RV TV Media Choices — Which is Right for You?

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September 20, 2017

RV satellite

RV satellite, Wi-Fi, campground cable… cutting through the RV TV media clutter.

With multiple TVs in many of the RVs sold today, travelers have to ponder what service network is best. The first media choices that come to mind are the satellite broadcasters, such as Dish Network, DirecTV, Shaw Direct, etc. WiFi is certainly a popular media choice, with services like Netflix offering ample content. Off-air digital is also being used, albeit many times as an extra media choice for local information. Then there is the tried-and true park-provided cable TV. Often the best pick is determined by the person’s camping preferences.

Comparing these based on cost would quickly show that the satellite TV choice is by far the most expensive. Netflix-like streaming services are very low in cost when compared to any of the satellite networks. Both off-air and campground-supplied cable come at virtually zero cost.

RV Satellite Vs. the Others

So, all that said, why would anyone choose satellite as their TV entertainment provider? To answer that, let’s look at each service’s offerings.

Off-Air — Good quality signal, but much depends on your location. Also can only offer local networks.

Cable TV — Can be analogue or digital. Usually confined to 30 or so channels. Poor reception often experienced with analogue signal in some parks.

WiFi — Campground use is based on the availability of the needed signal band width. Video streaming exceeds the capabilities of some parks, resulting in poor to lost signal. This has forced some camp owners to electronically choke the signal to prevent such use.  While video streaming is available through cellular networks, it is usually price-prohibitive.

Satelitte — Can be used in camp or boon-docking. Offers the ability to use the same receiver and service as home. Able to operate while underway. Excellent reception on all channels. “At home” local channel regardless of your location. Operates independently without the need of Wi-Fi, cable connection or nearby broadcast stations. The cost for this service can range from $40 to $200+ per month based on your program preferences.

Well, there is no question that the satellite service can be quite expensive. However, there is also no question that it clearly delivers the best no-hassle, non-interrupted service of the bunch. The big flat screens in today’s RV’s, whether the pop-up televator type or swing-out exterior entertainment center, are just dark windows without a picture. Select the service of your choice and bring it to life.

Peter Mercer — With The Clear Picture

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  1. Peter Mercer

    If you are a U.S. resident you can use Dish Net or Direct TV, both will work in much of Canada. If your residence is in Canada you may have to use a different service in each location. I hope this helps. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this topic.

  2. Anonymous

    Can someone recommend a provider that also works in Canada .? Shaw Direct tells me that I will not get their signal when we winter in Texas

  3. Anonymous

    how do i buy direct tv for my rv?

  4. Peter Mercer

    Your experience with Dish was probably not what their policies were even back then. What you were told, I’m sure, was incorrect. Satellite home local channels are “Spot beamed”. That is they can only be received within your local area. If you were staying in a away-from-home region for a period of time, you can have the new local channels switched to receive them. This, of course, will not deliver your home channels however. The digital off air converter market is really non-existent today, therefore probably lacks quality products now. Replacing a TV with a new one would make the difference. The off air picture quality is excellent delivering HD signals.
    I’m glad you enjoy other activities. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us.

  5. Anonymous

    Over 25 years ago we subscribed to Dish when our cable system changed ownership. Afterwards I contacted Dish to either get a second receiver for our motorhome or temporarily relocate the home receiver to the RV. Dish said absolutely not to either and that was that. I told them to unsubscribe me and they said if I did that I would never ever be permitted to resubscribe. I would hope that arrogance no longer exists today. We generally had good service from Direct at home and with the same receiver on the road. Contrary to the article, when outside our San Francisco bay area location we lost access to our local channels and could not get the local channels at other urban locations. Direct said that is the way the system is set up and there was no help for it. Five years ago we sold our home and moved into a retirement community where we can only have Comcast. We bought our RV new in 2000 and subsequently installed a digital-to-analog interface but it just isn’t worth the trouble to fiddle with it in the hope of getting air-transmitted signals. It also didn’t appeal to us to modify the cabinetry to accommodate a new digital TV receiver. We carry a good selection of DVDs and VHS tapes in case we or any possible guests are interested. We usually don’t have guests and realy appreciate the opportunity to catch up on books and magazines. We are weaned from TV and are the better for it.

  6. Peter Mercer

    Thank you for confirming most people’s experience in regards to TV service across the country.

  7. Anonymous

    I agree that the satellite offers the most, and is available almost anywhere. Also, you can use the same box from your home. Obviously, it is the most expensive option. I used that for 8 years and also relied on the crank up antenna for the local stations, especially weather. I had two TVs, so this worked out well. WHEN you can get the local stations, they are now digital and very clear.
    Cable TV is NOT offered in all RV parks, or you might have to pay. Limited channels. WiFi is certainly not always available in many parks, or the reception is limited or poor. I take a Verizon MiFi device for better reception and it is SECURE.
    In the National Parks, often there is no reception, whatsoever, and I have been in a couple of National Parks in Utah, where you are totally off the grid. NOTHING! So, the satellite was a life saver.
    Yes, there are many different packages with satellite, but I also use it at home.

  8. Peter Mercer

    Depending on the area you frequent, OTA TV service can provide excellent picture quality and programming….All free! Thanks for your input.

  9. Anonymous

    When I bought my Super-C, there was an OEM In-Motion satellite already installed. The PDI guy recommended Dish and I “bit”. Within a month, Dish network had jacked up the bill to a much greater amount than what I had agreed to. I dumped them and now make do with the OTA TV antenna that was also part of the OEM package.

  10. Peter Mercer

    Either Dish Net or Direct TV will work fine on both coasts and across the country. The choice is yours,

  11. Anonymous

    We are purchasing our first RV motorhome and have two TVs it is very confusing deciding upon which satellite dish is this necessary we live on the West Coast but will be traveling cross-country according to dish or direct there’s only one suitable satellite

  12. Anonymous

    Not a very good analysis of the complete packages. Give us more on the new small antennas for digital reception etc. Prices, costs of sources etc.

  13. Anonymous

    fluff-no content