Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FAQs About Channel Master and Cord Cutting

Posted By:  Shelley O'Connell

We get an awful lot of questions about our company, our TV Freedom solution, and cutting the cord. Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

What are some basic facts about Channel Master?

Channel Master is a 65-year-old company, the nation's oldest antenna manufacturer. We've been making TV antennas and related products for over-the-air television and radio broadcast reception since 1949. We are headquartered just outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and maintain 100% in-house customer-facing operations including call center, tech support, customer service, e-commerce, shipping and receiving.

What are some common misconceptions about antennas and broadcast TV that consumers should be aware of?

All antennas are now "HD" antennas because the over-the-air broadcast signals are digital, not because there is something special about the antenna that makes it "HD". The HD or Digital terms applied to antennas were mostly for the purpose of creating awareness that OTA broadcasts are now digital and it had nothing to do with the antenna itself. For example, it is not uncommon to buy an older home and discover a TV antenna mounted in the attic. That older antenna is going to pick up the same pristine digital broadcast signals as its newer equivalent today, although the newer equivalent may be smaller and sleeker. 

When selecting a TV antenna, the main thing the consumer needs to consider is range. All consumer TV antennas pick up UHF and VHF signals, which is all you need. What matters is how far away you are from the broadcast towers. A quick search on a site such as www.antennaweb.org will solve that question for you in a jiffy, then you just select an antenna that provides the range that you need. You can also use Channel Master's online Antenna Selection Guide to help you select the antenna that fits your needs.

If you're using an older analog TV, you're still going to need a converter box connected between your TV and the antenna, no matter what antenna you buy.

Is there really a significant amount of broadcast TV programming consumers can expect to get from an over-the-air antenna?

Today, in most major U.S. markets, a great number of broadcast channels, in addition to ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and The CW, are available for free. These networks represent the majority of television programming watched by consumers in North America. OTA broadcast also includes channels carrying non-English language programming that are not always offered through pay TV providers. With an antenna, consumers have access to all OTA programming available in their area, not just the programming that providers and manufacturers choose to offer.

What about industry reports that say TV antenna use is dying off?

Nothing could be further from the truth. We see the reports and we see the articles written about them. But ask any antenna manufacturer if TV antenna use is dying off and they will tell you what a great year they've had as antenna sales nation-wide continue to sky-rocket.

Both consumers and the media should be wary of published reports about Over-The-Air (OTA) television that use carefully-worded statistical categories with the intention of skewing data. For example, one famously-published recent report that received national attention claimed that "OTA-Only" households in America were at an all-time low and continuing to drop. Well, of course they are, because those households are now pairing OTA reception with Internet-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and VUDU, which means they are no longer in the OTA-Only category.

By wording the category this way, the publishers were able to make it seem as though people were no longer utilizing live broadcast television, when in fact the use of live broadcast television has grown considerably. It's a good idea to be mindful of the intentions of the group that is publishing the report.

What is TV Freedom?

TV Freedom is what we call our solution that includes a television antenna and a subscription-free DVR with Internet access. It specifically refers to freedom from the traditional pay-TV bundle, and the ability to have quality television in your home without being tied to long-term contracts.

For those consumers who choose to seek alternatives to traditional pay-TV services, or cut the cord, as the industry now refers to it, we know from experience that you will need three main ingredients to replace the experience of your current cable or satellite service:
  1. Television antenna to get live broadcast television
  2. DVR to pause live TV, set timers and record your shows
  3. Streaming service(s) of your choice to find your favorite movies and cable shows
One piece of advice that we give cord-cutters about their alternatives is to make a television antenna your first purchase. You may be able to stream a vast amount of entertaining content that will more than fill up your TV-watching time, but you do not want to give up live TV. Live television brings us together locally as communities and it also brings us together as a nation. No matter how many tech-savvy advisers come to the table to claim that all TV will one day be on-demand only, we know that live TV is here to stay and you will want to have access to it.

How does Channel Master's TV Freedom solution compare to the competition, and why would a consumer choose Channel Master?

There are currently several options available to consumers who want to use a television antenna to receive the bulk of their content and also have a DVR.
  1. TiVo - subscription fee required
  2. TabloTV - subscription fee required
  3. SimpleTV - subscription fee required
  4. Channel Master - no subscription
All of the solutions above are alternatives to traditional pay-TV services that will appeal to consumers based on differing preferences. TabloTV and SimpleTV are more focused on viewing TV on mobile devices. Channel Master and TiVo are more focused on the traditional viewing experience of a cable or satellite television service on a TV screen. TiVo requires a subscription fee and contract and Channel Master does not. 

Unlike the other solutions presented above, the Channel Master DVR works with or without an Internet connection. For our customers who do not connect the DVR+ to the Internet, they are able to pause and record live TV with two days of PSIP programming data provided in the channel guide. For our customers who connect DVR+ to the Internet, they are able to pause and record live TV with 14 days of programming data provided by Rovi, as well as access streaming services from directly within their channel guide. 

Channel Master's software engineering teams are the best in the industry, with many years of successful DVR and Video Delivery deployment experience serving millions of users worldwide. They are committed to continuing development of the DVR+ platform with many more exciting features to come.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday Letter from Channel Master EVP Joe Bingochea

Dear DVR+ Customer,

We hope you are all happy with our 2014 Black Friday and Cyber Monday offerings. We listened to you and we think we've done a good job delivering the deals that you asked for! You can view the ad by clicking here.

On behalf of the entire Channel Master team, I would like to say thank you for being a valued customer and wish you Happy Holidays.

We are working hard to continue to give you a great DVR+ experience. We made significant software enhancements in the previous software update, 111R, which enables us to further enhance the overall user experience and add new key features in the future. However, sometimes when you take steps forward with software, you can unintentionally take a few steps backwards. We are aware that some of you had glitches with Series Record after the 111R update. We immediately got busy to get it corrected!

We are happy to announce that as of 9 AM Pacific Time today, software version 114R is on our server and ready for you to download. 114R not only fixes the Series Record bugs from 111R, it also adds exciting new features including New Episode Record, YouTube, a new Wifi set-up wizard and more.

Our software engineering teams are the best in the industry, with many years of successful DVR and Video Delivery experience under their belts, serving millions of users worldwide. They are 100% committed to providing DVR+ customers with the best experience possible, along with myself and the rest of the Channel Master team.

While I can't promise that we won't unintentionally introduce minor software issues in future releases, I can promise that we will do everything in our power to prevent these scenarios and ensure your DVR+ is functioning as designed and your user experience is a good one.

We greatly appreciate your ongoing support as a Channel Master customer, and stay tuned for exciting feature announcements in the near future that will further expand our DVR+ TV Freedom platform. There's lots of great stuff to come!

Happy Holidays,

Joe Bingochea
Executive Vice President, Product Development
Channel Master

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thinking About Cutting The Cable Cord? Now You Can Try It For Just $10.

Posted By: Shelley O'Connell

Millions of Americans have now heard of the "cord cutting" movement, which is essentially the act of ditching your costly pay-TV service and getting your TV entertainment from alternative sources. In addition, most people are now aware that the most critical ingredient of cord cutting is the live broadcast TV that you get from a television antenna.

On average, about 80% of the TV content viewed by Americans comes from the major broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW. These networks broadcast their content over free public spectrum, and you can get it in amazing, uncompressed HD with a TV antenna. Don't be fooled by sources that suggest you should "stream" live broadcast TV. Why on earth would you want to suck up bandwidth and face possible data caps for content that you can get for free from an antenna, and at much higher video quality?

So, a TV antenna is your #1 cord cutting ingredient. You're still going to get your local news, sports and special live broadcast TV events. If you haven't done so yet, just try an antenna. We've made it easy for you with FLATenna at only $10. FLATenna is a passive (non-amplified) 13" flex antenna, and is the performance equivalent of all other 13" passive antennas on the market today that retail for $35 and more.

Cord cutting ingredient #2: A streaming media source. Many of you access services such as Netflix and Amazon through your game consuls and Blu-Ray players, or perhaps a Roku or AppleTV. This is your source for getting countless movies and all of those favorite cable shows - the other 20% of what Americans watch on TV.

If you're going to replace your pay-TV service, we're guessing one of the main things you'll be needing is a DVR, which is cord cutting ingredient #3. You'll still want to record your favorite broadcast shows and be able to pause live TV (especially with the NFL season about to start), skip forward and skip back through live and recorded content, basically all of the things you currently do with your cable or satellite DVR. There are several choices available for antenna DVRs. Channel Master happens to make the only one that is subscription-free. Take a look at the DVR+, our TV Freedom solution for consumers.

We want to help you discover the incredible value of free broadcast TV. We developed FLATenna so that you can try the antenna TV experience at very little risk to your pocketbook and before you make any major decisions about your TV service.

And, if you purchase FLATenna and then later decide that you would like to upgrade to a longer-range antenna or purchase the DVR+, we'll credit your $10 FLATenna transaction amount toward your new purchase, and you still get to keep the FLATenna. Everybody wins.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Your Federal Right to Install an Outdoor TV Antenna

Posted By: Shelley O'Connell

In the United States, you have a federal right to install an outdoor TV antenna. That's right, it's the law. More Americans are re-discovering the value of broadcast TV programming with the use of a television antenna. What most people don't know is that in 1996, congress directed the FCC to adopt what is referred to as the OTARD Rule - that stands for Over-the-Air Reception Devices - which governs the consumer's right to install an antenna at their place of residence.

In 1996 the OTARD rule had a lot of significance for satellite dish antennas specifically, since direct-to-home satellite television services DirecTV and DISH were becoming very popular. Fast forward to today, nearly 20 years later, and television antenna sales are booming as more people elect to cancel cable or satellite TV services in an effort to save money. Here's the great news: OTARD also applies to broadcast television antennas!

What is OTARD?

In October 1996, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Over-the-Air Reception Devices (OTARD) rule concerning governmental and nongovernmental restrictions on viewers' ability to receive video programming signals from direct broadcast satellites, broadband transmitters, and television broadcast stations. The rule specifically prohibits restrictions that would impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming (with the caveat that dish-style antennas be no larger than one meter in diameter everywhere except Alaska).

In essence, OTARD guarantees your right to install an outdoor TV antenna. It prevents government agencies, home owner associations and/or landlords from restricting your antenna installation and use. You have the right to select over-the-air broadcast signals as your video service of choice, and you cannot be forced to choose a different type of service such as cable or satellite. The rule applies to property that you own or rent, and requires that your installation be in an area in which you have exclusive use or control. This includes single family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, apartments and mobile homes.

Are there restrictions that can be enforced?

Yes. OTARD provides for some specific instances in which restrictions can be enforced. For broadcast television antennas, here are the main guidelines to ensure your legal right:

  • For multiple-dwelling units, a governing body may restrict the installation of a broadcast television antenna if a central television broadcast antenna is already in use at the property and you have access to those video signals.
  • For multiple-dwelling units, a governing body may restrict the installation of a broadcast television antenna if your installation is not within an area that is considered to be your exclusive use, such as indoors, a balcony or patio. For example, installing your antenna on the roof of a leased multiple-dwelling unit, or in an area that is considered to be for common use, such as the side of a laundry room, will likely be restricted.
  • A governing body may restrict the installation of a broadcast television antenna if it is deemed to be a safety concern. However, the burden is on the governing body to prove there is a reasonable safety issue with your installation.
  • In keeping with the safety rule, a governing body may restrict the installation of a broadcast television antenna if the antenna mast extends more than 12 ft. above the roof line.
  • A governing body may restrict the installation of a broadcast television antenna if the antenna mast extends into an area that is not within your exclusive use, such as crossing your property line into your neighbor's exclusive use space.

What's the best way to avoid conflict?

Today's television broadcast signals are digital. While older antennas will still work great with digital signals and will certainly do the job, digital broadcast signals allowed for the design of new, sleeker and smaller broadcast television antennas. If you are purchasing a new broadcast television antenna for outdoor installation, the best guideline is to select the smallest model to fit your needs.

For the vast majority of metro and suburban dwellers in the United States, a small, sleek antenna such as Channel Master's SMARTenna will be the only television antenna you will ever need. These smaller antennas that were specifically designed for the digital age are capable of being installed either indoors or outdoors and will pick up television broadcast signals from up to 50 miles away or even more.

In some cases, due to variables such as a mountain range or treeline, it will be necessary to install a rooftop antenna to get all of the channels available in your area, but try the smaller antenna first because in most cases a 12 ft.-high rooftop antenna will be overkill for your needs.

Where can I find more information or address a conflict with a governing body?

You can visit the FCC's OTARD page for a thorough explanation of the rule, as well as locate instructions and contact information for conflict resolution.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup without cable? Answer: Channel Master

Hey World Cup fans! You don't need a pay-TV subscription to watch all the action of the FIFA World Cup. Here's how to get every game for free in crystal clear HD:

Channel Master SMARTenna

All of the 2014 FIFA World Cup games are available for free via over-the-air broadcast. For US viewers you will get 10 games in English on ABC (including the final) and ALL games are available in Spanish via Univision. For a complete broadcast schedule of the games, click here

Our SMARTenna is the best choice for metro and suburban viewing. This compact, flat antenna is multi-directional and won't require pointing it towards broadcast towers. If used indoors it will pick up signals from up to 35 miles and if used outdoors it will pick up signals from up to 50 miles away. For the vast majority of metro and suburban viewers in the US and Canada, this is the only antenna you will ever need. Nicely priced at $59.99.

Channel Master DVR+

The DVR+ by Channel Master is the only subscription-free DVR for broadcast programming. It also happens to be the world's slimmest DVR! You can pause live TV, skip back to replay something you missed, and record all of your favorite broadcast programming. The DVR+ comes with two digital tuners so you can watch one program while recording another or record two programs at the same time. $249.99.

That's it! Just get yourself a Channel Master antenna and get ready to watch ALL of the exciting live World Cup action for free in pure, uncompressed HD.

If you're a current pay-TV subscriber, check out Channel Master to learn more about TV Freedom and how you can put the monthly cable bill behind you once and for all.