Two weeks ago TVfreedom.org, an organization that promotes the benefits of broadcast TV, and Antennas Direct, a company that manufacturers digital TV antennas, kicked off a five city tour to raise awareness around the availability of free broadcast TV and to hand out free HDTV antennas.
This is the third year that TVfreedom and Antennas Direct have partnered on such a tour, and over that time they have stopped in 17 cities, giving away more than 7,000 antennas to consumers. This year’s tour – which also counts Sinclair Broadcast Group as a partner - has stopped in Little Rock, AR, Macon, GA, Charleston, SC, and Asheville, NC. The final stop of the tour is today in Baltimore, MD.
One misconception is that access to free local TV is less important now than it once was. A recent Pew Research Center survey, though, shows that “U.S. adults continue to report turning to local TV in greater numbers than many other news sectors such as radio, print newspapers and network news, even for national news such as the 2016 presidential election.”
“When emergencies, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or man-made disasters happen, most Americans turn to their most trusted and reliable source for news updates: local television stations in a variety of ways, both via traditional television and online,” Robert Kenny, Director of Public Affairs, TVfreedom, told Found Remote. “However, we can say with confidence, that local news, although on the decline, draws millions of viewers across the country on a daily basis.”
Outside of the benefits of local news, digital antennas are gaining in popularity among cord-cutters, who can supplement Netflix and Hulu with channels like CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox.
“As cable gained traction in the 70’s and 80’s we suddenly had generations of people that had never heard of a TV antenna,” Richard Schneider, Founder, Antennas Direct, told us. “They would get their local broadcast TV stations via cable. Suddenly, 30-plus years later as streaming got traction and the economy was in a deep recession people started questioning the value of paid television and discovered that broadcast TV and streaming options gave them everything they needed. Households can save over $100 a month with an antenna and streaming. The sub-channels are the biggest kept secret that people discover the first time they do a channel scan. In many markets there is 50 to 100 free channels available over the air.”
According to Schneider, during the first week of the Rio Olympics antenna sales were up 50 per cent across all channels.
As TV continues to become more fragmented, it is great to see that the FCC, networks, and trade organizations are still committed to providing consumers with free over the air access.