DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV Review

Who would win in a fight? Satellite TV or cable TV?
Best for Maximum Channels
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Best for Money Savers
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Is DIRECTV or Spectrum TV a better TV service?

DIRECTV is the only TV provider to have NFL SUNDAY TICKET, you’ll get a sufficient DVR storage space, but you’ll have second-year price hikes. Yikes.

Charter Spectrum TV has an inexpensive starter package, you won’t have to sign a contract, but your DVR storage will be scarce.

The winner is Spectrum TV, but just by the narrowest of margins.

Compare DIRECTV and Charter Spectrum TV prices near you.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV price comparison

You’ll have to decide what’s more important: having more channels or saving money

DIRECTV is for those who want a high channel count, and with that comes more expensive pricing than what you’d see with Spectrum.

The pricing is still fair for the number of channels you’ll receive, but the pricing increases by 30–40% during year two.

We go into more detail below, but you’ll have to sign a 2-year contract with DIRECTV, which includes second-year price hikes (why, DIRECTV, why?).

We like the channel lineups in all of DIRECTV’s plans, but we could do without spending close to double the following year.

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.*

Spectrum TV doesn’t require a contract, but it’s unclear how much your pricing goes up after your first year of service.

The advertised pricing is what you’ll be paying monthly for year one, and we especially like Spectrum TV® Select’s pricing.

In fact, the TV® Select plan is our favorite cheap cable TV package (that’s a mouthful). For $45 per month, you’ll get a full channel lineup with over 125 channels, including most of the popular channels like Disney Channel and ESPN.

How much are Spectrum TV’s prices and plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Spectrum TV® Select$44.99/mo for 12 mos.125+View Plans
Spectrum TV® Silver$74.99/mo for 12 mos.175+View Plans
Spectrum TV® Gold$94.99/mo for 12 mos.200+View Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV contracts

DIRECTV has the dreaded second-year price hikes that only a few TV service providers still have.

DIRECTV likes to sweeten you up with access to more than 330 channels, NFL SUNDAY TICKET (every NFL fan’s dream), and a 200-hour DVR, and then bam! your monthly bill increases by nearly double.

In fact, if you sign the 2-year commitment for the ULTIMATE package, you’ll be paying $151/year after paying just $85 for the first year.

Spectrum has its own type of game.

No, you don’t have the second-year price hikes, but you do get some kind of hike. Spectrum just isn’t transparent as to how much your monthly bill increase.

At least DIRECTV gives you an idea of how much you’ll need to budget.

But on the upside, since you don’t have to sign an annual contract with Spectrum, you can always cancel your service if you don’t find it worth the inflated price.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV fees

DIRECTV wins in the fees department.

DIRECTV includes the first set-top box into your plan, and then each additional boxes are $7. So you could be paying $14 for three TV receivers for your living room, bedroom, and kid’s bedroom.

For Spectrum, you’d have to pay $27 per month for three set-top boxes along with $10 for the DVR service fee.

And lastly, DIRECTV’s regional sports fee is significantly lower than Spectrum’s broadcast fee. You can’t get away from these fees if you want to watch sports or the news.

DIRECTV and Spectrum TV fees
Activation fee$19.95 (one-time)NA
First receiver feeIncluded$8.99/mo.
Additional receiver fee$7.00/mo.$8.99/mo.
DVR service feeIncluded$4.99–$9.99/mo.
Regional sports fee$3.00–8.49/mo.NA
Broadcast TV feeNAUp to $17.99/mo.

Data effective 7/8/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Megaphone icon
Want cable TV for $25 for 10–40 channels instead?
Spectrum TV Choice is for Spectrum internet customers who want a basic cable TV package. You’ll get to choose your first 15 channels from a selection of 65 networks, including Food Network, HBO Max, HGTV, STARZ ENCORE, and TNT.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV channels

Both DIRECTV and Spectrum have most of your favorite sports, news, lifestyle, kids, entertainment, and movie channels.

You’ll get most of the popular channels in the entry-level packages with both TV providers, but you’ll get more with DIRECTV’s ENTERTAINMENT plan.

Before you commit, check the full channel lineups of DIRECTV and Spectrum to see if this could be your longtime service.

DIRECTV and Spectrum TV channels
ChannelDIRECTVSpectrum TV
Disney ChannelAll packagesAll packages
ESPNAll packagesAll packages
Food NetworkAll packagesAll packages
Fox NewsAll packagesAll packages
HGTVAll packagesAll packages
Investigation Discovery (ID)All packagesAll packages
LifetimeAll packagesAll packages
MSNBCAll packagesAll packages
NFL NetworkULTIMATE and PREMIERSilver and Gold
NickelodeonAll packagesGold
UnivisionAll packagesSilver and Gold
USA NetworkAll packagesAll packages

Data effective 7/8/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV and Spectrum throw in some great freebies, and we’re more than OK with that.

DIRECTV includes a free subscription to HBO Max for one full year when you order CHOICE and above. And you’ll also get CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX for three months for free.

But don’t forget to cancel your subscriptions after your free trials are up. Set a reminder in your phone for when you’ll need to call DIRECTV to cancel your subscriptions before you’re charged (because you know you’ll forget if you don’t).

Spectrum includes premium channels in your lineup, so you don’t have to worry about canceling any subscriptions.

With Spectrum’s TV® Silver and Gold packages, you’ll get HBO, HBO Max, and SHOWTIME in your channel lineup. You won’t have to miss out on The Flight Attendant, Lovecraft Country, and Billions.

And if you choose to upgrade to that Gold plan, you’ll also get STARZ and STARZ ENCORE included in your channel lineup.

DIRECTV and Spectrum TV premium channels
ChannelDIRECTV priceSpectrum TV price

Data effective 7/8/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV sports channels

The first thing we should mention here is that DIRECTV is the only TV service with NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET gives you access to every single out-of-market NFL game of the regular season. So if you’re a Kansas City Chiefs fan but live in Salt Lake City, you’ll want this TICKET to watch all of Mahomes’ no-look passes.

With DIRECTV, you could get up to 18 sports channels, but with Spectrum, you could get 26 (including Español sports channels).

DIRECTV includes only three sports channels (ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3) in its entry-level package, while Spectrum includes eight (including NBC Sports Network and Big Ten Network).

So we think DIRECTV is best for the NFL fans, and if you’re an all-around sports fan, Spectrum might be your No. 1 pick.

Both have their ups and downs, and you can check out our reviews on DIRECTV and Spectrum to get an idea of which package is best for you.

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN Classic
  • ESPNews
  • Fox Deportes
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Tennis Channel
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Universal Sports

Spectrum TV has the following sports channels:

  • beIN Sports
  • beIN Sports Español
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN, ESPN 2
  • ESPN Deportes
  • ESPNews
  • Fox College Sports Atlantic, Central, Pacific
  • FOX Deportes
  • Fox Soccer Plus
  • FS1, FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • MLB Strike Zone
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network (NBCSN)
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • SEC Network
  • Spectrum Sports
  • Tennis Channel

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV DVR

To find the best DVR, we compare storage hours, the number of simultaneous recordings, and price.

DIRECTV’s Genie DVR has more than 4x the storage space, more than double the simultaneous recordings, and it costs $2 less per month. (Enough said, right?)

According to Spectrum, there is a DVR with 150 storage hours available. We couldn’t find this option at checkout online, so if you choose Charter Spectrum TV as your next provider, we’d suggest calling to order the enhanced DVR.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum TV DVR comparison
DVR detailsDIRECTVSpectrum TV
Monthly priceFirst DVR included, then $7.00/mo. for additional$8.99/mo. each
DVR storage space200 HD hours35 HD/80 SD hours
Simultaneous recordings52

Data effective 7/8/2021.

Recap: Spectrum TV is the winner

Spectrum TV came out on top, but just by a sliver

  • Pricing and Contracts: Spectrum TV has better pricing overall. Spectrum’s pricing ranges from $45–$95 for 125–200 channels, while DIRECTV ranges from $65–$134 for 160–330 channels. We do suggest getting DIRECTV if you’d like the most channels, but you’ll have to worry about second-year price hikes during your 2-year contract. Spectrum TV doesn’t require you to sign any type of contract, so you can cancel at any time, however it does have a mystery price hike in year two.
  • Fees: DIRECTV’s fees cost less per month than those of Spectrum’s. DIRECTV includes the first set-top box into your plan, and then each additional box is $7. Spectrum charges $9 for each of its TV boxes. You’ll also have to pay a $10 DVR service fee each month.
  • Channels: You’ll get lots of popular channels with Spectrum for a price we like. DIRECTV offers more channels in each of its packages, and that does mean you’ll get more of your favorite channels with this satellite TV provider, but you have to consider if it’s worth the price. Check out DIRECTV’s and Spectrum’s channel lineups to get a better idea of which one could be your next TV provider.
  • Sports Channels: Spectrum offers eight more sports channels than DIRECTV does (including college, soccer, and Español sports channels). DIRECTV may have NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but overall, Spectrum is more well-rounded with its sports channels and will satisfy any type of fan.
  • DVR: DIRECTV’s Genie DVR blows Spectrum TV’s DVR out of the water. The Genie has more than 4x the storage space, more than double the simultaneous recordings, and it costs $2 less per month. If you’re leaning toward cable TV, we just recommend calling Spectrum to get the enhanced DVR with 150 hours of storage space.

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

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  • Steven Bevis

    Direct TV is a sham with fraudulent business practices to increase rates and keep you stuck in a contract. I do not recommend them at all to anyone, and would rather take a hit on picture quality with cable to know what my bill will actually be, and to know I can get out of it. Direct TV has been sued for these fraudulent practices and people are leaving in droves because of it. All it takes is a few weeks of signing up to see it in action when that first bill arrives. That first bill is nothing like the contract.

    • Christina

      I think Spectrum is a sham as going into my second year with them they have increased prices but also say it’s still a discount!!! my bill has gone up almost 35 bucks and I am assuming next year will jump even higher. Now just trying to figure out what my best options are between directtv, sling, or some other streaming service although id miss my dvr!

  • Angela Boor

    If you don’t mind me asking how long do you have to be “away” from DirecTV before you can sign up again? We were planning to switch to Spectrum (for Phone and Internet and MAYBE for TV) but if we don’t like it, how long before we can switch back? Thanks!!

    • Maria Millett

      I am not sure of the exact time but in my experience, companies are happy to have customers back at all times!

    • Karran Martin

      I’m not positive this is 100% correct, but I think you have to be gone from them for 2 yrs in order to get the best pricing. But, like Maria said below, they may be happy enough to get you back they’ll deal with you.

  • Shahriar Rahman

    Wow. So happy to see someone else’s experience mirror our own. We have been very loyal customers of DirectTV sinsce 2012 — 6 years. This past year, in 2017, we paid more than $1500 on our TV ($132 per month… because of HBO and all the movie channels I thought we wanted but did not have time to watch). We had TWC for our internet, for almost 4 years, for which we were paying $90/month for 200Mbps download speed. We decided to switch to save money, an now pay 130 with the SAME movie channels as we had with DTV – with HBO, AND internet included (bundled package). So we are now saving more than $90/month. That’s over $1k savings in year. Sounds great…

    … except it’s not. Even though we do not watch much TV, the quality difference is immediately noticeable. Many On Demand TV shows do not have full episodes available (Twin Peaks) which I read can be fixed with a request for my region – but still. Also, the interface for their unit is frustrating to use — we still haven’t figured out how to do certain basic things with the remote like going up and down the channel lists in the Guide display. All around, Spectrum TV is less elegant, downright clumsy, and with worse picture quality. Now the $1k savings every year does not sound such like a good deal.

  • Rick Quest

    Somehow I ended up on this sight while searching if Spectrum has “4K”? I didn’t see a word of it! I think that would clearly show a winner but there is no mention…and I’m well aware the it’s probably just a matter of time before everyone has it but I’m ready NOW.

  • Anda @ Travel Notes & Beyond

    I started with DirecTV about 20 years ago and have been faithful customer all this time. For a while they were the most successful provider and they were doing a great job. But success got to their head and their service became worse and worse to the point where they I couldn’t watch my HD channels. They explained to me that it’s because I was using an HDMI cable. What? Then what kind of cable should I use? Well, it seems that they want you to use a component cable now because through an HDMI cable their content may be “copied” to a computer or another DVR. So I switched to Charter-Spectrum just to discover that for half of the price I was paying to DirecTV I could actually get twice as many channels, an impeccable image quality and a better internet speed (included in the package).

  • Pantheon

    Just the fact that this review suggests Spectrum’s DVR can only hold 2.5 seasons of GoT makes me suspect of its objectivity. Have had Spectrum for 18 months now and my DVR holds over 200 hours of programming.