TV antenna resurges as frugal viewing alternative

TV antennas, as in the early days of television, have resurged as an option.


Television remains a popular form of home entertainment, but increasing costs for cable service have led consumers to evaluate their viewing habits and explore alternatives for receiving live broadcasts.

TV antennas, as in the early days of television, have resurged as an option.

Since the 1920s, technology has evolved markedly, and digital cable became the traditional method of transmitting data. Today, there are many service providers offering numerous TV channels and programs billed at varied monthly installments.

A cost-cutting range of indoor and outdoor TV antennas are available at online stores and local retailers. Prices range from $20 to $100 plus. Professional installation costs are extra. Price is not a predictor for quality reception.

According to Consumer Reports, based on the homes they tested, most were able to receive dozens of free over-the-air channels. Outdoor antennas tended to perform better than indoor, but the report acknowledged they were not practical for everyone.

As an electrician noted, the effectiveness of the antenna with respect to picture quality is reliant on factors such as television model, location of home, the surrounding environment and how the antenna is installed. The key aspect is the distance from the free-to-air tower to the home and whether there are obstructions between the antenna and tower.

Cindy Emanuel in Barefoot Bay has had an antenna for a year and a half.

“I have problems here and there. No major problems,” she said. “I also have Netflix and internet. I’m happy.”

With the advent of internet connections and an abundance of media streaming services, such as Netflix, the debate is not exclusively antenna vs. cable.

Television today can be accessed via cable, antenna, satellite dish, live TV streaming and video streaming via the internet.

There is a charge for the streaming services, as well as internet, which is required for streaming.

Combining services such as video streaming with an antenna gives the consumer more viewing options.

“I have had an antenna for four years,” said Helen Kennedy of Barefoot Bay. “It was installed by a local electrician. I just pay for internet and Netflix and Fire (TV) Stick. Saved a ton of money.”

Moreover, you might choose to forgo television, as Leslie Bertrand of Barefoot Bay did.

“No cable for four years and no antenna either,” she said. “Best decision ever.”