Simple rabbit ears multiplying in digital TV era
January 4, 2010
LOS ANGELES – On a recent winter night, the Lams and their three children sat in front of a television set with rabbit ears sprouting out of the top. Wait a second, rabbit ears? Is this 1950? No, it’s 2010, and the Lams are a modern Los Angeles family that is rediscovering the convenience – and economics – of the old-fashioned TV antenna.
In the wake of the transition to digital television, many viewers with digital-converter boxes are finding they can get nearly three times as many channels as they once could with an antenna. And rather than the erratic, fuzzy reception of yesteryear, today’s rabbit ears are capable of delivering a surprisingly clear high-definition picture.
Best of all, the picture is free, said mom Nancy Lam.
“I’ve saved a lot of money by getting rid of cable,” she said. “We only had to purchase the antenna one time, and now we have it forever – instead of paying every single month.”
In these penny-pinching times, watching TV over the airwaves is becoming an increasingly attractive option for many households.
“Everyone who does it says the picture quality is actually better than what you’re getting through cable,” said Patricia McDonough, a senior vice president at Nielsen.
As more viewers tune in to the newly re-energized possibilities of broadcast, manufacturers say they can’t make antennas fast enough.
“Our sales are going through the roof,” said Richard Schneider, president of Antennas Direct, a St. Louis-based manufacturer of the devices. Schneider said sales have nearly tripled since the switchover, and that he had to add a new assembly line in his factory to meet the demand. The company now produces nearly 100,000 antennas every month, Schneider said.
Viewers also are finding they can combine broadcast television with the growing array of movie and TV programming now available online.