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 storage||500 HD hours||200 HD hours|
|Contract||2 years||2 years|
|Details||View Plans||View 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.
|America's Top 120||$59.99 per mo||190||110||View 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.
|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.
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.
CableTV.com 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 vs. DIRECTV DVR Stats
|DISH Hopper 3||DIRECTV Genie|
|Storage capacity||2 TB||1 TB|
|# of TVs supported||6||6|
|Main receiver included||Yes||Yes|
|DVR service fee||$10 per mo.||$15 per mo.|
|Additional receivers||Joey ($5 per mo.) | Super Joey ($10 per mo.)||Genie Mini ($7 per mo.)|
|Details||See Hopper||See 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 Average||4.5/5||4.75/5|
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.
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?
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.