I think most people like having everything delivered to them in a nice package and get upset if it isn’t.
I remember having Dish and they charged an extra fee to get the local broadcast stations (as most cable/satellite providers do). But they also told me I could avoid that fee by hooking up my own antenna – and I would get guide data and be able to use the DVR for the local stations still! So that’s what I did and saved myself the $5/month at the time (around 2006, maybe it was more than that).
I think it was 4 years later and was renewing my service and they told me I had to pay the fee for the local stations, I couldn’t avoid it. They said it was now required. The sales rep said they changed the policy because too many customers got angry about not getting local stations – too confusing to give people the option I guess.
Initially, Dish tried to do a end run around local stations by offering national feeds of the major networks. When they were questioned, they tried to say that they didn’t have enough bandwidth to cover every local in every market.
That too, was shot down, so they spent money developing transponders that were directional, allowing them to use the same frequencies to different regions of the country. That’s when they changed to stop supporting OTA integration into their receivers.
Ur right,its not worth paying for OTA channels, but I do think that having the ability to inexpensively record shows is a good thing that Tablo provides.
If it makes you feel any better, OTA stations now make more money on retransmission fees than they do on ads. FCC has a quality standard that must be met by a broadcaster (signal quality–strength, etc). Rumors that TV stations screw up your signal in order to force you to cable and pay the retransmission fee are bogus. Also, the rumor of dropping expensive transmitters (which are free to view) in favor of putting the station on cable or pay service are not likely. In order to get that huge retransmission fee, they have to actually transmit. If they stop transmitting, they can lose their frequency. That would be a seriously bad financial decision. So relax. The huge companies like Nexstar and Sinclair are in this to make money and broadcasting is still very profitable.
I suspect a lot of folks tried OTA with some small indoor antenna and found it lacked much of what they got on cable. Poor reception (or none), no channel guide, no dvr. The industrious among them may have researched stuff like Tablo or Recast, antennas, etc. Only the most committed likely worked through issues to mount a serious antenna, buy a DVR/tuner, etc. The rest bagged it as way too much work. Some older TV viewers may remember antennas and recall the good analog signals they got in fringe areas. They may be turned off by the poor digital signal they get (since digital power at the transmitter is much lower now). There is a potential industry here for the entrepreneur who is willing to set a house up with a good antenna, coax, Tablo, Firestick/Roku, etc. Not hard to show the cost of this pays back pretty fast at current cable TV prices.
Again, I think most people give up and stay with cable as they believe doing what we have done is too much hassle.
Most of the people I know that “give up” are due to one of two things:
- They buy a $10 indoor antenna that states 100 mile reception, they live 60 miles away from the towers and pickup nothing. They believe it is impossible to receive OTA TV.
- They buy one of those antennas ($50-$100) that state 1,500 mile reception, and they live 100 miles away from the broadcasts they want. They don’t get it and give up.
The first thing in OTA reception is to set a realistic reception goal. Living 60 miles out, you need one of those directional large antennas and a bit of luck. Living 10 miles from the towers, a paper clip may be all they need. Living 100 miles away, it is virtually impossible to get the reception that they want (I guess if they lived on a mountain top, and the broadcast towers were direct line of sight (you may need a telescope to find it), it may work).
The next thing is realistic expectations. There is literally nothing out there that works perfectly 100% of the time. Not even the cable companies, who have 50 years experience bringing signals to consumers have 100% up time. That doesn’t mean to expect bad results, but there will be bumps in the road.
I cut the cord 4 years ago. I view 99% of my programming OTA, with a small amount of streaming. I decided it wasn’t worth the price (about $100-$150 per month) for cableTV - and the major things I am missing is a few of the “live national news networks” (which I don’t miss) and sports (mainly ESPN, FoxSports). I miss around 3-4 football games a year I really want to watch at home.
To pay $1,200 - $1,800 a year for 3-4 football games is insanity in my book… I can enjoy a great dinner out and watch those games at a restaurant…
Tablo & TiVo have the best DVR system out there for the average consumer use. TiVo is a bit more polished, but is a lot more expensive (remote viewing on Tablo can be a $30 streaming device, TiVo requires a $200 box for each TV). Most people can achieve 40-60 unique stations reliably, some a bit more, and a few a bit less. About 5% of US Households live in an area where reception is virtually impossible.
No one knows the future, and what is going to be available. Back in the 1960s, we thought we would have flying cars by now…but we do have communicators like Star Trek had…
I think common sense and realistic expectations are the keys to a happy user.
There are plenty of sites to obtain the signals and signal type that your address might receive. I usually start with reviewing the antenna that might work and work my way down to the DVR and/or tuners. Users are always under buying the antenna they need. That makes for an unhappy user. Besides paying a few dollars more the are no negatives to having more antenna then needed. Most antennas that users might think are outdoor only antennas could provide good reception in an attic.
We have a very similar story. I’m a ham radio guy so fooling with signals is a hobby. Not crazy about playing on my roof anymore, though. My wife is the big TV person and actually logs what she watches. Almost all “her shows” were on network TV. I dropped cable years ago and tried most streaming replacements but hey also became expensive with the same issues… Way too much junk we had zero interest in. Sports is the big issue as you said. A game I want to watch that is only on cable I go out to watch now… Just like I did 30 years ago. This is why they invented the sports bar. That YouTube kid Tyler the Antennaman lives near me (and came here once a few years ago) and he is a decent resource. He tests antennas (not entirely scientifically) but a good layman evaluation for practical purposes. You can’t find antenna installers anymore. Opportunity knocks for the ambitious!
I was an early adopter of Digital OTA, most of the Buffalo stations had started simulcasting digital along with analog and I put up a large bow tie antenna when the first Canadian station started Digital. There was very very little HD even though transmissions and TVs were capable of it.
Previously I had Bell satellite service and Receivers, made by Dish, and they had OTA tuners as well. Rather than cutting the cord, I kept Ball Satellite but now with the added Free OTA I could record/playback everything.
My brother and I were installing antenna’s every weekend, even had my wife helping.
Eventually I got tied of paying 130/month and went OTA only with added Netflix. Then added other streaming service’s and bills pulled up.
I had channelmaster DVR’s but guide data went away. Never had a DVR as good as the Bell/Dish, it was ahead of its time. Service in Canada doesn’t work on most devices.
Got a Tablo HDMI over a year ago. It’s clunky and finicky and locks up every day.
I’m hopeful the network one is better, but I’m still disappointed about buying new andriod devices for each TV.