Best Satellite TV Service Providers

DISH has the best DVR and pricing in the long run, but DIRECTV is the best for those who want lots of premium channels​​

Best Value
Dish
DISH
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$84.99
/mo
Prices
$84.99-$114.99
Channel Count Range
190-290
Best for Movie Channels
Directv
DIRECTV
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Starting from
$69.99/mo
Price Range
$69.99-$159.99
Channel Count Range
75-150
Chantel Buchi
Jan 17, 2024
Icon Time To Read8 min read

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Between satellite TV providers DISH Network and DIRECTV, most will find DISH is the better service for them. DIRECTV also offers its TV service via online streaming, but we'll focus on its satellite service in this review.

DIRECTV offers more premium add-ons than DISH, but DISH locks in your price for three years and offers more channels.

On the other hand, DISH has a better dollar-to-channel ratio and is ideal for NCAA fans, but DIRECTV offers loads more movie channels.

If you’re going to install a satellite dish on top of your home, let’s make sure that the satellite TV provider you pick is worthy of your home.

How do DISH TV and DIRECTV compare?
Provider
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
Dish$84.99-$114.99*190-290
Directv$69.99-$159.9975-150
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay.
All prices include $5 Autopay & Paperless Bill discount, which may take 1-3 bill cycles to begin (pay $5 more per month until discount begins). New approved residential customers only. 24-mo. agreement required. Offers may be discontinued at any time.
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How do DISH's and DIRECTV's pricing compare?

DISH's price tag is similar to DIRECTV's, but you'll get more channels

DIRECTV reigns supreme when it comes to premium channels, but DISH offers more available channels and a consistent monthly price throughout your second and third year of service.

Between the two giants of satellite TV, DISH is the cheapest satellite TV provider. Each channel costs an average of 37 cents with Dish, and DIRECTV's cost over a dollar. And your monthly price with DISH stays the same for a longer duration. 

If you're interested in bundling DISH TV with satellite internet, check out our best DISH bundles piece. Bundling is convenient so you only have to worry about one bill, but I recommend DISH's bundling options if you don't have other high-speed internet providers in your area.

Viasat satellite internet is on the pricey side for the low download speeds it offers.

How much does DISH TV cost?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
America's Top 120$84.99/mo.190
America's Top 120 Plus$99.99/mo.190
America's Top 200$104.99/mo.240+
America's Top 250$114.99/mo.290+
All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay. Prices include Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

DIRECTV offers the most premium channels between these two satellite TV providers. So if you want all your major premium services like Max, Apple TV, and Peacock at a discounted rate, DIRECTV is at your service.

How much does DIRECTV cost?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
ENTERTAINMENT $69.99/mo.^75+
CHOICE™ $84.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°105+
ULTIMATE $114.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°140+
PREMIER™ $159.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°150+
^ w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.
° w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. and Regional Sports Fee up to $13.99/mo. are extra & apply.

New approved residential customers, price incl. TV pkg & equip. fees for first TV. Add’l fees may apply to non-qualified customers. Early agmt termination fee applies ($20/mo.) & add’l fee(s) may apply if equip. not returned. Credit card req’d. Restr’s apply. $19.95 activation & equipment lease req’d for satellite customers. Equipment lease req’d for DIRECTV via Internet customers in some sales channels.

Do DISH and DIRECTV have a contract?

DIRECTV requires you to sign a two-year contract with it satellite service, but DISH has a no-contract or two-year contract option.

The no-contract Flex TV option through DISH allows you to prepay for your satellite TV package and pay monthly. Your monthly bill will be $10–$15 more than advertised. But you won't have to worry about weaseling your way out of a contract if you decide to cancel.

If you sign a contract, you’ll have to commit to the satellite TV service to avoid the early termination fees (which can get a bit pricey).

DISH early termination fee: 

  • $20 for every month left on your contract

DIRECTV early termination fee:

  • Up to $20 per month left on your contract
Already have DIRECTV and looking to switch?
Deals

If you're interested in swapping out your DIRECTV service for DISH, these perks could be yours:

  •  $300 prepaid Mastercard
  • 3-year TV price guarantee
  • Eligibility to receive rewards for each eligible DISH subscriber
  • Eligibility to participate in a DISH contest for big prizes

Use offer code DTV2DISH to get the deal.

DISH Network vs. DIRECTV hidden fees

DISH and DIRECTV both charge some DVR and equipment fees that can be an additional $25–$40 on your monthly bill. 

How much are DISH's and DIRECTV's fees?

Fees
DISH
DIRECTV

Installation fee

Included

Included

Activation fee$39.99 (one-time)$19.95 (one-time)
First set-top boxIncluded + $10.00–$15.00/mo. "Included" but with $15.00/mo. advanced receiver fee
Additional set-top box fee $7.00-$10.00/mo. each $7.00/mo.
Local channels fee$12.00/mo. $0
Regional sports fee$0 Up to $15.99/mo.

Let’s start with DISH because their receiver fees can get a little confusing. The Hopper Duo (125 HD hours) with DVR service is included in all TV packages.

But you're still required to order a Hopper 2 (500 HD hours), at minimum, as your main receiver for $10 per month. So you'll check out with two receivers for two TVs when you order. 

And for $5 more a month, DISH can upgrade your main set-top box to the Hopper 3. The Hopper 3 can store 2,000 HD hours.

The additional receiver you order is called a Joey ($7–$10 per month each).

DIRECTV says the Genie DVR (200 HD hours) is included with your plan, but they've recently started charging an "advanced receiver service fee" of $15 a month. That's code for charging monthly for your set-top box rental. But it used to be free, DIRECTV! Still, I guess it's better than the second-year price hikes DIRECTV used to hit you with.

Similar to DISH, it’ll cost $7 per month for each additional DIRECTV receiver.

Bonus: Many major satellite TV providers charge a hefty fee when customers need to move their equipment. DISH offers free in-home installation to existing customers planning to move at no additional cost. 

Does DISH offer a senior disount?

DISH offers customers 55+ and up a variety of discounts, including free in-home installation, discounted Stars & Stripes package upgrades, identity protection, free monthly movies, and a 2-year price guarantee. DISH also offers discounts to veterans, healthcare providers, teachers, and first responders. 

Which channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

You'll get the most total channels with satellite TV

Good news: you’ll get most of your favorite channels with both satellite TV providers, like CNN, Disney Channel, MSNBC, and NFL Network.

If you're like me, you need your daily NFL Total Access. And if you need to distract the little ones, you can turn on Bluey.

DISH has about the same sports coverage as DIRECTV, but DISH has all of the NCAA channels. DIRECTV used to offer NFL SUNDAY TICKET that gave you all out-of-market NFL football games. But for the 2023 NFL season, NFL SUNDAY TICKET will officially be moving to YouTube TV.

DIRECTV is one of the only providers outside of Verizon Fios TV and Hulu + Live TV that offers ESPN College Extra, though, so this is also a big college sports win.

You might find it useful to compare the channel lineup of DISH and DIRECTV to determine which suits your entertainment, sports, lifestyle, or reality TV needs.

Which popular channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?
Channel
DISH
DIRECTV
BravoAll packagesAll packages

CNN

All packages

All packages

Disney Channel

All packages

All packages

ESPN

All packages

All packages

Food Network

All packages

All packages

Fox News

All packages

All packages

Hallmark Channel

America's Top 200 and up

All packages

HGTV

All packages

All packages

MSNBC

All packages

All packages

Nickelodeon

All packages

All packages

TNT

All packages

All packages

Univision

America's Top 200 and up

All packages

USA

All packages

All packages

Data effective 11/30/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DISH Network vs. DIRECTV premium channels

DISH and DIRECTV both offer the major premium channels, but you'll get more options with DIRECTV. Whether you have DISH or DIRECTV, you can catch up on The White Lotus on Max or Warrior on CINEMAX. And both DISH and DIRECTV give you some intro perks.

If you order any of DIRECTV's packages today, you'll get free subscriptions to Max, CINEMAX, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, Starz, and MGM+ for three months. And if you order PREMIER, you get all premium packages (besides MGM+) included in your package.You'll also have the option to add AMC+, Peacock Premium, or even Fox Nation to your DIRECTV satellite service. 

DISH offers a free 3-month subscription to STARZ, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, and DISH Movie Pack, which includes 15 movie channels, like Sony Movie Channel and MGM HD.

Just make sure you cancel them at the end of your free period, or you’ll get charged.

How much are DISH's and DIRECTV's premium channels?
Channel
DISH price
DIRECTV price

Max™

$16.00/mo.

$15.99/mo.

Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®

$10.00/mo.

$11.99/mo.

CINEMAX®

$10.00/mo.

$10.99/mo.

STARZ®

$10.00/mo.

$10.99/mo.

STARZ ENCORE®

$6.00/mo. Included with STARZ subscription

MGM+

$7.00/mo.

$5.99/mo.

DISH Movie Pack

$10.00/mo.

$5.00/mo.

Prime Video

Not available

$8.99/mo.

AMC+

Not available

$6.99/mo. + tax

Peacock Premium

Not available

$3.99/mo. + tax

Fox Nation

Not available

$5.99/mo.

Data effective 1/17/2024. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Which sports channels do DISH TV vs. DIRECTV have?

DIRECTV and DISH have similar sports coverage, but there are some differences. DIRECTV's PREMIER package includes NFL RedZone, while DISH is the only one between the two that offers beIN Sports and the Pac-12 Network. Sadly, neither provider offers ESPN College Extra.

Also, DISH has 10 more sports channels than DIRECTV.

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten Network (BTN)
  • CBS Sports Network
  • DIRECTV Sports Mix (exclusively on satellite)
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • FanDuel TV
  • FUEL TV
  • Fox Sports (FS1), FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • Longhorn Network
  • MLB Network
  • MLB Strike Zone
  • MotorTrend
  • NBA TV
  • Next Level Sports
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Outdoor Channel
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TUDN

But make sure the package you plan on getting has the sports channels you need. You'll get all of them with the ULTIMATE plan ($115 per month), but you'll have to upgrade to the most expensive DIRECTV package if you want ESPN College Extra or NFL RedZone, which will cost $160/month.

As I mentioned earlier, DISH has 10 more sports channels. And you get all of them (besides the beIN channels and Sportsman channel) with the $105 monthly plan.

This same $105 per month plan (America's Top 200) even made our list of the top providers for the NBA season.

DISH has the following sports channels:

  • ACC Network (ACCN)
  • beIN Sports
  • beIN Sports en Español
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • Fox Sports (FS1), FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • Longhorn Network
  • MLB Network
  • MotorTrend
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • Outdoor Channel
  • PAC-12 Network
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TUDN
  • TUDNxtra 1–11
  • Zona Fútbol

If you’re a huge sports fan, be sure also to check out our roundup of the best sports packages from cable and streaming TV providers.

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How do DISH's and DIRECTV's DVR compare?

DISH and DIRECTV have some of the best DVRs in the traditional TV industry. DISH's Hopper has a unique pricing system, but offers the most DVR storage. DIRECTV's Genie is less expensive but includes only 200 DVR hours. 

How much are DISH's and DIRECTV's DVRs?
Provider
DISH Hopper
DIRECTV Genie
DVR storage 125—2,000 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
DVR fee$0.00–$15.00/mo.

First receiver included ($15.00/mo. advanced receiver fee)

Additional DVR receivers fee$7.00–$10.00/mo. $7.00/mo.

DISH's Hopper DVR storage space is the bee's knees. What's not so sweet is the new confusing pricing.

When you order one of DISH's TV packages, you'll get DISH's Hopper Duo for free, which gives you 125 HD recording hours. But you'll also need to order a Hopper 2, at minimum, as your primary receiver. 

The Hopper 2 stores 500 HD hours and costs $10 per month.

And you can upgrade to the Hopper 3 ($15/month) if you'd like 2,000 recording hours.

You can record all 201 episodes of The Office, the weekend’s 16 NFL football games, and over 170 movies and still have room for more. And if you're interested in adding TVs to your entertainment system, you can add up to six "Joey's" for $7 to $10 more a month. 

And DIRECTV so kindly includes the Genie DVR with your plan, giving you 200 HD recording hours. You’ll be able to record all 130 episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and 120 of Saturday Night Live before you even sit on the couch to binge-watch.

Which satellite TV provider is the best?

DISH is the best satellite TV provide its dollar-to-channel ratio is best.

After comparing price, contracts, overall channel count, sports channel availability, and DVR storage, DISH comes out ahead of these two satellite providers.

DIRECTV does offer more premium add-ons and an impressive sports lineup, but DISH has a better dollar-to-channel ratio. 

  • Pricing: DISH offers more bang for your buck because you get a 3-year locked-in price when you sign a 2-year contract. You can choose the Flex TV no-contract route for $10–$15 more per month. If you want more options for premium channels, make sure you budget for DIRECTV's higher price tag. 
  • Channels: You’ll get most of your favorite live TV channels with both providers, and both give you free memberships for premium channels for a period of time. But DIRECTV includes way more premium channels included in their highest-priced package and available for add-on than DISH. Order DIRECTV's PREMIER plan all Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, CINEMAX, and STARZ channels.
  • Sports Channels: DISH has the most sports channels between the two. DIRECTV has NFL RedZone included in its highest package, but college sports fans might pick DISH as it has all NCAA networks. (DIRECTV used to be home to NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but this service will be moving to YouTube TV since the 2023 NFL season).
  • DVR: DISH's Hopper 3 can give you loads of storage space with 2.000 HD hours, or save $5 per month with the Hopper 2 (500 hours). DIRECTV's DVR has only 200 HD hours of storage, but the first receiver is free (and 200 hours is still quite a bit).

DISH TV vs. DIRECTV satellite TV packages

Provider
Monthly price
Available channels
Learn more
Dish$84.99-$114.99*190-290
Directv$59.99-$159.9975-150
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay.
All prices include $5 Autopay & Paperless Bill discount, which may take 1-3 bill cycles to begin (pay $5 more per month until discount begins). New approved residential customers only. 24-mo. agreement required. Offers may be discontinued at any time.

DISH and DIRECTV are the most well-known and widely available satellite TV providers. 

But if you're considering a cable or fiber-optic TV service, you can check out providers like Xfinity TV, Cox TV, Verizon Fios TVSpectrum, and Optimum.

Methodology

Satellite TV isn’t what it used to be, and there are only two providers left in the US. But even though we’re comparing just two services, we still take the research process seriously and strive to gather the best information to help you choose between the two.

We based our satellite TV comparison on dollar-to-channel ratio; contracts and fees; quality and total channel count; and DVR and equipment pricing.

We've researched DISH and DIRECTV across dozens of websites to bring the information into one place for you. We've also considered customer experience to suggest the best satellite TV provider to you, as we would only suggest spending your money on a service we would recommend to our family members.

Chantel Buchi
Written by
Chantel Buchi
Chantel is all about finding the best tv or streaming service to watch as many football games as possible to keep her Fantasy Football team in check. Prior to being a TV and Streaming Tech Reporter for Reviews.org, she worked for NFL Network and The Alliance of American Football. Before that, she received a B.A. of Communication at the University of Utah and an M.S. in Sports Journalism at USC. Go Utes and Fight On. Contact her at chantel@reviews.org

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