Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Dish vs DIRECTV
August 26, 2020
Dish TV has the absolute cheapest plans starting at, with a slightly lower channel count.
DirecTV is the premium option, with more HD channels, sports options, and exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket. Plans start at a low price, but jump by around 50% after the first year, and NFL Sunday Ticket costs extra on the budget plans. They offer bundled options with AT&T Internet.
Dish primarily targets budget shoppers, with flexible entry-level plans in the 100 channel range and a capable 2 TB DVR.
DirecTV is the more premium option, offering a wider selection of channels and better options for sports fans. Notably, they are the only TV provider with access to NFL Sunday Ticket.
Both Dish and DirecTV are available virtually nationwide, so long as you have a clear view of the southern sky for installing a receiver.
My two cents: DirecTV is the winner if you want TV that “just works” and comes with endless sports. Dish has a cheaper entry-level price and makes sense if you're mainly looking to “cut the cord” from your local cable company and save money.
There’s no doubt about it: Dish has the advantage when it comes to the price of TV service. If you’re looking for a budget buy with a top-notch DVR and support for 29 different languages, Dish may be right up your alley.
Keeping that in mind, the provider is not without its drawbacks. A lower price means fewer channels and less support for sports fans.
Additionally, DirecTV is often available at a discount if bundled with local Internet service, while Dish tends to be sold as a standalone service.
DirecTV, as mentioned above, is the more premium service provider. You’ll pay higher prices, but have access to around 25+ more channels for the price and 25+ more channels at the top level. DirecTV also offers a wider selection of HD channels and better options for sports.
They sometimes bundle with Internet providers AT&T Internet and CenturyLink) to offer $10/month savings for “double play” customers. Note that these promotions come and go, and aren't likely available to existing AT&T or CenturyLink customers. You can check AT&T bundle options by calling an agent at [phone provider=”att”].
Overall, where Dish excels, DirecTV falls short. The service is comparatively expensive, the Genie DVR has less storage and features than Dish's Hopper 3 DVR, and contracts can be difficult to secure without good credit. Keep in mind, too, that prices with the provider will often increase after the first year – make sure you take a close look at your contract!
Dish has the advantage when it comes to price, and their technology is nothing to sneeze at either. The Hopper 3 DVR is the most advanced model on the market, and the addition of some initial smart home support shows that Dish is committed to keeping up with current advances in home conveniences.
Another unique advantage is the ability to access DVR recordings from anywhere with the Hopper GO device. It’s never been easier to access your live TV on the go, but accessing DVR recordings away from home is not a standard feature for most television providers.
Although DirecTV is missing some of the bells and whistles that come alongside Dish’s advanced technology, it more than makes up for this drawback with a wider selection of channels and more comprehensive sports options.
Below I’ve listed some of the major sports channels that each provider has to offer. This is not an exhaustive lineup but touches on some of the bigger benefits that Dish and DirecTV offer to sports fans.
While it may seem that the providers offer a similar amount of channels, a major advantage that DirecTV has over Dish is the inclusion of NFL Sunday Ticket Max – a service that offers more comprehensive coverage of the NFL. This is currently the only way to watch out-of-market games.
Note that while NFL Red Zone is not available as a standalone service with DirecTV, the channel is included with the purchase of NFL Sunday Ticket Max.
While not listed in the table, Dish does have an advantage when it comes to niche and smaller networks. These channels don’t make up for the omission of NFL Sunday Ticket, but may offer content that is important to you. Take a look at their full sports package lineup for more information on these channels.
Do Dish and DirecTV have minimum contract lengths?
Yes, Dish and DirecTV both require a minimum contract length of two years. Dish guarantees the same monthly price during this period, while DirecTV starts with a promotional price and adjusts to the final price after 12 months. If you cancel early, both charge early termination fees based on how much of your contract is remaining. For this reason, temporary residents such as students usually opt for more flexible services like Xfinity X1 TV, or by cutting the cord entirely.
Dish and DirecTV both run credit checks on potential customers. This can have an effect on your credit score (around -2 points usually), just like when an auto company or any other consumer goods loan checks your credit.
That said, Dish is known to work with customers who have iffy credit and offer different plans that are tailored to individual credit levels. As you might expect, these plans tend to be less affordable and come with more up-front costs like installation fees.
DirecTV also works with customers in some cases, usually by charging additional fees up-front and offering to build savings into their payments closer to the end of the contract if they keep their account in good standing.
Dish and DirecTV vary significantly in the quality and features of their DVR service, with Dish generally pulling far ahead with the Hopper 3 DVR – one of the most advanced models on the market. Below I’ve included some of the main differences between the two DVRs.
While DirecTV does have some advantages with support for an additional TV in the home, live sports scores, as well as integration with AT&T’s home security service, it’s generally outclassed in every other criteria.
Both Dish and DirecTV are first and foremost TV providers. They do not offer satellite Internet service.
With that said, bundled plans are sometimes offered with local DSL providers, allowing some rural residents to save around $10/month by combining their sign-up. These DSL Internet providers are usually slower than cable alternatives, so it makes the most sense for light Internet users.
If speedy internet in addition to TV service is a chief concern, you may be better off with a traditional cable provider.
The price of Dish’s bundled services – double play or triple play TV with internet and/or phone service – vary depending on which secondary partner you choose to bundle with. For more info on bundles, head to the Dish website or AT&T website for DirecTV bundles.
If you’re bundling DirecTV with AT&T internet, plans start from $80 a month over 24 months, and from $89.99 a month with phone and internet – both without any caps on data. For other bundle providers, check out DirecTV’s website.
Dish has low prices that will stay the same throughout your contract, and the Hopper 3 DVR outshines DirecTV by almost every metric. If you’re looking for a budget option with advanced TV equipment, Dish may be right up your alley.
The inclusion of NFL Sunday Ticket Max makes DirecTV a must-have for football fans, and higher-tier packages offer more channels than Dish. Those who want the maximum amount of content and are willing to pay a little more for that privilege will get a lot of use out of DirecTV.
As both providers use satellite equipment to deliver service, both Dish and DirecTV will require the installation of a Dish. This installation is generally free when you sign your contract.
I mentioned above that both services require a line of sight, and that basically means that your Dish needs to have clear access to the southern sky. If you’re in an area with heavy interference, you may find that the service won’t be as reliable as options like cable or fiber-optic connections.
As far as DVR equipment goes, there’s an associated monthly fee which I’ve listed in the table above. If you’d like to forego the extra fee and go for a more basic set-top box, there are options available, but you’ll be missing out on a lot of useful features. I feel the convenience of a DVR is more than worth the small extra cost each month.
Both providers have a lot of things going for them, but I feel that the options that DirecTV offers for sports, combined with the much higher amount of available channels, make it the winner in this battle of the satellites.
Those who value a more budget-friendly option with a more comprehensive DVR may prefer Dish, but for the serious TV aficionado, DirecTV is the better choice.
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