My grandparents lived on top of a hill, in very very rural NY. There was no cable TV, and the choices for broadcast TV were slim. So, in the early 80s, as soon as the tech was available, they got a satellite dish. It was huge: 5 feet across, mounted on a steel pole anchored by cement in the back yard. A giant crank on the back could be used to aim the dish at the different satellites (you lined up part of the crank mechanism with little scratches my grandfather had made in the metal - one scratch for each satellite he'd found). Each satellite carried a handful of channels so you'd plan your TV watching for the evening around the particular satellite you were looking at - cranking the disk around during winter nights was miserable. But, even given the hassle, they could pick up all the networks, including HBO (it was unscrambled then). It was even better than cable!
Well, We just got a dish mounted on our roof. It's about 16 inches across. We get like 250 channels in HD. Hooray for technology.