Why can’t you have two DIRECTV Genies on your account?

If you have DIRECTV’s Genie 2 DVR, you know it’s a powerhouse. It’s got seven tuners and a big hard drive, and that makes for a happy home. But hey if one is good, aren’t many better? Who wouldn’t like to have two or three Genies in the home?

Not gonna happen

Sadly, DIRECTV does not allow for more than one Genie activation on each account. If you have an HR54 Genie, they at least let you have other non-Genie receivers, but with an HS17, that’s the only device you can have on your account other than the clients.

It’s frustrating because there are hundreds if not thousands of customers who would gladly pay any reasonable price to have a second Genie. Of course from a technical end it would require a larger multiswitch but to most hobbyists, that’s not a problem.

So what is the problem?

It seems that the real reason that you can’t have multiple Genies is that the whole Genie experience is centered around a single server. For example, there’s no way to move a Genie Mini Client from DVR to DVR without rebooting, and it seems that in a multi-Genie environment, the clients don’t always properly attach to the right server.

The matter gets worse with the wireless Genie Mini Client. Its video bridge automatically attaches to whichever Genie it finds first, and in a multi-Genie environment that can lead to a lot of confusion, as each Genie thinks it has the bridge attached. It can be a mess.

Is this a permanent problem?

Of course, you’re probably saying, “These are software issues. These can be fixed.” In this, you would be right. Remember though, that the cost to fix things has to be balanced against the return on investment. AT&T might make a few more dollars on the people who want multiple Genies but the cost to change the whole system might just be too high. It’s not fun to hear, but the majority of DIRECTV subscriber homes “just want to watch TV” and for roughly 99.9% of them, one Genie is enough.

Yeah but what if you could?

Here’s a little secret. I’ve used multiple Genies for years in test situations. I’ve had Genie 2 devices on the same network as H24s and other non-Genie receivers. It does work, at least in testing. You can even play programs from the Genie 2 to other non-Genies. It works, I’ve tried it.

But I admit I have never had to depend on this kind of setup for bulletproof television watching. It’s one thing to have a setup like that work for a few minutes while testing. It’s completely different to have a regular person use it for months or years and expect it to behave. I know there are issues with using any non-Genie hardware in a situation where there are more than 13 tuners. That’s due to limitations in the older hardware. There are workarounds to get past those problems but they aren’t pretty.

Looking toward the future

I think it’s very unlikely at this point that we’ll see a big push to let people have multiple Genies. With streaming and on-demand, there’s less of a need to record your own stuff. I do think that if there is a management change at AT&T, you might start to see some of that hobbyist mentality return, but it would be a long time coming. It’s unlikely to happen quickly. So no, you can’t create the system of your dreams with ten Genie 2 DVRs and seventy clients. But, there are other options out there if you want that kind of experience. Call us at 866-726-4182 and we’ll show you the ways we’ve developed to help you get the DIRECTV experience you really want.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.