DISH Tailgater Review 2022

Our TV experts are checking out the DISH Tailgater portable satellite TV antenna—here’s what we think about it so far.

Best for portable satellite TV

Tailgater bundle price: $448.99–$498.99
DISH Outdoors fee: $5.00/mo. (required)

DISH programming sold separately.

Coverage: Nationwide

Plan Price TVs supported Coverage Roof-mountable? Details
DISH Tailgater and Wally Receiver Bundle $448.99 1 Nationwide View plan
DISH Tailgater Pro and Wally Receiver Bundle $498.99 2 Nationwide View plan
DISH Outdoors service $5.00/mo. N/A N/A N/A View plan

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by area and are subject to change.

DISH programming sold separately.

CableTV.com uses paid Amazon links.

Is DISH Tailgater good?

Whether you’re a weekend tailgater, avid camper, or a ramblin’, gamblin’ RVer, you can bring live TV with you thanks to the DISH Tailgater antenna (and DISH Wally receiver). Just be ready to spend around $500 up front for the antenna and receiver, plus the $5-a-month DISH Outdoors service fee, and—if you’re an RVer only, possibly higher programming prices.

DISH Tailgater pros and cons

Pros

  • Portability
  • Easy installation, activation, and setup

Cons

  • High equipment costs
  • Higher programming costs for RVers
  • Additional $5.00 monthly fee

Do you need satellite internet service for your RV?

Check out our guide to satellite internet and TV service providers.

DISH Tailgater deals

DISH has no current Tailgater deals, but you might be able to find a deal on the Tailgater from authorized DISH retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, KING (maker of the DISH Tailgater), or Winegard (maker of the DISH Playmaker).

If you’re looking for deals on DISH programming, check out our DISH deals page.

DISH Tailgater equipment pricing

Plan Price TVs supported Coverage Roof-mountable? Details
DISH Tailgater and Wally Receiver Bundle $448.99 1 Nationwide View plan
DISH Tailgater Pro and Wally Receiver Bundle $498.99 2 Nationwide View plan
DISH Outdoors service $5.00/mo. N/A N/A N/A View plan

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by area and are subject to change.

You can purchase a DISH Tailgater bundle when you sign up for DISH service or as an existing customer. The difference between the Tailgater and Tailgater Pro antennas is that the Tailgater works on only one TV, while the Pro works on up to two TVs.

The DISH Outdoors fee is required for service and DISH programming, as we mentioned earlier, is sold separately.

DISH Tailgater programming plans and pricing

Plan DISH price DISH Outdoors price Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
DISH Outdoors Flex Pack $52.99/mo. $52.99/mo. 50+ External hard drive required 1 View plan
DISH Outdoors America’s Top 120 $69.99/mo. $94.99/mo. 190 External hard drive required 1 View plan
DISH Outdoors America’s Top 120+ $84.99/mo. $99.99/mo. 190+ External hard drive required 1 View plan
DISH Outdoors America’s Top 200 $94.99/mo. $109.99/mo. 240+ External hard drive required 1 View plan
DISH Outdoors America’s Top 250 $104.99/mo. $119.99/mo. 290+ External hard drive required 1 View plan

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by area and are subject to change.

DISH programming sold separately.

If you’re more of a tailgater instead of an RVer, first sign up for DISH in your home. Then go buy your Tailgater bundle. That way, you’ll pay the regular DISH programming prices instead of DISH Outdoors’ programming prices, which are $15–$25 more per month.

If you live in your RV and don’t need DISH in your home, then the above tip obviously won’t work for you. That means you’ll have to pay DISH Outdoors’ higher prices—but you can still check authorized DISH retailers for deals on the Tailgater bundles.

Pro tip: If you sign up for DISH programming in your home, you don’t have to buy your Tailgater bundle through DISH Outdoors. Shop with Amazon, Best Buy, KING, Winegard, or other authorized DISH retailers—you might find the bundle at a better price.

We recommend DISH America’s Top 200 ($69.99–$94.99 monthly, 240+ channels). But if sports is your main concern, America’s Top 120+ ($84.99–$99.99 monthly, 190+ channels) is designed for sports fans and, for a limited time, includes the Multi-Sport Pack free.

Outdoor TVs are for watching TV outdoors

If you’re a tailgater, or if you just prefer to watch TV outdoors, check out our outdoor TV guide. It has tips on what to look for in an outdoor TV and recommends models from top brands like Samsung, Peerless, Furrion, Séura, SkyVue, and SunBright.

DISH Tailgater equipment and installation

  • DISH Tailgater (or Tailgater Pro) antenna
  • DISH Wally receiver
  • DISH voice remote
  • Coaxial cable
  • HDMI cable
  • Audio/video cable
  • Power cable
  • 3 non-slip rubber feet
  • Manuals and quick start guide
  • Stickers to label equipment

What’s not in the Tailgater box

There are a few important things you’ll need that DISH, unfortunately, doesn’t provide.

TV (or projector)

Obvious, right? You can’t watch TV without a TV or a projector. The DISH Tailgater works with any TV or projector that has HDMI or audio/video ports.

Indoor TVs will work best when it’s not too bright outside. If you play to take your Tailgater out into the sun, consider packing a pop-up gazebo for shade. Or consider buying an outdoor TV.

Projectors, of course, are best in the dark. Any projector is portable, technically, but some are made for that purpose—and they’re surprisingly affordable. We used the very affordable DBPOWER RD-820 projector to test the Tailgater, and it worked quite well—in the dark.

If you choose a TV, you’ll want one that’s bright enough to watch outside. If it’s extra sunny out, you’ll need either an outdoor TV or projector.

DISH Tailgater power sources

To power your DISH Tailgater and Wally receiver when you’re tailgating, camping, or traveling, you’ll need a generator or a power inverter.

Generators

A generator can cost hundreds of dollars, plus gas—which makes them even more expensive. But if you don’t have an RV, a “genny” is ideal for using the Tailgater while camping.

Power inverters

A power inverter converts your car’s power to a standard 110-volt AC outlet (like in our homes) for as little as $15. One type of power inverter plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter—these are best for regular vehicles. If you have an RV, you’ll want the power inverter that connects to your RV battery, and that requires more technical knowledge.

Since you’ll need power for at least two devices (the Wally and your TV), get a power inverter with at least 2–3 outlets. But you can also use a single-outlet inverter with a surge-protected outlet strip—that’s what we did.

Note, however, that too many devices can overload the circuit. For safety, keep it simple: use only the Wally and your TV or projector.

Pro tip: Many of the cigarette-lighter power inverters have USB ports. It’s okay to use those to charge phones and other devices while also using the Tailgater.

Now that we’ve covered power sources—don’t plug anything in yet. Connecting to a power source is the last step when installing the DISH Tailgater.

How to install the DISH Tailgater

While a DISH technician installs DISH satellite TV service in your home, you can install the DISH Tailgater yourself. DISH recommends that you set up and activate the Tailgater from home before taking it on the road.

  1. Place the adhesive rubber feet on the Tailgater antenna.
  2. Place the Tailgater antenna on level ground with a clear view of the southern sky.
  3. Using the included coaxial cable, connect the Tailgater antenna to the Wally receiver.
  4. Using the included HDMI cable, connect the Wally receiver to your TV or projector.
  5. Plug the included power cable into the Wally receiver.
  6. Connect the Wally receiver and your TV or projector to a power source. (The Tailgater antenna draws power from the Wally.)
  7. Remove the battery sticker to activate the DISH voice remote.
  8. Turn on the Wally and your TV or projector.
  9. Call 1-844-327-0829 to activate your Tailgater and Wally. A DISH representative will guide you through activating your devices and scanning for channels.

Once your DISH Tailgater and Wally receiver are activated, you’re free to hit the stadium parking lot—or the road.

Roof-mounting the DISH Tailgater

If you’re going to roof-mount your Tailgater, you’ll need some extra gear. And maybe a helping hand, if you’re not handy. You may want to have this done professionally to make sure you don’t damage your vehicle. But if you want to give it a try, we discuss accessories next.

DISH Tailgater accessories (partial list)

Tailgater accessory Price Purpose
KING SureLock Signal Meter $34.99 Signal location
ROKU-2000 Roof Mount Conversion Kit $99.00 Roof-mounting
KING Tailgater Removable Mounting Feet $39.99 Roof-mounting
RV Power Inverter 155W with AC and USB port (one each) $19.99 Convert car power to AC
DISH Wally over-the-air tuner $59.99 Local channel access
1TB DVR upgrade expansion $99.00 DVR storage
2TB DVR upgrade expansion $129.00 DVR storage
DISH Wally Wi-Fi USB adapter $49.99 Internet access (for streaming apps, etc.)
DISH Wally Bluetooth USB adapter $24.99 For connecting to Bluetooth devices, like headphones
DISH Wally receiver mount $49.00 Mounting Wally receiver to TV
DISH Outdoors Portable Satellite Carry Bag $49.99 Cushioned transportation of Tailgater antenna
Receiver bag $20.00 Cushioned transportation of Wally receiver

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by area and are subject to change.

DISH Outdoors offers dozens of accessories for your Tailgater bundle, but many of them are way too expensive. Rather than buying from DISH Outdoors, pick up your equipment from third-party sellers.

You can get a 4TB Seagate external hard drive for $99.99—that’s twice the storage for $30 less than DISH Outdoors charges for a 2TB drive. And you can get a Wi-Fi adapter or Bluetooth adapter for less than $25 each on Amazon.

Don’t buy the DISH Outdoors carry bag. We’re using the box our Tailgater shipped in, with its styrofoam shipping protectors molded to fit the antenna and a plastic bag to prevent scratching the antenna dome. It’s basic and unattractive, but it will protect your antenna well and save you 50 bucks. You’ll also have enough room in the box for a microfiber bag full of cables and accessories.

Skip the DISH power inverter, too. You can find better ones for the same price.

But, if you’re mounting the Tailgater to your vehicle, make sure to get the roof-mounting accessories. You don’t want your swanky new antenna flying off on your way to the stadium.

DISH Tailgater DVR

The Wally receiver does not include a physical hard drive for DVR storage—but you can still record DISH programming. All you need is a compatible external hard drive plugged into a Wally’s USB port. Keep these specs in mind:

  • Use a USB 2.0-compatible cable.
  • Storage capacity must be 500 GB–4 TB.
  • Use single disc drives only—no flash memory.
  • DISH charges a one-time activation fee of $40 for DVR External Hard Drive service.

DISH Tailgater video and audio quality

The great thing about the DISH Tailgater is that it’s satellite TV, which has about 99% coverage in the US. So expect a clear HD picture as long as your antenna has an unobstructed view of the southern sky. But you might have some reception problems when piloting your RV through mountainous regions or downtown areas.

Final take

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, love tailgating, or live your life on the road, the DISH Tailgater is an excellent choice for portable TV. It’s easy to install and activate and a breeze to set up. Just remember that it’ll cost you several hundred dollars up front and increase your DISH bill by $5 a month. But the DISH Tailgater is worth it.

Get DISH Tailgater

DISH Tailgater FAQ

Is the DISH Tailgater worth it?

The DISH Tailgater and Tailgater Pro portable satellite TV antenna bundles are absolutely worth it if you’re a sports fan who loves to tailgate or if you’re living the RV lifestyle. The DISH Tailgater and Wally receiver bundle costs $450–$500 (pre-tax), and you’ll pay an extra $5 a month for DISH Outdoors.

How much does DISH Tailgater cost per month?

The DISH Tailgater doesn’t have a monthly fee, but the required DISH Outdoors service is $5 monthly. Also, DISH programming is sold separately for $52.99–$104.99 a month. All of these charges will appear on the same DISH monthly bill.

How much does a DISH Tailgater cost?

A DISH Tailgater is $449, while the Tailgater Pro is $499. There is also a $5 monthly fee for DISH Outdoors service. DISH programming is sold separately.

What is the difference between the DISH Tailgater and DISH Playmaker?

KING makes the DISH Tailgater, while Winegard manufactures the Playmaker. They do basically the same thing. The main difference is that Playmaker bundles are $50 cheaper than Tailgater bundles. We’ll cover the Playmaker and other DISH Outdoors options in a future review.

How do I get free TV in my RV?

All you need to get free TV in your RV is an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna. Since you’re in an RV, you can use an indoor or outdoor version (go for indoor—they’re way easier to install). The antenna will cost you $25–$60 upfront, but it will pick up every local broadcast station within 25–150 miles (range depends on the antenna).

Can I use my DISH Hopper 3 in my RV?

Unlike car CD and DVD/Blu-ray drives, the disc drive in your DISH Hopper 3 isn’t made to withstand a bumpy ride. Using a USB external hard drive with the DISH Wally receiver is better. And an external SSD drive is even better for portability, but it will have less storage capacity.

Methodology

The experts at CableTV.com have thousands of hours researching and testing cable and satellite TV providers like DISH Network and DISH Outdoors. For this DISH Tailgater guide, we spent six hours researching plans, pricing, features, and competitors’ offerings. We also set up and tested the DISH Tailgater. We then turned our research data and personal experience with the Tailgater into helpful recommendations for our readers.

For more information on our process, see our How We Rank page.

Disclaimer

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