Q. Here’s my problem. I have Dish and we lost our local Fox station in the big fight with Nexstar and we can’t watch the NFL. We live in a rural area where we have trouble getting the Internet so I can’t cancel Dish and watch Netflix and Hulu on streaming. So we need satellite. But Dish keeps losing channels and DIRECTV has its own issues like high prices and poor service from what I hear. So is there another option for us? Can you please help? — Gary, Stanfield, North Carolina.
Gary, I recently have received numerous e-mails from satellite subscribers in rural areas who have said the same thing. They are dissatisfied with Dish and DIRECTV and they want an alternative. However, because of where they live, Internet access may be nonexistent, or too slow to allow them to stream exclusively. They feel stuck because they want to watch television, but Dish and DIRECTV seem like their only choices. The recent carriage disputes between Dish and Nexstar, and DIRECTV and Tegna, have only increased their frustration.
But there is a third option, and it’s called Orby TV.
Orby TV, which is available in every state but Alaska and Hawaii, started in 2019 as a response to the escalating cost of cable and satellite television. (The CEO is Michael Thornton, a former Starz executive.) Like DIRECTV and Dish, Orby delivers signals to your home via a small satellite dish and receiver, which can be purchased at Best Buy and other retail outlets, or online at Orbytv.com. The cost for a basic receiver/dish is $100; the DVR dish/receiver is $200.
For a fee, the company also provides professional installation of the dish, which includes an antenna attachment for local channels. (Orby also offers service for RV owners.)
The cost of installation for one room is normally $150; the installation cost for each additional room is $50, plus the cost of the additional receiver. However, Orby is now offering the one-room dish/receiver (non-DVR) with installation for $99 until December 30. That’s a $150 savings.
(The 500 GB hard drive in the Orby TV DVR will record approximately 100 hours of high-def programming and 1000 hours of standard definition. The DVR service is $4 a month if you have a programming package and $12 a month by itself, if you just want to record local channels. All taxes are included in the price.)
Unlike DIRECTV and Dish, Orby does not require a contract, and there are no Broadcast TV or regional sports fees. Also, Orby’s base package, called Essentials, costs just $40 a month.
But what do you get for $40? you ask?
Well, Orby TV’s lineup does have some glaring holes. The Essentials plan has about 45 channels, but they do not include Fox News, the Disney Channel, FX, Fox Sports, ESPN, NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, or any regional sports networks. (The $50-a-month Extras package has around 25 more channels, but they don’t include those, either.)
There are four premium channels available: HBO ($18 a month), Cinemax ($12 a month), Starz ($9 a month), and Epix ($6 a month). That means no Showtime.
And then there’s the issue of local channels. They come via that antenna attachment, and depending upon where you live, you may not be able to receive all four network affiliates (Fox, NBC, CBS and Fox).
Bottom line: Orby could be an interesting choice for Dish and DIRECTV subscribers who have become weary of two-year contracts, carriage disputes, and rising prices. But the service’s lack of sports channels plus the need to purchase the equipment up front might give some satellite subscribers pause.
Gary, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann