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December 9, 2009

Tech Torture, Day 3: I don't miss my TV

Posted: 05:56 PM ET

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. This week, Topher is trying to watch all his beloved TV shows online instead of on his TV.

Hello all,

So I flew back to Atlanta from Chicago last night, and with all the delays I got home after midnight on the East Coast. That meant I was able to watch Tuesday night's TV on Hulu.

So I watched the season premiere of "Better off Ted" and my first-ever episode of "The Good Wife," which came recommended by friends. One of the great things about watching TV online is that I can go back and catch past episodes of a show that I've heard good things about.

Correction from yesterday: Viewers, you are correct - CBS is not on Hulu. Some CBS shows are listed there, but the link takes you to CBS.com to watch them. I watched three shows on CBS.com the other night and the experience was not as good as Hulu - there were more ads, and the video player crashed twice.

Thanks for reading and please keep the comments coming! Also, don't forget to hop over to my Twitter feed (TopherAtl) and join the conversation there.

Remember 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.

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.)

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Jon Henshaw   December 9th, 2009 6:17 pm ET

I don't believe for a second that you don't watch Glee. You watch it and you like it! :P


Terrence Brewton   December 9th, 2009 10:01 pm ET

Hello Topher,

I have also 'cut the cord'. Meaning I no longer watch my shows through traditional means such, as cable or satellite TV. I cut the cord in March of 2009 and I am not missing anything traditional that cable satellite had to offer. I am also saving $100 a month in cable bills
However, in November DirecTV gave me three months of free HDTV service, which was worth over $300 USD. After two weeks of watching my favorite television shows such as Heroes and V on DirecTV, I realized that I had more fun and control watching them over the internet. Therefore, I called them back and cancelled my free service.

Also did you know that Netflix is offering recent television shows such as Heroes for free through their streaming video service. The service is also delivered in HDTV.

My question to you:
How do you feel about Hulu’s recent announcement that users may have to start paying a subscription fee for their service?


DJ   December 9th, 2009 11:34 pm ET

Topher, what a great concept.

I haven't been using cable or a dish for almost 6 months, and I don't miss it at all. My television hasn't been used, except for playing video games.

Yeah, I may not see a show the very night that it is on a network, but usually the next day you can find almost ANY show.

Hulu is great for some older classics. Watch Murder One, the entire series. (personal favorite)

If you like reruns of older shows, there is a vast amount of shows out there. Many sights offer a half dozen or so past episodes, and change them out about every 2 weeks.

TVLAND.. Andy Griffith Show, Beverly Hillbillies, Leave It To Beaver..

TBS.. Seinfeld, The Office, My Name Is Earl

TNT.. Dark Blue, Leverage, The Closer

Comedy Central ... Daily Show, Colbert Report..

If you are into cartoons, the Cartoon Network offers many cartoons.

YouTube has free TV shows and movies available also. Many oldies from Hulu, as well as other older shows. Gilligans Island

SlashControl.com is my favorite website. Many shows that you find on Hulu, as well as links to the major networks, and links to most cable channels, so its easy to just click on whatever channel you want to watch.

Most local TV station websites will offer a repeat of local news broadcasts, so keeping up with the news is pretty easy.

It really isn't that difficult to find shows that one may want to watch. Yeah, it bites not having the 60 inch picture, but most website are broadcasting in HD, so the quality is really good.

I say you should try it for a month. One week isn't enough. Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy to navigate around. And, you can watch shows at your own convenience.

Good luck!


Nick   December 10th, 2009 12:02 am ET

May 2007 I decided that cable was a waste of my time and money. So at that time I decided to try to watch everything I usually did legally online. I found out that I liked it a lot better. First I took all the money I was using to pay for cable and got a Netflix membership while investing the rest in legally downloaded Movies and TV shows every month. I now own over 150 movies and almost 600 TV shows in digital format, without spending a dime over what I would pay for cable. Second, my schedule varies a lot from week to week and I often work late. The online route allows me to watch shows late at night when I get home, or the next day, or the next week. All I used to pay for is a lot of late night specials that didn't interest me. Finally, I have calculated that by using iTunes, Netflix Instant (Commercial Free), Hulu, ABC.com, & CBS.com (commercial light) I save almost 7 days (at 24 hours) a year that I would spend watching commercials. On the rare occasion I am in a hotel and turn on the tube I now find that the commercials drive me up the wall. As for Hulu, if they have to charge to survive than that is what they have to do. However, I would rather see it evolve as a premium service with less commercials and more content. I know that there is TiVo and DVR's but I don't want to have to fast forward past commercials or remember to set it to record. I want to see a new episode of Bones pop up nicely organized with a description, thumbnail and no commercials, and be able to click on it, and watch it. Which is what I am going to do right now, on my schedule.


Ave   December 10th, 2009 4:19 am ET

What's the point of this? Why do you need TV shows anyway, on a regular TV or online? If you were actually trying to accomplish something you would just turn the TV off, and not watch online. The difference is negligible. You probably use a Tivo or w/e anyway when you do watch your TV shows, so what you're doing is even less of a difference.

Go a week without your phone.
Go a week without your car.
Go a week without the internet... oh wait you can't because of your job.

What's next? A week without your coffee maker? A week without your DVD player? Anything but that.

Point is, going without a single piece of technology is either completely moot because you have so many other ways to achieve the same goal, or is to drastic and is an impossibility to pull off. You're not actually going without TV if you still watch TV shows on the internet, you're just using an alternative outlet to accomplish the same thing, so you've given up nothing.


Mark   December 10th, 2009 8:17 am ET

I've been watching TV online since college. I prefer it over regular TV, since it allows me to control when I want to watch my favorite shows. I can catch up if need be, as well. I just wish TVs would come with a Hulu app, similar to how some have access to Youtube or the Xbox 360 has Netflix. As well as, Hulu have more access to more prime time shows. I don't want to have to go to each broadcast companies website to get my show, I want them all in one place.


Mark   December 10th, 2009 8:21 am ET

I wanted to add, as far as commercials go on Hulu and broadcast companies websites I do not mind. They are usually short, sweet commercials that last maybe 20s and some have a skip button after 15s. Which is a lot better than watching on TV where commercials can last several times longer and times seem like they will never end. And if they need those commercials to keep it free and coming then why not. I would prefer to see a 20s commercial over a subscription any day.


Grrr   December 10th, 2009 9:05 am ET

I've been without 'regular' tv for over ten years straight now, other than pulling pbs in from a regular antennae. I miss nothing, especially not the brainwashing. Everything I would watch on cable or sat, I can watch for free online without having to fit it in a schedule. The online advertising wrapped around free streams has no regional agendas and little political marketing.
Free your mind, and your hiney will follow...


Pete Z'hut   December 10th, 2009 12:42 pm ET

After yet ANOTHER insulting conversation with a Comcast operator, in which I was told "you have no other option for cable, so tough ....", that is when I turned off my cable.

I do not miss the poor quality of their product, and I miss their bills and abhorrent service even less. I will only return to cable TV when I can have "a la carte" channel selection, and I don't have to use Comcast. Bravo for doing this Mr. Kohan, bravo.


Ken   December 10th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

We gave up our subscription TV feed this year and also are getting our TV fix on-line. We also pick up local channels through an antennae. We got fed up with paying so much for TV ... that offered so little. Most of what is being offered seemed like such junk.
We are finding that doing everything on-line has made our TV viewing very focused. We pick a show, sports event or movie and watch just that. We don't get stuck as zombies in front of the tube anymore. It's great.
One note ... quality is usually a bit weak ... although improving. We send our video to a TV ... Things like NHL gamecenter (which you have to pay for) and netflix shows up at a fairly decent quality (but I wouldn't say it is great) ... but most everything else is a little weak. If you are particular about picture quality, on-line is not for you.


julia Nunn   December 10th, 2009 1:16 pm ET

Well honestly Topher, you'd think you were on a hunger fast. I have willingly lived without a TV in my house for thirty five years and I can be pretty convinced I have missed nothing which would have enhanced my life in any way. In the same vein (an apt phrase since most people appear to see TV and other technological toys as their life's blood) I have never owned a cell phone or any of its off-shoots such as blackberries, iphones, palm pilots, or any other hand held or ear held devices to keep a person either nattering into the universe or being nattered at.
I'm hardly a recluse or a religious nut; quite the opposite; Friendly, social, up to date on the world's events (except what is happening on reality shows which don't happen to be reality at all), relatively talented in things one cannot do with the TV on...
I fully realize this is not likely to become anyone else's goal, and I don't really care, but it should not be taken as some kind of hardship to be without TV for a few days. That's a little pathetic, especially since you have spent all your time blogging about all the other means you came up with for watching the same old crap! Look beyond your TV, Sir!


Steve   December 10th, 2009 1:28 pm ET

ummm, Ave?...you have completely missed the whole point of the exercise...


Sam   December 10th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

I have been without cable since September 2009, and the only thing that I really miss is the history channel and science channel. I connected the computer to the TV and I use Hulu desktop with a media center remote. It actually feels like I still have cable, but everything is on-demand whenever I want it, and I don't have the $100/month bill anymore. Big Cable needs to get with the program.


Chris   December 10th, 2009 1:54 pm ET

I honestly have been doing this for a while now but, i do occasionally watch the tube but not often. My main concern with online tv is the announcement of hulu becoming a paid service (though they say they will still offer free content) and comcast may be buying shares of stock in nbc this may effect the internet tv viewer ship for the legit viewer. Honestly I hope it works though as far as internet tv goes because the tv service companies have some outrageous prices for so little content, not to mention your paying to watch a show for 60% of the time (check the timer on hulu for proof) in a 30 min slot


R. Andersen   December 10th, 2009 3:21 pm ET

I prefer not to watch any television at all, broadcast, cable, satellite, online, or whatever. I've lived quite ok without a tv for the past five years. I don't miss: Brainless reality shows, fear-mongering "news" programs, loads and loads of advertising for things I neither need nor want, political advertising (oh wow is that wonderful, missing all the political ads each election cycle!)

How about some real "torture", CNN? Make your staffer go for a month without any tv programs from any source. No youtube either.

Oh, but that would not be good for the advertisers. Gotta keep everybody plugged into the collective. Why, what would happen if that consumer missed all those ads? He just might decide that he doesn't need to buy, buy, buy!!!

It's nice not to be a slave to any particular form of passive, ad-based entertainment. I very much like being able to think. Which is what electronic media is mostly designed to stop you from doing.


Lance   December 10th, 2009 5:18 pm ET

*Turns on the "Agent Smith" voice*

Mister Andersen,

I have some tin foil I would like to give you. It will... protect your brain from the invasive waves emitted by the Matr... by the collec... by the media outlets you disdain so much.

*Voice off*

Seriously, I understand the point you are driving at, which is the constant cultivation of the "dumb masses" (yes, folks, slur those words together). However, I do not believe that the ability to enjoy passive entertainment and the ability to form independent thought are so mutually exclusive that they cannot coexist. The blogosphere is living proof of concept.


goodbye ads and crap tv   December 12th, 2009 1:23 pm ET

I haven't had cable in a number of years simply because I realized that I was paying for a service with the mistaken notion that I was getting commercial-free content. Wrong. I was still getting commercials and I hate commercials of any sort. Canceled the cable and listen to my iPod in my truck. I watch tv on Hulu, YouTube, FanCast, Boxee and a couple others. I listen to online radio but not online versions of broadcast radio with their endless shouting commercials. I have amassed quite a store of movies and tv shows on DVD so I have lots of variety. Netflix helps me get new releases and I make use of their Watch Instantly feature. There are alternatives to television and the big companies are just now seeing that and they are very, very scared. They are worried that without the income from commercials for their vapid, narcissistic programming they will lose income (and they are!). I mean just look at that buffoon for Wall Street Journal (I think?) who demanded that online news feeds remove WSJ content because they were now charging for it? Traditional content providers are feeling the pinch because people have decided they don't have to pay for it when there are many other more worthy – and free – substitutes. I for one will continue to wring every dollar's worth of value out of my broadband connection.


HolmyMary   December 14th, 2009 11:05 pm ET

This may a bit off topic but I thought you guys might like premiumtvshows.com...tv web streaming

Greets :) hope u enjoy it .. im out watching Dexter


Jnfr.   December 23rd, 2009 1:14 pm ET

We have been cable/dish free since Feb. 2009. Don't miss it in the least, and am very pleased to have one less media bill. It doesn't seem right to be paying $100+/month to watch so many commercials.


Ellamae Jacobo   May 3rd, 2013 6:58 am ET

Whatever your choice may be, Directv seems to be the sports dominator! If you cannot not live without sports, then Directv is the clear winner! Hands Down! Imagine watching the football game with crystal clear clarity! Picture what your friends will say, when you have Directv, and they come over every sunday!.;

Over and out
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