Goodbye Expanded Cable TV: What Will I Miss Most

As I mentioned a few posts ago my wife and I agreed to take the cable service down to basic programming only. This means for $12 a month we’ll get to keep the major broadcast networks, PBS and CSPAN, but we lose the remaining 50-plus channels available with expanded cable service. We almost decided to go with Dish Network for the expanded channel lineup, but in the end we just went with basic cable.

I have to admit it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. We have become so programmed (pardon the pun) to revolve our daily schedules around the television. When you finally cut the cord it makes you a little anxious because you wonder how you will fill an evening without all those programming options. Instead of being my usually strong-willed, frugal-minded self I thought I would take a minute to actually confess what I’ll miss most, balanced with a couple things I definitely won’t miss.

I’ll miss these favorites:

  • CNBC. This is the finance enthusiasts equivalent to ESPN for sports guys. Programming starts early in the morning with overseas market coverage and leads up to the NYSE opening. I enjoyed watching nightly programming such as Jim Cramer’s Mad Money to get a wrap of the day’s market activity. The Big Idea, hosted by Donny Deutche, was another program I frequently watched because I have always been interested in learning from successful entrepreneurs.
  • ESPN. Speaking of sports guys, I am a huge football fan. In fact, I usually start suffering from withdrawals immediately after the Super Bowl. I guess it is only fitting that we lose ESPN the day after the big game. Fortunately, we still have internet access so I can get to for my football fix.
  • TLC. I became a fan of The Learning Channel back when Flip this House aired on it (not the shorter program with random people fixing up houses, but the group from Charleston, SC, Trademark Properties). That group moved to A&E, so I still won’t be able to see their show. That guy Armando Montelongo that took Trademark’s place on Flip this House was always entertaining as well. My wife and I started watching John and Kate Plus 8 reruns during the Hollywood writers strike, and will miss their new episodes from this season.
  • Discover Channel. I’ve always been a fan of the Discover Channel. I’m a closet survival junkie and was a big fan of Man vs. Wild, Everest, and even that Ice Road Truckers show. Maybe I can catch the DVDs onNetflix.

What I Definitely Won’t Miss:

  • MTV. I’m old enough to remember back when MTV used to actually stand for Music Television. They played music videos, broke news about bands, etc. Now the channel is an endless string of mindless shows such as Real World, Sweet 16 and other ilk depicting bratty youth at their worst. Good riddance, MTV.
  • Bravo. This is one I didn’t even like having access to in our home. I’ve seen some highly objectionable material on at all times of the day, and was always afraid the kids would stumble on something that would generate questions I wasn’t ready to answer. When I was a kid these kinds of shows were on pay-per-view, but now they are featured prime time programming.
  • E. I think the name of the channel was either “E” or “Entertainment Television.” I’m not sure because I never left the TV there long enough to find out! I’m pretty sure the objective of the entire network was to waste American lives in thirty-minute increments by filling their brains with useless celebrity information. No wonder they were so popular.

So I say goodbye to channels 14-70. It’s been fun while it lasted. Now I’m off to read a book, get out of debt and enjoy some quality time with my family.


  1. I’m with you there on Bravo.

    I haven’t owned a TV in years and I’ve never paid for cable.

    There are just too many other options available for free or for very little money, so I use those instead.

    Great post and good luck with the “cable detox”! 😉

  2. Congrats! You have more willpower than we do – neither my husband or I are willing to get rid of ESPN or NFL network. We also love the Discovery channel. The only programs on MTV we like at all are Rob & Big (purely entertaining), and some episodes of Real Life (great examples of why kids should not do hard-core drugs!)

    You do have me thinking though – maybe during baseball season we could go down to basic programming…

  3. My wife and I have never paid for cable TV, so on some level we’re not sure what we’re missing. Until a year or so ago that is. At that time we moved in with my in-laws for a couple of months while our new home was built. While we were there we realized just how much time you can suck up into watching TV. The history channel is my favorite time waster, and my wife loved all the shows on HGTV. I’m glad that we don’t have that anymore, it is less of a temptation to watch TV 4 hours a night when you only have 5-6 channels instead of 100.

  4. Props to you Frugaldad! I thought of throwing my TV out the window when I was single (I had no cable, thank god) because it just got in the way of my productivity. I never got up the nerve to do it though. Now I live with my fiancee and I don’t think I could convince either one of us to give up our free cable setup.

    But you, my friend, are my hero.

  5. Congrats! You’re taking the first steps to doing away with it altogether.

    My wife and I (with 3 kids) haven’t had cable TV going on 5 years now.

    Now, when we stay at hotels, it’s actually a treat for all of us. Not to mention the hours we’ve saved by not spending so much time in front of the TV.

  6. With a Tivo or Replay you can record more shows off basic cable (channels 2-16 here for $9/month) than you will ever watch.

    Last year I purchased a Tivo Series 2 w/ lifetime service off ebay for around $200.

    The Series 2 allows you access to Amazon’s Unbox, so you can download extended cable shows (e.g. Monk)

    Cherry-picking a few shows this way is much cheaper than paying the $60/month that extended cable costs (and there are no commercials)

  7. We have been married almost 10 years and never paid for cable. We do have a TIVO that was given to us with a lifetime subscription and I love it. It cuts out all commercials and lets me watch what I want when I want.

  8. I haven’t watched TV in my home for more than 10 years. It hasn’t hurt me one bit.

    I don’t know what to be afraid of anymore, but that doesn’t scare me. I don’t have any talking heads spoon feeding me my opinion, but that’s only what I think. And, satisfaction with my life is much higher because I don’t have commercial advertising to tell me all the things I really should be buying in order to be a worthy part of the American pop culture.

    All in all, it is a great choice to turn off the tube. Life is much better if you live it instead of just watch it. At the end of my life I will never regret not having spent more time staring at the TV.


  9. I remember when I first axed cable- I realised the only things I missed were 24 (then in it’s first season) and The Simpsons. 1 1/2 hours of essential television per week, the rest just a waste of time.

    Now I waste my time with internet of course but I’m not wasting my money paying for both…

  10. I just canceled my DirecTV two days ago. I am coughing up the $180 early cancellation fee, but it will pay for itself in 3 months. I say it’s better to pay $180 now than over $600 in the next 10 months if I chose to fulfill my contract. I am suffering from cable news and ESPN withdraw, though.

  11. There is too many online choices that are available for free to waste money on cable. is a good source.

  12. With the conversion to digital broadcasting- you can pick up good free local TV. No need to pay even for basic cable. All you need is the conversion box or a digital TV and an atenna. In trying several indoor antennas – we found the cheapest Radio Shack atenna worked best. The web site allows you to put in your address and determine the local channels you can receive for FREE.

  13. We had been wasting $85 per month on Comcast Cable when we decided that the next time it went up event one cent we’d drop to basic service. In March, 2010, we made a guess that it would go up so we downgraded to basic for about $15 per month. Sure enough, we got a letter 3/25 that they were raising what had been our old rate by $3 per month. Were were thrilled to have beat them to the punch.

    I’m an attorney for a boutique private bank. I’ve seen the habits of people who are worth millions and have learned from talking to them how they got there. They got there by not wasting a dime, foregoing short term pleasures for long term gain, by investing instead of spending. You can never make money by spending it.

    Over a lifetime, you don’t lose $1 million by misplacing it. You lose it $50 at a time, buying things you don’t need and will throw away. Or by paying Comcast for worthless programs peppered with commercials and reruns of the same films. Cancel or downgrade cable today and invest the money in your retirement plan. You can bet that’s where Roberts and the other Comcast executives put the money they drain from you each month.

    Good Luck. Change your habits today and don’t wake up one day at age 50 or 60, having earned a lot of money, with nothing to show for it but old Comcast bills and a bunch of receipts from restaurants and bar rooms.