DISH vs. DIRECTV - Compare all the Pros and Cons
As you probably know, satellite TV is only available from 2 providers, DISH and DIRECTV. Because the science and programming associated with satellite service is still fairly new and complex, it's not always easy choosing between the two.
That's where we can help. By the time you finish reading this page, you'll be a bona fide satellite TV expert! All it takes is a few minutes of your time to completely understand the most important, decision-making features of both DISH and DIRECTV (for an even quicker comparison, to our side-by-side chart).
Summary of the Current Specials
Satellite TV providers are constantly competing to win your business... with plenty of freebies and bonuses. Here are the deals currently available to new subscribers:
• NFL Sunday Ticket included1
• Free Genie HD DVR upgrade
• Free Movie Channels (3 mths)
• Free DIRECTV on Demand
• Standard Professional Installation
[ ] • HD Free for Life® (new)
• Free Hopper® upgrade^
• Free Movie Channels (3 mths)
• Free DISH Movie Pack™ (3 mths)
• Free Professional Installation
[ ] At a Glance: DISH vs DIRECTV Programming
We go into more detail in the below, but from our experience and the feedback our visitors have sent over the years, here's where each provider sets itself apart...
Without a doubt, DISH excels most in price, highlighted by one of the lowest-priced plans in the industry (Top 120 at $34.99/mo*) as well as their new 2-year price lock option. Another popular feature is their International Programming, which includes over 29 languages and the relatively rare South Asian packages. When it comes to sports programming, DIRECTV has no rival. They have the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket and a handful of other leagues/sports. And thanks to licensing deals with leading movie studios, DIRECTV subscribers get first dibs on a ton of popular flicks and programs. DISH and DIRECTV Equipment - It's a Tech Battle
Without reliable and responsive receivers, it's nearly impossible to enjoy even the best programming (ever had your receiver freeze or flicker out of control? Not fun). Satellite TV boasts the most technologically-advanced HDTV and DVRs around. Here's a quick overview of their key features:
High-Definition (HDTV) Quality
Hands down, HDTV is the best way of watching television. With an advanced resolution profile, it broadcasts MUCH more detail/quality than regular digital or analog television (of course, an HDTV-capable receiver and TV is required). The total number of HD channels you can watch is always evolving - currently, DISH carries a total of 200 HD channels while DIRECTV also offers 200 (all full-time HD). Whole-Home Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)
There's nothing better than watching TV on your time, and high-tech DVRs let you do just that. From commercial-skipping to intelligent syncing throughout your entire home, it doesn't get much better than the new Genie and Hopper whole-home DVR systems. Read on for more details... Hopper's main advantage over Genie and other DVRs is its ability to easily skip commercials and superior storage capacity. It can save up to 500 hours of HD and 2, 000 hours of SD recordings (vs 200 and 800 hrs, respectively, for the Genie). It's also the only DVR system that lets you stream live TV while on the road (Hopper with Sling required). DIRECTV's Genie® leads the way in overall ease-of-use and wireless connectivity. It may not have Hopper's hard drive but with the Genie Minis, it's incredibly easy to turn any room into a standalone DVR hub (where you can independently playback, record and manage your DVR). If you have a large household, this system also lets you connect an industry-leading 8 TVs to your main Genie box.
Over the past three decades, I've tried every TV provider out there - from local cable to 30-foot dishes. I stick with technology that's both cost-effective and consistently reliable, even years after sign-up. For my money, you just can't beat satellite TV. It's incredibly feature-rich and, value-wise, priced at least 30% less than cable (across all comparable plans).
For the most part, DISH and DIRECTV offer similar plans, so it really boils down to your specific needs. If it's price, go with DISH. If you're more concerned about sports (especially the NFL), side with DIRECTV. Either way, check out the table below where we compare each of the key features. At the end, we review the current specials and bonuses, which could wind up being your ultimate tie-breaker.
Note: items in the table in bold red or blue indicate an advantage for that provider or a valuable, limited-time offer.
|Max # Channels
|320+ (America's Everything™ plan)
|315+ (Premier plan)
|Premium Movie Offer
Free for 3 months (Top 120 thru Top 250 plans):
Free for 3 months (SELECT™ thru Ultimate plans):
|99% coverage in the U.S.
|99% coverage in the U.S.
(all available in HD)
(no NFL Sunday Ticket)
MLB Extra Innings
NBA LEAGUE PASS
NHL Center Ice
ESPN College Football
ESPN Full Court (college basketball)
MLS Direct Kick
NFL Sunday Ticket
MLB Extra Innings
NBA LEAGUE PASS
NHL Center Ice
ESPN College Football
ESPN Full Court
MLS Direct Kick
Total of 200 HD channels
(120+ are split HD/SD)
Monthly HD fee: FREE for life
Total of 200 HD channels
(all are full-time HD)
Monthly HD fee: $15/mo (includes DVR service)
SiriusXM: over 70 commercial-free music channels
The most popular include: '70s on 7, Viva, Jam On, Symphony Hall, etc.
Hopper also has a Pandora-integrated app which lets you easily stream from your Pandora account
SonicTap Music: over 84 commercial-free music channels
The most popular include: 70's Hits, Classic R&B, Bluegrass, etc.
(Spanish, Italian, Chinese, African, Arabic, Armenian, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Greek, Korean, South Asian, Polish, Urdu, Farsi, Israeli, Portuguese, Tagalog, etc.)
(Spanish, Brazilian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian)
|Whole home DVR
500 hours of HD recordings
2, 000 hours of SD (standard definition)
$15/month for DVR service
200 hours of HD recordings
800 hours of SD
$15/month for DVR service (includes HD)
|$5.00/month 2nd & each additional TV
|$6.50/month for each TV
|PRICING & DEALS
|Popular Packages & Pricing
Satellite TV Buying Guide - Still a bit unsure? Check out our buying guide where we recommended specific plans, answer frequently asked questions and much more...
More on satellite TV...
The Worldwide Leader
Satellite TV is the preferred form of entertainment in over 35 million homes. Driving that growth is the fact the satellite industry invests more in research and development (better DVRs, program guides, etc) than all the other providers combined. Here's why satellite television is a customer favorite, particularly vs cable:
• Costs about 30% less than cable
• Exclusive programming (NFL Sunday Ticket, etc)
• Unparalleled, U.S. based customer service
• 99% local channel availability
• Best picture clarity in the industry
• Superb On-Screen Program Guides
• Most technologically-advanced HD DVRs
• Largest library of international programming
Crystal-Clear Reception, without Compromise
With a satellite connection, you get a 100% digital feed of a reliably crisp picture and sound. That clarity doubles every few years and, led by both DISH Network and DIRECTV, their subscribers get first access to the sharpest picture available. The feed is delivered direct to your home, unlike cable which uses a complex network of local relay stations (every transfer effects quality).
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