Two years ago we introduced Satellite TV to our tailgate. While it’s a game changer, it’s an expensive proposition to get started. So in these tough economic times, how do you get the most bang for your buck?
I revisited the issue recently to make sure we had the best (1) sports programming options and (2) prices going into next season.
The premise: I called each factory 800 line for Dish Network and DirecTV and in the interest of full disclosure told them that I was writing a blog for TailgatingIdeas.com. As an avid Texas A&M tailgater, I wanted to determine the best options going into next season. To minimize expense, the Tailgate TV Satellite System needed to be operational for the 120 days of football tailgating.
The Straight Dish – 888.581.9794
Going in, without the NFL Sunday Ticket, the Dish Network, is at a HUGE disadvantage. For NFL tailgaters that may be the only decision point. If not? Read on.
When I made the call and explained my tailgating goals they quickly transferred me to the mobile satellite group and I spoke with Hannah. She knew her stuff and recommended the Flex Program for tailgaters. Start anytime. Stop anytime. She knew her sports. She knew her business.
The brass tack for a HD tailgate includes an HD receiver that costs $149 to own and $99 to activate. The monthly cost of $72.99 includes their Top 250 programming as well as HD versions of the NFL Network & NFL Redzone, Fox Sports, Local Channels, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and CBS College Sports and the Big Ten Network.
Buyer Beware: The Mountain West channel is not available and with TCU, Utah and BYU reaching national prominence, this may mean that you will miss some Top 25 college action. ESPN Classic is not included either.
The ESPN College Game Plan is Extra. Thankfully Dish added the NFL RedZone which should address concerns for fantasy footballers.
The total cost for 4 months of Tailgating service runs approximately $540 (including $248 in up front, one-time fees).
InDirect TV 888-777-2454
The call to Direct TV went on for an improbable 48 minutes. It felt like 48 hours.
After a quick transfer to their mobile division, I spoke with Matt—who didn’t have knowledge of tailgating needs and was unable to identify a program that could work for me. His expertise was in the RV arena and he ultimately transferred me back to the home sales division. There, Janette was friendly and well intended, but lacked in knowledge as well. At one point she noted, “My computer isn’t programmed for this. Hold on.”
She turned me over to James, the floor supervisor. James knew his stuff, but in one phone call with three different employees I had received three different price quotes. I felt like a Florida linebacker trying to get a read on a Tommie Frazier triple-option play. Dazed and confused, I charged ahead.
On many occasions they told me that I wasn’t “allowed” to use the equipment in the manner I wanted to. Even though numerous DirectTV satellites are put into play, week after week, by Texas A&M tailgaters outside of Kyle Field. The company line for DirectTV is that they do not provide mobile satellite platforms outside of the RV division.
At the end of the conversation James told me that I would actually have to buy two receivers, even though—get this–I wouldn’t be using one of them ($299 cost). Who needs a receiver they aren’t going to use? This call ended up being more lame duck than a four-loss Oregon team fighting for a berth in the Emerald Bowl. Simply stated, they just weren’t able to address my tailgating needs.
The company held tight that the satellite would have to be installed at my house—no exceptions. Also, Direct TV continued to ask me when we could schedule the installation of the equipment at my house. Just like the University of Texas O-line facing Ndamukong Suh in the Big XII Championship Game, I knew it was going to be a long night early on.
On the 120 day program the monthly rate climbed to $91.98 per month. After the one time equipment purchase, the cost for four months would be, ominously enough, $666. Add another $350 for the Sunday Ticket.
To his credit, James kept telling me that if I would only sign up for a 24 month contract I’d be getting a better deal. There would be no equipment fees and the first month would include all my sports packages at $76.99 + taxes and fees (Mountain West Network included at no additional charge). After a year, the package would only increase by $12 per month.
However, the two year price tag ran more than $1800 and with two years of Sunday Ticket you end up passing the $2,500 mark. For the same amount you could have 6 years of the admittedly more limited Dish Network coverage.
Bottom Line: Go Dish
Dish Network wins on price, customer service and flexibility. DirectTV wins on NFL Sunday Ticket and the Mountain West Conference, but at a much higher total cost.
Note: If you already have either of these two systems in your home, your best option is to acquire a satellite dish, learn how to point it and connect it to one of your home receivers at the games. Back in 2007, Dave wrote an informative post on Tailgating with Satellite TV. In there he describes step-by-step the procedures to properly set up a satellite dish for tailgating.