Woman sitting in front of Television, Free Over-The-Air TV Sees Huge Growth

Free Over-The-Air TV Sees Huge Growth

After decades of decline, free over-the-air TV is seeing strong and solid growth as people continue to flee pay-TV.

According to Digitalsmiths, a Tivo-owned research company, there was 17.7% growth in over-the-air usage among cord cutters in the second quarter 2016. This corresponds with the Q2 drop in subscribers across all of the major Pay-TV providers, and it wasn’t just any drop in subscribers. Pay TV suffered its largest quarterly subscriber loss ever in Q2. It’s hard not to jump to the conclusion that people are increasingly seeking lower-cost and more flexible TV viewing options in lieu of the traditional pay-TV bundle.

This solid growth in households with an antenna has also driven new over-the-air TV stations. In 2016, 130 new over-the-air stations are coming, or have already come, to the United States. Most of the growth has been for digital sub channels Escape, GRIT, Laff, and Bounce.

However, even with 17.7% growth, only 51% of cord cutters use an antenna to receive free TV. That leaves a lot of cord cutters who are seemingly content just streaming and who are missing out on a ton of 100% free content.

What Can You Get with an OTA Antenna

A majority of Americans live within range of broadcast towers, meaning they can most likely enjoy free over-the-air TV using an antenna. Many may not realize this free content is at their fingertips, or they just may not realize what all you can pick up with an antenna with the misconception that antennas and broadcast TV are old school.

Thanks to the digital transition of broadcast TV signals in 2009, over-the-air TV is some of the best quality (picture-wise) that you can watch. Unlike cable and satellite, which compress their video feeds in order to cram as many channels as possible into their streams, over-the-air TV is broadcast without compression, meaning you can pick it up in full HD with a digital antenna.

According to Nielsen, 88 of the 100 top-rated shows of 2015-2016 are available on broadcast networks. And of the overall most-watched shows, 48 of 50 are also on broadcast networks. The only exceptions of these 50 most-watched shows are The Walking Dead on AMC and Monday Night Football on ESPN. Two programs you can also enjoy without cable/satellite thanks to advancements in streaming services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue.

In addition to the major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, The CW), many people can enjoy a wide range of networks from Spanish-language channels like Univision and Telemundo to niche networks like The Justice Network, Escape, Laff, and more. Not to mention the countless other subchannels that are easy to pick up with an antenna and often difficult to find in your standard cable line-up.

Cities with New OTA Channels Added This Year

Do you own an antenna? Here are some of the cities that have added or will add new channels this year. (It also never hurts to rescan for channels a few times a year. You never know what you may find.)

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Hagerstown, Md.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Memphis, Tenn.
  • Fresno, Calif.
  • Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa.
  • Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.
  • Charleston/Huntington, W.Va.
  • Green Bay, Wisc.
  • Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va.
  • Ames-Des Moines, Iowa
  • Springfield, Mo.
  • Rochester, N.Y.
  • Huntsville, Ala.
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Syracuse, N.Y.
  • Champaign-Decatur-Springfield, Ill.
  • Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville, Texas
  • Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Baton Rouge, La.
  • Burlington, Vt.
  • Fort Smith-Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Ark.
  • Davenport, Iowa/Rock Island-Moline, Ill.
  • Evansville, Ill.
  • Johnstown-Altoona, Pa.
  • Tyler, Texas
  • Peoria, Ill.
  • La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisc.
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Rockford, Ill.
  • Monroe, La./El Dorado, Ark.
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Odessa-Midland, Texas
  • Wichita Falls, Texas/Lawton, Okla.
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Erie, Pa.
  • Joplin, Mo.
  • Panama City, Fla.
  • Terre Haute, Ind.
  • Bluefield/Beckley/Oak Hill, W.Va.
  • Binghamton, N.Y.
  • Abilene/Sweetwater, Texas
  • Billings, Mont.
  • Clarksburg/Weston, W.Va.
  • Utica, N.Y.
  • Dothan, Ala.
  • Elmira, N.Y.
  • Jackson, Tenn.
  • Watertown, N.Y.
  • Alexandria, La.
  • Marquette, Wisc.
  • Grand Junction, Colo.
  • San Angelo, Texas

Not sure what channels you can get for FREE over the air? Check out Mohu’s channel finder.