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In these economic times… okay, I admit that was a cheap way to start off this piece. I only did it because for the past year it’s become the hackneyed phrase of choice. I’ll start again.

Like many people, we have a certain amount of money allocated for what can broadly be called “entertainment.” We decided to take a look at all the areas where this money is going, and the focus landed on our monthly cable bill.

We paid about $160 per month for TV, internet, and telephone service. This was an introductory price for bundled services from WideOpenWest, our provider since mid-2008. Our TV package included the digital basic package and a bunch of Starz channels. (We don’t have an HDTV.)

When we looked at our viewing habits, we realized that nearly everything we watch is either on broadcast TV and/or readily available on the internet or through Netflix. And since we have an antenna on the roof and digital converter boxes in the house, we figured we’d take the step and drop cable television service, ratcheting back to just the 8 Mbit Internet and home telephone services.

This brought our monthly cable bill down by over $70, and so far we haven’t missed the programming offered by cable TV. We can still see The Big Bang Theory, 30 Rock, the local and national news, and all the old shows offered on Chicago’s MeTV. We’re also starting to catch up on our Netflix queue.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have even thought about canceling cable TV. When my kids were younger, we spent many nights watching The Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network and they were glued to the set for Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel. They’ve since graduated to MTV and beyond, and now get most of their entertainment on their computers and iPods.

It just seemed to make sense to invest in the pipeline that brings the material to our house, as opposed to paying a chunk of money for 100-some-odd channels chosen by the cable company.

I have absolutely no complaint about WOW: having slogged through experiences with (in reverse order) Comcast, AT&T Broadband, MediaOne, and TCI I can say without any hesitation that WOW’s services have been rock-solid and their customer service is consistently top-notch. I highly recommend them to anyone.

This isn’t entirely about the money, although saving almost $1000 a year is significant. It is a powerful statement on our changing entertainment habits. With a few exceptions like The Daily Show and Turner Classic Movies, I don’t expect we’ll miss cable TV.

At least we can watch the Starz Bunnies on the internet.

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