Q. You often bash streaming services for losing their picture. But what about DIRECTV?! I live in a state where we get plenty of rain and my DIRECTV picture goes out whenever the rain is heavy, or sometimes even during a normal shower! What about that, Mr. TV Answer Man?! — Tom, Tampa, Florida.
Tom, I have frequently criticized live streaming services for having occasional technical issues with their picture, particularly during programs that have a large audience such as season-ending episodes, award shows, and NFL playoff games. (See my recent story on Hulu’s technical issues.)
But, yes, cable and satellite TV services are not error-free, although their technical problems are not nearly as severe as their streaming counterparts. This is due in large part to the number of years (and dollars) that the satellite and cable services have invested in building relatively reliable delivery systems.
Still, both cable and satellite TV (and the telco TV) services can undergo outages due to weather. A heavy storm could knock out your area’s cable system, for instance, causing your TV picture and Internet to go out.
And it is also true that a steady, particularly heavy rain can block the signal from the communications satellite in the sky to your satellite dish, whether it’s from DIRECTV or Dish. Such an outage is usually infrequent and short, but if you live in an area that experiences more rain than normal, you might see more outages. (Note: Snow can also cause outages, particularly if the snow piles up on your dish.)
Also worth noting: The dishes of DIRECTV and Dish also need a clear southern view of the sky to capture the signals. That doesn’t mean there can’t be any trees near your home, but it does mean that you need some clearance where the signal comes in.
If you’re not sure if a satellite dish is a viable option for you, call either DIRECTV or Dish and ask them to come out to do a feasibility test. They can survey the area and determine if you will be able to receive a sufficiently strong signal to get all your channels. They might suggest shaving some tree branches or doing something a little different such as putting the dish on a pole on your roof to elevate it above the trees so it can capture a stronger signal.
Since the installers are local contractors, they also can provide some advice on the local rain issue and how often you may experience picture outages.
Need to buy something today? Please buy it using this Amazon.com link. This site receives a small portion of each purchase, which helps us continue to provide these articles.
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at email@example.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann