Will DIRECTV ever have a new over-the-air adapter?

Never say never but…

DIRECTV discontinued its over-the-air adapter about two years ago, and supplies have been slowly dwindling. It’s nearly impossible to find a new one now and supplies of used ones are getting harder to find. Some people have reported that they couldn’t get a new receiver to see the old over-the-air adapter, although if it’s already been put in before it’s not a problem. I haven’t found that to be the case, but take it as a general warning.

It’s true that DISH just released a single-tuner OTA adapter for its Hopper3 and Wally receivers, but as far as I can tell, there are no plans to release anything like that for DIRECTV. All the people I’ve talked to, who have asked to remain strictly anonymous, have told me that nothing is being developed right now, which means there will be no over-the-air adapter for the next 6-9 months at least.

Why is DISH jumping back on OTA and DIRECTV isn’t?

DIRECTV is the largest TV provider in the world. In fact it controls a massive proportion of the TV content in the Western Hemisphere. They’re a quantity organization. Niche markets are hard for them to support, which is why they dealers like Solid Signal control such a large percentage of the marine market for example. They’re content satisfying the home market, and the percentage of satellite customers who also want antenna TV in their homes is too small for them to worry about.

On the other hand, as a (relatively) smaller company, DISH has to try a little harder. They own a larger percentage of the RV market, because they allow month-to-month subscriptions and because their hardware lets you get HD using a smaller dome. RV customers especially need over-the-air TV if they’re outside their local areas. Adding this capability to Hoppers and Wallys makes sense because a larger percentage of their customers want it.

It’s hard to know if DIRECTV will ever follow suit. The previous leadership, back when DIRECTV was independent, were big fans of antenna TV because they believed it was a bargaining chip when it came to contracts. Oh, you want to charge us more for your broadcasts? We’ll just give away antennas and antenna adapters. That technique “may” have been successful at avoiding blackouts in the past.

AT&T’s lawyers don’t seem to want to use that tactic, and they have other tricks up their sleeves, so support for antennas in the DIRECTV organization is not as strong as it once was.

It would be nice if there were some software support for any third party device such as the MyGica A681. Really, all devices of this sort are fairly similar, they decode the live TV signal and convert it to a format that most computers (including the DIRECTV products) can read. It would just be a matter of proper Linux drivers for such a device, and some method for getting and storing guide data on the back end. But that does seem to be too high of a hurdle for DIRECTV at the moment, so I would not expect anything to happen for a while, if ever.

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.