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DIRECTV Review

Posted by: Scott Teran       Updated: 1/16/2017

Video Review

The Bottom Line

DIRECTV has six TV packages with 315+ channels, and more HD channels than most competitors. Also, DIRECTV’s DVR can record 800 hours of TV and movies, while letting you record up to five shows at once. But the downside to DIRECTV is the true cost of its service—the new “all-included” pricing can be high for some.

  • PROS
  • More than 315 channels
  • Great customer service
  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • DVR with 1TB storage
  • CONS
  • Large price increases
  • Requires two-year contract
  • Hard-to-understand pricing
  • Lots of additional fees

Compare the top 10 TV services or sign up for DIRECTV.

 

PRICING 9/10

Pricing has gone up, but there are no more hidden fees.

PACKAGES PRICING CHANNELS CONTRACT
LOWEST
SELECT Package
$50.00/mo$88.00/mo
1st year2nd year
145+ 2 yrs
AVERAGE
XTRA Package
$70.00/mo$118.00/mo
1st year2nd year
220+ 2 yrs
HIGHEST
PREMIERE Package
$125.00/mo$181.00/mo
1st year2nd year
315+ 2 yrs
AVAILABILITY Nationwide
LOWEST PACKAGE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$50.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $88.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
145+
CONTRACT
2 Years
AVERAGE PACKAGE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$70.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $118.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
220+
CONTRACT
2 Years
HIGHEST PACKAGE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$125.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $181.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
315+
CONTRACT
2 Years

What’s the Real Price?

Every TV package at DIRECTV requires a two-year contract, and first-year prices are very different from second-year prices. Each DIRECTV package has a second-year price increase. For example, the SELECT package is listed as $50 a month for the first year, but in the second year that price goes up to $80 a month.

Additional Fees

DIRECTV no longer has additional fees. There used to be additional (hidden) fees for DVRs, receivers, etc., but DIRECTV has put an end to it—for better and worse.  DIRECTV’s “all-inclusive” pricing includes the Genie DVR and three receivers. That means you’re paying for service for four TVs. If you have and want service for four TVs, great, if not, you still have to pay the all-inclusive price.

 

PACKAGES 8/10

DIRECTV’s six TV packages have "all-included" pricing and range from 145–315 channels.

PACKAGES PRICING CHANNELS CONTRACT
SELECT $50.00/mo$80.00/mo
1st year2nd year
145+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV Select Package

Not bad for a basic TV package, but watch out for the price increase.

DIRECTV’s cheapest TV package has 145+ channels for $50 a month for the first year. Many channels are new to us (PIVOT, NewsMaxTV, MavTV), but this package does have some of our favorites, such as Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, FX, and more, including Syfy—home of the Sharknado series.

This package has some great channels (we mention more below), including many in HD, but be sure to check and compare first- and second-year prices.

Notable Channels:
ENTERTAINMENT $55.00/mo$98.00/mo
1st year2nd year
150+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV Entertainment Package

It’s really just the SELECT package plus ESPN.

DIRECTV’s next package, Entertainment, has 150+ channels, and the first-year price is only $5 a month more than the Select package. The small price difference is telling—there isn’t much difference between the Select and Entertainment package, except for sports. Entertainment includes ESPN, ESPN2, and Fox Sports 1.

Notable Channels:
CHOICE $60.00/mo$111.00/mo
1st year2nd year
175+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV Choice Package

If Choice has your must-have channel, get it. Otherwise, go with another package

The CHOICE package has 175+ channels. There’s more channels for the sports fan: ESPNews, ESPNU, MLB Network, and the NFL Network. There’s also IFC, Al Jazeera News, OWN, and others (see more below). The first-year price is only $5 a month more than the Entertainment package, so it may be appealing if you want those 25+ channels.

Notable Channels:
XTRA $70.00/mo$118.00/mo
1st year2nd year
220+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV XTRA Package

XTRA is for the sports completist.

The XTRA package ups the count to 220+ channels, and we think this may be the best package for the all-around sports fan. The previous package has the MLB and NFL Network, but the XTRA package adds the two missing professional sports channels: NBA and NHL TV (in HD too!). Aside from sports, the package adds BBC World News, Sundance, and others (see more below).

Notable Channels:
ULTIMATE $75.00/mo$128.00/mo
1st year2nd year
240+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV Ultimate Package

The non-premium movie channels are nice, but that’s about it.

The ULTIMATE package has 240+ channels, but of those additional channels, many are music or niche channels (El Rey, FXX, DIY Network). There are a few non-premium movie channels added, such as Encore and The Movie Channel, but that’s about it. We’re not sure why the Ultimate gets its own TV package, but it’s always nice to have options.

Notable Channels:
PREMIERE $125.00/mo$181.00/mo
1st year2nd year
315+ 2 yrs

DIRECTV Premier Package

The non-premium movie channels are nice, but that’s about it.

The Premiere package has the most channels and a high price to match. There are 315+ channels, including premium movie channels, such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. And just when we thought we’d seen all the sports channels, this package adds more: ESPN Classic, Root Sports, Comcast Sportsnet, and others (see more below). There’s also the Outdoor Channel… now, we’ve mentioned everything.

Notable Channels:
SELECT
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$50.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $80.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
145+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV “Select” Package

Not bad for a basic TV package, but watch out for the price increase.

DIRECTV’s cheapest TV package has 145+ channels for $50 a month for the first year. Many channels are new to us (PIVOT, NewsMaxTV, MavTV), but this package does have some of our favorites, such as Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, FX, and more, including Syfy—home of the Sharknado series.

This package has some great channels (we mention more below), including many in HD, but be sure to check and compare first- and second-year prices.

Notable Channels:
ENTERTAINMENT
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$55.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $98.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
150+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV Entertainment Package

It’s really just the SELECT package plus ESPN.

DIRECTV’s next package, Entertainment, has 150+ channels, and the first-year price is only $5 a month more than the Select package. The small price difference is telling—there isn’t much difference between the Select and Entertainment package, except for sports. Entertainment includes ESPN, ESPN2, and Fox Sports 1.

Notable Channels:
CHOICE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$60.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $111.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
175+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV Choice Package

If Choice has your must-have channel, get it. Otherwise, go with another package

The CHOICE package has 175+ channels. There’s more channels for the sports fan: ESPNews, ESPNU, MLB Network, and the NFL Network. There’s also IFC, Al Jazeera News, OWN, and others (see more below). The first-year price is only $5 a month more than the Entertainment package, so it may be appealing if you want those 25+ channels.

Notable Channels:
XTRA
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$70.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $118.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
220+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV XTRA Package

XTRA is for the sports completist.

The XTRA package ups the count to 220+ channels, and we think this may be the best package for the all-around sports fan. The previous package has the MLB and NFL Network, but the XTRA package adds the two missing professional sports channels: NBA and NHL TV (in HD too!). Aside from sports, the package adds BBC World News, Sundance, and others (see more below).

Notable Channels:
ULTIMATE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$75.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $128.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
240+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV Ultimate Package

The non-premium movie channels are nice, but that’s about it.

The ULTIMATE package has 240+ channels, but of those additional channels, many are music or niche channels (El Rey, FXX, DIY Network). There are a few non-premium movie channels added, such as Encore and The Movie Channel, but that’s about it. We’re not sure why the Ultimate gets its own TV package, but it’s always nice to have options.

Notable Channels:
PREMIER
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$125.00/mo
1ST YEAR
— $181.00/mo
2ND YEAR
CHANNELS
315+
CONTRACT
2 Years

DIRECTV Premier Package

The non-premium movie channels are nice, but that’s about it.

The Premier package has the most channels and a high price to match. There are 315+ channels, including premium movie channels, such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. And just when we thought we’d seen all the sports channels, this package adds more: ESPN Classic, Root Sports, Comcast Sportsnet, and others (see more below). There’s also the Outdoor Channel… now, we’ve mentioned everything.

Notable Channels:

Is DIRECTV Cable or Satellite?

DIRECTV provides satellite TV service throughout the majority of the United States. Unlike cable TV service, DIRECTV sends a signal directly to your home’s southern-facing satellite dish, located on your roof or near your home. Typical cable TV service is delivered through a hardwired connection that performs differently, depending on the technology used (e.g., phone line, broadband Internet, fiber optic cable). DIRECTV satellite TV can deliver high-quality service to remote areas where cable isn’t present or the competition is limited.

CHANNELS 8/10

DIRECTV’s got the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, 145+ channels in its basic TV package, and a healthy offering of HD channels.

NFLSUNDAYTICKET

NFL SUNDAY TICKET

In our DISH Network review, we briefly mentioned DIRECTV’s exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET. For NFL diehards, NFL SUNDAY TICKET is a must (or necessary evil), but it’s pricey. It can cost anywhere from $250–$350 annually (some TV packages include one season for “free”). NFL SUNDAY TICKET is the only way to watch every single NFL game, but that may change.

A class action lawsuit has been filed by fans against DIRECTV and the NFL. The suit alleges that DIRECTV and the NFL are in violation of antitrust law. We’ll pay attention to see what happens, but a similar lawsuit was filed against the NHL and DIRECTV, and it resulted in the NHL changing its sports package (e.g. fans can now purchase a single-team NHL package). We’ll see if the same thing happens to NFL SUNDAY TICKET, and whether or not DIRECTV maintains its exclusive NFL sports package.

HD Channels

DIRECTV has more HD channels than DISH. DIRECTV has more than 200+ HD channels available, and DISH has 105+ HD channels (we confirmed these numbers with representatives). How many HD channels you get in each package is a little more complicated. DISH’s Smart Pack has no HD channels, while DIRECTV’s SELECT package has 50+ HD channels. If HD viewing is important to you, DIRECTV would be better. Both DISH and DIRECTV have many of the same most popular channels in HD (e.g. ESPN HD), but it will depend on the TV package, so be sure to check an online channel guide to see which provider has your channel in HD.

Online Channel Guides

We recommend checking online channel guides to help you find the TV packages you want. Here’s a link to DIRECTV’s online channel guide.

 

EQUIPMENT & FEATURES 9/10

The 1TB Genie DVR is pretty great, and some “cool” features make it even better.

EQUIPMENT 9/10

The 1TB Genie DVR is pretty great, and some “cool” features make it even better.

Picking a DIRECTV DVR

There are currently only four DVRs available directly from DIRECTV, and one is not like the others. DIRECTV’s top model, the Genie (HR44), is packed with features. When compared to other DIRECTV DVRs, the Genie is easily the best.

The Genie has a recording capacity of 200 hours in HD (800 hours in SD), a 1 TB internal hard drive, and the capability of recording five channels at once—more than enough for us. The next two options, the HD DVR (HR24) and the TiVo HD DVR (THR22), are essentially the same, but each can only do half of what the Genie does (see table below). As for the standard DVR (R22), its 125 GB hard drive and lack of simultaneous recording makes it the barebones option.

“the Genie requires a minimum two TV setup”

Genie DVR
PRODUCTS RECORDING CAPACITY STORAGE SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
GENIE 200 HD / 800 SD 1TB 5 Channels
HD DVR 100 HD / 400 SD 500GB 2 Channels
TIVO HD DVR 100 HD / 400 SD 500GB 2 Channels
DVR 100 SD 125GB N/A

HD = High Definition, SD = Standard Definition

GENIE
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
RECORDING CAPACITY
200 HD / 800 SD
STORAGE
1TB
SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
5 Channels
HD DVR
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
RECORDING CAPACITY
100 HD / 400 SD
STORAGE
500GB
SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
2 Channels
TIVO HD DVR
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
RECORDING CAPACITY
100 HD / 400 SD
STORAGE
500GB
SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
2 Channels
DVR
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
RECORDING CAPACITY
100 SD
STORAGE
125GB
SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
N/A

Currently, there’s a DIRECTV promotion for a “free” Genie, so it would make sense to go with the best available DVR. However, the Genie requires a minimum two TV setup (i.e., a monthly fee for each TV). If you only have one TV, you’ll still have to pay a monthly fee of $13 ($6.50 per TV). We double-checked this with a DIRECTV representative, so beware of the additional fee if you go with the Genie. (And don’t forget the $15 a month “Advanced Receiver Fee” for any DVR.)

Note: Check back for our DISH vs. DIRECTV comparison. We’ll dig deeper into DIRECTV’s offerings and compare features and specs.

EXTRA FEATURES – Restart

We know the feeling of tuning in late and wishing we could restart a show. With DIRECTV’s RESTART feature, we can do that. And we think it’s pretty cool. The RESTART service is included at no charge, but you’ll need the right equipment (check with DIRECTV) and an internet connection. Also, it’s only available on limited channels (see below).

See Restart Channels

EXTRA FEATURES – 72 Hour Rewind

The other DIRECTV feature that grabbed our attention is the 72 HOUR REWIND. The feature allows you to go back, up to three days, to check out a show you missed. We imagine this will come in handy when we hear people talking at work about a TV episode we missed the night before. Like the RESTART feature, it requires the right equipment (again, check with DIRECTV) and is only available on select channels (see below).

See 72 Hour Rewind Channels

CUSTOMER SERVICE 7/10

DIRECTV delivers surprisingly good customer service.

Better than Average (2015 ACSI Report)

In 2014, DIRECTV received the best customer satisfaction rating from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), but this year is different. DIRECTV dropped from a score of 69, the best score last year, to a score of 68. While it’s only a small change, it puts DIRECTV behind AT&T U-verse (69) and Verizon (71), two companies whose scores have improved since last year. As for DISH Network, it scored a 68, which is only one point behind DIRECTV. The average TV provider score is 63, so DIRECTV’s 68 isn’t looking too bad. ACSI’s full report on TV providers can be found here (theACSI.org).

Our Experience

We’ve come to expect subpar service from any TV provider, DIRECTV included. But for this review, we’re going to stick with how we were treated this time around.

To our surprise, DIRECTV delivered a pretty solid customer service experience. Without disclosing who we were, we pestered DIRECTV numerous times over a period of seven days. The service we received was almost always helpful. For example, when we asked how many HD channels were in the SELECT package, the representative responded with not only an answer, but also a PDF document with the complete listing of the channels in the package, including local channels. And the representative gave us time to review the document, which we appreciated. Other company representatives we contact typically continue with a sales script or question without hesitation.

There were other times when a DIRECTV representative would try to sell or upsell us after we asked about packages, channels, etc., but none were pushy. Also, when we asked representatives to explain fees (e.g., the “Advanced DVR Fee,” the fee for all DVRs) they usually gave us clear, no-nonsense answers. Overall, we can say our experience with DIRECTV was positive.

TAKEAWAY

DIRECTV is close to being a great TV service.

Is DIRECTV Good?

DIRECTV is better than most TV services. It has a wide selection of channels (in HD too!), the second-best DVR we’ve seen, and customer service that’s more helpful than the competition. But because of its high first-year prices and higher second-year prices, DIRECTV is good, not great.

The ENTERTAINMENT package has what we want

The Genie DVR is easily the best choice with DIRECTV. When comparing its features to other DIRECTV DVRs, it doesn’t make sense to go with anything else. It’s also free for new customers. As for a TV package, DIRECTV’s cheapest option offers a lot of channels, and many are in HD, but we’d likely go with the Entertainment TV package, that way we have some sports channels (ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports) for when our friends visit.

If you want to know more and decide for yourself, here’s an overview of DIRECTV packages.

 

Scott Teran - Reviews.org Writer

BY: Scott Teran

Staff Writer

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Disclaimer: The information featured in this article is based on our best estimates of pricing, package details, contract stipulations, and service available at the time of writing. All information is subject to change. Pricing will vary based on various factors, including, but not limited to, the customer’s location, package chosen, added features and equipment, the purchaser’s credit score, etc. For the most accurate information, please ask your customer service representative. Clarify all fees and contract details before signing a contract or finalizing your purchase.

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EXTRA FEATURES - Restart Channels

A&E
AUDIENCE Network
BET
Bravo
Cartoon Network East
Cinemax
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central
Cooking Channel
Crime & Investigation
DIY
E!
Encore East
Food Network
FYI
Galavision
H2
Hallmark
HBO East
HGTV
History
HLN
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network
MTV
Nickelodeon East
OWN
Palladia
Shorts HD
Showtime East
Smithsonian Channel
Sony Movie Channel
Spike
Sprout
Starz East
Syfy
TBS
TCM
The Movie Channel East
TNT
Travel Channel
truTV
TV Land
TWC Deportes
TWC SportsNet
UniMas
Univision East
USA
VH1

EXTRA FEATURES - 72 Hour Rewind Channels

A&E
ABC
AUDIENCE™ Network
BET
Bravo
Cartoon Network
CBS
Cinemax
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central
Cooking Channel
DIY
E!
Food Network
Fox
FYI
Galavision
Hallmark
HBO East
H2
HGTV
History
HLN
Lifetime
MTV
MundoFox
NBC
Nickelodeon
OWN
Palladia
Spike
Sprout
Syfy
TBS
TCM
TNT
Travel Channel
truTV
TV Land
UniMas
Univision
UP
USA
VH1