Happy to be a Zero TV Home

When we moved into our new house, MG and I didn't bother calling the cable or satellite TV company. Instead we decided to became what is called a Zero TV home. Yes we still have a TV but anything we watch are online or through inexpensive subscription services like Netflix. (Marathon Girl is streaming a show on Netflix as I write this.)

Apparently this is becoming more and more common:

Some people have had it with TV. They've had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don’t like timing their lives around network show schedules. They’re tired of $100-plus monthly bills.

A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group "Zero TV" households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.

Marathon Girl and I have been happy being a Zero TV home and have no plans on going back to regular TV ever again.

Just a few of the positive changes we've noticed since cutting the cord include:

  • We spend more time together as a family.
  • We spend more time together as a couple.
  • I spend more time writing.
  • The kids fight less.
  • We spend more time outside.
  • We watch less TV. A lot less. The few shows we do watch tend to be only those we find worth our time and we watch then when it’s convenient—not when broadcasters want us to.

Here’s a list of negatives: .

For those who haven’t tried it, I highly suggest giving Zero TV a try for a month. I think you’ll notice a positive difference in your life too. More time and freedom is a wonderful thing.

What Do Widows and Widowers Think of Go On?

I've done a couple of reviews for the TV show Go On. I’m not going to add any more to those right now because, as of now, the show is still going strong. But if you want to know what other widows and widowers think of the show, you can read their reviews below. There’s a wide variety of opinions out there.

  1. Abel Keogh (me), first review, and second review
  2. Kim Go, Alive and Mortal
  3. Julia from Glow in the Woods
  4. Fresh Widow
  5. Widdared
  6. JoanneF
  7. Marsha
  8. Jacuser
  9. Honeyspuddin
  10. Sandy, FlyingWG
  11. Janine, One Breath at a Time
  12. EverydayMorning (Sam)
  13. Choosing Grace Today
  14. Missing Bobby


Go On is Still Worth Watching

Back in August, I reviewed the pilot episode of the Matthew Perry comedy Go On. I said the show had lots of potential and hoped that the subsequent episodes would be as funny as the pilot episode. Since then the show’s aired three other episodes—all of which have been just as funny, smart, and heartwarming as the pilot. For those who aren't familiar with the show, Go On is about a sports talk radio host Ryan King (Matthew Perry) who has recently lost his wife and is trying to move forward. As a condition of employment he has to attend a support group. Since the pilot episode we’ve learned more about the different people in the support group and that moving on isn’t as cut and dry and the King character wants it to be.

Trying to make people laugh about grief and loss isn't easy yet somehow the writers continue find a way to humorously address issues about loss without going over the top. (And for those who think you shouldn't make light of loss, grief, or moving on, please grow up.)

Hilarious highlights of recent episodes include:

Go On is a comedy that just about anyone can enjoy. The only people that may have a hard time with it are the recently widowed. If the loss is too recent the humor of a widower trying to move on will probably fall flat. But for anyone else, the show’s worth at least one episode of your time.

4.5 stars (out of 5) for the first four episodes of Go On.

You can watch the most recent episode below.

Cutting the Cord

One of the changes we’ve made since moving into the new home is that we no opted not to get cable or satellite TV. We can’t even get over the air TV because the digital TV signals are too weak in our neck of the woods.

Much to my surprise, I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my TV viewing habits. To be honest, writing takes up a big bulk of my free time so I don’t watch much TV anyway. Aside from live sporting events I really only have time for maybe one show a week. But when I do want to watch something, it’s usually content from Hulu, Netflix, or one of the websites or apps for the TV networks. If I want news, there’s hundreds of news sites where I can read what I want in about 10 minutes. And if I want live sports, well, there are places where one can watch those events too.

The only show I’m watching with any regularity is Go On and I’m fine curling up with Marathon Girl after a long day and watching that the day or two after it airs. Even the kids, who limited TV watching consists mostly of shows on the Disney Channel can watch the latest shows on the iPad.

Back when I was a kid, if you went without TV in a way you were cut off from the world. Today, you’re not. If anything it frees you to watch things on your own schedule. I love it. And right now I see no reason why I’d ever go back.

To TV or not to TV – That is the Question

Digital TV

Back in October I was deciding whether or not to get a digital TV converter boxes. The main reason for wanting one was so I could watch season five of LOST without having to wait until the next day to watch it online. Then Congress, in their infinite wisdom, decided to push the digital TV date back from February 17 to June 12. My problem was solved – at least for four months. I ended up watching LOST and forgot about the entire digital television switch until Friday when Marathon Girl called and mentioned that the kids couldn’t find the one afternoon TV show they watch because of the switch.

"How are they handling it?" I asked.

"Fine," Marathon Girl said. "They’re playing with trains instead."

Over the weekend we talked about buying a digital converter box so we could at least get local channels (which is somewhat risky considering that the TV signal we did get was good but not great) or getting a satellite dish. In the end we decided not to do anything – at least for now. It’s not a question of expense but whether or not a converter box or a satellite TV would even be worth it considering that our viewing habits don’t involve sitting in front of the boob tube flitting through channels deciding what to watch.

With the exception of LOST all the other shows we watch take place on Friday or Saturday night via Hulu or DVD. If there’s a new series we’ve heard a lot about, we’ll go online and watch an episode or two to see if it’s worth continuing to watch online or put in our Netflix queue. In the last year we’ve watched Battlestar Galactica, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, The Office, Moonlight, the HBO miniseries John Adams, and a handful of other programs this way.

And we’ve really come to prefer it – especially for exciting, well-written shows like Battlestar Galactica where we can get two or three episodes done in one sitting instead of spacing them out a week at a time. Even things like local news, which a decade ago I watched with religiously, are better online. Instead of sitting through a 30 minute newscast, I can pick the stories – If any – I want to watch when I want to watch them. A decade from now I wouldn’t be surprised if most people watch TV online as opposed to tuning in and watching it live and TV networks do away with things like fall lineups and instead start shows at odd times.

The solution isn’t perfect. Sometimes I have to close my office door when the guys at work are talking about a show I haven’t caught up on – or even seen – yet. But even if I overhear a spoiler or two, I’ll take the freedom that comes with watching shows online or on DVD over having 100+ channels to surf through. I get more writing done and spend more time with the family. And I can learn to live without the live sporting that may catch my eye.

I have no idea what I’ll do when the final season of LOST comes around. At some point I’ll probably be overwhelmed with the desire to watch it live and Marathon Girl and I will have this debate in about six months or so. But odds are we’ll end up watching it on Hulu the next day.

I'll learn to live with it.

It’s a small price to pay for freedom that comes with it.