DIRECTV vs. Xfinity TV — 2018 Comparison

We pit the two TV service behemoths against each other to determine which provider delivers a better experience for customers.
Best Overall
High Customer Satisfaction
NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Best for Bundling
Large On-Demand Library
Great Bundling Options

A lot of people have the choice between DIRECTV and Xfinity, but what makes one better than the other? Price, the quality of the service itself, and how a company treats its customers are at the top of the list for most of us.

Both companies rank as top TV providers, so which of the two should you choose? We’ve considered the strengths and weaknesses of both TV service providers—we hope our research makes your choice easier.

Find out which TV provider is in your area.

DIRECTV vs Xfinity — overall comparison

When we compare providers, we consider the variables that affect your wallet and the service you’re buying: pricing, contract terms, installation costs, number of HD channels and on-demand titles, quality and capabilities of DVRs and other equipment, and customer satisfaction scores.

DIRECTVXfinity
Price$35-$110*$49.99-$124.99
Contract TermsRequires 2-year agreementNo-term contract or 1-year agreement
InstallationIncluded for up to 4 TVsSelf install kit: $15
Professional installation: up to $89.99
Channels155-330+140-260+
Max HD Channels185+130+
DVRGenieX1 DVR, AnyRoom DVR
Equipment leasingDVR included
Additional receivers $7/mo
$10/mo DVR fee
Additional receivers $5.99-$9.95/mo
Equipment serviceIncluded$10/mo HD Technology Fee
On-demand library45,000+ titles64,000+ titles
AvailabilityNationwide40+ states
DetailsView PlansView Plans

Data effective 9/13/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.
†For the first 12 months. May require a 1-year agreement.

Our pick: DIRECTV

DirecTV logo
A great choice for just about anyone, DIRECTV starts at $35/month with 155+ channels.

Our pick is DIRECTV for easy-to-understand pricing, NFL SUNDAY TICKET, nationwide availability, and consistently high customer satisfaction scores. Xfinity is a better option for those who want either a no-term contract or TV and high-speed internet bundled together from a single provider.

We picked DIRECTV because anyone can get it, it has more channels, and costs less. Plus, your bills are easier to understand.

Customer service isn’t high for pay-TV providers as a whole, but DIRECTV beats the other satellite and cable providers.

DIRECTV vs. Xfinity TV — pricing comparison

We favor clear and understandable pricing—not nice promotional prices where the rate is later jacked up with add-ons or hidden fees.

DIRECTV wins for its transparent and consistent pricing. Xfinity puts additional equipment and service fees behind a tempting advertised price—these fees double or triple your bill in some cases. If you sign up for a no-term contract with Xfinity, you face an even greater risk of having a fluctuating price after your promotion ends.

For these reasons, we recommend DIRECTV when choosing a standalone TV service, but those who are bundling may still want to consider Xfinity—DIRECTV’s bundles are dependent on which internet provider is in your area, so pricing and speeds will vary.

DIRECTV’s pricing is—well—direct

DIRECTV offers all-included prices for one year as a standalone. Unfortunately, the price will increase for the second year of your two-year contract. The only line-item charge that isn’t immediately obvious is a Regional Sports Fee of $7.49, which is an average price for a fee that every TV provider charges (in one way or another).

DIRECTV Packages

PackagesPrice*ChannelsDetails
SELECT™$35 per mo.155+View Plan
ENTERTAINMENT$40 per mo.160+View Plan
CHOICE™$45 per mo.185+View Plan
XTRA$55 per mo.235+View Plan
ULTIMATE$60 per mo.250+View Plan
PREMIER™$110 per mo.330+View Plan

Data effective 9/13/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.

DIRECTV’s pricing structure makes the most sense for customers. It has smaller increments between packages’ pricing and channel counts. Plus, you get three months’ worth of premium channels for free (but make sure to cancel if you don’t want them after three months).

DIRECTV’s pricing is all inclusive, meaning that fees for the Genie DVR and standard professional installation are included. You won’t pay Broadcast TV Fees or HD access fees as an additional charge, either. But there is a one-time $19.95 activation fee.

DIRECTV is now owned by AT&T, so in areas where AT&T is available, you will have the option of AT&T Internet.

Any additional costs in your bill will only result from additional service (i.e. additional receivers, premium channels or add-on channel packages), not from the company recouping the costs of governmental fees from the customer. Some areas may still charge a Regional Sports Fee.

When it comes to bundling with DIRECTV, your service and price are dependent on your location. DIRECTV is now owned by AT&T, so in areas where AT&T is available, you will have the option of AT&T Internet. In other areas, you may be able to pair your service with internet from other national providers like CenturyLink, Verizon, or Viasat. You can likely save about $10 per month when bundling.

Better to bundle with XFINITY

Xfinity TV as a whole is more costly than DIRECTV, but for some it may be worth it to choose a no-contract service, which eliminates the risk of Early Termination Fees.

Xfinity excels in bundling your TV and internet together. You’ll get a bundled discount that saves a lot of money.

Xfinity TV Packages

PackagesPrice*ChannelsDetails
Digital Starter TV$49.99-$54.99 per mo.140+View Plan
Digital Preferred$59.99-$74.99 per mo.220+View Plan
Digital Premier$104.99-$114.99 per mo.260+View Plan

Data effective 9/13/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
*For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement

Xfinity has some of the fastest internet speeds out there (up to 2 GB in some cases, though somewhere around 400 Mbps is more typical).

You will be using a single provider, making billing more convenient and technical issues easier to deal with all at once. Xfinity has some of the fastest internet speed with a high data cap (1 TB). The Xfinity X1, which is worth getting, requires you sign up for internet, anyway.

Once you take into account DIRECTV’s large second-year price hike, pricing for the two providers over the course of two years becomes pretty similar.

Once you take into account DIRECTV’s large second-year price hike, pricing for the two providers over the course of two years becomes pretty similar. Premium channels are cheaper with Xfinity as a whole (around $10 for most, $15 for HBO), but that’s about it. It charges both a DVR service fee and an HD service fee that will add about $20 to your monthly bill, so the charges can add up pretty quickly.

If you want super-fast internet and TV, Xfinity’s pricing makes more sense, but for standalone TV service, we believe you’re better off with DIRECTV.

How do their contracts compare?

Most TV providers require a contract that includes Early Termination Fees. DIRECTV has a 2-year agreement, but Xfinity offers a few different contract options, including a no-term agreement, meaning you’re not locked in, but paying month to month. A no-contract plans cost about $10 more per month, but it is more flexible to your needs.

No-contract service means freedom for a lot of people. If you’re renting, you might not want or be able to move service to your new residence. Or, you may not want to sign a deal for one or two years without knowing how the service is first.

Even though no-term freedom costs an extra $10 on top of your bill every month, you won’t have the risk of paying Early Termination Fees (up to $480). Remember, you will still be subject to Equipment Non-return Fees if you keep Xfinity’s stuff (duh).

Compare the real costs of DIRECTV and Xfinity

Put to the test, which costs more—DIRECTV or XFINITY? In this example, we assume a household with four rooms that need service. We selected packages with around 220 channels and DVR service for each room. As you can see in the table below, what seems like a better offer from XFINITY turns out to be more expensive when you consider all additional (often hidden) fees.

DIRECTV XTRA ALL INCLUDEDXfinity Digital Preferred
Channels235+220+
Advertised price$55/mo$59.99/mo
Contract termsRequires 2-year agreementRequires 1-year agreement
Professional installationIncludedUp to $89.99
Activation fee$35None
EquipmentGenie DVR + 3 HD receiversAnyRoom DVR + 3 HD receivers
Equipment fees$0 + $21$10/mo + $30/mo
HD Technology feeNone$10/mo
Broadcast TV feeNone$7.00/mo
Second-year price$117/mo$85/mo
Average cost over 2 years*$108.46/mo$133.24/mo

*These price estimates are derived from a hypothetical scenario and pricing may change depending on where you live; check with each provider to compare exact package pricing available to you.

It’s pretty apparent that DIRECTV offers better pricing, plus it’s less confusing. Remember, both companies will raise their rates after your first-year promotional period ends.

Bottom line on pricing: DIRECTV gives you HD television with a simple all-included package. Even if you want non-DVR service for a single TV, you won’t get a cheaper price with Xfinity TV alone. Xfinity is more financially viable when you bundle TV and internet.

See all cable TV providers in your area.

DIRECTV vs. XFINITY TV — package comparison

We know not everyone is looking for the same service, so we’ve listed a few different options for what’s out there and already tailored to your needs.

Which provider has better sports packages?

When it comes to programming best-suited to sports fans, we think DIRECTV takes the cake—mostly because they give you access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET delivers every out-of-market NFL game every Sunday. Diehard fans and fantasy league players will love watching up to eight games at once. You can access NFL SUNDAY TICKET ONLINE with your desktop or mobile device; simply download the app and enter your directv.com username and password.

Note: Preseason and postseason NFL games are not included—check your local channels, NFL Network, and ESPN.

DIRECTV has every major sports network

ESPN and ESPN2 are both available in the ENTERTAINMENT packages on up. If you want even more sports from DIRECTV, you can get over 30 regional sports networks like MLB Network Strike Zone and Outdoor Channel for an extra $14 a month with the sports add-on package.

DIRECTV also has NBA League Pass and NHL® Center Ice®, which are similar to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET. These options give you 40 out-of-market games.

Xfinity has 24-7 sports coverage

Most Xfinity packages cover sports with the big hitters like ESPN, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, MLB Network, Fox Sports 1, and NASCAR (DIRECTV also carries these channels). And if you need more, Xfinity’s Sports & Entertainment Package, which includes NFL RedZone, is an additional $10 add-on.

DIRECTV vs. Xfinity customer service

DIRECTV is the winner here—but both could do with improvement.

According to a 2018 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report, both DIRECTV and Xfinity earned average ratings for customer service.1

2018 Xfinity and DIRECTV customer service ratings

DIRECTVXfinity
2018 ACSI rating64 out of 10057 out of 100

DIRECTV edges into the lead here with an above-average score of 64 out of 100.

Xfinity scores 57 out of 100, and compared to an average rating of 62 out of 100 for all subscription TV services, we think it has quite a bit of catching up to do.

But honestly, the subscription TV service industry as a whole didn’t score that high at all.

So while it doesn’t make anyone feel better that you’ll likely get the same service elsewhere, it’s still something to consider if you’re thinking about switching companies based on bad customer service experiences.

Understanding availability

We love the idea that anyone in the United States can sign up for DIRECTV. Rural and remote customers who can’t logistically get cable to their homes can still receive satellite with 99% reliability.

Xfinity  technically has more subscribers at 21.21 million compared to DIRECTV’s 20.27, and Xfinity is available in over 40 states. However, if you live in a rural or remote area, Comcast may have to run a cable line out to your home—which can be an expensive option, if it’s even an option at all.

If you’re still not sure about availability, you can type in your ZIP code below to see what TV providers service your area.

Find the best cable TV providers in your area.

The bottom line

DirecTV logo
  • Choose DIRECTV for standalone TV service. DIRECTV has affordable and transparent pricing that won’t leave you guessing what your bill will look like. The company covers the most-watched channels in a majority of its plans at a price that’s typically cheaper than Xfinity. You also get full service to your whole home without additional fees.
  • Choose Xfinity if you want to bundle. Xfinity takes the advantage when it comes to bundling TV with high-speed internet. We recommend getting the X1 DVR platform for full functionality between your TV and internet, including cloud storage of recordings, online viewing, and downloading to your mobile device.

Check our frequently asked questions below if you’re still not sure what service seems right for you. If you have a question after reading the FAQ section, please let us know in our comments!

FAQ about DIRECTV vs. XFINITY TV services

How much are DIRECTV’s and Xfinity’s installation fees?

  • DIRECTV’s installation is include for up to four rooms as part of its two-year contract
  • Xfinity charges $89.99 (Note: price varies according to location and services) or $15 for a self-install kit

How much are DIRECTV’s and Xfinity’s Early Termination Fees (ETFs)?

  • DIRECTV requires a two-year contract that charges Early Termination Fees and Equipment Non-return Fees. Your ETF can be up to $480; it’s calculated by taking the number of months left in your contract.
  • Xfinity’s 1-year and 2-year term contracts potentially charge both Early Termination Fees and Equipment Non-return Fees. Your ETF can be up to $480; it’s calculated by taking the number of months left in your contract and multiplying by $20.
  • Xfinity’s no-term contracts do not contain Early Termination Fees, but you can still be charged for not returning leased equipment.

How many HD channels does DIRECTV/XFINITY have?

  • DIRECTV has 185+ HD channels
  • Xfinity has 130+ HD channels

Tip: When it comes to high definition channels, it’s not just a matter of quantity. It’s important to note which provider carries YOUR channels in HD.

Is there a difference in video quality?

  • Essentially: No, we’ve heard it from both sides enough—cable and satellite are basically the same in terms of audio and video quality.
  • Technically: Yes, there are many variables that depend on your equipment and location. Brand to brand, you would have to try both services to see the differences.

Does satellite service TV have problems?

  • No TV service is issue free, be it cable, fiber, or satellite.
  • DIRECTV is a satellite provider; not every neighborhood allows for satellite dishes to be visible—or installed at all in some cases. This is not a problem for most customers. Always check with your homeowners association or landlord before ordering satellite services.
  • The only other caveat with satellite dishes has to do with extreme weather conditions. If you’re in a rain- or snow-heavy area, our advice is to keep your dish in an accessible area with a clear view of the southern sky (meaning not blocked by trees, buildings, etc.).

Is cable more reliable than satellite?

  • Not necessarily. It’s true: extreme weather conditions can disrupt your satellite service. DIRECTV advertises 99% reliability, but we know problems exist. If you’re in a heavy snow or rain area, this is worth consideration.
  • Cable isn’t perfect, either—we’ve had glitches from Xfinity, too (particularly in on-demand and recorded titles). In most cases, you won’t notice a difference.

What is the Comcast Xfinity X1?

The Xfinity X1 is a receiver that connects your TV, internet, and phone. It is sometimes called the X1 Entertainment Operating System. With it you can watch shows on all your devices. It’s also a DVR that records your shows, allows real-time control of your TV, and provides an easy scheduling system. You can use the voice remote or your phone to find your programs easily on its channel guide.

How do I get the Comcast Xfinity X1 DVR?

You must subscribe to two services (“Double Play” packages) from Xfinity: TV, Internet, phone, or home security.

What do I need to watch in 4K resolution?

Currently DIRECTV is better for 4K; it even has an on-demand channel dedicated to it. 4K programming from Xfinity is more limited.

For both providers, you’ll need a 4K TV, obviously, but each brand has additional requirements:

  • DIRECTV requires a Genie HD DVR (Model HR54 or later), professional installation (free), 4K account authorization (simply saying you’ll use this service, no additional charge), and subscription to ULTRA or PREMIER packages. Additional TVs can use a 4K Genie Mini (Model C61K)
  • As of this writing, 4K content from Xfinity is only available to customers who subscribe to the Netflix Premium plan and have a XG1v4 TV box with a compatible receiver and/or soundbar.

What is the difference between NFL SUNDAY TICKET and NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX?

NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX allows mobile devices access to live coverage (regular NFLST does not). It also adds RED ZONE CHANNEL and DIRECTV FANTASY ZONE.

Are Comcast and Xfinity the same thing?

Comcast brands its TV, internet, and other telecommunication services as Xfinity. The two names are often used synonymously, but Comcast is a larger entity that Xfinity is part of. Xfinity is the largest cable TV and internet provider in the United States.

More Questions?

If you have a question you need answered and don’t see it in the comparison, let us know!

Sources

1. American Customer Satisfaction Index, “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2018

  • http://dev-reviewsorg.pantheon.io/ Trevor Wheelwright

    Hey,
    Thanks for your questions!

    While some companies do a good job of spelling out fees, most do not. We clarify what we consider “hidden fees” as anything that isn’t mentioned in advertised price, or otherwise would not be obvious to most costumers. Our goal is to make sure everyone is clued into what they’re paying for, and about how much it will cost. We’re under the impression that most people don’t mind paying for service, so long as they know what to expect.

    • Keepsmh🙄

      Thank u for spelling that out for those people who aren’t able to understand your very clear meaning, smh.

  • Rolf Hohloch

    We have basic Direct TV without any premium channels nor any movie channels. This is bundled with Internet (20mps max) and phone. The cost for this bundle is 220 dollars per month. Our son has Comcast with the same bundle. His Internet is a lot faster. He pays 120 a month. DTV is a ripoff

  • Jeff B

    The last time i had directv it was 5 yrs ago and the reception was horrible..the internet stunk and was constantly on the phone with them..With that i went to comcast and paying $200.00 a month for phone/internet/cable and have to always check for promotions every month..I was told directv made some drastic changes and improvements over the years is this true? I’d try them again considering comcasts bill and customer service..

  • Mademoiselle

    DirecTV is crazy expensive. $20 a month for ONE HD DVR (count ’em: each one is $20!!!!) + at least $80 a month if you want decent channels, + taxes (this is after the first year of cheaper rates, but since you’re locked in you’re stuck paying full price your second year). As a sports fan, it kills me to leave direct because they are the only ones to give me out of market sports channels like MSG and YES, but I could not justify the crazy expense anymore of $130 a month just for TV. I had to get comcast: 140 channels with an HD receiver + high speed internet for $100 a month.

    Also, comcast offers 1 year contracts and direct only offers 2 year.

    • GaelsFan

      But Comcast’s rates shoot up terribly after your first 12 months are up… I’m currently shopping them out to get rid of Frontier – my bill is now $196/month and I don’t even have premium channels!

  • Mademoiselle

    Xfinity because you can bundle. Direct bundles with centurylink and AT&T U-verse, but it sounds like those aren’t available to you.

  • Tom

    I am considering DTV but where I am at they use Century Link for internet which I now have and it sucks. Can I use Xfinity internet and get DTV? Talking to a DTV sales person I got a “sure why not” but I have found no definitive answer. I will buy the Xfinity modem from Ebay if this will work.

  • Tom

    I am considering Direct TV but want different internet service. DTV uses Century Link, which we have now, and it is slow and not reliable. My question is, can I get Xfinity internet on its own and make it compatible with Direct TV? I notice on the modems I have looked at on Amazon it says not compatible with Direct TV. I had Direct TV while I was traveling fulltime in my rv and just loved it. Got Century Link when I quit traveling and bought a house and have had nothing but problems and incompetency with them.

    • Duane

      We currently have Comcast internet and DirecTV. Yes, you can have both, but we are actually considering a change to Xfinity (Comcast) because our internet needs have changed. We do a lot more streaming through services such as Netflix so we need a faster connection. To do so would require a much higher cost unless we go back to cable tv for the bundling discounts offered.

  • Barry

    I heard that Sony 4 k tv is having problems with direct tv

  • Jessica Marie Zelonis

    How does Comcast have “hidden fees” when they send you a text or an email that itemizes the change/order you place that you then have to approve, and is also regulated by the FCC?! Then, they will inform you if any pricing that is going to change on the third page of your bill.

  • GaelsFan

    I’m shopping the 2 of them out right now. XFinity rep broke out every charge and every fee, calculated sales tax, etc. to give me exactly what my monthly bill will be. No hidden fees or charges AND the one advantage I see right off is that I can use XFinity’s hot spots so I’m not running over my data on my cell phone (unlimited would cost us more than what we pay now for 20 g). Regarding DTV, I only asked a question via “chat” and the rep was pushing me to complete the order and then we’d talk about internet. That made me uncomfortable and I closed the window. And I’m thinking that either one of them has to be better than Frontier!

  • blindexecutioner

    The voice remote on Xfinity can’t be beat. I can’t believe directv hasn’t released one. Alexa or whatever isn’t nearly as convenient.

  • jeff

    I thought comcast owns DTV too.

  • http://www.sharadkantpatel.com ufoclub1977

    As a videophile with a calibrated TV and home theater system, I was disappointed when I upgraded from an old Xfinity Comcast DVR to their new X1 Box. There is a filter that you cannot turn of in the box that digitally cleans up the image and smooths out any grain or noise… which also gets rid of skin texture, and most surface textures, making it look like there is a photoshop smoothing filter on everything the box shows, from Netflix to broadcast to On Demand. Switching back to the old box showed the detail, switching to the new box showed the smoothing problem.

    I think they’ve dumbed down the settings menu, and there is no way to turn it off. It’s very irritating despite the great menu system and voice activation of X1.

    I wonder if Direct TV has the same problem with HD quality? Can you see the film grain? In 720-1080 HD you should be seeing film grain (often artificially added for digital productions because its aesthetically pleasing), and details in faces, wrinkles blemishes and all. you should be seeing surface details on walls, leaves, etc. The best way to tell is if people’s faces look smooth, like a selfie photoshop filter was applied.