With cable and satellite TV bills steadily climbing, it's no surprise that cord-cutting is the most-mentioned reason for connecting your TV to an antenna to get free over-the-air reception. But as many TV viewers are finding out, there's another compelling reason: You won't lose a popular channel if your local cable or satellite company is squabbling with the network over fees and threatening to black out local broadcasts.
That's exactly the case right now in Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York, where Time Warner and CBS are fighting over retransmission fees. If the two sides can't agree on a reasonable amount the cable company should pay to carry the programming, six local CBS stations will go dark for nearly 3 million customers, but not for those who can get CBS with a TV connected to an antenna.
If you live near a major TV market, there’s a good chance you'll be able to get many of your local network broadcasts—such as ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, and Telemundo—using an antenna. All you need is a TV equipped with a digital TV tuner, something included in all TVs since 2007. Those with older analog TVs will need a digital converter box now that all TV signals are digital.
Outdoor antennas, especially those on a roof or mast, generally offer the best performance, particularly if you're many miles from a broadcast tower, but an indoor antenna is an easier—and sometimes the only—option.