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Cord Cutter Nation: Prescott Arizona, Ground Zero for Free TV

At Arizona TV Worx in Prescott, which supplies and installs TV antennas, business is booming. After CableOne’s price increase, people are flocking to cable alternatives in droves.

James Todd of Arizona TV Worx – Photo credit: Les Stukenberg dccourier.com

James Todd of Arizona TV Worx in Prescott is staying busy these days. His company, which supplies and installs TV antennas, is doing a booming business installing over-the-air antennas for newly converted cord cutters:

The price increase with CableOne really upset a lot of people and they’re calling me in droves right now. I can’t keep up — I’m booked two weeks out! – James Todd, Owner Arizona TV Worx

The area that Todd’s company serves, Prescott Arizona, with a little over 45,000 residents, finds itself at the epicenter of a nationwide tidal wave of cord-cutting. As a result of its proximity to Phoenix, one of the top media markets in the country, Phoenix and Prescott area residents are in an enviable position when it comes to affordable TV viewing options like free live TV via antenna and affordable streaming TV – all viable alternatives to what CableOne is selling:

Prescott area TV stations and their TV tower locations

Astonishingly, more than 20 percent of the 1.8 million TV viewers in the Phoenix-Prescott area receive free over-the-air (OTA) television:

The combination of the widespread availability of free over-the-air TV, coupled with the frequent price hikes and widespread customer dissatisfaction with Pay-TV providers, has made Phoenix-Prescott one of the hottest areas in the country for cord-cutting. Thanks to apps like Simplebit’s Channels and  devices like ChannelMaster Stream+, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, area residents can take full advantage of free over-the-air TV and low cost streaming TV services like never before.

The Prescott Valley sits between Mt. Francis to the west and Mingus Mountain to the east. There are approximately 135,000 residents in the “Quad Cities” area, consisting of Prescott Valley, Prescott, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt. This area is about a hundred miles north of Arizona’s capital city of Phoenix, which is home to most of the area’s major network TV providers:

Phoenix-Prescott Area TV Stations

Next Gen ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts Coming Soon to Phoenix Residents

As further evidence that Phoenix-Prescott is fast becoming the epicenter of cord-cutting, consider this: This spring, TV viewers in Phoenix will be the first in the country to experience next-generation television broadcasting that promises more channels, better signal quality and support for 4K video.

Ten television stations in the city have jointly agreed to make the Arizona city a test market for broadcasts in ATSC 3.0, a new version of the ATSC over-the-air broadcasting format currently used in the United States. TVs with the ATSC 3.0 compatible hardware are expected to arrive on store shelves in the coming months. Your existing antenna will work fine.

Streaming TV Providers Love Phoenix-Prescott

For those who would rather not bother with an antenna, thanks to streaming TV providers, you have a rich set of options.

Phoenix-Prescott Live Locals on Streaming Services. Click for full chart.

As you can see from the chart, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PS Vue all offer the four major networks KNXV Channel 15 (ABC), KPHO Channel 5 (CBS), KSAZ Channel 10 (FOX) and KPNX Channel 12 (NBC) while DIRECTV NOW offers all but CBS for Phoenix-Prescott residents:

Arizona Free TV – Translator Towers Extend the Reach

To compensate for Arizona’s mountainous terrain, the Phoenix based TV stations have erected “translator” towers in the Prescott area atop Mingus Mountain and Mount Francis. These translator towers are essentially signal repeaters. They receive the over-the-air signal from the main TV towers in Phoenix and rebroadcast them across the valley. Because of this retransmission, they do not produce as strong a signal as the Phoenix towers from which the signals originate, but they do increase the chances that you can point your antenna to one or the other (or both in some cases) to receive the free over-the-air TV channels that they provide.

Here’s a look at the tower locations:

Prescott Valley TV Translator Towers on Mt. Francis to the West and Mingus Mountain to the East

As you can see from the graphic above, the two clusters of stations flank Prescott Valley, allowing area residents to choose between the Mt. Francis towers (for all major Phoenix TV networks except KPNX NBC 6) and the Mingus Mountain towers which broadcast all major Phoenix based networks. This is the area that’s become Larry Todd’s playground as he seeks to help area residents wean off the high cost of cable and satellite bills and embrace affordable cord cutting options.

Are you a resident of the Phoenix-Prescott area who is considering or have already cut the cord? Please share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know your experience:

References: Some information for this story was sourced from the Prescott Arizona news magazine, The Daily Courier

  • Phoenix-Prescott residents. Feel free to share your thoughts on the state of the over-the-air and streaming TV market in your area. Also, what are the current preparations for the ATSC 3.0 trials in your area? Are you currently being offered the opportunity to get compatible TV tuner set top boxes?