Can you just take a receiver from a private area and put it in the bar?

They probably won’t catch you at first but… this is one of the worst things you can do in DIRECTV’s opinion, short of committing out-and-out fraud. It’s essentially like bringing in a receiver from home. They take this very seriously and if you are caught you should expect to hear some harsh words coming from your DIRECTV people.

Why is this such a problem? It all has to do with the idea of “public viewing.” If you put a receiver in your bar you are showing the programming to the general public the pricing structure is very different.

When you put in a receiver in a public area, it’s priced according to the fire code occupancy of the area. This is done so that royalties can be collected and sent back to the companies that make the programs. It’s all part of complex legal agreements put in place between DIRECTV and those content providers. If DIRECTV doesn’t honor those agreements then they can be fined a lot of money, so they make sure that the individual customers are doing their part.

It’s also true that if you have a DIRECTV Residential Experience system, you can’t take one of the receivers from a room and put it in the hotel bar.

How will they find you? First of all, it’s said that there’s a bounty given to AT&T employees who report fraud that they find. I don’t think it’s open to all AT&T employees but there’s enough evidence that a large group of the millions of employees out there do have some sort of incentive to turn you in. But how would they know? In some cases it’s because of the programming. Certain programming isn’t allowed in public viewing spaces, mostly premium channels. Most often, it’s the DVR service. DVRs are simply not allowed in bars and other public places. If you see that “pause” or progress bar in a restaurant, you know it’s not supposed to be there.

Another thing people do is connect a receiver to the internet, so they can get extra features. Connecting a receiver to the internet sends its location data to DIRECTV’s headquarters and if that receiver isn’t where it is supposed to be, or if there are two receivers on the same account but at two different locations, it raises a red flag automatically.

And although they are shrouded in secrecy, there is a “Fraud Squad” full of people who literally go all over the place for the express purpose of following up with possibilities of fraud. I have to imagine that there is some sort of algorithm that looks over aerial photography with the goal of finding satellite dishes where they shouldn’t be. If they find you — you’re in trouble. I actually know someone who ran afoul of them and in order to avoid prosecution he had to pay the difference between the residential and commercial rates, plus a fee, and he had to lock in commercial service for another two years. Sounds like a sweetheart deal, when you realize the prison time absolutely was on the table.

The bottom line here is that putting DIRECTV service in the bar is more expensive, that’s true, but it’s more expensive for a reason and if you try to avoid that there can be some serious problems.

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.