Talking tech since 2003

If you aren’t familiar with the ‘Year Without Cable’ series, be sure to read last week’s introductory post.

Over the past week, I’ve been listing out the shows I want access to. I use the term “access” because I’m not interested in owning  a copy of every single one; there are some that I’m just not going to go back and rewatch later, like a news program or an episode of Jeopardy. An over-the-air antenna will do just fine for Jeopardy on the local CBS affiliate, as I’m usually watching it on a whim (it’s not a carved-out half hour in my evening). But the “throwaway” nature of daily programs (and their lower production costs) means I feel less inclined to spend top dollar on them, and for shows that aren’t available OTA, that’s a problem.

But more on that later. First…

The List

24-season-passI’ve listed out every single show I want to be able to watch in some fashion. I’ve also listed the means I’ll be using to watch said show, and the cost (if applicable). Underneath this list, I’ll be going a bit more in-depth on some of the decisions I had to make both in terms of accessing a show and what I was willing to pay for it. A disclaimer: Not all shows run on the same schedule or have the same number of episodes, so where a solid season pass price wasn’t available, I had to use the price of a past season or estimate on my own. So the numbers may not be perfect, but I’m confident that they’re close.

Game of Thrones
HBO GO
Free (borrowing login info from friend)

Revenge
iTunes
$39.99 Season Pass (average: $3.33/month)

Once Upon a Time
iTunes
$39.99 Season Pass (average: $3.33/month)

Cosmos
Over the air (not available on iTunes)
Free

The Colbert Report
Comedy Central App
Free

The Daily Show
Comedy Central App
Free

Jeopardy
Over the air
Free

Resurrection
iTunes
$39.99 Season Pass (estimate) (average: $3.33/month)

The Following
iTunes
$24.99 Season Pass (average: $2.08/month)

Modern Family
iTunes
$49.99 Season Pass (average: $4.17/month)

The Americans
iTunes
$33.99 Season Pass (average: $2.83/month)

Revolution
iTunes
$29.99 Season Pass (average: $2.50/month)

Portlandia
iTunes
$25.99 Season Pass (average: $2.16/month)

24: Live Another Day
iTunes
$31.99 Season Pass (average: $2.67/month)

The League
iTunes
$34.99 Season Pass (average: $2.92/month)

American Horror Story
iTunes
$33.99 Season Pass (average: $2.83/month)

The Walking Dead
iTunes
$42.99 Season Pass (average: $3.58/month)

The Thought Process

Everything you see above (at least, everything with Season Pass price) adds up to $428.88 for the year. Averaged out over the year, it adds an additional $35.74 per month to what I’m paying for Internet access.

Now it’s quite obvious that I’m having to cheat in a few areas.

First, HBO GO. It’s no secret that you can’t subscribe to HBO without cable. As a Verizon FiOS customer, I can’t even pay for HBO GO without adding a fairly expensive TV package to my plan. So a friend is offering to lend his HBO GO credentials so that I don’t fall a season behind. If anyone at Verizon or HBO is listening, you’re missing out on easy money here.

Next, there are some things I need to use a digital antenna for. For some reason, Cosmos isn’t for sale on iTunes, so you’ll have to catch the live broadcast. Jeopardy isn’t available on iTunes, either, but I’m not sure I’d buy it anyway. And there are various sporting events — I’m looking at you, football — that I don’t have listed as shows, but I’ll still want access to. There are other uses for the antenna — local news, for example — but its main use will be for network programming I can’t get elsewhere, or for shows I just want to watch for the hell of it.

Lastly, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both operate on what are called “Multi-Passes,” which charge $9.99 for 16 episodes. That works out to about $0.63 per episode of each show. Lets guesstimate (based on past seasons) that each show will do 150 episodes in a year. You’ll wind up paying $94.50 for the entire year of each show, or $189 for the pair. They’d be, by far, the most expensive shows on the list. Fortunately, full episodes are available for free on the Comedy Central iOS apps, and AirPlay is reportedly coming soon.

Cutting TV out of my Verizon FiOS service meant I had about $660 leftover for the year, and my selections above are costing $428.88. That means I’m still $231.12 in the black, but…

Looking Ahead

I haven’t picked up a digital converter box or an antenna yet, and those will eat into that leftover money. Still, these are items I’ll get several years of use out of, so taking the hit in year one is fine.

I also don’t know what the future has in store. There could be a new TV show that makes the list and will wind up eating into that leftover money. Based on what’s been showing up the past few years in terms of quality (at least on the networks), I’m not too concerned, but you never know.

The above workings, at least at the start, do show that it’s possible to cut the cord and save some money while still being able to watch most of what you want. Do you get everything? No. Do you get the instant gratification of watching something as it airs for the first time? No. But a day isn’t all that long to wait. Not long at all.

I still believe that my biggest challenge will be football season; more specifically, games that are broadcast on ESPN and NFL Network. I don’t have a plan for those yet, but I’m working on it.

Have tips or tricks about cutting the cord? Be sure to share them below, and check back next week for the next installment of A Year Without Cable.

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