Can you still use an AM21 module with DIRECTV equipment?

It was one of the best things about having DIRECTV, back in the late 2000s. It was the DIRECTV AM21 antenna module, and it connected to DIRECTV receivers giving you up to 50 channels of over-the-air TV right in your guide. You could watch, rewind and record antenna TV just like it was satellite TV.

DIRECTV no longer sells the AM21, and used ones on eBay fetch a pretty penny. But does it still work? Let’s take a look at some of the common questions and answers.

Does the AM21 work at all with current DIRECTV hardware?
The AM21 is “deprecated,” meaning it continues to function unless its function breaks something else. At some point support for it will be removed completely, and some users have reported losing function on their HR44s already. The next-generation DIRECTV DVR will launch without AM21 support and probably will never get AM21 support.

Is there one model of DIRECTV receiver that supports the AM21 better than others?
Not at this time. At one point Genies supported the AM21 better than older hardware but that is no longer true. In fact, some HR44 users have reported that their AM21s stopped working after a recent software update. DIRECTV has no official answer for this since the AM21 is “deprecated,” but it’s quite possible.

Do recordings from antenna TV work the same as satellite recordings?
Yes, exactly the same. Actually recordings from over-the-air antennas tend to have smoother fast-forward and rewind, although they do take up about twice the disk space of satellite-delivered programs of the same resolution (in other words HD programs from an antenna take up twice as much space as HD programs from the satellite.)

If I have an AM21 attached to my Genie DVR, will I see the channels in the guide on my clients?
Yes, absolutely. Antenna channels in the guide have a black background under the channel number instead of a grey background, that’s the only difference.

Will the new HS17 Genie 2 support the AM21 when it is released?
No it will not, and it’s not likely it ever will. The AM21 is a ten-year-old design and it’s like trying to get a 10-year-old printer to work with a new computer. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In this case it doesn’t. It’s also unlikely at this time that there will be a new device to replace the AM21.

Will I be notified in advance when the AM21 stops working with my equipment?
It’s not likely. DIRECTV already considers the equipment obsolete and so they probably won’t warn you when it will stop working. There are still thousands of people using AM21s, but that’s a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the 28 million DIRECTV satellite users.

Where can I get an AM21?
You’ll find used ones on auction sites for a lot more than the $49.99 they originally sold for.

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.