How to Select the Best Provider
DISH vs. DIRECTV - Compare all the Pros and Cons

As you probably know, satellite TV is only available from 2 providers, DISH Network and DIRECTV. Because the science and programming associated with satellite service is still fairly new and complex, it's not always easy choosing between the two.

That's where we can help. By the time you finish reading this page, you'll be a bona fide satellite TV expert! All it takes is a few minutes of your time to completely understand the most important, decision-making features of both DISH Network and DIRECTV  (for an even quicker comparison, jump to our side-by-side chart).

Summary of the Current Specials

Satellite TV providers are constantly competing to win your business... with plenty of freebies and bonuses. Here are the deals currently available to new subscribers:

• Free NFL Sunday Ticket1
• Free Genie DVR upgrade
• Free Movie Channels (3 mths)
• Offers start at $19.99/month
• Free DIRECTV on Demand
• Free Professional Installation
[ learn more ]
• HD Free for life (new)
• Free Hopper® upgrade^
• Free Movie Channels (3 mths)
• Prices start at $19.99/month*
• Free Blockbuster @Home™ (3 mths)
• Free Professional Installation
[ learn more ]
At a Glance: DISH vs DIRECTV Programming

We go into more detail in the table below, but from our experience and the feedback our visitors have sent over the years, here's where each provider sets itself apart...
Without a doubt, DISH excels most in price, highlighted by the lowest-priced plan in the industry -- Smart Pack at $19.99/mo*. Another popular feature is their International Programming, which includes over 29 languages as well as the relatively rare South Asian packages.
When it comes to sports programming, DIRECTV has no rival. They have the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket™ and a handful of other leagues/sports. And thanks to licensing deals with leading movie studios, DIRECTV subscribers get first dibs on a ton of popular flicks and programs.
DISH and DIRECTV Equipment - It's a Tech Battle

Without reliable and responsive receivers, it's nearly impossible to enjoy even the best programming (ever had your receiver freeze or flicker out of control? Not fun). Satellite TV boasts the most technologically-advanced HDTV and DVRs around. Here's a quick overview of their key features:

High-Definition (HDTV) Quality
Hands down, HDTV is the best way of watching television. With an advanced resolution profile, it broadcasts MUCH more detail/quality than regular digital or analog television (of course, an HDTV-capable receiver and TV is required). The total number of HD channels you can watch is always evolving - currently, DISH carries a total of 200 HD channels while DIRECTV offers 195 (all full-time HD).
Whole-Home Digital Video Recorders (DVRs)
There's nothing better than watching TV on your time, and high-tech DVRs let you do just that. From commercial-skipping to intelligent syncing throughout your entire home, it doesn't get much better than the new Genie and Hopper whole-home DVR systems. Read on for more details...
Hopper's main advantage over Genie and other DVRs is its ability to easily skip commercials and superior storage capacity. It can save up to 500 hours of HD and 2,000 hours of SD recordings (vs 200 and 800 hrs, respectively, for the Genie). It's also the only DVR system that lets you stream live TV while on the road (Hopper with Sling required).
DIRECTV's Genie leads the way in overall ease-of-use and wireless connectivity. It may not have Hopper's hard drive but with the Genie Minis, it's incredibly easy to turn any room into a standalone DVR hub (where you can independently playback, record and manage your DVR). If you have a large household, this system also lets you connect an industry-leading 8 TVs to your main Genie box.
[ more on Hopper vs Genie ]
DISH vs DIRECTV: Side-by-side Comparison

Over the past three decades, I've tried every TV provider out there -- from local cable to 30-foot dishes. I stick with technology that's both cost-effective and consistently reliable, even years after sign-up. For my money, you just can't beat satellite TV. It's incredibly feature-rich and, value-wise, priced at least 30% less than cable (across all comparable plans).

For the most part, DISH and DIRECTV offer similar plans, so it really boils down to your specific needs. If it's price, go with DISH. If you're more concerned about sports (especially the NFL), side with DIRECTV. Either way, check out the table below where we compare each of the key features. At the end, we review the current specials and bonuses, which could wind up being your ultimate tie-breaker.

Note: items in the table in bold red or blue indicate an advantage for that provider or a valuable, limited-time offer.

Max # Channels 320+ (America's Everything™ plan) 285+ (Premier plan)
Premium Movie Offer Free for 3 months:
Free for 3 months:
Local Channels 99% coverage in the U.S. 99% coverage in the U.S.
Sports Plans
(all available in HD)
(no NFL Sunday Ticket)
• MLB Extra Innings
• NBA League Pass
• NHL Center Ice
• ESPN College Football
• ESPN Full Court (college basketball)
• MLS Direct Kick
NFL Sunday Ticket
• MLB Extra Innings
• NBA League Pass
• NHL Center Ice
• ESPN College Football
• ESPN Full Court
• MLS Direct Kick
HDTV Total of 200 HD channels
(80+ are split HD/SD)
Monthly HD fee: FREE for life
Total of 195 HD channels
(all are full-time HD)
Monthly HD fee: $15/mo (includes DVR service)
Music SiriusXM: over 70 commercial-free music channels
The most popular include: '70s on 7, Viva, Jam On, Symphony Hall, etc.
• Hopper also has a Pandora-integrated app which lets you easily stream from your Pandora account
SonicTap Music: over 84 commercial-free music channels
The most popular include: 70's Hits, Classic R&B, Bluegrass, etc.
International Programming 29 languages:
(Spanish, Italian, Chinese, African, Arabic, Armenian, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Greek, Korean, South Asian, Polish, Urdu, Farsi, Israeli, Portuguese, Tagalog, etc.)
8 languages:
(Spanish, Brazilian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian)
Whole-home DVR Hopper:
500 hours of HD recordings
2,000 hours of SD (standard definition)
$12/month for DVR service
200 hours of HD recordings
800 hours of SD
$15/month for DVR service (includes HD)
Extra TVs $5.00/month 2nd & each additional TV $6.50/month for each TV
Popular Packages & Pricing
Smart Pack - $19.99/mo*
(55+ channels)
America's Top 120™ - $29.99/mo*
(190+ channels)
America's Top 200™ - $39.99/mo*
(235+ channels)
America's Everything™ - $89.99/mo*
(320+ channels)
SELECT - $19.99/mo - reduced from $24.99
(130+ channels)
Entertainment - $24.99/mo
(140+ channels)
CHOICE™ - $29.99/mo
(150+ channels)
Premier - $89.99/mo
(285+ channels)
Current Specials
(as of 3/8/15)
FREE Hopper Upgrade^
FREE HD for Life
FREE HBO, Showtime, Cinemax & Starz for 3 mths
Blockbuster @Home service FREE for 3 months
FREE professional installation (up to 6 rooms)
Plans starting at $19.99/month
Sign-up bonus: $50 gift card (limited time only)
Learn more »
FREE Genie Upgrade
FREE NFL Sunday Ticket
FREE HBO, Showtime, Cinemax & Starz for 3 mths
DIRECTV On Demand (hundreds of FREE movies)
FREE professional installation (up to 4 rooms)
Offers starting at $19.99/month
March bundle specials
Learn more »
*For 12 months. Promotional price requires 24-month commitment. Available for new and qualifying former customers. Restrictions apply.
^Monthly fees apply: Hopper, $12; Joey, $7; Super Joey, $10
1With qualifying packages
More on satellite TV...
The Worldwide Leader

Satellite TV is the preferred form of entertainment in over 35 million homes. Driving that growth is the fact the satellite industry invests more in research and development (better DVRs, program guides, etc) than all the other providers combined. Here's why satellite television is a customer favorite, particularly vs cable:

•  Costs about 30% less than cable
•  Exclusive programming (NFL Sunday Ticket, etc)
•  Unparalleled, U.S. based customer service
•  99% local channel availability
•  Best picture clarity in the industry
•  Superb On-Screen Program Guides
•  Most technologically-advanced HD DVRs
•  Largest library of international programming
Crystal-Clear Reception, without Compromise

With a satellite connection, you get a 100% digital feed of a reliably crisp picture and sound. That clarity doubles every few years and, led by both DISH Network and DIRECTV, their subscribers get first access to the sharpest picture available. The feed is delivered direct to your home, unlike cable which uses a complex network of local relay stations (every transfer effects quality).

Mobile Access to your DVR Playlist

Both providers offer mobile equipment that you can hook up to your network at home (allowing you to access your DVR wirelessly or on the road) and phone/tablet apps that let you stream the content. Here's a quick look at each:

DIRECTV's GenieGo is a mobile extension of DIRECTV's Genie DVR. Previously called the nomad™, GenieGo is a small device (the size of a paperback), that integrates into your DVR network. Once setup, you just need to install the GenieGo app on your computer, iPhone, tablet, etc. Provided you have an internet connection, you can stream any program in your DVR library...from anywhere. While the technology is still fairly new, it's an impressive step-up from the original line - we rate it an 8.5/10.

DISH's mobile solution is coined DISH Anywhere™. Equipment-wise, they rely on a third party solution, the Sling. It's already integrated into the Hopper or can be added separately if you have a ViP 722 or 722k DVR (no other DVRs are compatible). Once connected, install the app and you're off and running. In our opinion, the app could be a bit more intuitive, but it is incredibly stable and feature-rich, even under low bandwidth conditions. Overall, the current version checks in at a rating of 8.3/10.

© 2005-2015 All rights reserved.

About | Contact | Privacy | Offer Terms