TV viewers going retro with antennas to save money on cable


Staff member
ST. PETERSBURG — A little over a year ago, with a baby on the way, Greg and Jesse Miller looked for ways to save some money. He cut special soccer games from their television package. She cut her data plan on her iPhone. Then they cut Netflix. Then they cut cable.

And then Greg went to Target, walked around the electronics section until he found what he was searching for, and for 40 bucks bought …

… a TV antenna.

Remember those?

Rabbit ears?

Turns out the future of TV watching, and an increasing part of its present, includes a visible piece of the past. The Millers' silver, metal, plain Jane General Electric antenna puts them in a growing portion of the population that is returning to over the air TV.
A Nielsen study last month said the number of households wired for cable went down 4.1 percent over the last year. According to a different study done by consulting firm Deloitte, as many as 9 percent of cable customers stopped service last year, and another 11 percent are considering "cutting the cord" this year.

What are these people doing instead?

Some are switching to satellite. Some are getting rid of TV altogether.

Missouri company Antennas Direct, meanwhile, sold 400,000 antennas in 2010. It sold 600,000 antennas last year. This year, says company boss Richard Schneider, that number should just about double.

"It's almost startling how much pent-up hostility people have for their cable providers," he said. "People are looking for a rationale to liberate themselves from this relationship. The cable companies have essentially held a monopoly. But that business model isn't sustainable when there are viable alternatives."

Free, over-the-air TV, he said, is "the new basic cable." Florida is one of his top three markets.
People in their 20s and 30s are the most likely to make the switch. A survey done by Los Angeles company Ideas and Solutions suggests 60 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 are considering giving up paying for TV.

"Young consumers' penchant for alternative platform viewing will forever alter the pay TV landscape," Ideas and Solutions head Glen L. Friedman told trade publication TVNewsCheck last month.
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