Recently, a growing list of streaming services are offering local, broadcast networks; however, before you reach into your wallet for broadcast TV, maybe you should think again.
About 90% of American households can access local channels for free, but there are so many other reasons to get an antenna over streaming. And as the cord cutting trends continue, more than 15% of American broadband households now rely solely on an HDTV antenna for their TV viewing needs.
The following are my top reasons why you should get an antenna rather than pay for local channels.
Often when you pay for a streaming service you just get one or a couple of the main broadcast channels (like ABC or FOX); however, with an antenna you often get many more great channels. Many subchannels offering a wide range of content are not included. Even local PBS channels, which includes a newly launched 24/7 PBS Kids subchannel, or The CW channel are often not included in streaming bundles.
So while you may get access to a selection of broadcast networks, you’re definitely missing out on many other great free channels. In some markets you can get over 100 channels for free with an antenna.
While streaming may look great, you will be surprised at how great HD TV can look with an antenna. You will find an antenna will give you an amazing image even compared to traditional pay TV. The reason for this higher picture quality? Over-the-air broadcast TV signals are not compressed, so your antenna will deliver that uncompressed feed directly to your TV.
Streaming services and even traditional cable and satellite signals are compressed in order to maximize the number of channels they can pack into a given feed. So not only are cable/satellite providers sometimes charging you extra for HD, it’s not even the best possible HD available – which you can instead enjoy for free.
Increasingly Americans don’t just watch TV but they also follow along online. Whether that be on Twitter talking about the show or watching the stats of your favorite game—you don’t want to be behind.
Streaming services can be anywhere from 30 seconds to as much as a few minutes behind, meaning you may be able to find out what happened in the game before you see it; however, with an antenna that won’t be an issue.
The video quality was high, but as soon as the stream went live, fans noted how delayed the action was compared with the broadcast on CBS. –NY Times
Ever want to watch a local sports game on a streaming service just to find it’s blacked out? Don’t worry about that with an antenna.
A great example of that was back during award season with the Golden Globes. NBC had rights to air the show but not to stream it. So not a single legal streaming service had the Golden Globes, but if you had an antenna you could watch the Golden Globes.
The great thing about an antenna is you never have to worry about your local stations being cut off due to a contract dispute. While your friends with pay-TV may be blacked out, you, with an antenna, can still enjoy your favorite channels.
Perhaps one of the most freeing features of watching TV with an antenna is that once you’ve purchased the antenna itself, you never have to pay another penny. No subscriptions, no fees, and no more paying to watch commercials.
Traditional Pay TV and many new live TV streaming services require you to sit through commercials, but you’re paying to do so. Sure you have to deal with ads when watching on your antenna, but at least you aren’t paying for that. And if you add in an over-the-air DVR, you can record your shows and skip the ads. Not all streaming services offer DVR, and even the ones that do come with a list of caveats ($5 more per month, limited-time storage, no skipping commercials – what?!).
Not sure what antenna you need? Check out this zip code channel finder. It will help you find the right antenna and see what channels you could receive based on your location. And if you’re looking for a complete cord-cutting solution, head over to Untangle.TV for a customized recommendation of which antenna you’d need plus streaming service(s) and devices to watch everything you want to watch without cable or satellite.
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This week's latest in cordcutting news and trends: New OTA stations, why it might be time to rescan your antenna, a look at Pay TV's sneaky hidden fees, Mohu's Independence Day sale and more.
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A new report found that there are over 100 available over-the-air stations you can watch for free with an antenna.