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Orby TV Review 2020: Plans, Pricing, and More

Orby TV tries to simplify satellite TV and almost succeeds.

Channel count: 44-68+

Price: $40-$54/mo.

(3 /5)

Orby TV box and contents 2019

Unboxed: Orby TV packaging and contents.

What is Orby TV?

Orby TV is a satellite TV service that launched in 2018. Orby says its service employs “no tricks or gimmicks.”

Orby’s no-frills, high-flexibility approach begins when you rent or purchase your receiver (or receiver/DVR) and remote online through Orby or in-person at Best Buy or Target. You then schedule an installation appointment through an Orby partner.

After installation, you can purchase one of Orby’s two programming packages for $40–$50 a month, add on DVR service ($4 a month), or enjoy only the free local channels through the antenna.

If you purchase your equipment, there is no contract and no monthly bill. You pay in advance, and it’s up to you to keep your account current from month-to-month through your online Orby account.

If you need to pause your service, just don’t pay for the next month of programming. There are no late fees or reconnect charges. You’ll lose access to your programming package, guide, and DVR, but you’ll still have the local channels that the antenna picks up. When you’re ready, simply pay another month of service.

If you rent your equipment, you’ll have to sign a two-year contract. You’ll have a monthly payment that includes up to a $15 rental fee for the devices.

Bottom line: Is Orby TV good?

To see whether or not Orby is as “simple, easy, and worry-free” as it claims to be, and how it stacks up against DIRECTV and DISH, we posed as a new customer for CableTV.com.

While Orby TV service alone is good, the installation experience was bumpy—and Orby failed hard on customer service.

A word about Orby TV customer service

Since CableTV.com advocates for the consumer, we lodged a complaint after Orby made an easily avoidable error twice during the installation process.

Two hours into the noon to 5 p.m. installation window, Orby’s third-party installer called to say they’d have to reschedule. They apologized for the late notice, saying that Orby didn’t provide them with our phone number and they had to dig it up.

We rescheduled for the following day, a Saturday. The installation tech arrived 30 minutes early without calling. He apologized, saying he’d have called if Orby had provided our number.

Imagine if we’d been the average customer, who would’ve taken a half day off from work to be present for the installation. They’d have lost a half-day’s wages, or four hours of personal time off, and up to four hours of their weekend for the rescheduled install.

Orby did little to help the situation.

In the initial complaint, we asked Orby to contact us. Naturally, we provided a name, phone number, and order number. But the rep asked us to call them and to please provide all of the above information, proving they didn’t really read the complaint.

We decided to call and talk to someone directly. The phone rep was curt and unapologetic. We made our case and requested a remedy. After speaking to a supervisor, he offered a $40 credit (essentially one month of free programming).

We told Orby’s rep that $40 hardly made up for the inconvenience of lost wages and time, and we requested a second free month (still not enough, but this was only research). He refused and said that our only other recourse was to return the equipment for a refund. We said we’d think it over.

After disconnecting, we decided to make our case in writing to the original rep. She never replied.

As you’re about to read, the Orby TV 30-day, risk-free trial isn’t risk-free. It doesn’t cover all of the equipment, either—only the receiver/DVR. So, by invoking the guarantee, you’ll still be out $150 for the dish/antenna and installation, plus a $10 restocking fee.

But, again, this was research. If Orby’s goal is to be a gentler, more honest alternative to big-shot satellite competitors, it has a long, long way to go. That’s something to consider before signing up.

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Orby TV deals and free trials

At this writing, Orby TV is offering a receiver and pro installation (which includes the antenna/dish combo), for $125 installed. If you’d prefer to have a receiver/DVR unit, the price is $225. In both cases, you’d save $125.

Orby’s other big selling point is that 30-day, risk-free trial we were just talking about. At first, it sounds fantastic. Well, lots of things sound good. Here’s what’s up with that.

If you were to buy your receiver at a store, you’d be subject to that retailer’s return policy. In other words, Orby’s risk-free trial applies only when you purchase your Orby TV equipment through Orby.

Also, the fine print says that you must notify Orby of your intent to take the company up on its guarantee within 14 days of purchase. You must also return the gear in like new condition, and in the original packaging—postmarked within 14 days of purchase.

This 14-day period includes the time it takes for the equipment to arrive and be installed. So, even if everything goes smoothly, you’ll have maybe a week to decide to keep it or not.

The rest of the 30 days is meant for Orby to receive your returned equipment (to its credit, Orby covers postage), inspect it, and decide if you qualify for a refund minus a $10 restocking fee. The refund, however, covers only the receiver/DVR.

Orby doesn’t refund the $150 for the antenna/dish combo unit and installation. Also, it charges a $10 restocking fee and (in most cases) won’t refund what you’ve pre-paid for programming. That’s a total of $160 down the drain.
Self-installers will lose $70 for self-installation kit (antenna/dish), a $40 restocking fee, and $20 for the signal meter required for self-installation. In this scenario, you could lose $130.

So Orby is not risk-free (although the current promo, for however long it lasts, does reduce the risk). It’s also, in our experience, not hassle-free.

Orby TV vs. the competition

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Orby TVDIRECTVDISH
Price$40–$50/mo.$39.99–$114.99/mo.§$59.99–$94.99/mo.˚
Overall ratingN/A†4.02 out of 54.05 out of 5
ContractNo (24 mos. on rentals)YesYes
Free trial30 daysNoNo
Live channels*44–68+155–330+50–290+
Simultaneous recordings1516
Receiver/DVR purchase price$100–$200N/AN/A
Receiver/DVR rental fee$15/mo.N/AN/A
DVR service fees$4/mo. (w/package), $12/mo. (w/o package)Included$15/mo.
DVR storage (HD)100 hrs.200 hrs.500 hrs.
Multi-room fees (purchases)$100–$200 per additional receiver + $50 installation fee per extra roomN/AN/A
Multi-room fees (rentals)$15/mo. for first receiver or $20 for first receiver/DVR‡$49–$99 per additional receiver$5–$10/mo.
Installation fees$70–$150Free standard installationFree standard installation
Activation feesN/A$19.95$25–$50
Late feesNoneYesYes
Reconnect feesNoneYesYes
VIEW PLANSVIEW PLANSVIEW PLANS

* Channel availability varies by location.
† Orby TV was too new to include in our 2019 customer satisfaction survey.
‡ $10 per additional receiver up to four. Limit one DVR per household.
§ for 12 mos. plus taxes. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.
˚for 24 mos. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

We think there’s a lot about Orby that’s better than DIRECTV and DISH. Orby is affordable and even includes taxes in the package prices. Also, Orby has no contracts (unless you rent the equipment), no activation/installation/late/reconnect/mystery fees.

DIRECTV and DISH win on startup costs since both companies often run promotions that waive installation and/or activation fees. Both services also destroy Orby on multi-room devices and rates.

Let’s look at startup costs for Orby TV.

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Orby TV startup costs

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Purchase price* Rental feeMulti-room feesIncludes
Receiver$100N/A$100 per room/deviceReceiver, remote, on-screen program guide
Receiver/DVR$200N/A$200 per room/deviceReceiver/DVR, remote, on-screen program guide
Pro installation$150N/A$50 per roomSatellite dish, antenna for local TV, mounting hardware, up to 100 ft. of cable
Self-installation kit$70N/AN/ASatellite dish, antenna for local TV, mounting hardware
Signal meter$20N/AN/ASignal meter

* subject to sales tax

We’re not crazy about the initial out-of-pocket costs for Orby TV.

If you purchase your receiver or receiver/DVR outright, choose professional installation, and opt for the entry-level Essentials package with DVR service ($44–$54 a month), you’re looking at a first-month expense of $294–$394. Add $10 if you go with the Extras Package, which gives you 24 more channels and is a better value at $0.74 per channel.

The self-installation option will lower startup costs by $60. In our opinion, the safety and speed of pro-installation is worth the extra money. Also, Orby’s fine print says that self-installation is not eligible for their product warranty. But it’s up to you.

Renting equipment from Orby dramatically reduces your initial out-of-pocket cost, but it increases your monthly payment by $15 (receiver-only) or $20 (receiver/DVR). For multi-room installs, you’ll pay $10 a month per additional receiver, up to four.

Orby TV packages and pricing

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PriceChannel countCost per channel
Essentials package$40/mo.44+$0.91
Extras package (req. Essentials package)$50/mo.68+$0.74
DVR service (w/ programming package)$4/mo. (w/package) or $12/mo. (w/o package)N/AN/A

Data as of 1/27/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

With only two packages, Orby TV is set up more like streaming services such as Sling TV or YouTube TV than its satellite TV competitors DIRECTV and DISH. It gives you two choices, no channel bloat, and only $4 a month for DVR service (if you want it). Gotta love that.

If you ever have to cut expenses, you can drop your Orby programming and still have all the local channels without a monthly payment. There’s a catch, though: the guide and the DVR service disappear with your package.

You can pay $12 a month to get them both back, but that’ll irritate anyone who spends 200 bucks on Orby’s receiver/DVR. Especially since you can get a much better setup for less (see box below).

Pro tip: If you want only local channels with DVR service, there’s a better way than Orby TV. It involves buying three devices: an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, an OTA-compatible DVR, and an external hard drive.

Here’s a handy Amazon shopping list. The total cost of these items is nearly $100 less than the startup costs for Orby’s receiver/DVR purchase plan. You get much more bang for your buck too: all the same local channels, the ability to watch on up to six TVs (via Wi-Fi), 4x the DVR storage, and 4x the simultaneous recordings. Oh, yeah—and no monthly bill.

  • Over-the-air (OTA) antenna like the Mohu Leaf ($32)*
  • Tablo Quad OTA DVR ($199.99)*
  • Seagate Portable 2 TB External Hard Drive ($54.99)*

If you’d prefer to shop for your own devices, check out our best DVRs guide.

*Amazon.com Prices (as of 1/27/20 4:02 PM MST). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

But before we decide to ditch or do without a programming package, let’s check out what Orby’s channel lineup offers.

Orby TV live channels

Between its two packages, Orby TV tries to include as many of the Top 25 most popular channels as possible. By our count, only nine of these are missing from Orby’s packages: Bravo, Disney, ESPN, FOX News, FX, Ion, MSNBC, Univision, and USA.

Jump to: Live sports | Local channels | Premium channels

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Orby TV channel lineup vs. the competition

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Orby TVDIRECTVDISH
A
A&E

ABC*

Adult Swim

AMC

American Heroes

Animal Planet

B
BBC America

BBC World News

BET (HD)

BET Gospel

BET Her

BET Jams

BET Soul

Boomerang

Bravo

C
C-SPAN

C-SPAN 2

Cartoon Network HD

Cartoon Network East

Cartoon Network West

CBS*

CMT

CNN

Comedy Central

Cooking Channel

COZI TV*

Crime + Investigation

CW*

D
Destination America

Discovery

Discovery Español

Discovery Family

Discovery Life

Disney Channel

DIY Network

E
ESPN

F
Familia

Food Network

FOX*

FOX News

FX

fyi

G
Great American Country

H
Hallmark Channel

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

HGTV

HISTORY

History en Español

HLN

I
IFC

Investigation Discovery

ION

L
Lifetime

Lifetime Movie Network (LMN)

Lifetime Real Women (LRW)

Logo

M
Military History

MOTOR TREND

MSNBC

MTV

MTV Classic

MTV2

N
NEWSMAX

NBC*

Nick Jr.

Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite East

Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite West

Nicktoons

O
OWN

P
Paramount Network

PBS*

S
Science

Sundance TV

T
TBS

TCM

TeenNick

Telemundo*

TLC

TNT

Travel Channel

TruTV

TV Land

U
Univision

USA

V
VH1

VICELAND

W
WE tv

*Data as of 1/27/20. Local channels will vary by location.

Where possible, Orby tries to offer similar but less-expensive alternative networks to make up for missing popular channels. For example, instead of FOX News, Orby offers a different conservative channel, NewsMax. And Orby clearly hopes that including all of the Nickelodeon channels will make up for the lack of Disney content.

Some, like ESPN, have no comparable alternatives. In fact, how Orby approaches sports content will upset a lot of fans.

Live sports

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Orby TVDIRECTVDISH
ACC Network

Big Ten Network

CBS Sports Network

ESPN

ESPN 2

ESPNEWS

ESPNU

FOX Sports 1

FOX Sports 2

Golf Channel

MLB Network

MLB Bases Loaded

NBA TV

NBCSN

NFL Network

NFL RedZone

NHL Network

Olympic Channel

Outdoor TV

Pac-12 Network

SEC Network

Sportsman Channel

Stadium

Tennis Channel

*Data as of 1/27/20.

One of the ways Orby keeps its packages so cheap is by excluding sports networks, which can be pricey.

You’ll still get to see games broadcast on the major networks, though. And later in this review, we’ll explore adding a streaming service to make up for some of that lost sportsball action.

Local channels

What local channels does Orby TV have?

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Orby TVDIRECTVDISH
ABC*

CBS*

CW*

FOX*

NBC*

Telemundo*

Data as of 1/27/20.

Thanks to Orby combining an OTA antenna with its satellite dish, getting your local channels will never be a problem. You’ll more than likely get far more than just the major network affiliates too. See for yourself by checking out Orby TV’s list of available networks.

Premium channels

Orby TV premium channel add-ons

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PackagePriceChannels
CINEMAX®$12/mo.CINEMAX (HD), MORE MAX, ACTION MAX, 5 STAR MAX
EPIX$6/mo.EPIX (HD), EPIX 2, EPIX Hits, EPIX Drive-In
HBO®$18/mo.HBO (HD), HBO 2, HBO Signature, HBO Comedy
STARZ/STARZ ENCORE®$9/mo.STARZ (HD), STARZ Comedy, STARZ ENCORE, STARZ ENCORE Westerns

Data as of 1/27/20.

Similar to most streaming services, Orby’s affordable packages make it easier to afford premium add-ons. Only four of these networks are available through Orby, though: CINEMAX, EPIX, HBO, and STARZ/STARZ ENCORE. Each comes with four different channels listed in the table above.

Combine Orby TV with an on-demand streaming service

As an alternative to premium add-ons, you might consider adding on-demand streaming services to supplement Orby’s live TV. These three services each pair well with Orby.

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Netflix
$8.99–$15.99/mo.
Amazon Prime Video
$5.99–$12.99/mo. or $59–$119/yr.
Disney+, Hulu Basic, ESPN+ (bundle)
$12.99/mo.
You know Netflix as the first on-demand streaming service, offering thousands of films and series—including tons of original content. If you don’t already have Netflix, sign up for a free 30-day trial. Prime Video’s massive catalog of films makes it feel like the video rental stores of old. It also has a wealth of TV series, including many noteworthy originals. Available with a Prime membership or à la carte.Disney+ gives you family-friendly on-demand content from Pixar, Marvel Studios, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Hulu Basic adds more on-demand content—and ESPN+ fills that Orby’s gaping sports hole.
VIEW PLANVIEW PLANVIEW PLAN

Orby TV installation, specs, and features

Setting up Orby TV is simple. The receiver or receiver/DVR package includes everything you need: an A/V cable, HDMI cable, power supply, and universal remote. If you choose professional installation, your tech brings the antenna/dish unit and cable and hooks everything up just like the DIRECTV and DISH installers. And there’s a one-year warranty on the service.

Then all you have to do is plant your cheeks on the couch and find something to watch (or record).

DVR

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Orby TVDIRECTVDISH
Purchase price$200IncludedIncluded
Rental fee$20/mo.N/AN/A
Service fee$4/mo. (w/package) or $12/mo. (w/o package)None$15/mo.
Storage100 hrs.200 hrs.500 hrs.
Simultaneous recordings1516
UpgradesN/AN/AN/A

Data as of 1/27/20.

Orby’s DVR isn’t the greatest. The hard drive is only 500 GB, which will store up to 100 hours of HD content. That’s weak compared to what you can get from DIRECTV (200 hours) and DISH (500 hours). Also, Orby’s single tuner prevents you from recording more than one thing at a time.

If you’re hoping to watch Orby on the other TVs in your home, you’ll need to buy separate receivers at full price ($100) and have them installed ($50 a pop if you use the pro tech).

As we noted earlier, that’s pretty expensive compared to DIRECTV and DISH. We wouldn’t recommend it.

Our final take on Orby TV

We like Orby TV’s simpler, more affordable packages, the lack of a contract, and the flexibility. But we’re not sure they’re the hassle-free alternative to satellite TV monoliths like DIRECTV and DISH.

Orby’s poor customer service and a misleading “risk-free” guarantee are just like what we expect from bigger providers. Also, the startup costs are considerable—not to mention the only way to avoid a contract.

Since you can get the same or better packages through a streaming service without having to buy all that gear, we recommend going with one of those instead of Orby. If you live in a rural area, we’re gonna have to recommend DIRECTV or DISH.

Pros and cons of Orby TV

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ProsCons
  • No contracts if you purchase equipment

  • Cheaper packages

  • Flexibility

  • Poor customer service

  • Misleading “risk-free” trial

  • No sports channels

  • Orby TV FAQ

    Do you need internet service with Orby TV?

    You do not need an internet connection for Orby TV since it’s a satellite TV service.

    What channels do you get with Orby TV? 

    With Orby TV, you’ll get all of your local channels thanks to the included over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Orby’s Essentials package ($40 a month, 44+ channels) and Extras package ($50 a month, 68+ channels) contain all but nine of the Top 25 most popular networks. See available channels in your area.

    Does Orby TV have DVR? 

    Orby TV does have a DVR. Before you sign up, you’ll want to order the Orby TV receiver/DVR combo device for $199.99. It has a 500 GB DVR that will store up to 100 hours of HD content. You’ll also want to be sure to add DVR service ($4 a month) when you order your programming package.

    It’s also possible to have DVR service without a programming package. But it will cost $12 a month, and you’ll be able to record only from the local channels picked up by the antenna.

    Does Orby TV have HBO? 

    You can add HBO to Orby TV for $18 a month if you already have one of the Orby’s two regular programming packages. Orby also offers CINEMAX ($12 a month), EPIX ($6 a month), and STARZ/STARZ ENCORE ($9 a month).

    How much is Orby TV a month? 

    Orby TV’s monthly cost depends on the package you select.

    The Essentials package (44+ channels) is $40 a month. The Extras package (68+ channels) is $50 a month. If you want DVR service, it’s an additional $4 a month with a channel package or $12 a month without.

    If you rent your equipment from Orby, you’ll pay an additional $15 a month for the receiver (plus $10 a month for every additional receiver up to four) or $20 for the receiver/DVR.

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