A lot has changed in the four years since we cut the cord on cable.
A while back, my daughter asked me if we could watch some of those mini shows, the ones that tell you all about new toys coming out and how your life will be filled with joy if you get your parents to buy them.
"Commercials?" I inquired.
"Where did you see them?" I asked.
"At the hotel," she replied.
I explained those were commercials, mini advertisements for products.
"No, I know what commercials are," she said. "These are fun to watch."
She equates commercials to the ones on TV about Doug with Mesothelioma and the political ads you have to skip before you can watch a YouTube video. The kids' shows we watch usually are on internet streaming sites, like Netflix. And there are no commercials. I told her you can tell a show that was first on regular TV because instead of being 30 minutes long, it is 22 minutes.
"Those other eight minutes are for commercials," I said. "Think of all the time we've saved."
"Yeah, we can watch a lot more shows," she replied.
This is sign of the times in which we live. Instead of watching a show once a week at a specific time, we watch what we want when we want, commercial free. It's good only if you know what you want to watch.
We cut the cord on cable about four years ago. This wasn't about having a problem with cable, it was more about saving money. Along with streaming sites, we put an antenna on the roof to get local news channels.
"We can live without it," I declared. "We don't even watch that much TV."
This was a lie.
But I figured when we had cable, I spent my time surfing through a thousand channels, not actually watching anything. I surmised I could do the same thing with Netflix. I like to browse.
Plus, it meant I got to go on the roof with my tool belt.
At first, I Frankensteined the old dish on the roof, removing a few parts, slapping a new antenna on it and plugging it into the cable that already ran through the house. It cost about $60 and worked well.
There's a website, TVfool.com, where you can put in your address and find the location of all of the nearby stations. I stood on the roof, compass in hand and strategically pointed the antenna. It allowed us to get the Cleveland news channels, some religious programing and a bunch of PBS affiliates. And if I turned it just so, on a good Sunday I could watch the Browns on Cleveland TV and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Youngstown TV.
Then all of the channels updated their signals, making them stronger with better high definition. The better signal meant more channels, but it also meant some stations cancelled each other out.
A lot has changed in those four years. Now, more people are moving to cut the cord, and the market has responded. For half the price of the original antenna, I got one that rotated with a remote. This is great on Sundays or if I want to make my daughters laugh by asking the antenna questions it would answer no to.
And we get way more commercials.
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