DirecTV is introducing a new feature today it calls SignalSaver, which is designed to preserve TV reception even during times of satellite interference. Available at no extra cost to residential DirecTV subscribers with an internet-connected set-top box, SignalSaver automatically prompts you to switch from a satellite signal to internet-based TV when an interruption is detected.
“After a few seconds of signal calibration, and with the proper high-speed Internet connection, customers can enable SignalSaver to still enjoy up to an HD (720p) quality viewing experience,” the company explains in its press release. DirecTV’s broadcasts at home top out between 720p and 1080i, so you’re not losing much in terms of quality.
At launch, SignalSaver is available for 83 national networks, including CNN, ESPN, Fox News, 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 told The Verge by email.
There are some asterisks worth keeping in mind that come with this new backup method. Perhaps most important to subscribers is that “full DVR functionality is not available” when SignalSaver kicks in. DirecTV says that’s “expected soon along with some other important features.”
Also, once you’ve switched over to the internet signal, DirecTV won’t automatically revert back to satellite if the signal clears up. You’ll get moved back to satellite instantly if you change channels, and it’ll also make the switch after four hours on the same channel. SignalSaver is only available to DirecTV’s residential subscribers for now, so it won’t be a viable fallback for sports bars or other commercial customers. Dish, DirecTV’s primary satellite TV competitor in the United States, does not currently offer a feature similar to SignalSaver.
DirecTV again became a standalone company last year when AT&T completed its spinoff. The business is co-managed with TPG Capital, and aside from the satellite TV component, it also includes legacy U-verse TV (which no longer accepts new customers) and DirecTV Stream. The latter is DirecTV’s streaming TV entity that competes with YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV, and other services.