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How Long Can I Watch Sports on Cable TV Without A Digital Video Recorder?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve grown accustomed at home (Chicago) to record most sports’ events and then watch them on my digital recorder at my convenience. Even if it’s my favorite team (Packers), I’ll watch it later that day. Other Packer fans think I’m crazy or incredibly patient that I can wait a few hours before tuning in. I’m opting for the pull design instead of having the content being pushed to me.


This accomplishes several things. Living in the Midwest, if I watch a game at Noon in October or November during nice weather, once it’s over, there may only be another hour or so of good sunlight before the day is done. With long winters forthcoming, I may have buyer’s remorse, especially if my team lost and ask myself why I spent such a lovely day inside. Said differently, Mother Nature may kick our ass during the next 4 months (if not longer).



Of course, the other thing it accomplishes is eliminating most commercials. I don’t have a problem seeing commercials during sport’s coverage every 10 minutes but that’s not how things work in today’s aggressive sports media marketplace.


The commercials help make an NFL football game (of 13 active minutes) take 3.5 hours to execute. Is there something wrong with this picture? In addition, it’s not just the commercials; it often ruins the flow of the game. The action is constantly interrupted by ads; it’s hard to stay focused and invested in the game for that more than 2 hours.


Moving to a non-DVR situation, I’m blessed being a snow bird with the access to spend time in sunny Florida where Spectrum cable is included in the price of the unit. That’s the good news, the bad news, the included cable doesn’t include the DVR option.


The digital picture is great; however, I want most of the active sports’ content to occur on the field or court. In other words, the picture is great but not so great that I want to spend 30 percent of the time viewing “so called cute ads” on my beautiful 4K TV.


Over the last 6 months, I’ve watched NFL and college football, NBA and college basketball, and the English Premier league on a non-DVR TV.


First, the EPL is fine as there are two 45 minute halves so the majority of viewed content is action related. That same principle doesn’t apply to the NFL and NBA.


Being in Florida for some time (ET) and watching Monday Night Football or Sunday Night Football with commercials is indeed an exercise in patience. Besides commercials every 5 minutes or so, the games may start around 8:30 pm or so which means often the games end around midnight. It’s 11:30 pm and you’re tired and want to hug your pillow in bed but the game is close with about 4 minutes remaining. It’s tough without a DVR, it’s like dying due to 1000 cuts.


A little context: if I owned a DVR. I could take a short nap in the afternoon and begin watching the evening NFL game around 10:15 ET or so. Skipping the commercials, I could stay engaged in the action. If a blowout, I could go to bed. If a close or compelling game, I could watch to the end which means sometimes I might get to live action. No worries, for most of the game, I’d still be engaged.


Once you have DVR, it’s nearly impossible to go back. Look, I have nothing against State Farm, Geico, Allstate, Verizon, Rocket Mortgage and Bud Light; I know they have products and services to sell, but sometimes I think capitalism has gone too far.


How to proceed? One option is to add the DVR option. However, will Spectrum make me purchase an entirely new package before adding the DVR service? Or will they allow me to add the DVR option individually to my unit in lieu of the building providing basic cable? Additional research is needed.


The other option is purchasing new hardware to add to my cable box, from my preliminary research, this isn't something that I can do smoothly. Again, more research is forthcoming.

Regardless of which way I pursue, it’s a fait accompli that some recorder option will be implemented in the near future so I don’t need to watch the NBA and NFL live.


Editor's Note on 091519:

As I was in the process of reviewing our DirecTV service in our home in Illinois over these last few weeks, my brother recommended that I try Youtube TV. It's a streaming TV service that allows users to record unlimited programs and keep them up to 9 months. Even though I have decided to keep DirecTV for now, I will try Youtube TV in our home in Florida (it's $50 per month). If successful, I have the option to cancel DirecTV sometime next year and use Youtube TV in Florida and in Illinois. Time will tell what I decide.