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Getting rid of the Dish: the Philosophical Post

So a couple of weeks ago I talked about the nerd side of getting rid of the dish. I’m still playing around with the configuration some, but I think I’m getting close to having a good usable solution. Becky keeps telling me “just teach me how to use it once it’s all working”, so I guess I should try to get to that point sooner rather than later.

But the other side of this is the why – why get rid of the Dish? Was it really just the $60/month we were spending? (We bought enough new hardware it’ll take us several months to break even.) Or is there more to it?

I’ll admit I didn’t come to it in quite this direction; my push to switch things up was driven a lot by the desire to have an HD DVR option. But as I sat with my Dish remote in hand and flipped through the channels, I came to the realization that out of the 150 channels available for our viewing, we’d never watched most of them. Most of them had programming that we couldn’t care about in the least. For the most part we spent our tv-watching time tuned to one of our local network stations. The exceptions: ESPN for sports, Nick and Disney for some kids programming. Oh, and a backlog of Food Channel shows on the DVR that never really went away. So we talked about it, and we agreed there were other ways we could access the sorts of programming we really wanted to watch, and that we’d be OK with missing the rest of it. So we cut the cord.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit there are things I’m gonna miss. Monday Night Football on ESPN, for example. And the Cubs games on WGN. (OK, maybe it’s good for my mental health to miss those…) But on the whole it’s been a positive thing. What we’ve eliminated is the mindless noise at night. We had a bad habit of just turning the TV on as we headed towards bed, watching the Cubs if they were on, but often just pulling up Sportscenter on ESPN and ignoring it while we read books and such before going to sleep. Without ESPN available, we’ve either had to decide to watch something we specifically wanted to enjoy (we’re catching up on 30 Rock) – or we just leave it off. And that’s been a very good thing.

Back before we first got a Tivo, I wondered (a lot) whether the Tivo would be a good thing, or whether it would just cause us to watch more TV. It ended up being the former; the Tivo allowed us to watch the shows we wanted, when we wanted, without having to schedule our lives around the start times. (Oh, and we got 20% of our TV-watching lives back in skipped commercials.)

Before we got rid of the Dish, I wondered if we’d just hate it and miss the programming. But I’m pretty much believing now that we will make do just fine, and it will be an improvement overall in how we spend our time and allow ourselves to be entertained distracted.

Now, believe me, there are a couple of internet-based options that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on. If MLB.tv can ever get rid of their silly blackout restrictions (there are six teams that Iowans can’t watch. most blacked-out state in the country!), I’d subscribe in a heartbeat, and that’d let me watch Cubs games again. And I’d really love to get ESPN360.com, but that’d require me to switch internet service providers… and I’m not real keen on that idea, either. Ah well. I should just take the sage advice given by Bob the Tomato after he catches Larry the Cucumber overly engrossed in a TV show: “maybe you should read a book.” Yeah.