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DIRECTV & Dish: Is Satellite TV Dead?

Tilted view of satellite dish on white multi-story house --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Q. I read that DIRECTV is shutting down its satellites. Does this mean that DIRECTV is going out of business? How about Dish? Will it go out of business, too? I don’t want to watch TV on the Internet! — Marie, Lothian, Maryland. 

Marie, DIRECTV is not shutting down its satellites. AT&T, the owner of DIRECTV, recently said it would not order any new satellites in the future to replace ones that fail. That’s quite different from shutting them down at this point.

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AT&T doesn’t plan to launch new satellites because it’s seeking to transform its TV business to an all-streaming one, which would be less expensive to operate. However, with roughly 20 million customers now owning satellite dishes, it will take years to convert those people to streaming.

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And if AT&T tried to accelerate the switch, it’s likely many of its satellite subscribers would balk and switch to other pay TV providers such as their local cable service. AT&T can’t afford to lose more TV subscribers so it will have to guide the transformation carefully.

But that said, it is clear that AT&T no longer believes in the satellite TV model. Company executives have concluded that the cost of launching, and maintaining, satellites to send TV signals to the home is an antiquated business model.

Consequently, AT&T in 2016 started DIRECTV Now, the live streaming service, and it plans to launch a set-top in 2019 that will stream DIRECTV’s entire lineup to the home.

As for Dish, Charlie Ergen, its irascible but brilliant chairman, has yet to issue a similar blanket statement in regards to future satellite launches. However, the company has also launched a live streaming service, which is called Sling TV, and it would certainly like its satellite customers to switch to streaming over the course of time for the same economic reasons.

But like DIRECTV, Dish can’t change course overnight. So, Marie, satellite TV is not dead. You could argue that its days are numbered, but that number is still relatively large.

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— Phillip Swann
@swanniontv

About TV Answer Man (1616 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

23 Comments on DIRECTV & Dish: Is Satellite TV Dead?

  1. One thing not energy not internet that means not tv on satellite tv not energy not problem generator and tv on so tv by streaming sucks Netflix hulu ok tv no thanks

    • Sledgehammer 6 // December 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm // Reply

      What the hell do you mean by streaming? A satellite dish is still required for tens of millions just to get TV and internet who have no cable still.

    • Douglas Crawford // December 4, 2018 at 6:42 pm // Reply

      I get so frustrated with people who live in big cities not getting that people in the country are lucky to still have DSL 768k internet service let alone trying to stream TV or internet. We have no other alternatives. This needs fixed at the federal level like electricity. We need to force the wiring of every household in America.

      • Gail Dowden // December 5, 2018 at 10:14 am //

        That is 100% correct I live In A Town called Evensville Tn. We DON’T HAVE HIGH SPEED NOTHING… our Children dont have Access to the internet unless you pay a huge price for a Jet Pack /Hot spot ,with unlimited Data or you get nothing this is child neglect own our Governments part seems to me they are more interested in foreign COUNTRIES, FOREIGN PEOPLE,FOREIGN POLITICS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS THAN THEIR OWN AMERICAN PEOPLE ,CHILDREN’S EDUCATION …..The Children are our Furture fix it…!!!

  2. The reason we have direct tv is because there is no other cable service. Second we only have Verizon dsl which gives me 1 kmps. I can’t direct tv genie to work properly much less work about streaming

  3. Richard Canon // December 4, 2018 at 9:39 am // Reply

    What about the rural community who has no access to internet or cable. I guess wait for 5g to come to their small town or area, Good luck with that.

  4. What about att upgrading? fiber to the node subs to fiber to the home??

  5. Susan F Payne // December 4, 2018 at 12:32 pm // Reply

    What about those of us who live full time in rvs? Even if a campground has cable we like to use our dvr.

  6. thomas koshinsky // December 4, 2018 at 12:53 pm // Reply

    with satellite, I can still record to a disc, streaming, not possible. No thanks

  7. Johnny biffle // December 4, 2018 at 2:06 pm // Reply

    There are a lot of rural locations where internet streaming is not possible

  8. Kathleen Claire // December 4, 2018 at 2:26 pm // Reply

    I have DISH but direct is owned by at&t. Which in my way of thinking has allowed a monopoly by failing to negotiate with hbo. I also have Roku but hbo is in a war with Sling.
    MONOPOLY!
    What can be done?

  9. Exactly ,rural areas like ours can’t stream jack !! Without satellite television we are screwed

  10. Debbie Davis // December 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm // Reply

    Satellite plans are still cluttered with unwanted programing. If you are rural you can’t stream generally so analog would be customers most realistic choice.

  11. I tried direct tv now put it in my RV for a trip so my grand kids could not miss their programs, what a total mess. Half the time it would not work, and the mega bits that are used it wow a lot. You would watch a movie and their is a lot of free tv to use when it works. Then when I canceled it they kept charging me for month. They have no one to call when you are having problems or how to correct they want a text of course no one could help. AT&T is a really greT company for me but picking up Direct tv was not a good investment. You get passed around when you call, the salesman dont tell the truth, etc of course not to many cable companies give you anything they just charge you a great deal of money. Well hopefully AT&T make a killing if they ever do get the streaming to a great price and working they way it should people in RVs, city and even in the areas that can’t get cable streaming will work if they ever get it together they will corner the market

  12. Betty who decides what’s clutter and what’s not? Simply put, there are areas that are still using dial up internet because there’s no dsl, broadband, fiber optic, etc anywhere close. And you can’t get an aerial signal through an antenna either. I camp in an rv and satellite is the best option for remote areas where you can’t even get a phone signal.

  13. I’m in the boondocks…. The only TV I get is through Direct TV satellite The only internet I get is a 20 GB plan through Hughes Net… which isn’t cheap… Streaming would knock out my internet allowance per month within a few days…. What the hell, AT&T??

  14. AT&T mgmt continues to live life looking at making big bucks and ignoring realities that many people don’t have an Inet connection that has the bandwidth &/or speed for video. Yep, more idots running and Organization that doesn’t have a f’g clue of their overall business. Sats are expensive but the infrastructure is already in place. These idots could make a lot of money by getting more customers on the books with renewed customer service and ala cart selection. Keep going AT&T mgmt – You are on the right path of killing your Organization.

  15. Directv needs to go international there ate people around the world that want it in ass many contries as possible there too few that get it this would be great !!!!!!!!

  16. Latacha Raychell Henderson // December 4, 2018 at 9:25 pm // Reply

    I hate Direct TV. If AT&T want to keep customers they should learn how to be honest.

  17. Jennifer Brown Reichart // December 5, 2018 at 10:54 am // Reply

    I get HORRIBLE streaming service. Xfinity/Comcast “sharing” broadband strength sucks. Verizon dsl slow, no fios in our city. No AT&T here in NE PA. …not to mention the people who already reiterated that they don’t get any cable anything in the boondocks. I like the comment that one person wrote about going International. Similar to people on ranches in Montana, they can use solar to get power, and then use your satellite service. Whelp, when another underwater/underground cable gets CUT, they’ll wish they didn’t go with wires. Should we get rid of wireless phones, too? Go back to wired versions only. *sarcasm*

  18. What about those of us that cannot get internet, tv antennas don’t work and the only way to watch TV is with a satellite dish. This is going backwards, not forward.

  19. ATT took a good company with great customer support and destroyed it. ATT is a most dishonest and downright evil company

  20. I live in a rural area, as well. We don’t have the option for cable TV. I wasn’t even able to get 50mb DSL until this year. Streaming isn’t an option for me. I’m sitting here with no DirecTV service – it just ceased to work yesterday. I’m trying to figure out if I need to switch to Dish.

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