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Off-Air TV Delivery Continues to Grow

FRESNO, CALIF. —There was more evidence that viewers are continuing to turn to off-air antennas and the Internet to receive TV programming. Howard Fine alerted me to an article in The Fresno Bee by Tim Sheehan that describes the increasing use of off-air TV in the California’s Central Valley.

The article includes this quote from Dennis Patton, a salesman at Ventura TV in southeast Fresno: “We are selling so much more now than we were just a few years ago. I’m selling an average of seven antennas every day.”

Sheehan has stories from people who have dropped cable for an antenna and from people who never had cable that continue to use off-air TV, but have added extra content from Hulu and Netflix. Some people are keeping cable primarily for high-speed Internet delivery.

For more information see Your Money: Many in Valley look for free alternative to costly cable, satellite TV by Tim Sheehan.

You wouldn’t expect the wealthy readers of Forbes to be interested in saving a few dollars by using an off-air antenna, but then again perhaps thriftiness helped them become wealthy. The article Ready to Cut the Cable TV Cord? Here’s How to Do It by Amadou Dialio offers some tips for over the air viewing as well as grabbing programs from the Internet. The article notes: “Armed with technology that makes a smaller antenna possible and a digital protocol that makes the signals easier to capture over longer distances, antenna companies are now delivering powerful long-range units with home decor as a design directive, resulting in small, unobtrusive and even fashionable indoor models.”

The new Mohu Curve is cited as one example of an attractive but effective indoor antenna. Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct, notes that “TV antennas today are 10 percent the mass they were decades ago.”

In his summary, Dialio says: “The moment for me when the idea of dropping TV service became a long-term prospect rather than just a short term experiment so I could write this article, was when I plugged in the antenna. The fact that I can get such high quality output, for network and PBS channels I had been paying for makes it hard for me to envision going back to a cable TV subscription.”

Both articles caution that cable networks like ESPN aren't available off-air. Dialio notes that a season subscription to some sports over the Apple TV and Roku set top boxes can cost close to $200.

Doug Lung

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.