Alternatives to Cable TV
How to get rid of Cable
Looking for alternatives to cable tv, because you're ready to cut the cable cord and get rid of cable for once and for all? You've made a wise decision that will save you a lot of money. I’ve done a lot of research on this topic, because I, myself cut the cable cord awhile back, and couldn't be happier with the picture quality and money that I'm saving. I'm now using antennas to deliver a high-definition picture to my televisions. No cable tv bill, because I'm picking up the free OTA (over-the-air) signal. I'm now saving over $50 per month, or just over $600 per year!
Although I was tired of the cable company constantly increasing my rate for cable tv, I hung in there with them for awhile. But then, a while back, I received a letter from my Cable Company regarding an
upcoming switch to digital, notifying me that after a certain date, I would not be able to
get a cable signal by simply plugging in a cable cord. Now I would need digital boxes on every
television in order to get the cable signal. In this same letter, they informed
me that they would provide 2 digital boxes for free, for now. But that in approximately one year, they would begin to charge a monthly fee of $2.00 each for these 2 (now free) boxes.
I instantly went into action.
Because not only do I have way more than 2 televisions, but I didn't
even want to pay for the 2 that they would furnish for free (for a limited time
only). I then added up how much it would
cost me for all of my televisions, and I was outraged! This additional cost on top of my already high cable bill - NO WAY!
So, I set out in search of alternatives to cable tv. I strapped on my boots, put on my sunscreen
and some cool shades, grabbed a cold water, tilted the rim of my hat down, and
set off in the hot desert in search of ways to cut the cable cord. Hot, sweating, exhausted and dazed (after
walking only 6 feet), I stopped, looked up and saw the waves in the air. I thought to myself, the signals that were in
the air back-in-the-day that allowed us to get free tv must still be
there! Either that, or I was suffering
from heat stroke. As I stumbled to the
ground, thinking only of my fellow Discount Fanatics, with my last breath I
looked up and yelled, “What can we use to bring those signals down into our
televisions again?” Just then, the
answer came to me as though in a mirage… Antennas. I'm so corny ☺.
With my OTA signal, I get almost all of the same channels that I received with basic cable. The channels or programs that I do not receive for free, I simply get through other means... online streaming (see my list of TV Stations that offer free full-episodes on their website), free movies (see my list of places to stream free online movies), etc. You may not see the episode the day that it came on (in some cases), so you'll have to silence those "Spoiler Alert" people at work. But many of us are getting into robo-watching a series at times anyway.
As if the savings weren't enough, programmers are now seeing the massive switch to antenna tv, and are bringing more and more programming to free tv! So, suck it cable company! We may still need you for our 24/7 high speed Internet service, but hopefully, there will be a free option for that available in the near future as well.
Alternatives to Cable TV
Many of you will remember the days of tv antennas, before cable, when all we had was the OTA (over the air) signals, and television ended at midnight, with the Military, the American Flag and the Star Spangled Banner playing, then Fighter Jets (I believe) flew overhead. I certainly do. If you weren't sleepy by midnight, you had to find some other trouble to get into, because television programming ended!
The old "rabbit ears" antennas were what some called them. Those long skinny ones that were always flimsy and would break off after many up-and-down adjustments, and then you would have to attach aluminum foil to the tips, or stick a metal coat hanger in the hole of the antenna. Some of you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout. (No, I'm not 100 years old!) Well, fortunately (and perhaps unfortunately), the tv antenna has come full circle. For it is our saving grace in a time when watching cable television just costs too damn much!
The great news is that the tv antenna has undergone a major redesign over the years and is smaller, sleeker and picks up a longer-range of signals. And with the advent of new technology in antennas and televisions, you will now get an HD (high definition) picture! The picture, in fact, is better than what you receive with cable television!
Now, there will be an initial outlay of cash. Sorry! But the good news is,that once you've got your antenna(s), you’ll be set. You have two choices: you can purchase one outdoor roof-top antenna, or you can purchase an indoor antenna for each television. You can also use splitters in some areas (@ $3 to $7), to lessen the number of indoor antennas needed (if you wish). If you live in an apartment, condo or other such domicile where you cannot or do not have permission or access to the roof in which to place an outdoor antenna, then your only option will be the indoor antennas. The antennas are compatible with all televisions made since 2007, because this is when manufacturers were required to make them with built-in digital tuners. If you have a tv older than 2007, the roof-top antenna may still work for you, but I’m not certain, so I would inquire with the antenna manufacturer. If you need to use the indoor antennas though, you should start selling off those older models (pre-2007) televisions now, before no-one will buy them. I happen to have a few of those myself, and I’m going to offer them on Craigslist and/or at an upcoming Yard Sale.
Now that we’ve established that you’ll need an antenna(s), your next questions will be: (1) How do I know which tv antenna to purchase?; (2) What channels will this antenna pick up?; (3) What do I do once I have the antenna?; and (4) Is there a free Television Guide available, so that I'll know what's coming on and when? I'll attempt to answer some of these questions for you...
WHAT CHANNELS WILL THE ANTENNA PICK UP/RECEIVE?
Simply enter your Address at either TVFool or Antennaweb.org (for roof-top antennas). They will provide you with a list of channels that are available over-the-air in your area. TVFool provides a color chart that tells you which channels will come in with an indoor "set-top" antenna (Green), which channels may need an attic-mounted antenna (Yellow), which channels probably need a roof-mounted antenna (Red-"which looked Pink to me"), and channels that are very weak and may not come in without extreme measures (Grey).
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH ANTENNA TO PURCHASE?
I am not an expert in this area, so I will leave it to the experts to answer for you, but I have a few suggestions, based on my research. Antennaweb.org and antennapoint.com can provide assistance with selecting an external antenna. It is my understanding that if you live within 35 miles (56 KMs) of your local broadcast towers, then you can use indoor antenna's (if you like). Although I'm in a home, and could have mounted an external antenna, I decided to go with indoor antennas. They're just easier and I may relocate in the next few years and wish to be able to take the antennas with me. After much research, as well as reading reviews on indoor antennas, I decided to go with the Mohu Leaf 30 Paper -thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. It gets a 30-mile range. They have worked extremely well for me, and I have several of them, along with several splitters. The Mohu Leaf's (currently in the $30 range) are a very popular model with over 10,000 sold on Amazon alone! In the same vein is the Mohu Leaf 50, which costs more (currently in the $60 range), but gets a 50-mile range. I've also been told that the inexpensive Walmart rabbit ears indoor antenna, that sells for less than or @$10 online and in-store (see below) works well for many. If you wish to try the Walmart antenna first, I suggest you purchase one, then see how many channels it picks up, before getting one for every television. Also, if you're friendly with your neighbors, you can ask them if they're using an antenna, and ask what model they're using. This way you can find out about channels and reception in your particular area for a particular antenna.
WHAT TO DO ONCE I HAVE THE ANTENNA?
Screw the cord that will be provided with your antenna into the back of your tv. You use the same screw in area that you would plug your cable cord into, because you are using a cable-type cord. Turn on your television, and find the Scan, Find or Locate Channels feature of your television (usually in Settings), then scan the channels. Your television will then perform the scan and see which channels it will pick up. If several channels that you should be getting are not coming in, then move the antenna to a different location (sometimes higher up on the wall or closer to a window), then re-scan your channels. It may take 1 to 4 scans and antenna placements to get the maximum number of channels.
IS THERE A FREE TV GUIDE FOR OVER THE AIR TELEVISION?
Yes. You can use TitanTV. Go there, then click on the "+ADD" button that is located inside the Channel Lineup box. Once the box pops up, select the "Broadcast" option. It will then ask you for your Zip Code. Once you've entered it, it will display the closest areas. Select yours, then hit the Save button. It will then display the TV Guide for your Broadcast (OTA) programming. You can even go and do this before getting your antenna, because this is a good way to see the actual channels and programs that you will/may receive.
Things You Will Miss With Free TV
- Your DVR: This was the first thing that I truly missed when making the switch. It provided the TV Guide, but there's a workaround for that online (see above). Also, most new and larger televisions have built-in "guides." The main thing that most of us use the DVR for is to record programming, so that we can watch it later. If you simply cannot live without a DVR, then you should weigh the cost of cable w/1 DVR box to record your programming, against Free OTA TV w/the purchase of TiVo or a similar third-party DVR.
- Not seeing all programming live: You may not see the episode of your favorite sitcom or drama the day that it came on (in some cases), so you'll have to silence those "Spoiler Alert" people at work until you can watch it. But many of us are getting into binge-watching a series anyway.
- If you're a huge Sports Fan, you will miss your Cable Sports Channels (such as ESPN or ESPN2), but you will still be able to catch all of the games that come on regular network channels, plus anything that is streamed live over the internet, if you have high speed internet.
Before you cheer in hopes of one less bill arriving in the mail or online, hold tight… You may still need your Cable company to provide you with high-speed internet service, especially if you wish to stream free programming from your television, or use any of the cheaper paid options: such as Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, Netflix or Redbox to supplement your programming. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that somewhere, someone technologically-brilliant is working on a tiny device that plugs into your computer, … that will provide free internet service 24/7, simply for the cost of the device. If you're working on that very device, and you're reading this, I’d like to invest or buy stock please. Let’s all put that out into the universe for the upcoming Holiday Season! Not the stock, the device. ☺