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Blog // Travel
January 17, 2012

Living Without TV

For the past six months, we’ve lived without television, at least in the conventional sense. There are two TVs in the house, but neither is connected to a TV service, either free-to-air, or cable. You can’t just turn the TV and watch “something” or “channel surf.” Why Have A TV? It’s a pretty bold countercultural […]

Apple TV

For the past six months, we’ve lived without television, at least in the conventional sense. There are two TVs in the house, but neither is connected to a TV service, either free-to-air, or cable. You can’t just turn the TV and watch “something” or “channel surf.”

Why Have A TV?

It’s a pretty bold countercultural move not to have a TV in the house. I’ve know people who do it, but a more common move is to relegate the TV to a secondary space in the home, maybe hide it in some kind of furniture, or arrange living spaces so that you don’t automatically face a television when sitting down.

But like any home appliance, it’s worth asking if we really need to have a TV and, if we do, what purpose it serves for us.

My TV needs

For a long time I’ve said that the only reason for cable TV was news and sports. Increasingly my interest in sports has whittled down to the point where I really only watch football and mostly, that is just English Premier League.

I stopped tuning into cable news a long time ago, because the coverage on world news services like CNN & BBC had become nothing more than short headline pieces repeated over and over with little detail or meaningful commentary. I’d rather digest news and opinions online, or through magazines, newspapers and podcasts.

I do love to watch films and programmes made for TV (either documentaries or serials). However, I stopped relying on a cable service for those when I moved to Delhi in 2003. It was easier and less stressful to buy DVDs and watch them at my leisure than be at the mercy of local programmers and unreliable cable services.

My Present Setup

Here in Singapore you can watch English Premier League online, via subscription service. The cost is quite reasonable, about the same for a whole season as the monthly cost of the heavily optioned Foxtel packages in Australia.

So, my TV has a BlueRay/DVD player attached for watching movies and TV shows and an Apple TV. The latter, a small unimpressive looking black box, is clearly the future of television.

The Apple TV Shift

With the Apple TV I can rent or buy movies, buy and watch TV series, tune into a world of radio stations, watch clips on YouTube & Vimeo as well as listen to all the music in my iTunes library and see the images I’ve stored in iPhoto. There are plenty of rumours that Apple are looking to expand the services Apple TV offers – including major sports like the English Premier League.

Intentional Versus Unintentional Television

Looked at in terms of habits, this marks a shift from intentional to unintentional viewing. In the old television model, stuff was bundled together and sold, to stations and cable providers and later to consumers. You tuned into what was available and had limited choices, especially if local stations chose not to run films or programmes you liked.

The new model asks you to make more choices upfront. There’s less random stuff being thrown in front of your eyeballs and what sits before you, either on a shelf of DVDs or a screen of Apple TV purchases is a reflection of your own tastes and preferences.

And, you win back all that vacant time that spent watching advertising, waiting for shows to start or tuning into other programmes just because they were “on.”

For someone trying to take control of their life and their influences, this is a much better state of play.

Responses
Nic Wise 9 years ago

Hi Fernando

We did this – get rid of broadcast TV – about 6 years ago, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I was never a sport nut, so it was easy from the point of view.

It’s definitely something which is worth doing. And the AppleTV (which we got recently to try to remove as much “stuff” out of the lounge as possible) has to be one of the best gadget purchases we’ve done in a long time. It helped being an all-apple house tho.

We got Netflix in the UK last week (We, in this case, is everyone in the UK, they just opened here), and I wrote up a bit on my blog about that – it sits firmly between the non-mindless TV you are now doing (and we do, via iTunes mostly), and the mindlessness of broadcast. I’m not sure I like it yet, and even tho it’s cheap (£6/month), I don’t know if we’ll keep it.

Anyway, thanks for the post 🙂

Nic
(BTW, you met my wife Leonie in Mexico… 🙂 )

    Fernando Gros 9 years ago

    Hey Nic – thanks for the comment. I had sort of put two and two together on that.

    I kind of envy you not being into sport, because that’s still the only piece the old networks really hold. When it comes to sport I’m now all about the intentional thing – I watch a game, or highlights and that’s it. I have no interest in sports news shows, halftime stuff or random talking heads shouting about rumours.

    Netflix is interesting but, reading your post, I do worry about the randomness thing. It’s another topic, but, I try to watch at least 150 films a year and I can’t possibly do it if I flitter away time on, how can I put it, junk-watching.

    Unfortunately, our TV is in the lounge room, which is a quirk of the architecture of our place in Singapore. But, I’m glad that we have arranged the sofas so that you can sit without looking at the TV. When two people sit to talk in the lounge room, the TV is not in direct line of sight, which I like.

Alex Green 9 years ago

Fernando

We’ve lived without a TV my whole life save for a stretch of about 6 months when I was at Uni and still living with my parents, and about 18 months while I was away living with colleagues at Uni.

We didn’t get a TV when we got married, we couldn’t afford the license at the time and we’ve never bought a TV since then, though as we now occasionally watch live TV via internet streams, we do pay for a TV license now.

However, on to my point… We find the major bonus is that we have more time than most of our friends. Almost everyone I meet who finds out says “I wish we could do that, it would be so liberating”. And it is!

If we want to watch movies, I have a data projector for work and that beats a plasma TV any time!!

Now we have all the catch-up TV services, we are met with the luxury of watching what we want when we want and not being bothered by as many adverts or indeed the relentless inescapable trap of being sucked into watching one thing after another and channel hopping.

Thanks for the post.

Alex

    Fernando Gros 9 years ago

    Alex – thanks for your comment; I enjoyed reading your perspective.

    I agree that time is a big factor in all of this. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people complain about how little time they have in their week, then it transpires that they spend hours a day watching TV – often mindlessly so.

Geo 9 years ago

http://www.notvday.com
Can you live a day without TV?
How many hours a day do you watch TV?

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