DIRECTV vs. Spectrum

Does Spectrum TV have any chance of beating out DIRECTV?
Best Overall
Monthly price: $64.99–$134.99
Available channels: 330+
Runner Up
Monthly price: $44.99–$94.99
Available channels: 200+


Does Spectrum TV have any chance of beating out DIRECTV?

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

How do DIRECTV and Spectrum compare?
ProviderMonthly priceTV channel countDetails
DIRECTV$64.99–$134.99155–330+*View Plans
Spectrum TV$44.99–$94.99125–200+† View Plans
Data effective 6/16/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.
† For the first 12 months.

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.

How much is Spectrum TV?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
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
Data effective 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.

Spectrum has no-contract TV service, but its DVR won’t hold more than two-and-a-half seasons of Game of Thrones.

How much is DIRECTV?
ProviderPriceTV channel countDetails
ENTERTAINMENT$64.99^160+View Plans
CHOICE$69.99°185+View Plans
ULTIMATE$84.99°250+View Plans
PREMIER$134.99°330+View Plans
Data effective 6/16/2021. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ /mo. for 12 mos plus taxes. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year.
° /mo. for 12 mos plus taxes. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.

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 much space does DIRECTV's and Spectrum's DVR have?
DIRECTV Genie (200 hrs.)View Plans
SpectrumMotorola or Cisco (21–45 hrs.)View Plans

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.

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.

Again to compare, DIRECTV’s competing package, the ENTERTAINMENT, has an all-included price of $64.99 a month, whereas with Spectrum you pay separately for service, equipment, and broadcast fees.

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.

Genie DVR

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.

directv vs spectrum equipment

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.

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DIRECTV and Spectrum also offer mobile apps, so if you’re a TV-on-the-go person, you’re safe either way (as long as you have an internet connection). And, though it’s not so much a feature as it is programming, both DIRECTV and Spectrum offer around 10,000 on-demand movies and shows.

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.

Find the best TV providers in your area.

  • 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.