, we all know people who have dropped their landlines in favor of cell phones, do you think there’s a similar trend developing where people will cancel their television services and replace them with DVDs and web surfing?”

And Joe’s question gets me thinking. In my own situation my wife watches a lot of TV in our house and our kids watch some children programming so I can’t see myself cancelling my cable or satellite service.

But if I were single I would definitely cancel my service. Why? Simple reason, I only watch two shows on TV right now, Big Love and The Sopranos.

Sure, I’ll catch an episode of CSI SVU every now and again because it’s there but it’s certainly something I could do without.

These days I’d much rather be blogging, or processing my phtotos, or playing around on Flickr or Zooomr, or organizing my digital media and music library, etc. I really have no room in my life for TV anymore. And while it’s nice to watch the occasional movie and what not, there is no reason why Netflix couldn’t fill most of my programming needs, and for a lot less money.

Although most people aren’t yet distracted enough by competing entertainment to kick TV out of their life, I wonder if Joe’s right and this might not be a trend that we are even starting to see now with some early adopters.

19 Replies to “Is No TV a Trend of the Future?”

  1. Due to an extended period of un/under employment, I had to shut off the DirecTV. Except for hooking up the rabbit ear antenna to watch the presidential debates, I’ve been without TV for nearly three years now.

    That was the best decision I’ve ever made! I couldn’t believe how much *lighter* I felt, not having the box droning constantly. The TV still gets a workout, courtesy of Netflix, and the two or three shows that I like I can always watch on DVD or on the Web.

    The only thing I’ve really missed is watching the CBC News, because it’s one of the better news sources around (also I developed a bit of a crush on Peter Mansbridge).

    Even though my apartment complex offers free cable TV, I can’t think of a single good reason to hook up.

  2. I currently have DirecTV, but I pretty much never use it. Next month I’m moving, and the new place won’t come with any sort of TV service. I plan on leaving the TV with my current roommate (who uses it much more than I do) .

    Really I have no need for a TV as I have a 24″ widescreen LCD monitor on my computer which is perfectly capable of HDTV resolutions. And since I can watch DVDs on my computer and get tv shows and movies online (even legally!), why would I bother spending money on redundant cable/sattelite TV that I’ll barely ever watch?

  3. Insteresting comments. Two years ago, I moved to basic ($15/month) cable just to have the network stations. I use Blockbuster online, instead of Netflix, and then gaming rounds out the rest of time we use our HD television and HD projector.

    So count me in the group that doesn’t need cable or satellite. And just to add more details, we are a family of four with a pretty nice income, so it’s not about the money.

  4. For many years, I’d only subscribe to cable during college football season. DVRs changed that… cable TV is much more useful now that broadcast times are irrelvent and now that I no longer need to sit through commercials. I could probably still skip it if I had too (or if Comcast pissed me of enough to force my hand) but cohabitation has sorta taken that option off the table. I will say I don’t watch as much TV as I did in the 90s and that vacancy has been filled by the Internet. I also don’t read as much fiction, which I do miss.

  5. I watch Big Love and Sopranos, but I also love So You Think You Can Dance and The 4400. And Medium. And Law and Order. And the Dog Whisperer. Right now I can’t stop watching Madagascar on HBO. It may be possible that I watch too much TV.

  6. the most tv i’ve watched in the last 6 months was the NBA finals through windows of bars while walking home from work.

    until i can pay for EXACTLY what i want to watch, no TV at home for me.

  7. I guess I am an early adopter. Axed the TV when I moved in December. I see a couple hours a week when I am at my BFs house and that seems like plenty. I do watch Daily Show clips and YouTube bits online.

    I spend a lot of time blogging and reading online.

  8. Thanks for the link and the comments Tom. It’s fascinating to realize how many of us are leaving TV behind. I work to put TV back in my life because there’s great stuff there and I think it’s part of a well rounded cultural diet, but more often than not I get behind (I’ve yet to watch the last episodes of The West Wing, for example).

    Dave’s point about books raises another interesting issue. I am surprised to find that I prefer reading online. Online I can click through to links, define a word, follow a tangent, search and filter. Even with magazines I subscribe to I will look at the table of contents then read the article online.

    When I lived in New York I never would have believed that ever would be true for me. It was moving to a rural locale where the Times wasn’t available, period, that I picked up the habit. Blogs and RSS got me completely hooked. Paper has its uses and I don’t predict its demise, but I much prefer a linked lighted variable resolution reader.

  9. when i moved from CA to FL back in 2004, i had to drop my directv due to the fact that my apartment doesnt face the correct direction. i thought about hooking up cable, but my tv was on a moving truck that took a month to get to me.

    luckily i had my computer with me and i had the cable company just hook up my broadband. when my tv finally arrived, i realised that i never really watched it anyway and i didnt need to watch tv anymore at all.

    since 2004 my tv has been off with the very rare occasion of a movie on my dvd player.

  10. when i moved from CA to FL back in 2004, i had to drop my directv due to the fact that my apartment doesnt face the correct direction. i thought about hooking up cable, but my tv was on a moving truck that took a month to get to me.

    luckily i had my computer with me and i had the cable company just hook up my broadband. when my tv finally arrived, i realised that i never really watched it anyway and i didnt need to watch tv anymore at all.

    since 2004 my tv has been off with the very rare occasion of a movie on my dvd player.

  11. Joe, reading books has definitely dropped in my case. I much prefer reading online and have found my attention span has gotten continually shorter and shorter. The last book I tried to read was Bob Dylan’s autobiography and I couldn’t get through it and had to quit midway. I sold it to a used bookstore.

    I still buy books but they are mostly photographic art books. I could imagine a world where I never read another book again. Too much competing content to consume in better form.

    Thanks for the insightful conversation.

  12. Have not had a tv for nearly ten years, since the wife left. I can’t tell you how much peace fills up your life in its absence. In the interim I bought a quitar and learned how to play and I’m about half way through writing my first book. (YMMV) I do a LOT of reading.

    Don’t have a car, cell phone, kids or microwave either…

  13. I have lived for 9 of my 17 years without a TV in the house, and I believe I’m the better for it. It allowed me to spend a great deal of time reading (about 60 books a year) and gave me a lot of free time to spend with friends. It also gave me an entirely new perspective; I began to realize how much of what is on TV is absolute crap, and how moronic most advertising is.

    I watch my favourite shows online – South Park and The Daily Show to name just two. I watch an average of 45 minutes a day of TV shows on my computer, and I honestly like it better this way; no ads, no cost, and I can watch anything on demand.

    A couple other bonuses: I had time to learn computer skills, I had time to exercise, and I found a number of rewarding hobbies I wouldn’t have ever heard of otherwise.

    So, if this is a future trend, I fully endorse it.

  14. I have been thinking of going this way too.

    Don’t worry about the kids. Just rent some kids DVDs from netflix or buy them. There’s really no need for the TV. Once they can read, it’s much better for them to do that anyway. Maybe my son can be convinced TV is just for kids that can’t read yet. 😉

    However, I will maintain either a TV or a projector for watching DVDs. I think that’s worth it. If there’s really a great series (maybe Lost) I want to watch sometime, I’ll wait until it’s all over and rent the DVDs.

    Everyone knows you just waste precious time when you sit infront of the tube and watch random crap. Even with a Tivo, you’ll record all sorts of stuff you don’t really care about and think you should watch it all. We all need to become more self-directed and prioritized about what we do with our limited time in this world of unlimited ways to waste time.

  15. we’re another media-loving no-tv family. we watch lots of video, but on our computers or in our movie theater. we get shows and movies on dvd (bought and netflixed) and lots of short-form online. the driver for us is that we don’t want the commercials in our home.

  16. We haven’t had a TV for eight or nine years. I think TV has an oppressive presence when you have it on all the time, like a lot of people do.

    We’ve got a few computers around the house, and lately we’ve been watching YouTube. Lately, my son and I have been watching Sailor Moon fansubs, where I read the subtitles.

    Sure, the quality sucks on YouTube, but give it a few years and a real business model and it will look as good as SDTV.

  17. Definitely, this is a future trend. We dropped cable and broadcast both in 2002, and haven’t looked back. We do have a large hi-def TV to watch DVDs and my hub plays XBox on it. We have two small children, and I think we are far better off raising them without TV. The way they have grown up is thinking a show has a definite “end” and it’s shut off after a movie or video is over. So the constant hours-on-end TV watching absolutely does not happen. They also are used to turning a movie or video off even if it is in the middle, because they know they can always watch the end later (if they remember, which is rare!) Also the constant influence of commercials is completely negated. It took a while for my hub to get used to it, but now he really likes it. If he ever starts to miss it, all it takes is an evening at his parents’ house (who have satellite TV) to remind him of what he’s missing out on, namely, nothing.

  18. When I was a kind, my family owned just one TV in the living room, which my sister would occupy after school to watch silly cartoons and even worse tv shows. In the evening I would watch some news, football or sometimes a movie with my family.
    Later on my sister bought herself a tv and is now constantly watching it in her room with her boyfriend or friends.
    I used to have a tv card in my pc, but rarely used it, since I was moving my pc from place to place and had no cable outlet nearby. Anyway, the Internet and before my LAN with my neighbours was much more interesting.
    Now I moved to Hong Kong and would have to pay for cable/satellite; only got 2 free over the air channels.
    I rarely turn on the tv, just for the news and recently for the worldcup.
    Every other thing I want to watch is on the net or in cinemas, so why bother?
    (tv came with the flat, wouldn’t have one otherwise)
    The only thing I miss is the great cinema experience I had when still living in Germany (cinemas here aren’t very good), but at least I can get DVDs for less than 1$.

  19. I was just commenting on how there is nothing worth watching on TV when a friend pointed me to your post. I truly think I could do without the television. All I really watch are Comedy Central and Discovery/TLC/etc. If I didn’t need to have cable for my internet connection, it would definitely be axed.

    I think this is a trend, and I think further down the line the consumer demand for the shows they want and only the shows they want will start to grow. Why pay for 60 channels when you really only watch 3? I’d love to pay for shows a la carte for a quick and easy download and viewing.

    Like so many others, I spend more of my time online, and the TV (when on) usually ends up just being background distraction and a reminder of how much time I’ve spent working every 30 minutes when a show ends.

    I would love to see the stations set up “podcasts” of their shows, letting each new episode get delivered, and watchable when you want. I’d set up one for The Daily Show and get both my “news” and comedy at once.

    As I plan to move cross country on my own, I think more and more about how nice it might be not to have to move that big honking TV. Maybe it’s time to just ditch it and fall back to a computer monitor that doubles for movies on occasion.

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