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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > TV, Home Theater & Audio > Broadcast TV

Broadcast TV Cost

How Much Does Broadcast TV Cost?

average costMedium: Freehigh costHigh: Antennas Can Run $10-$100+
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Over-the-air broadcast TV, or less commonly known as terrestrial television, is a method of watching television without using a pay service such as cable, satellite or fiber optic transmission. On June 12, 2009, the US switched from analog to digital broadcasts. As a result, there are still potential costs associated in order to watch broadcast television. While the actual over-the-air transmissions are free for everyone, antennas, digital converter boxes, or a new digital ready television may be needed in order to enjoy broadcast TV.

Typical costs:

  • First and foremost, an antenna is still needed in order to receive broadcast signals. There are indoor and outdoor antennas that can be used which can be directional or multi-directional. Ideally, one should get one that receives both UHF and VHF signals.
  • While indoor antennas are not as strong as outdoor ones in receiving broadcast signals, they are usually smaller, and easier to install. For those living in apartments or renting, this may be the only option if nothing permanent can be installed.
  • Indoor antennas range from about $10 for a basic model like "rabbit ears" to $100 for more powerful and advanced ones that amplify the signals.
  • Outdoor antennas can pick up signals being broadcast from more distant television stations by having better line of sight to the broadcast towers, but are usually larger and need to be mounted outside.
  • The prices for outdoor antennas range from $40 for a simple, small one to around $200 for one that has high gain and an amplifer for the signals.
  • Winegard[1] , Channel Master[2] , Antennas Direct[3] and Terk[4] are the more popular indoor and outdoor antenna manufactures.
Related articles: Cable TV, Satellite TV, High-Definition Service, Digital Converter Box

What should be included:
  • Indoor antennas usually come with a short 6' RF Coaxial Cable. More powerful ones providing amplification may include a power supply as well.
  • Outdoor antennas, which are larger than their indoor counterparts, often require some assembly. The coaxial cable is not included since that is often dictated by how far one needs to run the cable from the antenna outside to the television set inside.
Additional costs:
  • If an antenna is used for an older analog televison set that is not High Definition (HD), a digital converter boxes is needed. These boxes cost around $40-$60.
  • For outside antennas, 50 feet of coaxial cable costs about $15-$20.
  • Typically, a better, larger outdoor antenna (antenna, cable, mounting) will cost around $200. It is recommended to have someone to assist with the installation and to adhere to all safety precautions.
  • If you find the installation to be too much of a challenge, then it may be better to go with a professional installer. The total cost ranges from $100 for simple installations and up to $800 for more difficult ones. On average, expect the cost to be around $250-$300. Professional installers also provide a warranty for their work and an estimate beforehand. The retailer where you bought your antenna will often provide a list of recommended installers.
  • Note that "HDTV Antenna" is just a marketing term and that there is no difference between an older, traditional analog antenna and a newer Digital or HDTV antenna.
  • If a larger outdoor antenna is ordered, most online retailers will offer free shipping.
Shopping for broadcast tv:
  •[5] provides information on broadcast towers' locations and orientation relative to a given spot. They also provide a mapping feature that is useful for positioning an antenna
  • Amazon[6] offers several models of the indoor and outdoor ones.
  • Brick and Mortar outlets such as Best Buy[7] , Target[8] and Wal-Mart[9] also sell antennas in their stores.
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