Selecting a Satellite TV Network from the Audiences Perspective

The numbers of those who just connect their TV to a simple roof top antenna can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. I assume you are not one of those minimalists who need 30 minutes of news programming to get by in a day. Most likely, you are one of those millions who want 200+ channels in their home and are wondering which of the biggies to choose.

There are hundreds of websites offering detailed price lists, programming analysis and freebies. I will not attempt to compete with them. By a simple comparison of costs, you are unlikely to get a good idea of the content and value of these channels. Therefore, we need to look at the viewing audience and see what the specific requirements of user groups are. On pricing, let me make a few general statements first:

  • Nothing is free. When any of the networks offers you free equipment and installation, it is only deferring payments over a year. Both DirecTV and Dish Network require you to commit on a one-year subscription.
  • If you are an average watcher - say 2-3 hours per day - then, over a two-year subscription - your costs with DirecTV or with Dish Network will be very similar.

To help you decide, I have broken down viewing audience into a few well-defined sub-groups. We will look at the networks from their differing perspectives.

Working Families - viewing primarily in evening hours or on weekends

  • Requirements: parental control on specific channels (children may be unsupervised during the day), control over pay per view, adequate children programming and info-entertainment channels. OK sports coverage. Availability of Internet, local channels.
  • Recommendation: either DirecTV or Dish Network is good enough. Select on least cost basis - Dish Network is marginally ahead here.

Housewives at home - not working

  • Requirements: recording capability, good film channel availability, good HD TV.
  • Recommendation: Dish Network.

Elderly people

  • Requirements: good film channels, good news coverage, religion channels. Internet, sports, simpler choice of equipment.
  • Recommendation: Dish Network

Immigrant workers in the USA

  • Requirements: language content from the relevant region, good news coverage.
  • Recommendation: DirecTV

Young working families

  • Requirements: strong sports content, easy shift of residence, good HDTV, and easy shift of residence.
  • Recommendation: DirecTV for strong sport and Dish Network for easy mobility

While both the networks offer you a number of accessories, the variety available with Dish Network is larger. The key accessories are:

  • IR to UHF converter for the remote - That means that even if you have hooked up four TVs as both the networks do free, you could only operate the receiver with the remote if you were in the same room as the receiver. The IR to UHF converter makes your remote radio controlled. This means that you can now operate it from any room in the house. Installation is simple; just plug it into the mains!
  • Wireless Phone Jack - Sometimes, you may not have a phone jack near the receiver. However, your receiver needs to communicate with the network for a pay per view TV experience. Just plug the wireless phone jack to a phone jack and an electrical outlet. The phone signals now travel on the electrical line to the receiver.

Purchase of Equipment
Dish Network insists that you use equipment supplied by them. Sounds autocratic but is OK by me since what you get is perfectly tuned equipment that works well together. DirecTV allows you to mix and match equipment of your choice. The key issue here is that you are responsible for compatibility issues.

Final Recommendation
As I read the paragraphs above, my choices become clear. For most general classes of viewers, Dish Network is a better choice - marginally in terms of cost, it also offers better HD TV choices and more accessories. If your main interests lie in sports or you are interested in foreign language programming - look at DirecTV. It offers more choices in these categories. You must be a more educated viewer by now and the decision you have to take must be clearer. Here is wishing you hours of satisfying viewing.

Al Falaq Arsendatama - (c) 2005

Visit our website: Satellite TV Choice - Direct TV vs Dish Network for more reviews on the two leading satellite TV networks.

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© 2005