Nearly 6 million more people are relying on over-the-air broadcast television than a year ago, according to new research from GfK Media & Entertainment. I’m one of those stats.
As empty nesters, my wife and I decided to try and save over $100 a month by cutting our cable (and land line phone), while keeping the Internet service. We added a Roku box after some experimentation with going through a blu-ray DVD player. The Roku was a much better experience for us and organizes your options nicely. We also subscribed to Netflix (Movies primarily, but also some new original programming ) and Hulu Plus (Network and some Cable TV shows) for a total of $16 a month. We bought the Leaf antenna ($40) and tacked it to the wall behind our TV. It did a good job bringing in all the local stations in Columbus including the three WOSU TV channels. In all, we get about a dozen channels over the air we watch out of the 20 or so we picked up (for free!). Antennas have come a long way from rabbit ears and tin foil.
In the six months since cutting the cable, we’ve had few regrets. The biggest issue is the loss of ESPN, which is picking up some major sports events such as the recent Wimbledon tournament. When ESPN carried one of the Buckeyes NCAA tourney games, we made a date at the sports bar and it was fun, but you can’t do that too often. Luckily, neither of us is addicted to sports viewing. Our viewing habits have changed considerably though. We watch less casual TV and plan our watching more, seeking out specific shows. Hulu Plus serves basically as our DVR (we gave that up too) allowing us to watch network shows the day after it airs in most cases.
There are several other staffers at WOSU who have cut the cord long ago. This is a trend as more online “over the top” video is available through a number of distributors. Why pay for over 120 channels you never watch? The latest research shows the percentage of TV households currently over-the-air reliant has grown from 14% in 2010 to 19.3% — a 38% increase in about four years. I believe this percentage will only grow as the cable bills rise and viewers have little choice in picking the channels they really watch. Questions? I’ll try to answer or refer to one of our local expert cable cutters.