With streaming service use on the rise and a wide variety of options available, more people are deciding to cut the cord from the cable company. For the first time, the number of Netflix subscribers has surpassed the number of cable subscribers in the United States as viewers are searching for ways to get all their favorite content while lowering their costs. While some services such as Hulu and Sling TV provide live TV without a cable subscription, those still have monthly costs.

If you want live television for no monthly or annual fees the way to do it is with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. For the viewer, OTA antennas work in a similar way to an old fashion television set except instead of 'rabbit ears', they can receive high-quality digital signals. They receive that signal, decode it and put it through to your television. They're easy to setup and a convenient way to get live and local content. Here's a quick guide to why an OTA HD antenna is crucial to any cord cutting setup.

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It's Free

You aren't going to get ESPN or HBO over the air but there are quite a few networks available. In many areas, you'll be able to get ABC, NBC, Fox, PBS, and many more. Which channels you receive depends on your location and the strength of the signals which broadcast in the area. While the exact channels also depend on the antenna, you use you can get an idea of which channels are available using this tool from Tablo.

As long as you live in an area with a good variety of channels you could watch your local NFL team on Fox or CBS, check out the latest episode of the Flash later on the CW, watch the Big Bang Theory on CBS, hop over the NBC later in the week to watch The Voice, watch the NBA Finals on ABC, or have loads of family friendly programming on PBS. And you could watch these and more for free.

Local News

A lot of the content listed above is also available on services like Hulu or Netflix. Many cord cutters already have these services and wouldn't be swayed to get an OTA antenna. But over the air television is the easiest and often only way to watch local channels. That means local variants of the major networks as well as local news channels and networks.

Even Hulu's new Live TV option doesn't have all the local channels in all areas and it still costs $40 per month.

Live Local Sports

One of the things that holds many people back from cutting their cable subscription is sports. Streaming services are great but to view your favorite sports you often have to pay for specific sports packages. There are popular offerings that include sports content like Sling TV and its price point is low but for some content the you may pay just $0 per month.

While it does depend on the sports you want to watch and the teams you support, the major networks that are available over the air in many areas have local NFL games and some other sports content. Generally, Fox has NFC games and CBS has AFC games and both networks are available throughout the country, though it's always worth checking if you can get any specific channel.

An OTA antenna won't get you every sports channel you need and notably misses out on content like ESPN and league networks like the NFL Network and NBATV but depending on your favorite sports and teams, an OTA antenna could meet your needs and save on costs each month.

Selecting an HD OTA Antenna

To get any of these benefits you need to get an antenna that matches the type of home you live in. You'll have to decide between an indoor or outdoor mounted antenna and how much range you need to receive signals.

OTA signals have a finite range and your ability to receive them and view television in good quality depends on your location and how close you are to a broadcast tower. In addition, signals can be affected by buildings and mountains as well.

The most important part of an HD OTA antenna setup is the antenna itself.

If you can put an antenna on your roof and are willing to have a visible antenna you can get a much longer-range radius for a good value. 1byone has an antenna with an 85-mile range that is $45.99 It has a respectable 4.5-star rating on Amazon and is listed as a #1 best seller. If you don't need an 85-mile range, there are lower range offerings from 1byone at lower price points. If you need an indoor setup you can look at something like 1byones' 50-mile range HDTV Antenna. It can be attached to a wall or window or lay on a table upright or flat, though to sit upright requires a separate stand. This antenna has a four-star rating on Amazon but those ratings come from over 12,000 customer reviews to give a solid base of reviewers.

The most important part of an HD OTA antenna setup is the antenna itself. It doesn't matter how many channels are available in your area if you can't view them. The initial cost of an antenna varies on your needs but it is a one-time cost as opposed to a subscription.

Wrapping things up

Cord cutting can involve viewers having to use a variety of services and devices. One of the most simple and familiar to use is an HD OTA Antenna. After initial setup, a viewer can just sit down and watch TV on the networks they're familiar with already.

While over the air television doesn't provide every channel viewers have seen, it provides live and local content that is often not available on other services.

An HD OTA antenna is a solid investment for a cord cutter looking to fill the programming cracks that are left by their other services or as a standalone replacement for some viewers with specific content they want to watch that is available for free over the air.

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