Companies targeting over-the-air viewers say the bulk of their customers are baby boomers and Gen Xers who grew up with traditional television and a cable box. Their rediscovery of free TV is largely through word of mouth, said Grant Hall, chief executive for Nuvyyo, a Canadian firm that makes Tablo, a digital video recorder for over-the-air TV antenna users.
“Typically they will go to a party and start complaining about their Comcast bill and how it’s gone up so high and getting ridiculous, and someone will say, ‘Hey, I cut the cord and I’ve got an antenna now, and I can get all these channels over the air,’” Hall said. “Most people have forgotten about over-the-air TV entirely or recall it as poor experience with ghosts and pictures fading in and out.”
But the quality of over-the-air broadcasting improved dramatically in 2009 when TV stations made a government-mandated switch to high-definition digital transmissions, offering higher-resolution images and more channels.
“Once viewers learn everything is different now and the picture is actually better than cable and satellite — and best of all it’s free — they become converts,” Hall said. He declined to disclose sales figures but said his company’s growth rate has been in line with the popularity of streaming.
The Consumer Technology Assn. has estimated that consumers will spend $13.4 billion on streaming video subscription services in 2018, a 42% increase over last year.