Simplify your family life by switching to free OTA TV

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Loving mother kissing daughter in cozy hut.

When you’re raising kids, almost nothing ends up being easy. From daily battles over what they’re going to wear and what they’re going to eat to the endless struggle of trying to get them out the door on time, it’s not a life for the easily defeated. That’s why you’ve got to take every advantage you can get.

You can find plenty of life hacks aimed at making parenting a little easier and we’ve got a big one to add to the list: switching to over-the-air TV.

When you go from getting your live TV lineup from a cable, satellite or streaming service to getting it with an OTA antenna, not only are you saving yourself a noticeable amount of money but you are making your family life simpler in several ways. Keep reading to see what we mean.

Save Some Serious Money

The most obvious way that switching to OTA TV from a subscription-based service will benefit your family life is by saving you money. Depending on how much you pay for TV service now, you could save upwards of $1,000 a year just by opting to watch broadcast TV using an antenna. Once you’ve got the antenna, watching OTA TV is totally free and requires no monthly bill while still giving you all the top shows and events carried on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, NBC and PBS, among other channels.

Those savings could be put toward more meaningful ways to entertain the family, like getting passes to a local zoo or theme park or planning a summer vacation.

Enjoy Built-In Parental Controls

Unlike the majority of the channels carried by your cable package, every channel that’s carried by OTA airwaves is governed by the broadcasting standards set up by the Federal Communication Commission. The FCC doesn’t allow nudity, graphic violence and extreme profanity, so you can rest easier knowing your little ones won’t even have the ability to stumble upon disturbing content that they aren’t ready for. These built-in parental controls eliminate your need to set up advanced systems for monitoring what your kids are able to watch.

A little girl is visibly concerned while watching TV alone.

Elevate Your Kids’ Viewing

While children’s shows that are carried on cable, like “Paw Patrol,” “Peppa Pig” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” are popular and fun, they are limited in the educational content they provide to young viewers. One of the best advantages OTA TV gives parents is the content provided by PBS Kids.

Shows like “Sesame Street,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Alma’s Way” are renowned for keeping kids entertained while also teaching them valuable lessons. Not only should your OTA antenna get you access to your local PBS station but it will likely also give you access to the 24/7 PBS Kids network on a separate channel.

Cut Screen Time

It’s estimated that kids spend at least 4 hours a day just watching TV — with even more time spent in front of other screens each day. Switching from having subscriptions to cable or satellite and streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ to over-the-air TV will help you cut that screen time down naturally. The combination of your kids having fewer options to scroll through and the elimination of on-demand viewing will make sitting on the couch and watching TV for hours on end less appealing for young viewers who want everything available at the touch of a button. (Meanwhile, the grownups in the house can keep their on-demand shows handy by using an OTA DVR device!)

A little boy watches TV while holding the remote.

Simplify Your Bills

Autopay settings are both a blessing and a curse. Not having to worry about getting paper bills and paying them by dropping some checks in the mail is the ultimate in convenience — but it also leads to wasted money. It’s easy to forget which streaming services you’re subscribed to and how much you’re paying each month when you’re set up with autopay across the board. By relying on OTA for all your TV viewing, you won’t have to keep track of any extra bills or worry about cancelling those pesky free trials before you get charged.

Couple managing their debt.

Everything You Need To Get Started

If you’re interested in trying OTA TV as a way to simplify your family life, you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to get into. If you’re worried about making the switch before you’re sure, simply get an antenna, set it up and try it out before ending your subscription to cable, satellite or live-TV streaming. Use our handy tool to find out which type of antenna you might get the best results from in your situation.

Here’s a look at some of the equipment that can help you get started.

If you live in an urban area or nearby suburb:

Antennas Direct ClearStream Eclipse Amplified TV Antenna

$64.99 from Amazon

This highly-rated indoor antenna is designed to receive frequencies 50+ miles away from broadcast towers. It easily grips smooth surfaces like walls or windows for optimal placement to pick up as many channels as possible.

Recommended antenna if you live in a far suburb or rural area: 

Antennas Direct ClearStream 4V TV Antenna

$130.20 from Amazon

This powerful antenna has a range of 70+ miles and can be installed inside, outside or in the attic. It has UHF and VHF multi-directional elements designed to deliver reception in remote areas.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR to record your favorite shows:

Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

If you have an external hard drive sitting at home collecting dust, consider these options as cheaper alternatives. Simply connect your antenna and portable hard drive to these Tablo DVR devices and you’re ready to go.

  • Tablo DUAL Lite: Equipped with built-in Wifi, it lets you position the antenna and DVR for the best signal reception.
  • Tablo QUAD: Record up to four OTA channels simultaneously. This model connects to your router rather than your TV, giving you the option to stream live TV to any device.

If you need to purchase a portable hard drive, we recommend USB-connected portable hard drives (USB 2.0 or 3.0, 1 TB to 8 TB in size). These are the ones we recommend: WD 1TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive and the WD 2TB Elements Portable External Hard Drive.

Getting Started With OTA

The best antennas recommended by experts in the industry to get the most out of your OTA experience.