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Old 03-02-2014, 12:04 PM   #61
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I think that is absolutely GREAT that you dropped cable, Audrey! Congratulations on that!

I have been thinking about gradually weaning myself off of cable TV (first basic cable, then OTA), but don't know if I ever will actually get around to doing it. You are inspiring!
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:05 PM   #62
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I haven't compared costs recently, but in the past I checked about dropping to just internet service with Comcast, and found that our internet cost would go up on a monthly basis. That may or may not be true.

What we did is drop down to the lowest TV package with internet -- about $78 per month. That is $14 for TV, $62 for internet (which includes $8 for the modem).

We had been able to take advantage of various promotions by calling every six months or so, and getting them to drop our total cost to $100-110 per month. At same point (maybe when they started building luxury office tower in Phila.) they would not drop the cost at all. So we are saving $20-100 per month, depending on how you want to calculate savings.

We added Netflix at $12-14 per month, and looking forward to the day when there will be true competition in this business.
I can certainly see how for many folks dropping cable doesn't change the overall package cost enough to bother.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:10 PM   #63
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The worst thing about hulu+ is the ads are all the same. It is bad enough there are ads, but seeing the same commercial over and over again is painful. Having been spoiled by a DVR, I find it is tough to go back to commercials again.
+1 about the commercials. We are paying $84 a month now for cable TV and every channel except one is loaded with commercials. Thank God for the mute button. The idea of paying good money to watch commercials in kind of sickening. The GF pays part of the cable bill and she wants to keep it. We get some OTA TV which has local news and weather and PBS.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:12 PM   #64
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I think that is absolutely GREAT that you dropped cable, Audrey! Congratulations on that!

I have been thinking about gradually weaning myself off of cable TV (first basic cable, then OTA), but don't know if I ever will actually get around to doing it. You are inspiring!
It was easy because we simply weren't watching cable. We have been watching exclusively broadcast (local) channels and Internet streaming. So it was a matter of working on our antenna setup to get better broadcast reception (which is ongoing - we can get two well, but will probably keep trying to improve it), and getting where we could drop the digital phone line. Then we were able to switch to Internet only service.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:19 PM   #65
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+1 about the commercials. We are paying $84 a month now for cable TV and every channel except one is loaded with commercials. Thank God for the mute button. The idea of paying good money to watch commercials in kind of sickening. The GF pays part of the cable bill and she wants to keep it. We get some OTA TV which has local news and weather and PBS.
Yes, the Hulu+ repeats commercials, but overall there is WAY less than you get on broadcast programming or cable. The commercials are much fewer and shorter. Shows that last an hour on cable or broadcast TV typically only take 42 to 45 mins on Hulu+. That's considerably less time watching commercials.

I can see how someone used to forwarding through commercials via DVR might find it too annoying, but for us it's so much less than what we get off air or on cable, it seems like a relief. And it's a good time to pause, take a break, whatever.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:25 PM   #66
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I am putting up an outdoor digital TV antenna, and replace my analog antenna that has not been used in many years.
Just as an fyi, there are no such things as "analog antennas" and "digital antennas." RF doesn't know the difference. The vast majority of todays's digital TV broadcast signals are on UHF channels, so just be sure whatever antenna you use, it is a good performer on UHF. If your current antenna is old and likely has a lot of corroded connections, bent/broken elements, etc., it's probably a good idea to replace it.
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It will run on my cable that is already routed.
Be sure the current cable is of the highest quality. The signal from your cable provider is relatively potent compared to what will be coming down the line from your antenna and you will want to minimize losses.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:28 PM   #67
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I don't know why people get basic cable when they could just get an antenna and have perfectly clear HDTV for the basic channels. I don't even need a roof antenna, rabbit ears work fine. All the new TVs have built in tuners, all that is needed is an antenna.
+ 1. That's what I do, and off-the air HD look stunning. Infinitely better than the heavily compressed signals so common with all cable providers...
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:00 PM   #68
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Antennas are only an option if you live where you can pick up the signals. Some of us can't pick up over the air transmissions, even with antennas, due to distance or terrain or both.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:08 PM   #69
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I dropped cable in Nov '10. When I am around TV I find the noise and light very annoying.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:30 PM   #70
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Antennas are only an option if you live where you can pick up the signals. Some of us can't pick up over the air transmissions, even with antennas, due to distance or terrain or both.
True. I wonder what will happen to the price of cable for people in that situation if others keep abandoning cable. Will cable drop prices to attract people back, raise prices to make up the loss or some hybrid like raise prices but offer much better introductory prices. Probably a continuation of the latter, IMHO.

Honestly I feel that content is becoming more fragmented. Networks provide original content that can be seen free over the air for many, cable has original content tied to both premium and non premium stations, streaming services also have started development of original content. It seems that no matter what you do, you're going to miss something. And maybe that's a good thing. Not enough hours in the day to watch it all even if you were inclined to try. That's one of the reasons I am happy to wait to see many things later and let other people filter it for me.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:36 PM   #71
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True. I wonder what will happen to the price of cable for people in that situation if others keep abandoning cable. Will cable drop prices to attract people back, raise prices to make up the loss or some hybrid like raise prices but offer much better introductory prices. Probably a continuation of the latter, IMHO.
Satellite TV has been like that for years. In fact, that's pretty much always been their business model. They practically give away programming packages for 6-12 months for new subscribers, deals existing subscribers usually* don't get. Then, after the initial subsidized period, that $29.95 package becomes $75 a month, and the special sports or entertainment packages they throw in get renewed at full price unless you call them and cancel them (and they hope many won't bother).

* -- Yes, there is the tiresome game of calling retention (which works best when you are not under contract) and sounding like you are considering canceling the service, to see what deals and other "freebies" they will throw in for you. Depending on what they offer, it may or may not trigger another 1-2 years contract.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:43 PM   #72
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Antennas are only an option if you live where you can pick up the signals. Some of us can't pick up over the air transmissions, even with antennas, due to distance or terrain or both.
The history of the transition from analog to digital OTA TV is very interesting. Anyone who cares to can Goggle up lots of info.

When TV stations, following FCC mandated timelines, shut down their high powered analog transmitters and huge, elevated to the clouds, antennas, they often replaced them with much lower powered transmitters and smaller, lower antennas. They envisioned few viewers watching OTA and therefore tried to avoid buying costly, high powered transmitters and paying rent on skyscrappers for antenna space. Most also moved frequency from VHF to UHF (if they were on VHF to begin with) and the path loss over UHF can be greater than VHF.

Therefore, even here in an urban area, it's more difficult to receive TV sigs than before the transition. Although, if you can receive a digital signal at a minimum level, the quality is great!

Here in the Chicago suburbs, I could easily receive all broadcasting analog TV signals with a set-top indoor antenna. Now, with digital, things are a bit fussier. Most of the stations come in OK, but several require repositioning the antenna. And a couple don't come in at all on my indoor antenna regardless of fidgeting, aiming, etc.

I'm planning an outdoor antenna installation this spring just to end the constant tweaking and fiddling with the indoor antenna. I'll also be rewiring some of the house with better quality coax to lower losses. I'll be getting all the major networks, 3 PBS stations (one of these is the reason for the outdoor antenna) and a number of independents.

But I'll still have the "sports" issue. Here in Chicago, only Da Bears are on OTA regularly (except Mon PM games). Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, Fire, Wolves and most college games are on cable. Smart move by the cable operators. I'm not a sports junkie by any means. But I admit, just going without cold turkey is not an appealing thought.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:45 PM   #73
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Not enough hours in the day to watch it all even if you were inclined to try. That's one of the reasons I am happy to wait to see many things later and let other people filter it for me.
So true. I spent an afternoon last week setting up all the software just from the free public libraries - Zinio for hundreds of magazines now all online, Overdrive and other software like it for thousands of ebooks, audio books, and video downloads, and training courses on everything HTML to learning Mandarin to playing the violin. And old fashion books, too, as well as a lot of other online services from the library I have not even explored yet.

Then there are all the movies and TV shows from cable, Prime, Netflix, etc. It is pretty wild how much content is available on all different media for free these days, or for very low cost.

When I was little we lived in the country, and I had to wait for the bookmobile every week to get slim pickings of a few books to read.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:49 PM   #74
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Most also moved frequency from VHF to UHF (if they were on VHF to begin with) and the path loss over UHF can be greater than VHF.
In many cases, the opposite occurred.... sort of. A lot of stations with legacy analog VHF frequencies added UHF digital signals, and while analog and digital coexisted they would broadcast on two different RF signals. The analog signal was in the same place on VHF as always.

Many of them that were "high" VHF (channels 7-13) used the opportunity of the digital transition to kill their analog signals on the actual VHF frequency and *move* the digital signal off of UHF to the VHF frequency where they just turned off the analog signal. Why? Well, sometimes VHF can travel farther, but it's more prone to interference (and channels 2-6 are even worse, which is why those were mostly abandoned). But the main reason? As always -- money. A strong VHF signal might need only 50 kilowatts. A similarly strong UHF signal can use 700-1000 kilowatts. So powering the UHF signal can cost 10-20 times more than powering a VHF signal.

Another problem with VHF is that it is MUCH harder to lock a signal with indoor rabbit ears, even if the signal should be strong enough to reach.
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Old 03-02-2014, 01:54 PM   #75
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In many cases, the opposite occurred.... sort of. A lot of stations with legacy analog VHF frequencies added UHF digital signals, and while analog and digital coexisted they would broadcast on two different RF signals. The analog signal was in the same place on VHF as always.

Many of them that were "high" VHF (channels 7-13) used the opportunity of the digital transition to kill their analog signals on the actual VHF frequency and *move* the digital signal off of UHF to the VHF frequency where they just turned off the analog signal. Why? Well, sometimes VHF can travel farther, but it's more prone to interference. But the main reason? As always -- money. A strong VHF signal might need only 50 kilowatts. A similarly strong UHF signal can use 700-1000 kilowatts. So powering the UHF signal can cost 10-20 times more than powering a VHF signal.

Another problem with VHF is that it is MUCH harder to lock a signal with indoor rabbit ears, even if the signal should be strong enough to reach.
Actually today, due to FCC requirements, VHF is almost completely void of TV sigs. Here in Chicago, there is only a single TV signal left on VHF. Is it different out there in rural Texas?
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:01 PM   #76
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Actually today, due to FCC requirements, VHF is almost completely void of TV sigs. Here in Chicago, there is only a single TV signal left on VHF. Is it different out there in rural Texas?
There are very, very few stations that use "low VHF" RF channels 2-6. (One of the largest of them is a Philly station using Channel 6.) But many markets still have channels using 7-13. I see Chicago has a CBS affiliate using RF channel 12. In my market (San Antonio) the NBC affiliate (legacy channel 4) and the CBS affiliate (legacy channel 5) are still using UHF since "low VHF" is horrible, but the PBS (channel 9) and ABC (channel 12) affiliates are using those historical legacy high VHF RF channels for their digital now.

Looking at New York just for grins, I see the same -- the legacy "low VHF" network affiliates are still on UHF, but most of the high VHF stations -- ABC (channel 7), PBS (channel 13) and CW (channel 11) all moved their digital signals back to the legacy high VHF frequencies.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:28 PM   #77
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I see Chicago has a CBS affiliate using RF channel 12.
Yep, that's the single station I was talking about.

I wish the FCC had put all the stations onto a tightly grouped set of channels. It's a waste to need two antennas or a compromise broadband antenna when they are so spread out.

In any case, I'm finding it a bit more challenging to pull in all the digital broadcasting stations than I did the analog signals before the changeover.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:30 PM   #78
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But I'll still have the "sports" issue. Here in Chicago, only Da Bears are on OTA regularly (except Mon PM games). Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls, Fire, Wolves and most college games are on cable.
I'm surprised at this statement. WGN is the home channel of the Cubs, Hawks and Bulls. I don't have cable, but there's enough games to catch on free TV here. I don't really watch the White Sox, Fire or Wolves, but I know I've seen them on too, usu, WCIU. I know the Cubs get first rights vs. Hawks and Bulls since they've had the longest relationship with WGN.

Cubs - more than half the season will be on free TV. WGN (9) and WCIU (26) will show 83 games and 4 preseason games and this doesn't include national/regional games on FOX.
Hawks - last night's game was on NBC and for March, 3 of 15 games are free TV and in April, 2 of 6 games are free TV.
Bulls - today's game is on ABC as I type, in March, 6 of 16 games will be on free TV and in April, 4 of 8 games will be on free TV.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:39 PM   #79
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For most people, I think it comes down to how much do you like sports. Pretty much everything else can be obtained over the air or through some streaming service for a much lower price. The cable companies have a lock on sports.

Once you start streaming you do discover shows that are not available on your cable. Of course just like cable, there is a lot of crap to wade through. Just depends on what you like. If you don't need to see the shows the second they originally air, then you might love streaming. For example, I have never seen an episode of Breaking Bad. But it is available on Netflix. I intend to stream the entire series this April. When Breaking Bad was originally airing, I had cable that included AMC. I could have easily watched it or had one of the tivo boxes grab it. But by waiting, I get reviews from other people and can binge watch it when I have the time. Some shows watch better when you don't have to wait weeks or months between episodes.

That is my situation. I love sports, and local teams that require local subscription. Yes, I pay more, but my total costs are going down. Why? Because my TVs are of such good quality and size now I prefer to stay home and watch as opposed to attending live. My 30 or so trips to live events have trickled down to about a half dozen a year now. Or maybe I'm just getting old and cranky and do not like crowds, small uncomfortable seats, and dumb people in my way all the time while trying to watch.


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Old 03-02-2014, 02:52 PM   #80
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Cubs - more than half the season will be on free TV. WGN (9) and WCIU (26) will show 83 games and 4 preseason games and this doesn't include national/regional games on FOX.
As I said, Da Bears have the best free TV coverage. You miss only 1 - 2 or 3 games all season. The Cubs coverage isn't bad except that it seems like the games, almost half, you can't watch are always the ones I wanted to watch! It annoys me to have to check the paper or web site to see which games I'll be able to see.
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Hawks - last night's game was on NBC and for March, 3 of 15 games are free TV and in April, 2 of 6 games are free TV.
If the Hawks are having a good season, that would be unacceptable for me.
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Bulls - today's game is on ABC as I type, in March, 6 of 16 games will be on free TV and in April, 4 of 8 games will be on free TV.
Again, unacceptable.

My cable bill approaches $80/mo with taxes included and I find that irritating. But it isn't a big deal in our budget. So the annoyance of wondering if we'll be able to catch a game or not, coupled with a few cable-only shows we do enjoy, have made it difficult to throw the cable switch to off. The cable companies really found the weak spot in my resistance when they signed up for most of the sports broadcasts. Dang it..... !

I found out we can put our Comcast account on "suspend" and restart it without paying a fee. I'm looking at doing that this summer when we travel a lot anyway. Then we can really experience whether OTA TV does it for us or not.

BTW, since you mentioned not having cable, are you able to pick up WYIN (PBS out of northern Indiana)? They're in our basic cable package and we really like them. The antenna web site indicates it's going to be tough for me to pull them in even with a specialized antenna mounted high, but I'm going to try. Fortunately they're in the same direction as the bulk of the other stations coming out of Chicago so won't require adding a rotator to the plans.
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