How to Get Satellite TV in an RV

An RVers guide to enjoying satellite TV in the mountains, forests, and beaches.

Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
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Published on June 30, 2021

For serious adventurers who enjoy the RV lifestyle, standard campground entertainment options get a little stale. Roasting s’mores, playing checkers, and an occasional wildlife sighting don’t quite cut it for folks who travel for months on end. 

When outdoor adventure is your daily routine, a few hours with a movie or a weekend game with your favorite team can make all the difference. With satellite TV, you and your family can travel across the country with all your favorite TV entertainment. Here’s the scoop on how to get satellite TV for your RV.

Best satellite TV providers for RV

Your first step in getting satellite TV for your RV is picking your satellite TV provider: in the US, you can choose between DISH or DIRECTV. Both DISH and DIRECTV offer hundreds of TV stations and coverage in most areas

DISH vs. DIRECTV for RV

Dish
DISH
Pro Bullet 30-day Pay-As-You-Go plans
Pro Bullet Choice of mounted or portable satellite antenna/dish
Pro Bullet Easy signup and setup (all through DISH)
Con Bullet No NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Directv
DIRECTV
Pro Bullet NFL SUNDAY TICKET with some plans
Pro Bullet Choice of mounted or portable satellite antenna/dish
Con Bullet No Pay-As-You-Go plan (must pay for service every month)
Con Bullet Complicated signup and equipment setup (through third-party company)

Data as of 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DISH for RV

If you want to minimize the expense of satellite TV service, we recommend checking out DISH Outdoors—a service made just for travelers. DISH Outdoors has a pay-as-you-go program so you can activate and deactivate service as needed, based on 30-day increments. This works out great for seasonal travelers who spend summer or winter months traveling but don't need DISH TV service in their RV for several months of the year.

If you already have an active DISH plan at your home, you can add an RV package for just $5 per month in addition to your current monthly DISH payment.

DISH Outdoors plans for RV

Plan
Channels
Price
Get it
Flex Pack50+$47.99/mo.*
America’s Top 120190+$89.99/mo.*
America’s Top 120+ Includes college and regional sports190+$94.99/mo.*
America’s Top 200240+$104.99/mo.*
RV add-on plan to existing DISH planSame as existing plan$5.00/mo. + existing plan charges

Data as of 5/7/2021 and subject to change. 

*Requires antenna and receiver purchase. Monthly fees and limits on number and type of receivers will apply. All prices, packages, programming, features, functionality and offers subject to change without notice. All charges, including monthly programming, pay-per-view and equipment upgrades, must be paid in advance; failure to pay by due date will lead to service disconnection within 24 hours. Offer available for new and qualified former customers. Offer ends 7/14/2021. Additional restrictions may apply.

DIRECTV for RV

DIRECTV has nationwide satellite TV service like DISH does, but it’s a little trickier to get it set up. DIRECTV doesn’t sell satellite antennas or equipment packages for RVs directly. Instead, you have to go through a third-party provider, who will help you get your equipment and then sign you up with DIRECTV satellite service.

To sign up for DIRECTV service for your RV, you'll need to go through KING, Signal Connect, or Winegard, which are all equipment providers.

Another thing we don’t like about DIRECTV satellite TV service for RVs is that DIRECTV doesn’t have a monthly plan (known as the Pay-As-You-Go plan with DISH). If you sign up for DIRECTV for your RV, you’re under contract to keep paying for it every month for two years, whether you’re using it every month or not. Canceling early will result in an early termination fee (ETF).

And, as the final kicker of doom, DIRECTV’s sports programming isn't available with all RV packages. Remember how you have to get your DIRECTV package through the equipment supplier? Well, the equipment suppliers don’t offer the same channels in  But good news for football fans: if you go through KING to get your satellite dish equipment and package, you can get NFL SUNDAY TICKET in some areas—so we recommend KING over other suppliers.

DIRECTV plans for RV

DIRECTV for RV plans vary slightly based on which equipment manufacturer you’re getting it from. Since we recommend going through KING to get DIRECTV for your RV, we’ve highlighted the plans it offers below.

Plan
Channels
Price
DIRECTV SELECT155+$49.99/mo.*
DIRECTV CHOICE185+$59.99/mo.
DIRECTV ULTIMATE250+$74.99/mo.
DIRECTV PREMIER330+$124.99/mo.

Data as of 5/7/2021 and subject to change.

*Monthly, plus taxes with 24-mo. TV agmt. AutoPay & paperless billing req’d. Price is higher in second year.

 Monthly, plus taxes & RSN fee up to $9.99/mo. with 24-mo. TV agmt. AutoPay & paperless billing req’d. Prices higher in second year.

KING offers slightly lower starting prices for DIRECTV packages than Signal Connect or Winegard, plus KING DIRECTV packages also offer more sports. So, most people prefer going through KING for their DIRECTV for RV packages.

No longer available: Orby TV for RV

Orby TV was a satellite TV service that closed its doors in 2021. It was available for portable or stationary service. Orby TV is no longer available, which is too bad because it offered affordable prices.

What satellite TV equipment do you need?

Once you have selected which satellite provider you want to use (DISH or DIRECTV) for your RV, the next step is choosing your satellite equipment. If you’re lucky enough to have a newer RV that came prepped for satellite service, you can skip this step.

To get a signal, you’ll need to have an outdoor satellite TV antenna and an indoor router and modem. Satellite TV antennas are small satellite dishes that give you access to your favorite satellite TV programming—and they’re designed to go with you on your RV adventures. Satellite TV antennas should not be confused with portable TV antennas (which we’ll discuss later on as an alternative to satellite TV).

If you’re getting DISH, you’ll need to purchase the equipment up front. The advantage to this is that DISH offers a pay-as-you-go plan instead of requiring you to sign a 2-year contract. DIRECTV offers you the option of renting or buying your satellite TV equipment, but you’ll have a 2-year service contract either way. If you want to have your satellite dish permanently installed on the roof of your RV, you’ll need to pay for your equipment up front.

There are a few satellite dishes that work with both providers—such as the KING One Pro Premium Satellite Antenna or the Winegard RoadTrip T4. But most satellite antennas work with just one satellite provider, so that’s why it’s important to pick your provider first and then get your equipment.

Mounted antennas vs. portable antennas

There are two basic types of satellite TV antennas for RVs: roof-mounted antennas and portable TV antennas.

If you opt for a portable satellite TV antenna, you’ll need to set your equipment up on a tripod each time you make camp. Portable antennas can take an hour or more to set up and get working, which can be frustrating depending on where you are. You’ll need to set up the tripod, level it, attach the antenna, and then manually adjust it to the right angle to get a signal (this part takes the most time).

Since the antenna will be left outside day and night, you’ll also need to secure the antenna to your RV with a long chain and a padlock to prevent theft. Portable antennas are great for people who want satellite TV in several different vehicles, such as a truck for tailgating parties and a fifth wheel when they’re going camping with the family. 

A roof-mounted satellite TV antenna is a lot more convenient than a portable antenna since you don’t have to set it up each time you camp. A mounted antenna doesn’t require any storage space in the RV, and it’s much less likely to be stolen. However, you may experience signal loss with a roof-mounted antenna when you park under tall trees. That’s something to think about if you camp in heavily forested areas a lot (such as Redwood National Park or Great Smoky Mountain National Park). Also, having your satellite TV dish mounted adds another expense, which can be a hindrance to folks who are trying to keep costs low.

Roof-mounted RV antennas are a good pick for people who look at their RV as a long-term investment and plan to use the same RV for years. You obviously don’t want to pay to mount an antenna in your current RV if you’re thinking of upgrading in a year or two. A satellite dish antenna can be removed but it’ll leave a few holes that need to be carefully sealed up, so most people don’t remove the antenna when they sell.

It’s definitely easier to set up camp with a roof mounted antenna, since you don’t have to carry it outside the RV, find a perfect spot, point it in the right direction, and set it up. Getting a satellite antenna installed on the roof of your RV can cost $150 or more, but it’s usually worth it because it’s so much more convenient. But, it’s not the right choice for everybody.

A lot of portable antennas can be mounted to the roof with a roof mount kit. So, if you don’t want to mount it now but you might want to in the future, get an antenna that has the option of being mounted or portable.

DISH satellite TV antennas for RV

DISH caters to tailgaters, outdoor enthusiasts, and RV owners, and it shows when you start looking at equipment. All DISH satellite antennas are fully automatic, so you won’t need to worry about manually pointing them in the right direction to pick up satellite signals. 

Some satellite TV antennas support only one TV, while others work with two or more TVs. If you have an antenna that supports multiple TVs, remember that you’ll need to get a Wally (or other DISH satellite TV receiver) to connect each TV you have in your RV. 

Most satellite antennas work only while the RV is parked (stationary use). If you want in-motion TV for your passengers, you’ll have to spring for a top-of-the-line model like the Winegard RoadTrip T4, which costs five times as much as the standard DISH Playmaker.

Best DISH satellite TV antennas

ModelDISH PlaymakerDISH Playmaker DualKING DISH Tailgater ProWinegard RoadTrip T4 In-Motion Satellite Antenna
Capacity (# of TVs)1**Up to 2**Up to 3**Up to 2**
UsageStationary use onlyStationary use onlyStationary use onlyIn-motion and stationary use
Price$249.00*$307.75*$405.57*$1,399.00*
Get it

*Data as of 5/7/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com price as of 5/7/2021 10:15 MST. See full disclaimer.

DIRECTV satellite TV antennas

DIRECTV doesn’t directly sell satellite TV antennas for RVs, which makes it a little more difficult to get set up. You’ll have to get a custom quote from an equipment manufacturer and then pick your DIRECTV plan from the ones offered by the equipment company. You’ll also need to arrange for installation with a professional installer.

You’ll be choosing between antennas made by a few satellite dish equipment manufacturers. They all offer slightly different DIRECTV channels in packages sold under the same names, which makes the comparisons trickier.

These companies partner with DIRECTV to offer satellite TV equipment for RVs, trucks, boats, and other recreational vehicles.

Best DIRECTV Satellite TV Antennas

ModelWinegard Carryout G-2 Plus Automatic Portable Satellite TV AntennaKING One Pro Premium Satellite TV AntennaWinegard SK-1000 TRAV'LER Automatic Multi-Satellite TV AntennaWinegard RoadTrip T4 In-Motion Satellite Antenna RT2035T
Capacity (# of TVs)1Up to 2**Up to 4*Up to 2**
UsageStationary use onlyStationary use onlyStationary use onlyIn-motion and stationary use
Price$649.00*$499.99*$1,749.00*$1,399.00*
Get it

*Data as of 5/7/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com price as of 5/7/21 10:15 MST. See full disclaimer.

Other TV options for RV

Satellite TV isn’t the only way to watch TV in your RV. Some RV parks have cable hookups, some offer Wi-Fi that you can use for streaming, and others are located in areas where you can get local TV reception for free with a TV antenna.

Local TV antennas

If you’re camping near enough to a city to get TV reception with a TV antenna, you can save yourself a bundle by getting a simple TV antenna for your RV for under $50. In many areas, you can get 15 or more local stations for free with this simple device. 

The least expensive TV antennas are less than $25 and will pick up TV stations within 40-50 miles. The ANTAN Indoor Window HDTV Antenna is worth checking out at under $20.*

Luckily, TV antennas today have evolved from the clunky rabbit ears of decades past (remember all that tin foil we crumpled around it to help with reception?). Nowadays, TV antennas are low profile and can be installed in minutes. These antennas look like a laminated piece of paper that can stick to the inside of your window. A cord connects the antenna to your TV, giving you TV reception for all local channels in the area you’re staying in.

If you’re roaming further from the crowds in your RV and need a wider range, we recommend a more powerful TV antenna. The Amplified HD TV Digital Antenna* is priced under $30 and will pick up TV station signals that are up to 180 miles away. Remember that TV antennas do have their shortcomings—they won’t deliver a signal if you’re in a canyon. Also, keep in mind that outdoor antennas work better for some RVs than others, since some RV walls are constructed of metal and will block TV signals from your antenna. 

*Amazon.com price as of 5/7/2021 10:15 MST. See full disclaimer.

Cable TV hookups

Some RV parks offer cable service as part of the price of the nightly stay. You’ll need to have an RV that is wired for cable service and bring your own coaxial cables. For about $20, you can buy professional-grade, outdoor coaxial cables on Amazon or at a local hardware store like Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, Walmart, or Home Depot.* We recommend using a coaxial cable that’s 10–50 feet long.

Connecting to an RV park’s cable line is fairly simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect your TV to cable wiring (if not connected yet).
  2. Turn off the power booster inside your RV.
  3. Locate cable hookup (usually on the back of your RV).
  4. Attach your coaxial cable to the RV park hookup and to your cable hookup.
  5. Turn on the power booster inside your RV.
  6. Watch your shows!

*Amazon.com price as of 5/7/2021  10:15 MST. See full disclaimer.

Streaming

Another common way to watch TV shows and movies in an RV is with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO GO, and many others. 

If you have internet access on your cell phone and enough data, you can hotspot off your phone to a laptop and watch a few shows a week. Mobile boosters and extenders can be helpful in getting a decent signal if you’re off in the woods. 

Keep an eye on your data usage while hotspotting, though, because all cell phone plans have a limit on how much data you can use while hotspotting without getting a hefty charge. 

So, if your preferences run to more than one or two shows a week, we recommend getting a mobile hotspot device or seeking out free Wi-Fi hotspots in town to avoid pricey data overage charges. To learn more about getting internet access in your RV, check out our guide on how to get internet in your RV.

Some satellite TV equipment companies can also install cell phone boosters and extenders to your RV, which strengthen a cell phone signal when you are located far away from a tower. Having a decent cell phone signal can be just as important—if not more so—than getting TV service. While you’re getting satellite TV set up for your RV, you might also want to look at a mobile phone signal booster, which can also be mounted to your roof. SignalConnect sells quality mobile phone signal boosters for RVs.

Final verdict

For folks who want the best in TV while they’re on the road, we recommend DISH with a roof-mount Winegard RoadTrip T4. DISH has hundreds of channels, prices that stay the same in the second year, and it’s easy to get set up in an RV. And if you go for the roof-mount Winegard RoadTrip T4, you can keep your passengers entertained along the road, so they’ll be ready to jump out and explore with you once you arrive. As far as plans go, we recommend that RVers check out DISH’s Flex Pack, which lets you start and stop service without penalty, which works great for folks who travel seasonally. 

FAQ about satellite TV for RV

How much is DISH for RV?

DISH satellite TV for RV plans start at $42.99 per month for the Flex Pack (which you can turn off during the months you aren’t traveling). If you already have DISH service at your home, you can add an RV plan starting at $7.00 per month.

Can I get a satellite TV signal if I’m parked in a forest?

It depends on what satellite TV equipment you’re using. The only downside to a roof-mounted antenna is that you might not get a strong signal when you’re parked under heavy foliage. If you’re using a portable antenna, you can place it away from trees and still enjoy the perks of parking in the shade. 

How do I set up a satellite dish for DISH tailgating?

Setting up your portable satellite dish can be time consuming, depending on your location and the equipment you have. For best results, follow these directions for DISH tailgating setup. These instructions also tell you how to hook up a portable satellite dish to an RV.

If I already have DISH at home, how much is it to add an RV plan?

If you already have DISH service at home and want to add an RV plan, it’s just an additional $7 per month (not including RV satellite TV equipment costs, which can run anywhere from $250 to $1,300, depending on the type of TV antenna you select). 

How much is DIRECTV for RV?

DIRECTV for RV plans start at $49.99 per month and go up to $124.99 per month. DIRECTV does not have a plan that allows you to turn your service on and off during the year—you need to sign a two-year contract to get DIRECTV. After the first 12 months of service, prices double for the second and subsequent years. Regular prices for DIRECTV plans are $101.00 to $187.00 per month.

Should I get DISH or DIRECTV for my RV?

If you’re a seasonal traveler and don’t need satellite TV service all year long, we strongly recommend DISH because DISH lets you pay only for the months that you need service. With DISH’s Pay-As-You-Go plan, you can activate and deactivate service throughout the year so that you need to pay only for the months you are traveling. However, if you are getting satellite TV just for football, you may want to go with DIRECTV because it’s the only provider that offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET. 

What’s the cheapest way to get TV in an RV?

If you already have DISH satellite TV in your home, you can add a DISH Outdoors plan for just $5 per month. You will need to buy the satellite antenna upfront, though. But the DISH Outdoors plan is really the cheapest satellite TV for RV, especially since you can pay for just the months you travel (it’s a pay-as-you-go plan, unlike DIRECTV’s plans that require a 2-year contract).

If you want to DIY your TV on the road, the cheapest way to get local TV stations in your RV is to use a digital TV antenna mounted to a window. With a simple $30 TV antenna, it’s possible to get local stations that are broadcasted up to 150 miles away from your campsite, as long as there aren’t any major obstructions to your signal.

Some RVs come pre-equipped with a TV antenna on the roof. But if you don’t have one built in, the great news is that TV antennas are usually less than $30 and easy to install. You’ll want to get a long-range TV antenna for maximum use in an RV.

*Amazon.com prices as of 5/7/21 10:15 MST. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SatelliteInternet.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at SatelliteInternet.com. Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor, Space.com, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.