DIRECTV or DISH? Quick Guide To Providers, Equipment, Promotions, And More

To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.

Person pushing remote in front of TVSatellite TV is still a major player, providing live TV access in geographic areas that aren’t reachable yet by cable (or internet) connections. Satellite TV companies have also upped their game and are offering more channels, packages, programming and perks to compete with the changing media landscape. Debating between DIRECTV vs Dish? We’ve got your back. In our satellite TV guide, we cover everything from providers to equipment, and feature the most current promotions for you to take advantage of.

Article Overview

Visit WebsiteCall
DIRECTV Authorized DealerDIRECTV (Authorized Dealer)DIRECTV (Authorized Dealer) – 855-692-6985
Dish logoDISH (Authorized Dealer)DISH (Authorized Dealer) – 855-357-2283

Satellite vs Cable: Which Is Better?

Satellite vs Cable iconDebating between satellite vs analog? There are a number of reasons satellite is better than traditional cable including:

  • Enhanced Picture Quality and Sound: Because cable connections go through multiple network reconfigurations, they degrade the quality of sound and picture. With satellite, the programming bypasses that complicated network web, so the quality of your signal is direct and therefore, unblemished. This direct system allows for ultra-high-definition TV (UHDTV).
  • Better Channel Selection – Both DIRECTV and DISH have the capability to offer more programming than cable, i.e. more channel choices including productions from other countries and programming in other languages. While DIRECTV offers more than 325 channels, DISH offers more than 290, and both provide multiple language options, though DIRECTV has fewer than DISH currently. In addition, you get HD quality local channels.
  • Cater Your Viewing – You can select packages specific to your viewing preferences, i.e. sports, kids, etc.

DIRECTV vs DISH: How Do They Compare?

Read our in-depth DIRECTV Review | Read our in-depth DISH Review

We have a bit more first-hand experience with DIRECTV, so we have an article on the history of the company and how they merged with TiVo and we also have a page dedicated to special offers.

A growing number of homes are changing the channel to one of the two biggest players in the satellite TV market: DIRECTV and DISH Network. Learn the advantages of satellite over traditional cable and analog and compare features, pricing and more.

Weighing the value of DIRECTV vs DISH is difficult because both products and the services they offer are very comparable.

To determine which is the best fit for you, it is important first to know your viewing habits and personal preferences. Then, when you look at the two lists side by side, it will be easier to recognize which provider better meets your needs and desires.

Below is a comparison of some of the basic features of DISH and DIRECTV.

Professional InstallationFreeFree
Number of Channels330+290+
Custom Design Your PackageNoNo
HD RecordingGenieHopper®
Contract Lengths24 Months24 Months
Price Lock12-24 Months24 months

HD Recording: DIRECTTV Genie vs DISH Hopper®

HD recording gives you the power to pause, rewind and record live TV. Below is a comparison of DIRECTV Genie and DISH Hopper.

Number of Shows Recorded at Once516
Recommends New ShowsCheckmark
Transfer Recordings to MobileCheckmarkCheckmark
Watch Two Shows On One ScreenCheckmark
(Up to 8 sports channels)
Watch Four Shows On One ScreenCheckmark
Voice RemoteCheckmark
Remote FinderCheckmark
Amazon Alexa CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmark

Learn more about the DIRECTV Genie in this video.

Number & Variety Of Channels Comparison

The number of channels offered and the particular programming of those channels differ between DIRECTV and DISH. As mentioned above, DISH offers more than 290 channels while DIRECTV offers 330+.

A closer look at those 330+ channels will reveal that more is not necessarily better. What your household likes to watch may not be the same as what your neighbor’s family watches. So, take a look and see which satellite provider offers the channels you are interested in.

Sports Channels:ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, NBA TV, NBC Sports Network, FOX Sports 2, NFL Network, MLB Network, NHL Network, Tennis Channel and Golf ChannelCheckmarkCheckmark
Sports Channels:Big Ten Network, MLB Network Strike Zone, NFL RedZone, Pac-12 Networks and Universal SportsCheckmark
Premium Channels:Showtime® and Starz®CheckmarkCheckmark
Premium Channels:HBO® and Cinemax®Checkmark
Premium Channels:Bloomberg and RFDTVCheckmarkCheckmark
Miscellaneous Channels:Discovery Family Channel, Discovery Life Channel and IONCheckmark
Miscellaneous Channels:A&E, AMC, BET, Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery, E!, Food Network, HGTV, History, MTV, MTV2, Spike, TBS, TLC, TNT, USA and VH1CheckmarkCheckmark
Kid Channels:Nickelodeon, ABC Family, Disney, Disney JR, Disney XD, Nick JR, Nicktoons Network and Cartoon NetworkCheckmarkCheckmark
X-Rated Channels:Playboy TV, Vivid TV, Hustler TV, BraZZers TV, Reality KingsCheckmarkCheckmark
X-Rated Channels:Penthouse TV and UBangCheckmark
X-Rated Channels:Cheap Thrills, Hustler HD, TEN, Reality Kings, Girlfriends Films and XTSYCheckmark

DIRECTV & DISH Pricing & Package Comparison

We’ve taken the basic packages from DIRECTV and DISH as well as the premium packages and compared them side-by-side so you can see an in-depth review of them. Read further to see who we think offers the best packages.

Package StyleBasic PackageBasic PackagePremier PackagePremium Package
Package NameSELECT™America's Top 120PREMIER™America's Top 250
Price$35/month for 12 months then $78/month$59.99/month$110/month for 12 months then $181/month$89.99/month
Number of Channels155+190330+290+
Contract Length24 Months24 Months24 Months24 Months
Popular Channels IncludedA&E, ABC Family, Animal Planet, BBC, CNBC, CNN, C-Span, Disney, Fox News, Food Network, FX, Hallmark, HGTV, Fox, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, TBS, TLC, USAAMC, ESPN, USA, CMT, Discovery, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, E!, Food Network, FX, HGTV, CNN, Fox NewsIn addition to Select Package: Cartoon Network, Cinemax, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports 1 & 2, HBO, MLB, NBA TV, NFL Network, NHL, Showtime, StarzIn addition to basic package: A&E, ABC Family, Animal Planet, BBC, Cartoon Network, CNBC, CNN, Disney, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports 1 & 2, FX, MSNBC, NBA TV, NFL Network, TLC, TBS, USA

*These channels were chosen based on what we thought were some of the most popular channels that households wanted in their cable packages.

DIRECTV offers low-priced basic packages, while DISH Network’s starting package is $59.99 per month. For the premium packages, the winner is DISH. America’s Top 250 offers all the same “popular” channels as the Premier package from DIRECTV for less money. However, if you’re wanting Starz, HBO and Showtime we suggest you go with DIRECTV.

Below is a broad comparison of all of DIRECTV and DISH packages.

DIRECTV PackagesPriceNumber of ChannelsDISH PackagesPriceNumber of Channels
Select$35.00/month155+America's Top 120®$59.99/month190
Entertainment$40.00/month160+America's Top 120 Plus®$69.99/month190+
Choice$45.00/month185+America's Top 200®$79.99/month240+
Xtra$55.00/month235+America's Top 250®$89.99/month290+

DIRECTV & DISH Promotions

DIRECTV often has time-sensitive promotions, check out our DIRECTV Promo Codes page to learn more.

DISH Network is offering a 2 year price guarantee, just use this link to get started.

More Satellite Options

Did you know you can also use a satellite for your internet too?

Are you a proud DISH or DIRECTV subscriber? Which one do you prefer and why?

About The Author:

Sadie has a bachelor’s in communications and minor in business from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been writing about, researching and a user of security and smart home technology since 2012. As an early adapter and avid user of gadgets, she’s not only well-versed in how to use them but also passionate about helping others integrate them into their lives and homes.

Having lived in various urban neighborhoods in major cities, she has experienced her share of property crimes over the years; from car break-ins to stolen bikes. As a result, she’s extra cautious when it comes to protecting herself and her property.

Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Notify of
Oldest Most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Hector Uva
May 21, 2018 4:50 pm

I really like that fact that DIRECTV offers more channels. I appreciate having different options when it comes to my family’s viewing experience. We are looking for a new TV provider, and I think my family will enjoy having more options.

Jeff Butler
November 24, 2017 8:53 am

DISH Network’s Black Friday Sale is available now. Receive a Free Amazon Echo Dot, a Voice Remote and a Pocket DVR when you sign up today!

Kerri Fisher
November 23, 2017 8:23 pm

We were with direct TV since before when they were star dish Network and being a loyal customer gets you no where with direct TV.. we kept getting hidden fees and charges for things we didn’t sign up for…so glad we switched to dish Network much better customer service and the equipment is so much better… Runs much smoother and we have a price lock for 2 years and after that it still stays the same 98% of the time so no worries there… With direct TV they Jack the price up and treat loyal customers like crap…so I choose dish Network awesome Service also we have awesome equipment like the remote you can speak into and it will find what you want to watch… But with direct TV if I wanted something like that or the genie they would charge me crazy upgrade fees… And we were with direct TV from 1997-2016 and only got 2 equipment upgrades which is crazy… But anyway wish I switched to dish Network along time ago.. never ever again will you rip me off direct TV ✌

November 5, 2017 1:23 pm

I’ve had them both , currently dish. Picture quality excellent on both. The hopper 3 is far superior to Directv genie. It will record 16 programs at once and also has a built in Netflix and Utube apps. It’s twice the size and 3 times the weight of the genie , it also has a remote control you can talk to. Directv has none of this and their introductory price is 12 mo. where as DIsh is 24 mo. The article says Directv customer service is better , that is ridiculous. Average wait time to speak to a Rep. is 2-3 times longer than Dish consistently. Fios might have slightly better picture quality but limited availability and no 4K programming or capabilities.

Jim Lutz
March 25, 2017 10:07 pm

Looking for both MLB Ticket & NHL Ticket (NY METS & NY RANGERS) who best offers this sports package.

March 10, 2017 12:58 pm

Please tell me where you get free tv for 4 rooms. It isn’t at Direct TV or Dish. There are charges.

Dianna Butler Musgrove
January 23, 2017 3:58 pm

We are sick and tired of all the ridiculous minute lost but paid for during all programs for commercials!
I hate that, and I have not the only one. In the beginning we were paying for commercial free tv. Now, we are paying money for 45 minutes of commercial with about 15=20 minutes of a show. That should be illegal!

January 11, 2017 2:16 pm

We get so frustrated with DISH and that they keep taking channels off. Last year it was Channel 13 and this year it is Channel 5 KSL. We watch this channel all the time and so irritated!!! I HATE these dumb wars because the viewer is the only one that misses out!

November 5, 2017 1:29 pm
Reply to  Terrie

Call and complain they will send you a free RCA amplified antenna to watch local channels on.

January 10, 2017 3:30 pm

Direct TV has software issues and that is what was just told to me by a second case manager and the software cannot be written until they find out what is wrong with the software to begin! This has to be done in house by their engineers and it could be over a month before we see the problem fixed! The problem is our TV shows freeze and pixilate… ruining the current show we are watching and the majority of recorded shows ! I asked for a discount and I was flat out told no ! Thete is more but I am out of time for now!

January 2, 2017 8:15 pm

Hope you are not a sports fan on Dish. Here is a quote during OU Texas college game “Due to a contract dispute between DISH and television affiliate operator a number of markets will be without ABC this afternoon”. This happened!!!

Kerri Fisher
November 23, 2017 8:29 pm
Reply to  Tex_Dude

It happens on direct TV all the time… So don’t change to direct TV if you think it will be different

John Doe
November 13, 2016 2:31 am

Just got off the phone with Directv, THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE NATION. If you want to hear something hilarious deal with them for awhile and then transfer to their cancellation department and when you FINALLY get there listen to the nicest friendliest you’ve ever heard. I’m going to write letters to Trump everyday until he does something about them. EVERY DAY. Regulations, YOU NEED EM.

Kerri Fisher
November 23, 2017 8:32 pm
Reply to  John Doe

LoL good luck with that … I think Trump has more to deal with like making sure his spray tan is even …… LoL

January 3, 2017 11:28 pm
Reply to  John Doe

John, while I agree with you, Trump is very anti-regulation so good luck. But DirecTV does suck. I’ve had them twice and both times I completed my 2 year contract and said, “Hey, I’m going to cancel unless you can offer me a new promo rate. I know you’re going to say ‘no’ but then after I cancel you’ll send me something saying you want me back, but it will be too late because I’m with someone else.” They said, sorry, nothing we can do. Sign up for Dish and every week for 3 months Directv sent me stuff in the mail or called me asking to get me back at new promo rates. Freaking idiots.

Dylan Campbell
October 5, 2016 5:15 pm

The ONLY reason you should ever have Directv is if you want the NFL Sunday Ticket. That’s it. That is the only 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 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.

Kerri Fisher
November 23, 2017 8:43 pm
Reply to  Dylan Campbell

This is so true!! It seems like they don’t care about customers at all don’t even know how they have any… Direct TV customer service is definitely a joke and I know we are sooooo much more happier with dish and we get a extra box and upgraded remotes … I told dish my story like you told and they said if they had a penny Everytime they heard how bad and how much worse direct TV is they would be rich… .. anyway anybody needing TV service stay far far away from direct TV otherwise you’ll be regretting it like I did… Dish is awesome

Me Myself and I
August 29, 2018 8:00 pm
Reply to  Kerri Fisher


Deborah Coffman
August 29, 2016 8:18 pm

I just discontinued Direct TV, we were told by customer service that our rate was for two years, same as our contract. This month it went up. I tried to talk to three different people that sounded like they were reading from a script, no help at all. I cancelled our service, not dealing with a scam but have to pay an early disconnect fee which I feel is unfair. They did not honor what they told me to get us to sign up. As I’m finding out Direct TV has a habit of telling customers anything to get them to sign up but then after a year they can charge whatever they want and they either pay the early termination fee to cancel or pay the high bills! And they don’t care who they hurt I guess that’s why my husband served 33 years defending this country and putting his life on the line, so we could get screwed by people like Direct TV. Very unsatisfied customer.

August 25, 2016 1:36 pm

Ive been with DIRECTV for 9 years. My bill never changes until February when all the cable and satellite companies have an increase. My particular package which is the Select package goes up $2.

Chuck Howard
June 30, 2016 11:42 pm

I keep reading $40-$60 per month rates for directv. I have been a customer for over 10 years and I pay $120 per month. I do have a genie and 2 receivers but get no movie channels. $120 per month! The past couple days, I have been getting a satellite signal lost error of a few of my favorite channels. So, as an appreciation for my 8 years of being a customer, they want to charge me $50 for someone to come out and figure out why I am not getting some of my channels. Plus, it will take 2 weeks for someone to come out. Seriously? 2 weeks? I hate AT&T and was tempted to cancel after the buyout but didn’t. I am now receiving AT&T junk mail every other day. I will be calling Dish tomorrow. I am done with Directv.

Ashley Kelley
April 25, 2016 8:11 am

Also dish automated help line is way better you don’t have to type in phone number and account number it already recognizes it.

Ashley Kelley
April 25, 2016 8:10 am

I only switched to direct TV 2 days ago and already regret it. I had the hopper and joey with dish and absolutely loved it ..then direct sends me just a regular DVR and so I can only pause and record in one room. Also all dish channels are HD not the case with direct the only reason I switched is cuz I felt dish doesn’t care as much about loyal customers who have finished out their contract as they do new ones..they only gave me a perk# of $15 off my bill for 6 months after they had just went up on their prices $10 and they didn’t offer to upgrade my equipment. So I called direct after I realized that I couldn’t do what I had with my hopper and joey and they first told me they’d send me the genie for $199 deposit and I freaked out about it and they said they will waive it. I even love the dish guide better, hopefully with the genie I will feel better about it but I dunno, wish I’d just been more persistent with dish. Now I’ll have to wait 2 years either way.

April 14, 2016 8:59 pm

I cancelled Dish and will have Direct TV this Saturday. They have a two-year price guarantee of 175 channels and HBO for $75. Beats the $130 for 120 channels at Dish and I will gain Fox Sports (NASCAR) and NFL package for a year.

1) I lose the Netflix channel on every TV which meant just clicking into it and stream away.
2) Also, we have triplets so being able to watch on only 4 of our 5 TVs may eventually become an issue.
3) The Hopper had Bluetooth so I could use my headphones wirelessly and the Genie does not.

Did anyone go from Direct TV to Dish that can provide insight from that perspective?

July 3, 2016 2:56 pm
Reply to  SD

I went to Dish from Direct 5 years ago have the 220 channel package 4 TVs no hopper no movie ch for $114/mo including tax. The only reason I’m upset with this set up is they took a few of our channels and put them in the higher package :/ forcing us to upgrade. I am considering going back to Direct but reading all this I may just upgrade at this point. I hated Direct they only offered me a good deal after I switched due to outrageous price increases. So here I am again with increases.

Jim Bob
April 3, 2016 6:19 pm

A directv rep 2 months ago mentioned a month-to-month service for about $40. Is it still available? Does dish have something similar? I’ll go over the air before I agree to a cancel fee possibility of more than $10.

Andrew Anderson
March 30, 2016 12:15 am

Did you get DISH already? I love it. Far better technology. I love being able to record 16 shows at once and auto hop (skip) commercials.

Neitel Agosto
April 1, 2016 7:10 pm

No, I don’t have it. When the NBA season is over, I am thinking of canceling this contract I have with Comcast because they are killing my pockets. I pay $130 every month and that’s not even counting the fees they charge me for going over my data.

March 24, 2016 5:13 pm

Don’t forget to mention the 4K content with the Hopper 3. :o)

Phil Guerra
February 22, 2016 2:45 pm

I’m wanting to switch from Direct TV to Dish, but concerned about losing signal. Direct TV has been pretty good in that dept. here, but as so many have said here, Direct TV pricing is just awful. We signed up 1.5 years ago and our bill has gone from $73/month to $130, and customer service is quite happy for us to switch over to Dish. You would think that they would offer some form of retention promotion or something, but nope, they are quite happy for us to walk, but I am concerned about loss of signal with Dish. Can anyone help with info on this?

Alex Lu
March 27, 2017 12:09 am
Reply to  Phil Guerra

I’ve been a Dish customer for 5+ years, I’ve had Xfinity in the past as well and I’ve rarely had an issue with signal loss, and actually had a few problems with Xfinity believe it or not. Sometimes when the weather is really bad there will be partial loss, sometimes no HD, but that’s about it. Except ONE time where there was a persistent issue that kept coming back every few weeks (lasted a few months and would come and go so I thought maybe it was some random interference, then it came again and lasted a whole day or so). I called Dish and they had someone out within a few days and the tech promptly readjusted the dish and that was it. No problems since.

I was actually considering switching to Directv because of Dish losing channels / networks; Dish Network doesn’t have Root Sports Southwest at the moment (March 2017) so Dish customers can’t watch local sports. This has been the case for multiple years.

But after reading reports, I guess Directv has a host of issues as well.

July 3, 2016 2:58 pm
Reply to  Phil Guerra

Rare signal loss with Dish.

Glenn Dupuis
February 19, 2016 1:49 pm

I wanted to save some money at Dish. I changed programming @ $111.99 and have now $51.99. No sports except hockey which I don’t watch, no movies at all. I screwed myself I guess.

Kerstin Hilgenberg Branstetter
February 9, 2016 2:19 am

I am fed up with direct tv and their lies. We started out with paying a consistent amount of $82.56 for the first year which included HBO. The 2nd year, I get automatically charged for NFL Sunday ticket. Lets not forget to mention that the lousy rep that signed me up promised me 2 years free only to get told that wasn’t true and that it also auto renewed. It’s been a nightmare ever since then. Just got my acct screenshot last night. This month’s bill is a whopping $173. I’ve been promised discounts and rebates only to see them somehow charge them back to me the following month. I’m over it!! Ordering dishnetwork tomorrow. I refuse to pay that kind of money for the 120 plus package with hbo only and only having a simple HD DVR receiver in one room and nothing but a plain box in my son’s bedroom. I’ve been lied to enough. We paid that when we lived in the city with Cox and that included cable, home phone and internet. Dish has far better prices than DTV. If we didn’t live outside of Cox cables service area, we would still have them today. Bye bye dtv!!

Joe Hammerdink
February 8, 2016 9:27 pm

I did the same. I switched to Dish this week, got the Hopper 3 and I love it. Dish is way ahead of the game tech wise and they always have been. What has fueled DIRECTV, sadly, is NFL Sunday Ticket.