When I say that we don’t have a television I am only telling half the truth. We do own a TV but it’s not connected to an antenna and we can’t watch live TV or receive local stations. Our TV is about the size of a computer screen, sits tucked away in our book shelve and has no life of its own. It’s been like that for a number of years and I don’t miss it.
We own a Google chromecast, plugged into the TV. Any content on the screen comes from our phones. There are currently two main sources of entertainment for us: youtube and Netflix. I also use apps from two German stations and two Australian ones. And we have some locally stored content. But that’s it. We don’t have a DVD or Blu-ray player yet alone an x-Box.
The advantage our current setup is that we can’t randomly turn the TV on and watch whatever is on. With kids in the house, this is even more useful because all they can do is turn the TV on. After having turned it on there are only background pictures to look at, no moving content and no sound. It’s on us parents to find something and cast it onto the TV.
The little chromecast also allows us to turn the TV into our music player. We have a subscription to google music which gives us music to listen to via an online stream or via locally stored files.
Included in our lounge set-up is an all-controlling power switch. The kids know about the power but rarely touch it themselves. They know it doesn’t get them anywhere anyway.
I’m quite happy with our set-up for watching TV, especially when I compare costs: our subscriptions to Netflix and google music (which includes an add-free version of youtube) currently come to AUD 27 per month. All other content is free.
Staying up-to-date with local conversations
Of course, there is a flip side: I’m rarely up-to-date with any shows. Netflix Australia isn’t great at getting things out on time and Australian TV apps tend not to stream current shows through their online offers. However, there is a way around it: another (couple of) paid subscriptions or letting time pass. For the Rugby World Cup we used Foxtel for a month; the Eurovision Song Contest I had to watch after it was over on youtube; and every now and again we rent a movie or show off google or amazon.
We try to have the TV turned off as much as possible. Our kids watch a little German program each night before bed (Sandmann) and once a week a kids show which explains the world (Die Sendung mit der Maus). Youtube has some reasonably okay channels for kids and Netflix some okay shows. But it’s a treat for the kids to watch TV.
Our TV is mostly used for music. We have a set of good speakers attached to the TV and can listen to music in good quality. Listening to music through the google service is also very handy to discover new songs and new bands.
Overall there is no lack of TV in our house. We, adults, get our news from internet sources and the kids are not drawn to watch any shows that air through the networks. We enjoy the freedom our little chromecast gives us to choose our entertainment.
Although I love our google chromecast, google subscription and Netflix I do not advertise for them (hence, no links). If you are interested in their services, please research yourself about what is available in your region. Please also keep in mind that you will need a good and steady internet connection for any streaming services. Before spending any money please ensure that this is available in your home. A chromecast further requires a wifi connection.
There are other options than the ones I have mentioned which don’t use a TV network (such as DVD rental services). Best of all would be, of course, to remove the TV entirely from your home and enjoy books, games, and each others company.