A lowly over-the-air antenna is among the many most cost-effective and longest-running methods to chop cable TV, letting you watch all the main broadcast networks and extra with no month-to-month charges.

But earlier than you begin fretting over antenna varieties, set up places, and over-the-air DVRs, take a second to contemplate whether or not you even want an antenna within the first place. While an antenna may be good to have, it isn’t important to chopping the wire, and getting one arrange may be extra bother than it’s value.

To resolve whether or not an antenna must be a part of your cord-cutting setup, listed below are some questions you must ask your self:

Are you getting a dwell TV streaming service?

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Streaming bundles comparable to YouTube TV may need all of the native channels you want.

If you’re signing up for a bundle of cable channels over the web, that service may have already got all of the native channels you want. YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV Now all supply dwell feeds from the main networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) in most U.S. markets. Just enter your zip code within the hyperlinks above to view every service’s native channel protection.

With different dwell TV providers, native channel protection is extra restricted. Sling TV doesn’t embrace ABC or CBS in its lineup, and it solely presents native Fox and NBC feeds in a small number of U.S. markets. FuboTV doesn’t embrace ABC, whereas Philo and AT&T Watch don’t embrace any native channels. If you subscribe to considered one of these providers—otherwise you forgo live TV bundles entirely—an antenna may help fill in these broadcast channels that you just’re lacking.

Do you want dwell PBS?

PBS is not part of any live TV streaming service today. While you should use the PBS app to look at most programming on demand—and may entry extra of the PBS catalog with a $5-per-month Passport membership—getting a dwell, native feed nonetheless requires both an over-the-air broadcast or conventional pay TV service.

Are you into basic TV?

An antenna doesn’t simply get you the main networks and public broadcasting. It may also present different channels comparable to MeTV, Comet, Cozi, and Decades, which usually occupy the bandwidth that native broadcasters aren’t utilizing for main networks. Some of those “digital subnetworks” have even turn into more popular than major cable channels, and for probably the most half, they’re solely out there to cord-cutters with an antenna.

Are you in a market served by Locast?

locast Jared Newman / IDG

Locast can spare you from needing an antenna, however solely in a handful of main cities.

Last 12 months, a service referred to as Locast began promising free dwell streams of native broadcast channels in main U.S. cities. It’s at the moment out there in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, and Denver, and it gives all of the channels you’d get with an antenna in these areas (together with PBS and the aforementioned digital subchannels). Residents in these cities can watch by means of the Locast app on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, iOS, Android, and the online.

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