When most people think about cord cutting, they think about over the top (OTT) services like Netflix, Hulu, and Sling TV. But that’s not the whole story. More and more, we’re seeing cord cutters get wise to the benefits of over-the-air (OTA) broadcasts. Depending on where you live, you could get the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC), PBS, Univision, and other channels for free with an antenna. Modern OTA broadcasts come in HD, and you can even invest in an OTA DVR, making OTA a better alternative to cable than ever. OTA has a lot to offer cord cutters – and there’s even some areas in which it tops all the OTT options.
Local news OTT options have come a long way in the past couple of years. Apps like NewsON can give you access to a local news live streams, and your own local station may have an app of its own. But the easiest way to get local news is still the old-fashioned way: just set up an antenna. Your local news broadcasters are most likely local affiliates of the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC), and that means that they probably broadcast over the air. Grab an antenna and pick up your local news broadcasts for free – it’s the exact same content at the exact same time as you’d get with cable.
Major Network Shows
Over-the-air broadcasts aren’t your only ways to watch major-network shows like The Voice, but they’re your best option for watching those broadcasts live. NBC and FOX offer on-demand content through Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, but if you want to watch your shows at the same time as everyone else, OTA is the way to go. CBS is the exception in some markets, since their CBS All Access service allows live streaming (with some limitations).
The NFL is by far the most popular of America’s four major sports leagues. Unfortunately, it’s also by the far the worst of the four major leagues at delivering its content over the top. While the MLB, NBA, and NHL streaming services are all pretty good for out-of-market fans, the NFL’s only real OTT offering is NFL Game Pass, which only gives you game replays on demand the day after the game. The only way to get all the NFL broadcasts live is to get DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket, which is a shame. But you can get your local NFL broadcasts over the air with an antenna, since the major networks have the rights to almost every game (the exception is Monday Night Football, which is on ESPN).
Other Sporting Events: Playoffs, Major Tournaments, and More
NFL fans enjoy the biggest benefits from over-the-air broadcasts, but they aren’t the only sports fans who would benefit from investing in an antenna. Major networks also carry college football games, NHL games, Premier League soccer matches, the Olympics, the World Cup, and playoffs for all four major American sports leagues. An OTT package may give you ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but it’s OTA that will give you the playoffs and the World Series. The same goes for all or some of the Stanley Cup Finals (NBC), NBA Finals (ABC), and, of course, the Super Bowl (rotates between broadcasters).
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