April 11, 2018 · ATSC 3.0 streaming money saver

Being a frugal TV viewer

This article is a summarized extract from The Budgeteers' Guide to 21st Century TV.

As cord-cutters frugality often requires understanding and utilizing the technology we own. Armed with this knowledge we can also respond to and reduce the effects of changes to our internet service.

Broadcast-to-air or antenna TV.

Some of the biggest cost savings can come from using broadcast-to-air TV to reduce the reliance on internet streaming.

Since going digital, broadcast-to-air TV's visual quality is often better than cable and is usually better than satellite. Broadcast-to-air is now just starting another long term transition. With the new ATSC 3 standard broadcast-to-air will offer 4K resolution and higher dynamic range (more colors, more contrast). It's very possible that the first mass distribution of 4K resolution TV will be using broadcast-to-air. Current activities by the internet service providers may even accelerate this process.

Other ways to be frugal:

  • Buy and download movies so that they are stored your equipment. That way there is a single file download at the time of purchase, without re-streaming it over the internet for every viewing.
  • DVD or Blu ray optical disks use no internet bandwidth. You can even borrow them for free from the local library.
  • Knowing what is going on is critical — read the notifications from your internet provider. Be aware of your home's network and its connection to the internet, so when things change you will know what is happening and how it will effect you.
  • Be prepared to change internet service providers. Look for internet only providers — ones that have no self interest in slowing down competing traffic.
  • Make sure that streaming works well on your network before paying for expensive internet service upgrades. Buying more internet bandwidth will not fix problems within your home's network or equipment.
  • Turn off auto-play when streaming so you don't stream more than you need by accident.
  • Be prepared to pay a little more to access smaller, alternative, foreign language or start-up streaming services - they may need the help to compete and stay in business.

This diagram shows using a home network to share a TV antenna, without using an internet service provider.

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