I can’t swear to this but, before cable, I think we had exactly three TV stations: CBC English, CBC French, and CTV. Fortunately they did show some of the most popular American shows at the time and our biggest family disagreement was whether we were watching The Honeymooners or The Beverly Hillbillies on Saturday night. (No DVRs—or even VCRs!—back then either…) Even after the arrival of cable, I think we were up to 20 or 30 stations. Nothing like the hundreds of channels available today!
In the States, the pre-cable Big Three broadcast networks were CBS, NBC, and ABC. And it’s pretty amazing to me how much they (plus Fox now) still dominate the airwaves with their morning and evening news shows, syndicated daytime programming, late-night talk shows, and primetime hits from the Big Bang Theory to Sunday Night Football.
So for a lot of people, before they can even think about canceling their cable subscription, they want to know how they’re going to be able to keep up with their favorite (favourite!) network programs. And that’s where the antenna comes back into play.
Note: If you don’t care about watching your shows live, you can access a lot of them through streaming media providers like Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu Plus.
I have no idea. 🙂 This level of technology knowledge is way beyond me. But below are some high-level concepts you need to know. For more detail, check out this great article from Consumer Reports:
Unlike with cable and satellite set-top DVRs, antennas don’t have built-in recording capabilities. So if you want to record shows, you’ll need to get a separate DVR. These can range from inexpensive models that include a very basic program guide and require an external hard drive to actually store the shows on to more expensive models, like Tivo, that are much more like cable DVRs and that may also come with monthly subscription fees.
You may need to place an indoor antenna further away from your TV to get a good line to the broadcast tower, in which case you may need a longer coaxial cable to reach your TV. You can also get an antenna with a signal booster to make sure it stays strong over the length of the cable.