SOLVED: DIRECTV doesn’t let you fast-forward through recordings

Most people who use DIRECTV satellite TV are satisfied customers. I’ve been with them about 20 years and I’m pretty much the definition of satisfied. But, even as much as we appreciate a service like this, there are frustrations. I do sometimes hear from customers who wish that things with DIRECTV could be a little better. This is one of those cases.

The fast-forward problem

All too often, I hear from customers that they aren’t able to fast-forward through programs they recorded. The answer to this is straightforward, but even I’ll admit it’s a little annoying. But let’s put that annoyance where it’s really deserved, and not on DIRECTV.

I explained it in great detail in this article, but I’ll give you just a little bit of explanation here too. The contracts that AT&T signed with content providers mean they can’t let you fast-forward through the commercials. It’s not DIRECTV’s fault. Generally the commercial breaks are shorter than when you watch on broadcast, but you can’t skip the ads.

You get something similar when you use the “Restart” system to start a program from the beginning when you’ve come in somewhere in the middle. In that case, you generally aren’t allowed to fast forward at all. Again, the contracts are the culprit. Restart is just a way to link live TV to an on-demand recording of the same thing, and so the same contracts apply.

How to solve the problem

The best way to avoid having this problem is to avoid the on-demand system whenever you can. Now naturally you’ll want to use it sometimes but when you do, you’ll know that the ads can’t be skipped. But if there’s a choice you should always choose the satellite-delivered recording.

How to tell

When you search for shows, take a look at the channel that’s listed. If it’s a number under 1,000 that’s a satellite-delivered program. If it’s over 1,000 that’s on demand.

Here’s a typical search results page:

The top episode is on channel 7, meaning it’s coming from the satellite. The rest are on channel 1007, meaning that they’re on demand. Another easy way to tell is that “WATCH NOW” icon which is only found in on-demand programs.

Here’s a closer look at a program:

You can clearly see it’s listed on channel 1007. Now I’ll agree that DIRECTV isn’t doing anyone any favors by giving you the option to “record” this episode. Technically you can “record” it which simply downloads it and stores it on your playlist. But even I’ll admit it makes things confusing if you’re trying to avoid those programs with mandatory ads.

If you’d rather this same information in a video, you’re in luck.

Why is this so hard?

Blame market research, I guess. At some point, the wizards in the marketing department figured out people didn’t want to search two different places for the same show. People just want to find a show and play it, and not be bothered by whether it’s coming off a satellite or through a wire. And you know, they’re right except for that annoying commercial thing.

Now, AT&T could negotiate new contracts that didn’t force them to include commercials, but your bill would probably go up because everyone has to be paid somehow.

Bottom line

Bottom line is, it comes down to expectations. If you want to watch something from the beginning when you come in at the end, expect to watch commercials. If you want to watch something that’s not available on satellite, expect to watch commercials. With thousands of programs available at any moment, it’s pretty easy to find something to record to let you avoid watching commercials, if you plan ahead.


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.