2019: The year in satellite

It’s time once again to take a look back at the year. This blog started off talking about practically nothing but satellite TV. We’ve evolved a bit as the world of entertainment has expanded. But, satellite’s still our first love. As I write this, about a third of the articles on this site have to do with satellite television.;

2019: Here’s what DIDN’T happen

The year was full of article after article talking about how pay-TV was dead. I expected that, and I even put my expectations in writing a year ago. But here’s the thing: pay TV didn’t die. Subscriber numbers shrunk, that’s for sure. But the average subscriber still paid enough to keep all these pay-TV companies happy in 2019. AT&T is still on top, and DISH isn’t far behind. Satellite is still the best way to get a rich live-TV experience and people still love it.

I’ve actually seen an uptick in DIRECTV advertising in the last several months. All those people who said AT&T wasn’t interested in satellite were obviously wrong.

DIRECTV and DISH didn’t merge, again

It seems like every year there’s a new rumor about how DIRECTV and DISH would merge. I just can’t see how… knowing the ins and outs of the technology as I do I can’t see it happening. It would require every subscriber to get all new equipment and in the meantime the new company wouldn’t be able to invest in market-leading programming and hardware.

Standard-definition on DIRECTV didn’t go away

After three years of runup, DIRECTV didn’t turn off the SD spigot this year. They will, there’s no doubt. They stopped activating SD hardware years ago and the plans are all in place to turn off all SD local channels within about 12 months.

The good news is that the T16 satellite which now lives at the 101 location will support quite a bit more HD than the old satellites that preceded it. This will mean that customers with marine and mobile dishes might actually see more HD channels than they do today. As of this writing, there are no HD channels at the 101 location. That could change with this new satellite.

Live streaming didn’t kill satellite

It’s been a rough year for live streaming, although that’s a subject for another article. While plenty of people forecast that live streaming services from AT&T, Sling, Hulu, Google, and others would kill traditional pay television, it just didn’t happen.

2019: Here’s what DID happen

The best news for DIRECTV subscribers is that for the first time in decades, you can get every single program with a single dish. This includes international programs. Using the Reverse Band 3 dish, you get HD, 4K, and even international programming. No need for a second dish.

This move comes as AT&T consolidates its satellite fleet down to three locations at 99, 101, and 103 degrees west longitude. All the other locations will (or already have) been decommissioned. This move makes installations easier and makes for happier customers.

At the same time, DIRECTV customers finally got EPIX. This was pretty much the last premium channel the company did not carry and one of the few reasons people were dissatisfied with the product. EPIX has original series as well as movies you won’t find anywhere else. And now, it’s on DIRECTV.

Probably the best news is that we finally started seeing NFL football in 4K, after years of waiting. You’ll find it on DIRECTV and DISH as well and we’re all crossing our fingers for a 4K Super Bowl, It hasn’t been confirmed yet but several sites are suggesting that we’ll see that great event in 4K for the first time in 2020.

It’s been a great year

There’s so much more to come! Keep reading the Solid Signal Blog in 2020!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.