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Scripps Aims to Turn TV Trends Full Circle Back to Antennas

David Satin

Cord-cutters have seemingly never had so many options as they move away from cable and satellite. With dozens of over-the-top (OTT) streaming services to choose from, it seems that linear TV viewing’s death isn’t a question of “if,” but “when?” as in the U.S. linear TV viewing fell 20-30 minutes per day in 2021.

Although it is still the way a majority of viewers consume content, linear TV won’t be able to compete for much longer. According to Omdia Research Senior Analyst Rob Moyser, “In highly developed markets such as the US and the UK, 2021 will likely be the last year where linear TV predominates over non-linear TV viewing.”

According to a report from the L.A. Times, one company is looking to change that trend. Scripps, a Cincinnati-based media group that owns 61 TV stations across the country, is launching a $20 million campaign to educate viewers on the benefits of over-the-air antennas and linear TV.

The centerpiece of that campaign is a website, TheFreeTvProject.org. The site allows users to type in their zip code to learn what channels are free for any TV with an antenna. It also provides visitors with information about what antennas work best in their geographic area, and a chatbot that offers live help.

It may seem like stepping into the past for some TV viewers, but current streaming trends completely support what Scripps is trying to do. Ad-supported TV is one of the fastest growing segments of the market with 60% of households in the U.S. currently watch at least one FAST (free ad-supported streaming TV) channel, a number that is likely to rise as entertainment budgets shrink.

Many consumers might see a one-time purchase of an antenna for $15-$20 as an excellent solution for that budget crunch. Reportedly 56% of streamers would rather save money than avoid ads, and the amount of money that people find reasonable to spend every month on services is dropping. Under these circumstances, the push by Scripps to bring people back to linear TV may yield more than just static.

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