Welcome back to Irwin Podhajser’s fourth and our fifth overall Executive Vlog. This week, our EVP will discuss how to get free channels with OTA and antennas. Plus, Irwin Podhajser has some great statistics that provide insight into the OTT vs. OTA debate.

To kick things off, Podhajser denotes the first statistic. In Quarter 2 of 2021, there were approximately 21 million broadcast-only homes. Broadcast channels use public airwaves to transmit their signals. Meanwhile, cable channels are private and require a subscription fee which is usually baked into your subscriber’s monthly charges.

“That means there are 21 million homes in this country that rely on antennas,” starts Podhajser. “How does that stack up to the largest pay TV providers?”

Turns out, pretty well. Both Comcast and AT&T individually are down to less than 20 million homes. To put this in perspective, Comcast lost about 1 million subscribers in the past year, and AT&T lost over 3.5 million subscribers. Plus, these are the two largest cable providers in the U.S. currently.

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“Now, when myself and my previous company started tracking the cord cutting trend ten years ago, this number [of broadcast-only households] was way below 10 million homes,” says Podhajser.  “It was rare to find a city where more than 10% of the households were broadcast only, and now you find multiple cities that are 20%.” As we can clearly see, things have quickly changed in the OTT and OTA landscape.

Podhajser cites Los Angeles specifically, which has gone from less than 500,000 antenna homes to now having over 1,000,000… That’s just one city alone! 

Want to know what this has to do with how to get free channels? Podhajser transitions into this topic by showing a chart depicting all of the available local channels via Los Angeles broadcast.

“You can see there are a lot of stations that people with an antenna can watch if you have a cheap antenna. You’re getting a lot of these stations, and if you have a really good antenna, you should be getting, If not all of them, close to all of these stations for free.”

In essence, even a cheap antenna can tap into these free broadcast waves and get free channels  to your TV. You don’t need a Smart TV, Cable Subscription, or any Subscription Services like Hulu + Live TV. It’s all available for free.

Getting More Than Just Free Channels

Podhajser continues by saying that “a majority of the ratings [on TV] are in just a handful of cable channels and local broadcast channels. And because OTA is free with a good antenna, [that] can provide what a vast majority of people are watching.”

And while this solution about how to get free channels is missing a few things, Podhajser reminds us of an additional fix. “If you’re an aggregator like SelectTV, you can fill in those blanks by allowing people to sign up through smaller bundles and different streaming services that allow people to mix and match and keep it all into one place.”

For people who want to find out how to get free channels, they’re most likely going to miss a few things from traditional cable. For example, “they miss the guide [and] the ability to watch on demand,” says Podhajser. “SelectTV has the guide [and] allows you to go to these major broadcasters [and] get their programming on demand. And in many cases, [you can] get their latest programming for free… in one app.”

To sum it all up, Podhajser notes that “OTA allows OTT to provide dozens of free channels that cost you $0 to provide to your customers. This is something cable cannot match.”

The Future of OTT

Essentially, the future is calling for a synthesis between OTT and OTA to provide consumers with what they want. This partnership could change the entire landscape. “It’s a huge infrastructure and it’s going to get more vibrant with ATSC 3.0,” says Podhajser. He believes that the true winners of this war will be “OTT services that find ways to strategize and utilize to come up with apps and equipment that will work with the OTA infrastructure. There’s only a few streaming services that are going to make it.

Next week, Podhajser will take a look at “retrans” and how it helps OTT and how cable has failed to give consumers the “localism” that they desire. Until then, check out our other EVP, Roy Labrador, and his first Executive Vlog.

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