This month, I’ll be taking a look back… at my looks back. Every year I publish a series of articles on “The Year in Review.” 2015 was no exception. 2015 was a very big year for satellite television and I recapped it all here.
The year of AT&T
That’s right, the big news of the year was AT&T’s deal with the then-independent DIRECTV. Back then we really didn’t know what that meant. In fact, no one did. The one thing that seemed obvious even at the time was that it would be a slow roll. And it was. I think it was a year before people got “@att.com” email addresses.
Over the years, we saw the “globe” dominate DIRECTV a lot more, and AT&T benefited from the added power of DIRECTV’s strong legal team. The result was fewer channel blackouts and more streaming deals, which everyone likes.
4K wasn’t a thing (and still kinda isn’t)
Although 2015 saw the release of the first DIRECTV 4K client boxes, the amount of programming didn’t really begin to grow until much later. Even now four years later, there are no full-time 4K channels other than the ones AT&T produces for themselves.
We’ve seen some growth in streaming 4K and a few tentative steps toward over-the-air 4K, but sadly the predicted flood of 4K satellite channels is still something we’re waiting for.
DISH gave us better LNBs
DISH released its first hybrid LNBs in 2015 which led eventually to better and easier wiring for its Hopper and Wally products. Back in 2015 we were still dealing with the 5-tuner Hopper products, but it wouldn’t be long… in early 2016 DISH showed its Hopper 3 and, at least in the DISH world, there was much rejoicing
Looking back on five years of stability
Yes there have been changes to hardware for DIRECTV and DISH in the last five years. But by 2015 the major shift to server/client boxes was well underway, and these super DVRs have proven so capable that there really hasn’t been a need to change. DISH’s Hopper 3, introduced in 2016, is still the current one. DIRECTV introduced the HR54 in 2015 and the Genie 2 in 2017, which really provide everything that most homes need. Both AT&T and DISH continue to support older hardware as well, and that gives a lot of opportunity for people on both sides to create the system of their dreams
What didn’t happen in the last five years
Although AT&T and DISH have been busy turning off standard-definition local channels, many of them (in fact most of them) are still there. An excess of satellite capacity has meant there’s no rush to turn off low-bandwidth SD channels. This has been a benefit to RV and marine users who want all their channels on a single satellite.
On the other hand as I’ve already said there wasn’t a big rush of 4K channels either. It seems like every content provider is waiting for “the other guy” to do it first. Pay-TV channels are waiting for local channels, local channels are waiting for technology, and on it goes.
The other thing which really surprises me is that there are still so many duplicate channels. Again it’s probably just due to an excess in satellite capacity. But really no one is crying out for 8 different STARZ channels, and Discovery Networks could definitely condense down to just one or two and call it a day. I thought that would have happened by now.