Can you use a Genie DVR on a boat (or yacht, or ship?)

In just a few short years, DIRECTV’s Genie system has gone from “latest and greatest” to “this is what everyone gets.” If you’re a new DIRECTV customer, you get a Genie, period. (At least residential customers. Commercial customers get something else.) So if you have DIRECTV at home you’ve gotten used to recording five things at once, having the interactive features, and using tiny little client boxes that give you all the features of a DVR while staying completely silent.

But what if you’re on the sea instead of on the land?

If your favorite watercraft is used for pleasure (as opposed to being owned and operated by a business) you absolutely can have a Genie DVR and Genie clients just like you can at home. There are a few things you need to know, which honestly are no different from how the system works at home. It’s just that you probably have to think a bit more about them when you’re on the water.

You need the right dish.
At home, pretty much everyone has DIRECTV’s Slimline dish. It’s the one they install by default. When you’re outfitting a boat, you have a lot of choices, and if you want the one that does HD for DIRECTV, that’s the largest and most expensive. Unfortunately, that’s also the one you need for Genies. It’s no longer possible to activate a Genie without an HD dish. It was possible at one point but unfortunately changes to the Genie software have changed that. So, it’s HD or nothing, which honestly is the direction you should be going anyway since DIRECTV is rapidly moving away from SD channels.

You need the right cable.
Your boat may already be wired for satellite, but if you’re using old copper-coated steel cables or RG59 cables, both of which were common decades ago, that’s a problem. You’ll need good, solid-copper RG6 cables because the Genie system puts a lot of signal out there, not only coming into the DVR but going out to the clients.

Too much cable could be a problem.
While your average cruiser is smaller than your average home, wires get snaked every which way. If the distance between any two devices on your DIRECTV system is greater than 150′ (about 50 meters, if you’re reading this overseas) you can have a problem, and believe it or not that isn’t such a hard thing to do even in the smallest of vessels. [(OK, maybe you can’t do it in an insanely small vessel but you get my point.)

You probably want internet service.
DIRECTV’s Genie system relies heavily on the internet for search results and interactive features. You may not care about those things but the DVR does, and it will occasionally let you know it isn’t connected. If you have a cellular booster or some other built-in internet hardware, you should take the time to connect up the Genie. If you don’t, you should consider something, if for no other reason than emergency use.

Yes, there are a lot of potential pitfalls with putting satellite TV service in a boat, and that’s why you need an expert. Call the folks at Signal Connect, the sales arm of, and we’ll explain everything. No one outfits more high-end vessels than we do, and we know all the tricks to make sure your satellite TV experience is as reliable on the water as it is on land. It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 … what are you waiting 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.