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Monday, April 8, 2013

We're one of the 5 million "Zero TV" folks in the US

Here's an AP article on a growing trend, people who don't have cable, satellite, or antenna TV. They get their programming online or via movie services such as NetFlix.

We're among those folks, but we tend not to watch ANY conventional TV programming at all, unless there's some sort of major event, such as an election of a president or a pope. We watch only movies, and most of those we get for free from our local library. Occasionally from a Red Box. Sometimes we buy the DVD. 99% of our watching the device itself - when the TV unit is actually on - it's a free movie.

We get our news from the internet, and rarely actually "watch" a news show. In fact, I don't think we've EVER watched or listened to a broadcast show on the internet, except maybe a re-run of something on Hulu or YouTube or DVD.

There are two current shows that my family watches, and we're happy to wait until episodes are available after broadcast: Sherlock and Downton Abbey. The latter is such a soap opera that I could take or leave it, although I think the script writing is pretty good. The former is imaginative and enjoyable, although after a few seasons it's beginning to get a little old to me too. I don't speak for my wife or kids on these topics - they're more into these shows than I am.

But two BBC shows - and otherwise I despise the BBC - that air once a week for a handful of weeks of the year out of a gazillion channels with 24-7 programming. Says a lot.

The AP article and the TV folks just don't get it. They believe that folks are just fed up being slaves to the TV schedule or service bill. They "want" to watch TV, but don't because they're turned off by "how" TV is delivered. And that may be true for a lot of the Zero TV crowd.

I can only speak for ourselves. We are fed up with the stupidity and offensiveness of the programming and the crassness and offensiveness of the commercials. There is no such thing as "must-see TV" - not even NBC is using that false slogan anymore. There is nothing vital about TV, no important shows, nothing. We are proof. We haven't had TV in 10 years - and guess what? We are not ignorant of the world. We are not clueless. And we are not dead.

10 years. Haven't seen a superbowl - didn't realize the Giants were in the 2012 the superbowl until a couple of weeks ago. Horrors! Unamerican! Haven't seen the Emmys, Grammys, Oscars or CNN in all that time.

In fact, we are probably more alive on account of it. We spend more time viewing carefully chosen material as a family, but overall very little time viewing compared to the average family. And that means we play more games, read more books, do more things, and just hang out together more.

Honestly, I get home from work usually around 8 pm, have dinner with my family, and the last thing I'm gonna do is ignore them to watch MadMen - and I'm in the advertising business myself. I've never seen an episode. I know it exists, I know what it's about.

My office overlooks the penthouse of Beyonce and Jay Z (or however they spell their names). A coworker from a part of the office with a different view said once, "I don't know how you get any work done! I'd be looking out the window all the time!" Hmm. Well, I don't know who Beyonce and Jay Z are, except that they exist, are famous celebrities of some sort, and where they live. I know she's a singer, but if you played her most famous song for me, I wouldn't recognize neither the song nor the fact that she's the singer. I am proudly unaware of many pop "culture" personages.

It's liberating.

Anyway, I think we'd be more inclined to want to watch TV, if more TV programming wasn't offensive, time-wasting, family-destroying, privacy-invading crap.

Yeah, privacy-invading. We are day by day getting closer and closer to 1984 TVs - remember those? They had video cameras built in, watching was mandatory, and Big Brother watched you back to make sure you were exercising and being a good citizen. We are more and more living in a police state. And TV is part of the enslavement. Right now, the cable companies know what you watch when you watch it. Sort of like your internet service providers.

It's creepy.

Anyway, for folks like us, it's not about the cost or schedule of TV. It's about TV itself. We buy what we want, and we're not buying that.

And I have my wife to thank, because if it were up to me, I'd be a couch potato actually caring about who wins or loses on American Idol.

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