Cablevision Now Offering Free Digital Antennas For Cord-Cutters

No, this is not the kind of antenna that Cablevision will give you. But you get the idea. (Photo: Great Beyond)

No, this is not the kind of antenna that Cablevision will give you. But you get the idea. (Photo: Great Beyond)

Most pay-TV providers don’t like to remind consumers that there is plenty of freely available over-the-air TV, but the folks at Cablevision seem to be taking a “if you can’t beat ’em, give ’em antennae” attitude by acknowledging that some customers are destined to cut the cord (or to never connect that cord in the first place).

The Long Island-based cable/Internet provider is now offering a broadband package targeted at cord cutters and the “cord nevers” — the upcoming generation of Americans who scoff at the idea of browsing through a menu of hundreds of channels of reality TV programming when you can get it all online whenever you want.

The new offering from Cablevision’s Optimum Online broadband service starts at $45 for the first year (pricing will go up after that; we don’t know by how much) for broadband access up to 50 Mbps downstream.

The real kicker is that they will throw in a Mohu Leaf 50 digital antenna for free, meaning users can access all the local network TV without having to pay for cable.

It also means that you could use an over-the-top service like Dish’s Sling TV (which doesn’t include any local network content) or Sony’s PlayStation Vue (which only offers live feeds from certain network affiliates) in combination with the antenna to replicate something closer to pay-TV.

Cablevision was also the first — and currently only — pay-TV provider to allow its broadband customers to purchase HBO Now, the standalone streaming service that gives users HBO access without having to pay for basic cable.

Nielsen claims that most consumers who face the choice of cutting either cable or a streaming service choose to keep their cable. That seems to imply that cord-cutting is not that big of a problem yet. But it ignores the millions of Americans who have never had to make that choice because they’ve never had a cable account to cancel.