Is OTA a better option than Cable TV?

Television has been an important part of our lives since its inception. Even today, with the widespread use of the internet, television is still one of America’s favorite pastimes. Modern technology has also made it easy for us to watch television while being stationed or on the go. You can access it on the internet or catch signals via an antenna. As such, the consumer has gotten into the driving seat of this fast-paced entertainment industry.

Cable television and live streaming television cost comparatively more than over-the-air TV. Cable TV certainly brings about the most TV channels for you to simmer through, but paying more than a hundred bucks every month might be difficult for many.

This article aims to discuss the different aspects of both cable TV and over the air TV so you can make up your mind and choose one for better entertainment.

Over the Air Antenna TV

Over the air or OTA TV is HD television broadcasted from your local TV stations. If you own a television and a digital antenna, you can be sure to enjoy it. OTA TV, further, allows you to record live television content using an OTA Digital Video Recorder (DVR).

In comparison, OTA television is cheaper and lets you access locally developed content like local news, sports, and primetime TV on Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC, etc.


  • OTA TV does not require you to pay any monthly charges
  • You can get hands-on content from local channels
  • It can be set up by using simple equipment


  • It comes with a very small channel count
  • There is no technical support and you have to depend on yourself only
  • It must be position correctly and should be within the broadcasting range of your local station
  • If you want a channel guide, it will cost extra

In order to access OTA TV, the required equipment is local and simple: just a TV and an OTA antenna can make sure that you get all the signals locally. One important thing to note here is that no specially trained expert is going to provide technical support for your antenna. Although, you can get an indoor antenna and make do with it yourself.

You would only be able to catch signals of local channels through this medium and might not be able to access your favorite premium channels. Furthermore, if you are a fan of international media, you should get ready to be disappointed as OTA antennas cannot catch signals for those channels.

Over The Air TV vs Cable TV

Here are some ways you can understand the difference between OTA TV and cable TV in order to decide which one suits your needs in a better way:

1. Cost factor

If you are someone who wants to save the big bucks and still get some entertainment, an OTA antenna can work just fine for you. It is a one-time investment and then afterward, you can enjoy television without paying a dime.

On the other hand, cable TV requires you to pay charges every month. However, cable TV providers do offer discounts on standalone and bundle packages. For example, you can save more than 50 bucks on internet and cable bundle if you subscribe to Spectrum bundles. Furthermore, cable providers like Spectrum offer excellent service to their customers and make sure that they get the finest experience using those services.

2. Installation

Cable TV needs to be installed professionally – usually, a professional installer from your cable provider would come and set up cable in your home for all the televisions.

On the contrary, if you shake hands with OTA TV, be mindful that you will have to set up the entire system yourself. You would have to buy an antenna, some cables, and if you have an old TV set, a digital decoder would also be required. You would have to do most of the work, however, you might just find someone who can work over it for some money.

3. Vast channel lineup

Premium and paid channels like Cinemax or HBO can only be accessed through cable TV. OTA TV can only pick up digital signals from local channels like PBS, CBS, ABC, NBC, and a handful of other local channels. Furthermore, the availability and number of channels depend upon your location.

4. Additional services and charges

Cable TV and OTA TV both can have add-on services. With both the services, you can subscribe to streaming platforms. Furthermore, both the services can include a DVR for recordings of live content.

With cable TV, you have multiple options and so your charges can be piled up too. For example, subscriptions to premium channels or sports networks can be an extra burden on your bill. Comparatively, OTA TV does not offer such additional services and so the charges can be kept to a minimum.

5. Channel Density

Cable TV offers a huge channel count while OTA TV hardly offers 70 channels at max and so the channel density of cable TV is less than that of OTA TV. This is why the picture quality of OTA TV is a lot better than cable TV.


Although the internet provides access to plenty of entertainment options, you cannot beat live TV when it comes to convenience. You can get local channels for free with an antenna, so why deal with expensive cable bills when there are cheaper alternatives.

In this article, we have looked at the pros and cons of each option. With the antenna, you have access to live TV without having to pay for cable. Not only that, but your entertainment options are limitless with an antenna. You can even get local channels for free! However, there are some disadvantages as well. For example, you will not be able to stream media online. Nevertheless, this does not mean it isn’t a good option – especially if you want to save money on your monthly bill!

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