I’ve lost count of all the headlines in the last 18 months that have predicted the death of satellite TV. Because while there has been a lot of talk over the last 5 years about cutting the cord on pay TV – and going with just internet, and/or over the air transmission for video delivery – it’s not quite that simple.
Indeed, just this year, we’ve seen the big satellite players roll out low-end, internet-only offerings specifically designed for these cord cutters. But there are serious technological advantages to the Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) model used in satellite TV as opposed to the Internet Protocol (IP) type that many cord cutters use instead. And in this article, we’ll cover all the big reasons why satellite TV won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
1) The Satellite TV Product is Just Too Good
For the last 20+ years, satellite TV companies have aggressively pursued the cable companies’ customer base in terms of value, channel selection, hardware, features, price points, and more. The end result is an ultra-high-end consumer viewing experience. The digital video recording (DVR) features have matured to the point where it’s super simple to record and store 3-5 simultaneous, high-definition video streams. And the set top boxes just keep getting better and better with new features like multi-room audio and intelligent voice recognition just being released by Dish Network in the last few weeks. You won’t get all this with a Roku box and a TV antenna.
2) Hybrid Satellite Systems are the Future
“Long gone are the days when you’d have to pay $200 to a guy in torn jeans to installed satellite system that you just bought for $500 at a big box store.”
For more than 10 years, a massive push has been happening during all satellite installations to connect phone lines (and more recently, internet) to satellite receiver boxes. There are some added features that come with this enhanced connectivity, such as on-demand video and automatic set top box health monitoring to check for weak signals or other problems before the customer loses service.
But a more important aspect of the upstream connection is that it allows the service providers to gather viewing, demographic, and other user data. This means more powerful, accurate advertising platforms which are only just now coming into full fruition. These allow for programmatic ads to now be delivered with the accountability and accuracy once only reserved for internet ads. This isn’t just good for the providers and advertisers; it means more targeted advertising for viewers. They are more likely to see relevant, entertaining marketing that is tailored to their specific interests.
Moreover, the high rate of internet connectivity with satellite systems also means that homeowners need not choose between either satellite TV or internet. Rather, most will choose both – and with good reason.
3) Satellite Installations are Higher Quality & More Affordable than Ever
Long gone are the days when you’d have to pay $200 to a guy in torn jeans to installed satellite system that you just bought for $500 at a big box store. These days, with an agreement, the installations are free, the hardware is free, and the satellite installers are highly trained, certified professionals. The cost is not only lower for the customer, but the economies of scale mean it is more affordable for the satellite TV service providers as well. Even the quality of the materials used in the installations keeps going up as the industry continues to mature.
4) The Broad Bandwidth of Satellite TV
Whenever someone watches a video stream over the internet with the new IPTV solutions, a server somewhere needs to actually spend finite memory, processing, and bandwidth resources to upload that content to the viewer. It doesn’t strain the servers that much for a few hundred or a few thousand viewers watching standard definition TV, but when you start talking millions of viewers simultaneously trying to stream HD video all from the same server cluster, you run into issues.
Satellite television, on the other hand, is completely blind to the number of simultaneous viewers. In fact, there are some 40 million satellite television subscribers, and the number of simultaneous viewers could go up tenfold overnight, and the DBS delivery infrastructure wouldn’t skip a beat. And while that isn’t likely to happen, we will see growing 4k video delivery put the same kind of bandwidth stress on IP networks.
5) Satellite Can Handle the Load of Live Events and Sports
In particular, live events and sports tend to bring in a huge number of simultaneous viewers that often just cripple internet delivery networks. IPTV viewers are all too familiar with the frustrating process of buffering, waiting, turning off other devices, waiting some more… There is no getting rid of these major live events like sports, the Olympic games, breaking news of national importance, natural disasters, major network series releases, and so forth. And while IPTV suffers during time of massive simultaneous network usage, DBS can handle it all in stride.
6) The Far Reach of Satellite TV
The United States is a massive, sprawling landscape. And a large percentage of the population in the United States lives in areas where high-speed cable or fiber just isn’t available. No amount of IPTV offerings or promotions are going to bring high-speed internet to these remote locations. Satellite, on the other hand, can go anywhere.
Not only that, but the satellite network can still distribute service even for densely-populated areas such as high-rise buildings, massive condos, and apartment complexes. From there, commercial accounts can be built to distribute over a mini-cable network just for that site. The reach of satellite TV is limited only by the curvature of the earth, and its penetration is also 100% with diverse commercial and institutional offerings.
7) Satellite Providers Are More Than Ready for the Future of TV
As we mentioned earlier, the major satellite television service providers are highly adept at lowering their startup costs and increasing their promotions to meet the demands of the market. They know all about the cord cutting movement, and while you might think that massive corporations with a strong financial interest in the status quo would want to pass laws restricting consumer access to alternative technologies, the exact opposite is true. Many satellite TV providers have already rolled out packages aimed at cord cutters in the price range of less than $40 a month. Perhaps they’ve learned from other companies that new technologies must be embraced.
In my professional opinion, the satellite companies have wisely, universally embraced the next technological evolution of TV – both to their own benefit, and to the benefit of their customers. And this is exactly why satellite TV will continue bringing us quality content for many years to come.
Guest Author Bio: Alexander Doak is a former independent satellite installer who now remotely serves in various enterprise customer success & technical support roles for SaaS companies. He has recently founded a site to help customers find local satellite installers.