DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV: What’s the Difference?

DIRECTV STREAM is just what it sounds like: a streamable version of DIRECTV, but which service is better?
Live TV Streaming
Monthly price
Available channels
Satellite TV
Monthly price
Available channels

DIRECTV STREAM 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?

DIRECTV STREAM is a steamable version of DIRECTV, but both services have their ups and downs. DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t require a contract and doesn’t have second-year price hikes, but DIRECTV gives you more channels and some included perks, like premium channels.

Enough small talk. Let’s get into the details of which service is best for you.

Let's see if DIRECTV is available in your area.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV price comparison

Same plans, different prices

DIRECTV’s dollar-to-channel ratio is much better than that of DIRECTV STREAM’s, but that’s probably because DIRECTV charges close to double in year two of your contract.

DIRECTV has second-year price hikes that you can’t get around, and DIRECTV STREAM lets you cancel your service whenever you’d like.

DIRECTV does offer lots more channels for you and the family to enjoy, and that might be worth it.

How much are DIRECTV STREAM's prices and plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
ENTERTAINMENT$69.9965+View Plan
CHOICE$84.9990+View Plan
ULTIMATE$94.99130+View Plans
PREMIER$139.99140+View Plan

Since DIRECT STREAM doesn’t require a contract with the second-year price hikes, we believe AT&T is trying to push the live TV streaming service over the satellite TV service. But honestly, DIRECTV STREAM is currently the priciest live TV streaming service on the market.

DIRECTV’s pricing is $5–$15 less per month for the first year, and each package includes about double the channels than DIRECTV STREAM does.

So if you want all of the lifestyle, news, sports, kids, and entertainment channels you can think of, DIRECTV is the one for you.

How much are DIRECTV's prices and plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99*160+View Plan
CHOICE All-Included$69.99185+View Plan
ULTIMATE All-Included$84.99250+View Plan
PREMIER All-Included$134.99330+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. 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.*
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Bundle your TV service with internet
You can bundle both DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV with AT&T’s internet service. Check out Best DIRECTV Bundles and Best Internet Providers (just in case you live in an area AT&T doesn’t offer its internet service).


As mentioned above, DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t require you to sign a contract of any kind.

On the other hand, 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.

So if your desire is to have access to tons of channels like satellite TV can provide, just budget accordingly for your monthly bill during the second year of your DIRECTV service.


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

This is good news for those leaning toward DIRECTV STREAM, but we must say: 20 hours of cloud DVR storage is nothing. You might want to upgrade for $10 per month to have unlimited hours of recording space.

DIRECTV includes the first Genie DVR with your service, which holds 200 HD hours of recordings, and you’ll want to pay an extra $7 per month if you’d like a DVR in your bedroom, as well.

DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming device isn’t necessary if you already have an Apple TV, Roku, smart TV, or any other supported streaming device. If you don’t $5 per month isn’t too bad, but we still recommend buying a less expensive streaming device if you don’t already have one.

Set-top box/ Streaming device$5.00/mo. for 24 mos. or $120 one-time feeIncluded, then $7/mo. for additional and $99 installation fee
Upgraded DVR service$10.00/mo.N/A
Regional sports feeN/AUp to $9.99/mo.
Early termination feeN/AUp to $20.00 for each month remaining on your contract

Data effective 9/7/2021. 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.


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

DIRECTV STREAM 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 NASA TV and TUDN.

But during our research on channels, we realized that there are quite a lot of music channels in DIRECTV’s lineup (close to 50), which contributes greatly to the high channel count. So we encourage you to check out DIRECTV STREAM’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.

Disney ChannelAll packagesAll packages
ESPNAll packagesAll packages
Fox NewsAll packagesAll packages
HGTVAll packagesAll packages
History ChannelAll packagesAll packages
Investigation Discovery (ID)All packagesAll packages
LifetimeAll packagesAll packages
MSNBCAll packagesAll packages
National GeographicAll packagesAll packages
NickelodeonAll packagesAll packages
The CWNoNo
UnivisionNoAll packages
USAAll packagesAll packages

Data effective 9/7/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV STREAM 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 DIRECTV STREAM’s PREMIER package, and you’ll get HBO Max in your channel lineup for three months if you order CHOICE or ULTIMATE.

When you get CHOICE or ULTIMATE with DIRECTV, you’ll get a three-month membership to HBO Max, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX. The PREMIER package includes all of the premium channels besides EPIX in your channel lineup.

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).

DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV premium channels
HBO Max$14.99/mo.$14.99/mo.

Data effective 9/7/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV STREAM also has add-ons, like Deportes and Español, which you can find more about in our DIRECTV STREAM review.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV sports channels

With DIRECTV STREAM, you can get all of the sports channels listed below with the ULTIMATE and PREMIER packages.

DIRECTV STREAM only offers four sports channels in its entry-level package (ESPN, ESPN 2, Bally Sports, and NBCSN). If you can live without the Golf Channel and NHL Network, you’ll be fine with the CHOICE plan.

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

This satellite TV provider 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.

DIRECTV STREAM has the following sports channels:

  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPNews
  • Bally Sports 1
  • Bally Sports 2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

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


DIRECTV has one of the best set-top box DVRs in the industry in its Genie DVR.

With the included Genie DVR, you’ll get 200 HD hours of storage space and five simultaneous streams.

DIRECTV STREAM comes with a cloud DVR storage space of 20 hours, and you only get three simultaneous streams.

If you have a bigger family, there is a pro and a con with DIRECTV STREAM.

  • Pro: You can upgrade your DVR storage for $10 per month for unlimited storage space.
  • Con: Only three family members can stream at once, but this might not be such a huge problem.

You’ll get access to over 7,000 apps with DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming 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 DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV, you’ll get access to on-demand content, so check it out before you spend more money on a streaming service.

TV box/ streaming device monthly price$5.00/mo. or $120 one-time feeFirst DVR included, then $7/mo. for additional
DVR serviceNone or $10/mo. for unlimited hoursN/A
Storage space20 hours500 SD hours/ 200 HD hours
Days saved in storageIndefinitelyIndefinitely
Simultaneous streams35

Recap: DIRECTV STREAM is the winner

DIRECTV STREAM may not give you as many channels, but you’ll save money in the longrun

  • Pricing: DIRECTV STREAM wins with its no-contract service and you’ll be able to cancel whenever you’d like. DIRECTV requires a 2-year contract and it comes with second-year price hikes.
  • 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 DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV before you officially decide.
  • Sports Channels: Both services pretty much have the same sports channel lineup. Both TV providers will give you access to all of their sports channels with the ULTIMATE plans. DIRECTV’s respective plan costs $85/month and DIRECTV STREAM’s price tag is $95/month. We can’t deny that DIRECTV has a service that NFL fans can’t pass on, and one you can’t find anywhere else. DIRECTV gives a free subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET for a full season for those who order CHOICE and above.
  • DVR: DIRECTV’s Genie DVR gives you 500 SD/200 HD hours of storage space and DIRECTV STREAM gives you 20. This is definitely not enough, especially if you’re wanting to record more than 10 TV episodes and three movies, so you might opt in to pay $10/month for an unlimited DVR storage space.

If you’re still unsure of either of these providers, check out our more in-depth reviews on DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV.

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

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