FREE Satellite TV
a myth or a reality?
Is FREE satellite TV is a reality, and if so, where is the catch?
Probably, if you have found this page, it is because you have heard about free satellite television. Many of us are paying typically $80-$100 a month on their cable or satellite TV subscription. So finding a way to get your favorite TV channels for free is definitely quite appealing. But... Is free satellite television
a myth or a reality, and if it is a reality, is there a catch?
In this article, we discuss possible venues for free satellite television, the equipment needed, and the channels you can get. We then conclude this article by focusing on what are often being advertised on the Internet as 'free' satellite TV offers from DirecTV and Dish Network.
DirecTV HR24 HD DVR Satellite TV Receiver
This MPEG-2/MPEG-4 HD satellite TV decoder comes with DVR capabilities supporting up to 200 hours of SD programming or 50 hours of HD programming. You can also record two shows at once while watching another recording.
[A two-year service commitment may be required.]
If there is one thing that is constantly being advertised on the Internet, it is 'FREE' satellite TV.
This can take various forms, from free-to-air satellite TV which gives you free legal access to unencrypted TV content, streaming of 'free' satellite TV channels available via your Internet broadband connection, use of a 'hacked' satellite TV access card/receiver to view encrypted TV programming for 'free', as well as the so called 'free' satellite television offers by Dish Network and DirecTV.
'Free-to-air' (FTA) satellite television delivers thousands of unencrypted TV channels via satellite to a wide customer base all over the world.
If you have the right satellite TV receiving equipment, you are all set to start receiving free satellite TV content without the need to pay any subscription fees.
Free-to-air satellite TV is basically the same as free-to-air television you receive with a roof-top TV antenna; the only difference is that this TV content is being transmitted via satellite as the latter represents the most practical transmission platform to reach the wider targeted audience. As with terrestrial free-to-air television, it is perfectly legal to receive these free satellite TV services without paying any fees.
Typical programming include news, sports, religious and ethnic programming supported via content advertising, as well as government-sponsored TV channels like PBS, NASA Education Channel, etc. A list of free satellite TV channels from the US as well as the relevant satellite details via which that channel is accessible, is given on the lyngsat website.
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Do not expect to find premium content generally accessible only via encrypted satellite signals; but you will definitely find loads of interesting programs about specific topics or even specific countries available via FTA satellite TV.
What equipment do you need to receive FTA Satellite Television?
What you need is a basic satellite TV setup with the appropriate dish equipped with the right LNBs and a FTA satellite TV receiver. This may sound cheap but enjoying free satellite TV channels requires a rather expensive upfront cost in comparison to the practically zero upfront cost you would enjoy with some of the latest free offers from DirecTV or Dish Network as applicable to eligible customers.
The fact that most probably you will be tracking a number of different satellites to receive all the FTA channels of interest means that your satellite dish should be equipped with a dish mover/dish positioner. In most cases, you will also need a bigger (1.8m) diameter satellite dish and a more expensive FTA satellite receiver; however, prices for the latter will depend on the supported signal formats and convenience features.
This is basically the same as FTA satellite TV except that all you will be doing is streaming of that same FTA TV content via your broadband Internet connection - when available.
Streaming of TV content via the Internet has been catching up especially during these last two years as more and more Internet-enabled HDTVs are becoming available at cheaper prices. Almost all mid-range HDTVs now include a full suite of Internet-enabled features.
Often referred to as Smart TVs, Internet-enabled TVs give you access to an almost unlimited content in the form of both free and paid services no other transmission platform - be it satellite, cable or terrestrial over-the-air television - can ever match.
However, do not expect to invest in an Internet-enabled HDTV to cut the satellite or cable TV cord. We are not there yet even though that is the way the entertainment industry is moving. But even if all of your favorite TV channels were streamed via the Internet, rest assured that you would still have to pay for premium TV content accessible via your Internet connection.
A hacked DirecTV or DISH Network satellite access card or satellite TV receiver would enable you to access all your favorite premium TV channels, transforming premium subscriptions into free satellite TV channels. But apart from the fact that hacking TV access signals is illegal, going for a hacked TV access solution is far from free satellite TV; WHY?
At face value, you are supposed to pay a onetime fee to a hacker for an illegal access card, plus you will also have to buy all related satellite TV system hardware. But what is supposed to be a onetime fee for your hacked solution may soon end up a recurrent fee which you have to pay to your hacker, or would require a constant effort downloading new keys for your satellite receiver to be able to continue watching premium TV content for free.
You see, to fight pirated access cards and satellite receivers, satellite and cable TV operators regularly check for illegal access and automatically shut all hacked hardware. They may do this even a couple of times during a program! And this is easier than you might think. All satellite TV operators have to do is to disable the respective keys associated with identified pirated access hardware from their network operations centers.
And once your hacked card or receiver gets hit, forget about your 'free satellite TV'; you have to either visit your hacker and pay whatever he asks to re-open your card, or start searching the Internet once again for possible new access keys that hopefully will work with your satellite TV setup once again.
One final form of 'free satellite TV' promoted online by many Dish Network and DirecTV affiliates are the various promo offers by these two giants. These offers related to free hardware and free installation for eligible customers subject to a service commitment for a duration that may vary between 12 and 24 months, depending on the offer.
Obviously, the monthly subscription fees associated with these service contracts take into account equipment and installation overheads. Typical subscriptions vary from a basic $30/month to typical $70 to $80 per month for a service contract covering the necessary hardware for HD access to three rooms (including one HD receiver with DVR support), satellite dish, and free installation.
This would amount to almost $1000/year for your satellite TV entertainment; this is far from being free satellite TV! However, the pricing structure adopted by these TV service providers still make these offers worth considering for those looking to enjoy high quality TV entertainment covering the widest selection of movies, sports, news, and events.
No matter how you look at it, there is no such thing as 'free satellite TV'.
Free-to-air satellite TV carries a significant upfront equipment cost and you would still miss on premium TV content. For Internet-enabled TV content, you still have to pay a subscription for premium services. And a hacked receiver/access card setup is definitely not the way to go.
On the other hand, the free satellite TV hardware and installation offers for eligible customers by DirecTV and Dish Network, are subject to a service commitment of at least one to two years.
'Free Satellite TV' Offers by DirecTV and Dish Network: What is behind the 'FREE' tag?
Both DirecTV and DISH Network have come up with a few 'innovative' offers worth a couple of hundred dollars in an attempt to get an even bigger market share. Often promoted as free satellite TV systems, these offers generally include a number of satellite HD TV receivers to cover multiple rooms, a satellite dish, and system installation by a professional. Depending on the offer, you may also get one of the satellite HD receivers equipped with DVR functionality.
Often, these offers also include a few months of free programming as well, but...
Only first time DirecTV or Dish Network subscribers are eligible for these offers; remember, these offers are there to increase the subscriber base!
You have to commit to a one year service contract, at times even two depending on the offer; otherwise, there is a penalty to pay.
Any extra 'free' option you get hold of with your 'free' offer will eventually translate into additional monthly fees. A full premium package may easily approach $100/month.
For a side-by-side comparison of the differences between Dish Network and DirecTV, please check out the following guide on our site:
DirecTV vs. DISH Network
For the latest offers from DirecTV and Dish Network, please contact the respective customer support at:
Dish Network Customer Support: 1-888-236-2202
DirecTV Customer Support: 1-888-777-2454