Final: Saving 673.85 a year on TV and freeing your programming: The next-gen TV experience.

Update Jan 29, 2011: We just got our 2nd year bill from TiVo for $129.00 – this year we spent almost nothing on iTunes shows, so we are saving more than the estimated $673…

Still watching TV? How ’90s. Our TV experience syncs our shows to iTunes.. and as a result our TV, iPhones, iPads etc… and with 4.0TB (650+hours / 27 days HD) of storage space, we can record a lotta stuff.

A quick recap:

I got DirecTV way back when because of digital quality – picture and sound – as well as access to shows just not available on the broadcast networks… I also signed up for DirecTivo a while back, and the combination of these things gave “old school” TV and Cable to get the boot. Now, with the rise of Internet TV, its time to return the favor without loosing quality.

I have been talking to a lot of folks over the past few months about the notion of dropping my DirecTV (or cable for that matter) service and rather using iTunes to subscribe to shows we watch. iTunes has a very good selection of shows it carries, and these can be synced to iPods, iPhones or watched on your computer etc. We have a Mac Mini hiding behind the TV, connected with HDMI at full 1080p.. so… I would get a perfect copy to watch anytime…. in my library, not locked on some PVR.

I spoke to some folks on New Years eve about this and thought it was time to take a look at what this would really mean…

Shows we watch:

We really only watch a few shows in our house:

Heroes, CougarTown, Modern Family, Flash Forward, OLTL, Mythbusters, Sesame Street, V, Family Guy, Simpsons, Daily Show…

Shows we don’t watch:

Since we already are tight, we don’t subscribe to HBO etc, so I am sure we are missing all kinds of good snows.

The wife friendly angle:

MUST have a TiVo. I tried to replace the $15 a month with TiVo with a free PC/Mac based app and the user experience just isn’t there yet. See the previous posts for the pain, suffering and horror. TiVo also has a handy HTML interface that I used for scripts (see later) that allow me to import all the recorded shows I want into iTunes…

The money angle:

A quick calculation and check of the around shows we watch:

Free Over-The-Air HD shows:

Heroes, CougarTown, Modern Family, Flash Forward, OLTL, Sesame Street, V, Family Guy, Simpsons…

Pay shows: (iTunes)

Mythbusters ($49.99/yr), Daily Show ($9.99 per 15 episodes = $173.16/yr)

We spent a meager $85.50 for our DirecTV service and get nothing but the base package.. no access to the HBO series etc that we can get in the above price… Multiply that by 12 months, you get $1026.00

So, for status quo, we would save A savings of $673.85 a year after TiVo subscription. Plus we could use that money to buy shows on iTunes we normally couldn’t watch.

The first year, however we have expenses of $341.99 for TiVo including 1 year subscription, and $50 for an antenna, $20 on cables… we save only $390.

For those with a Sports fetish – you’re going to have to figure this out a little more carefully. I am not sure theres a savings to be had. Also, if you can get your wife to use Hulu, Boxee etc etc, you can get a lot more “free”. I suspect the iTunes offerings and other offerings will be improving shortly (Rumors of iTunes dropping per show costs from $1.99 to $0.99 are brewing)

Now, as it turns out I just bought Futurama from iTunes – the first such purchase… so it turns out were actually saving more…

The iPod/iTunes/iPhone angle:

The short version here is that all the shows we have are playable on the TV, all our iPhones, 2 MacBook laptops and 2 Macs and an iPad = PORTABLE DVR PLAYBACK ANYWHERE… or PCs, iPods, etc for that matter…

Since TiVo allows access to recordings using HTML, I wrote some scripts and used some existing apps to automatically import, convert and remove commercials from the shows we watch.  Now, all shows we buy and the shows we watch can be access from FrontRow, or our iPhone/iPods. I automatically sync unwatched episodes of Family Guy and Simpsons, for example. The whole setup now works just as I would have liked it… and is a lot smoother with the TiVo interface for the TV based experience…

So that all being said, I finally called DirecTV and told them to shove it…


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