DISH vs DIRECTV — 2018 Satellite TV Reviews

Best for Most
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Best for Sports Fans
Read full review

DISH vs DIRECTV — 2018 Satellite TV Reviews

Product Recommended Rating
Dish Best for Most 4.4 / 5
DIRECTV Best for Sports Fans 4.2 / 5


DISH® beats out DIRECTV on both packages and pricing, plus it has a better DVR. While DIRECTV does have DISH beat when it comes to customer satisfaction, it’s not by much, and DISH still provides consistently good customer service.

Ultimately, we think DISH had enough going for it for us to name it best overall satellite TV provider over DIRECTV. However, if you’re a sports lover, you may want DIRECTV for excellent sports programming like NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which you won’t get with DISH. If you never want to miss a game, DIRECTV has the goods. The following overview should help you compare pricing, channels, and contract differences between DISH and DIRECTV

DISH vs. DIRECTV—overall comparison

Price$59.99–$89.99 per mo.$50–$125 per mo.
DVR storage500 HD hours200 HD hours
Contract2 years2 years
DetailsView PlansView Plans

Pricing current as of 1/16/18. Prices and packages subject to change.

For extra in-depth reviews of these two services, check out our guide to the Best Satellite TV Providers.

Best for most

For most people, we think DISH is the way to go. DISH has a lot of advantages over DIRECTV—clear pricing, more affordable packages, a significantly more powerful DVR, and consistently high scores for customer service and consumer satisfaction. While DIRECTV puts up a good fight, DISH’s complete package is just hard to beat—unless you’re a sports fan, that is.

Sports is the undisputed domain of DIRECTV, and not just among other satellite providers. Why? Three words—NFL SUNDAY TICKET. No other sports package comes close, and it’s a DIRECTV exclusive. Beyond that, the provider also offers more HD sports channels than DISH. If you’re a sports nut and want the very best programming, look no further than DIRECTV.

Packages and pricing—DISH vs. DIRECTV

DISH delivers great bang for your buck, but DIRECTV offers more channels.

Pricing is one of DISH’s biggest advantages compared to DIRECTV. DISH is not only cheaper but you also tend to get more for your money in any given package tier with DISH versus DIRECTV. For example, you can get 290+ channels for $89.99 per month with DISH’s America’s Top 250 package.

PackagesPriceChannelsHD ChannelsDetails
America's Top 120$59.99 per mo190110View Plan
America's Top 120+$69.99 per mo.190+110+View Plan
America's Top 200$79.99 per mo.240+125+View Plan
America's Top 250$89.99 per mo.290+140+View Plan

Pricing current as of 1/16/18. Prices and packages subject to change.

DISH’s prices and package tiers are straightforward. This is one of the provider’s strengths—you know exactly what you’re getting.

The one confusing thing is the difference between the America’s Top 120 and America’s Top 120+ packages. Basically, America’s Top 120+ gets you some additional sports and specialty channels and is probably worth the extra $10 if you ever watch sports. You can view the complete channel listings on DISH’s website.

DIRECTV packages

SELECT$50 per mo.150+View Plan
ENTERTAINMENT$55 per mo.155+View Plan
CHOICE$60 per mo.185+View Plan
XTRA$70 per mo.230+View Plan
ULTIMATE$75 per mo.245+View Plan
PREMIER$125 per mo.325+View Plan

As you can see, DIRECTV’s packages are less clear, and you have to dig into the details to see exactly what benefit some of them provide (we’ll save you some time—ENTERTAINMENT gets you a few extra sports channels, and ULTIMATE adds more movie channels).

The ENTERTAINMENT and ULTIMATE packages feel a little useless, being so similar to SELECT and XTRA. We’d rather see them combined to simplify the lineup. And, while you get a lot of channels with PREMIER (much more than you can get with DISH’s top package), the huge price jump might catch you off guard. You can view DIRECTV’s channel lineup here.

One nice incentive to keep in mind is that all packages from CHOICE on up get a year of NFL SUNDAY TICKET included at no cost. The price of NFL SUNDAY TICKET tends to change every season, but it’s a value of several hundred dollars, so if you’re signing up specifically for the sports packages, it’s a nice bonus.

DISH vs. DIRECTV packages & pricing summary:

DISH is definitely our pick here for its straightforward pricing and package choices. DIRECTV can get you more channels, but it’ll cost you. That said, DIRECTV does offer more channels than DISH in the top-tier packages, so if you like variety, or if DISH is missing that one obscure channel you can’t get enough of, DIRECTV might be a good fit. We also recommend DIRECTV for sports fans because of the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Equipment and features—DISH vs. DIRECTV

DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR beats the competition.

DISH Hopper

The main things we look at in a DVR are HD storage capacity, the number of simultaneous recordings it can handle, and the price. Unfortunately for DIRECTV, DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR stomps it in all three categories, offering up some crazy good specs. chose the Hopper 3 as the best DVR of 20171, and we chose it as the best provider DVR of 2017 in our comprehensive DVR roundup. That said, the Genie is still an outstanding DVR (it was the runner up in our DVR roundup, in fact), so if you choose DIRECTV you won’t be too far behind.


DISH Hopper 3DIRECTV Genie
Storage capacity2 TB1 TB
HD hours500200
4K supportYesYes
Simultaneous recordings165
# of TVs supported66
Main receiver includedYesYes
DVR service fee$10 per mo. $15 per mo.
Additional receiversJoey ($5 per mo.) | Super Joey ($10 per mo.)Genie Mini ($7 per mo.)
DetailsSee HopperSee Genie

As you can see, both of these DVRs are pretty capable, with high recording capacities, 4K support, and the ability to watch and record on a houseful of TVs at once. Both providers also include the main 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 and DIRECTV as well.

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 probably 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? Not us.

For a more in-depth comparison of these DVRs, check out our complete review of the Hopper vs. Genie.

DISH vs. DIRECTV equipment & features summary:

This is a clear victory for DISH. The Hopper 3 is just an awesome DVR, no two ways around it. That’s not to say DIRECTV’s Genie is bad, though; it’s still one of the best DVRs on the market. So while DISH takes this round, you can’t really go wrong either way.

Customer service—DISH vs. DIRECTV

DIRECTV takes the lead, but it’s a close race.

If good customer service is important to you, you’re going to be happy with this news—both DIRECTV and DISH have excellent reputations, leading the industry in customer satisfaction and support in J.D. Power surveys and ranking above average according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

DISH vs. DIRECTV Customer Service Ratings

J.D. Power Average4.5/54.75/5

In 2017, the ACSI ranked DIRECTV third and DISH fourth in customer satisfaction among subscription television services,2 with Verizon Fios and AT&T U-verse leading the pack. Looking at DIRECTV vs. DISH, only one point separated the scores, which have held steady since 2015.

DirecTV logo

Both providers ranked above the average for their industry, which is 64. Of course, ranking above the average in the cable industry isn’t exactly an amazing achievement. We’ve all heard the horror stories about cable companies and service. Still, you could do worse than DISH or DIRECTV.

It’s also worth noting that while DIRECTV ranks higher in surveys, DISH also provides 24/7 live support, so either service comes in handy for those late-night binge-watching emergencies.

DISH vs. DIRECTV customer service summary:

DIRECTV takes this category with excellent scores by ACSI and J.D. Power. DISH isn’t far behind, though, and we think you’ll be pretty happy with either service. But if you want the best, DIRECTV is the way to go.

DISH vs. DIRECTV—which should you choose?

Dish TV service Logo

This is a close race. DISH offers more streamlined package choices, more affordable pricing, and a better DVR. DIRECTV, on the other hand, isn’t far behind on any of those categories and receives slightly better customer satisfaction scores. In the end, though, we have to pick a winner.

We feel that DISH provides the best value and bang for your buck, while still offering outstanding customer service, so that’s our pick.

We still recommend DIRECTV for sports fans, though, for its killer sports programming and exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

DISH vs. DIRECTV summary:

  • Packages & pricing: DISH offers easy-to-understand packages with clear and affordable pricing. DIRECTV has more choices and more channels available, but some of the options are confusing and you don’t get as much for your money. We’d go with DISH here.
  • Equipment & features: 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, so if you do choose DISH, you’ll probably still have a good experience.
  • Customer support: This is DIRECTV’s time to shine, with several J.D. Power Awards for customer service and above-average satisfaction ratings from several surveys. DISH still does well, though, coming in just behind DIRECTV and even beating it out in some regions.

And that’s a wrap. If we missed anything, or you have any questions, drop us a comment and let us know.


Where is DISH service available?

DISH service is available nearly everywhere in the United States—in fact, if you couldn’t get DISH, we’d be surprised. This is because the 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?

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

Are satellite signals reliable?

Generally, yes. There is a popular notion that satellite is unreliable, but while weather-related interference is technically possible, you’ll only see issues during particularly heavy precipitation. Both DISH and DIRECTV advertise “99% worry-free signal reliability,” and in our experience, 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 provider rather than satellite. We’ve reviewed all the major cable providers as well, so you’re in the right place! Click the TV Service button up top to check them out.

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

See above. 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.


1., 2017’s Best DVRs
2 .    American Customer Satisfaction Index, Telecommunications Report

  • Derek Jude Tallman

    I want to preface this by saying that I have no experience with Dish as a consumer, only as a guest in someone’s home, but I have had Comcast, Uverse, and currently have DirecTV.

    If you’re not a sports fan, Dish is probably your best bet. It’s cheaper than DirecTV, and comes with Netflix, so you have a ton of options.

    However, if you are a sports JUNKIE like me, not just football, DirecTV gives you access to every pro game not being shown in the local market or a national cable station. Every. Pro. Game. In all four “major” American sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL). If you’re a transplant wanting to follow your childhood teams, or a fantasy fan that likes to watch all of your players live, you cannot beat DirecTV.

    And, since they’ve merged with AT&T, their customer service, in my experience, has been brilliant. Every issue I’ve had has been handled professionally and as quickly as humanly possible. I highly recommend the service. Uverse is pretty good, too, but (other than the occasional satellite/weather issue) DirecTV is all that plus.

    Rabbit ears are better than Comcast, and their customer service is horrible. I’d avoid them.

    Bottom line, if you are only a casual, local sports fan, or not a sports fan, and want “free” Netflix, go with Dish. If you’re a big sports fan, go with DirecTV.

    • Trevor Wheelwright

      Hey Derek,
      Good to hear from someone with personal experience with multiple providers!

      You’re absolutely right, the DIRECTV sports package is by far the most comprehensive for major league sports, and it’s only getting better. How cool is it to be able watch two games at once with split-screen capabilities? It’s nice keeping up with multiple teams, or having fantasy stats off to the side during the main game.

      We’ve been anxious to hear what customers say about the AT&T and DIRECTV merger, so to see that it’s been a positive experience is good news for everyone.

      Thanks for your insight, we appreciate the feedback!

      • Gerardo Gastelum

        Customer service and price will be sacrificed with the merger. I have both and ever since the cost of having both have gone through the roof and customer service is horrible. I am switching to Dish and T-Mobile

        • Scott T.

          Hey Gerardo,

          We’re also wondering how the merger will affect customer service (probably for the worst based on info from the American Custer Service Index).

          DISH does have our highest overall rating (we recommend the America’s Top 120 package), but if you want better customer service Verizon is a great option; it consistently earns high ratings from JD Power and ASCI. You can see our review for Verizon here. Also, Verizon offers a discount if you bundle TV with cellular service.

          Thanks for the comment, and if you have questions, let us know.

        • Trevor Wheelwright

          The trend with mergers seems to be that customer service suffers initially, presumably due to growing pains between the companies. Not only may they have differing philosophies on how best to handle customer service, but there’s also a learning curve for agents to become familiarized with new products, and services. Unfortunately, it takes some time to adjust and improve their customer satisfaction scores as a result.

          Keep in touch and let us know how your service switch goes!

        • Trevor Wheelwright

          Hey Gerardo,
          Thanks for dropping us a comment! It’s definitely a trend that customer service drops (albeit temporarily) after a merger, sorry to hear that you had a bad experience. Please let us know how your switch to DISH and T-Mobile goes, we’re always curious to hear back from people with first hand experience in TV/Internet/Phone services.

  • Scott T.

    You’re right! We did mess up the table. We’ve had to update this comparison every few months, and we’re currently working to update it again (it should have an update done by the end of next week).

    We do think DISH and DIRECTV are very comparable, but DISH is still the winner.

    The thing that stands out most between the two is price, and that’s the largest pain point we’ve found for customers. DIRECTV introduced “all-inclusive” pricing recently, and it only benefits households with a minimum of four TVs (the fee for four receivers is included in the price). What’s worse is that there is a significant second-year price increase with DIRECTV, even though there is no change in service. (For example, the XTRA package goes from $70 a month to $118 a month.)

    DIRECTV does offer two-year price locks, but only if you bundle with AT&T services like phone or internet. DISH on the other hand offers two-year price locks if you just want TV and it doesn’t make you pay for four receivers.

    It’s a bummer DISH is so bad to work for (do you have link for the source?). It’s nice to hear from technicians, and I’m glad DIRECTV treated you so well.

    • ZandarKoad

      Yes, historically Dish has been cheaper than DirecTV. I agree with that assessment.

      Dish’s standing as the worst company in America was based on reviews from A Yahoo article on The Worst Companies mentions Dish Network here:

      Usually employee dissatisfaction doesn’t directly affect the customer, so it’s not highly relevant for the purposes of your ranking.

    • LuAnne

      I think it sucks that people are FORCED to get another AT&T service if they want to keep the 2-year Direct TV price guarantee (unlike Dish). My mom lives in an area where AT&T internet is not available and her cell is free so if she gets Direct TV, the 2nd year, she’s screwed!

  • Angela

    Are they both equally as good as far as reception & how often they go out……like if it rains, or the wind is blowing hard?

    • Jenn Diffley

      Hey Angela,
      Good question. The deal is that they both rely on external satellite dishes, so both have identical issues with weather (the same way that, when it hails, every car is bound to be damaged, no matter the make or model). So yes, they’re equally good in the reception department. However, DIRECTV has a higher HD channel count, so if you’re looking for higher quality, that might be a deciding factor.

  • Dylan Campbell

    The ONLY reason you should ever have Directv is if you want the NFL Sunday Ticket. That’s it. That is the only thing advantage that Directv has over Dish. I was a long time (5 years) customer of Directv. In September 2016 I had a new roof put on my house and needed a simple realignment of the dish after the work was completed. Directv told me when I called on September 21st that they couldn’t have a tech there until October 11th!!! Are you kidding me? Three frickin weeks to get a tech out for a 2 minute job? That’s the start of football season, beginning of the fall lineup, start of MLB playoffs, etc. So I called DISH and they said they could be there in the morning to do the full setup at no charge. I was set up by noon the next day. I was able to get the America’s top 250 package with DISH (best package) on 5 Tvs for $32 less per month than I was paying for the Choice package (middle package) with Directv. $143 vs $111 and my price is guaranteed for 2 years with DISH. Directv will always jack up your rates and then you have to call in and threaten to disconnect your service at which time they will give you some discounts. Despite the fact that Directv would not get a service tech to me for 21 days, they still hit me with a $120 disconnect fee. That’s what you get for 5 years of loyalty to Directv. Dish has better channels, better service, and better features. There is no comparison on the DVR and Joey system compared to Directv. DISH blows Directv out of the water with technology. You also get Netflix directly on the DISH Hopper (you still pay the subscription price) so you don’t need a Bluray or Roku in every room to get Netflix. DISH also has Sirius XM in their channel lineup. I’m getting them for free right now. I’m not sure if that is a permanent deal or not, but that would be another feather in the cap of DISH. Customer service? I get directly to a person within a few minutes when I call DISH. I called Directv yesterday and was on hold for a total of 48 minutes before I got to the person who could solve my minor problem (returning the equipment). The AT&T/Directv merger may have been the worst thing that ever happened to Directv. Their customer service has plummeted and they no longer give a damn about their customers at all. It’s too bad, because I would have never left and found out how much better DISH is if they had just provided the service you would expect from your satellite provider.

  • LuAnne

    Does anyone know how much Direct TV charges to add 6 TVs instead of 4?

    • Trevor Wheelwright

      Thanks for your question, LuAnne.

      Each additional receiver after 4 TVs adds $49 to your initial price and $7 to your monthly equipment price.
      6 TVs would add $98 to your first bill only, and then $14 to your monthly bill.

      Hope that clears things up!

    • Sharsoz

      I would like you to know that just because you have the added boxes, you may keep them and not pay the 7.00 a month. You can have them turned off. Like, I rent a room out. The box in that room is off . I pay nothing. If the person renting wants tv, I have it turned back on….which makes their rent go up, 7.

  • Sharsoz

    READ THIS IF YOUHAVE HUGHES-INTERNET: I am a frustrated Direct customer. I have Hughes as my internet provider. It is the only Internet in my area. The installer for Direct connected the Genie to it .I was told that it would work with it. I was paying Hughes 130.00 a month for 25 GB’s. Hughes had also said it would work with it. The Genie used all of my GB’s. Just being plugged into it. No streaming etc. For several months I could not use my 130.00 a month internet because of going over GB’s. You have to pay more after going over alloted amount. When I finally figured out where all the GB’s were going; I disconnected the Genie. I now use around 2 GB’s a month without Genie. I complained to both companies. They both pointed the finger at each other. However, looking for an answer to who’s fault this should be, I googled it. Turns out since 2015 they knew. I found where many other people had complained. With all that said I am paying to dump Direct. I have to pay to get out of my contract. Im going with Dish . Dish said that it will not eat all of my GB’s.. (I spoke a few in customer service about this ) Unless someone tells me that the same overages will occur with Dish I will proceed with the install.

  • Pats Allen

    Dish which is AT&T will hit you with Two hard inquiries on your credit report. This will lower your credit score. I believe they do this on purpose to lower your chances with their competitors. Don’t give them a chance to hurt you. Don’t go to Dish AT&T.

  • Hohn Q Public

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that Dish has equipment that requires a customer to have one of their technicians pay a visit in order to simply relocate a Joey from one room to another. Nope! Not going to do it! I’ll go back to cable first!