Help me cut off the Dish
April 29, 2014 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I want to cancel my Dish Network service, as I am really getting tired of paying $82/mo for stuff I don't use and can get online. I realized today that I haven't watched anything for months, and I'm home all day anyway.

Mrs. pjern, however, is a different story. I'm willing to spend money to make her happy, but I need some arguments to present to convince her that it's time to cut the cord.

I guess I''m frustrated. I'm tired of spending my (increasingly limited) income on 20 channels of military masturbation mixed in with 16 shopping channels and 14 "Christian" channels and 5 variously biased news networks.

Help me convince my (infinitely better) half that we can, indeed, live without the Dish bill. Relatedly, what can I do to give her a near-cable experience over the Internet?
posted by pjern to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
$82 a month is almost $1000 after a year if you put it in savings. Is there something she's wanted for a while that could be paid for with $1000? Maybe a nice weekend trip or wardrobe update or home repair or something like that?
posted by joan_holloway at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2014

What does she watch? If she loves Game of Thrones and Major League Baseball and is willing to pay $82 a month for it, well...
posted by mskyle at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree, what does your wife watch? It's kind of hard to answer the questions without knowing how much she is watching and what types of programs.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:16 AM on April 29, 2014

You can certainly ask in /r/cordcutters, they live for these kinds of questions.

But, be warned. This is still pioneer country and you're going to have to mess with set-top boxes, high-speed internet connections, unstable apps, unsteady video streams, wired antenna connections, an Aereo subscription that may or may not be valid in a few months, and a myriad of other content providers which all work exactly different from each other.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you aren't the main TV watcher in your house, it's probably going to be difficult for you to convince the person who does watch TV that she should cancel cable and make her life more difficult by having to piece together what she watches via various internet outlets and subscriptions. I did that for a while and it was so annoying that I went back to cable. Yes, it's a lot of money and no, I never watch the sixty channels showing weird "reality" shows. But there are some things (sports and HBO, especially) that you still can't get legally from the internet and if she watches any of those, I think this is an argument you should stop before you start. Some people like TV enough to pay for it. $82 is really not that much as a percentage of monthly expenditures.
posted by something something at 9:30 AM on April 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Except for college, I have not subscribed to cable my entire adult life, and I like TV. What I do:

1. I have an antenna. This lets me get ABC NBC CBS PBS Fox and a Fox affiliate and a whole bunch of other channels I don't watch (ION, MeTV, religious channels, music channel etc)

I used to have rabbit ears which worked great but then I bought a new TV and the rabbit ears didn't work as well so I had to get a roof antenna. But it's not on my roof - its on a pole in my backyard - no one sees it unless they are in my backyard and its next to the awning (sp?) over my porch so its not intrusive. Took maybe 30 min to put up.

2. Netflix - I do the CDs because I find streaming choices to be limited but you can buy alot of CD rentals and streaming with the money that was going to Dish TV. They have almost all the cable series you could want. I am currently watching Game of Thrones. Breaking Bad is next.

I watch cable/dish TV at friends' houses and I know I am missing nothing I care about.
posted by WinterSolstice at 9:30 AM on April 29, 2014

How do you handle the finances in your house? My wife and I give ourselves an "allowance" and our various discretionary purchases are made out of those funds. I use Spotify, and it comes wholly out of my allowance. We both watch Netflix, though, and we treat that as a household expense.

If you have a similar approach to budgeting, it may align your interests if you tell her the Dish should come out of her own allowance, and you don't want to contribute anymore. She may find that she, too, can live without the Dish if she has to pay for it out of money she could use on other purchases.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:31 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

//If you aren't the main TV watcher in your house, it's probably going to be difficult for you to convince the person who does watch TV that she should cancel cable and make her life more difficult by having to piece together what she watches via various internet outlets and subscriptions.//

This. My wife would be much less happy without the Food Network and HGTV, and those can't really be replaced by online options yet. So we pay for cable every month.
posted by COD at 9:38 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

She primarily watches the foodie channels, and the occasional movie. She wants TV in her bedroom, primarily. Some movies, mostly Lifetime-type stuff. I can get a network cable to her TV area, but whatever solution i provide needs a remote.

re: finanaces: I pay the household bills, and we each pay our own expenses.
posted by pjern at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2014

Last I checked, Food Network is really tough to get online. Can you downgrade to a lower package that still includes Food Network? Movies are usually pretty easy, though I'm not sure if Lifetime produced stuff is included. You might check here:
posted by cnc at 9:49 AM on April 29, 2014

So I think it depends on what your main method of watching TV is now. I think people generally fall into 2 camps:

A. DVR things, and watch those specific things when you have the time.

B. Want to numb your brain/kill time, flip around the TV channels until you zonk out on something.

If you are camp A, your transition will be easy. Instantly pocket like $65/mo after a Netflix & Hulu Plus subscription, and possibly a $40 one time OTA antenna.

If camp B, she might eventually adapt to camp A with some initial resistance. I think the best reason to cut cable/dish subscriptions is that you spend your free time doing better things than just mindlessly watching TV. If you want to watch a specific show or program or movie, you do so intentionally and mindfully.

So, that said, your setup might be a bit fiddly and piecemeal. I've lived with the set up I describe below for 3 years. I like it, but my parents still ask "are you going to get cable when X?" like it is some kind of deprivation.
  • TV, in living room near main cable outlet.
  • Antenna behind TV on wall.
  • Cable Internet, modem, WiFi router, all under TV in cabinet
  • PS3, (soon to be very cheap), plugged directly into router (wired connection)
  • Hulu+ and Netflix Subscription and corresponding apps on PS3.
  • Lets you search all streaming services at once.
  • For the odd thing that has to be run through a computer, a laptop, spare HDMI cable and laptop adaptor, and justinTV
  • This last one is a bit of a cheat: my parent's HBOGo and account password. Lets me watch anything on HBO and regional college sports.
This allows me to watch:
  • Local and national nightly news broadcasts (OTA)
  • Weekend local sports (OTA)
  • College Football team (
  • Current Comedy Central shows (hulu)
  • Current NBC shows (hulu)
  • Lots of great older shows that I missed when they aired (netflix)
  • All of the Criterion Collection (hulu)
  • HBO dramas of Note (hboGo)
  • The occasional new release (amazon instant or redbox instant)
  • Every reality TV show that TLC has come up with (netflix)
Is this "near cable"? It is certainly enough stuff to watch until the heat death of the universe. It doesn't feel like deprivation to me. If I'm home with the flu, I can still watch 20 episodes of "My Cat From Hell" I just like I would on cable but fewer commercials. If I want to unwind with my spouse on a weeknight, we can watch Bob's Burgers while eating a burger.

After your initial setup, you do need to put a bit more effort into curating what you watch. But I like that you are forced to consciously consume, instead of passively consuming. Thats the camp A vs camp B difference I mentioned above.

The one drawback is (generally older) co-workers keep trying to start conversations with me that start with "You know that funny commercial with the cat and the truck driver?" and I have to say "No?" Also, I have to actually look up what movies are playing because I have no exposure to whats at the box office aside from the trailers I saw last time I was at the theater.
posted by fontophilic at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

You can watch Lifetime movies on the Lifetime website. (Bonus: commercial free.)

My home setup is a cheap desktop computer hdmi cabled to my regular old boring nonsmart TV as its monitor. I have a wireless keyboard/trackpad. I can watch the entirety of the internet on my TV without any special dongle. I also have a cheap TV tuner and digital antenna hooked up to the desktop, and can watch and record high def broadcast TV with Windows Media Center.

It's perfect for me.
posted by phunniemee at 10:18 AM on April 29, 2014

I too, used to have cable mostly to watch foodie and edutaiment type shows. I've coped by finally subscribing to Amazon Prime (which seems to be the only place to get older Food Network backlog episodes for streaming), and CreateTV via a digital antenna we'd set up. It's essentially the public television channel dedicated to how-to, cooking, design, etc. shows and the like.

It's not perfect, but I'm someone who tends to like to have the TV on in the background as noise. Something like Netflix just annoyed me because I kept having to find something, and then find something else -- I hate the fact that I can't super-easily just queue up 4-5 hours of stuff to stream at once and have it going in the background while I did other things.

It's not perfect, and I sometimes miss baseball and being able to easily watch the current season of shows, but I'm not a huge TV person and the savings made it worth it for me.
posted by PearlRose at 10:23 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not sure where you're located, but in Chicago we get 4 digital PBS channels OTA, one of which is nearly entirely cooking shows.
posted by Oktober at 10:35 AM on April 29, 2014

Check into Roku too - its channel setup more closely mimics traditional TV (especially the digital programming guides) and has a remote (bluetooth). It's got really easy access (both using and setup) to Netflix, Amazon Prime Streaming, Hulu, Pandora, a bunch of other streaming sources, and your own media library (via Plex).
posted by bookdragoness at 10:36 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can watch an endless stream of mindless reality programming on Hulu with a Roku or AppleTV or Amazon Fire TV (all of which have remotes), if she's willing to switch what programs she watches, but the exact same Food Network programs will not be available. Also, you'll want to subscribe to some TV services... I spend probably $20-25 a month on HuluPlus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and the occasional movie rental, so you may not realize the full $82 in savings, but let's say it saves you at least $50/month, or $600 a year. Would that be enough motivation for your wife to switch what she watches?
posted by mskyle at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2014

I guess I''m frustrated. I'm tired of spending my (increasingly limited) income on 20 channels...

Tread very lightly. It's her income too and you sound resentful. Think about how much you spend on your personal entertainment each month and be prepared to give something up if you are asking her to give up something.
posted by parakeetdog at 10:58 AM on April 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I cut cable years ago, and my setup includes a Plex server and a Roku box (or stick!) for each TV. I get my HGTV and FoodNetwork fix from the HGTV and FoodNetwork Plex channels (US and Canadian versions).
posted by cgg at 10:58 AM on April 29, 2014

I had Dish, plus separate phone and internet service through Verizon (DSL and landline). A couple of years ago, I switched everything to Verizon Fios as a bundle, and wound up paying substantially less while still getting lots of tv options and much faster internet. Could be worth looking at a different cord, rather than cutting it completely.
posted by current resident at 11:32 AM on April 29, 2014

Call Dish and tell them that you are going to cancel. They will then offer you a great rate. Do not agree to a contract. Take the great rate and surf on it for a few months. Use the extra bit to take your wife out to dinner. Wine her, dine her, treat her like you did when you were first dating. And then assure her that if she switches to Amazon Prime, you will continue to treat her like that forever after.

A nice restaurant with the man that you love beats the food network alone in bed any day.
posted by myselfasme at 5:35 AM on April 30, 2014

Seconding Roku- I cut the cord in November and have never looked back. Saving $105 per month and can bing watch lots of really really good stuff. If I must see something (Like Mad Men the day after it premiers) I can pay less than $2.00 to do that. The once in a while movies and shows I pay for never ever come close to what my cable was costing me month after month. And no waste!
I went to this when I realized I watched maybe 3-5 channels on cable max. I also got an indoor antenna to watch local channels and PBS.
posted by shaarog at 10:58 AM on April 30, 2014

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