DIRECTV vs. Spectrum
Our Magic 8-Ball says “Reply hazy, try again.”
Just kidding. The answer is DIRECTV beats Spectrum when it comes to TV service, and here’s the short answer why.
Spectrum and DIRECTV have comparable features, like rewind and restart functionality, but the Spectrum DVR is dwarfed by DIRECTV’s Genie DVR.
Also, Spectrum offers no-contract service (that’s good), but it ends up costing the same if not more than DIRECTV (that’s bad). Let’s dig a little more into how Spectrum and DIRECTV compare, shall we?
Overall winner: DIRECTV
|Provider||Monthly price||TV channel count||Details|
|Spectrum TV||$44.99–$94.99||125–200+†||View Plans|
How do DIRECTV and Spectrum compare?
DIRECTV offers more programming and a way better DVR
DIRECTV and Spectrum couldn’t be more different. DIRECTV offers satellite TV service, while Spectrum is a cable TV provider. Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, but DIRECTV does (two-years). DIRECTV has six different TV packages, and Spectrum has only three. Just take a look at these companies yourself.
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|Spectrum TV® Select||$44.99/mo for 12 mos.*||125+||View Plan|
|Spectrum TV® Silver||$74.99/mo for 12 mos.*||175+||View Plan|
|Spectrum TV® Gold||$94.99/mo for 12 mos.*||200+||View Plan|
Spectrum has no-contract TV service, but its DVR won’t hold more than two-and-a-half seasons of Game of Thrones.
|Provider||Price||TV channel count||Details|
DIRECTV prices are stellar, but they go up after the first year of a two-year contract (not cool!). Still, you get a DVR that can hold every episode of Game of Thrones and more.
How does DIRECTV’s and Spectrum packages and prices compare?
DIRECTV delivers more channels per plan and better equipment for about the same price
Not all decisions come down to the almighty dollar, but deciding between DIRECTV and Spectrum is whole lot easier when you take a closer look at the monetary value.
If DIRECTV didn’t increase its prices after the first year of service, it would be the winner for best value hands down. DIRECTV’s monthly price includes the Genie DVR, which blows both of Spectrum’s DVRs out of the water. Also, DIRECTV’s packages start at $64.99 per month, which means you can get that Genie DVR with more than 160 channels (Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Comedy Central, FX, HGTV, and USA) for about the price it costs to fill up your gas tank.
DIRECTV still has the better value despite the second-year price increase. Because as much as Spectrum touts its no-contract service, you’ll likely be paying just as much or more for a not-as-good TV experience.
For example, when we were ordering Spectrum TV® Select ($44.99/mo.) package with one DVR/HD box, we ended up with an order of $73.82 (yikes!). And that price will go up by $20 after your first year.
Plus, the price will increase after your first year, just like DIRECTV (albeit without a contract requirement), so it costs more than the SELECT package even during the second year.
So unless you’re unwilling to commit to that two-year DIRECTV contract, we’d stick with DIRECTV if you’re going with a lower-tier package.
However, higher-tier packages are where Spectrum starts to shine—at least in terms of pricing.
Spectrum’s TV Gold package offers 200+ channels and rings in at $94.99 per month when you include a DVR. That’s without a contract too, making it much easier to negotiate your second-year price if it gets bumped up.
By comparison, DIRECTV’s PREMIER package is $134.99 per month for 330+ channels, but that price jumps up to $194 during the second year of your contract.
So which provider has better packages and pricing?
- If you’re setting up more than one TV for service, go for DIRECTV. Its monthly price includes a Genie DVR and installation—and you’ll pay only $7 a month for each additional receiver. Compared to Spectrum’s price of $8.99 a month for each receiver plus a monthly DVR service fee of $4.99 for one receiver or $9.99 for two to four receivers, that’s a drop in the bucket.
- If you’re living the single life and just need one television setup, then you might want to get a price quote from both. Still, even if it’s just for one TV, we’d probably still get DIRECTV just for the Genie DVR.
- If you want premium channels like HBO® and STARZ®, the TV Gold package from Spectrum will save you some moolah when you consider that DIRECTV’s PREMIER package price skyrockets by more than $50 for your second year.
Which has better equipment and features, DIRECTV or Spectrum?
Spectrum’s DVRs can’t compete with DIRECTV’s Genie DVR
DIRECTV’s Genie DVR is one of the best DVRs available from a TV service provider, and Spectrum’s DVRs are, well . . . basic.
It might sound like we’re giving DIRECTV too much credit, but Spectrum’s DVRs are really just that ho-hum. In fact, you don’t even get to choose the DVR you want from Spectrum—it’ll just send you either a Motorola or Cisco/SA DVR (there’s no way to tell which). Either option records up to two shows at once and holds 21–45 hours of movies and shows. Oh yeah, and the DVR service costs $4.99–$9.99 a month and $8.99 per month for equipment.
Compare that to the DIRECTV Genie, which can record five shows at once and hold 200 hours of movies and shows without an extra monthly fee. See? We’re not favoring DIRECTV. Its Genie DVR is simply that much better.
Though it lost out on equipment, Spectrum fares better in this arena with features comparable to DIRECTV. Both DIRECTV and Spectrum have some nifty bells and whistles, like letting you rewind up to three days to watch primetime shows, and both have a restart feature as well. These features aren’t necessities, but it’s nice to know they’re there.
So which provider has better equipment and features?
- DIRECTV’s Genie DVR can record five shows at once and store 200 hours of content.
- You can’t choose your DVR with Spectrum, which is one of two models (Motorola or Cisco), and each can only hold 21–45 recording hours.
- DIRECTV and Spectrum’s features are comparable, but none really feel all that necessary.
Recap: Is DIRECTV or Spectrum TV better?
DIRECTV wins for having better equipment and more channels for (almost) the same price as Time Warner Cable/Spectrum.
- Overall winner: DIRECTV.
- Packages and prices: Despite the price increase during the contract, DIRECTV offers more value with a higher channel count and the superior Genie DVR.
- Equipment and features: Not as much of a difference here—both DIRECTV and Spectrum have mobile apps, rewind/restart features, and around 10,000 on-demand movies and shows. Still, DIRECTV edges TWC/Spectrum out for the win.
- Full reviews: Check out our full-length reviews of DIRECTV and Spectrum.