Iowa Public Television

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DTV is Wireless, Cool and Free!

I recently read an article in the Sun Sentinel newspaper out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The article was noting that in these tight economic times many people are looking for ways to save money and among the consideration is dropping subscription based cable or satellite services. When I have discussed this with folks in meetings it is interesting the reactions that I see.

Younger people are virtually oblivious to the fact that there is free wireless television. All their lives, the television has been connected to a wall plate that was connected to the cable head end so they have no experience. Middle aged people remember when they had an antenna on their roof hooked to their television but probably went to cable to get some add on services that were available via cable and the side benefit was that the cable also carried the local broadcast stations and they didn't have to worry about an antenna anymore and they have kind of forgotten about the free wireless nature of broadcast television.

If you're a basic cable subscriber, I would recommend that you keep a log for a month or so of your television viewing and determine how much time you actually spend watching local broadcast channels versus cable only channels. But don't just track the time, also grade the content you watched to determine if the viewing was a good use of your time. If you find that the majority of your good viewing time was spent watching broadcast television, then you may want to consider dropping your paid service in favor of the free over the air service. You may actually find that you get more out of the free service than you get from the basic paid service.

As an example, in the Des Moines area where I live, we have PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, MNT, CW, ION and FOX network affiliates. The majority of these stations are broadcasting multiple services so there are probably 14 or 15 free channels to choose from. The primary channels probably carry the content that you watch the majority of the time and the ancillary channels carry additional services that may be of interest. My own station carries a full time HD feed of PBS and two ancillary services, one called Kid/Create which offers kids programming and how-to programs and the other IPTV/World is news and information programming. All of it available for free and from my experience, the HD content delivered is typically better than what is delivered via the subscription based services.

If you're happy with your subscription based services, that is great. But if you're looking for a way to trim expenses, dropping the pay service could save some money and may not be as big a sacrifice as you think.