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Satellite TV: Is It Right for Your New Home?

Satellite Dish On Roof
Martin Konopka / EyeEm / Getty Images

Moving could be the perfect time to consider switching up your television service and trying out another service type. As you’re researching your options, take time to consider satellite TV.

But choosing a new TV service provider will depend on your location and your household’s needs. If you’re researching satellite TV and want to learn more about your provider options, keep reading! MYMOVE has everything you need to know about choosing the right television provider for your new home.

What is satellite TV?

This type of television broadcasting delivers programming wirelessly from a TV satellite orbiting space to an antenna (called a “TV dish” or “TV satellite”), which sits on your roof. The signal is then decoded into the television program you want to watch by a receiver placed inside of your home, near your TV.

Satellite TV providers: DISH and DIRECTV packages

There are two main companies that provide satellite TV services — DIRECTV and DISH. Prices and information vary by location, but here’s a snapshot of their service to give you an idea of what both providers offer. You can consider the price, available channels, sports packs, and DVR equipment to determine if they fit your family’s TV needs.

Provider Starting Price Channels Contract
DISH Introductory prices with America’s Top 120 plan start at $59.99/month with a 2-year price guarantee. 190+ channels that include all-time favorites, along with ESPN, USA, CMT, Disney Channel, and E! There are 290+ channels available in the highest package. Contracts extend to 24 months of service. Early termination fees are $20/month (Up to $480).
DIRECTV Introductory prices with DIRECTV Select start at $59.99/month for 12 months. The select package include 155+ Channels with premium channels like HBO, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX® included for 3 months for free. There are 330+ channels available in the premiere package. Contacts extend to 24 months of service. For cancellations, DIRECTV can charge a pro-rated fee of up to $480.

*Pricing and information as of 12/13/2019

Benefits of satellite TV

Drive through the rural countryside in the U.S. or anywhere else and you might spot satellite dishes pointing up from every rooftop. What has made them so popular?

Availability in any location

It may not make much difference to you if you live in a city where cable is ubiquitous or fiber TV is a new option. But cable’s reach is limited and fiber has only been rolled out in select metropolitan areas. So once you shift your home to the country where rural houses are separated by large distances, these types of TV service probably aren’t an option.

Satellite TV isn’t limited by distance as the signals are transmitted from space to a dish fixed to your room. They are best suited for rural areas not served by cable TV companies.

Satellite TV has an advantage over cable TV if you move into a rural town. With cable TV, you cannot carry your on-premise equipment with you. Or if you are moving into another area, it might not be served by your old provider, meaning you will need to sign up for a new service.

Satellite TV doesn’t have this problem. Usually, all set-top boxes from a provider are the same and all you need to do is install the TV satellite and make sure the dish antenna is facing the right way.

Reception quality

Satellite signals are digital broadcasts, so every channel is in high definition for Ultra-HD TVs. Many cable channels are also broadcast in HD, but some stations still use analog signals in standard resolution. This can be a bummer if you have top-of-the-line equipment and like to watch sports with crystal-clear reception.

Cost and channel availability

Many Satellite TV providers also offer bundled packages. You can take a combo of TV, internet, and phone to cover your connection needs. For instance, AT&T owns DIRECTV, so you can cover all three with their Triple Play Bundle. But do note that not all satellite TV companies offer internet in all areas, so you have to sign up with an ISP separately.

Satellite TV providers often offer packages with robust channel selections, especially for national programming, news, and sports.

Drawbacks of satellite TV

Here are three main handicaps that can crop up with Satellite TV service.

Satellite TV is vulnerable to bad weather

Satellite TV depends on a dish pointed at the sky and this can cause digital signals to falter in bad weather. Heavy rain and ice buildup on the TV satellite can impact on the signal reception. Strong winds can knock down the dish or change its orientation.

Internet connectivity

Cable companies can deliver internet access over the same wires used to deliver your television programming. Satellite TV users will need to subscribe to a DSL service, which again is an extra cost and inconvenience. Also, DSL is typically slower than wired internet.

Satellite TV may not offer local channels

Cable television companies package local channels as part of any basic or premium package, but a few satellite providers do not include the local networks. For local programming, you need to check the packages to see if they are available or switch to cable to access them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best satellite TV provider?

A comparison of DIRECTV and DISH TV on price doesn’t give us a clear winner. If you love sports, then DIRECTV’s top-end Premier package gives you 70+ regional sports networks and the NFL SUNDAY TICKET pro-football package.

But while DISH TV offers a slightly lesser lineup, its Hopper 3 DVR box has better features than DIRECTV’s Genie. It can record 16 shows at once against DIRECTV’s five. Netflix and other apps also come installed. All DISH TV packages come with a two-year price guarantee.

Both providers are neck and neck on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

It becomes easier to choose DISH TV if you are not a football fan, but you might want to put together a package of your favorite channels and compare them side by side.

Is satellite or cable TV better?

It depends on your location and your needs.

Satellite TV allows you to get high-def TV channels for a crisper experience, and you can customize your packages. Use their On-Demand viewing options of popular movies and TV series and simultaneous recording capabilities and your entertainment needs are well-covered.

Remember, satellite TV means “no cables” so it may be a better option if you are moving around the country. Or, of course, if you are in a rural country away from cable providers like Spectrum or Cox Communications.

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