Having had cable since I was a child, the thought of a tv without a cable box did seem a bit odd. My earliest memory of the box was of this thing with a bunch of buttons which only seemed to make the over the air channels come in clearer. Yes there was HBO but outside of that there were only a few local access channels that were not worth watching. Later we got WTCG out of Atlanta, which would eventually become Superstation TBS. But TBS showed the same programs as WGN out of Chicago. In Gary, Indiana we were able to watch WGN with an antenna and without TBS’s very strange five minute (Turner) delay. Even with that somewhat anemic start, cable became the go to for watching television only interrupted by a couple of years of experimenting with satellite (a story for another day).
Last year, after not having seen rabbit ears in quite some time, I decided to make a trip down to the local Best Buy. There I found shelves full of various types of antenna. I quickly learned that not all are created equal. Back when tvs came with built in antennas there were no discussions of types and ranges. Either you used the rabbit ears or you hooked into an outside antenna, usually mounted on the roof like every other house in the neighborhood. I found out the hard way what happens if you do not properly ground the outside antenna (again a story for another time). Having been hooked by the cable box, I had not thought about antennas since the 70’s.
Now tv antennas come in all sorts of shapes and sizes with different specifications. Some do well when the stations are far away. Others do better at holding the signal though often at the expense of range. The model that worked well upstairs in our house failed miserably down in our family room, forcing a second trip to the store. Prices are all over the map but we found two fairly basic models (one from RCA the other a Terk) which do the job (even though I managed to bend one side of the RCA).
The over the air signal, after a few antenna adjustments, gives a picture that is even better than what
we had with cable. And while both deliver HDTV, somehow free is a lot more fun to watch. But we have found the need to supplement the over the air programming with a pair of Roku’s, delivering program from over the internet. Our go to app most often is the Sling app which gives us the same channels we watched on cable. With Sling and a few free apps, we have almost exactly what we use to pay too much for with cable.
In fact only one thing is missing. Our local cable conglomerate is also the owner of two of our area sports franchises. By exploiting a loophole in the law the company does not have to negotiate with companies like DISH (owners of Sling) about carrying our local sports channel. This has made it difficult to watch the local teams. I can still watch the Eagles but not the Flyers nor the Sixers. The biggest punch in the gut is the fact that as a baseball fan I cannot watch the Phillies. But all is not lost. I have returned to my childhood habit of listening to the games on the radio.
As a child I spent many a summer night listening to games on the radio. Back then I listened to the the White Sox, often staying up well beyond my bedtime. These days, with satellite radio, I can still listen to the Sox but more often than not I listen to the hometown Phillies. Still, whether the Sox or the Phillies, I find I enjoy listening to the games as much as I did as a child. The same goes for the other area teams. Plus I am a sports fan. The door is now open to watching other teams and other sports even while the local teams play in the background.
Of course cord cutting is about saving money. We now get our programming at what it used to cost just to rent two high definition cable boxes. The savings have allowed us to do a number of things we could not afford while paying for cable. Perhaps, with the money saved by cutting the cord, I will attend a baseball game or two in person this year. I might even bring my radio along for company. Perhaps I will invest the money on renovations at home. These are two of many choices I can make now that cord cutting has given my family a raise along with better control over what we watch.
We are always looking for ways to save money. Therefore I'll gladly adjust the rabbit ears to stay away from a large monthly bill. Just don't move once we get a clear picture.
So are you streaming or are you still tied to your cable?