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DIRECTV Introduces Feature that Switches from Satellite to Broadband During Signal Outages

David Satin

Have you ever been watching DIRECTV through your satellite and been forced to stare helplessly as the screen increasingly pixelates, then just wipes to black? Satellite interference is a ubiquitous problem for owners of these pay-TV packages, but now DIRECTV is rolling out a feature that should mitigate some of those viewing disasters.

The company has introduced what it calls SignalSaver, which is meant to preserve signal even during periods of satellite interference. SignalSaver detects such interference and automatically prompts the user to switch from the satellite signal to an internet signal, allowing customers to stream via broadband while the satellite sorts itself out. The feature is free to all DIRECTV residential subscribers, however, SignalSaver is not available for every channel on DIRECTV upon rollout. Currently, SignalSaver is available for 83 of DIRECTV’s channels including CNN, ESPN, and The Weather Channel.

“We focused on TV channels that provide a lot of live programming as well as the four locals in most markets at launch,” spokesperson Nicholas Ammazzalorso said according to The Verge.

Hopefully, full channel functionality is available to DIRECTV customers soon. It’s somewhat odd that SignalSaver is only supported on 83 channels so far, as DIRECTV has been able to add broadband functionality to the over 150 channels it makes available on the Premier plan of its live TV streaming service DIRECTV Stream.

Another important factor for DIRECTV customers to remember is that full DVR functionality is not available when SignalSaver is activated. However, the company says that DVR functionality is expected to be added soon. SignalSaver also does not switch back to satellite automatically when signal is restored, and, left to itself, will remain on broadband for up to four hours. Customers will have to change the channel themselves if they want to switch back to satellite quickly.

The good news is that SignalSaver will launch with some high-definition capabilities. With the proper high-speed internet connection, customers can enable SignalSaver to still enjoy up to a 720p quality viewing experience. DIRECTV’s satellite broadcasts to homes max out between 720p and 1080i, so users won’t have much of a drop-off in terms of picture quality.

The idea of SignalSaver is a sound one but is probably a few years too late for DIRECTV. Household penetration of pay TV services like DIRECTV is at its lowest point since 1993, and satellite is losing customers at a rate of 12.5% per year. These declines are not just the result of the seasonality that now comes with the hiatus of sports, and with popular sports packages like NFL Sunday Ticket leaving DIRECTV, the customer churn rate could increase.

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The service now includes an Unlimited DVR on all plans and Unlimited simultaneous at-home streams.

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