Notes: How many OTA channels can you see?

Texas Bluebonnet

The Texas bluebonnets were blooming near Rocket Park on the NASA campus.

I’m back from a visit to Houston, where I used to live a stone’s throw from the NASA campus. Except now, with heightened security, they’ll probably track you down if you try to throw stones at NASA.

So there I was, in a third-floor hotel room about 30 miles from downtown Houston, and just for fun, I hauled out my little USB stick ATSC tuner. I plugged in my 3-inch rabbit ears, stuck that next to a window, fired up my netbook, and scanned. I came up with 62 digital channels. That’s twice as many channels as I could watch in my first cable TV subscription! (I’m pretty sure it’s also more channels than I paid for when I lived there.)

And what a variety! In addition to the major networks and Spanish-language stations, there were several independents with RTV-style reruns., ABC News Now, and even CCTV News.

Free TV via satellite is really cool, but remember that free TV with an over-the-air antenna is really easy. If you haven’t already, scan the digital airwaves where you live and see how many extra channels you can find. Leave a comment to let us know how many you’ve got.

* At Time-Warner Cable, the director of digital communications coined a great phrase: “Television is melting.” You can read his entire blog post here, but the basic idea is that folks who watch video on screens other than their TVs still want to watch the content that they’ve paid for. Video delivery is morphing, and TWC’s streaming (in-home) app wants to be a part of that.

* But I read a much better summation of the state of things on Diane Mermigas’s blog at Business Insider. She points out that the big media companies know as well as anyone that the delivery systems are shifting, yet they want to maintain their profits from the status quo. “The growing rift between content providers and mainstream distributors … is beginning to resemble an existential play.” Go read it!