It's all about the Food Network.
July 29, 2012 3:57 PM   Subscribe

How can my wife watch Food Network without cable TV?

First, I just got married. I'm a 47-year old bachelor who has never had cable and up until recently had never had a television in the house. I have a real physical aversion to the hum sound of "boulder-type" televisions. What more, the incessant chatter of tv in the background is annoying and distracting. What what more, I do NOT want the optional blather of content-scarce infotainment channels even present in the house. (We have lots of guests with kids; I purposely did not have tv as an activity option.)

HOWEVER, I do have 100mbps internet. And I do watch some shows (Dr Who, 30 Rock, Sanctuary). And I can stream lots of great stuff.

Now from what I understand my wife used to just "turn on the tv" [shudder] at her house. She's a nurse and uses it to decompress so she DOESN'T have to think. Which considering the nature of her work is fair and understandable.

The question is what is the best way to stream tv such as Food Network (!!), Weather Channel, and CNN?

I have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Is Roku or Playon the answer? Do I need to get a Wii or PS3?

Help us keep the peace, oh blessed and gracious hivemind!
posted by Mike Mongo to Technology (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Comcast keeps bugging us to upgrade with free cable for life. I'd say minimum cable pkg that has it, flat screen tv with low hum; I have that aversion too but switching to flat screen helped.

Finally, bluetooth headset?

I have Roku & Netflix & apple tv; haven't seen a lot of food network stuff, though lots of discovery channel; Anthony bourdane & myth busters
posted by tilde at 4:16 PM on July 29, 2012

Hulu. You'll need Hulu Plus for streaming to devices; the XBox 360 requires an additional Gold Live membership (at ~$5/mo if you pay for the year up front) and I find it a pretty nice media player, especially if you use a remote instead of the controller; the PS3 does the same for free.

What you might want to do is set up Hulu playlists for her: you're not going get a direct emulation of the "this, then that, then the other" of a cable network's lineup through the streaming alternatives.
posted by holgate at 4:17 PM on July 29, 2012

There is a Food Network Channel on the Roku - but I think it's mostly just pulling the stuff of the Food Network website. The Food Network, CNN, and Weather Channel are all available on the DISH network $14.99 super basic plan. If that is all she really cares about - it's a pretty damn cheap way to keep the Mrs. happy.
posted by COD at 4:19 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ah, crap, the Hulu stuff is mainly clips from the website too. You may be stuck with signing up for cable or satellite.
posted by holgate at 4:22 PM on July 29, 2012

What what more, I do NOT want the optional blather of content-scarce infotainment channels even present in the house.

This is going to be the case whether it's coming out of a laptop or out of a TV. It sounds like it's specifically what she wants.

There is a major difference between turning on the TV and decompressing with whatever happens to be on and purposefully selecting a show to watch, even if they're the same content.

I don't know your wife, but I'd imagine that the appeal of it is more "I can turn the TV on and there's soothing noises about pie that I can halfway pay attention to" than it is "I want to specifically watch shows about pie."

Your best bet is probably to get a cheap flat screen and a cheap cable package and stick it all in an out-of-the-way location in the house.
posted by billybunny at 4:24 PM on July 29, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well, using playon you would be able to use a device (I use a Wii) connected to a television to stream through your laptop/desktop. Playon's different "channels" really just connect to the streams available on the provider web sites, so you should go to to see what on-demand content would actually be available. It does not plug you into a live stream, that is the case for all of the channels that they list as available.

It works OK for the things that I know I want to be doing (hulu queue), but when I want to do something like "watch the Olympic opening ceremony" it gets complicated really fast. Also, other than Netflix, the Wii does not have native clients. Playon actually recodes the video stream before sending it to the player, and I notice some degradation in quality.

I know this is tagged technology and not relationships, but I was fantasizing today about that moment in the future when I will give up my Byzantine setup and get some kind of android TV so my sweetie and I can just watch and flip channels without having to tweak multiple devices. Congratulations on your recent wedding. ;)
posted by cgk at 4:27 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are headphones one can get that enable someone to watch a tv without anyone else having to hear it. My dad uses them sometimes to keep from aggravating my mom. If you are stuck having to get cable on a regular tv that might be an option.

I use netflix streaming to do my decompressing but it has the shows I like and not the shows your wife likes. :(
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:28 PM on July 29, 2012

First, I just got married. I'm a 47-year old bachelor.

You are not a bachelor. Get a flat screen TV, and a DVR to tape shows. You can make an agreement that there will be no live TV watching except for things you both would like to watch, like perhaps the Olympics. Consider headphones; this is what we do.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:28 PM on July 29, 2012 [24 favorites]

Generally these channels only allow for the streaming of clips which is likely not what your wife wants.

You may be able to get different shows etc illegally from the internet, but thats not a sit down and veg out kind of activity.

Your only legal solution is really basic cable.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:50 PM on July 29, 2012

A lot of the food network shows pop up on youtube immediately.
posted by cmoj at 5:32 PM on July 29, 2012

Now that I think about it, one of the pushing points on Comvast was that I could watch on my iOs device. No need for Bluetooth there.

I miss being able to leave on hgtv or food network, but headphones with Netflix worked for me; I don't mind clicking play every 22-49 minutes.

One of the reasons we didn't stay with a dish or cable system is because we couldn't agree on watching rules with it, frankly. But we've also been together two decades (cable once in a while) & now have small children.
posted by tilde at 6:40 PM on July 29, 2012

Response by poster: Some further insight:

Firstmost, thank you, DarlingBri. You are correct of course. I am not a bachelor. I was a 47-year old bachelor. Now I am an medium-aged dog learning new tricks. Freudian slip, I'm sure.

Next, we are getting a tv. Something extraordinary. I am a technologist and that is my job. So that's handled.

Third, we have already invested in quality bluetooth headsets. So the blather-factor is reduced. Also, new tv's don't have that tv "hummmm" that old tv's did. (At least I don't think they do.)

Fourth, yes, the idea is to stream channels to the tv without getting any cable dish or satellite service. I do not mind paying $150 for my internet. I do mind paying for package based television which includes stuff that neither of us particularly wants.

Fifth, I am learning compromise. (Thanks for the me-mail, youknowwhoyouare.) I really am. And it is good.
posted by Mike Mongo at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Unfortunately, short of torrenting, Food Network seems to be one of those things that you only get as part of a cable package. We went through Food Network withdrawals for the first several months after canceling cable, as it was some of the few stations we watched, but eventually found decent mindless sorts of substitutes in some PBS programs (America's Test Kitchen, for example), and once the TiVo built up a decent collection of things to just turn on whenever that were available over the air, we foundwe don't really miss it at all.
posted by jferg at 9:04 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

The food network shows are pretty much all available on iTunes - you can buy a season pass to most shows for around $13. I'm kinda in the same boat as you, but my wife and I have decided to DVR PBS food shows and supplement with streaming food network shows - there is at least one full episode on their website.
posted by Brent Parker at 10:51 PM on July 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

er ... there is at least one full episode of each show on their website.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:07 PM on July 29, 2012

You can always get the very basic cable. Comcast basic cable have some food network & Cooking channel shows in the on free on demand section, If there is other stuff she want she can always buy it on a per show basis. The advantage this would have over a more complete cable setup as a compromise is that she could still watch shows she likes but unlike an actual cable channel the shows don't run all the time you have to choose to run them. I find with on demand it makes me feel that things have actually ended instead of sitting there as one show blurs into the other.
posted by wwax at 8:39 AM on July 30, 2012

Best answer: Where I live, even basic cable is almost $40 a month, so I didn't have it, and my beloved was convinced to drop it shortly after we met---and he has not regretted it. If it was as cheap as $15 though, and he wanted it, I honestly wouldn't even have a second thought. I think it's okay for people in a couple to not share every interest, and I see you've already had someone say the word 'compromise' to you, but it's so true. In my case, we didn't have the cable issue but we did have a guy who's really into video games. The compromise we have made:

- We both understand that solo activities, when both of us are home, are time-limited. If I am out for the night at a class or something and he wants to spend the whole evening playing video games, that's just fine. Otherwise, he controls himself and keeps me posted on his plans.

- I have certain activities I enjoy which don't interest him. So I try and time some of those for when he is busy with his special hobby. For instance, if he tells me that after dinner, he'd like to play a game or two, that's a very opportune time for me to spend an hour on Facetime video chatting with my sister from out of town, or working on a writing project.

- We did reach a point where I decided I did want to be more involved in this activity since it would give us another option for something to do together. So I suggested we get a few games I could play too. He still prefers his own special games, but he also does like to play with me sometimes.

So, in your own case, what I would look at is:

- Can you afford the fee for basic cable? Is it something that, even if you don't prefer it, you can do this for her?

- Can you set up your space so that each of you has your own little retreat somewhere? You could put the TV in her retreat area and set up yours with some hobby stuff you can do while she's watching.

- Then just plan your time. Speak to her about reasonable limits. For instance, you might say each of you gets an hour of 'me' time when you come home, then perhaps after that you eat together and spend some quality time. And of course, if you are ever working late or something, and she wants to spend extra time vegging, no problem, right? It's about being flexible. If my guy has the odd night where he's stressed and needs some alone time, I can deal with that as long as I know that another night, he won't and I can have some time with him.
posted by JoannaC at 11:30 AM on July 30, 2012

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