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Day 111: Time or Money?

November 26, 2010

Melissa and I work very different schedules.  When I’m teaching, I’m home when she’s at work.  That’s great for when the baby arrives, but it makes communication and entertainment difficult at times.  We spend most of our shared time together on the weekends catching up with our agreed shared television series.  We’ll watch The Office, Fringe, Dexter, How I Met Your Mother, etc.  There’s a lot to catch up on and we do all of it via online sources like Hulu and Netflix.  We don’t have appointment viewing during regularly scheduled events anymore.  Even her own shows like General Hospital are viewed online at her convenience.

For all the viewing we do online, we’re starting to notice a discrepancy between the amount we pay for cable and the amount of time we spend watching scheduled programming.  Going over the itemized statement, it occured to me that I pay for the Sports Pack and only watch one or two of the channels included.

A few weeks ago, I calculated an estimate of how much time I spent following football during the course of an average season: an eye-opening two-and-a-half weeks.  So, in an effort to continue my self-evaluation of sports investment, I decided to calculate exactly how much I pay for the games I watch.

The Sports Pack on my cable provider cost about $9.99/month, which includes Fox College Sports, Fox Soccer Channel’s HD feed, the greatly outdated ESPN Classic and a variety of other fledgling peripheral sports networks like Tennis Channel, the Sportsman Channel, and FUEL TV.  Have I ever watched any of these with any regularity?

No.  Never.  $120 bucks a year?  Saved.

This is kinda fun…but is it time to take this logic to the next level?  Could it be possible to stay as invested as I am in my sports WITHOUT cable?

The main channels, ESPN, Fox Sports Net, Versus…just about all of the content they provide is readily available online.  It’s already there, either through verified league programming subscriptions like NHL Gamecenter ($170/season).  Bright House finally picked up the rights to ESPN3, so I’ll be able to watch that through my XBox 360.  All of the major events will still be held on free over-the-air broadcast television…why do I need $65/month ($780/year!) cable again???

Melissa still uses some of the channels, but some (SOAPNet) will not be around for much longer and some (TLC, HGTV, etc.) have exhausted their programming supply to the point of oversaturation or deviated so far from their programming niche as to be indistinguishable from the pack.

We’ll likely hang on to digital cable for another couple years or so, but I’m definitely ditching the Sports Pack.  It’s a product I simply don’t have any use for.  The strange thing is…I don’t feel that it’s an indictment of my level of dedication to a cherished pastime.  It’s just another example of how dramatically my priorities have shifted over the last year.  Between teaching and my soon-to-be-born daughter, I just don’t have the time or patience to sit in front of a television set waiting to be entertained.

It’s gotta happen on my terms.




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