The Best Guide to Cable Packages and Alternatives

Satellite Television Providers

Currently, there are two primary satellite providers in the United States, DirecTV and the Dish Network, but you also have the option of accessing free channels through sources like Globecast World TV and Glorystar.

Satellite television has an interesting history. If you remember, back in the days of Fred Flinstone, we used to all get television for free. This was because the local television stations made their money from our watching commercials, and those commercials would in turn make the channels profitable. There was no middle-man siphoning off extra money.

At the time, many people got poor reception, and rather than move, if they could afford it, they would get a satellite dish instead. The television stations in turn, who made money per viewer, not from fees from cable companies, put their stations on the satellites for those people to watch.

That was all in the Seventies. Now, a similar split between antenna television and cable television has occured between different types of satellite television. All of the free channels continue to exist, but there are also premium services that function much like cable companies. In addition, the number of free channels, who survive solely off of advertising and fundraising, has actually increased. In many ways, part of the fun of satellite is finding specialty channels and local channels that one can’t find otherwise.

The two premium providers are DirecTV and the Dish Network. Two free satellite providers I will also discuss are Globecast World TV and Glorystar.


Believe it or not, DirecTV is the direct (pardon the pun) descendent of Hughs Aircraft, the airline company at the center of the 2004 film The Aviator. Hughs Aircraft was turned into the Howard Hughs Medical Institute, a research company that eventually moved into telecommunications and ultimately satellite.

DirecTV has focussed heavily on being able to compete with the cable companies, especially with their new range of services, such as high-definition channels, satellite internet service and even satellite telephone service. By adding these additional services and range of programming, DirecTV has directly challenged the cable companies on what used to be their own turf.

The Dish Network

The Dish Network is the primary competitor of DirecTV. You may know it better as Echostar, which is still the name of its parent company and of its satellite fleet. The Dish Network covers the United States, but also have moved into Mexico, a region that DirecTV abandoned in 2004, making the Dish Network the primary source of Satellite Television in Mexico.

Like DirecTV, the Dish Network provides the same range of options that a cable company does, including telephone, internet and television. It also offers high definition channels and provides movies of demand.

Globecast World TV

Globecast World TV is the kind of access channel that makes satellite television fun. Let’s say that you had a channel that only had a few viewers in any given area, but those areas were spread across the United States or even the globe. Cable companies won’t carry your channel, since it would eat up part of their cable space, and broadcasting is very expensive.

So, many channels like this have found homes on satellite television. They broadcast to all of their viewers who own satellite, and have very specialized programming.

Globecast World TV is more than just an American satellite provider, however. It broadcasts hundreds of channels in dozens of channels all across the world. Languages include Arabic, Punjabi, Farsi, Portugese, Tagalog, French, Croatian, Turkish, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Swahili and so forth. It has become the central platform for international channels on satellite. They stream both free channels and also pay channels.


Glorystar is a prime example of the kind of specialized programming that one can receive from satellite networks. Again, because cable companies can only stream a limited amount of data through their wires, they must be highly selective in what channels they choose and choose those that are most popular. Special-interest programming, therefore, tends to take a back seat.

Glorystar is a Christian broadcasting channel that broadcasts forty-three different evangelical Christian channels. These channels maintain themselves with a combination of advertising and fundraising and the service is completely free. While it may not be of interest to all viewers, Glorystar is the type of channel that expands the breadth of television channels using satellite technology.


Satellite television providers are doing a good job of competing against their competition, such as fiber optic cable television and cable high speed internet providers. A new generation of satellite receivers allows satellite to expand into all of the areas that cable has. There is a wide array of options, from premium packages that look just like cable providers to highly specialized channels that are provided for free.