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.

The Digital TV Divide

TV Rabbit Ears

I’m deciding whether or not to buy one of those digital TV converter boxes. You know, the ones that people who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite will need once digital TV goes into effect on February 17 of next year.

If it wasn’t for LOST, I’d probably just let my TV reception turn to static in February and get rid of the set altogether considering how little I or anyone at our home watches it. The only time I really spend watching anything is one or two movies on the weekend that come in the mail from Netflix. And even then Marathon Girl and I are more inclined to watch them on a laptop or portable DVD player instead of the television since the two of us watch movies in bed after the kids are asleep.

I don’t think our kids would miss the TV much either. Yes, they watch the occasional kid TV show but would be just as happy watching one of their Thomas the Train DVDs or 20 minutes of an animated Pixar movie.

Besides, with shows being broadcast over the Internet the next day and (usually) being available on DVD before the next season begins, I’m seeing less and less of a need for regular broadcast television. Were I to ditch the TV altogether, the only thing I might miss is watching is the occasional professional football/baseball/basketball game or presidential conventions and debates though (thankfully!) the latter only comes around once every four years.

Which brings me back to the one reason I’m seriously leaning toward buying a digital converter box: LOST. Sure, I could watch it the next day on or wait until it comes out on DVD and go on a 2-day LOST bender, but there’s something about anticipating the next episodes twists and turns every week and being able to blog about it and talk about the latest LOST theories with Marathon Girl, friends, and co-workers that makes watching it every week fun.

So I’ll probably end up buying a digital TV converter box sometime this winter. But only because of LOST. However, there’s a good chance once that LOST comes to a conclusion next year, our TV will have outlived its usefulness and come to an end too.