Antennas and
OTA Reception

Location, Location, Location

To get the most out of your Tablo OTA DVR for cord cutters, you must choose the right Over-The-Air TV antenna for your location and position it for optimal signal reception. The better the signal, the better your cord cutting experience with Tablo will be!

The most critical step in accessing free broadcast content is choosing the right Over-the-Air TV antenna

Today’s Over-the-Air (OTA) HDTV antennas are not like the rabbit ears of old, so save your tinfoil for wrapping last night’s leftovers.

Modern antennas deliver perfectly crisp picture quality in full HD and come in a variety of styles and prices.

We'll give you the information you need to make the right choice for your home.

Over-the-Air HDTV antennas cost between $20 to $200 and come in several different shapes and sizes:

  • Flat antennas – Are placed indoors, near or affixed to a window
  • Table-top antennas – Are placed indoors on a flat surface near a window
  • Outdoor antennas – Are mounted on the roof or another structure like a pole or tower, or even within your home's attic
  • DIY versions – Are of various styles and are often 'MacGyver'-ed from plans found on the internet  


Enter your zip code into our OTA Signal Locator Tool to find your local broadcast towers, then you can use distance to the towers as a general guideline for which antenna you'll need to receive OTA signals at your home. 

  • Live less than 30 miles from local broadcast towers? Try an indoor antenna.
  • Live in the suburbs? You'll need at least a powerful amplified indoor antenna.  
  • Live in the country? An attic-mount or outdoor antenna will likely be required.

Many antenna manufacturers (like MohuWinegard, and AntennasDirect) also offer searchable databases and 1-800 help lines to help you choose which of their antenna products is best for you.

Most TV antennas on the market are designed to capture both OTA TV frequencies - VHF and UHF.

However some antennas – especially certain ‘flat’ indoor models – are optimized primarily to capture UHF channels.

If one or more of your local channels are broadcast on a VHF frequency, make sure to select an antenna designed to pick up both. 

Signal amplifiers are either built in (many indoor antennas already include this) or can be separate devices installed between the antenna and your Tablo OTA DVR.

  • Live in an urban area? No amplifier is needed.
  • Live in the suburbs or beyond? Consider an amplified antenna.

NOTE - Over-amplifying your OTA signal, especially if you live close to local broadcast towers, can cause problems, so don't think that more power is always better when it comes to antennas! 

To get the most channels possible with your antenna, you need to know where your local broadcast towers are located. (Enter your ZIP Code into our channel locator tool to find towers near you.)

  • Towers clustered together?
    Point a uni-directional antenna directly at the broadcast tower source.
  • Towers in two (or more) different directions?
    Get a multi or omni-directional antenna OR use a combiner to send the signal from two uni-directional antennas to your Tablo OTA DVR.

NOTE - Tablo DVRs do not support the use of antenna rotors

Now that you know which style of digital TV antenna is right for you, we've got lots of great information on how to set it up! Check out the links below or keep reading this page for the Cliff Notes.

Which HDTV channels can I get?

Your actual results may vary based on the placement and quality of your antenna as well as other factors.

Canadian Flag

Canadian Residents: Simply type your address into the TV Signal Locator provided by, to see what you can expect to get at your home.

What can I watch OTA?

Most of your favorite network TV shows and prime time sports are broadcast live for FREE to anyone who can receive a signal through a digital TV antenna. Want to know which TV shows are broadcast Over-The-Air (OTA) during prime time in your area? Let’s find out!

Your actual results may vary based on the placement and quality of your antenna as well as other factors.

Antenna Placement

Once you know what type of digital TV antenna is right for you, learn how to position your OTA antenna to receive the best possible signal and get the most of your Over-the-Air TV investment.

Signal Impediments and Troubleshooting

broadcast towers

Several factors can affect your access to Over-the-Air TV signals. Here's how to troubleshoot your Over-the-Air TV signal reception.

  • Those living less than 35 miles (or 56 kilometers) from local broadcast towers will enjoy the best Over-the-Air reception

  • Given the correct antenna and placement, those living further from their local towers can still enjoy Over-the-Air TV

  • Channel selection will be best in large, urban areas and along the Canada/US border

  • Obstructions including concrete walls, metal window grates, trees, mountains, and valleys can all negatively impact your signal

  • Invisible sources of interference from power lines, LED light bulbs, weather and more can also impact your signal

  • Other more technical signal quality issues including the digital cliff effect, LTE interference, and noise can also impede your signal

  • It's also possible for those living very close to their local towers, to overdrive a TV tuner (i.e. send TOO powerful of a signal). In that case, investing in an attenuator can help.

Reusing Existing Infrastructure for OTA Antenna Connections

Some cord cutters ask us if it's possible to obtain Over-the-Air TV signals using a satellite dish.

Unfortunately satellite dishes were not designed to capture OTA TV signals, but those transitioning away from pay TV can reuse some existing satellite or cable TV infrastructure to deliver OTA signals to save time and money.

  • Existing coaxial cable can be connected to an OTA antenna to distribute Over-the-Air signals throughout the home

  • Existing splitters may need to be switched out for OTA-friendly connections

  • Unused coaxial endpoints should be terminated to avoid signal 'leak'

  • Satellite j-mounts, masts and other outdoor mounting hardware can be reused as mounts for OTA TV antennas