Senior Citizens Beginning to Rely on Cord Cutting

Senior citizens and those who are on a fixed or limited income and can’t afford cable anymore

Seniors rely on their television for news, weather, and emergency alerts and to serve as the primary form of entertainment in the home. Seniors represent a huge portion of the television industry’s target group. The major broadcast network shows have a median age of 53.9 years old.

We held a giveaway for subscribers of our newsletter where participants were asked to submit the reason they’d like to win a free antenna. A large percentage of the responses were from senior citizens who are on a fixed or limited income and can’t afford cable. If one of your family members gave up cable (or needs to) because of the cost, help them get their freedom back by installing an antenna for a simple, inexpensive solution to watching the shows they like.

Televisions Provide Essential News and Information

It’s not surprising that one of the first expenses many seniors consider cutting is their cable bill, because cable television is a luxury at $100/month. Giving up television can make people feel isolated. Your family member may be in danger if they can’t receive critical news or evacuation alerts because cable TV got too expensive.

But there’s a Catch

After cutting the cord, some older viewers struggle to adapt to the new interface and menus. Advocates say that a cord cutting solution for a senior audience should be simple and fulfill common expectations. For example, make sure that turning on the TV starts a show automatically and navigating +/- buttons changes channels.

Most people find that after cutting the cord, turning on the TV doesn’t have the same effect. Being forced to navigate to an app, choose a user profile, and select a show is too complex for those suffering from memory impairment or executive function problems. In the past, people who couldn’t manage the new remotes and menus have reverted to the steep cable bills simply to keep the TV operating in the same fashion.

Keep it Simple

The key to serving this audience well is to keep it simple and traditional. If you’ve had cable since MTV launched, it might seem like going backward to revert to over-the-air TV. But, just like the rest of the world, TVs and antennas have come a long way from 1980.
Research shows that people over 55 tend to watch shows on their regular broadcast schedule, and most viewers only need an inexpensive antenna to receive the basic broadcast channels ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Using an over-the-air antenna to receive broadcast channels offers just the simple, predictable experience a senior expects. It also delivers huge savings on those monthly cable bills.

All you need is a TV

It might seem simpler to stick with what you have, but you can save about $100 every month by getting rid of cable. If you have a TV, you can receive the major broadcast stations in your area. If the stations don’t come in clearly where you live, you can purchase an antenna for about $40. Set the antenna behind the TV, near the window, or mount it on the wall for the best reception. You’ll be able to start out your day with Good Morning America and watch Sunday Night Football. All without paying an expensive cable bill.

First: Find out what channels you receive

To determine what channels you can expect to receive in your area, go to NoCable.org and enter your street address. You’ll receive a free report about which stations you receive, what antenna is recommended, and which direction to point it. If you live near an urban television market, you can access local network broadcasts from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and Telemundo for free.

Once you know which broadcast channels you’ll likely receive with an antenna, it’s time to buy one. Most HD antennas cost about $40, including our own brand (but really any quality antenna will work). Broadcast stations across the nation plan to upgrade by the end of 2019, so if your channels are fuzzy, they should clear up soon.

Second: Purchase an Antenna

All digital antennas, often called HD antennas, receive the same picture and sound quality. Modern antennas resemble a piece of cardboard or a loop of plastic and will reliably deliver the evening news and Sunday Night Football.

Most people in metro areas end up with a small, multi-directional antenna that receives every channel nearby. These antennas can pick up signals regardless of which way they’re facing and are categorized by “metro”, 30-, or 50-mile reception ratings. Attach your digital antenna to your TV through a coaxial cable and find the best place for it.

Check the NoCable website to see which general direction is recommended, and place the antenna on that side of the house. Because they work on a line-of-sight, installing the antenna in a window, high on a wall, or behind the TV will get you the best signal.
The antenna will automatically scan for the strongest signal it can find. Once the scan is complete, you should see what channels it’s receiving. If you aren’t receiving channels that NoCable said are within range, move the antenna slightly and try the scan again. Repeat the process until you’ve found the best place for optimal reception.

Third: Cancel your $100 Cable Bill

That’s all there is to watching free over-the-air local broadcast TV. You can cut a cable bill that cost about $100/month and still receive all or most the major channels. The TV will continue to work as expected, displaying a show when you turn it on. The biggest difference is that you will have fewer channels than before, but because research shows that seniors watch broadcast shows at their scheduled time more than any other age group, their viewing experience shouldm’t change all that much.

Seniors Rely on Cord Cutting to Save

Senior citizens are unique viewers when it comes to cord cutting. Some people struggle to afford expensive cable bills on a limited income, while others need a predictable solution that works in a familiar process. Either way, television has become too important to opt out completely without missing out on critical news and information. If you’re considering cutting the cord for an older viewer, opt for a simple, inexpensive solution like the over-the-air antenna. It will provide the major broadcast channels with familiar programming at a price you can’t beat.

Megan Southard

Contributor

Article Author

Megan Southard is a writer, mom, technology enthusiast, and movie junkie. She dreads the day her kids have to explain gadgets to her and is old enough to say, "I was the remote for our TV growing up.

Disclaimer: This article may have had additional images, links or data that was added by this site's editor.

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