TV antennas bring back memories of my grandmother’s lavender-scented house with the pointy antenna set sitting on the TV shelf. In a world where everyone is supposed to be enjoying satellite TV and streaming shows over the internet, TV antennas have somehow found a way to make a redeeming comeback.
According to the Consumer Technology Association, an estimated 8.1 million TV antennas were delivered to retail buyers in the United States in 2018 . This figure is a 2% increase from 2017 and 8% from 2016. More people are cutting the cord every year, ditching their pay-TV bundle subscriptions for broadcast channels like CBS, Fox, and NBC. People are getting tired of subscribing with an average of $100-$120 a month for hundreds of channels out of which they’ll watch a maximum of 20.
“It’s never gone away, just was in the background for many years,” said Greg Sarantos owner of Seattle-based Mr. Antenna . “Last year I was working by myself and able to keep up with the workload, this year I’ve had to hire on an independent contractor.”
“Once viewers learn everything is different now and the picture is actually better than cable and satellite — and best of all it’s free — they become converts,” said Grant Hall, CEO of Nuvvyo, a Canadian consumer electronics company to LA Times . In 2009, TV stations were mandated by a government policy to upgrade to HD digital transmission from analog for better picture quality.
Cord cutters are more thrifty than value-conscious
According to eMarketer in a 2017 survey, 85% of cord-cutters said that pay-TV is too expensive and wasteful .
“Aside from price, many respondents also said they canceled their pay-TV service because they’re using an internet streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Video. User behaviors more conducive to subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services, like binge-watching, also reflect the decline of cable—as does these services’ original content.”
This new trend of cord-cutting is giving cable and satellite TV companies a run for their money. On the other hand, it’s exponentially increasing the profits of antenna manufacturers, an industry that hit a major low with the inception of satellite streaming in the 1990s.
Channel Master is one of the oldest global manufacturers of electronic devices. The Arizona-based company made millions of sales from the 1950s up until the mid-80s when cable TV began to dominate the market. Channel Master suffered deeply from the evolution, struggling to survive as the company ownership exchanged several hands over decades. The company went bankrupt in 2003 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2003 after losing its largest client, EchoStar .
In recent times, the company has begun to make a solid comeback from the rocks and although they do not reveal the actual sales figures, their customer base is booming once again.
TV antennas still have their limitations
While the idea of making a one-time double antenna investment for life-time free TV seems attractive, there are some major limitations to be considered. TV antennas haven’t been upgraded much in the past decades, and despite the digital transmission policy, there’s still a measure of interference and attenuation in certain areas.
Channel Master has come up with a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) gadget so antenna users can still get to watch their favorite TV shows at their own time. However, there’s no watching the major sports and news channels being streamed live to cable TV companies. Many of these channels have contracts with cable companies so viewers can only watch games if they are actively subscribed.
“I can’t tell you how many people that we know in everyday life who ask, ‘You’re in this industry — how do I cut the cord?’” said Bill Nayden, a top analyst with Park Associates to LA Times. “Interestingly it’s not an easy answer. ‘Do you watch live TV? Do you care about the news? Do you care about sports?’ There is no one clean answer for everyone. It’s a bit of a mix, and antennas are a part of that.”
- Gary Arlen. Rabbit Ears No More. TV Technology. https://www.tvtechnology.com/news/rabbit-ears-no-more. Retrieved 25-10-19
- Kate Greenberg. TV antennas are making a comeback as more people ‘cut the cord’. Khou. https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/antenna-tv-making-a-comeback/281-ffcede7d-bd39-494b-970a-1f711b831ce0. Retrieved 25-10-19
- Stephen Battaglio. TV antennas are making a comeback in the age of digital streaming. LA Times. https://www.latimes.com/business/hollywood/la-fi-ct-tv-antennas-20181228-story.html. Retrieved 25-10-19
- Editor. Why Consumers Continue to Shift Away from Pay TV. eMarketer. https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Why-Consumers-Continue-Shift-Away-Pay-TV/1016570. Retrieved 25-10-19
- About Us. Channel Master. https://www.channelmaster.com/AboutUs.asp. Retrieved 25-10-19
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