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Getting Free Channels Over-The-Air

More television channels than ever are now available for free from your local stations.

Digital broadcasting gives a television station the ability to insert multiple channels of programming into its transmission stream. The stream can contain not only the station's primary network but also a number of sub-channels. The additional channels may carry programming from other networks, local sports and special interest programs, music videos, dedicated news and weather broadcasts and more.

To take advantage of this free, over-the-air programming, all you have to do is install an antenna.

But choosing the right outdoor antenna can be a confusing experience. The reception capabilities of the antenna you select should be matched to your location and viewing preferences. Installing an antenna that is too weak may not be capable of receiving all of the stations that are available at your location. Conversely, an antenna that is too powerful may result in poor reception due to interference from distant stations.

AntennaWeb.org has been designed to take the guesswork out of choosing the correct outdoor antenna. This site is co-sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the preeminent trade association promoting growth of the U.S. consumer electronics industry, and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the premier trade association for broadcasters, promoting and protecting the interests of local radio and television broadcasters nationwide.

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About AntennaWeb.org

When you are ready to shop for and install an antenna to receive over-the-air channels, AntennaWeb will help you become a more informed consumer by:

  • Discovering which over-the-air television stations are available at your location
  • Learning how many channels of programming those stations carry
  • Determining the correct color-coded antenna type needed to receive those stations
  • Illustrating which direction the antenna must be pointed for optimum reception
  • Viewing a schedule of the programs for the channels you may receive
  • Providing links to participating vendors where you may purchase antennas and peripherals

To simplify choosing the correct outdoor antenna for your needs, the CTA and the NAB have created a color-coded labeling standard for classifying antennas by type. Within each type, the features, designs and prices of antennas will vary greatly between models and manufacturers but the color-coded standard ensures that all models within a given type will have similar reception qualities.

Use the information AntennaWeb.org provides as a tool to help you make a more informed decision about which antenna type is right for your location and viewing needs. The site also provides information on which direction the antenna must be pointed when it is installed for the best reception.

AntennaWeb.org is designed to provide consumer information for addresses in the United States only. We are not aware of any similar signal strength prediction and/or antenna recommendation sites that are available for use in other countries.

This site is hosted by TitanTV, the most trusted source for free, online television listings.

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Using AntennaWeb.org - Overview

The quality of over-the-air TV reception is determined by your location in relation to the broadcasters' transmitters, the intervening terrain, the size and type of antenna being used, its height above ground level and the direction it is pointed. AntennaWeb uses the address information you provide to perform three sets of calculations:

  1. Your location on the map is plotted by a process called Geocoding
  2. The signal strength of each station that may be received at that location
  3. Which antenna types are needed to receive the available channels

If your location is determined to be within the signal area of one or more stations, the results of these calculations are displayed on the Stations page. The page contains a summary of your location, a table listing each station capable of being received there, the color-coded antenna types needed to receive them, and a map illustrating your location relative to the transmitters of your local stations.

To begin, click on the Click Here To Start button on AntennaWeb's landing page. This will take you to the Address Entry page.

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Address Entry Page

In the Address Entry page, AntennaWeb uses the address information you enter to predict the signal strength of each station that may be received at that location. The address is also used to calculate which antenna types are needed to receive them.

Address Entry Options

In the Address field, you may enter either your ZIP Code only or your full address.

If you enter only your ZIP Code, the calculations and antenna type recommendations are based on the center of the geographic area covered by that ZIP Code.

For many locations, its ZIP Code covers a relatively small area and this level of precision is sufficient for calculating reception and determining antenna types. Where such locations are relatively flat or not heavily forested, the calculations and recommendations will generally not change significantly over a few square miles.

If you choose to enter your full address, the additional street-level address information is used to refine the reception calculations and antenna type recommendations to that specific location.

Antenna Height

When AntennaWeb makes its signal strength calculations, an antenna mounted outdoors at a height of 20' above ground level is assumed. This height is the standard used by the broadcast industry when predicting television signal strength at a given location.

If the antenna you plan to install will be higher than 20' above ground level, check the box on the Antenna Height prompt to select it. A height of 30' is then used in the calculations. The 20' and 30' heights are the only options. There is no mechanism for performing calculations using a custom antenna height.

If you plan to install the antenna in an attic, see the Attic Installation for more information.

Next, click the Submit button to launch the calculations. When they are complete, the screen refreshes and you are taken to the Stations page to view the results. See the topic below for more information about its contents.

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Stations Page

After your address information has been processed, the results of AntennaWeb's calculations are displayed on the Stations page. The page is divided into three functional areas:

  • Summary Area - Provides a summary of the location that was submitted and instructional text
  • Stations Table - Contains the stations that may be received and the recommended antenna types
  • Map Feature - Illustrates the location and its proximity to the surrounding stations

The information provided by each area is covered in greater detail below.

Summary Area

The Summary Area at the top of the page provides a summary of the location that was submitted. It also contains instructions on how to interpret the results of the calculations and recommendations. A link in this section allows you to go to TitanTV.com to Learn What's On the over-the-air channels you can receive. Other links in this section provides you with information about Buying An Antenna directly from one of the certified manufacturers or vendors that are also participating AntennaWeb.org partners.

If the address could not be processed for any reason, an error message will appear in this area. Return back to the Address Entry page and re-enter the location information to ensure the information had been entered correctly.

By design, the list of over-the-air stations AntennaWeb.org returns for your location is a conservative prediction of the stations you will receive in all seasons and under all weather conditions. Under ideal conditions, you may be able to receive additional stations that do not appear in the list predicted by this site.

If the location you entered is calculated to not reliably receive any over-the-air channels, a message to that effect is displayed on the Stations page. Verify the correct ZIP Code/address had been entered and try again if an input error had occurred.

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Stations Table

The Stations table displays the stations calculated to be received at your location and the antenna types recommended to receive them. The content of this table is a conservative prediction of stations that may be received.

The table is organized with the stations requiring the least powerful antenna type to receive them at the top and those needing the progressively more powerful types below. The table contains two columns:

  • Stations - This column displays each station's call sign, channel number, RF channel, primary network affiliation, the station's distance and direction in degrees, according to magnetic North, from your location.
  • Antenna - The column displays the recommended color-coded antenna types.

Each row in the Stations column lists a station's call sign, channel number, RF channel, primary network affiliation, the station's distance and direction in degrees, according to magnetic North, from your location. The color displayed in the Antenna column represents the least-powerful color-coded antenna type that is needed to receive that station.

Stations Column - To determine the proper antenna type, review the Stations column to choose the channels you wish to view then select the corresponding color-coded type on that row in the Antenna column.

Clicking anywhere in a station's row will open a popup box containing a summary of the station's data, including:

  • A summary of that station's RF channel and its distance and direction from you
  • A sample of the color-coded label for that antenna type to look for when buying an antenna
  • A list of each channel carried by that station and its network affiliation
  • A schedule of the program now airing on each channel and the next two programs that follow it
  • Links to purchase that antenna type from manufacturers and vendors that are participating CTA members

Antenna Column - From weakest to most powerful, the color code for the antenna types in the CTA's labeling standard is Yellow, Green, Light Green, Red, Blue, and Violet. For more information about these antenna types, see the Antenna Type Color Codes topic below.

The colors in the Antenna column also correlate with the lines radiating from the location pointer on the map. Each line corresponds to a station in the list and also reflects its direction from your location and the color of the antenna type needed to receive that station. As you move your mouse over each station in the list, the corresponding line on the map will be highlighted* to illustrate its relationship to your location.

*The mouse over and highlighting functions described above are not available on mobile devices or on Firefox browser in desktop environments.

The transmitting towers for multiple stations may be located in the same general area. For locations where numerous towers are in close proximity, their lines may overlap. This is especially true when the map is zoomed out. Use the map's Zoom control to zoom in closer for more clarity about each color coded line and the location of its corresponding transmitter.

In some instances, you may discover the transmitters for two or more stations to be on the same tower but a stronger antenna type is recommended to receive one of them. In such cases, one station may be transmitting at a lower overall power than the other stations on that tower or its transmitter may be physically located lower on the tower. Both of these factors could reduce the strength of that station's signal at your location to the point that a more powerful antenna is needed to receive it.

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Map Feature

The Stations page incorporates the Google Map® service from Google®. The map provides visual feedback about your location, the direction of each station from that location and the antenna type needed to receive a particular station.

A pointer icon in the center of the map identifies your location. For most locations, one or more colored lines will radiate from the pointer. Each line indicates the relative direction to a station and its color corresponds to the antenna type needed to receive it.

Fine Tuning Your Location

To adjust your location and recalculate the antenna recommendations, the pointer may be manually moved to another spot on the map. To change the location,

  • Move the mouse over the pointer
  • Click and hold down the mouse button
  • Drag the pointer to the desired location
  • Release the mouse button to drop the pointer

The map will redraw to reflect the location change. Depending on factors such as the zoom level, intervening terrain and the distance the pointer was moved, the map may contain new information regarding the channels received, their relative direction and distance to the new location, and the antenna types now needed to receive them.

The location pointer on the map may be moved and dropped six times per visit to the Stations page before it will stop recalculating reception and antenna types.

The map feature also contains controls that allow you to pan around the view, zoom the map in and out and toggle between Map and Satellite views.

Click the Print Stations Table and Map link to print a copy of the Stations page containing the current contents of the Stations table and the map to take to your antenna retailer.

Google and Google Maps are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

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Antenna Type Color Codes

When purchasing an antenna, look on its label for the color-coded antenna mark for outdoor antennas. Features, designs and prices of antennas will vary greatly between models and manufacturers but the color-coded standard ensures that all models within a given type will have similar reception qualities. The CTA-certified labeling standard for antenna types is:

Yellow - Small Multi-directional1 Type
The smallest, least powerful antennas. Designs may include novel shaped disk and patch antennas as well as those that attach to satellite systems.

Green - Medium Multi-directional1 Type
Larger and slightly more powerful. These antennas include novel stick, wing shaped or disk antennas with long elements.

Light Green - Large Multi-directional1 Type
Bigger in size, these antennas receive more signal power. Better for greater distances from signal source and areas with low signal strength. Styles include element antennas.

Red - Small Directional2 Type
These antennas perform much like large multi-directional on channels 2-6. But on higher channels, these antennas start to have useful ghost reducing effects. Multi-element rooftop antennas.

Blue - Medium Directional2 Type
The most common rooftop antenna because of its modest size and ghost reducing characteristics. Multi-element rooftop antennas.

Violet - Large Directional2 Type
Used in weak signal areas for maximum possible TV reception. Multi-element rooftop antennas. Can also be used in any color code area. May require an amplifier and roof mounting for blue and violet color codes.

1 - Multi-directional antennas are capable of receiving signals equally well from all directions.

2 - Directional antennas receive signals from the direction it is pointed while also deflecting or blocking other signals from the periphery.

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Buying an Antenna

After you have used AntennaWeb.org to determine the proper antenna type that meets your needs, use this information when you visit your retailer to shop for the models available in that color-coded type. A Print function allows you create a hard copy of the Stations table. The printout will list the channels each type is capable of receiving as well as provide the direction (in degrees relative to Magnetic North) to point the antenna for optimum reception of each channel.

Links are provided on the Stations page to the web sites of the CTA members that are also AntennaWeb.org participants. The links will take you to the product pages on each vendor's site where you may shop for and compare the available models, features and prices for your selected antenna type. On their sites, you may also purchase your antenna directly from these vendors as well as mounting hardware, cables, amplifiers and other products to enhance your over-the-air TV viewing experience.

Should you choose to purchase an antenna or any other products from one of AntennaWeb.org's participating vendors, please direct all correspondence about the purchase to that vendor. AntennaWeb serves as only a portal that connects you to the participating vendors. Records are not available to AntennaWeb or through this site regarding your order details, delivery status, or any other details about the transaction.

Attic Installation

As described in the topics above, the signal reception calculations and antenna type recommendations AntennaWeb makes are based on the assumption the antenna will be installed outside and at least 20' above ground level.

If you plan to install the antenna in an attic, a more powerful antenna type will probably be needed than that recommended by this site for an outdoor installation. A more powerful antenna would be better able to overcome the interference the roof's structure would inherently create with the incoming signals.

Because of the wide range of building and roofing materials, framing and construction methods used, possible presence of HVAC ductwork and equipment, wiring and electrical devices, and other variables that essentially make each attic unique, this site does not perform signal strength calculations or provide antenna type recommendations specifically for attic installations.

About Indoor Antenna

Due to the numerous variables that can affect television reception at a location (materials used in the structure's exterior and partition walls, furnishings, HVAC systems, electrical interference from other devices and so on), no recommendations are made by this site regarding indoor antennas.

However, just as with outdoor antennas, the best reception with an indoor antenna requires a clear, unobstructed line of sight between it and the transmitting towers. As a rule, placing an indoor antenna as high as possible and away from any obstacles that block its view toward the towers will provide the most satisfactory results. Some experimentation with the placement of the antenna may be necessary to determine where it will provide the best reception.

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Learn What's On

In addition to allowing you to discover which over-the-air channels you may receive with an antenna, AntennaWeb.org also includes a link to TitanTV.com, a free, online TV listing site. When you click this link, a new window opens containing the schedules for only the over-the-air channels you are predicted to receive.

Links are also provided on the Stations page to the web sites of the CTA members that are also AntennaWeb.org participants. The links will take you to the product pages on each vendor's site where you may shop for and compare the available models, features and prices for your selected antenna type. On their sites, you may also purchase your antenna directly from these vendors as well as mounting hardware, cables, amplifiers and other products to enhance your over-the-air TV viewing experience.

Should you choose to purchase an antenna or any other products from one of AntennaWeb.org's participating vendors, please direct all correspondence about the purchase to that vendor. AntennaWeb serves as only a portal that connects you to the participating vendors. Records are not available to AntennaWeb or through this site regarding your order details, delivery status, or any other details about the transaction.

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Contact Information

AntennaWeb.org is dedicated to serving consumers in the US by providing information that allows them to make informed decisions about choosing the correct antenna type for receiving free, over-the-air television broadcasts. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions about this site, please click here to contact us.

Unfortunately, we cannot respond to every question, suggestion or comment that is submitted. Please be assured that we review your correspondence and will update this site accordingly to add enhancements and/or provide solutions to reported problems.

AntennaWeb.org's Host

This site is hosted by TitanTV, the most trusted source for free, online television listings. Click here to contact TitanTV.com by email.

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Troubleshooting

As mentioned in the previous topic, this site may be updated periodically without notice. The following topics are the most frequently reported problems visitors to this site have reported and their solutions.

Address Could Not Be Processed

If the ZIP Code/address you entered cannot be processed for any reason, a message will be displayed onscreen. Please review the information you entered and try again.

Should the same ZIP Code/address fail again, enter a nearby ZIP Code. After the map is drawn for that location, you may move the pointer on the map to your desired position. The channels at that location and the antenna types needed to receive them will be recalculated for the new position. The contents of the Stations table will also be updated accordingly.

No Stations Calculated To Be Received

AntennaWeb's reception predictions are conservative by design. The reception calculations are based on the channels you will be able to reliably receive in all seasons and weather conditions.

There are also numerous areas of the country that are not well served by over-the-air broadcasts. If the location you entered is calculated to not reliably receive any over-the-air channels, a message to that effect is displayed on the Stations page. Verify the correct ZIP Code/address had been entered and try again if an input error had occurred.

You may move the pointer on the map to a new position near your location. The channels at that location and the antenna types needed to receive them will be recalculated for the pointer's new position. The contents of the Stations table will also be updated accordingly.

"Processing" Message Remains Onscreen

If an animated Processing message remains onscreen for an extended period and the site appears to be frozen, this may be caused by data that is cached by your browser. The paragraphs below provide instructions on how to clear the cache on most popular browsers.

When you visit a web site, your browser stores much of that site's elements on your computer in a special folder called a cache. The cache is used to reduce the amount of data that must be transferred between a web site's server and your computer on later visits to that page.

When you return to that page, the browser is able to retrieve many of the page's elements significantly faster from its own cache than by downloading it from the site's server. This cuts down on the amount of data that must be downloaded to your computer on each visit and allows the browser to rebuild the web page on your screen much faster.

If you have recently used AntennaWeb successfully but are not able to do so now, the problem may be caused by outdated code from a previous visit that is still present on your computer. The old code may be incompatible with some of the code in the latest version of this site.

Clearing Your Browser's Cache

For most browsers on Windows-based computers, press the Ctrl+F5 key combination while in AntennaWeb to instruct the browser to retrieve the most current data and files from AntennaWeb's server. When the download is complete, the screen will refresh itself.

In the Safari browser on a Mac or PC, click the browser's Tools menu then select either the Erase Cache or Reset Safari... option (depending on browser version) and follow the onscreen prompts.

For other browsers, please refer to its documentation for information on deleting the contents of its cache folder.

If you continue to experience a problem on this site, please contact us and please provide the address/ZIP Code information you have entered, the browser version you are using, the device type (desktop, tablet, smart phone, for example) as well as a brief description of the problem. This information is vital in helping our investigations. If we are able to duplicate the problem, we will identify its cause and release a solution.

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