AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV: What’s the Difference?

AT&T TV is a streamable version of DIRECTV, but which service is better?
Live TV Streaming
Monthly price
$64.99$139.99
Available channels
140
Satellite TV
Monthly price
$64.99$134.99
Available channels
330

AT&T TV and DIRECTV are very similar in what they offer, but which is right for you? The live TV streaming service or the satellite TV provider?

AT&T TV is a steamable version of DIRECTV, but both services have their ups and downs. AT&T TV has a no-contract option and ends up being less expensive in the long run, but DIRECTV gives you more channels and some included perks, like premium channels.

Enough small talk. Let’s get into the details of which AT&T service is best for you.

Let's see if AT&T TV or DIRECTV is available in your area.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV price comparison

Same plans, different prices

DIRECTV is less expensive than AT&T TV, and you’ll get more out of your service with DIRECTV.

We should mention that DIRECTV has second-year price hikes that you can’t get around, and AT&T TV has two options. You can sign a 2-year contract with second-year price hikes, or you can get the no-contract option for about $10-$30 more per month.

(We recommend the no-contract option because you don’t save all that much money over the two years of your contract.)

How much are AT&T TV's prices and plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
ENTERTAINMENT$69.99*65+View Plan
CHOICE$84.9990+View Plan
XTRA$74.99120+View Plan
ULTIMATE$94.99130+View Plan
PREMIER$139.99140+View Plan
Data as of 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Prices higher in 2nd year.*
for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $8.49/mo. is extra & applies.*

DIRECTV’s pricing is just $5 more per month for each plan, and each package includes about double the channels than AT&T TV does.

We think this is an attempt for AT&T to push their satellite TV service over their streaming service. And honestly, AT&T TV is currently the priciest live TV streaming service on the market.

How much are DIRECTV's prices and plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99160+View Plan
CHOICE All-Included$69.99^185+View Plan
ULTIMATE All-Included$84.99^250+View Plan
PREMIER All-Included$134.99^330+View Plan
Data effective 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year.*
^ for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

In the end, we can honestly say AT&T TV and DIRECTV are a tie when it comes to pricing and value. AT&T TV gives you the option to not have second-year price hikes by not signing a contract, but DIRECTV gives you way more channels to enjoy.

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Bundle your TV service with internet
You can bundle both services with internet, and who doesn’t like the simplicity of paying only one bill? Check out Best DIRECTV Bundles and Best Internet Providers (just in case you live in an area AT&T TV doesn’t offer its internet service).

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV contracts

As mentioned above, AT&T TV has no-contract and 2-year contract options. DIRECTV has a 2-year contract with second-year price hikes that nearly double your monthly cost.

To give you an idea of how much you’ll need to pay in year two, DIRECTV’s ENTERTAINMENT plan raises from $65 per month to $102 the second year. The ULTIMATE plan increases from $85 in year one to $151 in year two.

AT&T TV’s 2-year contract is similar.

AT&T TV’s ENTERTAINMENT plan starts at $60 per month but then changes to $93 the second year of your contract. Then the $75 per month XTRA plan shoots up to $124 in year two.

But good news: AT&T TV has no contract options. You’ll just have to pay about $10-$30 more per month than the advertised price.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV hidden fees

By glancing at the fees table, you can see that DIRECTV has the fewest amount of fees.

This is good news for those leaning toward DIRECTV, but we must say: no other live TV streaming service has this many fees (mainly just DVR fees, if you want to upgrade your storage space).

And on top of it, DIRECTV’s monthly DVR fee is $3 cheaper than AT&T TV.

DIRECTV doesn’t have an activation or installation fee like AT&T TV, but most people need more than one set-top box in their home, so expect to pay the $99 installation fee, as well.

At least you can install AT&T TV’s equipment yourself if you rather.

AT&T TV and DIRECTV fees
FeeAT&T TVDIRECTV
Activation fee$19.95 (one-time fee)NA
Installation fee$99 (one-time)Included
Set-top box/ DVR feeIncluded, then $10/mo. for additionalIncluded, then $7/mo. for additional and $99 installation fee
Regional sports fee$8.49/mo.Up to $9.99/mo.
Early termination fee$15.00 for each month remaining on your contractUp to $20.00 for each month remaining on your contract

Data effective 3/31/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

If you need help avoiding those early termination fees, we have some solutions for you.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV channels

When comparing both providers and the availability of the top channels, they’re very similar.

AT&T TV has most of the popular channels, which is good news since it only offers half the channels DIRECTV does.

DIRECTV has Univision, and it will most likely have the specialty channels you want, such as PBS and Galavision.

But during our research on channels, we realized that there are quite a lot of music channels in DIRECTV’s lineup, which contributes greatly to the high channel count. So we encourage you to check out AT&T TV’s and DIRECTV’s complete channel lineup to make sure it has a lineup that you need.

If sports channels determine how great a service is to you, scroll down a little for the fun stuff.

AT&T TV and DIRECTV channels
ChannelAT&T TVDIRECTV
Disney ChannelYesYes
ESPNYesYes
Fox NewsYesYes
HGTVYesYes
LifetimeYesYes
MSNBCYesYes
NickelodeonYesYes
The CWNoNo
UnivisionNoYes
USAYesYes

Data effective 3/31/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV premium channels

Both providers have the same pricing for all of the premium channels, but DIRECTV includes more in your service.

HBO Max is included in AT&T TV packages CHOICE and above.

When you get CHOICE or ULTIMATE with DIRECTV, you’ll get a free one-year membership to HBO Max and a three-year subscription to Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX.

Just make sure to cancel at the end of each subscription period so you don’t get charged the following month (if you don’t want to keep the premium channel, of course).

AT&T TV and DIRECTV premium channels
ChannelAT&T TV priceDIRECTV price
HBO Max$14.99/mo.$14.99/mo.
SHOWTIME$11.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
Cinemax$11.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
STARZ$11.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
EPIX$6.00/mo.$5.99/mo.

Data effective 3/31/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

AT&T TV also has add-ons, like Deportes and Movies Extra Pack, which you can find more about in our AT&T TV review.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV sports channels

With AT&T TV, you can get all of the sports channels listed below with the XTRA and above packages.

AT&T TV is giving NBA LEAGUE PASS for free for the 2021 season if you get the CHOICE package or above (just make sure you order it ASAP so you can enjoy what’s left of the NBA season).

DIRECTV will give you access to all of its sports channels with the ULTIMATE package and above.

DIRECTV is also the best option for diehard NFL fans because it has a service you can’t find anywhere else: NFL SUNDAY TICKET. NFL SUNDAY TICKET is a subscription to all out-of-market games straight to your TV.

AT&T TV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPNU
  • FS1
  • FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TVG

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPNews
  • ESPNU
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Tennis Channel

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV DVR

Both providers have the same amount of DVR storage capacity, but AT&T TV has a more well-rounded set-top box while DIRECTV gives you more simultaneous streams for the family.

You’ll get access to over 7,000 apps with AT&T TV’s set-top box, and you can stream services like Netflix, Prime Video, Pandora, and HBO Max. DIRECTV’s set-top box won’t give you this experience.

With both AT&T TV and DIRECTV, you’ll get access to loads of on-demand content, so check it out before you spend more money on a streaming service.

If you live with lots of people, you’ll appreciate how DIRECTV allows five streams at once. If you’re a family of four, you won’t have to worry about being kicked out of your app.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV DVR comparison
DVR detailsAT&T TVDIRECTV
Monthly priceFirst DVR included, then $10/mo. for additionalFirst DVR included, then $7/mo. for additional
Storage space500 SD hours/ 200 HD hours500 SD hours/ 200 HD hours
Days saved in storageIndefinitelyIndefinitely
Simultaneous streams35

Recap: AT&T TV is the winner

AT&T TV wins, but just by a sliver

  • Pricing: AT&T TV wins with its no-contract option. You may have to pay $10-$30 more per month to opt out of the contract, but you will be able to cancel whenever you’d like. DIRECTV requires a 2-year contract, and it comes with second-year price hikes.
  • Fees: We’re still wondering how a live TV streaming service has fees similar to a satellite TV provider (because no other streaming service has an installation or sports broadcasting fee). DIRECTV’s monthly DVR pricing is $3 less than AT&T TV, so DIRECTV takes the medal.
  • Channels: DIRECTV will give you the most channels, but we noticed a good portion of the extra channels are music channels. Although some of us might enjoy listening to music while cleaning, it might not be worth those second-year price hikes. We encourage you to check out the channel lineups for AT&T TV and DIRECTV before you officially decide.
  • Sports Channels: Both services pretty much have the same sports channel lineup. AT&T TV will give you access to all of its sports channels with the XTRA plan ($75/mo.), while DIRECTV gives you all of its sports channels with the ULTIMATE plan ($85/mo.). AT&T TV also includes a season subscription to NBA LEAGUE PASS, and DIRECTV gives a free subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET for those who order CHOICE and above.
  • DVR: Both services have 500 hours of DVR storage space, but each DVR has one feature that the other doesn’t. AT&T TV’s set-top box gives you the full streaming experience with apps like Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu. DIRECTV allows you and four other family members to stream at once.

If you’re still unsure of either of these providers, check out our more in-depth reviews on AT&T TV and DIRECTV.

If neither sounds like the right service for you, check out our Best TV Service Providers of 2021.

What do you think?

Do you have AT&T TV or DIRECTV? What’s your experience with it been? Or do you like a different provider better? Drop us a comment below!