2016: The year in satellite

Happy 2016 new year word over blue. Vector paper illustration.

Every year, I do a little retrospective on the products that we offer here at Solid Signal. It’s my way of getting ready for an even better year to come. Today, let’s take a look at the world of satellite television.

While everyone talks about streaming, the fact of the matter is that subscription television is strong, especially if you’re AT&T. The company consistently added satellite TV subscribers this year, bucking industry trends over and over. People signed up because they knew there was no other place to get the choice and value they were looking for.

Hardware-wise, this was DISH’s year. Hopper 3 is the undisputed king of DVRs right now, with the ability to show content on 8 TVs at the same time, record an astounding 16 things at the same time, and show 4 programs on the same TV. Hopper also adds Netflix and other streaming services in this generation and while it’s not the all-in-one streaming box that you might hope for, it still gives you a lot to look at.

On the service side, DIRECTV continued to be head and shoulders, this time due to its actual 4K programming. While DISH has a 4K DVR and client, they still have no live 4K programming. DIRECTV has three channels of live, 24/7 4K, and they’re the only one. They proved dominance this time around with 4K coverage of the Olympics that brought you every drop of sweat and particle of powder. They also were first with 4K baseball and college football.

Both providers continued to improve their app experiences, which have become so rich that you could basically consider your smartphone a separate receiver. DIRECTV added support for Mobile DVR, just what it says — stream or offload straight from your DVR to your mobile device. DISH has had something similar for some time.

On the downside, both DIRECTV and DISH officially stopped making over-the-air antenna adapters this year, much to the dismay of Solid Signal fans. It’s practically impossible to find the DISH adapter now, although we’ve been able to get some stock of the DIRECTV adapter now and again.

As we look forward to 2017, we expect DISH to release their DPH42 multiswitch which will allow 16 TVs from two Hopper 3 DVRs, all with program sharing. DIRECTV’s said to have something in the works as well to compete, and they’re also ramping up production of their 4K LNBs. We expect to see a 4K LNB that supplies signal to a new multiswitch for those who want 4K and international programming, and that’s just the beginning.

It looks to me like satellite TV is still going strong, and it’s certainly not going anywhere. Here’s to 2017!

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.