But I want to watch the Ravens *evermore*
December 23, 2008 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Help! I live near DC and I want to be able to watch the Ravens game on Sunday. How do I boost my rabbit ears to receive the Baltimore transmission?

So the CBS affiliate in Baltimore (WJZ-13) is the station carrying the game. I have a Visio HDTV with some $20 rabbit ears that you plug in to supposedly "boost" the signal, but I find that a lot of the DC stations come in better without the booster thing on.

I think the Baltimore stations used to point down this way more because they used to come in clearer over the air.

Honestly this isn't for me but for my cousins who will be at my house for our big family Christmas party. There are always other options (such as the radio) but I'm not interested in alternatives. I want to know how to make this work at my house. Thanks!
posted by frecklefaerie to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Let me add that I am also willing to buy a new antenna as long as it is under $100.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:41 AM on December 23, 2008

Is an outdoor antenna a possibility? With a $45-ish outdoor HDTV antenna (these used to be known as UHF antennas many years ago), I get all Baltimore and DC digital signals except for MHz Networks (except on clear nights). And this is from the Canton neighborhood in downtown Baltimore.

If you can only do an indoor antenna, I think it's going to be tricky. But it's quite possible that the antenna you're using right now just isn't that good. See if you can get a better one, and try and put it at or near a window, if outdoors isn't an option. A window facing Baltimore, ideally.
posted by CommonSense at 10:14 AM on December 23, 2008

Oh, and also, digital signals are generally weaker than their analog counterparts, which explains why you could get the analog signals more reliably. Digital has to be all-or-nothing, whereas with analog, you could have quite a bit of signal degradation before the average person considers it unwatchable.
posted by CommonSense at 10:19 AM on December 23, 2008

If you can put an antenna on the roof or in the attic you'll be fine. When I lived in Leesburg VA I had a $79 radio shack exterior antenna just laying across the eaves in my attic, and I got all the network feeds from Baltimore.
posted by COD at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2008

According to the Zap2It TV listings for WUSA Channel 9 (the local DC CBS station), they will be showing the Jaguars @ Ravens at 4PM. This might change and Zap2It might be wrong, but maybe you don't have to worry about it.

I don't think there's anyway to deeplink, so check yourself and on about Thursday The 506 will have NFL coverage maps for the whole country, listing what each station is showing.
posted by skynxnex at 10:30 AM on December 23, 2008

CommonSense - Yes, I can put it outside. Does the length of the cable to the antenna matter? Someone I asked in meatspace mentioned that I would need a protected cable or something for it not to matter.

Skynxnex - Well, WUSA hasn't carried the Ravens all year long. Thanks for the tip about 506.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2008

Antennaweb can tell you where their transmitter is so you know where point your antenna.
posted by zsazsa at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2008

Anyway, to answer the antenna question, my guess is a decent UHF antenna (like $50+, DB2 or DB4 class. I don't know if there are retail locations that carry those antennas, but I've gotten the best results from ones like that: simple, large reflection area) should be able to pick up WJZ-13.1 DT (definitely UHF because 13.1 is current broadcasted on channel frequency 38).

You can use antennaweb to guessimate how good of an antenna you need to pick up a particular station, but I've found the results to be too pessimistic *if* you can get a decent exposure in the direction of the station (through a window or outside, as long as there's no buildings or big hills in the way).

(I use the DB4, bough from Solid Signal, 'cause they have it for a lot cheaper. I'm in the Springfield, VA area and can get every DC area station plus MPT 22. I just keep it inside pointing out a large window facing north eastish. I know someone in eastern Fairfax county with a DB4 who, with exactly the right weather, can just barely get 11 and 13 from Baltimore. So if your profile location is accurate, that level of antenna should work well.)

On preview, frecklefaerie: I'm pretty WUSA has shown Ravens games a few times this year; although there has been a couple of DC blackouts because of a home Redskins game on Fox. Looking... yeah, at a minimum week 11 and 15 both had Ravens on 9.
posted by skynxnex at 10:50 AM on December 23, 2008

zsazsa - What a great resource! Thanks. According to that page I need a red zone ourdoor directional antenna.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:56 AM on December 23, 2008

WTF are you talking about WUSA hasn't carried Ravens games all year long? They are contractually obligated to show them as they are the AFC channel and for DC the AFC "home team" is the Ravens. I have seen as many Ravens games as Redskins games living in DC and this weekend will be no exception.

You do not need to buy anything just put on CBS at game time you and you will be able to watch the game.
posted by BobbyDigital at 11:13 AM on December 23, 2008

Ooh, thanks skynxnex. Question about the antenna: if I get one like that can I mount it to a bathroom exhaust pipe thingy? Our "TV room" is in the addition to the house, which is good because there is easy roof access from the second floor. There is a pipe that sticks out about 4 feet that I guess comes from the bathroom, and it would be the ideal place to mount it, unless that is a Very Bad Idea.

I'm glad to have been wrong about the Ravens on 9. If they announce on Thurs that they are carrying the game, then I have nothing to worry about.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:13 AM on December 23, 2008

Bobby Digital, there is no need to take that tone with me, and you are completely wrong.

Check out Week 1 and Week 3 for example.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2008

Also, the Ravens are by no means a "hometeam" for DC.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2008

At least the DB4 comes with a mounting bracket that should work on a pipe that's up to a couple of inches big. I haven't had any experience mounting antennas outside. However, based on what I've read you should be fine as long as: You stay away from electricity :), there's no metal between the antenna and the stations you want to get (which sadly means Baltimore and DC are pretty much mutually exclusive for you), and it doesn't get too hot (so, a chimney would be bad and maybe even a dry exhaust).

I hope, if it's needed, somebody with more external antenna mounting experience chimes in as well. (As for the length of cable, you should be fine without an amp until you get to cables that are tens and tens (maybe more than 30?) of feet. As far as I know.)

As for Ravens and Redskins, Wikipedia talking about it (saying that Washington and Baltimore are different home markets in terms of the NFL), which is more or less consistent with my experiences. WUSA tends to show the Ravens if they can. (the only situation the WUSA can't show the Ravens are when the WAS and BAL games are on at the same time, and the Redskins are home. Then the non-Redskins network is blacked out during that block.) But WUSA will pick a higher profile game over the Ravens in a lot of cases, of course now that the Ravens can get a wild card playoff spot if they win, it's a lot more likely 9 will show them.

There were definitely a few times this year I wanted to watch the Ravens game, but it wasn't being shown in the DC market. Ah, isn't the NFL grand.
posted by skynxnex at 11:46 AM on December 23, 2008

If you're installing an antenna outside, make sure to follow instructions for making it lightning-safe.
posted by jquinby at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2008

Being a huge Ravens fan, and living in downtown DC I can definitely say the Ravens HAVE been playing on the local CBS station, 29 Comcast for me. There have been a few blackouts, think Eagles/Giants was one.

I'm looking at the schedule and we should be good on Sunday. The game will be showed on CBS.

I don't think Bobby D was taking a tone with you. You kinda came out acting like the Ravens are never being shown in DC, which is untrue, they are most of the time.
posted by OuttaHere at 6:41 PM on December 23, 2008

Doesn't the NFL map on that site show that the second late game is indeed Bmore/Jville on the local CBS channel? That should include the DC CBS channel because I definitely get two early games here in DC - Fox and CBS. So you shouldn't have a problem. This seems to be the only week of the season where there are two late games broadcast in local markets. Normally it's just one.

Dallas tends to preempt the Ravens here because for some strange reason, Dallas' second biggest market in the country is right here in the heart of enemy territory.. DC. But again, checking distribution maps it looks like Fox owns both the Dallas and Redskins games this week, so we get Redskins on Fox, and CBS shows Ravens. I'll be watching them too because Skins game is likely to be terrible (and I'm a fan, but based on the past 2 months, I'd rather see good football).

There might also be a tendency to preempt Ravens games for any divisional matchups in NFC East, again because of the Redskins, IMHO that was probably not a blackout, it was about divisional rivals of the home team. The markets are always changing though - I think Dan Snyder was extra pissed about Washington playing an awful game against Baltimore because the teams are competing for a regional fan base.

I'm also glad we're lucky enough to not have to see the (*#*&ing Jets that afternoon like most of the country.
posted by citron at 11:06 PM on December 24, 2008

You could always trying calling up WUSA to verify what they're showing so to be extra sure your family isn't disappointed.
posted by citron at 11:07 PM on December 24, 2008

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