SAN ANTONIO – To cut cable or keep it -- many people complain about their cable bill, but many households have yet to cut the cord.
The high costs are the main reason more and more people are cutting TV services. But many choose to keep cable so they can get their local channels.
But with new services becoming available, people may be able to get free off-air high-definition broadcast channels by using an indoor antenna.
With Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services letting consumers stream their favorite shows, sometimes the only thing holding people back from breaking up with their cable provider is access to local news and programming.
Consumer Reports said a solution may be a digital TV antenna and a one-time cost of $10 to $80.
"Once you buy the antenna, the programming you get is free,” Jim Wilcox, Consumer Reports electronics editor, said. “So, you get all your basic local channels and you don’t have to pay anything. That's really appealing to people who are spending more than $100 a month to get a pay TV package."
There are other benefits to an HD antenna.
"Sometimes, cable channels are compressed and you may find that the pictures that you're getting on your TV using an over-the-air antenna are better than what you were getting with cable," Wilcox said.
But the number of channels someone pick up and the reception quality with an HD TV antenna depends on a few factors.
"To be able to get decent reception, you have to consider how far you are from the broadcast tower and also the geography of where you live, whether there are obstructions like mountains, hills, tress and those kinds of things that could interfere with your signal," Wilcox said.
Both Antennaweb and TV Fool can help give people a clearer picture of what kind of reception they can expect. People can also try their HD TV antenna in different locations around the house. They may see a better picture or more channels near a window or higher on a wall.
Consumer Reports also recommends a rescan now and then –- a new station or two might show up.