Watching Live TV on the Road: A Guide for RVers

One thing that gives some RVers pause is how they’ll stay connected to live events and shows while traveling. As any sports fanatic or news junkie knows, it’s tough to break the habit of tuning in to games, breaking news, and can’t-miss episodes of your favorite series.

The good news? You absolutely can watch live TV on the road with just a bit of RV-friendly equipment and some savvy streaming know-how. Read on for tips and tricks to make sure you never miss a moment, no matter how far your RV adventures take you.

Upgrade Your RV TV and Audio

The first step to live TV enjoyment is making sure you have the right gear onboard. The old fuzzy screen and weak speakers that came with your RV just won’t cut it anymore.

Upgrading to a high-definition smart TV unlocks a whole new world of streaming options. Go as big as you can fit and afford—many RVers say splurging on a 50-inch or larger model is one of their best upgrades. Brands like LG, Samsung, and Sony make TVs ideal for RV use, with features like built-in WiFi and pre-loaded streaming apps.

Be sure to also invest in a sound system worthy of your new dynamic display. A soundbar can be an excellent option, providing immersive audio from a compact unit. An RV-friendly soundbar from brands like Vizio can mount right under your TV.

Or, go all out with a receiver and surround sound speaker system. This does take up more space, but it’s great for movie nights or big games. Choose speakers strategically placed around seating areas. Brands like Kicker produce speakers designed to withstand RV vibrations and jostling.

Consider Satellite TV

While streaming is amazing, satellite TV offers the most reliable way to catch live events while mobile. The two biggest satellite providers are DISH and DIRECTV. Both offer RV-friendly equipment and packages.

The main component you need is a satellite dish receiver. For DISH, options like the Wally receiver are designed for easy, versatile RV installation. For DIRECTV, the slim TRAV’LER satellite dish slides effortlessly into your RV ladder.

Keep in mind that a satellite subscription doesn’t mean you have to miss out on streaming. DISH and DIRECTV packages include streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video. You get the best of both worlds.

Satellite service ranges from about $80 to $150 monthly. While pricier than some streaming options, satellite offers unparalleled access to live sports, news, and events—crucial for many RVers. Tip: Look for promotional pricing to offset equipment and installation costs.

Explore Streaming Devices and Services

When it comes to streaming entertainment in your RV, you have seemingly endless options. Streaming devices, smart TV platforms, and standalone services all offer different perks.

Here’s a quick look at some top choices for RVers:

Roku: This popular streaming device starts around $25. It’s easy to set up and use, even for tech novices. Roku has an intuitive interface and grants access to thousands of streaming channels. The compact Roku Streaming Stick+ is ideal for RV spaces.

Fire TV Stick: Amazon’s media device connects your TV to smart streaming features. Also compact, Fire TV Stick starts around $40. It includes Alexa voice controls for hands-free navigation. You can access Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more.

Apple TV: While pricier (starting around $150), Apple TV offers seamless integration for iOS users, AirPlay streaming, and premium 4K options. The new Apple TV 4K is fast and powerful for a theater-like experience.

Google Chromecast: At just $35, Chromecast is an affordable way to stream from your phone or tablet right to your RV TV. It doesn’t have its own menu, but works with thousands of apps.

YouTubeTV: This cable-alternative streams 80+ live channels for $65 monthly. Popular for sports fans, it includes ESPN, TNT, CBS Sports, and more. The unlimited DVR is handy for recording on the go.

Hulu + Live TV: Also $65 monthly, Hulu’s live option includes over 75 channels plus access to Hulu’s full on-demand library. Sports coverage stands out with channels like ESPN, FS1, and TBS.

SlingTV: Starting at $35, Sling offers customizable channel packages, including a solid lineup of sports from ESPN, NFL Network, and SEC Network. Fox and NBC locals are only available in select areas.

Score Free Over-the-Air TV

Here’s a live TV option that won’t cost you a dime—an HDTV antenna. Yes, with an antenna you can pick up over-the-air signals, just like the old rabbit ears. Today’s powerful models let you grab high-def channels from major broadcast networks.

Place the antenna on your RV roof or a window and scan for channels. You should pick up local programming from big names like ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and PBS. Selection varies based on your region.

An indoor antenna from Mohu or Winegard can pull 20+ free channels in optimal conditions. Outdoor options expand your range if you’re further from broadcast towers. The 360 degree Winegard Sensar is a top-rated exterior antenna starting around $50.

While channel offerings are limited compared to streaming and satellite, an HDTV antenna scores you live sports like Sunday NFL games, primetime hits, and local news, all at zero cost. For RVers on a budget, it’s an easy way to supplement other services.

Survival Tips for Minimal Service

Even with the best equipped entertainment center, there will likely be times when your RVing adventures take you out of range. But with a bit of preparation, you can weather even the most remote locations.

Download shows and movies: Before losing WiFi and cell service, use the Netflix app or Prime Video to download titles to your device for offline viewing. Some satellite services also allow downloading via their apps.

Bring DVDs: Keep a stash of favorite DVDs onboard for entertainment in a pinch. Considering adding a multi-disc DVD player to your RV audio-video gear.

Invest in a Drive: A plug-and-play hard drive like WD My Passport SSD stores hundreds of hours of movies and shows. Bring your own digital collection.

Read a book: Catch up on your book pile when WiFi is sparse. Turn to page-turners versus movies and shows that require high-speed data.

Play classic games: Keep family game night going with classic boards games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and playing cards. Fun for all ages never requires an internet connection.

Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks: Download hours of audiobooks or podcast episodes you can enjoy without WiFi while driving or relaxing.

Bring walkie-talkies: When all else fails, break out some old school handheld walkie-talkie sets. They come in handy for close communication.

Useful RV Entertainment Accessories

A few key accessories take your RV entertainment to the next level. Be sure to have these gadgets and gizmos on hand:

Media hub: This central connection point neatly organizes all of your A/V equipment, receivers, players, and gaming consoles in one spot.

HDMI switch: Because you probably have more devices than TV ports, an HDMI switch lets you toggle between them without unplugging and replugging constantly.

Surge protector: Protect your precious (and expensive) gear with a surge protector made specifically for RVs. Some even filter out shore power spikes.

TV wall mount: Free up space and safely secure flat screen TVs with a wall mounting bracket secured into RV wall studs. Models like Mount-It! wall mounts fold flat when driving.

Phone/tablet holder: Mount your mobile devices at the perfect viewing angle with an adjustable holder. Bed, counter, and cup holder mounts are available.

External monitor: For entertainment outside, add a waterproof external monitor. Some are made to mount on awning roll bars for TV watching from camp chairs.

Travel in Style with Tailgating Tech

If you’re headed to see your favorite sports team live, don’t forget the ultimate tailgating tech. Fellow fans will envy your RV setup:

Exterior TV: Mount a weatherproof TV outside to catch pre and post-game coverage from the comfort of your tailgating spread.

Soundbar: Pump up the party with an outdoor-rated soundbar pumping team anthems and crowd noise.

Generator: Fire up a small, quiet generator so you can operate a big screen, lights, and appliances from your parking spot.

Instant grill: Break out a portable propane grill for on-the-go cooking of brats, burgers, and more. Some attach right to your RV’s low pressure propane system.

Cooler: Keep drinks icy cold in a 60-quart rolling cooler you can easily lug to the game. Look for heavy duty options like the YETI Tundra 65.

Canopy tent: Stake out your territory with a pop-up canopy offering shade and shelter. Craft arbor-style extensions off your RV awning.

Outdoor TV antenna: If you want to go big with a satellite dish, tailgating TV antennas are smaller and don’t require a paid service. The King HDTV SlimLine can pull in football from your campsite.

Folding chairs: Get the whole gang seated with comfortable folding lawn chairs from Coleman or STRONGBACK. Add sidelines-inspired bleachers!

Rug: Spread out a festive rug to define your space and keep dirt at bay. Outdoor-rated polypropylene rugs clean up easily.

Lights: String festoon lights over your canopy or awning for illumination into the night. Battery-operated string lights are convenient and portable.

Bluetooth speaker: Crank the tunes with a battery-powered wireless speaker like JBL’s Flip 6. It pumps rich sound and is waterproof.

Wrap Up

RVing delivers adventure, freedom, and close connections with loved ones. And with the ability to tune into live sports, news, and entertainment, you get the comforts of home too.

Upgrade your RV system, explore streaming and satellite options, and think ahead for when WiFi wanes. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be watching your favorites in no time from the comfort of your motorhome or camper.

Most importantly, don’t forget to look up from the screen now and then. Some of the best “TV” is the ever-changing real-life scenery just outside your RV windows!

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