We recently had a customer who wanted to “Cut the Cord” and no longer pay his cable bill. We were filling the house with one of our Whole-House Wi-fi systems as well, so he wanted to use a combination of the new 4k Apple TV and an Over-the-Air (OTA) Tivo 2 to view TV channels. Everything was installed and working well with Netflix, HULU, Amazon Prime and VUDU streaming in all TV locations and over 200 stations received on the new Tivo. However, a problem arose. The one TV station the client wanted to watch most when they had cable is KPBS, a local public television station that relies on donations to remain float. We tried and tried to get that station for them, however upon checking the FCC website for channels in their area, that channel was not available. Now they were of course upset and wanted something to be done. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done except go back to paying their cable bill. There-in lies the “rub” when switching from Cable to OTA TV viewing and something everyone should be aware of before switching.
When paying for your TV service, you have to remember that you can specify which particular channels you do and do not want. Sure there may be TV packages you have to buy to get one particular channel, but that is an option for you. The same is not true with OTA channels. Now, you can increase your odds of receiving the channel you want by visiting sites like Antenna Web and DTV Reception Maps, however in doing this research you may find that the station you want just isn’t possible to receive. This could be due to the topography in your area (i.e., you have hills all around you that block the TV antenna sending out the signal), or the signal strength the FCC has allowed that station to broadcast at (i.e., public television stations has notoriously weak signals as they are funded by through donations and are not a for-profit business) or the distance between your home and the broadcast tower or any combination of the three.
So what is the best way to approach deciding to “Cut the cord” or not? Well, everyone will approach it a little differently, however here is what we tell our current and new customers to consider:
WHEN YOU PAY LESS YOU TYPICALLY GET LESS
You have to remember that you are going for a cheaper alternative than your Paid TV service. Some of this content you will pay much less for streaming them on Roku or Apple TV vs watching them on a cable box. Other stations, such as your major network stations, you will get for absolutely free. In either case, you no longer have the minute control you once did of your content viewing. Accept that, be happy you are saving money, and move on.
THE SAME CONTENT MAY BE ON MULTIPLE CHANNELS
If you are a big fan of the PBS station 15-1, that is not available in all areas– especially around Pasadena, CA. However, that same content is broadcast on channel 58-1 which IS available in Pasadena. Now, that programming is 1 hour later than it is on the 15-1 station, but it is all still there an available for viewing. If you purchased an OTA Tivo player as part of your “Cut the Cord” strategy, you could still time shift this programming to watch it earlier at a time that works best for you. There are several examples of this for other channels as well so just because the exact channel number is not available does not mean the content itself is not available.
IT PAYS TO DO SOME OTA RESEARCH
If there is content on channels that you just have to have or if you just want to try and get as many channels as possible, there are ways you can increase your odds. As a first step, research the OTA color coding for OTA antennas and their meaning. Next, get on the FCC website and find out if the stations you want are available in your area as well as where the broadcast towers are relative to your home.Third, look for an antenna that matches the color coding of the stations signal listed on the FCC website to help ensure you can get the stations you want and decide if it is affordable. Finally, consider your CC&Rs, HOA rules or other issues that may prevent you from putting up a large and unattractive antenna on your roof. Shop around to see if you can find a smaller or more aesthetically pleasing alternative that will pass the CC&R and/or HOA standards.
UNDERSTAND THAT “CUTTING THE CORD” IS A COMMITMENT
We have all been around long enough to know that when you sign up for paid TV service, the best deals you are going to get are as a new customer. After that, you are just an existing customer that paid TV service providers use to make up for the loss they take on new customers. If you “Cut the Cord” and discover you just can’t deal with reduced flexibility and programming, most paid TV service companies have a minimum 12-18 month window of non-service before they will consider you a new customer again. Thus, unless you want to pay the ridiculous “existing customer” prices you walked away from, you will be “Cutting-the-cord” for at least a year. Thus, make sure you are ready for that type of commitment before you cancel your paid TV service.
We hope you have found this information useful. If you have any more specific questions about Over-the-Air Antenna Systems or “Cutting the Cord,” you can reach us at 855-832-4775 of find us on the web at www.technospeakco.com. If you have more general Home Automation or Home Theater needs, please feel free to contact us using the contact information above as well.
And as always remember, at Technospeak, we take the “Techy” out of Technology, leaving our customers with the knowledge they need to enjoy their electronics.