Adults of a certain age remember when you paid for a television, but the programs were free, beamed to a metal antenna
on the roof or atop the TV set. Receiving free broadcasts over the air is relatively rare now, although you can get excellent high-definition signals that way with the same antennas as a generation ago. Use AntennaWeb (antennaweb.org) to help choose an antenna for your address. But instead of receiving free broadcast signals, the average subscription TV bill is $86 per month, according to a recent study by research firm NPD Group. If nothing changes, NPD expects the average pay-TV bill to reach $123 by 2015 and $200 by 2020. Granted, you get many more channels when you pay, and you get no cable stations, such as ESPN, CNN or HBO, when you don't. But the free broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, et al. -- are still among the most watched. Meanwhile, others pay to watch television programs on Netflix
, which can be less-expensive alternatives but aren't free. Television can be relatively inexpensive entertainment compared with regularly dining out and going to concerts, for example. But the question is whether it's worth paying for compared with a free alternative.