On Getting Satellite TV

Last week I ordered satellite TV from Shaw Direct. My household has been without either cable or satellite service for at least 5 years. I thought I’d left those old media platforms behind.

So what gives? I’ve always ranted against time-based, force-fed, commercial-ridden entertainment programming. But that’s not why I ordered satellite TV.

I’m actually trying to maximize my financial expenditures, by shifting my household’s on-demand media consumption away from internet.

I spend at least $280 every month on internet access. That gets me two modems, each of which allow for 300 GB of monthly use, for a total of 600 GB. That might sound like a lot, but it’s really not. I run an internet communications consulting business on that bandwidth, and my small family (i.e. my son and I) are intensely net-centric. It’s still common for us to over-use and suffer penalties to the tune of $2 per GB. Last month, for example, our total bill was $360.

But we really, really use the internet as an information service platform. Here’s a quick list of the main things we do via the internet:

  • backup 3 Macs and 1 Windows PC
  • download and update software on those Macs and PCs
  • store all documents in the cloud
  • backup all home photo and video media to the cloud to multiple redundant platforms
  • communicate by video and voice
  • download and update games for our Macs, PCs, Playstations and XBoxes
  • play network games
  • watch crap-tons of YouTube channels
  • watch crap-tons of TV shows on Netflix and iTunes
  • watch crap-tons of movies on Netflix and iTunes

On top of that, we’re just getting ready to launch our own YouTube channel. That should push our bandwidth requirements through the roof.

This might all sound crazy, but, you know, our usage is really not unusual in this day and age. We just happen to live in a region where the sole provider is not progressive in terms of service offerings.

So rather than shovel more money into this internet pit, I’ve decided to test a theory of diversification. I think that quite a large share of our internet use involves on-demand programming from Netflix and iTunes; can I offload this cost burden from our internet connections to satellite pay-per-view (PPV) programming?

The base monthly cost for of the satellite service package I’ve selected will initially be $50 (but goes up to $60 in 6 months). All PPV purchases are over and above that, of course.

I can cut the base cost down, though, to $40 or even lower, by reducing the time-oriented programming portion and just using it for PPV. If it works well, in time I could cancel one of our modems, cutting at least $140 out of the total household bill.

This is all theory, of course. Internet can be used for anything and so has incredible value. Satellite, on the other hand, is simply a content consumption platform. It has much lower value. Plus, I’m not really sure precisely what portion of our bandwidth is currently used for media consumption, so that value may be extremely low.

But I figure it’s worth a try. There’s no contract associated with Shaw Direct, so I can cancel any time without penalty, and I can adjust the package I subscribe to on the fly. I figure I’ll give it at least 2 or 3 months, though, to really test if shifting our on-demand media consumption from internet to satellite saves us money.

I’ll report to this blog regularly on my discoveries.