If you need to do homework to watch TV, you’re doing it wrong probably

Published 4:35 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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Have you ever been called a “couch potato”?

I’m sure that the term could apply to me at one point or another in my life. (When you have a comfy couch, why would you sit anywhere else after all??) But the phrase often refers to people who spend a lot of time (arguably, too much time) watching television.

It can be easy to become a couch potato with such an abundance of television shows to choose from these days. And there are so many streaming options out there now that it kind of feels like you’re spinning the wheel during The Price is Right and hoping it’ll land on something good.

Do people still watch The Price is Right? Has a streaming service snatched it up and locked it away from old-fashioned broadcast TV yet? I have no idea.

Watching TV just seems so complicated these days. It feels like everyone and their brother has their own streaming service now. Maybe even the Property Brothers from HGTV have one? (I’m too afraid to actually check just in case this joke is actually true.)

For anyone confused about which services to subscribe to, NPR recently shared a whole guide to help people make those decisions. We can call it a “TV Guide” if you please… though it doesn’t tell me what time any of these shows come on because streaming “on demand” doesn’t work like that.

Many people switched from cable/satellite TV to streaming not only because they had the opportunity to watch whenever they wanted, but also because many were ad-free. No more commercial breaks! You could watch a whole season of TV in one sitting without ever pausing to get up and do anything else.

These days, more and more streaming services offer different tiers with or without ads. “Without” is always more expensive. Some offer even more tiers with more special features as well, but again, you have to shell out more money for that too.

According to NPR, a recent study revealed that 83 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and/or Hulu.

I am not one of that 83 percent. But we’ll get back to that in a bit.

Other tips from the article suggested making a TV diary (so you can figure out what and where you watch the most), figure out your preferences (are you okay with ads? Do you need sports included in your package?), track your subscriptions (so you’re not paying for something you forgot about), periodically check if there are new offers (just in case your streaming service has added a new tier or raised prices), bundle your services to save money (…which is something people did with cable too), and use apps to figure out which streaming services have the shows you want to watch (your favorites could be hidden anywhere!).

I don’t know about y’all, but that all sounds extremely tedious and overly complex to me. It feels like you have to do homework just to watch TV. No, thank you!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t subscribe to any paid streaming services, like Netflix, Disney+, and the like. I do, however, watch TV shows occasionally on free services like Tubi and Pluto TV, the latter of which is just like regular TV because you just tune in on a channel and watch whatever’s in progress.

There’s also a surprising amount of TV available for free on YouTube as well, though like the other free services, you’ll have to deal with ads every now and then. But I don’t mind them as much as everyone else does.

I also have an over-the-air digital antenna which picks up a couple of channels, including PBS. (Sometimes, only PBS… depending on the weather.) And over the years, I have collected quite a few TV shows on DVD because I enjoy rewatching my favorites.

So I don’t even feel like I need to subscribe to paid streaming services.

Sure, there are a few downsides. I don’t always have access to watch the most popular shows that everyone is talking about. (This includes all the new Star Trek series, unfortunately, except for when they were briefly available on YouTube.) And I don’t get to keep up with as many sports either.

But on the bright side, it’s always a nice opportunity to spend time with family or friends when they invite me over to watch a ballgame or a new TV show together instead. If I don’t get to watch something, I’ll get over it. But if I do get to watch it with people I care about, then that’s a nice bonus! We don’t always spend enough time socializing these days.

And I have other hobbies too, so I’m not even sure when I’d have time to watch all these shows on Hulu and Paramount+ and Max (the streamer formerly known as HBO).

There are plenty of upsides to paid streaming, of course, so I’m not faulting anyone who subscribes. You do get access to a cool, wide range of television after all. And binge-watching is less of a hassle when you don’t have to get up and change the DVD after every few episodes.

But if you feel like you’re being crushed under the weight of the sheer number of choices out there and spending too much money to watch TV (again), maybe consider cutting a few streaming cords? I promise it’s not so bad without it!

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.