In an age where Netflix has nearly 140 million subscribers worldwide and people are increasingly turning to streaming to get content, the old school TV antenna is making a comeback. This may, at first glance, seem surprising, but when looking at the big picture, for certain consumers, it's a move that makes a great deal of sense. Why bother paying for cable when paying for maybe a streaming service or two and an antenna will get what one needs?
According to a new report, sales of TV antennas were up 2 percent in 2018 and up 6 percent when compared to 2016. Additionally, Nielsen estimates that 13.8% of U.S. homes depend on a traditional Antenna to get their TV. People of a certain age probably hardly remember, if they remember at all, fiddling with a set of bunny ears to get the picture just right on the TV so they could watch their favorite show. But things have changed a great deal over the last decade.
Not only have streaming services managed to deliver tons of content on-demand for a nominal fee per month with just an internet connection, but TV antenna technology has actually improved a great deal. In 2009, stations switched over to HD digital transmissions, as was mandated by the government, and that made for a dramatic improvement in terms of signal quality. Antennas themselves have improved as well, with manufacturers like Channel Master offering devices that allow viewers to record DVR style from an antenna. Grant Hall, chief executive for Canadian company Nuvyyo which makes Tablo, a similar DVR device for antenna users, had this to say.
"Typically they will go to a party and start complaining about their Comcast bill and how it's gone up so high and getting ridiculous, and someone will say, 'Hey, I cut the cord and I've got an antenna now, and I can get all these channels over the air.' Most people have forgotten about over-the-air TV entirely or recall it as poor experience with ghosts and pictures fading in and out... Once viewers learn everything is different now and the picture is actually better than cable and satellite, and best of all it's free, they become converts."
The majority of people buying these antennas are 50 or older, whereas millennials are still largely switching to a streaming-first method of consuming TV and movies. But with more and more streaming services cropping up, with Disney+ set to launch next year, along with WarnerMedia's new service, it could get expensive to keep up with everything. A traditional TV bundle through a cable or satellite company averages $107 per month.
But looking at all of these various streaming services one might end up needing to see everything that's popular or desirable, it could easily wind up costing at least that much per month. While TV antennas still have their drawbacks, with limited channels and very limited, regionally determined offerings for sports lovers, it's easy to see why some people are taking a step back. This was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.