Cutting the Cable in New York City (updated 2014)

Recently, a friend asked me how much I was paying a certain large conglomerate for my cable TV service.  I had one of those “all in one triple play” packages that included phone and internet, and with DVR and HBO I was paying $163/month.  I knew I had to figure a way out of that, especially since I rarely used my land line, anyway, and really only needed the broadband internet connection.  Now, I’m not the kind of person who would give up TV. I seemed to remember from my childhood these contraptions that we called “antennas” that we put on top of our TV sets, in our attics, on our roofs, etc. that would bring in a TV signal for free.  I knew there had to be a way I could cut the cable and still watch clear, crisp, high-def broadcasts.

I am writing this because when I tried to find information about what quirks there are to using indoor antennas and getting a digital/HDTV signal in New York City, I just couldn’t find anybody else who had documented the experience.  May this information help you and set you free!

 

Getting clear, free, over the air TV broadcasts in New York City

"I'll cut your heart out, Walter..."

“I’ll cut your heart out, Walter…”

One thing to know: all channels since the digital transition in 2009 broadcast on a set of “subchannels” – Channel 2 is now 2-1, Channel 4 is 4-1, and so on… (a digital flat screen will have the little “-” on its remote control’s keypad).  Some of these channels offer alternative programming, and I was thrilled that 11-2 is Antenna TV and I can watch reruns of All in the Family and Maude! There are also classic 70’s drama reruns on 4.2 Cozi TV, and fun movies on 5.2, Fox’s Movies! channel. (You can get more information and see what channels you can expect to potentially receive by going to Antenna Web and plugging in your address.)

Another thing to know: there really is no such thing as an “HD antenna” per se – if the signal is strong enough, a coat hanger can bring in a perfectly good digital HD signal.  You can, in fact, use your old rabbit ears as long as it has the UHF loop.  One example is this one from RCA that retails between $5 and $10.  If you live in an area with a strong enough signal, it should work.

Again, I live in Midtown Manhattan, on the third floor of a brick building – I’m

Basic Rabbit Ears from RCA (with UHF loop)

Basic Rabbit Ears from RCA (with UHF loop)

surrounded by taller buildings and don’t see a lot of open sky.  I attached the cheap RCA antenna to my set, scanned for channels, and lo and behold, I got in Channels 7 and 11 clearly.  Channel 5 was weak, but it did come in.  But nothing else.  I was frustrated, but hopeful.  After trying different kinds of antennas, I splurged on a Clearstream Micron High Gain Indoor TV Antenna from Antennas Direct.

Clearstream Indoor HDTV Antenna

Clearstream Indoor HDTV Antenna

It’s a fairly attractive piece of equipment about the size of an 8×10 picture frame.  I plugged it in, and I got a perfect signal for channels 2, 4, 5, and 9, plus several others between 14 and 69.  But I was frustrated.  Where were channels 7, 11, and 13?  They had a sticker on their antenna that said “call to learn, don’t return.”  So I did.  What I found out was that in New York, some of the broadcast channels (7, 11, and 13) actually broadcast on VHF (which requires the rabbit ears), while the others (2, 4, 5, and 9 and the others above 14) broadcast on UHF (which requires the loop antenna). That explained why one antenna was good for some channels, and why and the other was good for the rest. I have to note that the small loop on the RCA simply wasn’t strong enough to pick up a significant UHF signal where I am, but I do know that it worked for a friend of mine who lives just a few blocks from me, which just demonstrates the fickle nature the signal in New York City despite the fact that we are right near the transmitters; this is probably because the signal gets intercepted by all the buildings.

The solution for me was to use both of the antennas I had, but how?  Turns out, there is a tiny piece of equipment that is called a UHF/VHF Diplexer that allows you to hook both antennas up to your set.  Once Antennas Direct sent me that one missing piece, I was done.  It’s kind of stunning – you can get a crystal-clear, high-definition signal that looks as good as any cable signal FOR FREE.  Yes, you do have to look at an antenna or two, and yes, you do have to adjust them a little bit for different channels, BUT, you don’t have to have an energy-sucking cable box plugged in 24/7. And did I mention, it’s FREE?

And with the addition of Netflix and Hulu Plus streaming via a Roku player you can

Roku Player

still enjoy movies or watch current episodes of a lot of TV shows on demand for a fraction of the cable price.  Seriously, cable has gotten more and more expensive over the years, but they did it bit by bit so we barely noticed it until we were writing checks that were as high as $163 every month.  And whereas some of the features that they are able to provide us (caller ID on the TV, remote DVR programming) are really cool and useful, I have to remind myself that their level of “cool” wasn’t really worth what I was paying every month. So I’m saving $100/month having gotten rid of cable and phone service, and now I don’t have to see crap like Tia and Tamara and Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Yeah, I’ll miss Food Network and HGTV, but I can stream, can’t I…???

UPDATE

Mohu Curve 30 Indoor Antenna (the "30" refers to "30 miles" - A "60" is available with an amplifier if you're further away from the signal)

Mohu Curve 30 Indoor Antenna (the “30” refers to “30 miles” – A “60” is available with an amplifier if you’re further away from the signal)

I recently purchased the Mohu Curve 30 indoor antenna, and I no longer need to use two antennas attached with a diplexer!  I love the Mohu, and I even have it situated away from the window on a console table.  So I throw my endorsement that way, as well.  (For some of you, their original Mohu Leaf might also work, but the Curve works better for me.)


100 Comments

  1. I just sent my sister a link to this page. You are brillant John.

  2. I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful advice you provided. As of yesterday afternoon, we’ve officially “cut the cable” and I returned both our cable box and multi-purpose modem to Time Warner today. With a Mohu Leaf indoor digital antenna and a Roku 3 with Hulu Plus we have crystal clear network reception and more streaming internet TV than we could ever hope to watch. By stripping down our TWC Triple Play service to just turbo internet, we anticipated monthly savings upwards of $90 and finally feel as if we’re out from the stranglehold of TWC. Thank you again and again for your sage advice!

    • I can’t tell you how happy I am that you found this helpful! It was my big frustration when I was trying to set this up that there was nothing specific enough to the situation in NYC. I have a TiVo now and it uses the antennas, so it’s even better to have DVR function!

      • As a follow-up: I picked up a basic rabbit ears/loop combo to try to boost our signal on 7 and Antenna TV where we seem to be experiencing interference from our building’s elevator — behind the livingroom wall opposite the TV. Unfortunately, the extra antenna doesn’t seem to help, despite lots of moving around in the room. Question: do you think it would help to move one/both of the antennas into another room further away from the elevator? It’s not the end of the world, but we do watch a lot on 7 and it would be nice not to suffer through the pixellation and interference. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Best, Kurt W.

        • Further follow-up: moving the antenna(s) to a different room has no effect on the severity of the interference caused by the elevator and, in fact, deteriorates the overall reception. I’m off in search of some quad-shielded coax cable today in hopes that this will help fix the issue.

        • Yeah, the putting in the other room is probably not the way to do it, as you figured out. My question is do you have the antennas hooked together with a diplexer – I found that although it’s not perfect, the two together helped to boost each other. Channel 7 for me is one of the strongest channels, but Channel 4 is the most fussy. Luckily, Hulu Plus allows you to view the ABC and NBC shows on the computer or through a streaming device like the Roku…

          The Leaf was not the ideal antenna for me; I do own one that I bought out of curiosity. For me, though, the Clearstream along with the rabbit ears and loop through the diplexer is the most stable.

        • Hey Kurt! I actually positioned my new Mohu Curve 30 away from the window (I used to get all kinds of interference from planes) and the situation is MUCH better. It’s a combination of a better antenna and positioning, I’m sure. I would try it in another room and see if that helps.

          I know that Clearstream sells a reflector to help eliminate the interference, but it didn’t work for me, at all. I’m very happy with the Mohu, placed on a table several feet away from the window.

  3. Just get a Mohu flat leaf antenna and stick it on the wall near a window. Costs about $35 and I get 2,4,5,7,9,11,13 and ION, plus a range of Asian and Latino channels, right on the Upper West Side.

    • The Mohu Leaf is a great antenna. It works perfectly for friends of mine in Brooklyn and on the UWS, like you… But it doesn’t work as well in Midtown Manhattan because you have to keep readjusting it depending on the channel. That’s the problem with the signal here in Midtown.

    • As a follow up to you, the Mohu Leaf did not work for me, but the Mohu Curve 30 works perfectly! Because the position needs to be slightly at an angle I can adjust the Curve where I couldn’t the leaf.
      Thanks!

  4. God Bless you for this information. Cable is gone. I did not know that there is no such thing as a digital antenna. I purchased a small roof top antenna for my living room at lowes for $70 and placed it on my terrace. I had an old flat antenna that I bought in the dollar store ten years ago and hooked it up in my bedroom. I live on the 3rdfloor in an apt on Staten Island. Great memories are comming to mind as i am now enjoying clean old time TV programs such as Hazel, Green acres, Father knows best etc in addition to Family radio Tv and channel 2,4,7,9,11 and all PBS. May You Be Blessed!

  5. Hi John,
    Finally got rid of all things cable and purchased an indoor antenna. Thanks a lot for your suggestions, its good to be free! It works pretty good (we live in Brooklyn) but it can’t pick up channel 21 no matter what we do. My wife loves that station, so any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    • I agree with your wife – Channel 21 is a great channel. Unfortunately I have never been able to get that to come in myself. You can check out 50-1 which is the NJ PBS station (the three PBS stations in this area are WLIW 21, WNJT 50, and WNET 13), but of course the programming is not identical…

      However, I am so pleased to hear that you found my post useful!

  6. Many apartment houses still have their master antennas from before cable t.v. Many are wired internally and if you look in your living rooms or bedrooms you may find on the wall down near the floor a plate with two screws. This was where you used to attach your old analog t.v. If you buy an adapter at Radio Shack which will have two wires on one side and an F connector on the other you can use the still existing rooftop antenna to connect to your digital t.v. If the system is not working ask your co-op or condo board or landlord to fix it so you can access the best antenna in the world for receiving off the air signals just like in the old days.

    • I’m curious if that antenna is still on my building. I’ve seen it on others. I’m going to investigate! Thanks!

      (My question about those antennas is do they have the UHF capability? The signals are different for many stations since 2009. The one we had at our home only was good for VHS, which was fine in the 1970’s…)

  7. Oh my goooooooooosh. I owe you a steak dinner or something. I was on the brink of giving in and getting cable. Everyone I asked said there was no way to get TV reception in Manhattan otherwise (I live near Columbia University). Completely nauseated at the thought of shelling out $$$ to Time Warner, I thought, what the heck, at least try a Google search. I had never heard of anything discussed on your blog before then. Emboldened, I bought an HD antenna and to my utter surprise and delight, now get 55 channels (not that I want most of them…). It blows my mind! (ANd I’m not blowing the bucks on Time Warner!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  8. So that ‘s why i have trouble getting channel 21!! Better UHF antenna needed! (I have that same RCA antenna which works great on the lower east side). Now i will be able to watch weekly re-broadcasts of Doenton Abbey , which is especially helpful now that I no longer have TWC’s dvr service!! 😉

    • I need to update this post – I have recently switched to using the Mohu Curve 30 (gomohu.com) and it’s fantastic! I don’t even need the rabbit ears RCA antenna anymore. Much more stable and I never have to move the thing around! I’d say give that one a try.

  9. Great Blog, Mr. Sorrento. I took your advice and got a Mohu Curve 30, did the hookup and scanning, but no picture. Can you pls review some basics? Must the tv have an internal tuner, as well as an Antenna F-type plug? Mine is an older Panasonic TC-32LX50 (with a scanty manual) and Crutchfield specs says it has a “standard TV tunder”. We unplugged the set for an hour, removed the batteries from the remote to simulate starting from scratch. At remote’s TV/VIDEO button choose TV (not Component1, or HDTV for other physical stuff like DVDs etc). At TV menu choose > Setup > Program Ch (only enabled when TV is chosen), then choose Mode = TV (not cable), then below > Auto Program Yes and auto-scan the channels (to 60). THEN waaaaa No picture. I am assuming that choosing TV means Antenna. We never get the opportunity to choose Antenna, nor is there a Tuner Mode choice …. Very frustrating! But we’ve still got the incredible NY Public Library and YouTube. Any suggestions? Thank you very much – and HERE’S TO PULLING THE TimeWarnerCable PLUG!!!

    • Interesting. I think that “standard TV tuner” might be your problem. You need a digital tuner, and given that the TV is from 2005 (I looked it up online), it is possible that it might not have a digital tuner. You can get a digital to analog converter box which will convert the signal over the air to one that your TV can read. There is more information here at this link: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/digital-converter-box.htm

      You might not get as good an HD picture using one of these boxes though, since the signal is getting converted to analog, but it might be worth a try. You can pick one up at Best Buy or RadioShack – just save the box in case it doesn’t work and you want to return it.

      Another issue is that you possibly might not have a strong a signal where you are. Where are you located? How far up? Are there other buildings towering over you/is most of the sky blocked?

      Finally, yes, you need the “source” as TV (it sounds like you chose that correctly).

      Let me know how it works out and if you opt to get the converter box. Good luck and keep in touch!

  10. Very interesting and useful article; you’re very correct about the astronomic price of a service you are using only for few hours.
    I did buy the antenna from RCA and it worked good for several months. The morning of Friday 8/8 the signal was gone; not more TV. We live at West 57 Street, Manhattan. Do you have any suggestion for us? it will be greatly appreciated
    Thank you.

    • Hi Clarita,

      First things first I would check that the “source” is TV and that everything is still connected properly. Then I would do a new scan of the channels. If that doesn’t fix it at all, it could be that the tuner is broken on your TV (which I have never heard of before, actually, so it’s just a thought). I would also maybe invest in a slightly better antenna if you are getting poor reception. I know that for me, channel 11 is fussy, as is channel 4.

      Let me know how it works out!

      John

      • Hi John, thank you for your fast answer. I did check everything before I wrote you; everything was connected properly, I don’t know hoe to check if the problem is the tuner.
        I will like to tried a different antenna, which one do you recommend?

  11. thank you for posting this information! i have a tv that is not a flatscreen – i’m not certain what those boxy tvs are called. its circa 2004 or earlier. i would like to quit time warner/cable, but need to know what i should do. i am not certain how to use the antenna and the digital converter thingie discusssed in your article and need help, so i wont go to ebst buy or some other store and purchase a zilllion items THANK YOU

  12. Hi John–

    Thanks for this great blog!! I’m am THIS close to cutting the cord. I’d love to know your thoughts on the new roku TVs and the tivo device recently reviewed by Molly Wood at NYTimes. I was thinking of going in that direction, but your ideas might capture me instead!

    Thanks!
    Maureen

    • I actually have a TiVo and a Roku. I actually prefer the Roku for streaming because it has more apps, in particular the Amazon Prime app, and I find the streaming and responsiveness of the apps to be faster. The TiVo is great to pause and review live TV and to record, like any other DVR. If you get the new TiVo Roamio, you need to make sure you get the one that works with an antenna, which is the lowest-end model (I’ve got the older TiVo Premier). Let me know how it works out!

      • Curious on the choice of DVR – what made you decide to go with Tivo instead of other brands like the Tablo. I want to cut cable this week…but am having a hard time parting with my DVR: http://www.cutcabletoday.com/ota-dvr-comparison/

        Any guidance, would be much appreciated!

        • Sorry for the delay in my response. The TiVo you can just watch live without having to stream anything through another device (the others on that list require a Roku/AppleTV). Not that it makes all that much of a difference, and at the time that I purchased it, I couldn’t find anything other than TiVo when it comes to DVRs to use with antennas. Thanks for that information!

  13. Hello – I live near Lincoln Square – does it make sense to purchase the Mohu Curve 50 or will the Curve 30 get me the same channel line up?

    Thanks!

    • Definitely the 30. The 50 has an amplifier and we are too close to the signals. The broadcast signal will actually become distorted. I use a 30 and get a very wide range of channels (although as others have asked, we don’t get channel 21 from Long Island).

  14. Hi John,

    Great article! Im very close to cutting the cable cord too, encouraged by your blog. What antenna should I get (I’m located on the upper east side)? Will Mohu 30 work on older TV’s too (I have a boxy Panasonic from 2004)? Thanks!

    • Hi Jeff,
      I’m so glad you found it helpful. If you have an older TV without a digital tuner, you will need a converter box (http://www.fcc.gov/guides/digital-analog-converter-box-setup-basic) that you can get at Best Buy for $60, but cheaper through Amazon. You might even try Radio Shack.
      I bought the Mohu Curve 30 (the 30 refers to “within 30 miles of the signal) and it works great. On the Upper East Side, I would bet that the Leaf 30 would work equally well. You don’t need a more powerful one as we’re close enough to the signals so amplification is not necessary (and might even be a bad thing, as it would distort the signal).
      Now, with all the money you’ll be saving on your cable bill, you might consider getting a new TV and enjoy the gorgeous HD picture!

      • Thanks for the advice! Just checked gomohu website and it says that in my area, i might get an estimated 35 channels with curve 30 as opposed to the curve 50 which “might” get me 45 channels . What gives? I’m so close to doing this I can’t wait.

        • The thing you have to be careful with regarding the 50, which is amplified, is that the amplifier could possibly distort the signals that are closest. Although with the 50 you can turn off the amplifier if it’s not working. Do let me know how it works!

  15. It works John!! I finally did it. I just purchased a curve 30 together with a DTV converter and all it took was 10 minutes of setup time. Great picture quality-no complaints at all. Next-a streaming device. Goodbye over-priced cable company. More power to you John!

    • Terrific!
      For a streaming device, I recommend a Roku. I have the Roku 2 and it works really well. Hulu+ (indispensable if you like to keep up with current TV shows), Netflix, and Amazon Instant (esp. if you have a Prime account).

  16. Hey! Thanks for volunteering to be the NYC guinea pig. My husband is really hesitant to switch over, because he thinks our reception will be blocked by the taller buildings in Midtown (we live in Hamilton Heights in NW Harlem). Judging from the comments though, it seems like the Mohu fares better in upper Manhattan?

    Do you or any of the other posters have a product suggestion for that location? I have no idea whether to buy the curve or the flap, 30 or 50, amplifier or not. So many options and it’s not obvious which one is the best for us. Any guidance would be very appreciated!

    • You don’t need the amplifier, we’re just too close to the transmitters here in Manhattan and it will just distort the reception. My suggestion is the Curve 30, although the Leaf 30 might work well, too. And honestly it’s just a matter of trial and error. I would get the antenna and see how it works. You can always return it within 30 days. Let me know how it works out!

  17. Thanks for the great write up! Currently ditched cable tv to primarily use a Chromecast, but like the idea of getting the local channels. This helps a lot 🙂

  18. Really wish I had read this before I went ahead and cut my cable this weekend. I might have done some more research on antennas knowing about the UHF/VHF channels. I ordered an Amazon Basics antenna. The signal for 2, 4 and 7 is OK, but cuts in and out a bit too much, going to wait and see how it behaves with the bad weather on the way. If it continues to be no good, I may try the Moju. Not sure if being in Brooklyn (Park Slope area) has something to do with it.

    Amazon is also coming out with a FireTV stick, very similar to Chromecast which will basically act like a Roku or Apple TV with some limitations. However, at $40, it’s a fraction of the cost of what I was playing.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Hi Adam,

      I would bet you could use the Mohu Leaf – it seems to work better in Brooklyn than here in Manhattan. You can actually purchase the Leaf (but not the Curve) at BestBuy. Let me know how it works out!

      John

  19. Hi John,
    This is all very helpful. I live in Queens surrounded apt bldgs (not that tall in the immediate area) –I haven’t had cable though am ready to get an antenna. I’m wondering about the fire escape which is, of course, made of some kind of metal. What could that metal do to the reception of the Curve 30? Would the amp version be better? Cell phone use and wifi is just fine in the apt (even in the hallway I’m still connected.) Thoughts?

    • Hi Chris. Don’t get the amplified one, because you’re too close to the transmitters and it will just distort the signal, like turning the volume too high up on a speaker. My fire escape is metal and it doesn’t interfere – neither does my air conditioner. My Christmas tree kind of annoyed it so I moved it and the reception is fine. Let me know what you do and how it works!

  20. Hi!
    This information comes in at the right time. I’ve been unemployed for a few months (temping sporadically) and made the decision to get rid of the cable service a few weeks ago. Although I’ve been doing fine without it, I miss watching the news and special programming on PBS. Mind you, I was never one to watch much television in the first place, and can keep abreast of what’s happening online, but there is something about the live news format that I thoroughly enjoy (thanks, David Muir! :D).
    Anywho, my brother and other friends had already told me that there were antennas, that would enable me to have access to the basic channels, but your article and research just broke it down to a T! 🙂

  21. Great blog. To get PBS what antenna do I need? I’m in UWS, on 84th. Im confused after reading the tread, the Mohu Leaf won’t work for it? Thanks.

  22. Hi John,

    Thanks for your post it was informative. I had no luck however. Tried a Philips UHF/VHF (SDV2710/27), Mohu Curve 30 and Mohu Metro Leaf. No will provide a strong signal for NBC although able to receive Fox (channel 9), The CW (11) and WNET/PBS (13). The antenna’s have been positioned every possible way, although not close to a window due to my apartment configuration. For reference I’m on the forth floor in lower Manhattan (Lower East Side) facing NE.
    Looks like I’ll have to go back to Time Warner : (

    • That’s really frustrating. I know that I was having more problems especially with Channel 4 on my older TV whose tuner wasn’t that strong. My newer Samsung made a noticeable difference in strength of reception when I upgraded. But again, there could be other factors (trees, other buildings, what floor you are on) that might be interfering with your reception in that part of the city.

      • I have just wasted hours with Samsung, trying to figure out why my MoHu Leaf 30 isn’t picking up any channels (nothing but snow) on my Samsung LN-S2341W (2006). Samsung tech told me that none of their tvs work with indoor antennas. Yet yours does! I live on the 19th floor, east facing window between 14th & 15th Streets) at 77 7th Ave, NYC. Is it my tv? If so, can you recommend a brand that will work with the (adorable) Leaf 30?

      • do you happen to know which direction NBC broadcasts from? Also is it from Empire state building or liberty tower? Like Kmac I have trouble getting NBC. But I did do this. I bought an amplified indoor antenna and taped it to a pole on the roof of my 5 floor apt building to get unencumbered access to the sky and away from low floor surrounded by all brick buildings. I run a 200 foot wire from my roof into my window. I get every channel BUT 4 or NBC. And this being a summer olympics year really blows. 🙁

        • Channel 4 is notoriously fussy. I have my antenna pointing south (from here in midtown) and I have been able to watch the Olympics. I would try turning off the amplifier on the antenna because that could actually distort the signal, kind of like when the volume is turned up too high on a speaker. Not sure if it broadcasts from One World Trade or Empire State, though…

          Let me know if you find a solution!

          • Hi John- thanks for this blog- so I’m in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and just got a Curve 30 but unfortunately it seems to get only one half of the UHF/VHF split still – gets 2 and 5 but not 4 or 7- it’s a Sharp digital tv with digital tuner – any ide
            as?

          • Interesting – it could be about placement of the antenna, height of the home, etc. You might need an amplifier for it, such as the Jolt – it would increase the passive signal… Let me know if you have any success!

  23. Great that you’ve continued to maintain this blog!
    I cut off TWC a few years ago, and started using an indoor antenna…last summer, I upgraded to a MOHU Sky…created a way of mounting it outside my kitchen window….it’s gone well (with some plugging/unplugging of the amplifier) But recently have had Channel 2 (CBS) drop out with frustrating frequency…. I wondered if others have noticed any difference in signal loss among the network channels here in NYC? I’m downtown, near Houston St. and 6th Ave..with NW view.

  24. Thanks so much for this great information. We live very near Lincoln Center. We took your advice and got the Mohu Curve 30. With the Mohu placed on our window sill, we’re getting lots of channels including CBS, NBC, three PBS stations, 13, 21, 50 plus 5, 9, and 11, all with sub-channels. However, we can’t get ABC 7 no matter where in our apartment we put the Mohu. We are on the 18th floor of our building but there are tall buildings all around us. Any suggestions? Thank you.

  25. Hi All,

    Has anyone tried the Mohu Curve 30 in Queens (Forest Hills) ? How is its performance getting VHS Channels ?

    Thank you !

  26. Hi John

    We just bought an Amazon basics amplified (50 miles) indoor antenna. It has given us all the channels with fantastic clarity except channel 2 -CBS. Not even a pixelated visual or scrambled sound.
    We’ve tried auto programming multiple times with the same result.
    The older rabbit ears we have (with loop) doesn’t provide as much clarity.
    We have been waiting to cut the cable cords ever since HBO announced their HBO now subscription.

    Recommendations?

  27. Hello! I just went to Google to find answers about my problem with TWC and I found you!!! I live in Queens, but my problem is that the HD light hurts my eyes!!! and also need to watch hispanic channels 41, 47, 68, 69 for my mother. What can I do? TWC does not have standard cable boxes anylonger!!!! Please help!!!!

    Blessing

  28. This is very helpful. Thanks.

  29. Hi John, I have an a LED tv with an UHF/VHF antenna that I purchased at Radio Shack. I get a fair number of channels. I know channels 7, 11 and 13 are the toughest to get. I do get 11 but not the other 2. I read somewhere that if I shorten the rabbit ears on my antenna by about half that it might help. What do you think? Thanks so much, Roger

  30. Great Blog- love it

  31. I live about 30 miles west of NYC & have a large uhf/vhf combo antenna on the roof. Always could receive all the channels prior to 9/11. Now the only channels we can receive are 7 from NYC & 6 from Phily. Where does the NYC channels broadcast from? Thanks for this info. It’s great for people who are fed up with the cost of cable.

  32. Hi John, I have a digital proscan tv and a digital RCA

  33. Hi,I need to know if any DVR for digital antenna?

  34. Is anyone getting channel 21.1 or 21.2 in Brooklyn, NY? We just had an outdoor antenna installed and we are not able to get this channel. We had my TV re-scanned twice already. There are some other channels that were scanned but when we go the channel, it says it’s unable to get signal. Thanks.

    • I cannot get channel 21 here in the City. Oddly, you can get it at the Jersey Shore! The alternative to 13 for me is 50, which is the NJTV and has a lot of decent programming, along with 25 which is a city-run channel.

  35. Maria, you may have to change the direction the antenna is pointing. i am in long island and i can get the channels you mentioned.

    go to tvfool.com or go here to this link and enter your adress and find out which direction most of your channels are, especially the missing ones, and then point your antenna in that direction

  36. Thank you! The Mohu Curve works great in midtown Manhattan with my north-facing windows. I finally get all the channels some other antennas (Clear Stream and Terk) couldn’t bring in. Plus it looks nice and is easy to move around if necessary.

  37. Anyone know which Mohu Antennae would work best in Hoboken?

  38. Thanks! Even though this blog post is getting old I took your advice since I’m also in Brooklyn and bought the Mohu Curve 30 instead of buying the most popular thing on Amazon. I never imagined it would work so well and be indistinguishable from having basic cable. One strange thing I noticed is that Amazon told me that an HDMI cable was often purchased with this so I went ahead and added one to my order, but this only works with a coax cable. Anyway, looking forward to watching Chris Rock host the Oscars tomorrow night!

    • Glad it worked (I have no idea why Amazon would have recommended an HDMI!)!

      The Mohu is just better than anything else I or any of my friends tried. They should give me a commission!

  39. Thank you for setting me free. I have been through all cable companies. My building on the Lower East side of Manhattan is equipped to get RCN, Fios, TWC and another one I don’t remember. I have had them all. My latest was RCN and I recently paid a $190 monthly bill for their triple play package. I have no special HBO channels and I don’t rent movies from them. This is the base price after two years. I don’t even watch television but had cable for my friend who comes by and watches my cats when I travel. Turns out he watched Netflix and accesses it through my Apple TV. Why am I paying for cable? Someone gave me an antenna and I hooked it up but only got a few channels. Quite frankly I didn’t care but did wonder if there was some important news, I wanted to get Fox or one of the networks. This article made me buy the Mohu and I can’t thank you enough. I am going to record may cancellation call with cable as I expect it to be a fun experience. I’m having friends over and serving drinks for the special occasion. It’s an experience I have been waiting a long time for. Thank you for this helpful information.

  40. Thanks so much for this wonderful blog! We live near Houston and 6th Ave and are about to cut the cable so this is a treasure trove of info for us. We are wondering about how fast of an Internet service connection we will need to do this well while simultaneously running our computers and other devices. Does everything else slow down when streaming via Roku for instance?

    Also we live in a duplex with tvs on each floor. Will we need two Mohu’s – one downstairs in the living room and another upstairs in the bedroom or can they be “split” somehow to share the signal?

    Finally, how long is the cable on the Mohu? 6ft or?

    Thanks so much – you are providing a true public service here!

    • I’m not sure exactly how splitting would work – I would just put one on each TV (check their site, there is an item – a splitter- that they have for splitting, but frankly, it might be easier and more cost effective to have two antennas). The one that is meant to be hooked up to multiple tv’s is the Sky that is meant to be put in the attic and serve the whole home.

  41. Follow up from C&H – First Step Taken

    Our Mohu Leaf arrived and voila! Works great on getting good reception from each of our tvs but I can see we will need to invest in another so each tv had its own antenna.

    Downstairs our newer Sony Bravia found about 33 digital channels including the main broadcast channels 2,4,5,7, 9,11, 13 plus a few others.

    Upstairs our older Sony Bravia (10 years+ at least) is not seeing channels 2,4 or 5. We only get 14 digital and 6 analog. For some reason we are unable to see the analog channels…any thoughts on this would be most welcome.

    Finally, we would like to put your name forth for consideration of Time Warner Cable NY1’s New Yorker of the Week! Somehow I don’t think they’ll go for it 🙂

    Best,
    Cristy & Hugo

    • Thanks for the nomination! LOL If the TV is older, it’s possible that the tuner in the TV is not as good. I had an older TV and it wasn’t all that great, and very fussy. My Samsung from a couple of years ago however works great, as well as my TiVo OTA that I have hooked up to the antenna.

  42. Correction – we got the Motu Curve not the Leaf. Thanks again!

  43. One really cool thing about getting your TV with an antenna is that the picture quality is better than that of cable or satellite for both HD and SD. This is because cable and satellite channels need to be compressed since there is literally thousands of them. The OTA channels on the other hand are sent out uncompressed, giving you a sharper image.

  44. Hey John,
    I moved over from the UK and the whole process is a little confusing for me. I bought a TV with built in Roku for Netflix and such but am a little lost when it comes to Antenna based TV.

    In the UK they switched to Digi-about a year or so ago so the Antenna doesn’t work for terrestrial TV in a traditional sense. If I’ve connected my TV to the antenna for the building – can I still received free TV? Or do I require separate antenna?

    Any light you could shed would be very much appreciated!

    • Have you tried to connect your tv to the building’s antenna? Because that might work. We’ve been digital since 2009 here in the US and as I say, even the old crappy antennas can get you some signal. I’d give it a shot. Let me know how it works!

  45. Paul Fitzpatrick

    August 10, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Do I understand correctly from this weblog that some channels still broadcast in analog, over VHF and UHF? Not that I would limit myself to those few stations, but I thought that method of broadcasting was no longer being used!

    • They don’t broadcast in analog, but they do broadcast in low-definition 480i or lower. That is for a lot of the stations that show things like reruns of old tv shows, so those broadcasts just look like they did back in the day!

      • Paul Fitzpatrick

        August 10, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        Thanks, John. I came across your weblog because I have been trying to find out whether I would be able to pick up WLIW, channel 21 in Long Island, from an antenna in Northern New Jersey. From what I have found, it would be either difficult or impossible. I remember that we didn’t pick up the station very well in the days of free analog television.

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