Informing The Public About Cutting The Cord

Cutting the Cord

It’s amazing to me how many people don’t realize they can receive free, over-the-air high definition television for free with the use of an antenna.

Last month I wrote a column about finally cutting the cord, buying a cheap antenna and supplementing OTA TV with over-the-top services like Netflix and Hulu. I even bought a $30 Blu Ray player on eBay because it was cheap and gave my wife and I another option for watching a movie, or catching up on a TV series on a binge-watching Saturday.

While most of what I write on here isn’t of much interest to my family and friends, I did share my column with them and received similar feedback: “Wait, you can get high definition for free?” Another response: “You don’t pay a monthly bill?”

You’d be surprised how many people haven’t a clue that HD TV is free over-the-air.

I’ve seen a couple commercials on KUSA Denver about being able to access HD TV over-the-air for free. Dyle’s mobile DTV commercial also plays on the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate every so often, promoting free TV without racking up high data charges:

The NAB’s new campaign touches on the importance of local broadcasting, especially during times of emergency. This past week’s horrific weather in Oklahoma was a perfect example. The commercial is emotional and effective, but I would have loved to see a line in it that says, “And all of this is available for free.”

Since cutting the cord, I’ve convinced a friend and my little sister to do the same. Of course, they had plenty of questions about the setup — Which antenna do I buy? Do I just plug it in? What do I get if I signup for Hulu Plus?

I’ve been recommending Mohu’s Indoor HDTV Leaf Antenna to them. Its flat design makes it easy to mount on a window and hide behind curtains. You can even mount it on your wall and paint over it using the same color as your wall, perfectly disguising it in your living room.

The folks at Mohu sent me over an antenna to try out after reading my column. I especially like how easily it can be hidden (sorry rabbit ears… you looked a bit to retro for my living room) behind the curtains in our condo. Being that I’m practically a stone’s throw away from the broadcast transmitters in the Denver market, I didn’t notice a change in quality from the rabbit ears to the Mohu. Perhaps those who live a bit farther away would.

While I was surprised by how many of my family members and friends didn’t realize the magic of broadcasting, I’m assuming that’s going to change.

The Leichtman Research Group said this week that U.S. pay TV service providers collectively lost subscribers for the first time over a four-quarter period. The reason?

“First-time ever annual industry-wide losses reflect a combination of a saturated market, an increased focus from providers on acquiring higher-value subscribers, and some consumers opting for a lower-cost mixture of over-the-air TV, Netflix and other over-the-top viewing options,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for the research group, in a statement.

Next up on my cord-cutting adventure? Getting over-the-air TV into my office. I don’t want to buy another TV, but I’m considering picking up this USB adapter by Elgato (yes, from the folks who also make mobile DTV dongles) that lets a user plug in an antenna to the adapter and watch those channels on a computer. Better yet, the software that it comes with, lets users record those shows, just like a DVR, onto their computer’s hard drive.

The next time you’re talking to a friend or family member about their TV service, ask them how much they pay per much for cable or satellite TV service, and then ask them if they know what’s available to them. Chances are they’re going to be a bit surprised.

11 thoughts on “Informing The Public About Cutting The Cord

  1. Dave

    I’m not surprised. TV stations have, for the most part, done a very poor job in informing viewers that their product is available free with an antenna. Stations need to actively promote this and to let people know that the quality is better than cable. Even when someone gets a particular station on cable, they don’t necessarily get all of the programming on that station and not the quality HDTV. It would also help if all the programming was included in the newspaper.

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  2. Tom

    Nice article. I purchased a Mohu Leaf last year to replace my bunny ears. They are much easier to hide and the reception is incredible. I live in SE Texas and I’m about 35 miles away from the nearest towers. With the bunny ears, I had good reception, but would often have to repositions the antenna to get certain channels. With the Mohu, I have not had to move it once after hanging it in a position that I found best reception. I plan to get another for our other television. The picture quality is impressive, and the subchannels are a nice bonus. The Mohu also picks up more channels (10+) than the standard bunny ear setup. Between the Mohu and my Roku for streaming content, I have not missed cable one bit, and I don’t plan on going back.

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  4. CacheFreeTV

    Mohu makes a decent but pricey indoor antenna, but if you’re serious about cord cutting, want more channels and more reliable reception, an outdoor antenna is the way to go. Most people can have an outdoor antenna, no matter what your HOA says. Here is the law regarding Over The Air Reception Devices: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/installing-consumer-owned-antennas-and-satellite-dishes .

    Note that Dyle TV is free – for now. They will be charging for it in the near future.

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