Consumer Reports forgot the fifth question to consider when you buy a TV…

Here is a picture I took from an issue of Consumer Reports (one of only two magazines I actually read):

Four basic questions to ask yourself before you buy a TV - from Consumer Reports
What are you willing to give up to watch more TV? No, that is not a typo, just a different way of looking at it. (Tweet That)

But they forgot question #5:

What am I willing to give up for this?

Sure, there is the cost of the unit, which, if you are reading a TV-buying guide probably isn’t pocket change.

But what about the time you spend in front of it?

What about your dream?

What about improving yourself for your current job?

What about your family?

What about your spiritual walk?

What about _____?

Are you willing to give up all of that or a piece of that?

Every day that I drive to my office near downtown Fort Wayne, I pass the home of Philo T. Farnsworth (pictured right), the inventor of the television. It was Farnsworth’s son who later conveyed his father’s feelings about his invention:

There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.

Philo T. Farnsworth Fort Wayne Home Plaque
The Philo T. Farnsworth home in Fort Wayne, Indiana near my office.

He might have been on to something.

I’ve heard so many speakers and authors ask the question:

What are you willing to give up for your dream?

But I am asking you the reverse question:

What are you willing to give up to watch more TV?

What dream are you willing to stop pursuing?

What goal are you willing to quit on?

For you, it might not be television. It might be the very device on which you are reading this. It might be something else.

But when you ask the question this way, I think you begin to realize the absurdity. You’ll realize quickly what is most important to you.

And I sure hope it’s not that fancy new big screen.

Question: How much television do you watch? What would a little less time allow you to accomplish?

31 thoughts on “What are You Willing to Give up to Watch More TV?

  1. David Mike says:

    I quit watching TV a number of years ago and I can say it’s drastically changed my quality of life! I like to call the TV “brain drain”.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:


      I can say the same. 5 years ago I had approximately 120 channels. I didn’t watch a ton. Probably 10-12 hours each week. But the crazy thing is I can’t think of a single thing I miss or a single thing I got out of it. Especially since PBS is online too…I get my documentary fix.

  2. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    I love this post. When people ask how I can “do so much.” My first response is “I don’t watch any TV” (well, I do watch the Macy’s Day Parade if I can’t get there live). The response is usually complete shock. Turning off the tube buys you a lot of time.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      So true.

      It’s kind of funny the people around me will often start a sentence like, “Did you see the…oh, nevermind.”

      I can waste time with the best of them. I spend at least 30 minutes a week entertaining myself with YouTube. And another 30 minutes keeping up with sports, but I’m still 33 hours ahead of everyone else.

      1. Jana Botkin says:

        No kidding! My friends learned long ago that any discussion of television programs or actors was met with a blank stare from me.

        YouTube is great for laughs! Is it a waste of time to laugh?

        And I am FANTASTIC at wasting time! 😎

  3. Carol Dublin says:

    I stopped watching tv a while ago and love having extra time for reading, podcasts, blogs, etc. I would be giving up learning for tv!

    1. Jana Botkin says:

      What do you say to those folks who respond with “I only watch the history channel” or “you can learn so much from documentaries”?

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        I think there’s a place for it…as long as you’re doing it intentionally. But if you’re just vegging out watching History Channel because you’re lazy or avoiding weightier matters, then it’s still a waste. But if you’re doing it to learn and grow and you do it in moderation, more power to you!
        I, for one, am a person that loves watching History Channel, Nat Geo, etc where I’m learning something 🙂

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        I agree. Usually all of them have apps or YouTube channels or sites with all of their recent and archived videos.

        I am with @cabinart:disqus on the documentaries. I often listen to the PBS app or other documentaries while getting ready or working. I learn a ton…without the TV.

      3. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Of course you agree Matt. How could someone disagree with me??? (Don’t ask my wife that question!)
        But you’re right. Apps, YouTube, etc have made it so easy to access great information without being chained to a certain schedule or having to spend 20% of the time watching commercials!!

  4. Jana Botkin says:

    To say “yes” to one thing is to say “no” to something else.

    When Seth Godin is asked how he accomplishes so much, he says it is because he doesn’t go to meetings and he doesn’t watch teevee.

    Sometimes I wear earplugs so I can think or read while my dear hubby is watching teevee in the evenings. He watches multiple things at a time. I wonder what he is giving up so he can watch?

    I’m giving up knitting time by being on my computer in the evenings. Giving up reading books for reading blogs and interviews and book reviews and comments.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Well said Jana.

      The other thing I have come to love without it is…silence.

      I used to be afraid of it. Now I embrace it sometimes.

      Plus, my wife and I have some amazing conversations.

      1. Bob Winchester says:

        I’m literally jumping up and down on my couch right now! Great words Jana & Matt!!

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Love it Bob!

  5. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    I’ve gotta say, I don’t get in much television anymore. maybe an hour a day. maybe. Our family got rid of satellite TV about 3 years ago…I thought I’d miss it, but I really don’t. Granted, we still have Netflix, but we aren’t beholden to watching a certain show at a certain time. The TV doesn’t determine our schedule.
    I’ve learned if you have a dream or a goal, its easier to not waste time. It’s when you don’t know where you’re going that it gets easy to waste away entire afternoons or days doing useless things!
    Great post Matt! Love the question turnaround!

  6. Travis Scott says:

    I just stick to the inspirational shows…The Kardashians, Real Housewives, and Honey Boo Boo…I feel they have helped me accomplish my dreams and helped out my marriage said NO ONE EVER!

    Great post Matt…I do watch some television, but not nearly like I used to.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I pretty much HAVE to Tweet that later Travis.

      Love it!

  7. CabinetDoork says:

    Great take on this subject, Matt!
    Most Americans suffer from Brick-To-Screen deficiency. It’s a crippling disease that begins to manifest on your focus and concentration, and eventually renders it’s victim ambition-less. The real tragedy is that it can be prevented with just one application of Brick-to-Screen. Frank Lloyd Wright said, “Television is chewing gum for the brain.”

    Funny, my blog this week was very similar. Keep ’em up, Matt!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I like that. You should do a spoof commercial of that and post it on YouTube…seriously, 1M+ hits for sure.

  8. Lily Kreitinger says:

    I don’t even know how many channels I can get on my converter box. 8, maybe? Ditching the dish was the best thing we did, saving us 720 good dollars every year. My kids watch movies from the library, which mom and dad get to pick. We enjoy family movie night with popcorn, or I snuggle up with them to enjoy The League of Incredible Vegetables (it’s awesome!). Bottom line, I get to choose who talks to my kids and what messages they learn. And I make sure I’m the first one to talk to them about those messages. It is very endearing to hear my little girl sing “The Lord has given this land to us / No need to fuss, He knows what He’s doing…”

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Crazy Lily…I know exactly what song you are talking about. Josh and the Big Wall 🙂

      I think the thing about movies is that it is more intentional. Friday and Saturday night and perhaps during Aracelli’s nap on Sunday…that is our movie time. It’s intentional and I can truly disengage from work and stress.

      1. Lily Kreitinger says:

        Cool parents know all the good songs. Don’t make talk about the Top 10 Silly Songs with Larry… Oh where is my hairbrush?!

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Dancing cucumber, Dancing cucumber, Dancing cucumber, dance, dance, yeah.

      3. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        “if my lips ever left my mouth, pack a bag and headed south, that’d be too bad, I’d be so sad (I see, that’d be too bad, you’d be so sad) That’d be to bad…

    2. Bob Winchester says:

      Ok, I have no idea what song you are singing, but I’m going to have to check it out for sure! Sounds like something my daughter would love.

      We turned off the cable for over a year and hooked it back up when we moved a few months ago. Probably a big mistake…one that I’ll have to reconsider!

  9. I know I have 100+ channels, and during Monday-Friday my ritual is to watch after launch 2 hours or 2 and 1/2 hours of the History channel and National geographic. After diner I would say another 3 hours of the same channel, if there´s an interesting movie I´ll watch that, or news channels flipping between news and documentaries until I go to sleep. Is that too much? Considering I sleep an average of 6 hours and by 7a.m already up and running.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      “Is that too much?”


      You asked 🙂

      1. I do manage to get a workload of 11-12 hours, what would be you´re suggestions or another alternative for not watching so many documentaries for the most part, and also why?

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        Studies with children have shown (don’t ask me for them but I have seen them haha) that watching TV, even educational TV, is too passive. It’s not to say that they can’t get anything out of it. Our daughter watches movies occasionally and we let her watch 1 30 minute kids show on her PBS app each day.

        Even though she may learn something (it’s impossible not to learn SOMETHING unless you are watching some totally mindless show on TV), we don’t count that as learning time. That is part of her “digital entertainment” time, which we limit.

        There is nothing wrong with documentaries. They just activate a different part of the brain than reading. Just like fiction activates different parts than non-fiction.

        I’m not making a judgment on you. If 5 hours of TV entertainment is good for you, that is OK with me. And there are valuable things on TV, no doubt. But I might suggest replacing 2 hours with something else.

        -Exercise (or more exercise) – you can always listen to good documentaries on an iPod.
        -Reading fiction or history or business or other books.
        -Playing. Yes, playing. With kids, with friends, with seniors at a retirement home.

        That still leaves 21 hours a week for TV. The only things you will do more of are sleep and work.

      3. Good advice, but still I see those 5 hours as a learning experience(that´s why I pathetically walk around the little house with a note book), and I can be a nanny, actually kids tend to have fun with me and I have fun with them even though I´m surrounded by grown up´s, but I and them(kids), more I i would say, have fun or play their games for about 3 hours.After that time is not fun it´s like watching my friends all crazed up because they have to take to the park that little monster of theirs,( I know, it´s not an adult thing to see at as such, have to work on that in general at life) So I´m good with kids, and they love it to be with “uncle Charly”.
        I sometimes find myself watching these documentaries as a way of learning new things, not to be an expert, it´s like my drug,just love it. Plus I will sit down on the couch with my notebook and pen on hand to write something that I can use for my writing or just for knowledge.

        P.S: I have to work on myself, before I take the BIG responsibilty of taking care of another human being. Still can´t figure out how you guy´s (parents) do it.

        P.S number 2: If you need a nanny call me! My top time is 4 hours, they love it, then when they start giving me a headache I´ll toss them through the window.

  10. Jon Stolpe says:

    I probably watch 2-3 hours of television of week – more during the winter months and possibly less during the summer months.

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