Editor’s note: This is the latest in CNN.com’s ongoing “Tech Torture With Topher” video-blog series, in which we “torture” CNN.com staffer Topher Kohan by depriving him of a technological convenience for a week to see how he copes with it.
Welcome back you all!
This week I'm going to give up my TV! Not watching TV - just the TV set itself.
Instead, I'll see if between now and Friday I can watch all the TV I would normally watch - which is a lot - online, legally, on my computer or smartphone. I'm also traveling for work this week, which may throw a new wrinkle into this experiment.
To add some more fun to the mix, I'm working with the great folks at CNN's iReport to challenge our audience to try this tech torture themselves this week, then report back to us on how it went. View their challenge here.
We still hope you'll comment below and keep the conversation going. Also head on over to my Twitter account (Topheratl) and join the conversation there.
To help you get started, I've made some short videos that walk you through the sites I'll be using to watch TV online. The first one is about Hulu.com
Editor’s note: Topher Kohan is the search engine optimization (SEO) coordinator for CNN.com, a “Star Wars” aficionado, a tech dork and an all-around good guy. (No, really, he is — just ask him.)
Posted by: Tech Torture with Topher, Topher KohanFiled under: Tech Torture with Topher
Good luck. I switched to 'web-only' last year. Hulu is a definite high point, but Comcast is throttling it (who knows what will happen when they own NBC).
CBS shows (including Star Trek: The Original Series) are available through their site, but the navigation on the CBS videos site is absolutely abhorrent. Either way, best of luck.
Ive been doing this for a year and love it. My cable bill is nill.
I use Hulu all the time and don't notice any throttling...the video runs flawlessly. Wasn't throttling declared to be illegal? If you have evidence that they are, then I would suggest reporting it to the FCC.
I find most of the shows that I watch are online, but not all...I await IPTV so I can drop cable if it compares...at least the TV part. Though I do have to say, I have yet to find a service that compares to the offering that Comcast offers.
We dropped our Cable over four years ago & watch only on line & Netflix.We have other uses for our money
I guess the glitch here is "legally". Get yourself a good torrent program and you can find most anything a day or so after it airs. Get your current weather and news from the internet. Download all the shows/movies you want, share them on your LAN with Media Player and watch them on the big screen via your PS3 or XBox. Connect a 1.5Tb USB drive to your PC for about $129 so drive space is not an issue.
If you want to be really hardcore try using WebTV in Europe! (no Hulu or anything comparable)
We turned off the cable in 1998 – it hasn't been back on since. We grew weary of paying the ever increasing monthly bill just to have advertisements piped into our home. The internet has been our primary source for news and information and Netflix for entertainment. Books – we now read loads of books. Try it people; once you step outside the circle and are able to look in, you'll never go back. It takes longer than a week to do that though. One week without TV – please, I could hold my bladder for week. Try it for at least a month Topher – be brave :)
I've got a great drawing of my setup for OTA internet TV only! It includes a PVR i built from an old pc... all for under $300. Have Topher contact my email and i'll send him my visual design.
This is a good idea if you just want to watch shows later than they happen. A major problem with this is sports. Sports really are best enjoyed live and on a verge large screen in HD. Outside of sports, the internet is an excellent resource for watching shows.
I've been forced into trying this due to the joys of corporate travel. You really can find just about any show out there on the internet. Between sites like Hulu, Fancast, Surfthechannel, and various other places. The only issue is the abhorrently slow bandwidth available in this country. 6 tenths of a megabit is hardly "broadband" and makes for a very choppy internet tv experience. Honestly, i'd rather watch commercials than wait for a buffer every 5 minutes.
I used to have cable tv and dumped it because they kept raising rates. I went to Dish and they too kept raising rates, so I dumped them. I'm back over the air (very selective – I like 2 shows on the japanese channel), web tv, and rentals.
The only way I would subscribe to any service is, if they:
1) Allow me to pick which channels (I can get by with around 5).
2) Have a cost that is more inline (should be less than $20 a month).
I am hesitant to give up my favorite source of online entertainment because I don't want it to get flooded. But, once I found justin.tv I can't imagine going back to cable. The guys that do The Tech Buzz put on a professional broadcast and I get a charge out of being able to participate and have my own questions answered. Between Clicker, TVLand, and Hulu I can watch everything from Andy Griffith, Miami Vice or Seinfeld. No, I don't miss all the advertising I got from cable at all.
My husband and I gave up our cable TV service two years ago. We have been watching TV online since then. We save almost $1K a year in cable expense doing this. There are definitely some glitches and we miss out on live events and games, but it just means we spend more time with friends when we watch it at their houses. We are going to upgrade to an HDTV but have decided to hook it up to a Mac Mini instead of a cable box so we can continue to watch shows online.
It is very rare that we watch "TV" at our house. We watch streaming video from Netflix and my daughter watches some of her old videotapes occasionally. We don't have cable and after the digital switch, we lost the ability to watch 1/3 of the channels we used to have. The only problem, as one commenter noted, is in watching sports; however, as more and more games were played on cable, I rarely got to see them anyway. I listen to baseball and hockey on the radio or internet and can still catch the Bears on broadcast television, if they are on one of the over-the-air channels we receive.
For years, this has been how I typically watch television. It's only been really good the last year or three. For those of us that don't have the schedule or facilities to watch when things are on (and maybe don't have a DVR – a recent addition in my house).
The biggest problem you'll find, in my experience, is that there are some shows that are never posted to the channel sites, Hulu, or Youtube, and others get posted for a short time, and then get pulled (Mentalist, I'm looking at you) for whatever reason. Others have a 7 day delay.
Worst of all, they restrict a lot of shows to the last 5 episodes, sometimes fewer.
If you're looking to do legal television over the internet, your results may be spotty, depending on what you like to watch, but I find it very convenient and I'm hoping someone in television is smart enough to find a way to make it work for all of us: creators, distributors and viewers alike.
I'm an American working overseas for the military. I have no choice but to watch internet TV. I've gotten use to it and actually enjoy it.
Message to "curtegg"....
I agree with your comment allowing the consumer to select the channels they want, aka as "al la cart pricing". Personally, I do not watch a lot of sports and don't want to pay for them. I don't know what happened to the legislation before Congress a few years ago allowing consumers the choice in their programming. I've been without cable since 2002 and will not subscribe to their service until Congress forces the cable industry to allow consumers a choice in their programming.
The excuse from the cable industry that consumer choice will make cable bills increase does not stand up to scrutiny. To quote my father "don't piss on me and tell me it's raining".
Wake Up folks...unplug the TV and grab a book.
I like hulu when it first came out but now some shows are CBS owned and it directed me to there. Unfortunately, being deaf, CBS shows are not captions which is a violation of ADA law. I complained about it with no respond from them.
During the digital TV transition last June, I gave up television. I did not get a converter and was irritated that my cable TV rates went up. I now watch clips here and there of news on Hulu, CNN and Fox. CBS is terrible. I also am able to watch a few shows like the final episodes of Jon and Kate on youtube with bootlegged copies.
Why does cable TV exist? Because lots of people pay exorbitant amounts of money each month for an unneeded service. I believe some people would rather stop making payments on their house than to lose their precious cable TV.
I gave it up 4 months ago. I sometimes use over the air (when I first switched, I still watched too much TV but networks and PBS only), and I use internet sites to catch up on some shows I like – but on my time (no DVR required). I now read and connect to people more often than ever before. I think a lot of people just leave their TV's on while doing something else – background noise. And I still use over the air for some sports – Unfortunately, I got to watch the Redskins blow a 4th quarter lead for 3 weeks straight.
What's Cable or TV for that matter. I've been watching netTV only.
There's nothing really on tv to watch. There are two problems though and someone mentioned comcast buying NBC and the other is HULU wanting to start charging.
I will look for other avenues before that happens.
I have such a crazy schedule that web TV is the only TV I ever get a chance to watch anymore. Spreety is my favorite service, because it makes it really easy to just find the shows I want to watch without having to remember 50 million different links (especially since the links seem to change on a daily basis!)
I live in a rural area where we cannot get reception for even one free TV channel. I cannot afford both internet and satellite and must have internet because I telecommute, so I've been watching TV online only for about four years now and it works for me. I only watch shows I'm really interested in instead of watching just because it's on. I especially like that the commercial periods are generally only about 30 seconds.
One week? I gave up conventional TV over a year ago, and haven't missed it. I can watch just about anything I'm interested in online legally. Granted, you won't find every single show there is online, but most stations now post the latest episodes of most of their shows.
For the shows/networks themselves, they are probably making more from their internet ads than from their TV ads. I never used to watch any commercials at all, but I don't try to skip 30 second commercials.
A great side effect of giving up conventional TV personally was also realizing how much time I wasted watching stuff I didn't actually want to watch. Now I watch only the programs I'm really interested in. All-in-all, cable service would have to practically be free to lure me back. I much prefer web TV.
I can see almost everything on the internet I want except for sports. If I could watch sports real time or later on the internet I would give up cable in a heart beat. ESPN 360 only shows some events not all.
I already do this with my mac mini hooked up to my TV.
The mac mini is running plex (free media server software) and it allows me to not only watch TV (and movies) on my main TV in my living room but also watch anything in my library of media from any laptop or PC in the house.
Beats the crap out of crappy cable/ old fashioned TV.
Did i mention it's free? (well free service, the hardware cost $$).
I have not had a TV for 7 years, and just this year started watching again online. Hulu is great because I watch only the shows I want without the innane channel surfing, nor having to pay for channels I would never watch like ESPN, QVC and others. I also have Netflix so I can watch some (not all) movies and TV shows online without waiting until they com in the mail. So, in my mind TV online is no big deal and is really the way to go.
I pay for cable, technically, but rarely watch it. I have a cable Internet connection that is the bulk of what I pay, and the TV is just a few bucks added on. If I drop the cable TV, the cost for my Internet goes up by almost as much as I'm paying extra for the TV.
It's still cheaper than a T1, but that's the only thing keeping me with cable. Oooh! Wait! The History Channel is showing a repeat of "Ice Road Truckers"! Woo-hoo.
cbs.com has the worst online viewer of all it shuts down in the middle of the program it is just horrible to watch anything on the viewer
Lets take it a step further. Try using Boxee. This takes Hulu to the next step and merges many aspects of online media content into one unit. Think of it as Apple TV but better.
Legally? bah. if you cant download tv shows legally where you live, move to a country where you can.
I too got really frustrated with comcast being too expensive. However, I live in a rual area and I can't not pick up any digital free TV channels.
When I called comcast to cancel they have a $10.00 per month option to recieve all the major chanels. I now get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, WB, ION at perfect quality. Much better than rabit ears. If I want other cable shows I watch them online.
$10.00 per month is the full rate (will not increase in 6 months, no "special" plan) is another reasonable option, and I have very satified with plan.
I now watch most of my tv on Hulu and other sites. One downside for me is that I am deaf and sometimes the show I want to view on HULU or CBS webcast do not have the closed caption files available or they can be out of synch with the audio.
I mainly only watch online.
Most major networks put their shows on the web for free
and even sports on CBS is free online...
Plus http://www.hulu.com is pretty good too...
I'm not sure why this story is interesting enough to include on CNN (not that CNN.com has any sort of standard for the quality of content they publish lately). I haven't owned a television since 2008 and only watch at friends' houses or airports (etc). There is so much free content available online now that there is really no need to have a television or subscribe to a DVR service, especially for college students or people on a budget. Again, not too sure why this is "newsworthy", it just reads like an out of touch older guy discovering something that a lot of people already do and considering himself a pioneer.
I have not had cable or dish since June 09 (by choice) and am thankful it is gone. If I want to see something I'll watch it for free through the computer. Every now and then we'll borrow a Netflix movie from my mom/pop. If I want news/weather I use the computer.
I definitely do not call not having cable/dish television torture and don't miss it or the bill that comes with it. No one is trying to sell me something else I don't need:).
We have canceled our cable. We have Apple TV. We chose Apple over VuDu, as i-Tunes has much more kids programming. We wanted to have more control on his viewing. We keep all programing on an External Drive, 500 GB, and synch it to the TV as we want. I see no need to get cable again. As a footnote, the only network show I watch is "Lost", and I get it on i-Tunes. I know it is only 720p, but It works for me.
As A trucker, I've been doing this for years. Started a long time ago by getting and ATI All-In-Wander card and setting my computer up to record all my shows as Divx files. Now with Hulu and Netflix, I don't even need to do that is much anymore. They work remarkably well on My RevA Verizon card (I'm grandfathered in to and unlimited plan and with a bill as big as mine, I never get so much as a peep even though I regularly use about 25gigs a month. Unless you have a $600+ bill and and unlimited read not 5gig plan would not try though) Wifi is widely available at most truckstops for $200 bucks a year for people not as lucky as me with Verizon. The Netflix account allowed me to cancel premium cable at home. The things worth watching there, the original series, are all available. Saves me $40 bucks a month. I will admit to being a little bad once in a while if I miss a show deadline and hitting a bittorrent or two, but its rare. Sports are almost always available OTA on my high def, which I also hook my computer up too for online viewing. Honestly, if I thought my wife would deal with the little extra work involved, we would probably go internet/ota only in the house and save a bundle.
I gave up cable 15 years ago because I felt like a sucker paying to watch commercials. Cable TV, which was the wild west of entertainment in the '70s and early '80s, has become simply more of the same garbage we were running from on broadcast TV. I have not missed it. Sure, folks at work would talk about the latest episode of "the sopranos" or some such thing, but what has it gotten them now? Watch PBS, listen to NPR, or turn it all off and get comfortable w/ the sound of your own thoughts. It's OK, kids, it's OK.
Why don't you watch Project Gutenberg. Really do a quality of analysis. 1/2 hour of Tv Then 15 minutes of one of the Great western books featured by Britannica, but most of them are public domain. Then prescribe yourself 16 minutes online at the Mathematica website and emulating a TI 83 calculator and learning every key press. Then read a New kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram and then give yourself a bonus of 1/2 an hour painting with Twisted Brush, then switch to Corel Painter, then switch to Studio Artist Then write an essay combining this adventure every day for a week. TV is the most wasteful use of time. Except PBS, National Geographic and a handful of stations. I will take my frustrating attempts at learning software any day over TV.
Just for perspective (And I also only watch TV online) cable and satellite companies carry crap home-shopping channels because the shopping channels pay the cable companies. Offering them does help pay for the real channels we actually do watch. I never thought it any big deal- just another channel to skip like ESPN or Lifetime.
We gave up cable and regular TV 5 years ago and have never looked back. I have to say it's been liberating.
I am ready to drop the cable TV but until I can get Football live online without paying an arm and a leg, I can't move to online TV.
We recently dumped cable at our house. Got really sick of the fees, the bad service and the the bad attitutes. We have an HDTV and had purchased an HDTIVO several years back (another reason we dropped cable, they refused to allow the HDTIVO to work with the M-Cards). We've got an interior antenna ($50) and get about 54 channels, most of them come in crystal clear (many in HD) over the airwaves (I get all of my local channels). My brother in law even commented on how great the picture looked (he thought we had cable and was shocked when we told him it was "Free" tv. Between that and all the broadband services (Netflix, Amazon, Blockbuster) that I can get through the HDTIVO, I do not miss cable at all. I am thinking about getting a beefier attic installed antenna. That way I will be able to get even more lovely channels off of the airwaves, sans cable. It is truly a beautiful thing.
It's not exactly "living without TV" but, no one seems to have mentioned the fact that you can satisfy your need for real-time sports (in HD) with a simple outside antenna. I live in a rural area and find that I can receive seven HD signals with a modest antenna in my attic. I'll never get ESPN or NFL network but ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, ION and CW are all there, for free, over the air.
I gave up all TV and the Internet for four months. It was the most productive period in my life, during that time I took 42 college credits in one semester! I very much wish I could go back to it as even my current fringe watching takes up way too much of my pre ious time.
Another good source for newer shows (Hulu doesn't carry CBS) is http://www.casttv.com , they have an excellent variety of everything you like to watch. I watch tv on one screen while i'm working on my other. Right now I am watching Scrubs from season 1 to current. There is a time limit on some of the stuff that comes from Mega Video, but you can either deal with the 74 minutes a day or pay a small subscription fee for a month. Anyway, great service although the video is not as clear as Hulu.
I've been doing this for more than a year and I love it. I can actually use my PS3 as a web browser and watch hulu and other things like that on my LCD TV. And now that Netflix lets me watch their online stuff through my PS3, its even easier. If there is anything I want that I can't get online free, I'll pay for it through iTunes. I'll get Mad Men, Damages or Dexter, have their complete seasons to own before the DVD comes out. Paying $30.00 for a season of great TV is STILL cheaper than $100.00 a month for cable. Since iTunes is on my computer, I just connect my laptop to my TV and watch it there as well.
I haven't had cable for 7 years and haven't missed it at all. Most of what's on is garbage and I'm not willing to pay to watch the couple of decent shows that are available.
I occassionally watch a TV show online. I've also borrowed DVD's from the library for TV shows that I've heard are good. That way it costs me nothing and I'm not a slave to the networks schedule like I used to be.
Ive been doing this for almost 2 years now and i love it ! i love HULU ,but am worried that the will want to charge us to watch the same things we can see on TV for Free. i also love JOOST too .i was forced to do web-only TV after 9/11 ,because when the world trade center (which had the antenna's on the roof ) was destroyed ,i lost all TV reception hear in northern Manhattan and still to this day don't get a signal (imagine that in a U.S. city of 8 million people )
Topher, great article. Hulu is a nice piece in a very large puzzle for online TV. There's sports, movies, music, news (yes, CNN online), which are not well captured by aggregators. As mentioned by Julie, http://Spreety.com is a top notch television guide for the Internet, and is completely free.
I gave up cable/satellite a few years ago. I know some people that pay about $840 a year on satellite to watch only a handful of channels. I'd rather use that money to go on a vacation or buy something of value. I watch my "lame" TV (with converter box) and if I miss something, I catch it online. I don't have a DVR either. My rule is if someone invites me to go do something and it means missing a TV show, I always go for the human interaction. I can always watch what I missed online. I do not miss paying a satellite bill at all. I just wish CBS would put full episodes of The Big Bang Theory online. That's my only gripe.
This challenge is actually easier than you might think. We gave up TV just over a month ago and have been able to watch just about anything we want online.
Not only do you get the convenience of watching shows on your own schedule, but I now have control of the TV available for my video games!
I too have completely given up tv. I solely watch on my computer and have not missed cable at all. Hulu and Netflix are my primary source of entertainment but most cable station websites have full episodes as well. I enjoy having the extra cash in my pocket every month!!!
Some of the comments here are something else. Go read a book! Well, I read in the area of 75 books a year and I still like TV. So you don't watch TV...thats nice. Get over your elitist selves. This was an article about watching Net TV, not how to be an internet troll. For those commenting on money saving solutions/ideas, great, that was the intent of the story, I use basic cable that comes with my broadband for locals, and I use Sat TV (mainly for hockey). The vast amount of my family viewing is via bittorents from overseas, programming that is not available to me in the US. I have an Apple TV that I move the downloaded programming to, as well as getting shows and movies from Itunes on it.
I live in Los Angeles and havent subscribed to cable for about 7 yrs. I have an HD TV, XBox, PS3 and 5.1 Surround. I dont play many games but the PS3 is my DVD player... love Blu Ray. Bunny ears provide me local TV stations in HD with quite a few broadcasting surround. Only recently have I starting actually watching TV shows, maybe in the last year. I dont actually watch much TV programming on my HD TV... Most shows are watched on my MacBook Pro. Hulu is my DVR and I love it. CBS is unbearable and I have a couple sites I use to watch Madmen, Californication and Weeds. I only have to wait till the next day. Currently my plan is to get a Mac Mini with wireless keyboard and mouse and hook up to my TV mini DV – HDMI and audio into my receiver. I just heard I can get Netflix through my XBox. Its a brave new world, cable is dying, and I love it.
I built a new computer for the Livingroom and put in a 48" Vizio. Installed HDTV Cards or USB adapters in every Computer. We cut Directv loose (Whole complete other piece of nonsense). We have no "TV's" in the House. No Stereos, No Land Line Phones, No Game Machines, Just 4 computers, the Net and Cell Phones and over the AIR Local HDTV into Each Computer. Watched the "Eddie" Surf Contest LIVE all day yesterday from the North Shore Streamed over the net. For all this I gave up Monday Night Football. Trust me you won't miss Cable/Sat after two weeks.
I'm with Marc. The wife and I can watch most of the shows we want legally over the internet. I think the only one we can't is The Mentalist, for that we found another site that shows it but the quality is just about unwatchable.
We dropped our Subscription TV service about six months ago. I miss some of the shows and channels but not enough to watch them through some other method. My biggest complaint though is that all the local broadcasters seem to have dropped their broadcast signal strength by 75% so that we lose the signal in anything but clear skies.
We cancelled out digital cable about 3 months ago but we kept the cable internet service. As I suspected, the cable internet service, at least in our area, includes basic cable up to
60 channels. We turned in our DVR and now use
Windows Media Center and a capture card as
a DVR. In the evening, we watch most shows
on Hulu. We save about $70.00 a month over
having the digital cable, DVR and internet service.
Why pay for cable if you are utilizing the internet? One week is a breeze. Try 3 yrs plus. Cable is an ABSOLUTE waste of your hard earned $$$. My converter box gives me all the the regular TV I desire. When it is time for me to sit down and watch some good TV viewing. I just click on HULU.com, NBC.com, CBS.com, or the many other free TV sites on the internet. A really nice one to visit is tvblinkx.com. Leave Comcast High and Dry! They aren't worth it...Terrible Customer Service and where do they come up with those prices...Shake Comcast!
I've heard Hulu mentioned a dozen times in the posting, but there are several online resources that might have just the show you're looking for. OVGuide.com has a great search engine. Even the most obscure titles are easily found.
How nice to read all these positive comments! We've been spending $800 a year on dish TV – and watch MAYBE 4 hours of TV a week. We've finally done the math and realized that it's like paying movie ticket prices for every show we watch. Our contract is UP on Christmas, so as soon as we record few things off the DVR, we plan to dump the dish and go without any broadcast tv at all (not even a converter box).
We've never watched broadcast "news" because internet news and weather are so much more targeted. We already know that the shows we do watch (Big Bang Theory, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman) are easily available for FREE online, and with no commercials to boot. Because our kids honestly prefer creative play or book reading to tv and have not been force-fed the abhorrent toy marketing found on every channel, they are not the toy-grubbing, greedy, "I want it all" brats many people complain about this time of year.
In just a few years without paying dish prices, we'll be able to fly to Disney World for a family vacation with the money we've saved!
You can do it! I have not had cable or internet for years. I watch free TV and don't miss a thing.
There are tons of good resources online – depending on what you're looking for. Hulu, abc.com, boxee, they're limitless.
All of the tv's in our house are hooked to computers with wireless keyboards/mice. We still have cable – but for phone/internet.
We watch the same shows we did before – but we watch them when we want to watch them – not on someone else's schedule. Plus, it cut our bill by more than half.
An executive at Hulu stated that they might switch to subscription-only next year. I hope they're reading this and realizing they'll lose all of these early-adopters.
We gave up cable nearly 2 years ago. We started with Netflix, then found Spreety.com and some others. Even with the cost of Netflix we're saving a ton of money.
This solved my big problem
Excellent phrase and it is duly
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