RadioShack Slashes Antenna Pricing By 25% Amid TWC/CBS Dispute

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable Has Given Away 'Thousands' of Digital Rabbit Ears, But Has Not Depleted Its Free Stock

Over-the-air antennas continue to be a hot commodity as the Time Warner Cable-CBS dispute heads toward its fourth complete week.

RadioShack on Monday said it was cutting 25% off the price of one of its antenna models just three days after TWC began to offer free antennas in a handful of markets affected by blackouts, and Best Buy and TWC partnered on a program that provides $20 vouchers toward the purchase of digital TV rabbit ears.

Each retailer is taking a different consumer angle. While BestBuy travels the MSO-friendly route by teaming up with TWC, RadioShack’s new sales campaign takes an adversarial cable slant, noting in its announcement that the discount makes “’cutting the cable’ convenient and easy.”

RadioShack’s price slash, offered through September 7, applies only to one model: the AntennaCraft Amplified Omnidirectional HDTV Antenna (pictured above), which regularly sells for $49.99, but is currently available online for $37.49.

RadioShack retail stores are honoring the discount in markets impacted by the TWC/CBS dispute, but the price cut is also valid if consumers purchase the equipment online, a RadioShack spokeswoman told Multichannel News via email. “The discount was created to help those affected by the blackout, but others are welcome to join in,” she added. The week after TWC initiated the CBS blackout, RadioShack said purchases of HD antennas and related products were up “double digits” compared to prior weeks in Dallas, New York and Los Angeles. 

Last Friday (August 23), TWC began to offer a “limited quantity” of basic indoor antennas for free via the MSO’s retail locations in the CBS blackout markets of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles/Desert Cities, New York City, as well as and in Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wis., where TWC is engaged in a separate retrans battle with Journal Broadcasting Group. TWC is limiting the offer to one antenna per customers while supplies last.

“We’ve given out thousands of antennas in the areas affected by a blackout,” a TWC spokeswoman said, in a statement to Multichannel News, noting that the MSO has not yet depleted its supply of free stock in any market so far. “Distribution is going smoothly and we appreciate our customers' support as we work to reach agreements that are fair to our customers.”

TWC declined to offer a precise figure on how many antennas it has given away so far or still has on hand. Best Buy isn’t saying much about how its offer of $20 vouchers is being received by TWC subs who lack access to CBS, but claims it’s prepared to handle what the market will bear as the blackout threatens to extend into the college football and NFL regular season.

“As a matter of policy, Best Buy does not disclose sales,” Best Buy spokesman Jon Sandler said, in a statement. “However, we are making sure to have plenty of antennas (as well as OLED televisions) available for our customers to purchase in advance of football season.”