Cutting the cord is hardly on the cutting edge in the U.S. anymore. The number of households ditching cable has grown from 31.6 million in 2017 to 36 million in 2018 and a projected 40.2 million for 2019, according to eMarketer research and forecasting. But jettisoning your cable doesn’t necessarily mean you want to scrap TV altogether. One of the excellent options out there is an outdoor TV antenna.
What is an outdoor TV antenna?
Let’s start with the basics. Broadcast television stations — like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, The CW and others — transmit signals over the air (OTA) that contain their programming. A TV antenna receives that signal and converts it into the sound and picture displayed on your television.
TV antennas can be either directional or omnidirectional. Directional antennas tend to pick up signals from greater distances, but only if they’re pointing in line with the broadcasting tower.
On the other hand, omnidirectional antennas can pick up signals from various angles, but from shorter distances. Either way, with an OTA TV antenna, you can watch a number of local television stations for free.
We know what you’re thinking, “Free is for me! What else do I need?” But let’s dig deeper into why you should think about getting an outdoor TV antenna.
Why should you consider getting an outdoor TV antenna?
Because you’ll be dependent on TV stations’ OTA signals, you’ll be vulnerable to anything that could get in the way of receiving those transmissions. This includes signal-blocking obstructions like trees, hills, buildings, etc. So, while there are indoor antennas available, an outdoor TV antenna will give you a better opportunity for an unobstructed signal. This increases the number of stations you may be able to receive, not to mention a potentially clearer picture from a less impeded signal.
Some pros of investing in an outdoor TV antenna:
- No more monthly cable bills or subscription fees for satellite service. There’s also no annual contract to sign or fear of increased fees in your future. This means more money in your pocket and less stress on your budget.
- Expect a high-quality picture. Typically you’ll get an improved picture with your antenna over what you would get with cable or satellite. Those signals are compressed in order to be transmitted via cable into your home. But OTA signals are uncompressed, so you should experience better picture and sound.
- Forget about clunky contraptions on your roof. Today’s powerful outdoor TV antennas can be as small as a satellite dish, making them compliant with pesky HOA guidelines or fussy apartment complex rules.
Although there are some great benefits to having an outdoor TV antenna, there are certainly some cons as well:
- Installation can be a bit of a burden. While there is typically some assembly required, the bigger task is the actual roof installation. Whereas cable and satellite companies have skilled installers on call, you’ll need to do the legwork to find someone willing to install your outdoor TV antenna … and trust they know what they’re doing.
- Trial and error. The success of the outdoor TV antenna can often depend on where you live. Are you close to a metropolitan area? Do you live in a more rural area? Your proximity to the broadcast towers will help determine what type of outdoor TV antenna will best suit your needs. Unsure what to expect? Enter your ZIP code on AntennaWeb to get a sense of what’s available near you.
- You find you can’t do without some pay-TV channels. Do you feel you’re missing out on your favorite Food Network cooking shows or DIY programs of HGTV? Are you hooked on ESPN? If you feel withdrawal from channels you used to get with your cable subscription, then look into streaming services that’ll give you access to the shows most important to you.
Ready to make a purchase? Here are the best outdoor TV antennas for every taste
As we mentioned earlier, the best antenna for someone living just outside a major metro might not be great for people in more rural areas of the country. There’s a bit of art to go with the science of finding the right outdoor TV antenna for you.
|Model||Antenna type||Price||Best for|
|Channel Master Digital Advantage 45||Directional||$$||Homeowners without any obstructions and that don’t mind the weather vane look|
|Winegard MetroStar||Omnidirectional||$$||Homeowners or renters with HOA restrictions|
|1byone Amplified Outdoor Antenna||Omnidirectional||$$||Long distances and withstanding tougher weather conditions|
|Antennas Direct ClearStream 2MAX||Omnidirectional||$$$||Residents in suburbs or more rural areas|
Convinced of the benefits of using an outdoor TV antenna? Thinking about what streaming devices to consider now that you’ve said goodbye to cable? Look to our resource center for all your needs and stay connected with our experts on Facebook and Twitter.