UPDATED: “When I set my favorites list to Channels I Get, it shows channels I don’t get.”

Dear Readers: Believe it or not I wrote this article five years ago, in 2016. At that time I had hoped that raising awareness of the problem would make it go away. It did, for a little while. But, with new reports of this problem surfacing again, I’m reposting it with some new commentary.

Has this happened to you?

I’ve heard this statement too many times. For close to 15 years, DIRECTV has been working on this issue, and while it’s a lot better than it once was, it’s still frustratingly imperfect.

The story goes like this. You set the favorites list to “Channels I Get.” If you’ve never done this, it’s easy. The procedure is the same on a Genie or older system. Press INFO, arrow over to Favorites, arrow down to Channels I Get, and press SELECT.

You go to tune into a program and you get a message on screen that you don’t get the channel. So, obviously, it’s not “Channels I Get.” What’s the problem? It’s called “Channels I Get” and you would think this would be something pretty easy to do. After all, the DIRECTV packages are the same for everyone. Maybe, if you consider all the options there are about 15 of them, plus some premium add-ons. Why would it be so hard for your receiver to know which one you have?

Looking back in time

There was a time when this was a HUGE issue. I remember helping out with some data gathering in 2009 and finding out that there were close to 200 channels that were improperly labeled as “Channels I Get.” It’s gotten much much better and now, aside from a few stragglers, the only channels that are problems are pay-per-view ones. Technically you do get those, if you’re willing to pay for them. But yes I understand, they aren’t truly “Channels I Get” with your current package.

What I wrote in 2016

DIRECTV staff have worked aggressively in the last year to address the problem and I’m pleased to say that in a quick test, I couldn’t find any mislabeled channels except pay-per-view ones. In the past I found channels in the guide that were grey (meaning that at some level the receiver knew I didn’t get them) but this time, nothing. I’m curious if you, my Solid Signal Blog faithful, have had any different experience. Are you still seeing “channels I don’t get?”

Of course, for those of us with a technical bent, we have to wonder what took so long. You’d think that it wouldn’t be that hard since the access card does have some ability to know which channels can and cannot be viewed. But somehow that logic didn’t translate into a proper “Channels I Get” list until recently. Perhaps it simply wasn’t a priority until DIRECTV started rolling out features like far-in-advance scheduling, Restart, and 72-hour Rewind. These features depend on the receiver being able to choose a channel that the customer will definitely be able to receive, and features like the “All Seasons/All Channels” search that was implemented this year really rely on the receiver choosing a channel that the customer is able to see.

And now, in 2021

Personally, I haven’t seen this issue in a while. But it’s popping up again alongside another issue where programs are recording on channels you don’t get. And I have to say it’s a real surprise to me that we’re still talking about this issue. The good news is that I have been assured by some people in the know that the issue has once again been identified and that it’s being fixed. In the meantime there’s a workaround for fixing shows that record on the wrong channel. You can find it here. The workaround will still be ok after they fix the problem so you can set it and forget it.

While it certainly does seem like it’s taken a long, long time to squash this particular bug, it goes to show the hard work and dedication of DIRECTV’s team of engineers on the ground, working every day to make sure that customers have the best possible experience. Most DIRECTV customers aren’t really aware of it but there is usually a full software rollout that goes to almost 40 active receivers, every three or four months. Usually it’s a matter of adding one or two features and a bunch of stability fixes, but the fact that most customers don’t even know it’s happened means that the engineers have done their jobs. Like elves, they work best when they’re working in secret.

In the meantime, if you do have problems with the “Channels I Get” feature, let me know by leaving a comment below. I’ll make sure the reports get to the right people!

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.