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Is broadcast TV better than cable or satellite?
Is broadcast TV better than cable or satellite?
Written by Free TV Project Staff
Updated over a week ago

Broadcast TV from an antenna is better than cable or satellite in many ways, the first being picture quality. An antenna provides the best picture quality since you're getting the signal directly from the TV stations. On cable or satellite, the signal is compressed which results in lower picture quality.

Broadcast TV can also bring you subchannels that are not available on cable or satellite. These networks offer classic, entertainment and lifestyle TV shows. Popular subchannels include Me-TV, Decades, Antenna TV and Cozi TV.

With a good antenna setup, broadcast TV can even be more reliable than cable or especially satellite TV. With satellite TV, the signal comes from the sky and can completely drop out whenever there is heavy rain. Since broadcast TV uses land towers in the area it’s less subject to dropouts in bad weather. In fact, a lot of people use an antenna as backup specifically for when satellite TV goes down during storms.

Perhaps the biggest reason broadcast TV is better than cable and satellite is that it’s free. The price of cable and satellite TV services keeps rising, with some customers paying around $200 a month for basic TV channels. Cable and satellite lineups sometimes drop popular local TV channels without warning. With a good antenna setup, you can pick up dozens of local TV channels for free with no monthly fee and no blackouts.

Getting started

Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.

The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.

Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows

Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

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