Mohu Launches ‘TV For Free’ Website

Mohu launched the (opens in new tab) website recently with the goal of showing consumers the number of program streams they could receive using their unamplified Mohu Leaf, the amplified Mohu Leaf Ultimate, and their outdoor Mohu Sky HDTV antennas.

The website provides a listing of the TV channels a viewer using one of the three Mohu antennas should expect to receive based on the viewer's zip code or address. A nice feature of the site is that it not only lists stations by call sign and virtual channel number, but each of a station's subchannels.

I ran two studies using Mohu's “TV-For-Free” website and the results obtained indicated that the site is using only distance to determine coverage without regard to terrain or station ERP.

After entering the 90064 ZIP code for West Los Angeles, I was surprised to see that the amplified Mohu Ultimate antenna would be required to receive the area’s ION station, while other stations on Mount Harvard only a few hundred feet away--or on nearby Mount Wilson--were listed as receivable with the standard Mohu Leaf. Fortunately the site showed a map with the transmitter locations which explains why ION's KXPN-TV was slighted. While KPXN-TV transmits from Mount Harvard, the Mohu program appears to be using their old Channel 30 analog site (now gone) on Sunset Ridge near Claremont, Calif.

I did a second study using the 96728 ZIP code in Hawaii. The results showed far more stations than I have been able to pick up at that location, although I admit I haven't tried the Mohu Ultimate there yet. What was surprising was that the site showed I'd be able to receive KLEI-TV, which is located on the far side of a mountain that’s more than 13,000 feet high.

In fairness to Mohu, they do show a map with the transmitter sites and provide a warning in bold, all caps, indicating the results could vary depending on what sort of terrain exists around the viewer’s location. However, if you are aware of the terrain in your area you should be able to better estimate which stations you can expect to receive.

While it seems ironic, given CEA's propaganda saying fewer and fewer people rely on off-air TV, the website they created in cooperation with NAB provides a much more realistic listing of available TV stations. However this site doesn't mention the station's affiliation, nor does it list subchannels, so you may want to use it to winnow down the Mohu site's list.

Don't forget either the FCC's DTV Reception Maps Tool. Note that these maps, like all others based on the published FCC CDBS antenna patterns, will not provide reliable signal level predictions for stations employing mechanical beam tilt.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.