How do TV Antennas Work?

The technology responsible for Over-the-Air TV - or "OTA" for short - has been around since the 1940's. Until the rise of Cable TV in the 70's and 80's, broadcast TV was the only way US homes could watch television. In 2009 the FCC mandated that local channels transition all their broadcasts to digital format, which brings us today.

Currently, only 7% of the US uses a TV antenna, but that number has been increasing dramatically with the rise of "cord cutting".

Is it really free?

Yes! Recent studies have shown that over 90% of the US population is within range to stream free over-the-air HD television. TV stations such as your local CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox channels are required by law to broadcast for free over the air. This is why it is commonly referred to "Over-the-Air TV".

OTA TV has no subscription fees. Once you purchase your antenna, there will be no further purchases ever needed.

However, for those of you who miss your cable TV channels such as CNN, TBS, Nickelodeon and ESPN, you can always subscribe to a streaming service such as Sling TV that has those channels. These cahnnels are NOT available with any TV antenna, no matter what they say. All you need for this to work is a streaming device like a Fire TV or Roku, and broadband internet.

What do I need?

The only two products needed to receive this type of free TV is an HD antenna, and a TV that is capable of receiving digital signals (all TVs built after 2006 are digital-signal ready). There are a few different types of TV antennas, so make sure you read up on their differences before purchasing one (links above). Remember... quality matters, so don't purchase the cheapest antenna out there and expect it to work as well as respected brands like NoCable, Mohu or Winegard.

Is it easy to setup?

Depends. If you are technically inclined, its not hard at all. All antennas need to be plugged into your TV(s) via a coaxial cable (included with most antennas), and the amplified ones require power.

The problems arise when things aren't going as planned. Sometimes you are missing a channel, or get nothing at all. At that point you have two options: return the product, or contact support. Most respectable antenna manufacturers offer some level of customer service that will pair you with an antenna expert. Troubleshooting your antenna may be slow, but it is not difficult. Typically patience is rewarded here.

Is it worth it?

Cable TV prices have been increasing 6% a year on average. Cable TV package prices are already so high that simply by canceling cable, buying an antenna and subscribing to one streaming service will save an average US household over $1,400 a year!

Antenna TV has no cancellation fees, will always be free and actually has better picture quality than cable TV as well. Cable companies are allowed to downgrade their service by 30% to save on transmission costs. Over-the-Air TV doesn't have this problem... you get 4k Full HD picture every time.