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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From The New York Times
Quote:
Rabbit Ears For Free HDTV

By MATT RICHTEL and JENNA WORTHAM


Julie and Anthony Bayerl of St. Paul, Minn., love watching prime-time shows on the sleek 50-inch television in their bedroom. They also love that they pay nothing for the programming.


The only thing they do not love is how a low-flying plane, heavy rain or just a little too much movement in the room can wipe out the picture.


“If someone is changing in there, it messes up your reception,” said Ms. Bayerl, a legislative assistant. “We try to stay very still when we watch television.”


The Bayerls are using an old technology that some people are giving a second chance. They pull free TV signals out of the air with the modern equivalent of the classic rabbit-ear antenna.


Some viewers who have decided that they are no longer willing or able to pay for cable or satellite service, including younger ones, are buying antennas and tuning in to a surprising number of free broadcast channels. These often become part of a video diet that includes the fast-growing menu of options available online.


The antenna reception has also led many of these converts to discover — or rediscover — the frustration of weak and spotty signals. But its fans argue that it is tough to beat the price.


“My husband’s best friend thinks we’re big dorks for having rabbit ears and not cable,” Ms. Bayerl said. But when their introductory price for cable TV and Internet access expired this year and the bill soared to $150, the couple halved it by cutting TV. “It wasn’t something we were willing to pay for,” she said.


Many pay TV customers are making the same decision. From April to September, cable and satellite companies had a net loss of about 330,000 customers. Craig Moffett, a longtime cable analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein, said the consensus of the industry executives he had talked to was that most of these so-called cord-cutters were turning to over-the-air TV. “It looks like they’re leaving for the antenna,” he said.


Neil Smit, president of Comcast Cable, acknowledged in a recent call with investors that some customers had dropped cable for free signals. Company executives also said they expected business to rebound with the economy.


Last month, Time Warner Cable fought back with a lower-cost package that it said might appeal to people who are feeling the economic squeeze. For $40 in New York, or $30 in Ohio, customers can get a slimmed-down set of channels.


To be sure, around 90 percent of American households still pay for cable or satellite television — a figure that in recent years has been slowly and steadily rising. But American’s relationship with television has recently been in flux, in part because of the switch last June to digital broadcast signals.


That initially gave pay TV providers a group of new subscribers who had worried that their old sets would not pick up the new signals. But analysts say some of those subscribers have since gone back to free signals.


Another big change is the rise of Internet video, which can ease the pain of losing favorite cable channels.


Bradley Lautenback, 28, who recently moved to Los Angeles to work at Disney, found enough alternatives to allow him to turn back the technological clock on his TV.


“I’ve always had cable. It’s the thing you do when you move to a new place: call the company and set it up,” he said. Not this time. Instead, he got an antenna and now watches over-the-air news and sports, complemented by episodes of shows like “Entourage” that he buys from iTunes. “I don’t miss cable at all,” he said.


Industrywide figures on antenna sales are hard to come by, so it is difficult to tell how widely they are being adopted. Antennas Direct, a maker of TV antennas in St. Louis, expects to sell 500,000 this year, up from 385,000 in 2009, according to its president, Richard Schneider.


The company’s digital TV antennas, like others on the market, are a far cry from the wire-hanger versions of old. The sleek circles encased in plastic look more like mouse ears than anything belonging to a bunny.


Mr. Schneider said that based on customer support calls and feedback from retailers, his customers were 20-somethings who pair over-the-air and Internet programming, people forced to make choices by a tough economy and others who, he argues, have long been eager to sever ties with their pay-TV provider.


“Over-the-air is the new basic cable,” he said, arguing that free TV and Internet alternatives “are giving people the rationale they’ve been looking for to end a bad relationship.”


Broadcasters, far from being troubled by the trend, believe it benefits them, according to Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters. He said broadcasters did not mind the move to over-the-air programming because those viewers were also potential audience members for the ads that support programming.


Modern antennas, which cost $25 to $150, pick up high-definition signals that can actually be crisper than the cable or satellite version of the same program, because the pay TV companies compress the video data.


But compared with analog broadcasts, which occasionally showed static, digital signals are less forgiving of interference and more likely to blank out altogether. At a World Cup viewing party in a Brooklyn apartment last summer, the hosts encouraged guests to limit trips to the kitchen and the bathroom to avoid too many interruptions of the signal.


The new antennas do pull in more programs than your grandfather’s rabbit ears, because of new channels that broadcasters added during the transition to digital signals. The broadcasters can fit multiple digital channels into the same frequencies that used to carry one analog channel.


In St. Paul, for example, where Ms. Bayerl lives, there are extra channels from ABC and NBC with local news and weather, four public television channels and a music video channel. Big markets like Los Angeles have 40 or more channels, according to Nielsen.


Given the new options, Chris Foster, 29, a graduate student at the University of Virginia, and his wife decided to forgo a $35 fee for basic cable. They watch movies and older shows through Netflix on the Internet and use their antenna for sitcoms and the news.


Mr. Forster concedes he misses cable news stations, but over all, he is satisfied. “It feels more like a step forward than a step back,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/bu...dlines&emc=a26




Gee, too bad there aren't other antenna options that mostly eliminate reception issues, like directional outdoor types.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
While in other news....


From The New York Times
Quote:
ESPN Says Study Shows Little Effort to Cut Cable

By BRIAN STELTER


Seeking to understand the cutting of cable cords, ESPN has waded into the Nielsen Company’s audience sample and concluded that the cancellations are currently a “very minor” phenomenon.


This action, often called cord-cutting, has happened in 0.28 percent of households in the United States in the last three months, ESPN found in a study that it plans to release on Monday. Offsetting those losses, though, 0.17 percent of households that had been broadcast-only signed up for pay TV and broadband.


“So the net amount of cord-cutting for one quarter was just one-tenth of 1 percent,” said Glenn Enoch, the vice president for integrated media research for ESPN.


The study is significant because the prospect of cord-cutting has deeply worried television executives. Established players like ESPN that depend on subscriber revenue have been eager to figure out how much cord-cutting is going on — and to dispel myths about the behavior.


“We got a little worn out reading headline after headline saying, ‘Cord-cutting, it’s a disaster; young people are abandoning TV.’ For our strategic purposes, we needed to know what was really going on,” Mr. Enoch said.


The research comes from the same sample that Nielsen uses to project TV ratings. Nielsen verified ESPN’s findings.


Similarly, data from the research firm SNL Kagan found that 119,000 customers dropped their cable or satellite subscriptions in the third quarter of this year. There are about 100 million subscriptions nationwide.


Pat McDonough, the senior vice president for planning, policy and analysis at Nielsen, said the ESPN study confirmed that while there are some cord-cutters, “it’s a really small number of people.”


More people, she added, are “swapping cable cords, rather than cutting them.” Cable providers have lost some customers to satellite or telecommunications providers in recent years.


Mr. Enoch said ESPN would monitor cord-cutting behavior every three months using the Nielsen sample. The amount of cord-cutting could pick up over time, but networks like ESPN are limiting the amount of video they make available on the Internet without a subscription partly to prevent that.


Sporting events are particularly hard to watch free online, so it comes as little surprise that the Nielsen sample found that among heavy and medium viewers of sports, the research showed what Mr. Enoch called “zero cord-cutting.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/bu...dlines&emc=a26
 

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Check out the comments on the NYT article. They are piling up like bird droppings under a yagi.
 

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If you are within 30 miles of the broadcast towers all you need is a good indoor antenna. I'm 8 miles away and I have no breakups and do no antenna adjusting with my Terk TV 5 indoor antenna.
 

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"In St. Paul, for example, where Ms. Bayerl lives, there are extra channels from ABC and NBC with local news and weather, four public television channels and a music video channel."


Not to nitpick your quote
but we've had 2 music video channels for at least a month.... A popular music/rap .2 and a .3 country music channel.
 

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I'm currently around 30% OTA, 20% BD/DVD, and 50% streaming. I recently got the final piece to my puzzle, streaming, set up but have been without cable for almost 15 years. A lot of my friends are carefully monitoring my "experiment." I'm quite pleased with the results so far.


Yes, cord cutting is very real Disney (ESPN). Get used to it.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taperwood /forum/post/19610034


Yes, cord cutting is very real Disney (ESPN). Get used to it.

I'll buy Disney and Pixar Blu-ray discs and I'll watch Modern Family and college football on ABC, but I sure won't pay an ESPN tax!
 

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Cord cutting is real, however the facts show that it is real for less than one-half of one percent of cable customers. My guess is that Disney and ESPN are far more concerned with other aspects of their business model. In the present economy a loss of less than half a percent of ones customers is a remarkable achievment. I live in a middle class neighborhood. None of my friends have dropped cable unless they picked up Dish or Directv.
 

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I'm currently around 30% OTA, 60% DVD, and 10% streaming. I have saved $2100 in cable fees since I cut the cord two years ago. I've only spent around $300 on DVDs the last two years.
 

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I'll jump in...I was a cable subscriber for over 22 years. 31 months ago I dropped the TV portion of my cable. At the time, this saved me $82/month. Now, with "bundled" subscriptions, my savings would be about $60/month.


I live in a fringe area behind a large hill and in-between two DMAs. Although attic mounting worked well during good weather, I had dropouts that were common during poor weather and certain times of the day, so I moved my antennas to a 43' tower. The cost of the tower, 6 antennas (7 with the FM antenna!), preamps, Jointennas, cabling, Pal DVR for OTA (no subscription costs), and the concrete to anchor the tower came to a whopping $1,700. Add another $30 for a local tree service to lift me so I could raise the mast and you can see my total costs.


As luck would have it, my tower, which survived very harsh weather for two years, survived a tornado a few months ago, but the mastbent and made the top 2 antennas unuseable. The insurance company paid $1000 for repairs that I did myself. So, although this was unfortunate, the tornado (which did over $12K of damage to my property), actually lowered the cost of my OTA to around $750...and I get stations from 2 markets in 4 different directions at near 100% quality. I never have dropouts!


Over this period of time, I have saved over $2,000 in cable costs and my net investment in my equipment is now $750, for a savings of $1,250 so far. That number will increase by $60/ month from now on.


We use the Pal DVR to time shift everything we watch. We record on one day and watch on the next. This cuts down on viewing time and eliminates commercials. We DO pay $7.99 for unlimited streaming Netflix, which we watch through our kids' PS3 and a pair of network capable BluRay players.


Our setup is superb. We have 3 TVs and we can watch whatever we want whenever we want on any TV...including a different program on each if we want. I do not need a rotor due to the Jointennas and I do not watch commercials (at least, not on the main TV) because of the DVR. Netflix gets us through times when there are reruns and times when none of our TV shows are new.


We do not stream internet content, but we do stream Pandora Radio.


I am happy to say that I cut the cord 31 months ago and could not be happier! Even with Netflix, we save over $53/ month!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cord cutting is great, unless you are a sports fan. Then, you are at the mercy of the providers.
 

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We're (still) getting quite a bit of local pro sports OTA in Chicago. And then there's the NFL on Sunday, which is more than just local (and college on Saturday).


If you're a sports fanatic, and not just a fan of the local teams, or, if you have to see every local pro game being played (other than football), then yeah, you'll have to shell out.


But we do have what I would call a pretty darned decent amount of sports on OTA as of right now. We have WGN, for one (they show the Sox, Flubs, Hawks and Bulls). That makes CBS, NBC, Universal Sports, ABC, WGN, WCIU (Sox, Scrubs, Bulls), MeTV, Fox and MyTV. There's also the Espanol channels and Worldview. They all show sports.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justintoxicated /forum/post/19616767


You can go the the bar, or sometimes the event itself instead?

It would always cost more, since we're discussing the financial aspect of viewing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski /forum/post/19616785


We're (still) getting quite a bit of local pro sports OTA in Chicago. And then there's the NFL on Sunday, which is more than just local (and college on Saturday).


If you're a sports fanatic, and not just a fan of the local teams, or, if you have to see every local pro game being played (other than football), then yeah, you'll have to shell out.


But we do have what I would call a pretty darned decent amount of sports on OTA as of right now. We have WGN, for one (they show the Sox, Flubs, Hawks and Bulls). That makes CBS, NBC, Universal Sports, ABC, WGN, WCIU (Sox, Scrubs, Bulls), MeTV, Fox and MyTV. There's also the Espanol channels and Worldview. They all show sports.

In Detroit all we get is network coverage. Pistons, Tigers, Red Wings are not available OTA, except for a single Tiger's game; opening day.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justintoxicated /forum/post/19616767


You can go the the bar, or sometimes the event itself instead?

Living within stumbling distance of a decent sports bar is a good thing.


As for 160+ regular season games of baseball, I would offer a theological response: You really don't get credit for time spent in purgatory while you still are alive. Why would you want to watch all of the regular season Tigers games?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboG /forum/post/19617037


Why would you want to watch all of the regular season Tigers games?

I've been a die-hard fan of MLB for nearly my entire life, but next season will probably be my last, after they expand the playoffs and the teams allowed in yet again in 2012.


The entire regular season will be pretty much worthless then, and the playoffs will be still be going until Thanksgiving.



(On the Tigers: they *should* be better this season.)
 

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I'm only a football fan so I'm in good shape with OTA and ESPN3.com. I watch 12 hours of college football in HD on Saturday, 12 hours of the NFL in HD on Sunday, and the Thursday night college football game on ESPN3 in SD. All for free. We also get Universal Sports and there is skiing and ice skating on there.
 
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