Hi, I'm Dianne, and I'm a recovering TV bill payer. It's been almost a year since I last paid a TV bill.
My husband and I had become fed up with paying $85 a month for our satellite package, which brought hundreds of channels into our home but offered few shows that we actually wanted to watch. So last spring, we signed up for an $8-a-month Netflix subscription and told our TV company to shove off.
It seems we weren't the only ones tired of paying high TV bills. A recent report by Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. estimates that 80,000 Canadians and 1 million Americans cancelled their television packages last year in favour of viewing shows through online services.
I get a lot of comments when I tell people I don't have TV. Some people think I'm nuts, others think I'm wise, and all are curious to know what it's like to cut the cord. So today I present the pros and cons of having no TV provider.
Saving money I'm no longer spending $85 a month on TV bills. That's $1,020 a year in savings – enough to justify finally agreeing to buy the TV of my husband's dreams. Also, we no longer rent movies, so the Netflix account sort of pays for itself.
No commercials I no longer have to worry about my kids being influenced by TV ads. That's a savings I can't put a price on.
Information is everywhere My main concern about giving up TV was missing out on local news. However, with the Internet, radio, free local papers and the news that plays non-stop on screens at my office and gym, I never miss a thing.
Realizing there's life without TV We've discovered we don't miss traditional TV fare and spend more time reading books in the evening rather than mindlessly flipping through channels.
Wait time While my friends are watching the latest Mad Men episodes, I've only seen season four.
Different selection There's a chance your favourite show won't be available for online viewing in Canada without purchasing it separately.
No live sports If you like to watch live sporting events, you'll need to head to a friend's house or the local sports bar.
Usage limits Depending on your Internet package, watching a lot of TV online can push you over your monthly usage limit and lead to additional charges.
Viewing experience Older TVs may not be equipped for online programming. You'll need to watch on your computer or smart phone, or upgrade your equipment.
For us, the choice was clear: We have an unlimited broadband package, watch only about an hour of TV a day and aren't sports fans.
With the money we're saving, next steps for us might include adding a media computer so we can purchase shows not freely available online, or adding a $400 digital antenna, which will bring in free high-definition channels.
To quote my husband, "I'm so glad we gave up TV. Did you ever think you'd hear me say that?"
Yes, actually, I did. And I'm glad too.
If you have your own (legal) way of watching free or inexpensive TV, please share it in the comments section.