What is OTA and How Does it Work? – AirTV Blog

What is OTA and How Does it Work?

AirTV Blog
AirTV Blog January 31, 2019 • 2 minute read

Whether you are already a cord cutter or thinking about cutting the cord soon, by now you have probably heard the term OTA tossed around a lot. But what exactly is OTA TV and how does it work? 

Prior to Cable and Satellite TV, there was only OTA – your first TV or your family’s TV probably had what we called bunny or rabbit ears, sometimes an outdoor antenna, maybe a remote control and oftentimes not. OTA or Over-the-Air channels are simply the channels you get for free with just your television box and an indoor or outdoor antenna. 

Enabled by an antenna and tuner, OTA TV makes use of television signals transferred by radio waves from local television stations. This allows you to view channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, CW and more depending on the factors we cover below. These signals are often crisp and in High Definition, and have been this way since 2009.

Local broadcasters use OTA to deliver content directly to you without a monthly subscription cost. This means you can typically access between 20 and 70 channels depending on your distance from a broadcast center and other environmental factors. With OTA, your household can watch all its favorite programs including major network shows and the local news, entirely for free. 

Quick note: We’ll address antennas and other OTA tech in upcoming posts, but here’s a quick resource for finding which channels appear free in your area – AirTV – Locals  or FCC – DTV Reception Maps.

What else about OTA?

Your OTA experience can be boosted with devices like AirTV that take those free channels, and put them into an interface or setup with a free TV guide and DVR service, enhancing your TV viewing. This allows you to pause, rewind or fast-forward your recorded local channel content with no monthly fees. 

These devices can also stream free live TV to your phone, tablet, or other compatible devices like a Roku, FireTV, Android TV, iOS and more for a true “TV anywhere” experience. Some systems like the AirTV Player also allow you to keep all your favorite apps like NETFLIX, HULU and more all in one place for easy entertainment access when you want to mix your free local channels with a streaming service. 

Watch this space:

Our next blog posts will provide details on the basics of getting started with OTA devices like AirTV and a checklist to help figure out if OTA is right for you. We’ll also provide guidance on choosing the right cord cutter setup including mixing in streaming video on-demand options or upgrading with a service like Sling TV for access to more live content.

Have a question? Let us know in the comments section below.

18 Comments

Add yours

    1. Hi Barry – You definitely need to purchase an AirTV Box, and then download the app. The Box is the physical device which pulls the signals, integrates and distributes them. The software controls the experience on your tablet, phone etc.

  1. We encountered a problem on Sunday during the Grammy Awards. Every few minutes, the TV would freeze and buffer, then after a minute or so, would return to normal. It’s been doing that on the local channels since then. I decided maybe a hard reset was in order. I followed the instructions for a hard reset, but now when I try to rescan my local channels again, I get a message stating “AirTV is currently inaccessible, ie, offline or on a different network.”

    Where do I go from here?

    1. Thank you for reaching out Gregory! That kind of frustrating experience is not one we aim to provide, and we would like the opportunity to work with you to find a fix. Due to the number of variables that may be causing the issue, we would invite you to call in so that we can do our best to earn your satisfaction. Our customer service agents can be reached at 1-866-974-1354 from 7:30 AM – 10 PM MT (7 days a week). We look forward to speaking with you!

      Thank you,
      The AirTV Blog Team

    1. Hi John – As a matter of fact, they do not have to be in the same room. The beauty of AirTV is that it can wirelessly stream that signal to your WiFi enabled roku box or compatible smart TV (Roku OS, Android TV OS, Fire TV OS).

      Thanks!

      The AirTV Blog Team

  2. After hooking up the AirTV DVR to my WD WD Easy Share hard drive, my SlingTV cloud DVR no longer works. I have called SlingTV every day for over a week and nothing has been resolved.

    1. Hi Corey! Thanks for reaching out. Sorry that you are experiencing this challenge. The 2 DVR systems are not related. We reached out to the experts at Sling on your behalf. They recommended privately chatting with them on facebook or via phone for a more in-depth troubleshooting session. They did a refresh of your account for us which may be what’s needed. If it doesn’t work, please request that they remove and re-add the Cloud DVR service. Hope this helps.

      Best,

      The AirTV Blog Team

  3. When setting a program to record, I don’t seem to be able to go and watch that program while record is in progress. Is that normal? Seems you should be able to watch a program while it’s recording.

    1. Hi Bob,

      If you have a dual tuner device you should be able to both watch and record at the same. Definitely reach out to us for more specific help at the support number below:

      1-866-974-1354

      Phone support is available 7:30 AM – 10 PM MT (7 days a week).

      Thanks!
      The AirTV Blog Team

    1. Hi Bob – Via a WiFi connection, AirTV can support up to 2 simultaneous streams.

      Supported devices below:

        Sling TV App:
        iOS, Android (mobile and TV),
        Amazon Fire TV, Roku

        AirTV App:
        iOS, tvOS, Android (mobile and
        TV), Amazon Fire TV, Roku

        Thanks,
        The AirTV Blog Team!

  4. We just installed our AirTV and have scanned for local stations, which it identified 12 stations, but when it finish scanning we receive an AirTV Adapter setup failure. We have tried scanning multiple of times with no luck. Any assistance would be appreciated.

  5. Our AirTV scans the local on-air stations and find most of them. After the scan and the adapter setup are done, the local channels are not on the channel list. It just happened today. What’s going on? What needs to be done in order to fix it?

    1. UPDATE: We just made a resolution for this issue. when logging back into the Sling app you will be prompted to rescan for channels. Once you rescan your local channels should be back on your channel list.

      Hello David – We have become aware that some customers are missing local channels received through the Sling app on their AirTV Players. Here’s how you can resolve this issue:

      1.) Hit the Diamond button on your AirTV Player remote to return to the main menu. Find and select the Play Store icon and sign in to your Play Store account
      – If you need to create a Play Store account, CLICK HERE: https://accounts.google.com/

      2.) Within the Play Store, under the Update ribbon, find and select the Sling TV app. Select Update
      – While in the Play Store, you can also opt to have apps update automatically. Select this option, if you’d like

      3.) Launch the Sling TV app. From the My TV screen, scroll to the very bottom, then select Sling TV Settings

      4.) Under Over the Air Channels, select Setup to re-scan for channels

      Thank you,
      The AirTV Blog Team

  6. I am having the same issue as David above, and have been on hold for 10 min with your customer service…. I assume this is an issue for everyone, and you guys will have a fix soon?

    1. UPDATE: We just made a resolution for this issue. When logging back into the Sling app you will be prompted to rescan for channels. Once you rescan your local channels should be back on your channel list.

      Hello Nicole – We have become aware that some customers are missing local channels received through the Sling app on their AirTV Players and thank you for your patience. Here’s how you can resolve this issue:

      1.) Hit the Diamond button on your AirTV Player remote to return to the main menu. Find and select the Play Store icon and sign in to your Play Store account
      – If you need to create a Play Store account, CLICK HERE: https://accounts.google.com/

      2.) Within the Play Store, under the Update ribbon, find and select the Sling TV app. Select Update
      – While in the Play Store, you can also opt to have apps update automatically. Select this option, if you’d like

      3.) Launch the Sling TV app. From the My TV screen, scroll to the very bottom, then select Sling TV Settings

      4.) Under Over the Air Channels, select Setup to re-scan for channels

      Thank you,
      The AirTV Blog Team

Leave a Reply