We shut off our satellite a month ago and I'm happy to announce, no one's died. They just thought they were going to. Interestingly, I've suffered more than I thought I would. With a husband who works nights, I'm used to sleeping with the TV on and I've missed falling asleep to X-files (the kids joke that the opening bars of the theme song work like a lullaby). We're reading more, playing more board games, and talking to each other more and I've got a few downloaded episodes of X-files on my laptop for those nights when sleep just won't come on its own.
However,in addition to spending more time doing other things, we've become experts in free and/or cheaper TV. My techie oldest spliced an S-Video cable together and ran it from the computer to the TV. He then spent an evening wrestling with all the settings and configurations involved in cloning the desktop so that it would show up on both the monitor and the TV screen. I want you to know, this required some patience. At one point he battled the "blue screen of death" in the process of juggling drivers and configurations, but he triumphed and sometime in the early morning hours I woke up to find him standing proudly in front of the TV with the desktop shining brightly back at him.
I did decide to subscribe Net-Flix for less than a quarter of what we were paying for satellite, because it meant not only three movies at a time, but nearly endless access to "Watch Instantly" movies. So today we've been trying that out and we like it pretty well. In a couple of days we'll have three movies we've been itching to see.
We've also discovered that a lot of the shows we've enjoyed are available on the site of the channels that run them. For instance, we've discovered that Discovery Channel offers their most recent Mythbusters episodes online. Sci-Fi is fairly generous--Eureka, Ghost Hunters and Battlestar Galactica. In fact, they even offered the entire "Tin Man" trilogy. There's a fair amount of educational stuff out there as well, you just have to look. I even found a site dedicated to (really) old TV shows, though they won't play on an enlarged screen so I'll just have to save that for late night viewing on the old laptop. I think all of this and $5.00 movie bins will keep us pretty happy.
What this means is that we have to watch TV a lot more purposefully than we did before, as it interferes with computer use. Our TV is generally off all day anyway, so evenings will be the only time we'll deal with conflicts, but everyone will have to bend. I think as soon as we can afford it (it will be a while), we'll pick up just a computer tower and and a TV-out video card and dedicate it to just the TV.
Meanwhile, this isn't so bad and I suspect it's the wave of the future.