Dishing the latest from the satellite TV world.

Where to Catch 4K Sports Action on Satellite TV

by Jack Berkins on November 29, 2017

If you’re a weekender high def sports junkie or just want to follow your local team in crystal clear 4k (aka ultra HD), the good news is DISH and DIRECTV are off to a solid start in the 4K TV department. While it’s still early in the adoption cycle, every passing month sees more broadcasters and programmers add 4K sporting events to their flagship and mainstream lineups. In this article, we’ll compare when and where you can find the most ultra HD action and whether DISH or DIRECTV is likely to ramp up coverage faster in the coming years…

Current 4K Programming

The upside for sports fans is that most of the global 4k programming currently available is sports-related (since they tend to provide the biggest visual/marketing upside). Each provider needs to negotiate 4K rights with broadcasters, so DIRECTV and DISH’s 4k offerings are slightly different at the moment. Here’s a quick overview:

DIRECTV Sports in 4K

DIRECTV has a couple different channels dedicated solely to 4K –
#104 is non-sports, featuring documentaries, travel shows, etc.
Channel 106 is a bit more inclusive with at least half of its programming consisting of live sporting events.
Outside of specific channels, DIRECTV broadcasts select NBA, College Football and English Premier Soccer League contests in 4K. Go here for a list of the upcoming matches in 4K.

DISH Sports in 4K

In general, DISH is just slightly behind DIRECTV in the 4K sports arena. They have one channel (#540) dedicated to 4k college football games via Fox Sports, but do expect to add basketball, baseball and NASCAR in the near future. When that happens, they’ll likely be right up there (or ahead) of DIRECTV. One of DISH’s current upsides over DIRECTV is that they offer free HD for life. So, as 4k becomes more predominant, after you pick up a 4K TV, it won’t cost you a running monthly charge to enjoy its insanely high clarity (8.2 million pixels!).

Requirements

For DIRECTV, you’ll need the following:

  • TV: Of course, you’ll need an ultra HD-capable TV (smart TV components aren’t necessary). If you’re in the market for one, check out this helpful 4k TV guide at amazon, with many priced at under $500
  • DVR: Genie with 4k minis or an HR54 & above receiver (must be connected to the internet)
  • Package: with English packages, you’ll need the Select plan or above; with Spanish, it’ll take Mas Latino or higher

With DISH, here’s the rundown…

  • DVR: The Hopper 3 (or latest version) with 4k Joeys
  • Package: with English packages, America’s Top 120 plan or above is required (note the Flex Pack doesn’t qualify you for 4K). Ultra HD isn’t currently available with Spanish-language plans but expect that to change soon.

Wrapping up

If you’ve already experienced 4K TV resolution (3840 x 2160), you know just how crystal-clear, crisp and non-pixelated the picture quality gets. Essentially, the massive number of extra pixels close the space between pixels found in previous HD technologies, resulting in an amazing viewing experience from any angle or distance to the TV. It’s still early in the evolution of 4K and as more sporting events get shot in 4K, you’ll slowly see DIRECTV and DISH expand their options, letting you critique that last-minute TD or blown strike call in the 9th that much easier!

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New to the Genie: Entertainment Extras App

by Jack Berkins on October 13, 2017

All too often, media and programming companies sit on their laurels after the successful launch of a new device or service. In DIRECTV’s case, the stellar roll-out of the Genie a few years back only served to further motivate their tech/media teams to innovate and make the selection process as user-friendly as possible (DISH’s Hopper certainly lit a fire as well :). Those improvements are usually either tangible (more hard drive space, new channel, etc) or in this case, more of an add-on accessory… the Entertainment Extras, launched just this month, is basically a meticulously compiled collection of internet feeds from some of the more popular websites around (Mashable, PopSugar, etc). in other words, a mix of videos your friends might already be texting you about — here’s a bit more detail…

Affiliated Sites

This is an ever-growing list, but just a few of its more popular sources include Tastemade, PopSugar, Mashable, Saveur, Newsy, Machinima, Jukin and a ton more. In total, you’ll get access to over 100.000 videos at any given time. And, remember, those are all already publicly available on the internet — the convenience here is the Entertainment Extras App centralizes, categorizes and suggests them according to your preferences (much like the Genie does with recommended shows, movies, etc). Big picture, if its suggestion engine gets smart enough, this app has the potential to become a “home page” of sorts for viral videos.

How to Access

This one’s easy — simply hit the right arrow on your remote and a menu of apps/options will appear. Select “Entertainment Extras” (usually near the top of the list) and you’re all set. As with most functions on Genie’s program guide, it tends to learn your habits over time. So, the more often you select Entertainment Extras, the higher up on the menu it should appear thereafter… just don’t squeeze out the Weather Channel app (else you’re likely to be sporting shorts smack in the middle of a snowstorm :).

Since it’s a new app, expect DIRECTV to give it a bit more exposure right out of the gate. After a few months (depending on how well it does and how often folks return to it), it may get lost in the mix or eventually earn a coveted top spot; only time – and user engagement – will tell.

Finally, you’ve probably figured out the Entertainment Extras App is only available via the Genie (HR44 or newer). Given the programming and light AI involved here, don’t expect it to be available on the non-Genie DVRs anytime soon.

Is it Free?

Yep. So, why all the fuss? Well, the Genie is locked into a feature and usability race vs the Hopper… and, in general, while the Hopper boasts a larger hard drive, most folks prefer the look and feel of the Genie. So, as the line between internet and TV gets more and more fuzzy, both systems are itching to tap into your “non TV” time and, likely in the near future, be your media buddy as you surf, shop, email, etc. Apps like Entertainment Extras are just another foray into that space. If there’s a clear DVR winner in a few years, expect a tangible shift of customers to that side. Otherwise, both brands will continue to competitively innovate and churn out the best products available…

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AT&T Unlimited Plan: Uncapped AT&T Wireless Data for DIRECTV Subscribers

February 3, 2016

The first real cross-promotional offer since AT&T’s acquisition of DIRECTV, AT&T recently announced that any wireless subscriber with either a DIRECTV or AT&T U-verse plan, now qualifies for unlimited data usage. Coined the “AT&T Unlimited Plan“, it’s a nice little bonus for current or prospective customers (AT&Ts main goal here is to introduce folks to […]

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DISH to Experiment with More Engaging, User-friendly Commercials

December 18, 2015

Let’s face it, no one really likes commercials, but it’s a necessary part of the TV broadcast biz (to offset production costs, etc). Luckily, commercial-skipping technology like DISH’s Autohop (which only works with NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX) and DIRECTV’s 30-sec skip helps avoid ’em if you’re so inclined. The market implication of that kind […]

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DIRECTV’s Audience Network to be added to U-verse Lineup

October 4, 2015

Another nice benefit of AT&T’s recent acquisition of DIRECTV, it was just announced that the popular Audience Network will be added to U-verse’s channel lineup. Slotted for U-verse channel #1114, it’ll give folks access to plenty of new, original content. The Audience Network, previously exclusive to DIRECTV and first launched in 2011, features both original […]

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Could an AT&T Deal with DIRECTV Finally Deliver the Pac-12 Network?

April 2, 2015

Is an agreement amongst all three coming soon?[/caption]Ever since the Pac-12 Network officially launched in 2012, DIRECTV subscribers and college fans (especially those on the west coast) have been left out in the cold. The root of the problem stems from the per-subscriber fees. License disagreements are all-to-common these days, and, for the most post, […]

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NBC Universo Launches in HD on Superbowl Sunday

February 4, 2015

Formerly known as mun2 (Telemundo’s 2nd channel), NBC Universo officially launched its new channel and programming lineup on Superbowl Sunday. All part of a brand revamp, it targeted Feb. 1st as it had exclusive rights to broadcast the game in Spanish (not surprisingly, as NBC, their parent company, carried the game). While the all Spanish-language […]

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DISH Subscribers Could Lose CBS Starting Tomorrow

December 3, 2014

In the latest of the recent programming squabbles, DISH could end up losing CBS tomorrow, 12/4/14, at 7 PM EST. There have been numerous phases throughout the 6-month negotiation, including a Thanksgiving extension to allow folks to catch their NFL action, but this appears to be the tipping point. CBS just publicly stated there will […]

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DIRECTV to launch Ya Veo, a Netflix-like OTT Service

September 13, 2014

The latest buzz out of El Segundo, CA (DIRECTV’s HQ) is they’re ready to launch a new, Netflix-like service by year’s end. Coined “Ya Veo” (I can see), it’s an over-the-top (OTT) service primarily targeted towards the Latino demographic. OTT refers to the cord-cutting trend (Hulu, Netflix, etc) that streams specialized AND inexpensive programming over […]

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Sportsnet LA on Time Warner still only available to 30% of Dodger fans

April 6, 2014

When a new ownership team with incredibly deep pockets takes over your team (and breaks the bank with a ton of free agent acquisitions), you gotta be thinking things are headed in the right direction. Well, back in 2012, that’s exactly what Dodger fans were enthused about. Gone was the stingy McCourt regime; the new […]

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