Review of DIRECTV's Packages

A value comparison of their leading channels & promos

Over the years, DIRECTV has steadily upgraded their TV plans and channel options. Most of those changes have been for the best (additional channels, better bonuses, etc), but some have come at a slight increase in price. In this report, we'll profile the current state of the leading DIRECTV plans and help you figure out where the true value resides. Note: regarding price, DIRECTV recently unveiled a new 2-year price lock option (similar to DISH)... the main difference is it requires you to add at least one additional AT&T service (internet, cell or home phone) to qualify. On this page, we'll stick to the pricing on the TV-only plans (1st year promo, 2nd year regular).

Finally, you may have noticed an increase in the base price of each DIRECTV package. In mid 2016, DIRECTV chucked all its previous plans with hidden fees (ie, $15/mo for DVR, $7/mo for each receiver) in favor of "All Included" plans with zero hidden fees (we triple-checked and it's legit). So, while the new pricing is higher, in most cases, it actually ends up being cheaper after the 2-year contract is up. For example, the SELECT plan used to be advertised at $19.99/mo for the 1st year, and then increased to the regular $57.99 in the 2nd. So, for a 4 room DVR install, every month you'd actually end up paying: $19.99 + $15 + $28 (yr 1), then $57.99 + $15 + $28 (yr 2). Compared to the new "All Included" SELECT plan, you'll save at least $311 after the 2 years. In the table below, see the category "Savings vs older plans" for the rest of packages. Now, let's quickly mention our review specs...

For starters, we like to review satellite TV plans based on 3 categories:
1) TrueCost: the actual monthly cost (all fees included) you'll pay during the promotional period and thereafter
2) Channel Value: our subjective, relative score of ALL the channels found in a particular plan
3) Bonus-added: if there's a significant sign-up bonus currently available for a plan, we'll give it a rankings boost

Below, we discuss each of those 3 categories and offer commentary on each. At the very bottom of the table, we'll give each plan a final, overall score, helping you decide which best fits your needs and household budget:

DIRECTV Plan Comparison

Category
SELECT
Entertainment
CHOICE
XTRA
PREMIER
TrueCost
(1st yr promo; 2nd yr regular price)
1st year: $50/mo
2nd year: $88/mo
1st year: $55/mo
2nd year: $98/mo
1st year: $60/mo
2nd year: $111/mo
1st year: $70/mo
2nd year: $118/mo
1st year: $125/mo
2nd year: $181/mo
Other monthly charges
Receiver fee: $7/mo/receiver  Current promo: Included in monthly price
HD/DVR fee: $15/mo.  Current promo: Included in monthly price
Local Channels: $10/mo.  Current promo: FREE for Life
Setup/installation: One-time charge: $295  Current promo: FREE installation (up to 4 rooms)
  
Savings vs older plans
(after 2 yrs, new "All Included" vs older plans w/ hidden fees)
$311
$192
$84
$60
no savings (nearly the same price)
No. Channels
"TV only" = no music
Total: 145+
TV only: 85
Total: 150+
TV only: 90
Total: 175+
TV only: 115
Total: 220+
TV only: 160
Total: 315+
TV only: 255
Cost/channel
(all "TV only" & 2 yr lock plans)
Every mth: $0.59
Every mth: $0.61
Every mth: $0.52
Every mth: $0.44
Every mth: $0.49
Channel Theme(s)
The Value Plan
This starter package gives you the basics, all at a smart price.
Featured channels: A&E, BRAVO, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, etc.
Sports Entree
Although not comprehensive, its the first plan with ESPN, ESPN 2 and Fox Sports 1.
New channels: Cartoon Network, ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, Nickelodeon, TNT, USA, etc.
Family Favorite
Includes a wide variety of fun, new channels and the first plan with the NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
New channels: Lifetime Movie, NFL Sunday Ticket, OWN, Science, etc.
The Most Popular
A favorite for years now, you'll score an impressive mix of channels & categories.
New channels: DIY, FXX, H2, Oxygen, NatGeo Wild, Tennis Channel, etc.
The Big Kahuna
The most comprehensive TV plan around, you'll get ALL 46 premium movie channels.
New channels: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, STARZ, beIN Sports, FLiX, etc.
Channel Value
(relative score)
8.0 /10
8.3 /10
9.2 /10
9.3 /10
8.8 /10
Bonus-added
(special, limited-time offers)
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 4 rooms)
  • Free Genie DVR Upgrade
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 4 rooms)
  • Free Genie DVR Upgrade
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 4 rooms)
  • Free Genie DVR Upgrade
  • Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 4 rooms)
  • Free Genie DVR Upgrade
  • Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Premium Movies Included
  • Free Installation (up to 4 rooms)
  • Free Genie DVR Upgrade
  • Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Free DIRECTV Sports Pack (38 chnls)
Overall Score
(sum of all categories; 1-100)
81 %
84 %
95 %
97 %
91 %
Learn more about each plan »
or call 1-855-776-0932 for the best prices in your area
  

Frequently Asked Questions

What about the 2-year lock plans?
The 2-year price guarantees you'll see advertised online only apply if you bundle at least 1 other AT&T service (internet, cell or home phone) with DIRECTV. If you do, for example, the SELECT plan would stay at $50/mo during the second year (instead of increase to $88/mo).

What other plans can I get?
On the English side, the only plan we didn't profile above is Ultimate ($75/mo). It's essentially XTRA plus 6 Encore movie channels, cloo, Chiller and Esquire. The Spanish side has 4 primary plan options, from MÁS LATINO® (115+ channels at $70/mo) to LO MAXIMO&trade (340+ channels at $125/mo)..

Are the HD and/or DVR fees included?
With all their plans (bundle or TV-only), yes, ALL HD, DVR and receiver fees are now included.

What happens if I want to switch plans?
DIRECTV makes it quite easy to up or downgrade. The easiest route is to give their customer service line a call and have a rep immediately swap you. You'll either get a bill credit if you downgrade, or have the pro-rated difference added to your next bill.

How long does it take get service installed?
You can usually get a satellite installer to your place the very next day (depending on your location and availability). The actual installation tends to take about an hour or so, depending on the number of TVs involved and complexity of your home's layout.

Related Reports:

DISH Plan Review - If you're considering DISH as well, check out our similar review and ranking of all the DISH packages right here. Depending on the time of year, their current promo and bonuses might move the needle in their direction.
Deciding Between the Satellite Providers - We recently moved and it was high time to reassess our TV services. Here are the steps I took to compare the leading satellite TV providers, including their current DVR services.



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