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
DIRECTV STREAM
3 out of 5 stars
3
Monthly price
$54.99$134.99
Available channels
140
Satellite TV
DIRECTV
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
Monthly price
$64.99$139.99
Available channels
330
Chantel Buchi
Staff Writer, TV & Streaming
Read More
April 26, 2022
6 min read

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 streamable 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?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
ENTERTAINMENT$54.99/mo. + taxes for 2 mos*65+
CHOICE$74.99/mo. + taxes for 2 mos*90+
ULTIMATE$89.99/mo. + taxes for 2 mos*130+
PREMIER$134.99/mo. + taxes for 2 mos140+
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* Offer ends 6/19/22. Available in select sales channels only. New customers only. Service subject to DIRECTV STREAM terms and conditions (see directv.com/legal/). Requires high-speed internet. Minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream recommended for optimal viewing. Compatible device reqd. Residential U.S. only (excl. P.R. & U.S.V.I.).
DIRECTV STREAM Device avail. for $5/mo. on 24-month installment agmt for well-qualified customers. Others pay $120 upfront for device. Taxes due at sale. See details.

Since DIRECT STREAM doesn’t require a contract with the second-year price hikes, we believe it's 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?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99/mo. + tax for 12 mos160+
CHOICE All-Included$69.99/mo. + tax for 12 mos185+
ULTIMATE All-Included$89.99/mo. + tax for 12 mos250+
PREMIER All-Included$139.99/mo. + tax for 12 mos330+
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Offer ends 7/22/22. New approved customers only w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies
Bundle your TV service with internet
Megaphone

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).

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV contracts

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 $75 per month to $107 the second year. The ULTIMATE plan increases from $100 in year one to $159 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.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV hidden fees

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. And if you order DIRECTV STREAM online, you can get unlimited cloud DVR storage with any plan. So make sure you order online to dodge having to pay $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.

DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV fees
FeeDIRECTV STREAMDIRECTV
Set-top box/ Streaming device$5.00/mo. for 24 mos. or $120 one-time feeIncluded, then $7.00/mo. for additional and $99.00 installation fee
Upgraded DVR service$10.00/mo.N/A
Regional sports feeN/AUp to $9.99/mo.
Early termination feeN/A Up to $20.00 for each month remaining on your contract

Data effective 4/26/2022. 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.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV channels

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.

DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV channels
Channel
DIRECTV STREAM
DIRECTV

Disney Channel

Yes

Yes

ESPN

Yes

Yes

Fox News

Yes

Yes

HGTV

Yes

Yes

Lifetime

Yes

Yes

MSNBC

Yes

Yes

Nickelodeon

Yes

Yes

The CW

No

No

Univision

No

Yes

USA

Yes

Yes

BBC World News

ULTIMATE and PREMIER

ULTIMATE and PREMIER

History Channel

All packages

All packages

Investigation Discovery (ID)

All packages

All packages

National Geographic

All packages

All packages

Data effective 4/26/2022. 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 ENTERTAINMENT, 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
Channel
DIRECTV STREAM price
DIRECTV 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 4/26/2022. 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
  • ESPNU
  • 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
  • ESPNU
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Tennis Channel

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV DVR

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 (or unlimited if you order online), 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 sign up for DIRECTV STREAM online or 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.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV DVR comparison
DVR detailsDIRECTV STREAMDIRECTV
TV box/ streaming device monthly price$5.00/mo. or $120.00 one-time fee"First DVR included, then $7.00/mo. for additional"
DVR serviceNone or $10/mo. for unlimited hoursN/A
Storage space20 hours or unlimited hours500 SD hours/ 200 HD hours
Days saved in storage9 monthsIndefinitely
Simultaneous streams3 5

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 $100/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. Of course, if you order online for DIRECTV STREAM's unlimited DVR storage, DIRECTV STREAM is a clear winner. If not, 20 hours of DVR storage 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.

Now that you know, here are your next steps.

Still looking for a TV provider? Check out the top-ranked providers.

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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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