Best Satellite TV Service Providers 2020

DISH has the best pricing, but DIRECTV is the best for NFL football fans.
BEST OVERALL
Our rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
Available channels
290
Monthly price
$59.99$89.99
BEST FOR SPORTS
Our rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
Available channels
330
Monthly price
$59.99$134.99

With only two main satellite TV providers competing against each other, you’d think they would have a lot of similarities. We are here to tell you: this is not the case.

DISH gives you the best bang for your buck in terms of price-to-channel ratio, but it doesn’t have HBO. DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET for the football fanatics, but it’s pricier.

Let’s dive into the details to find out which satellite TV provider is deemed worthy enough for you and your living room.

DISH and DIRECTV prices and channels
ProviderConnection TypeMonthly priceAvailable channelsLearn more
DISHSatellite$59.99$89.99*290View Plans
DIRECTVSatellite$59.99$134.99330View Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.
For 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.

Let’s see if DISH or DIRECTV is available in your area.

DISH vs. DIRECTV price comparison

DISH has the best pricing, but if you and your family want lots of channels, DIRECTV is for you.

To break it down, DISH charges roughly about 33¢ for each channel, and DIRECTV charges about 38¢. It’s easy to see you get a better deal with DISH. But if you want 330+ channels, DIRECTV is the only satellite option.

DISH prices and plans
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
America's Top 120$59.99*190View Plan
America's Top 120+$69.99*190+View Plan
America's Top 200$79.99*240+View Plan
America's Top 250$89.99*290+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.

DISH not only has a better value, but it also doesn’t hike up its prices during the second year. DIRECTV’s top four plans almost double during the second year.

DIRECTV prices and plans
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
SELECT­ All-Included$59.99155+View Plan
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99160+View Plan
CHOICE All-Included$69.99^185+View Plan
XTRA All-Included$79.99^235+View Plan
ULTIMATE All-Included$84.99^250+View Plan
PREMIER All-Included$134.99^330+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
/mo. for 12 mos plus taxes
^ /mo. for 12 mos plus taxes and RSN fee

DISH vs. DIRECTV contracts

Unless you want to cut the cord, you’ll most likely have a contract with your TV provider. Both DISH and DIRECTV make you sign a two-year contract. And don’t forget, DIRECTV raises your plan’s monthly price after year one.

You’ll have to commit to a 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, with a maximum charge of $4801

DIRECTV early termination fee:

  • Up to $20 per month left on your contract2

DISH vs. DIRECTV hidden fees

DISH and DIRECTV both charge some DVR fees. DISH includes the Hopper Duo (125 hours) in their plans and charges $15 per month for the Hopper 3 (500 hours). If, say, your daughter wants a DVR in her room, it’s a monthly charge of $5–$7 for each additional receiver.

DIRECTV includes the Genie DVR with your plan. But it’ll charge $7 per month for each additional receiver plus a one-time $99 installation fee. And DIRECTV has the audacity to charge a regional sports fee! That’s a foul in our book.

DISH vs. DIRECTV extra fees
FeesDISHDIRECTV
Installation feeIncluded in priceIncluded in price
First DVR receiver feeHopper Duo included, $15/mo. for Hopper 3First receiver included
Additional DVR receivers fee$5–$7/mo.$7/mo. + $99 installation fee
Regional sports feeNone$8.49/mo.

Data effective 12/16/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DISH vs. DIRECTV channels

With DISH and DIRECTV, you’ll get a wide variety of popular channels right to your television.

Good news: you’ll get most of your favorite channels with DISH or DIRECTV, like CNN, Disney Channel, Comedy Central, and NFL Network.

DISH has the most sports coverage with the SEC Network, Tennis Channel, and more. But DIRECTV has an NFL SUNDAY TICKET add-on that gives you all out-of-market NFL football games.

Compare the channel lineup of both DISH and DIRECTV to figure out which one suits your entertainment, sports, lifestyle, or reality TV needs.

DISH and DIRECTV popular channels
ChannelDISHDIRECTV
Fox NewsYesYes
ESPNYesYes
UnivisionYesYes
USAYesYes
TNTYesYes
MSNBCYesYes
Food NetworkYesYes

Data effective 12/16/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DISH vs. DIRECTV premium channels

Let’s be honest: DISH’s premium channel game is weak. There’s no HBO, CINEMAX, or STARZ. And DIRECTV tosses in these premium channels as bonuses.

Most DIRECTV packages give you a free three months of HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and CINEMAX. (Make sure you cancel them at the end of the third month, though, or you’ll get charged.)

Also, all HBO channels are included in the most expensive DIRECTV plan.

DISH and DIRECTV premium channels
ChannelDISH priceDIRECTV price
HBO®Not available$17.99/mo.
SHOWTIME®$10/mo.$13.99/mo.
CINEMAX®Not available$13.99/mo.
STARZ®$10/mo.$13.99/mo.
STARZ ENCORE®$6/mo.Not available
EPIX®$7/mo.$5.99/mo.
DISH Movie Pack$10/mo.Not available

Data effective 12/16/2019. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Megaphone icon
Tip for movie fans considering DISH
The DISH Movie Pack includes the top 15 movie stations, including EPIX, Sony Movie Channel, and MGM HD.

DISH vs. DIRECTV sports channels

DIRECTV takes the sports channel championship belt because of one big feature: NFL SUNDAY TICKET. (This is why it’s our editor’s pick.)

NFL SUNDAY TICKET lets you watch every out-of-market NFL game—all Sunday games your local broadcasting stations don’t carry. And NFL SUNDAY TICKET is included in the top four DIRECTV packages for your first year. (Now that’s a win.)

Along with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DIRECTV also has the following sports channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • CBS Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • Big Ten Network
  • NHL Network
  • Golf Channel

But make sure the package you plan on getting has the sports channels you need. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get the most expensive DIRECTV plan if you want Fox Deportes and ESPN CLASSIC.

If you’re not a hardcore, yell-at-the-TV football fan, you’ll be fine with DISH. DISH has a few more sports channels, and you get most of them with the $69.99 per month plan.

DISH has the following sports channels:

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • CBS Sports Network
  • SEC Network
  • NBC Sports Network
  • Pac-12 Network
  • NFL Network
  • NBA TV
  • MLB Network
  • NHL Network
  • Golf Channel
  • Olympic Channel
  • Tennis Channel

DISH vs. DIRECTV DVR comparison

Neither DISH or DIRECTV charge for your first receiver, but DIRECTV’s installation fee for an additional receiver is a little extreme.

DVR comparison
ProviderDISHDIRECTV
DVR storage125–500 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
DVR feeHopper Duo included, $15/mo. for Hopper 3First receiver included
Additional DVR receivers fee$5–$7/mo.$7/mo. + $99 installation fee

DISH charges $10 per month for the Hopper Duo, which gives you 125 HD recording hours. And DISH charges $15 per month for the Hopper 3, which gives you a whopping 500 recording hours. This means 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.

DIRECTV 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.

Recap: DISH is the winner.

DISH has a better value, but DIRECTV has HBO and NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

After comparing price, contracts, overall channel count, sports channel availability, and DVR storage, DISH comes out ahead. DIRECTV does offer HBO and NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but DISH has better pricing that stays consistent throughout the contract. It also provides you with lots of popular channels, including great sports coverage.

  • Pricing: DISH offers more bang for your buck in terms of price-to-channels ratio, but if you need 330+ channels, you’ll want DIRECTV instead.
  • Contracts: DISH has a better monthly value, while DIRECTV doubles its price during the second year of your contract.
  • Channels: You’ll get most of your favorite live TV channels with both providers, but most DIRECTV packages give you a free three months of HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and CINEMAX.
  • Sports Channels: DISH has the most sports channels, but DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET for the football families.
  • DVR: DISH charges for your first DVR receiver, but DIRECTV’s $99 installation fee for an additional receiver is a bit pricey.

DISH plans and price recap

If you’re still on the fence, you can dive into the nitty-gritty details in our full reviews:

What do you think?

Do you have DISH or DIRECTV? What’s your experience with it been? Or do you like a different provider better? Drop us a comment below!

  • ZandarKoad

    The satellite provider space is the US is kind of boring with only two providers. But there are actually others. SDA Dish and Glorystar provide free to air television (no monthly cost – they just sell you the hardware). Companies like Skyvision will actually sell subscriptions to access very popular channels for very cheap… but you need a huge 6′ dish to pick them up.

    • nik

      You forgot to mention that SDA Dish and Glorystar have an agenda…

      • ZandarKoad

        They mostly serve up religious programming, so there is that agenda for sure. But there are also some general interest and family channels. I would say everyone else at least has an agenda to make money. I have no problems with agendas unless they are intentionally and deceptively hidden (or otherwise evil of course).

        • nik

          Good point! They are very straightforward with their position on what programming they broadcast whereas the mainstream companies are deceptive with how they intend to rip you off.

      • stun ned

        What agenda do they have?

    • wow

      In canada we only have 2 big providers which basically own everything in the TV space and most of the cellular space. While our reception is ahead of the world with LTE almost nation wide years ago. We have one of the most expensive tv and cell bill in the world. With TV our packages are garbage and cell phone we have never had “unlimited data”.

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  • Steve Prescott, Esq.

    Direct TV is a Con
    I took your advice and since I had phone & internet with Century Link, I added the “bundle” with Direct TV. Installation was a week later, and they it was 8 to noon!, but OK. I took off work (a Tuesday) and was here. They didn’t come. I spend unto 6:00 PM on the phone. First they said, the installer cancelled the installation, they didn’t know why. Then they claimed that he came, but I was not home. A lie, I never left all day. Third story my installation was 3 days later. I real them the email confirming my appointment including the headers with their information. Then they admitted that it had been cancelled and the records changed when I complained. Three people were supposed to call me back, none did. Finally a “supervisor” said she would call the dispatcher. The dispatcher said he didn’t care, I could “quit my job” and be there on Friday. I told them I could not be there Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, but could on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. I was informed that they would reschedule a week later (they didn’t feel like doing it on Thursday or Saturday), but the installer might choose to cancel again without notifying anyone. I told them that was unacceptable, and they suggested that I find a different provider. That I agree with.
    In 9 days I will be 60 years old (yeah a old guy), and in all my years this is by far the most outrageous behavior by a business I have ever encountered.
    GET REAL, tell the truth about Direct TV. Maybe, the service is good, how would one know. This is not isolated. I checked the internet, installations scheduled and no one showing up seems to be SOP with Direct TV, at least in some areas.

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io/ Trevor Wheelwright

      Hey Steve, appreciate your feedback, just curious if you ended up switching providers, and if so, who did you go with?

    • C los

      Agree. Direct tv are thieves with loads of hidden fees taxes charges and love tochange the subjected names on sur charges every month in efforts to double charge. Also most importantly they will use any card ever used in their data base to collect what ever moneys they feel is owed to em wether you agree or not. Via termination from them and all without your consent and theres nothing you can do about it. Smh. Speaking from personal experience. Never more

  • Dylan Campbell

    The ONLY reason you should ever have Directv is if you want the NFL Sunday Ticket. That’s it. That is the only thing advantage that Directv has over Dish. I was a long time (5 years) customer of Directv. In September 2016 I had a new roof put on my house and needed a simple realignment of the dish after the work was completed. Directv told me when I called on September 21st that they couldn’t have a tech there until October 11th!!! Are you kidding me? Three frickin weeks to get a tech out for a 2 minute job? That’s the start of football season, beginning of the fall lineup, start of MLB playoffs, etc. So I called DISH and they said they could be there in the morning to do the full setup at no charge. I was set up by noon the next day. I was able to get the America’s top 250 package with DISH (best package) on 5 Tvs for $32 less per month than I was paying for the Choice package (middle package) with Directv. $143 vs $111 and my price is guaranteed for 2 years with DISH. Directv will always jack up your rates and then you have to call in and threaten to disconnect your service at which time they will give you some discounts. Despite the fact that Directv would not get a service tech to me for 21 days, they still hit me with a $120 disconnect fee. That’s what you get for 5 years of loyalty to Directv. Dish has better channels, better service, and better features. There is no comparison on the DVR and Joey system compared to Directv. DISH blows Directv out of the water with technology. You also get Netflix directly on the DISH Hopper (you still pay the subscription price) so you don’t need a Bluray or Roku in every room to get Netflix. DISH also has Sirius XM in their channel lineup. I’m getting them for free right now. I’m not sure if that is a permanent deal or not, but that would be another feather in the cap of DISH. Customer service? I get directly to a person within a few minutes when I call DISH. I called Directv yesterday and was on hold for a total of 48 minutes before I got to the person who could solve my minor problem (returning the equipment). The AT&T/Directv merger may have been the worst thing that ever happened to Directv. Their customer service has plummeted and they no longer give a damn about their customers at all. It’s too bad, because I would have never left and found out how much better DISH is if they had just provided the service you would expect from your satellite provider.

  • Sjh

    You’re forgetting a very big difference. The dish anywhere app allows you to watch your TV and dvr anywhere with your tablet or laptop. So if you’re away from home, you can still watch the programs you recorded on dvr from your office, hotel room, on the train, anywhere. NOT so with Directv. Sorry guys! You actually have to be in the same room as your genie and then download programs onto your tablet before you can watch them. A deal breaker for us. The genie only has half the memory of the hopper. Sorry ATT. Get with the times!

  • http://www.BettorsChat.com/ Monte Kivo

    At the top you state that the Genie gets 300 hours of recording in HD, but further down you say it’s 200 hours. So which is it?

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io/ Trevor Wheelwright

      The Genie stores 200 HD hours, Monte. We’re currently in the process of updating this post for 2017. Thanks for reaching out!

  • Chris Guy

    I’ve had directv for 5 years. Loved it until they were bought out by the greediest company in the world. Since then, prices have continued to increase. My bill has increased 3 times since at&t took over. It just went up again this month. Really looking at switch to dish, but they don’t really have a lot of good reviews. Still, I have to keep my monthly costs reasonable, and I have to keep my Science chanels

  • Christian Gillespie

    I live in South Jersey. Closing on My first home dec 8th. I’ve always had Comcast my entire life. I’m a Sixers and Phillies fan any chance Comcast sports net/ now NBC Sports Philadelphia coming to satellite? Can you still get satellite Internet with Dish? I’m moving out to the sticks, can only get satellite Tv/ Internet.

  • Elaine Alvord

    Thank you for putting this together, it was a huge help in deciding on who to choose. My husband had placed an order with Direct TV and I am on hold trying to cancel the install and my account. I’m not even a customer and already frustrated. You have to call an 855 number to cancel, and no matter which option I pick, every time it goes to transfer me to cancel my order I get hung up on. I called customer service and got the order cancelled, but not my account. They are trying to cancel my account and I have been transferred 4 times to someone who could ‘help’ me just to find out they can’t. After being on hold for 25 minutes I was told by the system that my call cannot be processed and I need to hang up and dial again. Typical AT&T treatment…. Happy with my decision to stay with Dish.

  • Dave Hull

    How does 4K viewing differ?

  • Betsey Kirkemo

    Trevor, do you have any insight into other inconveniences that I seem to consistently have with Dish (vs. Comcast or DTV) regarding the outages they seem to have in spades? I don’t see others with the same problem that Dish does regarding losing channels while they renegotiate terms? We lost CBS in November which meant no football. (Yes, Thanksgiving Day. My guests were pissed.) We lost Fox last year for at least 6 weeks as well. Dish seems to own the lion’s share of dropped coverage and the viewers are the ones who suffer. While I appreciate better prices, I also want consistent service–something that Dish plainly doesn’t prioritize. My ex-husband has had Comcast for 10+ years and has never suffered outages of major networks. I’m considering jumping out of this hell, but it seems as though all of them have big consumer issues.

    • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io/ Trevor Wheelwright

      Hi Betsey,
      Unfortunately, when providers and networks renegotiate, it’s usually a pretty quiet affair. On top of that, it doesn’t usually affect every service area the same.

      Ah, sorry to hear about Thanksgiving, that’s a big disappointment. Recently, CBS became one of the first broadcast networks to offer a standalone service (CBS All Access) to those who may be excluded by their regular provider.

      Would we recommend jumping ship? Hard to say, you may want call to try to re-negotiate for a lower Dish price given your grievances, but if you’re facing early termination fees make sure to do the math beforehand to see if it’s really worth it. It’s usually $20 x the number of months left in your contract.

      My family’s had Comcast for probably 10+ years too, and it’s been a mostly positive experience without any major networks (that I watch) being dropped. Keep in mind Comcast, nor DIRECTV or any other provider, will ever have a permanent channel lineup due to ever-changing licensing agreements.

      Thanks for your question, hope this helps!

  • Tina York

    Ive been with directv for 22 & 1/2 years ive been on the phone with them for 3 days now think im calling dish tomorrow they did us terrible tech came to install genie 2 cancelled old boxes then took new ones with him marking job complete & said we canceled, he got paid by the job said he needed a jumper cable funny wireless dint need jumper cables

  • John Jennings

    I am moving from the Midwest where competition between TV/Internet is fierce. In my old neighborhood, we had Google Fiber, AT&T, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), and Consolidated Communications, all offering 1 Gbps. I am now moving to a small town 20 miles outside Phoenix and I am finding I am moving into the Stone Age of internet providers. Centurylink might be able to provide up to 40 Mbps internet to my home which is in a 1500+ home development but they are not sure what speed for is available until they send a technician to test. Centurylink, you ran service and wire into a 1500+ development and you don’t even know what speed is available to my area?????????? Unbelieveable!!!! My other choice for internet is a regional provider which offers 100 Mbps internet but based on reviews read on internet has the consistency of having tv rabbit ears with foil on the end. Where is the FCC in all of these fiascoes? With every big merge between cable/internet providers allowed by FCC and Fed Anti-Trust, each provider have promised better TV/Internet, more fiber to more smaller communities, fast internet speeds, increased competition between large providers which would mean more price competition. None of which has happened. What a croc!!! Ok, I feel better now but not happy. My question is this about Dish, if I sign on with Dish and choose Hopper w/wireless Joeys, how much internet speed is required to operate this hardware? Looking to connect 5 TV to Dish system. Thanks

    • kgbkgb1967

      I get 3Mbps from century link where I live, they are the only provider. You should be grateful.

  • Rich D.

    I like old tv shows. Dish has laff, and they just added GET TV. I have Direct TV, but I’m pretty close to switching.

  • Rex Mahnensmith

    We live in a Home Owners Association now – outside Disc Dishes are not allowed. I have tried indoor antennae and our service is limited – too limited – cable is too expensive – DISH appeals — is there an Indoor DISH option that will receive stations – NBC CBS ABC public TV Hallmark ESPN etc – – thanks

  • Angela H

    I want to point out and clarify something above….If you get Dish’s Hopper 3 which has the 16 streams for DVR, you would not need a super joey, just regular joeys. The super joey only comes into play if you get the Hopper with Sling which only has 3 streams, each super joey adds 2 streams which is why it would be needed for those with 4 or more TVs. For most customer’s the Hopper 3 has a one time $50 leased receiver fee while the Hopper with Sling does not (this may vary based on credit qualification). So if you get the Hopper 3, the monthly price is even cheaper then stated above since you would not need a super joey…

  • Mary Wyatt

    Looking to rid myself of Comcast & Direct TV. Want to know if Dish is as bad as the reviews I’ve seen. I like their 2yr price guarantee but have seen reviews where it so very difficult to cancel even after the 2 years. I live n California in the San Francisco Bay area & would like to hear of any experiences good or bad that people have had with Dish.

  • Larry

    I have my own DVD recorder. If I want to archive a program by copying it from the Dish DVR and burning it to a DVD, is it possible to do that? And how do you connect the two devices together?

  • Dicussused

    Just about a month ago Directv CHANGED the guide. Calling them they the csr in the phillipeans said it’s going to be universal. We do not have a HD 5k tv. The new guide and movie quality suck(sorry) but that’s being polite!! It’s on a gray background with white lettering. IMPOSSIBLE IMPOSSIBLE!!! To see let alone read!!!!!! Ready to switch. It’s applauding to think we HAVE TO BUY a HD 5k tv when we have a perfectly great 60”Sony digital tv!!!! What can we do???

    • TJL

      Agree. I may have to switch

  • American Veteran

    we have dish! but what you don’t know is that since having dish for ten years you would think they would show customer appreciation. Wrong! i have watched very carefully and as the years go by,so do various channels go bye bye. very sneaky,but they are slowly disappearing. what is up is they want you to purchase a bigger package and its all about money! Direct TV are not sneaky about it,they want your money and they don’t hide it. pay or else. What we need is some Real Competition in the Satellite TV Business, That would Open Their Eyes!

  • Aaron

    Had direct tv 18 years, bill was up to 132 with no movie channels. Switch to dish and got exactly same package for 92 dollars. So far impressed with dish!!

    • Maria Millett

      Hi Aaron! This is awesome. Glad you could save money!

  • TJL

    DirecTV just changed the program software – too much info now crammed into the screen for recorded programs. One-third of the screen is now devoted to a totally unnecessary vertical list of genre categories. This results in the critical info showing up in what looks like an 8 point font – OK if you are in front of a computer monitor but unreadable from 10′-15′ away while watching a TV screen under 60″. Have users ever complained about DISH’s programming screen format? If not, it must be OK and user friendly. I may have to switch to DISH solely on account of this new issue. I called DirecTV – there is no option to change back to the old format

  • Ray Quesnell

    Does Direct TV or Dish Network offer any technology that uses Infrared remotes and extenders