How Does Satellite TV Work? A Quick Guide With All the Answers

Remember when you were a kid and thought the people on TV actually lived inside the television? As you grew up, you learned better, but there’s still some confusion as to how it all goes down. 

If you’ve ever wondered “how does satellite TV work”, let’s take the mystery out of it. 

Satellite TV makes on-air television available everywhere. As long as you have a clear view of the sky, you won’t miss any of your favorite shows. Satellite TV’s high visual and audio quality makes digital channels look like mini-movies on your TV. 

Not to mention you get more channel choices at fair monthly package prices. 

Want to know more about how shows end up on your television or how does satellite TV work? We have a quick, fascinating, and easy to understand answer.


The basic concept of satellite television works a lot like broadcast.

Broadcast television relies on a large-scale antenna and the transmission of radio waves. These radio waves transmit to small antennas connected to TVs inside the viewer’s home.  

Satellite service TV gets delivered through DTH or DBS. That’s Direct to Home or Direct Broadcasting satellite systems. These terms interchange but mean the same thing—the reception of satellite TV in the home through a personal dish. 

DBS transmits programming through a radio signal as well.

Broadcast television restricts the number of channels viewers watch. This is due to location and signal strength. Because DBS transmission isn’t forced to transmit signals in a single line, viewers get more channels. 

How Does Satellite TV Work: The 5 Main Components

The DTH or DBS satellite system has five main components. These five work in unison to provide viewers with satellite television: 

Programming Sources

Satellite service providers don’t provide channels for viewers. They rely on programming sources, which are channels that supply the shows you watch on TV. Two types of programming sources exist:

  • Turnaround Channels – HBO and ESPN 
  • Local Channels – NBC, ABC, and PBS

Cable TV gets its programming from turnaround channels as well. You can also pick up local channels with a professionally installed antenna. Read more now about that. 

The Broadcast Center and Satellites 

This is the brain of the system. Whatever TV provider you use receives signals from programming sources. They then transmit a broadcasting signal up to another satellite that searches for a satellite on your home. 

CNN is a great example of a broadcast center. It beams a signal up to a geosynchronous satellite, which provides your dish with the news. 

Your Dish

In order to receive satellite TV, you must have a dish. The dish installed on your home receives the satellite signal from the brain—broadcast center. 

The Receiver

The receiver processes the signal it receives from the dish then passes it on to your TV. 

Consider Satellite TV

No more wondering “how does satellite TV work”. Call a local provider and check out all that satellite TV has to offer.

Need more information like what’s in this article? Come surf our lifestyle guide for the latest hacks on home, health, and travel.

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