It's cool to have rabbit ears again.

Largely relegated to obscurity decades ago, old-fashioned television broadcasts—over the airwaves and not via cable or satellite—are enjoying an unexpected revival in the digital era.

With an increased array of online-video programming now drawing viewers' attention, companies are starting to pitch consumers on complementing online video streamed from the Web with broadcast-TV signals as a way to save money on cable subscriptions.

If it gains traction, this trend could undercut part of the rationale for selling off TV spectrum in voluntary auctions, approved by Congress on Friday, aimed at freeing up spectrum for wireless broadband.

There are signs that consumers are responding. TV-antenna seller Richard Schneider of St. Louis says sales at his company are soaring. Mr. Schneider's Antennas Direct sold 70,000 antennas in January, and he expects to double last year's sales of about 600,000. That was up from 400,000 antennas in 2010.

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