It's been six days since News Corp. pulled Fox from the 3.1 million subscribers to New York-area TV provider Cablevision, and the dispute shows no signs of ending soon.
So if you're one of the afflicted, and want to watch any of Fox's programming--including the national League Championship Series' pivotal Game 5 tonight--here's a reminder that cable TV isn't your only option. Other avenues exist, and might not cost you any extra money.
Hook up an antenna: Chances are good you have an HDTV, and chances are even better that that HDTV has an antenna input on the back. Dust it off and put it to use. Connecting an antenna--whether it's an old one on your roof, a pair of rabbit ears you find in your closet, or a new one you buy today (indoor versions are pretty cheap)--could get you Fox for free right now.
After hookup you'll need to scan for channels on your TV to find the station, and you might have to play around with the antenna location, but for many subscribers in the Cablevision area, an antenna will work. Bonus: You'll get Fox in HD, complete with surround sound, and the picture will probably look better than cable.
If you have an old antenna we recommend trying it. If you need to buy a new one, antennaweb.org is a good place to start. In New York City we've also had good luck with "silver sensor"-based units like the Philips SDV2708 ($18 at Amazon). If you're having trouble getting reception, the FCC's DTV.gov has some tips on antenna placement and a coverage map.
Grab a DTV converter box: If you have an older TV that lacks a DTV tuner, you can still tune over-the-air channels like Fox using an antenna. If you don't have one already, you'll need to get a DTV converter box to hook to the TV. The boxes are no longer free, but usually cost around $40 from places like Best Buy or Amazon. Of course they're standard-def only, but so is your old TV.
Buy a portable DTV: Small-screen, portable digital televisions are also relatively cheap, and will remain useful even after Fox eventually settles with Cablevision. We liked the Philips PDV900 among models we reviewed, and RadioShack has a good selection of models under $100, for example.
Go online: The Internet has plenty of ways to watch Fox and its programming, and many of them, such as those detailed in our Quick Guide to Internet TV, are even legal! Hulu.com, now that it's no longer being blocked to Cablevision customers, offers numerous Fox shows you can watch on a computer, and of course you can connect the computer to your TV if you'd like. You could also buy a device that features Hulu Plus' $10/month service, like Samsung's BD-C6900 Blu-ray player. Fox shows are also available on other outlets like Amazon Video on Demand.
But sports generally is not, which could be especially disappointing if the Yankees somehow beat Cliff Lee and make it to the World Series. But there is an alternative: MLB's postseason.tv, which delivers every Championship Series and World Series game to your computer for $10. Our own Matthew Moskovciak, a Yankees fan and postseason.tv subscriber, recommends the "split screen" mode using the home plate and center field cameras.
New York (football) Giants fans, however, might have to visit a friend or a local bar that subscribes to Verizon Fios or Time Warner Cable.
Thanks to co-worker and Cablevision subscriber Erik Weigel for the story idea.