Six Months Without Satellite TV

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It’s been six months since I cut the cable and canceled DirecTV, going over-the-air and internet only.

Do I miss DirecTV?

In a word, no.

This past Sunday started the real test as I’m a huge (American) football fan. Living in Minnesota and being a Green Bay Packers fan, this season is the first in ten years that I haven’t had DirecTV’s NFL Sunday ticket to watch out of market games (luckily the Packers were the national game this past Sunday). I also missed my beloved University of Wisconsin Badgers play the last two weeks, but I think I’m going to make it (especially as they play tomorrow on ABC).

None of this would have been possible except for three innovations: Boxee, MythTV and streaming Netflix.

The only hiccup I had was my antenna setup – the first couple of months everything was great, except NBC was a bit flaky, which was to be expected. The local NBC affiliate is the only TV station not on the HDTV antenna array here in the Twin Cities, and the antenna they use is notorious for its weak signal. But after a couple of months, I started experiencing signal strength issues with almost all of the channels. After doing a bit of research, I climbed up on the roof, and turned the antenna 90 degrees, as seen in the photo above so it faces the direction of the antenna tower. I was worried that even if I did so, I’d still have signal strength issues as the antenna is now parallel with the roof but under the roof line – but thankfully all of my signal strength issues appear fixed going in to the fall TV season. And now my satellite dish just sits on the roof, unused.

I’ve previously talked about my setup and with summer TV being mostly re-runs, I’ve been using Netflix. A lot. I’m glad to see Netflix continue to focus on expanding their catalog for streaming titles and was interested to read how much cheaper streaming is for them vs. mailing DVDs. With the new fall TV season starting, MythTV has proved invaluable in recording off-air TV shows and automatically removing the commercials helping make watching TV more enjoyable. I’m probably only using 20% of what MythTV is capable of. And for the cable shows I don’t have, Boxee’s Hulu integration continue to works pretty well. It’s standard def quality – but you get what you pay for, so you won’t find me complaining. Additionally, I’ve converted all of the movies I own and store them on my NAS, adding another library of content to watch through Boxee as well as stream to my old Netgear Eva in my bedroom.

I’m also keeping an eye on the Boxee Box, launching later this year. I’ve been using Boxee with my 60″ Sony HDTV in my man cave and if and when we replace the old analog TV in the living room, I’ll have some interesting choices to make. Between Google TV, Boxee and even litl working on a set top box, there will be some interesting choices to bring internet content to the TV. And with CNBC reporting this morning that 37% of adults 25-34 who subscribe to Neflix now use Netflix instead of cable and satellite service, DirecTV, Comcast and other satellite / cable providers are going to need to find a new business model. Fast.

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