Ten years ago, when we would talk to people about cord cutting, we would get strange looks. (We don’t want to guess what people thought we were talking about.) But today, there is no doubt. Television lovers have spoken, and the growing cacophony of voices has rattled even the hallowed, throne of the Cable King of Sports – ESPN.
While they thought they were once immune to reality, ESPN is losing subscribers left and right. Simply, more families are tired of overpaying for content they could easily replace with a TV antenna and streaming service.
According to a recent story by NPR, “ESPN has lost 7 percent of its subscription base since its peak of about 100 million homes in 2011. And the trend is accelerating: 3.2 million subscribers have left since May 2014.”
Sports fans are notoriously smart about new ways to watch their favorite programming. It’s part of what helped to make a sports channel on cable so successful in the first place. And, if you mistreat them, they will find a way to get what they want.
On Friday, it became official. Comcast rolled out the old “it’s not you it’s me” with Time Warner. The cable giant announced that it was no longer going to go through with the merger deal and left Time Warner standing at the monopoly alter.
It’s sad to see something like this happen to such a perfect pair. They both were among the top of the Worst Companies in America list. Both had the same philosophy of customer service including little pet names. And both companies received a pre-wedding cake present from none other than Antennas Direct (check out the delivery here and here).
But, in the end, it didn’t work out. We hope they will remain friends and still agree to at least swap customers.
Honestly, we know that this is better for the American consumer. The joining of these two companies would have created a Cable Voltron, customer service would get even worse and broadcasters’ abilities to negotiate for fair retransmission of their content would have been compromised. So this break up is a good thing.
Still, there was this small part of us that would have loved to see just how astoundingly dismal they could make the customer experience. The worse they become, the more people feel compelled to cut the cord and receive free, over-the-air television with a digital TV antenna.
We wish them both the best. And, just for the record, we are not choosing sides. This too shall pass. Luckily, we wont have any trouble returning your antenna wedding present.
Last week, 100,000 broadcast radio and television industry shapers from 150 countries gathered in Las Vegas for the 2015 NAB Show, the world’s largest electronic media show. Perennially, the event has been the host of the latest technology surrounding broadcast media and journalism attracting brands such as CBS, Apple, HP, Samsung and, of course, Antennas Direct.
More than just passively attending, we love being a part of the show and learning about the future of television from some of the best minds in broadcast. Here are some of our biggest takeaways.
There’s (still) no better journalism than broadcast news.
“Broadcasters are more relevant, vital and trusted than ever,” said Gordon Smith, president of the NAB who also challenged show-goers to imagine a world without free over-the-air television. “In times of emergency, while other media may crash and fail, local television is there to connect the community.”
Broadcasters also continue to innovate how they deliver content to the community. Bart Feder, senior vice president of Tribune Media, pointed out that his stations are facing greater realities about how media is consumed, and they are taking steps to meet the demand.
“The reality is that people turn on Facebook before they turn on their TV,” said Feder. “We are the second screen in the two-screen household. The onus is on us to call the audience back. We need authenticity and a way to give the news greater context and meaning.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is a fan of free, broadcast TV.
While it may come as a shock to some in the industry, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is a big fan of over-the-air television. In his opening remarks on the second day of the NAB Show, Wheeler recounted the story of installing an indoor, flat panel digital antenna in his daughter’s home. He said she was floored when she realized she could get her favorite shows in high definition for free.
“Broadcast is an important part of our lives. And over-the-air provides our uniquely diverse communities with a shared experience,” he said. “With the high cost of cable bundles, consumers are perusing alternatives. One alternative they are perusing is broadcast TV. The number of households relying on over-the-air exclusively went up last year. We also see a growing number of people cutting the cord and pairing an over-the-air antenna with OTT services.”
The broadcast incentive auction is happening in 2016 (after five years of talking).
For several years, the FCC has been working on a plan to auction a portion of the broadcast spectrum to wireless providers. And, though it has been a long time in the making, there appears to be an end in sight. By Spring of 2016, television broadcasters will have the option to offer their spectrum for the auction. This means they may have to do a “repacking” of their broadcast. Wheeler says this is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for broadcasters and the auction will yield the greatest value for their spectrum.
What does this mean to fans of broadcast television from a viewer perspective? That remains to be seen. There are still some unanswered questions for the FCC and pending lawsuits. However, there is a potential for more broadcasters engaging in “channel sharing” and switching to a VHF frequency.
What is known is this auction is yet another business decision broadcasters need to make within the next several months to better meet the shifting demands of media consumption.
We have seen the future. And it was from a drone camera.
On perhaps a lighter note, the future of broadcast television will involve drones. The NAB Show featured an entire display and several vendors allowed engineers to try out the drone capabilities. As the technology stands, the drone will not replace the traffic helicopter, but it can add a degree of storytelling enhancement to broadcast news.
The FAA has yet to create a final list of rules regarding the safe use of drones and the companies who are licensed to pilot them are very few. However, with the fast scalability of the technology, most industry experts predict the drone coverage and usage will be an integrated part of storytelling by the next NAB Show.
Future for broadcasters includes deep investments in IT.
A broadcaster’s programming used to be simpler. You would create video for television consumption and this would be your single outlet. However, broadcasters now distribute content to websites, social media, Roku players, and mobile apps. And currently most internal workflows do not allow this to be managed in an efficient way.
However, Disney Corporation, which encompasses ABC, ESPN and seemingly most of the known world, has switched to an IP (Internet Protocol) format for their content. Currently, they are transitioning to a real-time distribute digital video to 150 different outlets. You can see the full panel discussion here.
Broadcasters face a lot of challenges to both their bottom line and their business models in the next year. And despite all of it, they are steadfast in their desire to provide free, over-the-air, high-definition television. Stay tuned as we create new ways to make more consumers aware of the choices they have to receive the best entertainment and news without a hefty cable bill.
Naturally we think that our products are pretty amazing, but it’s always great when we hear it from other people. Larry Cornwell of Ryze-Up Magazine recently reviewed the ClearStream 2V and we were ecstatic with his feedback. Here is a brief summary of his review.
“I have been testing the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V unit and it has been brilliant!”
The set up and installation is easy, the signals are strong and the pictures have been clear during the day, night and bad weather.
“The ClearStream 2V is one of the best, if not the best antenna on the market…clearly.”
Thank you Larry for the kind words. Be sure to check out Ryze-Up Magazine to read the review in it’s entirety. If you are interested in learning more about the ClearStream 2V or picking one up, simply click HERE.
For some time, Aereo has cast itself as a star in its own underdog drama. It wanted to be the proverbial David. The fatal error Aereo made was thinking the American people were too stupid to see through their little myth. All along, there have been loopholes in this story:
The technology is not real. It boils down to this: you cannot break the laws of physics with antenna technology or by calling them “microantennas.” As much as we would like to, you just cannot. It’s that simple.
There is nothing innovative about stealing. If you are going to charge money to rebroadcast something, then the creator of the content should get a cut. It is called copyright, and it exists to protect innovations – not harm them.
It was charging people for free content. Over-the-air is free. Not a subscription. You can receive it in full HD with an antenna. Millions of Americans have realized this and millions more will follow.
Aereo is not actually a company. It has not actually sustained itself and made money. It took large amounts of cash and blew them on legal fees. For the millions they have invested in lawyers, Antennas Direct could have supplied scores of Americans with the ability to start watching television right now for free.
Aereo investors say they have no plan B. And we are so grateful for their arrogance, poor planning and illegal business model. We invite you to join us today in dancing on Aereo’s grave. Three cheers for free TV!
The cacophony of rising ire against pay television’s backward business practices has reached such a volume, the folks in Washington DC are waking up to the cord cutting revolution. While high paid cable company lobbyists have taken to bending consumer statistics, we, at Antennas Direct, know more Americans than ever are liberating themselves and watching over-the-air broadcast. Recently, our president and founder, Richard Schneider, wrote an opinion piece in the influential Washington DC publication, Roll Call, about the renaissance of over-the-air.
From the article:
“It is clear that the sea change against pay-TV is directly translating to market disruption for Big Cable, and the massive upwelling of support for antennas is evidence of the over-the-air revolution that has been building for years. Cable, satellite and telecom companies have to find a way to be responsive to the consumer. If not, the American people might just put them out of their misery.”
Since crime scene dramas are the most-watched television programming for over-the-air viewers, we decided to use that medium to help you understand the dire straits in which cable providers have found. Scene opens on a wealthy tycoon’s office.
We had seen carnage before that day. But never any quite as mysterious. Cable Paymoor’s bloated body slumped forward in his throne-link office chair. The millionaire tycoon’s comb-over blew gently in the breeze of the open floor-to-ceiling windows. Piles of cash stacked around him escaped through the windows bill-by-bill.
My partner and I had been called to his residence after reports that he had not been heard from for days. We knew this was not out of character for Paymoor. He had a habit of going off the grid for days at a time and missing appointments. But this time, something much more deadly had happened.
“It appears there are no signs of forced entry,” said my partner.
“Well, that’s no surprise,” I said. “No one could penetrate this palace if they tried. No. I think what caused the demise of Cable is something more mysterious.”
We moved closer to Paymoor’s body and noted the open wound on his forehead. On the screen in front of him were the latest statistics on the number of Cable subscribers. It looked like he lost over 1.7 million subscribers.
In front of him lay a copy of the New York Times with the headline, “Cord Cutting Movement is Costing Cable Millions.” A pattern of blood splatter on the desk spelled out all we needed to know. Paymoor had died of self-inflicted wounds. He had smashed his head on the desk in frustration over losing his market share.
“My god,” I said. “Cable died of a broken heart. It appears this over-the-air option has driven Paymoor to the brink. He obviously couldn’t take it.”
On the desk next to the headlines I notice a cake. It read “MANY THANKS. STAY THE COURSE. XOXO Antennas Direct”
I turn to my partner: “Heh. I guess being a cable CEO is not such a sweet job anymore.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cable prices have risen 77 percent since 1996. In an effort to save money and enhance their TV viewing experience, many Americans are searching for alternatives to traditional pay-TV.
In comes an HDTV antenna from Antennas Direct! Our antennas offer superior HD picture quality and unmatched signal strength.
Speaking of unmatched signal strength, the ClearStream 2V HDTV antenna was recently featured in Forbes. The article covered the wide-range of cord-cutting options that are on the market today, including HDTV antennas.
In the past, over-the-air TV was not a viable option for people that were living 50+ miles from the closest tower. The ClearStream 2V was praised for its 50-mile signal range and its ability to be installed anywhere in the house. No matter challenging your living environment might be, it is truly no match for the unparalleled power of the ClearStream 2V HDTV antenna!
The ClearStream 2V also has the power to—depending on the market—pull in up to 70 channels. These stations range from major network affiliates to foreign language channels, giving families a true Smörgåsbord of content to choose from.
We have not ever seen ourselves as a “tech startup.” That term has certainly become en vogue over the last several years with the explosion of technology companies in seemingly every American city. The images that come to mind include hipster workplaces where tattoo-sleeved (cool yet nerdy) teenagers banging out code on sleek machines while a throng of twenty-somethings play table tennis. They build web-based applications, phone applications and other digital technologies.
Rarely, however, do you hear people discuss a product like our humble high definition antennas. But luckily St. Louis is full of rare people.
At a recent awards lunch hosted the St. Louis County Economic Council (SLCEC), Antennas Direct was recognized for its entrepreneurial vision alongside newer brands such as yurbuds and LockerDome as well as established brands such as Scottrade, Ameren and Edward Jones. The theme of the evening centered on research and innovation. Since Antennas Direct has shown steady growth for the past ten years (a pattern that has earned us a spot on the Inc. 5000 for the last six years), the SLCEC felt as though we are an important part of the St. Louis entrepreneurial scene. As a show of gratitude, each attendee received an antenna from Antennas Direct.
We applaud the SLCEC for their vision and bravery in recognizing the innovative and cutting edge technology that we have packed into our products and into our business thinking. We take it as confirmation of a belief we have held for some time: Antennas are the future of television.
Special thanks to host, KMOV’s Claire Kellett for plugging the benefits of over-the-air technology to the audience (“watching K-M-O-V”). Take a look at the video below to see our fearless leader, Richard Schneider, and a host of other business leaders discuss the values of the St. Louis region.
The cable television big shots are at it again – another carriage dispute is dominating the headlines
and unfairly punishing their viewers. The current standoff between Time Warner Cable and CBS has meant viewers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and 13 other states have been without some of their favorite programming for some time now.
What typically happens is this:
Cable and satellite companies began to charge customers for high-definition television (that is free over-the-air). The broadcasters then asked for a cut of the money that was being made on what is actually free. In an effort to negotiate a better rate, the cable company (in this case, Time Warner) blacks out the network television station.
It’s big names and big egos. In the end, no one wins.
And the biggest victim is you – American families who pop corn, pour sodas and watch your favorite mini-series like Under the Dome
together. If you are one of the victims of this blackout, then know that you have been wronged.
The good news: it does not have to be this way. You don’t have to wait for the big shots to play their games. There is a way to get the programming you want to see without the monthly fee…all you need is an HD antenna.
Also, the picture and sound quality from an antenna far surpasses the compressed signal from your paid provider. So when you have your friends over to watch the Cowboys game (since it is blacked out on their TV), you will have a better image than ever.
The even better news: you don’t have to pay full price for a high quality HD antenna. We at Antennas Direct feel for the victims of this blackout. So, here’s what we want you to do:
It’s pretty obvious that we’re passionate about cutting the cord and receiving OTA television for FREE, the way it was meant to be. But it’s refreshing to see that other people share our passion! One of those people is Robert Garrett: math teacher, coach and downright cool dude. Robert recently shared an install and review […]
LeBron James is not short on confidence. Even after the crushing defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland last night, James was quoted as saying he is the “best player in the world.” While that may be debatable, one thing is not: When sports matter, they are on broadcast television. Leading up to the championship […]
We know some of you out there have some reservations about saying goodbye to pay television. You write us and call us explaining how much happier you would be. Although we know more of you out there are receiving TV for free just based on our sales numbers, there are still a lot of Americans […]