The term is rarely used in recent times due to the general move towards pay television and subscription-based DBS services like DirecTV, Dish Network, Bell TV, and Sky TV, although it is still sometimes used to refer to receiving digital TV "backhaul" feeds from FSS-type satellites.
TVRO was once the sole, and later the main means of consumer satellite reception in the United States, until the mid-1990s and the arrival of services such as DirecTV and Dish Network. While these services are at least theoretically based on open standards (DVB-S, MPEG-2), the majority of services are encrypted and require proprietary decoder hardware.
TVRO systems are also referred to colloquially (and somewhat pejoratively) as big ugly dish (BUD) systems, due to their large-sized receiving dishes.
Reception of free-to-air satellite signals, generally Ku band Digital Video Broadcasting, for home viewing is still common in Europe, India and Australia, although the TVRO nomenclature was never used there.
Free-to-air satellite signals are also very common in the People's Republic of China, as many rural locations cannot receive cable television and solely rely on satellites to deliver television signals to individual homes.