Aerial Sales Sorely Higher

ST. LOUIS, MO.: Midwestern aerial maker Antennas Direct says it’s still selling its modern-day rabbit ears like hot cakes. The company expects to sell $21 million worth of over-the-air TV antennas this year, up from $8.7 million last year. First-quarter sales alone were said to be up 225 percent.

“Experts have been telling me for eight years that OTA was dead, yet we have maintained 110 percent compound annual growth since we started,” says Antennas Direct President Richard Schneider.

Schneider founded Antennas Direct in 2003. He raised the profile of his company during DTV transition with a nationwide bus tour; giving away antennas at community and senior centers in June of 2009, when it took place. It was selling around 100,000 antennas a month after the transition.

The company engaged investors last year, seeking up to $10 million to expand its operations. Sales in 2009 reached $7.5 million, up from $3.4 million in 2008. It sells online and through Beset Buy, Target and Costco, among others.

Schneider expects continued growth. He quoted figures from one Convergence Consulting Group in Toronto, Ontario, as saying 1.6 million people will cancel cable or satellite subscriptions by the end of this year. (Their report actually estimates 1.55 million from 2008-09, and another 2.07 million by the end of 2011.) He criticized the policies of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, who is under a presidential directive to reclaim TV spectrum for wireless broadband.

“The uninformed statements by the FCC chairman are nothing but regurgitation of outdated notions from the waning days of analog TV,” Schneider said, calling digital TV the “new disruptive technology.”

~ Deborah D. McAdams