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). Along with the traditional 1st year promo (and 2nd year regular price) plans, we'll toss the new price lock plans into the mix and see where they all shake out.

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: $19.99/mo
2nd year: $57.99/mo
1st year: $24.99/mo
2nd year: $57.99/mo
1st year: $29.99/mo
2nd year: $66.99/mo
1st year: $34.99/mo
2nd year: $73.99/mo
1st year: $89.99/mo
2nd year: $129.99/mo
Other monthly charges
Receiver fee: $6.50/mo for each TV
HD/DVR fee: $15/mo
Local Channels: $10/mo.  Current promo: FREE for Life
Setup/installation: One-time charge: $295  Current promo: FREE installation (up to 4 rooms)
  
TrueCost
(2-yr lock plans)
1st year: $50/mo
2nd year: $50/mo
1st year: $55/mo
2nd year: $55/mo
1st year: $60/mo
2nd year: $60/mo
1st year: $70/mo
2nd year: $70/mo
1st year: $125/mo
2nd year: $125/mo
Other monthly charges
Receiver fee: Included in monthly price
HD/DVR fee: 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)
  
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 %

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the 2-year price lock plans always better?
Almost always, yes. Basically, they fix the monthly cost for 24 full months. Assuming an average of 2 TVs installed, you'll save upwards of $300 after the 2 years are up.

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); both prices are under the 2-year lock option.

Are the HD and/or DVR fees included?
In the 2-year price lock plans, yes, ALL HD, DVR and receiver fees are included (the only thing added to your bill are regular taxes). With the traditional 1 year promo plans, you'll pay $15/mo for HD/DVR and $6.50/mo for your 2nd and every additional TV.

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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