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September 29, 2016
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Over-The-Air, Satellite and Digital Cable: What's the Difference?
by Anna Rose Johnson

When you're looking to expand your television options and selection, there are three obvious options: over-the- air, satellite or digital cable. They all offer a selection of television stations, but when you really come down to it, what s the difference?

Over-The-Air (free channels)

Hardware: Antenna
Subscription: None needed. You will need an antenna to access the channel signal and a digital-to-analog converter box if you have an analog TV .
Yes. There are several DVR options that work with over-the-air signals. Look for a unit, like the TiVO Premiere, that specifically states that it works with over-the-air broadcasting.

On June 12, 2009, television stations across the U.S. switched their broadcasting signal totally to digital. This switch made analog TVs and antennae obsolete. However, with a digital-to-analog converter box, your analog TV can access digital programming. Richard Schneider, owner of Mr. Schneider's Antennas Direct, took advantage of the switch and now sells antennas that can access those free channels with ease. He says, the number of channels varies based on the area, from about 90 stations in Los Angeles to about 25 in St. Louis. On average, viewers get 30 to 45 channels, as long as they don't live in a canyon or deep valley and are within 65 miles of a transmitting tower. Once you have a converter box and an antenna, you ll be able to watch local broadcasting channels absolutely free.


Hardware: Satellite dish
Subscription: Yes. Satellite television comes with a subscription fee. Extra content, like pay-per-view or on demand, cost an additional fee.
DVR Compatible: Yes. Satellite companies often offer a DVR to their customers for an extra fee for the unit and for a monthly subscription fee.

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