One way you can reduce your monthly bill load is to reduce your TV related costs.
That does not mean you cannot find/watch your favorite programs, it just means you ADJUST how you go about that.
One way is to “cut the cord” as it is called.
That simply means canceling your Cable/pay TV provider. “Cord cutting” has been a growing trend since 2009, when over-the-air broadcast signals switched from analog to digital. People began to realize that they could now get the vast majority of their favorite TV shows in beautiful HD using a simple television antenna rather than paying monthly fees to a TV provider.
Today, cord cutting is accelerating due to several factors such as the emergence of DVRs for TV antennas, which provides a very cable-like viewing experience, and the existence of streaming services that provide access to the Cable TV shows that are not available from a television antenna, and for a lot less money than what you would typically spend.
5 steps to cut the cable cord in 2017 and save money
Get a better priced Internet connection.
Decide about skinny bundles and subscriptions
Choose a streaming device
Build or buy a TV antenna for local channels
Brag to family and friends about saving $$… be that annoying relative next Thanksgiving.
What kind of outdoor TV antenna do I need?
If you’re entering the world of life without cable, you want a TV antenna that’s going to deliver a crisp high-def picture into your home. You don’t want to lose all the prime time network channels you love, or the HD picture that you depend on.
Here I will show you the easiest and quickest way to get free Digital Television (DTV) to your household for life.
There are also ways you can record any DTV channel that your antenna brings in. So you don’t need to start subscribing to apps like CBS All Access if you set up your own equipment.
The goal here is to limit (or eliminate) your monthly TV bills, including cable and subscription platforms.
Antenna channels by zip code
There are several great web sites that will help you figure out what kind of TV antenna you will need.
Check out this link: http://otadtv.com/tvtower/index.html
Enter your coordinates directly, or use the “Put COORDINATES in FORM below” feature to load the address, zip, (or address, city, ST) coordinates into the form.
Coordinates can also be obtained from most GPS’s and smartphones, or see itouchmap.com. In North America use (+) for latitude (North), use (-) for longitude (West), i.e. Latitude +38.069126° (or 38.069126°), longitude -90.171222°.
What do you need to get local TV channels?
Analog TV broadcast in the United States ended June 12th (Friday), 2009. Since the introduction of digital TV, the number of over-the-air network channels has dramatically increased.
An antenna is a huge part of being a cord cutter, and most Americans can easily pick up 30+ channels. With many of the most popular TV shows being 100% free and in HD over the air, an antenna is a great way to watch sports and your favorite show without paying high cable bills.
The number of channels you receive will vary depending on where you live. I recommend typing your address into the above channel finder to see which channels are available in your area.
This will also help you figure out if an indoor or a roof-mounted antenna is needed to get the channels you want.
I also recommend buying a mid-priced antenna—not the cheapest but also not the most expensive.
Buying an antenna may not be a one-time expense, so get an affordable one and a good one that will last and fill your needs for many years.
Do you need help installing an antenna? Amazon.com can even help with that!
Check out Amazon’s antenna installation page for help setting up an antenna.
If you live more than 30 miles from broadcast towers, then you will probably want to use an outdoor TV antenna. But it’s not this simple for everyone.
The bend of the Earth can have an impact on your reception just like trees, hills, tall buildings and so on.
You will hear a lot about indoor and outdoor antennas. But within those two types TV antennas are three categories that you need to know about.
A directional antenna should work fine if all of your TV signals are coming from the same direction.
If a couple of the towers in your region are on opposites sides of your home, say greater than that 90 degree angle that I mentioned, a multi-directional antenna is what you’ll likely need.
The third option, called an omnidirectional antenna, is worth a little more explaining.
How do I get channels if I live far away from a tower?
Remember, you just need to find out two things. How far away are you from a broadcast tower? Second, how far apart are the towers from each other?
Let’s do couple of quick examples with the tools that I mentioned above.
Let’s say you live in a city like Meridian, Mississippi. You’re between a few bigger cities, Jackson, Hattiesburg, Birmingham, and Columbus. You want to get the local NBC, FOX, CBS stations and the like.
It looks like you have a pretty good shot at getting at least six DTV channels broadcasting a strong signal in your area. That’s great! But man, you’d love to get PBS. Then you could watch all the Austin City Limits you want.
But here’s your problem.
The towers for all these channels you want are all around you like a spider’s web.
If you were just trying to pull signals from a couple of directions, a multi-direction antenna would probably work just fine.
You’re going to need the big guns if you want the maximum amount of channels, and you’re going to want an outdoor antenna on your home, you will want an omnidirectional antenna.
When might you want to try a multi-directional antenna?
If you’re living in a place like Santa Barbara, California, there are only a two main directions to pull a signal from. You’ll probably want a TV antenna on your roof, especially if you want to draw from those towers north of Los Angeles. But you will probably only need a multi directional antenna.
How many channels can I get with an indoor antenna?
Indoor antennas may be sufficient for receiving full power broadcast less than about 20 or 25 miles away, if there is a relatively clear line-of-sight. Attic mounted antennas will have greater range, but there is at least a 3 dB loss compared to outside antennas.
Stick antennas mount directly to the television connector and are mostly out of sight, but coverage is limited. Table top antennas are easy to place and angle for best reception. Thin flat antennas can be used as a table top or mounted on a window or wall for better reception. Gain is proportional to physical area (square inches), and varies from about 2 to 4 dBi without a preamp. Many indoor antenna’s are designed to make it easy to install, or uninstall, an optional preamp.
ROTOR AND OMNI ANTENNAS
Distant and spread out broadcast headings may require;
1) multiple antennas
While reliable they have more cabling loss
2) omni directional (360°) antennas are relatively small and well suited for marine or RV use.
3) rotor antennas give 360° coverage but it Takes time to change angles.
Omni antennas require a preamp to compensate for low gain (wide beam). A rotor system has the advantage of good gain and full 360° coverage. A high gain antenna with a built-in preamp mounted on a rotor has the highest performance
Over-the-Air (OTA) digital television (DTv) requires a stronger signal than analog TV. Additionally, most DTv broadcast are in the UHF frequency band instead of the VHF band. UHF signals are higher in frequency and do not pass through or around objects as well as VHF signals. Also, over-the-air transmission and cable losses are greater at UHF frequencies. Antennas that picked up analog TV signals will also pick up digital TV signals, if the signal is strong enough.
Signal power is commonly measured in dBm – decibels above or below 1 milliwatt (mW). Television receivers will process signals from about 316 µW (microwatts) = -5 dBm to about 0.0003 µW = -65 dBm. A -65 dBm signal should come-in good for a short cable run to a single television, but may be too weak for long cable runs or signal splitters unless a preamp or booster amp is used.
A digital television’s picture and sound quality are either 100%, or nothing. There are rare instances the signal power is just strong enough to decode, but fades in and out enough to pixelate the picture and/or garble the sound. This situation changes with atmospheric conditions and only last seconds to hours, then the signal is either good or gone. Analog TV processed weaker signals, the weaker the signal the more noise (snow) in the picture.
Digital TV broadcast are in high or standard definition. Cable and satellite operators often compress local broadcast channels before re-broadcasting. The compression reduces picture quality compared to over-the-air broadcast. Compressing signals opens up more bandwidth and allows providers to squeeze in more channels nobody watches.
The old analog TV channels were the same as their broadcast Radio Frequency (RF) channel, one network per channel. Digital TV can broadcast multiple channels (in 1 RF channel) and uses 2 types of channels, the TV channel (also called Virtual channel) displayed on the TV, and the broadcast RF channel. A stations’s TV channel may or may not be the same as it’s RF channel. Most analog stations changed their RF channel (and most VHF stations moved to UHF) for DTv, but were allowed to keep their old analog channel identification as their TV or Virtual channel. Stations that signed-on the air after the transition to digital usually have the same TV and RF channel.
Digital Channel numbers are the virtual TV channel, then a dot or dash, then sub-channel number (e.g. 6.3 or 6-3). Television channel 6.3 is virtual TV channel 6, sub-channel 3. The number of sub-channels varies from 1 to 7 or more.
Most digital televisions can process both digital and analog signals (ATSC and NTSC), allowing the television to display analog DVD’s, VCR’s, and older video games.
Analog (NTSC) Televisions require a Digital Converter Box to receive OTA DTv. Most converters are also recorders. The antenna coax cable plugs into the converter box, the box is then connected with a coax cable to the televisions’ Antenna Input. Some converters can also connect to the television with video, VGA, HDMI, or YPbPr cable sets for better picture and audio quality.
Computers, Laptops, Tablets, and Smart Phones require a DTv tuner to receive TV broadcast. The coax cable from your TV antenna plugs into the DTv tuner, the tuner connects to your computer or network router / switch. You may need to download a media/TV app for your devices if you don’t already have one. Some DTv tuners have 2 receivers (2 tuners) for receiving 2 different TV channels simultaneously and available on your network.
Standard and High Definition
Over-the-air digital television can broadcast sub channels in high definition HDTV (720p, 1080i, 1080p), or standard definition (480i, 480p) resolution. The number is resolution in pixels per inch. The letter ” p ” stands for Progressive, picture lines are displayed one after the other. The letter ” i ” stands for Interlaced, odd picture lines displayed then even lines. High definition uses a wide screen aspect ratio of 16:9, or a square ratio of 1:1. Standard definition uses a ratio of 1:1, 4:3, or 16:9. The frame rate in North America is 23.976, 24, 29.97, 30, 59.94, and 60 frames per second (fps). The old analog TV system displayed an interlaced (i) picture, had an aspect ratio of 4:3, and a frame rate of 30 fps. Most Hollywood movies run at 24 fps.
The ATSC Digital TV Standards include HDTV, SDTV, data broadcasting, multichannel surround sound audio, and satellite direct-to-home broadcasting.
Ultra High Definition (UHD) / 4k resolution (next-Gen TV)
Stations will continue to broadcast using the current standard (ATSC 1.0), but will have the option to simulcast on another frequency an Ultra High Definition signal (ATSC 3.0). The UHD signal will have higher resolution (3840 x 2160), great for extremely large screens, but of little value to small and moderate size screens. UHD will also have high dynamic range which changes colors faster for a better picture, and a maximum frame rate of 120 fps.. Additionally, UHD will have better reception by using new techniques that allow for a lower signal-to-noise ratio. UHD may catch on, or may go by the way of quadrophonic FM radio.
There’s a lot of misleading information out there.
Consumers are inundated with inaccurate information when it comes to cutting the cord. To be clear, cord cutting is not subscribing to a lot of different streaming services that would end up costing you nearly as much as the TV service that you already have. And cord cutting is not subscribing to a contractual TV service that happens to be delivered over the Internet instead of Cable or Satellite. Cord cutting means no contracts and paying only for what you want.
Have you been told you can not put up an antenna.
Did you know this is NOT true ???
As directed by Congress in Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (“OTARD”) rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers’ ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites (“DBS”), broadband radio service providers (formerly multichannel multipoint distribution service or MMDS), and television broadcast stations (“TVBS”).
The rule (47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000) has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37″) in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.
Effective January 22, 1999, the Commission amended the rule so that it also applies to rental property where the renter has an exclusive use area, such as a balcony or patio.
On October 25, 2000, the Commission further amended the rule so that it applies to customer-end antennas that receive and transmit fixed wireless signals. This amendment became effective on May 25, 2001.
The rule applies to individuals who place antennas that meet size limitations on property that they own or rent and that is within their exclusive use or control, including condominium owners and cooperative owners, and tenants who have an area where they have exclusive use, such as a balcony or patio, in which to install the antenna. The rule applies to townhomes and manufactured homes, as well as to single family homes.
Streaming for Premium Services
There are a lot of live streaming services available, and it may seem overwhelming but it is easier than you think.
You will likely need more than one streaming service, but the good news is almost all of them offer a free trial. I suggest you take advantage of the free trials to see what fits your needs.
Here is a quick overview of the most popular streaming services.
Netflix—With new content added weekly Netflix has thousands of hours of movies and TV shows available, making it the largest streaming service in the world. You will find a ton of content from major networks and movie studios including Disney. Netflix is also the leader in original content you cannot find on cable.
Hulu—Do you want your content the day after it originally airs? Hulu is a great option for anyone who wants to watch recent shows from networks such as FOX, NBC, ABC, FX, and Spike.
Amazon Prime Video—Amazon Prime not only gets you free two-day shipping and free music, it also gives you access to thousands of movies and TV shows. Amazon’s partnership with HBO brings you a vast selection of HBO shows as part of your Prime membership.
Although Amazon Prime does not give you access to everything available on its Amazon Instant service, it does have TV shows from many cable channels available the next day—starting at $1.99—and it also offers recently released movies for rent. So not only do you get an immense amount of free content, but Amazon Prime is also a great way to rent and buy recent movies and TV shows.
Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue—If you really want live TV, check out Sling TV or PlayStation Vue. Starting at $20 a month for Sling or $30 for PS Vue you get access to many popular cable channels streamed live to your TV.
Not sure if Sling, DIRECTV NOW, or PlayStation Vue is right for you? Check out our head-to-head comparison of these services.
Pick Your Device
The next thing you need is a device that will stream what you want to watch to your TV. The top four selling devices are Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Apple TV. All are great options for different reasons, so make sure you choose the one that is best for you.
For ease of use I recommend the Roku streaming player. It’s simple and easy to understand. It is basic and straightforward, but it has the most streaming video apps of any player.
For a flexible open streaming player, check out the Fire TV and Android TV. Both Fire TV and Android TV players allow side loading of a wide range of apps. If you like to tinker, I recommend checking them out.
Apple owners who have a ton of movies and TV shows on iTunes will want an Apple TV because that is the only device that will play iTunes shows and movies.
To get the most from cord cutting you will need Internet. Remember when you downgrade from a bundle to Internet only you won’t get the best deal. Internet companies save the best deals for new customers.
I suggest you shop around for your Internet service provider.
Many people think cable is the only way to get fast Internet, but for most Americans that is no longer true. DSL has come a long way, and I suggest you do what I do. Switch back and forth between DSL and cable Internet. Every time a provider won’t give me a deal I switch and get the new customer pricing from the other provider. I even found that at one time my DSL company had faster Internet than my cable company.
I personally recommend Toast.net for DSL if you can get it. It is United States based with US customer service reps. It also has NO data caps, so you can stream all you want. No matter who you go with don’t be afraid to switch ISPs when your contract ends.
Try It Out
You are set up and ready to go, but before you cancel cable TV, unplug your cable box and try being a cord cutter for a month. When my family canceled cable it took us about two weeks to find all the shows we wanted. Once we found the content we wanted, we never looked back. However, it was nice to know that if we couldn’t initially find a program we could still watch it on cable until we found it on our streaming service.
How to hook up your TV antenna to get free over the air channels
The coaxial cord you are plugging in looks a lot like the one your cable provider used to use. (Same one.) Screw the cord into the input outlet on the back of your television. You’re not done yet. You need to go to the menu settings on your TV. I’m assuming that your TV is fairly new. And by fairly new, I’m talking seven or 8 years old at the most.
Go to the menu and find the section of your menu that asks if you are using cable or “air” or “antenna”. Be sure to scan for channels once you select antenna. The scan can sometimes take a while – up to 30 minutes sometimes! That’s OK. Just let your TV do its thing.
Once the scan is complete, your TV is now receiving channels from the antenna.
If you want to hook it up to more than one TV, you just need to pick up a two-way or three-way splitter. Connect the cable that’s attached to the antenna to the splitter. Run coaxial cables from the TVs you want to connect to the opposite end of the splitter.
Best DVRs for recording antenna TV
Honestly, if you’re going to make the conversion from cable to antenna TV, I don’t recommend that you buy a DVR right away.
I love using an antenna and my PlayStation Vue account, and as I explained in another post, I’m never going back to cable.
But such lifestyle changes aren’t for everyone. So you should make sure that you’re really happier in your new life without cable.
Eventually, you might want a DVR because you are intent on watching your favorite network shows whenever you feel like it. I record the nightly news and watch it after work.
I only recommend two models to consider. There are more popular over-the-air (OTA) DVRs out there, but I don’t care for them because they come with monthly fees. (Kind of like a cable company.) Those guys can get lost. I’m down with buying some hardware, and using said hardware without further cost.
Good luck, and be sure to comment on what you did to cut the cord in 2017. And start bragging about how much money you saved in the comment section below.