A new study from research firm GfK finds that 25% of U.S. homes do not subscribe to a pay TV service and about 17% rely solely on broadcast signals for their TV needs. Only 6% use the Internet to watch their favorite shows on a TV set, using either a device like a Roku or Apple TV or a Smart TV.
As cable and satellite services offer hundreds of channels in dozens of languages and cater to almost every niche of viewing interest — at prices ranging from $30 to $100 or more every month — the notion of using a rooftop antenna to receive “free TV” seems almost quaint. But the conversion by broadcasters to digital transmission a few years ago means there are also more local channels available for free. Compared with just four local stations before 1971, now there are almost 60 channels waiting to be plucked from the air by an antenna in the Fresno area.
The owner of Antennas Direct turned a hobby into a $10 million-a-year business supplying TV antennas to the steadily increasing number of consumers who are dropping cable for free over-the-air TV. He’s bullish on OTA and can’t understand why the FCC now wants “to kill it in the crib.”