DISH vs. DIRECTV: Satellite TV Review 2022

With transparent pricing, DISH is best for most everyone. But if you love football, DIRECTV scores a touchdown with NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Best Price
Dish Authorized Retailer
DISH
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • Check
    Monthly price: $69.99-$104.99
  • Check
    Available channels: 290+
Best for Sports Fans
Directv
DIRECTV
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
  • Check
    Monthly price: $74.99-$149.99
  • Check
    Available channels: 330+
Chantel Buchi
Staff Writer, TV & Streaming
Read More
May 05, 2022
8 min read

When it comes to satellite television providers, DISH and DIRECTV rule the roost. While other satellite providers are available on the market, these two providers stand tall against the rest. Let’s take a closer look at which satellite provider is best for your entertainment, sports, and movie needs.

If you’re a sports lover, DIRECTV is a top choice, thanks to NFL SUNDAY TICKET. But, DISH has the best DVR option with the Hopper, along with the best prices. Before you install a satellite dish on your home, keep reading this review to learn which option might be best for you. 

How do DISH and DIRECTV compare?

ProviderDishDirectv
Price$69.99$104.99*$74.99/mo.$149.99/mo.
Channels290330
Max DVR hours500 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
Details
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.
For 12 months plus taxes & fees, w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies

How much are DISH and DIRECTV packages?

DISH blasts past DIRECTV, thanks to transparent pricing and no price hikes

At first glance, DIRECTV and DISH might appear to be neck and neck with pricing. But things quickly get out of hand when DIRECTV’s package prices increase during the second year of your two-year contract.

With that in mind, pricing is one of DISH’s biggest advantages. It’s not only cheaper in the long term, but you also get a little more for your money.

How much is DISH?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
America's Top 120$69.99/mo.190
America's Top 120+$84.99/mo.^190+
America's Top 200$94.99/mo.°240+
America's Top 250$104.99/mo.**290+
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
for 24. months. Everyday Price $104.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
^ for 24. months. Everyday Price $109.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
° for 24. months. Everyday Price $119.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
** for 24. months. Everyday Price $129.99/mo. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
Price increase incoming!
Bullhorn

Dish Network has already begun notifying customers that prices will see an increase starting November 2021. The change will likely cause a $5/mo. increase, but you should keep a close eye on your bill, and reach out to Dish with any additional questions.

DISH scores major points for having the clearest pricing, but do its packages add up?

We think so. We’ll dive into DISH channel selection in a bit, but we think it’s pretty great that each package comes with ESPN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, and Food Network. Seriously, that hits all of our binge-watching needs—and your family’s too.

How much is DIRECTV?
Plan
Price
TV channel count
Details
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$74.99/mo.††160+
CHOICE All-Included$79.99/mo.††185+
ULTIMATE All-Included$99.99/mo.††250+
PREMIER All-Included$149.99/mo.††330+
Data effective 11/11/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies

If you want more information on what the difference is between each DIRECTV package, check out our DIRECTV review. But in a nutshell, ENTERTAINMENT gives you your basic favorite channels, CHOICE gets you a lots of sports channels, and ULTIMATE is perfect for movie watchers.

But if you choose DIRECTV CHOICE or above, you’ll be living the sports lover’s dream. You get a free season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which means you’ll get access to all out-of-market Sunday NFL games.

It’s a value of a few hundred dollars. So if you’re signing up specifically for the sports packages, it’s a nice bonus.

Don’t forget to cancel your NFL SUNDAY TICKET subscription
Heads Up

That’s one big auto-renewal cost you don’t want popping up out of the blue. So once the season’s over, make sure you cancel your subscription to NFL SUNDAY TICKET before it renews for next year. Or don’t, and spend $300 for every Sunday NFL game. That’s not bad in comparison to a game ticket.

Do DISH and DIRECTV have a contract?

DIRECTV requires you to sign a two-year contract, whereas DISH gives you a no-contract or two-year contract option (the two-year contract options saves you $10–$15 per month.)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—we really dislike DIRECTV’s price hike when the second year of your contract hits. To top it off, your autopay and paperless billing discounts (a total of $5 off per month) also disappear.

That price hike means your DIRECTV bill almost doubles. Let’s say you’ve subscribed to the PREMIER package—your bill will spike up by about $50 more a month.

So if you don’t mind dropping some exceptional sports coverage for a more straightforward monthly bill, we highly recommend DISH.

Play Video
Don't forget about that satellite dish on your roof!
Heads Up

While DISH does provide a no-contract option, remember that satellite television requires you to install a satellite dish on your roof. So, while it might be easy to cancel service, you may still need to take the time to remove an unsightly contraption from your house or RV.

How much are the equipment, installation, and early termination fees?

Sadly, almost every service you sign up for comes with additional fees. DISH and DIRECTV are no exception, so make sure you budget for these costs.

How much do DISH's and DIRECTV's fees cost?
Provider
Activation feeUp to $50$19.95 (one-time)
First DVR receiver feeIncludedIncluded
Additional DVR receivers fee$7.00–$17.00/mo.$6.00/mo.
Regional sports fee$0-$3/mo.$3.00–11.99/mo.

Data effective 5/05/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

We’ll start by explaining DISH’s receiver fees because they can get a little confusing.

When you order one set-top box for your home, you’ll get the Hopper Duo (125 HD hours) with DVR service for $10 per month.

DISH upgrades your main receiver to the Hopper with Sling when you order three DVR’s for your home, and then upgrades your set-top box to the Hopper 3 when you order four or more.

It pays to have a big family because when you get the Hopper with Sling or Hopper 3, you’ll get to enjoy 500 HD storage hours (and keep in mind, the upgraded Hoppers cost $10–$15 per month).

The additional receivers you order for your child’s bedroom and TV room downstairs are called Joeys ($7 per month each).

DIRECTV so kindly includes the Genie DVR (200 HD storage hours) with your plan, and it’ll cost $6 per month for each additional receiver. But DIRECTV could do without the regional sports fee.

Can you avoid early termination fees?
Pin

Maybe. We’ve put together a quick guide on how to avoid all those pesky fees when you’re ready to swap TV providers.

Which channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

DISH features channels for every interest under the sun, but DIRECTV trumps all when it comes to sports channels

It can be hard to tell DISH and DIRECTV apart because they both have a well-rounded channel selection.

DIRECTV’s sports channels are its secret weapon. (Although we think DISH has better college sports coverage with ACCN, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Longhorn, and ESPNU.)

And both are going to have your local, lifestyle, and kids channels. So check out DISH’s channel lineup and DIRECTV’s channel lineup to see if one has a more complete channel lineup than the other for you.

Which popular channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?
ChannelDISHDIRECTV
Bloomberg TVAmerica's Top 250All packages
The CWAll packagesNot available
Disney ChannelAll packagesAll packages
ESPNAll packagesAll packages
Food NetworkAll packagesAll packages
Fox NewsAll packagesAll packages
HGTVAll packagesAll packages
Lifetime ChannelAll packagesAll packages
MSNBCAll packagesAll packages
TBSAll packagesAll packages
UnivisionAmerica’s Top 200 and upAll packages
USA NetworkAll packagesAll packages

Data effective 5/05/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Which premium channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

For the most part, DISH’s prices for premium channels are a little bit easier on your wallet. A lot of DIRECTV's premium channels will cost you at least a dollar more than DISH's premium channels. (Except for STARZ and HBO Max). 

But we have to give it to DIRECTV for offering more premium channel options than DISH. DIRECTV is where you’ll go to find traditional HBO channels, but DISH does offer a subscription to HBO Max, so you can enjoy shows like Raised by Wolves or Lovecraft Country with both networks.

How much are DISH's and DIRECTV's premium channels?
ChannelDISH priceDIRECTV price
HBO Max®$12.00/mo.$14.99/mo.
CINEMAX®$10.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
SHOWTIME®$10.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
STARZ®$10.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
STARZ ENCORE$6.00/mo.$10.99/mo.
EPIX®$7.00/mo.$5.99/mo.
Details

Data effective 5/05/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

You can also grab add-on packages with extra movie channels from both DISH and DIRECTV. This might save you some cash if you can’t get enough of all those premium channels and movies.

  • DISH Movie Pack: $10/mo. (includes 11 movie channels such as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Movieplex, and EPIX).
  • DIRECTV Movies Extra Pack: $4.99/mo. (includes nine move channels such as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Sony Movie Channel, as well as three free months of three EPIX channels).

Which sports channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

If you’re anticipating the next season more than an 8-year-old anticipates their birthday, it’s worth making sure you can view your games on DISH or DIRECTV.

Both satellite TV providers offer a pretty beefy sports channel lineup if you’re willing to pay for higher-tier packages—DISH even has the NFL RedZone Channel if that’s your jam. But like we’ve mentioned before, DIRECTV is the only place you’ll find NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Here’s a quick look at how DISH and DIRECTV compare when it comes to sports.

DISH has the following sports channels:

  • ACCN
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • FS1, FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • Longhorn Network
  • MLB Extra Innings
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Center Ice
  • NHL Network
  • Pac-12 Network
  • SEC Network
  • Tennis Channel
  • TUDN
  • TUDNxtra 1–11
  • Zona Fútbol

If you’re looking for the best satellite TV service during the NBA and MLB seasons, DISH is definitely our choice. DISH made our top providers list for the NBA season and the best way to get both MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV.

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • Paramount+ Network
  • ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3
  • ESPN Classic
  • ESPNews
  • ESPN U
  • Fox Deportes
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Tennis Channel
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Universal Sports

Does DISH or DIRECTV have the best DVR and equipment?

If we could choose only one DVR, it’d be the DISH Hopper 3
dish hopper 3 dvr and remote

Image: DISH

When it comes to DVRs, we look at HD storage space, the number of simultaneous recordings it can handle, and the price. Unfortunately for DIRECTV, DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR stomps the Genie DVR in all three categories.

Both providers also include the main set-top box in the cost of service, which is nice. A lot of providers charge a fee for the primary receiver, even though it’s basically necessary to use the service.

The DVR service fee, which feels like a great way for service providers to nickel-and-dime you, is fairly low for DISH. DIRECTV’s service fee is included in the monthly price.

And we should also mention DISH comes with a voice remote, and DIRECTV allows you to download an app to use as a voice remote. Watch what you want within seconds with just a few words!

The DISH Hopper 3 DVR and DIRECTV Genie DVR comparison
FeaturesDISH Hopper 3DIRECTV Genie
Storage capacity2 TB1 TB
HD hours500 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
4K supportYesYes
Simultaneous recordings165
# of TVs supported74
IntegrationsAmazon AlexaAmazon Alexa
Main receiver includedYesYes
Additional receivers$5.00/mo./receiver$6.00/mo./receiver
Details

Data effective 5/05/2022. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Those are some crazy-good specs. There are some notable differences in hardware, though.

With 500 HD recording hours, the Hopper 3 can store more than twice the amount of HD content as the Genie—that’s nearly three straight weeks of continuous watching. As for the simultaneous recordings, the Hopper 3 can handle a whopping 16 at once, whereas the Genie is limited to just five.

You may think you’ll never need to record 16 shows at one time, and you’re may be right.

That’s the point, though—with the Hopper 3, you basically never have to worry about recording conflicts, whereas with the Genie, there’s a very real possibility that you may run into them. Recording conflicts are something you only think about when they crop up, and they can be very frustrating.

(Who wants to decide between the big game and the latest episode of This Is Us?)

The Hopper 3 also skips commercials automatically, which is the icing on top for us. That said, the Genie is still an outstanding DVR, so if you choose DIRECTV, you won’t be too far behind.

Recap: Which is better, DISH or DIRECTV?

We think DISH is best for most, especially if you’re on a budget and want to avoid mid-contract price hikes. But when it comes to pro sports, DIRECTV is hard to beat. Here’s why:

  • Pricing: DISH, hands down, has the best pricing. While DIRECTV’s and DISH’s pricing looks similar, DIRECTV’s monthly cost goes up during the second year of your contract. That means you’ll save money overall if you choose DISH.
  • Channels: We think DISH has an excellent assortment of channels, and it offers a few more sports channels. But DIRECTV is pretty much the only way you can get NFL SUNDAY TICKETWe NFL fans need that.
  • DVR: DISH’s Hopper 3 is the most powerful DVR on the market—and as a result, DISH takes this category by a landslide. DIRECTV’s Genie is still great, though, it just has less than half the storage space than the Hopper 3.

Want to dig into the details? Check out our in-depth DISH and DIRECTV reviews.

FAQ

Where is DISH service available?

DISH service is available nearly everywhere in the United States. In fact, if you can’t get DISH, we’re surprised.

This is because the satellite TV signal is routed from space. All you need is a receiver rather than complex cable infrastructure that other providers need.

Where is DIRECTV service available?

DIRECTV should be available basically anywhere in the United States thanks to its satellite technology.

Are satellite signals reliable?

Generally, yes, satellite TV signals are reliable.

There’s a popular notion that satellite is unreliable, but while weather-related interference is technically possible, you’ll only see issues during particularly heavy rain, snow, or hail.

Both DISH and DIRECTV advertise “99% signal reliability,” and that’s about what you can expect. That said, if you happen to live in an area that gets a lot of rain or thunderstorms, you might be better off with a cable TV provider rather than satellite TV.

Do I need to worry about weather interference with satellite TV?

Weather interference with satellite services is technically possible, but you’ll only have issues in extremely heavy precipitation. For the most part, your satellite signal will come in loud and clear.

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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