Dishing the latest from the satellite TV world.

How to Get Free Satellite TV

by Jack Berkins on January 5, 2012

When you’re ready to get satellite television, you’ll want to make sure you take full advantage of all the perks free satellite TV has to offer. For starters, new customers (ie, those who don’t have a pre-existing account with DIRECTV and/or DISH) usually qualify for a variety of free programming, equipment and subscription upgrades. Depending on the provider and current promos being offered, you’ll likely be able to save upwards of $600 at sign-up. Here’s what to expect:

Free Movie Channels

Everyone likes ’em, but premium movie don’t come cheap. Without a special, HBO usually runs about $15/month with Showtime, STARZ and Cinemax at around $13/mo each. For a while now, both DIRECTV and DISH have been offering a combination of free movie channels at sign-up. Typically, you’ll get at least HBO and Showtime free for 3 months or longer (sometimes, they’ll toss in STARZ and Cinemax as well). For more details, check out the latest satellite deals.

Local Channels are a must

Back in the early days of satellite TV, subscribers had to pay for the luxury of watching their previously-free local channels. Some resorted to the ol’ rabbit ears to tune in their nightly local news. However, thanks to rising customer demand (and the decreased cost to broadcast locals), local channels are now fairly standard with any free satellite TV package. The only caveat is if you’re in the 1% of the U.S. that doesn’t have local coverage via satellite. In which case, you can usually get a discounted local channel-only rate via your local cable provider or a souped up antenna (bunny ears have come a looong way :)).

In either case, expect local channels to be a free part of your satellite TV service for the foreseeable future.

Free HD for Life

Once you go HD, you never go back. Ok, maybe never, but everything else being equal (especially price), who wouldn’t choose the crystal-clear and color-popping quality of a high definition broadcast over SD. High def has come a long way over the past 10 years. Soon after the turn of the century, most broadcasters quickly realized HD WAS the next evolutionary leap in broadcasting and heavily invested in getting compliant and upgrading their technology. Fast forward a decade, nearly every major channel has an HD equivalent broadcast with most networks producing shows primarily geared for HD.

Similar to the local channel trend, HD is such a must-have for most subscribers that DIRECTV and DISH recently started to include free HD into nearly every package, for life. Depending on the promo, you may need to sign up for a auto-pay or paperless billing, so make sure you read the fine print.

First receiver is on the house

Without a speedy and intuitive receiver (and programming guide), finding and recording programs can get to be a real pain. Even worse, having to buy an actual receiver during sign-up can often be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, over the past few years, both DIRECTV and DISH seem to be fully committed to providing your first DVR for free (and that likely won’t change anytime soon). If you’ll need multiple receivers, each additional box will run you $5-$10/mo, depending on your needs.

Long story short, competition is ALWAYS a good thing for the consumer and the satellite TV industry is certainly no exception. They’re pulling out all the stops to win your business, so take full advantage of every possible freebie when you order free satellite TV. If you’re not certain on which provider is best for you, check out our dish vs directv comparison. Enjoy your new satellite TV!

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