TV is a Waste of Time

By: Keith


Sometimes you just want to sit and do nothing.  Watching TV seems like a pretty great idea; you’ll get to sit on the couch, perhaps have some ice cream, zone out for a while and otherwise decompress.  That’s fine.  There’s no problem with relaxing as a means to not doingTelevision though isn’t a useful use of that free time.  It’s not free.  In fact advertisers take 30% of that time from you and twiddle it away trying to get you to buy dust mops, car insurance and other nonsense.  That time you think you’re using to relax is really being spent channel surfing to avoid commercials (unsuccessfully because they all come on at the same time).  That’s not relaxing, that’s frustrating.  18 minutes out of every 60 minute show is spend on advertising (30%).  8 minutes of every 30 minute show is commercials (26.6%).  It sounds like one of those waiting in line statistics where it’s said that people spend as much as 3 years out of their life waiting in lines.  I think that calculation is a bit high.  I figure it’s 30 minutes per day for a normal person.  Maybe more, who knows (figure all the time spent waiting for web pages to load, stuff to start, waiting at the post office etc…)?  30 minutes a day is equivalent to 1.6 years of your life if you live for 80 years (14,560 hours).  Now, if you wait in traffic (which I don’t) then you’ll have to calculate up.  Nielson says we spend 151 hours per month watching TV.  That means you’ll spend between 40.1 and 45.3 hours watching commercials every month (depending if you like 30 minute shows or 60 minute shows).  Unless you really love commercials I’d suggest an alternative.  It all adds up to a pilfering of your precious free time. 


Netflix:  Cancel your cable and rent all your shows from Netflix.  For less money than you spend on the dumb cable TV you can watch all your favorite shows commercial free and on your own time.  The downside is that you don’t get to watch them the moment they air.  So what?  You won’t miss anything important and you’ll achieve sanity in the process.


Hulu:  Hulu won’t cost you anything you’re not already spending on high speed internet.  Of course the negative is that there are still commercials (albeit just a minute or two out of every 30) and your viewing material is severely limited.  Still, I watched the whole Dead Like Me series on Hulu and that was great.


DVR:  If you’re still bent on forking over your money to the cable company you can at least save yourself the commercials by getting a DVR.


Whatever you decide to do, watching TV with all the commercials is not accomplishing your relaxation goal.  The idea behind relaxation is to use what little time you have on something you really want to do.  It’s not for someone else and not time to get anything done or to produce anything.  It’s time just for you.  Use it wisely and really enjoy yourself.  You don’t want to be reminded from a commercial that your floors are dirty or that your car insurance is almost due.

21 Responses to “TV is a Waste of Time”
  1. Brian Simpson April 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Great post! I had no idea Netflix offered TV shows. I agree that TV is often a waste of time, although there are a few shows that I love. Maybe I’ll see if Netflix has them. Anyways, last night I was up late. Instead of watching TV, I decided to create a new public speaking blog for my Toastmasters club capitalcitytoastmasters.wordpress. I doubt many people will read it, but at least I got my creative juices flowing and did something productive instead of zoning out in front of the boob tube, huh?

    (Almightydad Edit: Brian, I put the link to your toastmasters blog in the URL box)

  2. Spuds April 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Amen, hallelujah and Holy Sh**! Very true!
    I disconnected the satellite cable to the TV last July and only re-attach it on two nights/ week for two hours each night. Grades have gone up… creativity has increased… yelling, hmm they still yell but at least it’s not about where the remote is hiding. Disconnecting the TV has been a HUGE timesaver for our angry crew!

    Great Post!
    .-= Spuds´s last blog ..Little Red Wagons and Land Speed Records =-.

    • Keith April 25, 2010 at 7:41 am #

      Spuds: Shutting off the TV all together is becoming a common solution I guess. You’re right. Not watching TV increases mental function across every other activity. We find reserving a few nights a week to family games and discussion is a good alternative to the TV too. Thanks for the input :-)

  3. Joe April 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    Great Post — I have debated on getting rid of TV for awhile. We do have netflix and get most of our entertainment from there. The one thing I do miss is sports, especially the NFL> But I did watch the draft online and I can watch some sports online (through But other than that it is limited.
    .-= Joe´s last blog ..Sorry my Cheesefriends =-.

    • Keith April 25, 2010 at 7:39 am #

      Joe: Yeah, Sports. I forgot about that. I don’t really watch much sports so it doesn’t really affect me. But I do like college football. Thankfully, more of those games are becoming available online these days.

  4. Mike April 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

    Since most people only follow a handful of shows, buying seasons on DVD can also be economical vs. cable; no commercials, high picture quality, no downloading, and you can become more immersed in the storyline when you don’t have to wait a week for your next installment.

    AppleTV looks like it could *someday* be a good contender because it also lets you rent, you can connect your music connection to your TV and it’s speakers, and share HD content between your computer and TV. Too bad shows are cripplingly expensive on iTunes right now.

    • Keith April 25, 2010 at 7:35 am #

      Mike: My wife likes to buy certain shows on DVD. For instance, Dr. Who is one that she watched repeatedly. In that case it definitely makes sense to buy rather than rent. And you’re right about being immersed in the shows. With no commercials and the ability to watch an entire series straight through it’s a much more pleasurable way to enjoy your shows.

  5. goofdad April 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Every now and then I hear or read something and say … oh, yeah! Most people still watch commercials!

    If you have a little bit of computer skill, it may also be worth looking into MythTV. It’s a networked media center. It’s like a networked DVR on steroids. I have ONE master server, where everything we want to watch is recorded. Every TV and Computer in the house can, at any time, pull up any recorded show or any movie that’s been ripped onto the server.

    The best part is it skips commercials -automatically- … I’ve been running it for years and, with the exception of the SuperBowl where I DO want to watch the commercials (they’re often more entertaining than the game), I pretty much have forgotten what commercials are like …
    .-= goofdad´s last blog ..Shopping? =-.

    • Keith April 25, 2010 at 7:34 am #

      Goofdad: I’ve never heard of MythTV, but thanks for mentioning it. The ingenuity people have when it comes to making life easier and more entertaining is really awesome. I’m going to look into it.

  6. Kody Wilcox April 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    I love netflix. I watch movies more than anything.

  7. Stefan April 25, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    even if you can’t bring yourself to cut it out entirely, maybe set some boundaries – certain sacred nights each week TV is always off, or no two nights in a row. so worth it.

  8. PJ Mullen April 26, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    I agree that TV in general is a waste of time and money. I got a Roku box to stream Netlix to my TV. Also, if you have a Wii you can get a free disc from Netflix to enable you to stream it from your game console to say you the $100 for the Roku box. Or, if you have more than one TV you can get the disc and only need to buy one box. The way I looked at it was my investment in a Roku box was one month’s DirecTV bill. And it will take me nearly 13 months paying for my Netflix account to equal what I paid for one month of service that I rarely watched. Who has time for 500+ channels. If the cable/satellite companies were smart they’d move to an a la carte system where I can pay for a basic package and then individual channels that I want. It shouldn’t be tough to do, but they don’t think outside of the box like that.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..Time for Bed, Baby Ted – A Review =-.

  9. Stephanie April 26, 2010 at 9:50 pm #


    I particularly liked this line: “Television though isn’t a useful use of that free time. It’s not free.”

    I would go even further, however, and say that most television is a wasteful use of time – regardless of where you “acquire” it – Hulu, Netflix, etc. ;)
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog #3 =-.

    • Rain Wilber January 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      haha, I was about to post, but realized it was the same thing as what you had said Stephanie :)

      Thanks for the great writing Keith, your blog is beautiful and insightful!

  10. SciFi Dad April 27, 2010 at 5:18 am #

    You make some interesting points, however I’m not about to give up my cable just yet.

    Perhaps, if Netflix ever moves north of the border with their streaming service (right now we have DVDs by mail alternatives, but that system isn’t a substitute for broadcast like the streaming option is) I’d be willing to consider it, but not now.

    As far as commercials go, I’m going to hazard a guess that you’re not a sports fan. For me (not quite an “avid” but definitely an “interested” fan), commercials offer me a 2 minute window to update myself on the scores, possibly catch a highlight or two, all while my wife (decidedly uninterested) remains in the room (whereas when I’ve got a game on as the primary viewing option, she leaves).
    .-= SciFi Dad´s last blog ..The Pity Nightie =-.

    • Keith April 27, 2010 at 6:45 am #

      SciFi: You make some excellent points. you’re right, I’m not really a big sports fan. I do watch college football sometimes, but that’s about it. I completely get the sports argument and you’re right. If I was a sports watching kind of guy then Cable would still be the way to go. Thanks for the comment!

  11. Ben April 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    I’ve always wondered why (in the UK) we continue to pay the TV licence to watch basically a bunch of adverts when I could watch everything for free. Would save me over £100 a year!
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Week Sixteen: Time to clingfilm the carpet =-.

    • Keith April 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

      Ben: I didn’t know you had to pay a licence. that’s crazy. Is that for all those BBC stations? :-)

  12. Paul Sylvester September 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    I tell people to switch to the Roku because you can watch Doctor Who online through either Amazon or Netflix now and get the latest episodes on my Roku box without having to wait a season. You can always buy it on Amazon and watch it as it becomes available. I simply love my Roku and I don’t have to worry about waiting for seasons to become available on Netflix, if I can find on Amazon, I am happy!!

  13. Devon November 3, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Network television had its glory days long, long ago. Cable networks were once lauded for their individuality in programming, and even educational like the old days of The Learning Channel and A&E. But the winds of change wrought devastation to network and cable television in the name of dumbed down “reality” programming.

    There are several people that I personally know who’ve put their televisions out to pasture years ago. The fact is, there’s just nothing worth watching any more. Vintage movies and television series’ is the only media form that my television plays. DVD’s are a godsend and of course YouTube, etc.

    It was believed some years ago that cable and satellite services would revolutionize the whole television experience. Did it though? I say no. When you, the subscriber, have hundreds of channels at your disposal, and just maybe there’s one channel that has a program that will pique yor interest, I say that’s quite pathetic. The fact that these cable channels are infested with a barrage of ads is another resounding gripe.

    So, I should pay over $100.00 a month for cable or satellite just so I have the Discovery Channel’s umbrella of “follow the leader” programming, and pay to watch a bunch of inane ads for prescription drugs every five minutes? I use my free time for reading, going outside, taking a nap or just meditating. And don’t even get me started on the pitiful cable news outlets. One is just as bad as the other.


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