ELIZABETH ROY opted out of her cable package years ago. But the 40-year-old can still watch the 2021 Emmy Awards on her local CBS affiliate—free of charge—with an assist from a $19 antenna she bought on Amazon. “I’m honestly surprised it’s legal,” said Ms. Roy, who works in marketing in Nashville, Tenn.
Streaming-only households in the U.S. are projected to eclipse the number of homes with cable by 2024, according to market research firm eMarketer. As Americans increasingly decide to cut the cord—tired of paying for cable on top of the various Netflixes and Hulus—a technology more than 70 years old is taking cable’s place. Antennas, or “rabbit ears” provide completely free access to local network affiliates, typically including ABC, NBC, Fox and others. Fueled largely by millennials who’ve long sidestepped cable, antenna sales in the U.S. have risen 4% over the past year, according to the Consumer Technology Association, a trade group.