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World apparently failed to end after digital-TV transition

Was it really just a year ago that television watchers across the United States were cringing in fear about the demise of most analog over-the-air broadcasts?

No. It was a year and five days ago--but I forgot the anniversary. (Sorry, digital TV! I don't know how it slipped my mind. You still mean everything to me, I promise!)

After the initial drama of the switchover on June 12, 2009--and the subsequent, intermittent struggles by over-the-air viewers to lock in the new signals, in some cases with help from local stations that boosted their signals--this story has faded from the headlines and from my inbox.

These days, the most common DTV query may be what to do with an old analog TV that's outlived its usefulness. (Here's my advice on how to recycle the set.)

Ars Technica, in its own survey of the transition--also published a few days after the anniversary--concluded that it turned out to be a non-event. As evidence, it cited a Nielsen study reporting that by last October, only 0.5 percent of U.S. households had no TVs capable of tuning into digital broadcasts, down from an already small 2.5 percent that June.

The Nielsen study also found that by the end of last August, three-quarters of analog over-the-air viewers had added a converter box to their old sets, while one quarter had switched to cable or satellite. The study did not address how many viewers had dropped a pay-TV service in favor of over-the-air digital TV, Internet video or a combination of the two.

I know those viewers exist: I am one. (For those of you asking about my promised update on that experiment, I'm still working on that post.) But how many? A subsequent Nielsen research suggested that "cord cutters" are confined to demographic minorities, while a Yankee Group study released in April predicted that one in eight TV subscribers would reduce or drop their TV service this year.

You tell me: Have you replaced any of your pay-TV consumption with free over-the-air broadcasts? If so, how much? Which channels does your set pick up without trouble; what have you had to do to pull in others; and which ones refuse to appear on your set? Also, what kind of role does Web video play in your viewing schedule?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 17, 2010; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , TV , Video  
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There are too many shows on cable (basic and premium) that I want to watch.

Posted by: Ghak | June 17, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I dropped cable, but I only had the most ultra-cheap package to begin with. I had had converter boxes for my old CRT televisions, but have since purchased 22" and 32" LCD televisions with built-in digital tuners. I am hoping to get one more TV, somewhere around 42" to 46" in a couple more years that has more WiFi built-in functionality.


Posted by: bwparker1 | June 17, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I dropped pay TV some years ago when I had kids because we just didn't have the money anymore: ($50 per month for five years is $3000!) Sports is what I miss most but that's OK.

We got the converter box and it has been fine for our inside-the-beltway house. We get the bonus channels (4.3 Universal Sports, 7,3 Retro TV and the weather stuff) which is nice and the digital picture quality is a big upgrade.

I would watch more "online" stuff but watching on the PC is a pain with our low-rent DSL (768k) and we don't have the technology to watch the computer stuff on the TV.

In the end, I think the transition worked out fine; the extra months and the extra coupons provided just enough cushion to get almost everybody taken care of (me included). The bandwidth is being put to good use, I suppose, and the vast majority of Americans have moved on to pay TV anyway, making the exercise a smaller issue than was thought back in 1986 or whenever this started.

That is something that I learned: If you had asked me how many people get all their TV from over the air signals in 2008, I would have guess 40%. Not close. The number is more like 10%.

Posted by: naaqsso2 | June 17, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I recently (w/in the past month)cut cable (basic)for financial reasons. I have an analog TV so I'm using the converter box. Channels 9 (wusa) and 4 (wnbc) are the only one I can get the most consistently, Fox5 varies, 7 (wjla) if I get it at all is spotty at best, picture and sound come and go, though sometimes if I stand directly in front of tv with my hand near the (interior) antenna 7 comes in clear. I live in an apartment so an external antenna is out if the question.

Posted by: mmdaly | June 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Count me among DTV haters. I still haven't seen PBS since the transition. I really miss it, but I haven't had the time to install a rooftop antenna. I also just don't watch a few other channels (Fox, UPN) that I do get because the reception is too delicate and digital signal dropouts are way worse than static ever was. Boxee, hulu, and netflix don't fill the gap with any quality shows.

Posted by: hesaid | June 17, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

We'll be dropping Comcast when we move at the end of the month, in favor of WiMax and OTA HD. We'll be located right between Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor so I anticipate we should have pretty good reception for both services. If not, we'll go back to the ultra-basic Comcast TV package in order to get the cable-subscriber price for Internet, which comes in at about the same price as Clear.

Posted by: treads0322 | June 17, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

For those who live within 15 miles or so of the majority of DC's TV towers (use the National Cathedral as a reference), the indoor antenna I've heard works for most people is the Terk HDTVi (the model WITHOUT an amplifier). I'm about 45 miles south with a largish RadioShack antenna in the attic. If I lived just halfay up my street, I would have a clear view of all the towers. As it is, I'm able to get (virtual) 4, 5, 7, 9, 20, and 66 easily. 14 and the ten subchannels of 30 (split between two stations) are less reliable, 26 is spotty, and 50 is not to be seen.

A year ago, things were better. The additional tree growth is starting to take a toll.

Posted by: KGDave | June 17, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

We had the reverse--DTV left us with about six oddball channels that came in consistently (e.g. 7.3 but not 7), with weird aspect ratio issues that I still don't understand. We've abandoned our set that isn't connected to DirecTV--and the useless converter box--and will recycle it all soon.

Posted by: OneSockOn | June 17, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Once I moved to Falls Church I had to get basic cable to get the broadcast stations. 4, 5, and 26 came in on rabbit ears, but none of the rest, reliably.

Posted by: wiredog | June 17, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I had Cable and Directv for a while, Besides the high price, we always had problems with the signal, especially anytime it rained.
I get my TV via Internet from a program at seetvpc [dot] com. Have used it for a couple years.

Posted by: Jenniferweb | June 17, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I cut out cable last year (mainly for the cost savings) and got a converter box for my analog TV. So far, so good - I can pull in all of the local channels with no problems (I live right by the beltway in Montgomery County). Netflix and Hulu have basically replaced cable for me. I do miss watching sports, but ESPN3 and have been good alternatives.

Posted by: soali | June 17, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

**Recycling link needs to be fixed.**

I agree with the niche evidence from neilsenwire. The only people I know who are OTA and internet viewers are under 34. I know a couple people (over 40) who used to not have a pay-tv service and now do. Probably because they have more expendable income.

Posted by: prokaryote | June 17, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

If you don't want to pay for ESPN in order to watch the World Cup, Univision (Channel 14 when you're not using cable) has the games on over the air

Posted by: reston75 | June 17, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Rob, your advice on recycling is munged with some garbage on the left end of the linked URL. I cleaned it up and read the piece, but I thought you ought to know about that problem.

Posted by: RHMathis | June 17, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

nobody asks how many just gave up on tv entirely. We did -- too much hassle to figure out the converter box, cable and satellite costs too much, new tv costs too much, to heck with it.

replaced with Computer? Was some talk, but it was also too much hassle and the screen is too small. TV reduced to dust collector and watching dvd and tv shows on disc purchased over ebay for way cheap.

if something ever comes on tv that is worth the hassle to figure out the converter box, or replace the tv with a digital model, I may do it, but so far in the last year TV -- from what i have heard -- has gone downhill, not up.

Posted by: summicron1 | June 18, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I've never subscribed to pay TV (but I do have broadband Internet over cable).

I just kept using my rooftop antenna (VHF), so 7 and 9 have always been my strongest signals, and I also get 11 and 13 pretty well. Channel 4 is the weakest. I should probably improve the UHF reception, but it's NBC, and I can often use 11 even if wind/rain makes 4 unusable.

I used a basic converter box for a year, then managed to get a DTVPal DVR from Sears at a close-out price recently. It's not Tivo, but no subscription and for someone who doesn't watch that much TV it's good enough.

I've used Hulu to watch some cable shows. But if they are going to charge then they'll need a "first x shows free" policy or I'm unlikely to start watching a new show in the first place.

Posted by: iMac77 | June 18, 2010 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Every time I watch digital over-the-air broadcasts, I curse the day George Bush was born. After a year there is no improvement in the weak TV signals, so I'm constantly losing reception in the middle of a program (of course, the picture and sound disappear at exactly the worst time, and of course, the loss is total). If the Bush Administration hadn't eliminated the requirement for broadcasters to replicate their analog listening areas, broadcast DTV would be a valuable service today. Instead, it is a constant aggravation.

Posted by: JimZ1 | June 18, 2010 3:07 AM | Report abuse

One Year Down Is Significant. First year of NEW STANDARD, Broadcasts Are Dedicated testing period of Signal thru Variations of Season. When data will be analyzed, don't know. In intro of color signal 50 years ago, took decade to develope AFC & ATC Mechanism that Finally, in 1972, made color TV High Quality Event. In Itself Automatic tuning Actually came from FM Stereo Recievers New AFC Tuning.

FCC ,For ALL Gruff About Frequency Control, Did Nothing to Demand AFC & ATC, TV Industry picked up technology to Sell New TV Sets. ?Todays High Hz & Now, 3D are NOT Answer, So Public Waits for Tuner that can capture Full Spectrum of atsc Signal.

Personally, Using 2005 PC Tuner in 16X Slot from FujiTV. Works, If Antenae in Living room, get some of forgein channels in 30 range. If ant Out Bedroom Window, Get about 4 seperate groups of channels. Good execpt Program guide is hour ahead of signal on ALL Channels.

Mix might be answer on how well ATSC Works, Meets Minimum requirements. Panasonic already has announced 4000 x 3000 pixel machine, although at 152" & half million buckos, cann't say be widely adopted, so Blu Ray might be answer, yet critics claim No real difference.

TV Is Mixed BAG. Keep Set Reader has until Signal Analysis Period Is Made Final Report & set Manufacturers Start making Sets To Final Standard & Updated Contols, Including HDMI 2.0. as 1.3 Is Bum of sorts. Might Be Long time. Forget High Hz & 3D, Kiddie Toys, As repeated Hype Marketing from Same 'ole marketing in other tranistions of pixel count & fundumental TV Set Display Characteristics & Total Line count Increase have always pushed off on public Crum of 3D, Eventually Brain see ordinary TV As Off..


Posted by: ThomasStewart1 | June 18, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

Doing fine with over-the-air DTV and internet, and no cable or satellite. Never had it.

For internet, basically we have the Roku box for Netflix. I will look forward to your post on online viewing methods. Some questions I have:

1. Can I use my Roku box to get anything else on the internet?

2. How, exactly (what hardware or adapter) do I need to feed PC online video to a wide-screen TV? Will it look like a low-res picture on a high-res screen?

Posted by: jethro1 | June 18, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

The switch to digital has allowed us to curtail our time watching the idiotic crap that is offered. With cable for half the year and digital via a converter for the other half we watch a maximum two hours a day and mostly an hour. That consists of local news & weather and an occasional music or gardening presentation. We use the internet for national news and some entertainment. Today's tv is very bad!

Posted by: quapaw12000 | June 18, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Who are the new spectrum hogs and why don't we stop them while we have a chance? DTV reception in Puyallup is terrible and hasn't gotten any better.
The spectrum was suppose to be used for the public good. Instead it's being used for dirty jokes and possible corruption on encrypted channels.

Posted by: n7uno | June 18, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

I refuse to pay cable prices for the few shows I watch and, as one person already mentioned, reception of PBS with the converter box and an indoor antenna is so bad that I have not watched anything on it for a year. I use my TV only for some local news, and for the rest my laptop has become my best friend. Between Netflix, and similar services I have all that I need.

Posted by: lavd46 | June 18, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm in Alexandria. I dropped cable (Comcast) figuring I was paying $700.00 primarily for 2 football games a year on ESPN. Otherwise, over the air and internet give me all I need.

Channel 5 only comes in about 20% of the time. Channels 7 and 9 always seem to reach me. Channel 4 reaches me most of the time.

Posted by: rmmusa1 | June 18, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

For OTA, you need to have a suitable antenna. For some who are close to broadcast towers with reasonable line-of-sight, you can get by with a high quality indoor antenna. There are several sites (e.g., Google 'EV's indoor antenna') that provide excellent reviews. An indoor must be placed in a good location, possibly in a window that has a line-of-sight direction towards the broadcast towers.
You are always better off having an outdoor antenna. There are many reputable installers in the DC area that can do a basic rooftop install for ~$400. The installer will know the good antennas, the best way to do the wiring, and whether you need a amplifier (an extra cost) to improve the signal for fringe reception.

Posted by: jmjm1 | June 18, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm in my mid-fifties, live in a midwest city and I cut out cable over a year ago. I have a Sony HDTV in my living room with built-in ATSC tuner--bought it 'cause I knew DTV was coming and use a couple of convertor boxes on older HDTV monitors, one in my bedroom and one that is connected to my office computer. For a "home theatre experience" I have a 17" Intel iMac connected to the living room Sony HDTV & 5.1 sound system for on-line content from Hulu, OTA & cable networks and the occasional iTunes rental. It's got my iTunes library with Music and DVD rips--on a couple of Terabytes of ext. FW HDDS, for streaming that content through the house to other Macs(most bought used-eBay and others are friends!) via Wi-FI, that connects to the web over AT&T HI-Speed DSL. I control iTunes with my iPod Touch and Apple's Remote App. NMCFM=No More Cable For Me.

I put all the tech in my house together by myself. Being a Techno-geeek has nothing to do with age.

Posted by: dkjazz3 | June 18, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Due to a Cox snafu we had free 60 channel access for 6 months about the time of the changeover. After evaluating what we actually watched we dropped all of our meger cable access. We do no miss it at all. The images are better with over the air digital vs cable. We also watch some Masterpiece Theater and Netflix over the internet and find it quite satisfactory.

Posted by: GRDalton | June 18, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

DTV OTA Hater!

Before I Rx at least 10 free channels;

Today maybe 3 and not very good - lots of breaks and pixelation.

Is it a ploy to get out of free TV and make everyone decide that Cable/Sat/FIOS is the way to go. I see in the article "cord cutters" are the minority.

Posted by: Reverse1 | June 18, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I live in St. Mary's County, Southern MD. Before "the switch" I was able to get some of the standard broadcast channels, mainly NBC and ABC. Since the switch, despite having bought 2 separate converter boxes, there are absolutely NO channels to be received down here, and there is no way I am having a rooftop antenna installed in order to get 1 or 2 weak channels.

The digital switch was a terrible idea. Maybe it was good for densely populated areas, but it sucks bigtime in rural areas.

Posted by: apbove | June 18, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I've never subscribed to cable tv because there are too many shows on network tv for me to watch as it is. I have an LG HD tuner, and I was watching OTHD before the switch. I'm up in Gaithersburg, and I got channels 4,5,7,9,14,26. I could not pull in 20 or 50. When they did the switchover, I lost channel 9, but got 20, 30, and 66. Then I guess they boosted the signals and I got back channel 9, which is good because I watch The Mentalist! All the stations are pretty strong signals, although I sometimes have to mess with the tabletop antenna when the weather pattern changes.

Posted by: nuzuw | June 18, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

My old analog TV lies dormant in case we want to watch a VHS tape on it (or perhaps even the old laserdisc or Beta max still hooked up!)

I cancelled the cable after Comcast's digital "upgrade" which refused to work for more than 10 mins at a time even after switching several digital boxes (each requiring I trek over to their office and wait in line for half an hour or more)

Since I have a huge iMac desktop with an amazing screen I've instead bought an Elgato EyeTV attachment and hooked it to an antenna and now watch super sharp over the air digital broadcasts for free on my computer - the EyeTV will even record on my hard drive like a tiVo. I was going to buy a new digital TV until I realized what the mac could do, I also added in a netflix subscription and am saving about $70 a month now from what I paid to comcast for lousy reception. The few cable shows I miss (like Venturs Bros) I buy seasons on iTunes. Score!

Posted by: sistinas | June 18, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

No, I haven't cut the cord. While I have the capability to view over the air DTV, I never use it. Also I do watch some TV via the internet, but it is more of a time shifting thing. There are huge swaths of shows that are not available online. I find my viewing has tended to zero in onto the 40-50 HDTV-always channels my cable provider (Comcast) provides with occasional forays to the Speed channel to watch auto racing ;).

Posted by: eboyhan | June 18, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I dropped DirecTV a couple of years ago for financial reasons, and have been using a rooftop antenna that came with the satelite dish. I bought a converter box, but the thing stopped working after only 14 months. As it so happened, Best Buy had a great price on a digital TV about a month later, so the old TV went to the Recycling Place in the Sky. I live near I-395 and Little River Turnpike, and get all of the major channels, plus most of the digital-only channels like Channel 26's kids and home channels, and Retro Television on 7-3. So, I'm one of the few people who is perfectly happy with the switch.

Posted by: magicdomino | June 18, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I live in an area where the only way to watch TV is over the air or staellite. I now use a converter box to wtch over the air TV. The reception ranges from excellent to no signal. There appears to be no pattern to what channels that I can view at any particular time. Very frustrating.

Posted by: kdjkdj | June 18, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I cut the cord. In State College PA I can get the major networks (NBC,CBS,FOX,ABS), 3 PBS channels, the (sometimes) hillarious RTV, and a couple of other channels I never watch. Most of the shows I used to watch on cable are available on Hulu. I don't miss those that aren't (food network, HGTV). I certainly don't miss the monthly cable bill.

Posted by: astronomer | June 18, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Chan 7 I don’t even bother looking at anymore because I can’t pick it up that often in Germantown. Chan 9 is only slightly better. Chans 4 and 5 come in fairly well but they are on UHF. 7 and 9 are still on VHF. The only Chan that comes in strong is Chan 66. I don’t know if it is the position of the Sun, phases of the Moon or the weather but few of the stations come in consistently. The change-over has been basically a wash. No better, maybe slightly worse than analog.

Posted by: ecomcon | June 18, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

We got rid of minimum level cable almost 2 years ago to save money. Still have an analog television. Have a converter box but it doesn't seem to do much good. Basically we've just stopped watching television. We watch DVDs occasionally. The only time I missed having a TV was when the Olympics were on.

Posted by: RandomPerson | June 18, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Here in Bethesda I get 4, 5, 20, 26, 32, 50, and 66. However, 50 is highly dependent on the weather and, apparently, the day of the week as almost every thursday and friday, the hamsters they have powering the transmitter drop dead and I get a signal for maybe half the show. I hate digital television.

Posted by: rukidding4 | June 18, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

To save money, I had dropped cable in favor of over-the-air viewing a few months before the digital changeover, and now I'm using the converter box. My main gripe about the change in the broadcast medium is that now some stations are indeed harder to receive here in Northern VA with my rabbit-ears antenna than those same stations were when before they started digital transmission. I'm sure a rooftop antenna would be much more effective, but I can cope with what I am able to get over the air, especially since I watch a lot of network programs over the Internet instead of on the TV.

Posted by: seismic-2 | June 18, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

We live in West Springfield, VA and down in a hollow. We are getting marginal reception on a digital TV with powered indoor antenna for Channel 4, sometimes we get 7, hardly ever get 9. Reception is adversely affected by wind.

An adjacent bedroom with analog TV, digital converter, and non-powered indoor antenna gets great reception.

Posted by: rrgeek | June 18, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Dropped DirecTV after being disgusted that they only offered me the 50% discount after I threatened to leave! How long was I overpaying? Not now...I'm over the air and despite the occasional pixilating and few problems I'm happy with my converter box and old CRT TV.

Posted by: chab1 | June 18, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

During the switch my beef with the converter boxes was that it was impossible to find one that would receive and transcode HD TV. Yes, most analogue TV's are standard definition. But for those of us with high end analog TVs capable of 720P or 1080i, we needed something better than a regular RCA out on the analog side, and with a corresponding higher resolution. But it looks like everyone decided that the market was too small and not worth it. That was the real tragedy.

Finally, I ended up buying a WD Live box to do justice to my big screen 720P/1080i analog TV, and watch movies from my hard drive.

I completely gave up on cable and exclusively watch only off the air programming. I get about 40 channels, but pretty much programmed out all but half a dozen of them. The major networks and PBS. Rest is all garbage. Not that these are that much better.

For everything else, I use my PC, and if I need a bigger screen I feed the output through HDMI to my TV, which works just fine.

Occasionally I do miss the cable TV -- especially for election coverage, or some games I would like to watch that are only on ESPN etc. But I realize I have lot more free time now.

Posted by: kblgca | June 18, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I have stuck with OTA TV. I am 53 -- I refuse to pay for things that once were free -- like TV and drinking water and checked luggage!

Posted by: pmendez | June 18, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

For the most part, over-the-air TV viewing has been good.

I upgraded my rooftop antenna a few months ago, used the guide to aim it, and have fairly short cable (RG6) runs inside the house, but I'm still getting the occasional dropout. I'm thinking that the converter box (RCA DTA800) may be the weak link, and I'm itching for a new TV anyway. But before I scratch . . .

Does anyone have a feel for which TV brands in the 19"-22" size range have the keenest tuners?

Posted by: mattintx | June 18, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

We have never signed on to cable- used OTA broadcasts. With the conversion to digital we get more channels (> 25) in the Philadelphia area and crystal clear as I use a very good TV antenna on the third floor of our house. Videos we choose through Netflix. Our viewing needs are well taken care of, including the BBC news broadcasts over PBS. Recently an institution was throwing away CRT-based TV sets (32 "- 2004 model) which became our upgrade (rather than an LCD). The picture is very clear and the famous issue of black quality in a LCD tv is a non-issue! We are living well in the digital age with pre-digital technology, including sound through our stereo system.

Posted by: rtempest1 | June 18, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

We have never signed on to cable- used OTA broadcasts. With the conversion to digital we get more channels (> 25) in the Philadelphia area and crystal clear as I use a very good TV antenna on the third floor of our house. Videos we choose through Netflix. Our viewing needs are well taken care of, including the BBC news broadcasts over PBS. Recently an institution was throwing away CRT-based TV sets (32 "- 2004 model) which became our upgrade (rather than an LCD). The picture is very clear and the famous issue of black quality in a LCD tv is a non-issue! We are living well in the digital age with pre-digital technology, including sound through our stereo system.

Posted by: rtempest1 | June 18, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Never had cable and really appreciated all of the extra channels. I love that I now have five PBS options (althogh some are overlaps because that are same or similar content, but in HD). Live at a high point in DC -- about a mile from the cathedral -- and the biggest problem is when a helicoptor flies overhead, which happens several times a day. Restricted airspace since 911 puts them on a flight path over our place.

Posted by: DC311 | June 18, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I have installed a $70 digital antenna in my attic which does a great job of pulling in signals. We live in Gaithersburg and get incredible reception from the Washington-based network affiliates, with the exception - at times - of ABC. Currently, I have this antenna connected to just one TV on the upper level, but only because my wife is hesitant to "cut the cable."

As a family, our consumption of web-based video is steadily increasing (another reason why I'd like to "cut the cable."). When we want to watch web video as a family, I connect my MacBook to the HDTV and we can watch any programming available online. I especially like this capability for viewing Netflix's "play now" movies.

Posted by: moronic22 | June 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I dropped cable about five years ago to save money. Once the digital conversion happened, I never bothered to get a converter box or a new TV. You know what? I don't miss it at all. I can still watch my DVDs, and if I'm really desperate for something to do, I can find a movie or a show on Hulu.

When I visit my friends I'm in shock over how many channels are available...and yet I find there's still "nothing good on TV."

Posted by: kschmidtfr | June 18, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I still have my 1978 vintage Sony Trinitron TV set (analog, obviously). I can't justify dumping it while it still works fine. I got a digital converter box, which did not work at all, probably because the TV doesn't have a remote control/onscreen menu either (I use the remote on my VCR as a channel changer). I pay $20 a month for basic cable just to get a signal. I get the four broadcast networks, one PBS station, CW, and TNT. I used to get the next tier up, with about 30 channels, but I hardly ever watched them. I can see the Daily Show and YouTube clips on the web at my convenience, and I use my laptop and wide computer monitor to play my Netflix DVDs. Works for me.

Posted by: n_mcguire | June 18, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I live in Springfield, VA, and digital TV completely ruined my reception of the basic 4, 5, and 9. Thankfully, I get 7 okay. The channels that seem to work best are Russian Government TV, Chinese TV, Japanese TV, and Al Jezeera.

Before the switch, I bought a good aerial antenna and was getting great reception on the standard networks. After the switch, I found that trees and other obstructions block the "line of sight" path to the transmitter.

The rotator doesn't help much.

Digitial TV has pushed my wife to Hulu is free and we sometimes watch DVD rentals from Netflix as a family. Hulu is free, and Netflix is $10/month. Cable and FIOS are simply too expensive for now.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | June 18, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I am in the Cleveland market and I have very little trouble receiving channels using the UHF frequency range with an indoor antenna.

I cannot pick up the Fox (channel 8) and CBS (channel 19) signals as they have chosen to broadcast in the VHF range. My indoor antenna was able to pick up all VHF channels prior to the transition.

Posted by: august88 | June 18, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I live in Frederick, MD. I used to get 5, 7, 9, PBS and a few others with no problem (4 was very sporadic) before the switchover with an indoor HDTV antenna. Since the switchover, my reception has been except for PBS. I don't believe it for a minute about the cable stations boosting their output for DTV. I understand about the line of sight, distance rqmts for UHF, VHF channels on the antenna.

But my experience has been that I used to get those channels as HDTV over the air before switch and now not at all. So I believe that they cut power of signal.

I for one am living better without watching tv at all anymore. Helped me cut the cord in more ways than one. If I have a desperate need to watch something I turn to Hulu.

Posted by: tothj | June 18, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

It has been a quite a difficult transition as a Comcast subscriber. At times over the year I switched the TV to "over the air" with our roof top antennae.

In the first few months we frequently we lost major broadcast channels (I believe they were local channels 7 and 9) at times for more than a week, hardly a seamless transition. Thank goodness for Netflix as well as internet access.

I think over the last year I've had to rescan the TV and reprogram favorites at least 10 times, what an aggravation. Every time I visited my 85 year old mother over the same period I did the same for her.

We currently get most local channels with watchable reception "over the air" thought not as well as when analog. It is much worse losing sound and seeing the pixilated then having a little snow on the screen.

I canceled my Comcast subscription just last month. Apparently they celebrated the one year anniversary by converting their signal so it requires their digital converter box even for standard signals. I really dislike having multiple remotes or having to reprogram with every battery change. Like the HD but with Netflix, Hulu and others it was not worth the cable provider’s high prices, limited selection why continue subscribing?

Posted by: sasha11 | June 18, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to install a roof-top antenna and cancel my basic cable service. Can anyone give me a list of antenna installers in the metro Washington area? I found one in Fairfax and one in Baltimore with installation costs in the $200-300 range. Installing OTA antennas doesn't seem to be their main business, though.

Posted by: mdres1 | June 18, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Not being much of a watcher of broadcast television, I only have basic cable. That is supplemented with rental movies from iTunes, DVDs and the ABC app on my iPad. I also watch Hulu when I need to catch up with a television show or decide whether I like it.

Posted by: query0 | June 19, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

We had Comcast extended basic (analog) service for about 4 1/2 years. We have a fairly large tube TV (yeah, really stone age). The amount of time devoted to commercials seems to have increased over the years. As the DTV transition started, Comcast started dropping channels from the analog service and pushing the remaining ones further down the spectrum.

The final straw for us was last winter when we were watching a college football game. The program showed the player's face on the (36") screen, and all we saw was a 3" brown blur. It's not the TV (works fine on DVDs). It was Comcast deliberately reducing the quality of their analog service to force people to switch. Raising the rates didn't help either.

I called Comcast. Their representative said she had no previous reports of bad analog service and that perhaps we should test our cable connection. I explained the situation and was offered a promotional offer to switch to the (more expensive, of course) digital service. I declined.

We have been without TV since that point and haven't missed it. We no longer have to pay to watch commercials, and we don't pay even more to watch commercials in HD.

Posted by: wrs4 | June 19, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I live in the Bronx and have excellent over the air reception and subscribe to DirecTV, however, of all the stations available to me I only watch a hand few. I find on-screen logos and pop-up so annoying that I refuse to watch a station that deploys them...

Posted by: edmundsingleton1 | June 19, 2010 4:36 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: thomasxstewart1 | June 19, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

We are receiving 40 HDTV stations from the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington. We get several Baltimore stations and the three Maryland Public Television stations from Annapolis. We also really enjoy the international programing from Japan, Russia, and the Middle East on the Fairfax station (30.1, 30.2, 30.3, 30.4, and 30.5). In addition to being on a high elevation, our success can be attributed to a terrific HDTV antenna I found after trying several others. The antenna is :Antennas Direct DB2 Multi Directional HDTV Antenna. It is an indoor/outdoor antenna, but I just placed it behind my 32 inch Sony HDTV Bravia television. Some stations do break up momentarily when planes go down the Potomac flight path. I also have found that it helps to rescan the stations every few months. I lost reception of the Baltimore Fox station (45.1) last winter, but I got it back recently. This station broadcasts This Week in Baseball at 3:30pm on Saturdays, instead of earlier on the DC Fox station.

We have never had cable TV and we are very pleased with the terrific high-definition picture we now receive. We do have a FIOS internet connection. That makes it easy to watch video on demand clips from PBS or MSNBC. We also subscribe to the MLB on line baseball package that allows us to watch most baseball games on our computer.

Posted by: aclaster | June 19, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

i suffer with comcast because fios is not in my area, so i only pay $9/mo for basic cable. pror to the changeover, i received about 25% of my stations over the air - 42" of HD loveliness. about six months after that, comcast announced there would be a reconfig. some citizens tried to make inform the public that this reconfig would take away OTA channels...and it did. i can't believe these stations agreed to this. now my pbs stations are all-around letterbox. stinks.

Posted by: choqokat | June 19, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big TV watcher, and I've never had cable. I bought an HD converter box about a year before the changeover, as soon as discount coupons were available. The picture quality was much better. I lost all 4 Spanish channels but gained a movie channel, a weather channel, and 3 PBS channels.

I moved to Vermont a year ago. After I bought a new indoor antenna, I got about half as many channels as in Boston. I get 4 PBS stations, a weather station, and a movie station, but no ABC. I lose reception during rain or when a car goes by. I'm thinking of signing up for satellite.

Posted by: LizBetty | June 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

For all of the viewers that say that they can not install antennas on their balconies or outside, that is not true.

Despite what your lease may indicate the federal laws overide all of those in your lease.

It is illegal for anybody to prevent you from installing an antenna for the sake of receiving broadcast media per the FCC and held up in many cases (all the way to the supreme court) and all these cases are cited on the FCCs website.

The only way you can be prevented from doing so is if it violates FAA height limitations, or Local regional limitations (ie: building a tower) or if it can be proved to endanger others in your apartments or Home Owner Restricted communities otherwise you have a federal right to install an antenna in plain view.

Check the FCCs web site or google "antenna restrictions" "public broadcast" "FCC".

Posted by: fdunn3 | June 21, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Out in the N.E. corner of Texas we received 5 to 7 analog channels. I put up the largest VHF/UHF antenna Channel Master makes with CM's lowest noise preamp. All this on a 40-foot tower. After anolog (AA), I receive only one DTV channel all the time (Tyler TX 45 miles). Two more, 72 miles away come in near sunset, and the 4th & 5th (96 miles from Shreveport) come in most of the time after dark. The Dallas channels (109 miles) only come in when North Texas is under a stationary high. I would obtain a satelite service if I could get the Dallas channels. But, Congress, under lobby pressure passed a law making the satelite services unable to provide channels not in your "market". But how in the devil do they know what our market is? They think it is Tyler-Longview. People here follow I-30 west to Dallas, not the local roads to Tyler-Longview. My next step is to replace the 40' tower with an 80' tower to get the antennas above the thick pines, and build my own lower noise preaamp, and combine two 8-bay uhf Channel Master antennas to maximize the reception for UHF. It will still get the Tyler ch 7 TV.

Posted by: w0oog | June 23, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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