Most people sign up for satellite TV service because they either want the wider channel selection, or they are looking to save some money. Cable television prices continue to rise year after year, making satellite TV the best choice for those who want the lowest price. But before you jump in with both feet, it is a good idea to review what all is involved, specifically what satellite TV contracts are all about.
So why do DISH Network and DIRECTV require contracts for new customers? It is mainly to insure a return on their initial investment. Cable TV companies usually make their investment all at one time by deploying their coaxial cable network to neighborhoods as they are built. Satellite TV technology though is different. There is no physical network so when a customer signs up for service, the equipment is brought to your home and set up, which is a significant investment by the satellite TV provider.
While estimates on how much it costs to set a new satellite TV customer up with service vary, it is easily around $500 or more. A satellite dish must be mounted, advanced receivers like HD DVRs are given to the customer to use, and several hours of labor are required before you can watch your first program over satellite TV. All if this before you pay a single bill to DISH Network or DIRECTV, so thus the satellite TV contract is an important part of the overall deal.
Current contracts for both DISH Network and DIRECTV run 24 months from the date of installation. DISH Network used to only require a commitment of 18 months, but this was changed to a full two years in 2009.
Both companies give you discounts on service for the first year of the contract, but then you are expected to pay full price for the second year of service. DIRECTV offers a slightly different deal each summer in conjunction with their NFL Sunday Ticket package. With that particular DIRECTV deal you get five months free of the Premier package when you pay for Sunday Ticket, thereafter you pay the full price for whatever DIRECTV package you decide to keep.
All of this leads to the question that many ask down the road – can I get out of a satellite TV contract? For whatever reason whether it be price or dissatisfaction with the programming options, both DISH Network and DIRECTV are known to hold their customers to the original agreement. So it is certainly important to consider this up front, especially if you might be moving at some point during your satellite television contract. Generally you are not let out of a satellite TV contract just because you move into an apartment or a home where satellite service is not available.
So what alternatives do you have if you want out of your satellite TV contract? Generally cable TV companies do not buy you out of your contract, but they may offer fairly good deals to you as a new customer. The best thing to do is contact DISH Network or DIRECTV to get an idea of what it is going to cost to break your contract. Then evaluate exactly how much the cable company in your area is going to give you in savings to make the switch. This might make the pain of breaking your satellite TV contract a little bit less when you weight it against potential savings from your new provider.