If you’re shopping for TV antennas this holiday season, make sure the seller isn’t promising access to cable TV networks.
Multiple Amazon listings for antennas falsely claim to offer customers channels that are only available with a subscription from a cable TV provider. Cord Cutters News spotted several product pages for antennas claiming customers can watch channels like Nickelodeon, CNN and HBO for free.
Antennas can allow you to watch networks like CourtTV, the CW, MeTV, PBS, the Home Shopping Network, and local news broadcasts which are delivered over the air. But cable companies have struck agreements to carry the premium networks, which aren’t delivered over the air. That’s why you can’t get them with just an antenna. If you see a listing for an antenna that promises those channels, walk away.
Antennas are a great source of free entertainment, but they’re limited in what they can offer. If you’re unsure about what channels you can watch with a TV antenna, you can check out resources like Antenna Web. Simply input your address or zip code to get a list of channels from over-the-air stations available in your area. You can also click My Schedule to get a TV Guide-style schedule of channels, times, and shows.
Rabbit Ears offers a similar tool. The site’s Signal Search Map lets you input your location and get a list of available stations as well as signal strength and other information. Rabbit Ears also tells you approximately how far certain channels can transmit and their quality. This is also important to take into consideration when shopping for a TV antenna. Some of the Amazon listings claimed to get channels from over 800 miles away, which is highly unlikely.
It’s also worth noting that multiple factors can influence your TV antenna’s reception like obstructions between the antenna (indoor or outdoor) and the broadcast towers, other wireless frequencies, and unwanted radio frequency signals.
When shopping for a TV antenna, do as much research as possible before purchasing. In addition to resources like Antenna Web and Rabbit Ears, try running a quick search on the seller. Reading the reviews and seeing how many people actually rated the product can help you can better inform your decision.