RV TV Options: How To Get TV in Your Camper
For people who camp for months at a time or full-time, where the RV is an extension of regular living, watching TV in an RV becomes part of a ritual just as when you’re living in a normal home.
Whether it’s watching your favorite TV shows, catching your favorite sports team live, or keeping up on the nightly news and weather forecast.
While getting TV channels is quite easy in a stationary home, it can prove very difficult/expensive when your home constantly moves. The same applies to internet connectivity. In many cases, both TV and internet come from the same service provider.
More and more campgrounds offer cable and internet as part of your nightly rate, but depending on your campsite, the cable may be fine, but the internet may be non-existent if you’re far away from their Wi-Fi signal.
If you don’t stay in campgrounds, then you’re on your own to figure out how to receive a cable or internet signal. Click here to learn more about how to get internet for your RV.
In this article, I’m going to discuss the different ways that you can watch TV in an RV. Many RVers use all options at different times.
For me personally, following my favorite team was my main priority.
We started researching our options for watching them through satellite TV and found out our options were Dish or DirectTV or going to the local sports bar with satellite TV.
Though we decided not to go with Satellite, we researched all the options and read a lot of RV forums to see what other RVers liked or disliked about their equipment.
It seemed to me after reading through the forums that if you used your RV occasionally for camping or tailgating then the portable equipment such as the King Tailgator or Winegard Playmaker worked well with Dish or DirectTV.
RV TV Options: Streaming, Satellite, or Through Your Campground
If you camp more than 6 months out of the year, then the options got more complicated due to RVers wanting more features to view multiple TVs at once and recording shows on DVRs.
They wanted their chosen equipment to work rain or shine or being in the Western or Eastern part of the country.
The two main equipment manufacturers for satellite antennas are Winegard and King. While going through many full-time RVer forums, it seems like Winegard has a slight edge over King and they have more equipment options than King.
A widely held belief was also that the dome satellite antennas didn’t receive satellite signals as well as the open face satellites and was worst at receiving signals in poor weather such as rain or snow.
With all the different options, we created a chart to showcase the most popular satellite equipment options.
I did not include receivers as those as they are dependant on the satellite provider that you choose as well as the particular satellite equipment. Many of the links below have options to bundle it with the necessary receiver.
King Satellite Dishes for RVs
Winegard Satellite Dishes for RVs
The Dish subscription options are great if you already have them at your brick and mortar house. Only $7 more a month and you just had to buy their remote equipment.
They also have the pay as you go so you can stop service up to 6 months to save you money. Another main difference is that you can get HD service with their Dome satellites which you can’t with any DirectTV dome.
A final benefit about Dish is they offer discounts to active and retired military which is great since we are a military veteran family. You can view all their subscription and equipment offerings at their website for Dish.
DirectTV has the exclusive NFL package which may make a difference as to which service you use. Just like Dish you can also suspend service for up to 6 months. You can view their RV offerings at their travel page.
This is the option that we choose to get our TV. We were lucky that we had the original Verizon unlimited internet cell phone plan.
I remember when all the cell phone companies offered this service and in our area, Verizon had better coverage. When they no longer offered unlimited coverage, we were able to be grandfathered in.
Fast forward several years, and we would regularly use 100-150 GB of data streaming our TV while traveling.
About six months before we went on the road in 2012, we were ahead of the curve by getting rid of our cable box.
When Netflix and Hulu became available we realized that we could watch most everything via their services, except live tv such as sports.
We came up with an arrangement with our best friends to let them use our Hulu subscription if they gave us their cable access to Watch ESPN live. We have been watching TV that way ever since.
Though we did have a 3 month stint using sling.com while playing on a family football league and watching more NFL.
We use Chromecast to cast any video from our phone and laptop to our TV. It’s as simple as plugging in the Chromecast adaptor to your HDMI outlet on your TV.
If you have android phones or tablets, then Chromecast app is already installed. Find the cast symbol, click it and watch your video on the TV.
It really is that simple but we did just realize that it doesn’t work on Apple iPhones.
Nowadays, more and more TVs are considered “smart TVs” and have internet capabilities with many streaming options already on them. If you’re able to connect the TV to your internet, you can turn the TV on and go directly to Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu etc.
Netflix is easily the most ubiquitous of all the streaming services out there. With a great selection of content including originals and licensed movies and shows, you’ll have enough content for hours and hours of TV in your RV.
As of this writing, Netflix offers 3 plans: $8.99 for basic(1 device), $13.99 for standard(2 devices), or $17.99 for premium(4 devices).
Chances are you already have a Netflix subscription - if you don’t, I highly recommend signing up.
Of course, not many people truly pay for Netflix, as a lot of us end up using our brother’s or friend’s or co-worker’s boss’ mother-in-law’s account!
Amazon Prime is also really awesome and chances are you already have a Prime account. Once you sign up for Amazon Prime, you get access to Amazon Prime Video as well, which has a very wide selection of movies, TV shows, and original content.
Chances are, you already use Amazon Prime, so Prime Video is an added benefit that you may not have already been using.
You can sign up for Amazon Prime at $119 per year or $8.99 per month for just Prime Video.
Hulu(best option for Live TV in an RV)
Hulu is actually really interesting and one of the most all-encompassing options of the lot.
There are four price tiers, each with different advantages.
The Basic tier is not ad-free, but you have access to all of Hulu’s content plus the option to upgrade to premium add-ons like HBO for an additional cost. The Basic tier costs $5.99 per month and allows for using it on two screens.
The Premium tier is $11.99 per month and is the exact same as the Basic tier, but it’s ad-free.
Then there is Basic + Live TV, which costs $44.99 per month and is all the features of Basic plus 70-odd live TV channels. Note that live TV channels do contain ads.
Finally, there is Premium + Live TV, which costs $50.99 per month and is all the features of Premium with Live TV channels.
I’m currently happy with my subscriptions as I am not too concerned with live TV channels(aside from sports), but if live TV is important to you, Hulu is your best bet.
If you’re a Disney, Marvel, Pixar, or Star Wars fan, Disney+ is a great streaming service for shows specific to Disney Studios. That means if you want to keep up with the latest episode of the Mandalorian, you’ll need to sign up for Disney+.
Disney+ is $6.99 per month.
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Cable through Campgrounds
Most private campgrounds now offer cable in their nightly rate, sometimes it costs a little extra while most of the time it’s included in the rate. Depending on the campground, the channel offering is really great or non-existent
When we first started rving, we didn’t know that our RV had an outside cable hook-up. It literally took us two months before we found it as I was filling up the water tank and noticed it towards the bottom curved panel.
We had purchased a Flat Cable to go through our window without having to keep the window cracked in order to hook it up to our TV.
I got so excited that we wouldn’t have to do that anymore but the excitement didn’t last because the outlet didn’t work.
I couldn’t trace the cable at all underneath and didn’t want to open up any walls so we continued to use the flat cable. The biggest pain about using campground cable is programming your TV each time you set up.
Anytime we were wanting to watch something live I swear it took the TV twice as long to finish programming to find the channels.
Cable through campgrounds is also a cheap method to watch TV while traveling but if you don’t regularly stay in campgrounds, this option won’t work for you.
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There are plenty of ways to stay entertained and keep up with your favorite sports and news channels even when in an RV and camping.
Although Dish and DirectTV are still very viable options, in this day and age, we prefer streaming. Still, if you plan on venturing out very far into the boondocks, you may not get adequate internet reception, in which satellite will serve you better.