While the Supreme Court continues to deliberate on a decision in the Aereo case, consumers and media are continuing to wonder what will happen to cord-cutters if Aereo loses? While there isn’t another service quite like Aereo out there (since they’d of course be in court too right now), there are definitely alternatives to get HD quality free TV from the airwaves. We connected with the Winegard FlatWave antenna team, which is one of the great solutions to still get the content Aereo provides without needing a cable subscription. The “indoor amplified HD antenna” retails at $69.99 and is built for homes that are far away or out of sight from a broadcast tower. We spoke with Grant Whipple, the Consumer Electronics Product Manager for Winegard about the Aereo case, his company’s products and how needing old school “rabbit ears” is a myth in today’s digital era.
This product of course solves the great HD quality issue, but doesn’t provide the seamless app, DVR and lack of need for any hardware that Aereo provides for a monthly fee.
Lost Remote: Thoughts on what’s going on now with Aereo? What’s the company’s position?
Grant Whipple: This is definitely an interesting case, and it’s really more about copyright law than actual technology. The Supreme Court’s decision will have a big impact on the broadcast industry, Aereo, and, first and foremost, the consumers. Although, it’s important for Americans to know that even if the court rules against Aereo, you can still pull in local network signals, legally and for free, with your own HDTV over-the-air antenna. In fact, today’s antennas will give you an even clearer picture than Aereo since it’s going directly to your TV as opposed to the cloud. Additionally, there’s no delay with your own antenna.
LR: If Aereo loses today in court, how can consumers still get a similar experience? Even if they win, what are other alternatives?
Whipple: Even if Aereo loses there are ways to get the same type of service legally and at a lower cost. You just need an OTA antenna, and a product like Simple.tv so you can record live local signals anytime, and stream to whatever device you’d like. For example, “renting” one of Aereo’s mini antennas will cost you about $8 each month. An indoor HDTV antenna is a one-time cost that allows you to pull in your own signals every month for free.
If Aereo wins, I think you will see a lot more streaming service providers pile on and create more competition. It will also be interested to see how the broadcast networks react to this. The biggest questions of all: What’s the future of TV going to look like, and how will we view our programs?
LR: Thoughts on the state of cord-cutting?
Whipple: At this point, there’s no arguing that cord-cutting is real, and it will continue to grow as the cost of pay-TV greatly outpaces American’s incomes. There have been some eye-opening recent studies that examine the trend, and demonstrate that cord-cutters are here to stay.
I just read a great new survey from Experian that found that cord-cutters grew by 44 percent in the past four years, with 7.6 million households using the internet for streaming or downloading videos. That’s not a surprise to me because many of my customers are scrapping their cable subscription in favor of streaming services and OTA antennas.
Content providers are even taking notice of cord-cutters, and they’re starting to offer new ways to watch TV. Just look at HBO, they’re putting some of their programs (older ones, of course) on Amazon Prime. And, earlier this month, Comedy Central just made cord-cutters very happy by offering an app with next-day airing of their content to anyone, for free.
LR: What does your company offer?
Whipple: We actually just celebrated our 60th anniversary. It’s really interesting to look back on our history, and to see the resurgence of antennas which is partly due to the cord-cutting movement. We’ve been developing high quality antennas right here in the United States since 1954, and we’ve developed an unmatched expertise in antenna design, testing and manufacturing.
Our HDTV antennas pick up free broadcast HDTV channels, and we’ve been able to stay relevant by evolving with the times. A common myth is that antennas still look like the old bunny ears. However, our antennas are designed to fit alongside modern, flat screen televisions. They are extremely thin and unobtrusive so you can set them up anywhere- on the wall, on a window, or you can even lay it flat on a table.
Personally, I use three Winegard antennas: Two Flatwave antennas and one satellite antenna.
LR: Anything else you’d like to add?
Whipple: Sure. Our customers always want to know how many channels they will receive with an antenna. Smaller markets can receive approximately 15 to 20 channels, and larger metropolitan areas can receive around 80 channels- and the channels selection continues to grow.