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Antennas: The Cord Cutter’s Secret Weapon

Cord cutters are leaving their traditional satellite and cable subscriptions in droves. If you’re still holding onto your subscription for access to local broadcast channels, an HDTV antenna could be the perfect way to kick your habit and save hundreds a year on your entertainment costs. HDTV antennas help you tap into a whole suite of free channels, letting you cut the cord without missing out on your favorite shows.

How HDTV Antennas Work

In 2009, the United States made the shift from traditional analog TV signals to a digital transmission signal. You need a special antenna for picking up these new digital signals, but HDTV antennas are relatively inexpensive—and, unlike cable or satellite, you don’t need to subscribe to a service to reap the benefits.

Benefits of HDTV Antennas

Major network syndicates like NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, PBS, and more broadcast in high-definition for free using a digital transmission. With a simple HDTV antenna, you can gain access to hundreds of the most popular shows and programs. For cord cutters, these channels complement the thousands of streaming options on popular sites like Netflix or Amazon.

Choosing an HDTV Antenna

There’s a plethora of TV antennas available, and newer designs look much nicer than the now-obsolete bunny ears many people remember from their childhoods. Flat antennas resemble a sheet of paper, and they usually adhere to the wall behind your TV. These antennas hook up to your TV using a coaxial cable, just like a cable box. There are lots of options to choose from, and most can be found for less than $30. Use customer reviews when looking for the best antenna option for your TV.

Attic and Roof-Mounted Antenna

Unfortunately, HDTV antennas aren’t guaranteed to work where you live. While most neighborhoods do have access to extra channels, the number of channels varies from region to region. You can use this calculator to figure out the transmission strength in your neighborhood.

If you’re serious about cutting the cord, but you’re worried about reception, you can boost your digital transmission signal strength using an attic or roof-mounted antenna. The boosted signal reception will help you gain clear access to channels that a simple flat indoor antenna can’t get. This solution probably won’t work for apartment-dwellers, but if you have the roof space, roof antennas with perform better, and will increase your chances of receiving the best TV reception.

Forget HD—4K Is Coming

Right now, digital transmissions are only available in HD, but there are clear indicators that 4K transmissions are right around the corner. The FCC is calling for the television industry to implement ATSC 3.0, which would transmit crystal-clear 4K television free over the air. It’s a good idea to buy a 4K-ready antenna now in order to future-proof your entertainment system for the upcoming changes.

To Recap

They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but an HDTV antenna comes pretty close. The combination of streaming video and local channels makes for an entertainment package that can often put those monthly cable subscriptions to shame. If you’re waiting for a reason to cut the cord, then look no further: this is it!

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Alex Haslam is a cord-cutting expert with, a resource for people who want to cut the cord and still get the TV they crave. Follow them on Twitter @CutCableToday.