One of the questions we get all the time here at Big Game Trailers is “How do I get satellite TV at my tailgate?” There are a number of options when it comes to getting satellite TV to your tailgate. The equipment you will need depends on the provider you choose, and how much dough you want to spend.
There are other options if you don’t care about HD programming….but let’ face it – We aren’t watching The Price is Right while we tailgate, so I won’t cover those here.
Tailgate Satellite TV: Over-the-Air Antenna
Lots of people have no idea that there is free HD television floating around in the air. With a decent powered antenna, you can get a few channels depending on the area you are tailgating. This is probably the least flexible option, as you are at the mercy of what is available in your area and how great a signal your antenna picks up.
You can usually only get the major affiliates (ABC, CBS, etc). To check out what channels MAY be available in your area, check out this link. You can also find some solid info about what antennas might work best for you.
Pro: Cheap (free) Con: Signal strength a problem in some areas, No cable network coverage
Tailgate Satellite TV: DirecTV
I’ve found that DirecTV is a little more limited on what is available to tailgaters. Price ranges for a full setup are anywhere from $250-$2500 (plus a monthly service charge for service)
Your cheapest option (around $250) is to go with a satellite dish on a tripod. Basically, you are putting up a dish similar to the one mounted on your home on a tripod. The downside is you have to be able to point the dish and secure it where it won’t be moved or bumped during your tailgate. We’ve used the setup for a few seasons, and it does take some practice to get i
t done quickly. And you also have to hope you have a clear view of the sky where the satellite is located. Trees and buildings can sometimes be an issue.
Pro: Cheaper Con: Can be a pain to setup and point dish.
The next option is an automatic satellite dish. These are usually mounted to the top of a motor home or trailer and can be quite expensive. You could also mount one of these on a small tripod. There’s no hassle with trying to point the dish, as it’s done automatically once the system is powered on. These are sometimes called in-motion systems, as they track the satellite and give you a constant signal as you travel down the road. When shopping around, make sure the dish can received HD DirecTV signals, as some systems can only carry standard def signals from DirecTV.
Pros: Automatic. Cons: Pricey $$.
Tailgate Satellite TV: Dish Network
Receiver – Dish Network has a month-to-month plan where you can just pay for the months you use service, so you don’t have to pay for it during the offseason. You can also add a receiver for $7/month on most plans. Just make sure it’s compatible with the satellite option you choose.
Similar to DirecTV, the easiest option is to purchase a satellite dish and tripod. But again, you might have issues pointing your dish. There are many different options for manual satellite dishes available with HD.
Dish Network offers an automatic satellite dish, called the Tailgater, at a much lower cost ($350-$450 for satellite and receiver). This is the system we use with all of our tailgating trailers, as it’s probably the easiest and most idiot-proof without spending $1500+ on an in-motion system. You still need a clear view of the sky where the satellite is located, but once you connect it to the receiver, it adjusts to find the satellite automatically. This is by far the most common system I see people using at tailgates.
The model I linked above only allows you to watch one channel at a time. but King Controls makes a two-channel model that will cost you about $200 more. We’ll get one of these for our next rental trailer when it’s finished, so I’ll edit this for more info on the King Controls model. We currently use a HDMI splitter to show the same signal on both TV’s (or use one TV with an over-the-air antenna if available).
Once plugged in, the Tailgater takes about 5-10 minutes to get you watching TV. The only downside I have found is that if you move the Tailgater at all, you usually have to do a rescan of the satellite. So it’s a good idea to put it out of the way where it won’t get bumped or jarred.
Pros: Automatic. Cons: Slow setup, may have to be reset if moved.
If you’re looking to add satellite to your motor home or trailer, Dish offers the same automatic satellites as DirecTV above (pricey as well). Fore more info on what is available for Dish Network subscribers check out this link.
I also have a run down of info about the TV’s we have used at our tailgate.
If you have your own experiences/reviews of other satellite TV options, feel free to comment below!
You can also check out and purchase the Tailgater by clicking the Amazon button below.