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.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

ATTN Cord Cutters: There's No Such Thing As An HD Antenna...But We Still Call Them That

As a potential or current cord cutter, you've likely been down the path of researching over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV antennas. Let's just say this - OTA antennas are awesome. They are inexpensive items that provide access to free live TV programming from all of the big broadcast networks - ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS and The CW - just to name a few. Every household should have one.

So you've made the decision to look into purchasing an antenna. Good for you! Did you know that TV programming from free broadcast networks represents the vast majority of what we watch on TV? Seriously. For most North Americans, the networks listed above, available for free with an antenna, are the bulk of our TV viewing - upwards of 80% - with a few cable network shows sprinkled in.

Prior to about 1980 (the advent of Cable TV), every household had a TV antenna. Perhaps it was a big array on the roof, a hidden array in the attic, or maybe a simple tin-foil-lined contraption on top of the console TV set. That would all depend on how far away you were from broadcast towers. Today, the very same rules apply. If you're close to broadcast towers (within 25 miles), you could still do the tin-foil thing. If you are further away, you'll need something with a little more range.

A very cool thing happened to broadcast TV in 2009 - it went digital. That means amazing HD digital signals as opposed to the prior SD analog broadcast signals. The broadcast technology behind the signals may have changed, but the TV antennas for receiving the signals are exactly the same. Exactly the same! For example, it's not uncommon to purchase an older home and discover a TV antenna mounted in the attic. That older TV antenna is going to pick up the same pristine HD TV signals as any new antenna you would purchase today. So why the confusion, you ask? Answer:  Marketers.

For TV antenna manufacturers, the switch-over to digital broadcast technology in 2009 seemed like a gift from above. Households would certainly now buy antennas to get the best HD (and free) programming rather than pay for inferior compressed HD signals through their TV providers, right? Of course! And to help promote antennas for the digital broadcast age, here's a great idea - let's call them "HD" or "Digital" TV antennas!

Yes, today's TV antennas have cool new designs - the flat look, the spidery look, the spaceship look, etc. But from a technology/reception standpoint, they are the exact same antennas that hit the market in the late 1940s. So when you're shopping for a TV antenna, pay no attention to verbiage such as "HD" or "Digital". ALL TV ANTENNAS ARE HD/DIGITAL. If they weren't, they couldn't pick up broadcast TV signals, which are now digital. The only thing the consumer needs to consider when shopping for a TV antenna is range. Check out to enter your address and discover how much range you need from a TV antenna.

As a TV antenna manufacturer, Channel Master is also guilty of using that "HD" and "Digital" nomenclature when it comes to antenna product descriptions. Five years ago it seemed like a great idea, just to help people understand that over-the-air broadcast had made an amazing transition that was of great value to consumers. Fast forward to today, when everyone understands what HD is, and the nomenclature is more likely to get in the way and cause confusion than to serve it's purpose of promoting broadcast TV.

Folks - a TV antenna is a TV antenna. Period. Just know your required range and you're good to go.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cord Cutting Reality: How Many Channels Do We Actually Watch?

In today's issue of Variety, Todd Spangler cites a new report from Nielsen that claims consumers watch only about 9% of the pay-TV channels that they are actually paying for. You can read the full article here. That ratio is based on subscribing to an average of 189 channels and watching only 17-18 channels. Hmm. If you are a pay-TV industry insider, you will know that this "average" ratio reported by Nielsen is a little high.

In reality, pay-TV customers watch an average maximum of 15 channels and subscribe to over 200. We're not questioning Nielsen's data per se, but would just like to point out that their track record for reporting tends to favor "the industry". Pay-TV execs are fully aware that this reported data is a bit off.

Lets look at this a little differently. Based on the reported Nielsen data, pay-TV customers are essentially making a monthly car payment for a vehicle that they only drive about three days per month. If you go by the accepted industry data it's even worse. Now we're down to being allowed to drive the car only two days per month.

When it comes to leasing or financing a vehicle, none of us in our right minds would pay full price for a car that we were only allowed to drive three days per month. What would we do instead? We would ditch the car and find alternative transportation for those three days. So why on earth are consumers sitting still for this bloated, broken, archaic TV delivery business model that has us paying for bundles of channels and expensive sports networks whether we ask for them or not? The answer is simple: It's what we know.

Let's take a look at the "average" pay-TV cost for Americans in comparison to our European friends across the pond: Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain:

You will notice that our pay-TV penetration is much higher, in addition to being much more expensive. The reason our pay-TV penetration is so high is because Europe has a very robust over-the-air TV market, meaning people get their TV programming from antennas. But guess what? North America has the highest quality over-the-air TV market in the entire world, with beautiful, pristine digital broadcast. The problem is that consumers just don't know about it.

Broadcasters (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, The CW) don't promote this fact because they want us to get these channels from our pay-TV providers so they can charge a LOT of money for it. Pay-TV providers don't promote this fact because they need us to pay for local channels so they can in turn pay the ridiculously hefty re-transmission fees to the broadcasters.

It's a big catch-22 and consumers are caught in the middle. What can we do? How can we make our voices heard within this travesty of a TV delivery system? Well, we can cut the cord. We can purchase a simple antenna and get all of these broadcast channels for free (even record them with an over-the-air DVR), and then simply stream our favorite cable shows and movies via online services (Netflix, Amazon, VUDU), paying for only what we want to watch - not being forced to pay for a myriad of channels and sports networks that many of us don't even know exist. And we don't have to give up live broadcast TV. We'll still get all of the major networks, local news and the Super Bowl.

If enough consumers cut the cord, the TV industry (pay-TV providers, broadcasters and content owners) may finally stop battling each other, figure out a sustainable business model, and do something to show that they actually care about the customers they serve.

Stop paying for a car that you drive only 2-3 days per month. Buy your own equipment - an antenna, a DVR, and maybe a streaming device such as Roku, and let the TV industry know that you're done with the power-hungry corporate nonsense that is draining your pocketbook.