2020? Try February of 2011.
That’s when my Comcast bill — for cable TV and high-speed Internet — went to $203 and I said enough! I canceled cable, sold my three flat-screen TVs and started watching everything on my iPad.
I now pay Comcast $69.95 a month for Internet, and my ComEd bill has been cut significantly now that I don’t have television sets sucking up electricity. My monthly usage went from a 12-month high of 914 kilowatts to last month’s all-time low of 243.
What I found is that there’s an app for nearly all of my favorite shows, and that I don’t mind watching them on a smaller screen (even after once owning a 65-inch flat-screen) – especially now that the iPad has a retina display screen.
Cord-cutting, really, was a cinch, and I now pay only $7.99 a month — thank you, Hulu Plus! — for programming.
I know that dumping cable hasn’t been as easy for others, especially ESPN addicts and families. CNET editor David Katzmaier wrote 16 months ago about going a month without cable, then deciding to go back to Verizon. He wrote: “I’ve reconnected, and committed to the pipe for another two years, I can’t help but feel that I should have done more, kept at it longer, or found a way to make it work. On the other hand, I’m infinitely relieved that my wife and I can eliminate TV as a source of stress in our household.”
My Comcast separation has been stress-free. It happened this way:
In February of 2011 — shortly after I went on a gadget-buying spree and bought an Apple TV, Roku and Boxee Box — Comcast raised its rates (again!) and pushed my cable/Internet bill above the $200 mark. I called customer service and canceled the cable portion. (Our break-up was on Valentine’s Day, Comcast told me last week when I checked to confirm the date.) There was no attempt to keep me as a customer; all the rep did was tell me that my high-speed Internet charge would go from about $45 to $65 without TV in the package. (The rate’s gone up since.)
I continued to get the ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox stations at no charge. I used Hulu Plus on the Roku player to watch “The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show,” and other programs. When the Comcast’s Xfinity iPad app launched, I discovered that I could watch nearly all of my favorite premium subscription channel shows (including “Eastbound and Down,” “Shameless,” and “Dexter”) for free on the iPad. As more and more tablet apps were released (NBC Nightly News, Team Coco, 60 Minutes, PBS and others), I found myself watching most shows from the iPad — or at least keeping one eye on them — while I checked Twitter, Facebook, email and websites from my MacBook Air. My bedroom and office TV sets were rarely used; my living room television was the only one I was watching, and that wasn’t very often.
A few months ago I decided it was time to leave Evanston after 12 years and explore other parts of the country. What should I take with me? Definitely not the dust-collecting TVs, I decided. I recently put the three flat-screens on Craigslist — along with the Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box, 3D Blu-Ray player and 3D glasses — and they sold quickly. One buyer was so happy with my $475 price that he agreed to patch the holes cut in the walls to hang the TVs for a deep discount. When that job’s complete, the condo goes up for sale. Anyone want a beautiful one-bedroom place with a box fireplace, floor-to-ceiling windows and a Starbucks around the corner?
SOME OF MY FAVORITE SHOWS AND HOW I WATCH THEM NOW:
Hulu Plus: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, American Dad, Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live
XFINITY: Real Time with Bill Maher, Nurse Jackie, The Big C, Dexter, Parks and Recreation, Community, The Office, Saturday Night Live, Conan, Girls, Weeds, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Family Guy
TV.com: Late Show with David Letterman; Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
ABC Player: Modern Family, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Middle
NBC app: 30 Rock
I asked my Facebook friends and subscribers how they watch TV these days. Here are some of their comments (read all 60 here):