How to Get Satellite TV in an RV

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


 

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.

In this guide:

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, DIRECTV, or Orby TV. Both DISH and DIRECTV offer hundreds of TV stations and coverage in most areas. Orby TV has a more limited channel count, but it’s the most affordable.

DISH pros and cons

Thumbs Up Pros

  • 30-day Pay-As-You-Go plans
  • Choice of mounted or portable dish
  • Easy signup and setup

Thumbs Down Cons

  • No NFL SUNDAY TICKET

DIRECTV pros and cons

Thumbs Up Pros

  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET with some plans
  • Choice of mounted or portable dish

Thumbs Down Cons

  • No Pay-As-You-Go plan (must pay for service every month)
  • Complicated signup and equipment setup (through third-party company)

Orby TV pros and cons

Thumbs Up Pros

  • No contract (stop or start service anytime)
  • Affordable packages
  • Free local channels

Thumbs Down Cons

  • Limited channels
  • Limited sports programming
  • Portable satellite dish only (must set up tripod and dish each time it is used)

Data as of 7/27/20. 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 TV service for several months of the year.

If you travel frequently throughout the year and also have DISH at your home, you can get a low-priced RV package for just $7 per month in addition to your current monthly DISH payment.

If you’re planning on doing a lot of backcountry camping, a mobile hotspot device may not work. For example, if you’re boondocking in the backcountry and you’re 100 miles from the nearest cell phone tower, you may only be able to get online using a portable satellite dish, which is expensive and slow. But if you’re content to save online activities for when you’re staying in established camping areas, a mobile hotspot device might be great. 

Travelers who rely heavily on internet access for working remotely or staying connected during long trips will benefit most from getting a mobile hotspot device. Occasional campers may not need a dedicated device for internet access while camping.

DISH plans for RV

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PlanChannelsPriceGet it
Flex Pack50+$42.99/mo.Visit site
America’s Top 120190$84.99/mo.*Visit site
America’s Top 120+
Includes college and regional sports
190+$89.99/mo.*Visit site
America’s Top 200240$99.99/mo.*Visit site
RV add-on plan to existing DISH planVaries based on existing plan$7.00 + existing plan chargesVisit site

*All offers require credit qualification, 2-Year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay. Prices include Hopper Duo for qualifying customers. Hopper, Hopper w/Sling or Hopper 3 $5/mo. more. Upfront fees may apply based on credit qualification. Fees apply for additional TVs: Hopper $15/mo., Joey $5/mo., Super Joey $10/mo. DISH voice remote, Amazon Alexa devices and Google Assistant devices require internet-connected Hopper, Joey, or Wally. Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant not included with offer.

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.

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PlanChannelsPrice
DIRECTV SELECT155+$49.99/mo.*Visit site
DIRECTV CHOICE190$59.99/mo.†Visit site
DIRECTV ULTIMATE250+$74.99/mo.†Visit site

DIRECTV PREMIER
330+$124.99/mo.†Visit site

*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.

Orby TV for RV

Orby TV is a new satellite TV service launched in 2019 that offers reasonable prices for a moderate channel count. While other satellite TV providers pack in hundreds of channels and raise the cost of service for everyone, Orby TV focuses on a smaller channel package and a low cost for all packages. 

We like the flexibility of Orby TV. If you choose the Orby TV Freedom plan and pay for your equipment up front ($250 for receiver and dish), you won’t be stuck paying for service during months you don’t need it. You can use it for a few months in the summer while you’re taking that grand road trip in the Winnebago and then turn it off for the rest of the year without any penalties. The Orby TV Freedom plan works really well for RVers who may have cable TV or streaming services at home and need Orby TV only while traveling. 

A disadvantage to this service is that Orby TV’s dish isn’t auto-tuning. Every time you move your RV, you’ll have to set up your Orby TV satellite dish and point it in the right direction, which can take 30 minutes or more when you’re just getting started.

Another disadvantage is that Orby TV doesn’t offer much in the way of sports. You can get some games on local stations, but you won’t find ESPN or NFL SUNDAY TICKET on Orby TV. 

Orby TV for RV plans

Swipe left to see all →
PlanChannelsPrice
Essentials43$40/mo.Visit site
Extras66$50/mo.Visit site

Data as of 7/27/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Orby Essentials plan gives you all local channels, plus TNT, the Hallmark Channel, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, Food Network, MTV, BBC America, and more. The Extras plan delivers over 20 additional channels like Discovery Family, Real Heroes, Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Nick Toons, BET channels, Lifetime Real Women, Discovery en Español, and more. For a full list of channels, see the Orby TV channel lineup.

If there aren’t enough of your favorites, you can add premium packages to either Essentials or Extras. Premium packages include HBO®, CINEMAX®, EPIX, and STARZ®, which you can add or drop at any time. Premium packages range in price from $6 per month for EPIX to up to $18 for the HBO channels.

What satellite TV equipment do you need?

Once you have selected which satellite provider you want to use (DISH, DIRECTV, or Orby TV) 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 or Orby TV, you’ll need to purchase the equipment up front. DIRECTV offers you the option of renting or buying your satellite TV equipment. 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.

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

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ModelDISH PlaymakerDISH Playmaker DualKING DISH Tailgater ProWinegard RoadTrip T4 In-Motion Satellite Antenna
Capacity (# of TVs)1Up to 2Up to 3Up to 2
UsageStationary use onlyStationary use onlyStationary use onlyIn-motion and stationary use
Price$249.00* $300.37* $379.00*$1,299.99*
Get itView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Data as of 7/27/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com price as of 7/27/20 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

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ModelWinegard Carryout G-2 Plus Automatic Portable Satellite TV AntennaKING One Pro Premium Satellite TV Antenna Winegard 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$249.00* $499.00* $1,415.68*$1,299.99*
Get itView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Data as of 7/27/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Amazon.com price as of 7/27/20 10:15 MST. See full disclaimer.

Orby TV antennas

To get Orby TV for your RV, you’ll need to pay for your Orby TV equipment up front and get a few extra items. Like DIRECTV, Orby TV does not provide installation or tech support for RVs and recommends that you hire a professional if you are not experienced with satellite installation. 

To install Orby TV for your RV, you’ll need to purchase three things from Orby TV.

    •  An Orby TV receiver ($100, which includes the Orby TV receiver box, remote, and programming guide)
        • OR a DVR/receiver combo ($200)
    • A self-install kit ($70, which includes the satellite dish, mounting hardware, and an antenna for local TV)
    • A signal meter ($20)

For more details on equipment, see the Orby TV website.

You’ll also need to buy a tripod that can support 25 lb. and has either a 2-inch mast or a 2-inch J pole mounting capacity. Satellite dish tripods can be found on Amazon, eBay, or at camping supply stores.* 

Additionally, each time you set up your Orby TV at your campsite, you’ll need a level, a compass, and coaxial cable (which is not included in the self-install kit).

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 7/27/20 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. 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!

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. 

If you are looking for a budget satellite TV service, Orby TV is our top choice for satellite TV under $40 per month. You won’t get as many channels as with a top-of-the-line TV service, but you’ll have enough to keep you entertained on rainy nights in the RV.

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?

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 7/17/20 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.

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