"It's cool to have rabbit ears again," said the Wall Street Journal
. In a paean to TV-how-it-used-to-be, the Murdoch
crown jewel looked at figures provided by OTA retailer Antennas Direct
and declared a veritable revival of over-the-air reception. Customers,
said the WSJ, are more and more flocking to free broadcast (coupled, of
course, with the likes of Netflix
media-rati promptly took off on a binge of "broadcast days are back
again." Reading some reports, you might even think that the time has
come for traditional pay TV providers to eye their hara-kari options.
But really? Rabbit ears?
We checked with the folks who track all things consumer electronic (the Consumer Electronics Association
) and the word on an OTA revival is ... not so much.
"A lot's been written about cord cutting," noted CEA analyst Shawn DuBravac
, "but the numbers aren't that substantial."
is not to say that sales of over-the-air antennas (which these days
look more like harmonic descendants of the Twilight Zone than rabbit
ears) have been lagging. According to the CEA, shipments of OTA
antennas to dealers have gained by around 25% from 4.7M in 2009 to 5.9M
projected for this year. Shipments of internet connectable TVs,
however, have soared from around 3M shipped in 2009 to 9M projected for
Of course not all internet connectable TVs are
actually connected whereas antennas shipped (and, presumably, sold)
almost certainly are. Chalk that up as a point in favor of the rabbit
ear revival. In addition, as DuBravac quite reasonably points out, the
question of whether TV via a combination of internet and OTA antennas
will accelerate "is a big issue." (And a complicated one as witness the
antenna-connection boasted by the likes of Aereo
But an OTA onslaught?
we said, not so much. At least not yet. Besides, the basic subscriber
erosion from MVPDs is clearly slowing, not accelerating.•