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DIRECTV vs DISH: Showdown Between the Leading Satellite TV Providers

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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.

Article Overview

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DIRECTV Authorized DealerDIRECTV (Authorized Dealer)DIRECTV (Authorized Dealer) – 855-692-6985
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Satellite vs Cable: Which is Better?

Trying to decide between satellite and cable? Read about some of the key differences between the two options. Plus, learn why satellite is superior in all cases.

Enhanced Sound and Picture Quality

Cable connections go through multiple network reconfigurations which only serve to 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).

Winner: Satellite TV

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.

Winner: Satellite TV

Satellite vs Analog Advantages

Here are reasons why satellite television is superior and it’s less expensive than analog TV.

  • Enhanced Sound and Picture Quality
  • Increased capacity for recording and storage of saved programs
  • Multiple simultaneous viewing options including the ability to record one show while watching another show
  • Pause and replay live TV
  • Fast-forward through commercials
  • HD quality local channels

Winner: Satellite TV

DIRECTV vs DISH: How Do They Compare?

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.

Free DVR and HDTV equipmentUp to 4 roomsUp to 4 rooms
Professional InstallationFreeFree
Number of Channels325+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 DIRECTTV Genie and DISH Hopper.

 DIRECTV GenieDISH Hopper®
Number of Shows Recorded at Once58
Recommends New ShowsCheckmark
Transfer Recordings to MobileCheckmarkCheckmark
Watch Two Shows On One ScreenCheckmarkCheckmark

Learn more about the DIRECTV Genie in this video.

Number and 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 325+.

But a closer look at those 325+ 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 wants to watch. 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:Cinemax®, HBO®, Showtime®, and Starz®CheckmarkCheckmark
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 and 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 120 PlusPREMIER™America's Top 250
Price$40/month for 12 months then $78/month$59.99/month for 24 months$115/month for 12 months then $181/month$89.99/month
Number of Channels155+190+330+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, USACBS Sports, C-Span, Food Network, Fox News, Hallmark, NickelodeonIn 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 Smart Pack: 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.

To summarize the table above, the Select package from DIRECTV is the winner for the basic packages. The Select package offers more channels, and in our opinion, the channels offered are better than those from the Smart Pack offered by DISH.

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$40.00/month155+Smart Pack$39.99/month55+
Entertainment$45.00/month160+America's Top 120®$59.99/month190+
Choice$50.00/month185+America's Top 200®$79.99/month240+
Xtra$60.00/month235+America's Top 250®$89.99/month290+

DIRECTV and DISH Promotions

  • Check out our DIRECTV Promo Codes page for discount codes that will save you even more $$.
  • DISH is now offering 2-Year Price Guarantee so you can lock in your monthly payment. Use this link or call 855-357-2283 to take advantage of this offer.


More Entertainment Options

We know you have many options when it comes to consuming media these days. That’s why we’ve reviewed several other options including streaming media services and cutting the cord altogether. And did you know you can also use a satellite for your internet too?

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

As a new homeowner Sadie understands the importance of keeping her property, and all that's in it, a top priority. Through apps like the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect she can keep an eye on things and control the temp via her smart phone why she's away. She believes in being proactive in life and using technology to keep you safe. She enjoys decorating on a budget, small DIY improvement projects and all things HGTV.

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158 Comments on "DIRECTV vs DISH: Showdown Between the Leading Satellite TV Providers"

newest oldest most voted
Hector Uva
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
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
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 ✌
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
Looking for both MLB Ticket & NHL Ticket (NY METS & NY RANGERS) who best offers this sports package.
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
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!
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!
Call and complain they will send you a free RCA amplified antenna to watch local channels on.
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!
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
It happens on direct TV all the time… So don’t change to direct TV if you think it will be different
John Doe
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.
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.
Kerri Fisher
LoL good luck with that … I think Trump has more to deal with like making sure his spray tan is even …… LoL
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 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
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
Deborah Coffman
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?

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
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.
Kimberly Alt
It says it integrates with Netflix but doesn’t say you don’t have to pay for it to get it. So I’m not quite sure it’s free.
Andrew Anderson
The promo for new DISH customers right now is Netflix is free for first year.
Kimberly Alt
Thanks for clarifying Andrew! 🙂
Andrew Anderson
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
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.
Don’t forget to mention the 4K content with the Hopper 3. :o)
Phil Guerra
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?
Rare signal loss with Dish.
Alex Lu
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.

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