Rabbit Ears

I watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals through a TV antenna and it was incredible.

Earlier this year, I joined the cord-cutter generation. Since then, I’ve happily subsisted on a digital-only diet of Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, and The West Wing. I stream GoT and SV via HBO GO (thank you for the login, Cait’s dad!) and the occasional episode of West Wing via Netflix. My pre and post cable lineups are exactly the same -- the latter just costs $60 less a month.

As a cord cutter, I bask in the smug contentment of one who saves money while sacrificing nothing. Then a live major-network sports event comes around, and I repent.

If you are a fellow cord-cutter, you’re well aware that the achilles heel of a content plan sans cable is sports (and other primetime network events.) For those of you still considering cutting the cord, I’d guarantee it’s primetime network events (and not daytime television) that’s making you think twice. And for good reason.

As a cord-cutter, here are your options when primetime events are on TV:

  • Watch at a bar. Often comes with a riled milieu, minimal seating, and the temptation of wings. Not an effective venue for presidential debates and other non-sports primetime events.
  • Stream from an illegal source. Though I’ve never tried this, friends tell me it usually entails a barrage of pop-ups and adware than can leave one asking, “is anything really worth it anymore?”
  • Watch at a friend's place. Generally requires that you bring something, which, for some, can be worse than not watching at all.

And so it was that last Sunday, four hours from Game 7 of the NBA Finals, I found myself regrettably deciding between the choices above. My girlfriend, for whom the option of “let’s just watch in a bar” rang especially grim, threw out the idea of buying a TV antenna. I scoffed. She persisted and we went to Best Buy to see what we could find.

We found a classic rabbit ears TV antenna for fifteen dollars. We got home and had it working in ten minutes. There we were, watching the NBA Finals, in my apartment, for free. The quality was what you’d expect on a standard definition cable connection.

It was an ineffable moment. The strange combination of amazement and nostalgia you get in finding that a vintage piece of technology still does exactly what it was made to do.

There’s not much more to tell here, so I’ll just end with a public service announcement. If you’re without cable and looking for a better way, look no further than the “rabbit ears” TV antenna. The Olympics are just around the bend.