Giving up Cable
In 2002, I gave up cable because I was determined to live a more meaningful life. Instead, I found myself watching really, really dumb shows like ElimiDATE and Blind Date. In addition, I realized I was going to watch a certain amount of TV anyway so I may as well watch good TV and, thus, signed up for full cable when I changed apartments.
When I started graduated school almost two years ago, I figured I did not have time to watch TV and, also, needed to save a few bucks. Therefore, I gave up full cable and for two years have only had the following channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Discovery Channel, TBS, Encore, and WGN. Even though my options are not too bad, I do not get my two favorite channels: ESPN and Comedy Central. Out of necessity comes innovation...
At first, I experienced some withdrawals and frustration with not being able to watch key sporting events or my favorite comedy shows. Then, without even realizing it, I started spending a lot of time on ESPN.com. Using ESPN.com’s scoreboard and gamecast features, I could passively keep with up a game while doing my homework. Over the last two years, ESPN.com has developed ESPN Video into a comprehensive online collection of on-demand programming. Instead of sitting through two and half minutes of commercials, you only have to sit through 30 seconds of commercials every other video or so. What’s more, you can choose to watch what you want and when. Instead of watching an entire episode of SportsCenter only to watch highlights of my favorite team, I can watch the latest highlights of whatever I want at any time. The only down side is that without ESPN360, you do not get to watch live games. Even so, I did get to watch the final four of the World Cup two years ago for free on ESPN.com. Finally, in addition to ESPN Video, you can download podcasts to your computer or MP3 player that include Pardon the Interruption, ESPNU College Football Insider, and many more.
South Park on Comedy Central
Earlier in the summer, I discovered that on ComedyCentral.com you can watch any South Park episode you want in its entirety and only with two 30 second commercials at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of the show. Instead of managing TiVo or a DVR, I watch any episode, any time. In addition, you can watch segments of other ComedyCentral.com shows including The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
On-Demand Online TV
ESPN.com and ComedyCentral.com are only two examples of on-demand online TV. For example, you can watch highlights and live coverage from this week’s Democratic National Convention online at CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and FoxNews.com. In sum, the next time you pay your cable bill think about all of the channels you are paying for that you are not watching and all of the TV shows you can watch for free online; albeit on your computer screen.