Millennials unearth an amazing hack to get free TV

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

This Wall Street Journal piece seems a little too good:

“I was just kind of surprised that this is technology that exists,” says Mr. Sisco, 28 years old. “It’s been awesome. It doesn’t log out and it doesn’t skip.”


Mr. Sisco, an M.B.A. student in Provo, Utah, made his discovery after inviting friends over to watch the Super Bowl in 2014. The online stream he found to watch the game didn’t have regular commercials — disappointing half of his guests who were only interested in the ads.

“An antenna was not even on my radar,” he says. He went online and discovered he could buy one for $20 and watch major networks like ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS free.


Carlos Villalobos, 21, who was selling tube-shaped digital antennas at a swap meet in San Diego recently, says customers often ask if his $20 to $25 products are legal. “They don’t trust me when I say that these are actually free local channels,” he says.

Earlier this year, he got an earful from a woman who didn’t get it. “She was mad,” he recalls. “She says, ‘No, you can’t live in America for free, what are you talking about?’”

Almost a third of Americans (29%) are unaware local TV is available free, according to a June survey by the National Association of Broadcasters, an industry trade group.


The Federal Communications Commission spent millions on a campaign to educate the public about the digital TV transition and Congress set aside more than $2 billion to help consumers pay for converters so old TV sets could process digital signals. But the focus was largely on older people who already relied on antennas.

William Lake oversaw the agency’s effort. A few years later, when he offered to buy an antenna for one of his daughters, then in her early 20s, so she and her roommates could get live TV, she had no idea what he was talking about.

“She thought it was some modern satellite service or something,” the former FCC official says.


  1. James James says:

    It’s implausible that someone born around 1989 would be unaware of terrestrial TV. Internet TV has only been popular for about 10 years — Netflix introduced its video-on-demand service in 2007. Mr Sisco might have had cable, but that doesn’t log out or skip either.

  2. Someone says:

    Man, TheOnion just needs to shut down its site. I don’t think you can out do reality anymore. Until I clicked the WSJ link, I thought you were quoting TheOnion.

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