Cord Cutting Guides, News, and Reviews
Comcast vs DIRECTV
November 17, 2020
Xfinity is a great budget option that lets you combine your TV and Internet into one bill. Their X1 TV platform is surprisingly well-liked and offers thousands of on-demand titles similar to Netflix, although it comes with relatively low DVR storage for live TV.
DirecTV is a bit more premium in terms of sports content (exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket access, etc.) but comes with a minimum two-year contract and requires space to install the receiver dish.
Overall, Xfinity is more focused on bundled offers that combine Internet and TV in one bill. While this provides the absolute lowest entry price, DirecTV is overall cheaper in terms of the channels and premium content you get for your money. Xfinity's main strengths are cheap basic TV plans (think 10 channels + local news), no-contract options, and simple setup.
DirecTV is usually more affordable for anything more than basic cable and features a wide selection of 300+ channels. It’s also worth noting that DirecTV was bought by AT&T back in 2015, which means you can bundle TV services from DirecTV with AT&T’s Internet and phone services for around $10-15/month off the total cost, plus get unlimited streaming on mobile. I've spelled out the details on those deals in my AT&T Internet + TV review.
Like Dish, DirecTV has 100% coverage in the US thanks to their satellite technology. The catch is that you have to sign a long agreement and confirm that you have a southern view wherever you plan to install the reception dish. Either way, DirecTV is frequently the only option for premium TV in rural areas that are underserved by traditional cable or even Digital TV over DSL.
Xfinity offers cable Internet services (Comcast is actually the biggest cable Internet provider in the US). While cable Internet is pretty fast and cost-efficient, many would-be Xfinity customers usually worry about data caps.
While it is true that Xfinity features a monthly data cap, they recently switched to a universal 1TB cap that is far above what 99% of customers will need. (Unless you're sharing with a bunch of neighbors and streaming/downloading files 24/7.)
If the data cap is surpassed, you’ll have to pay for each additional 50GB (gigabytes) of data ($10/each). Xfinity also offers an Unlimited Data Option that costs around $50/month. Just keep in mind you’ll pay that fee regardless of how much data you use.
DirecTV’s network, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. That’s because they don’t provide standard Internet services. Instead, you have to bundle your TV plans with Internet services from their Internet partners:
It’s also possible to get Internet service through AT&T as well.
So, pinpointing the type of network DirecTV offers is hard. It can range from dial-up and satellite connections to cable access.
As for data caps, I found that, according to AT&T, the monthly data cap can vary from 150GB to 1TB and unlimited home data. Also, if you want to receive unlimited data allowance at no extra cost, you’ll have to maintain a bundle of TV and Internet services on a combined bill.
Xfinity’s Internet download speeds range from 10 Mbps (megabits per second) up to 400 Mbps, and its upload speeds go up to 25 Mbps.
Pinpointing the exact type of connection speeds DirecTV offers is difficult since it'll depend on the plans available through one of their many Internet partners in your area.
As a general rule of thumb, I advise choosing a fiber or cable provider (such as Xfinity) if you want good Internet connection speeds. CenturyLink offers DSL services, for example, and their download speeds can go up to 1,000 Mbps.
Obviously, if you’re interested in very high Internet speeds, you’re better off choosing one of DirecTV’s partners.
Xfinity offers both Double Play and Triple Play bundles. Some bundles feature a no-contract option, but they cost more.
Price-wise, they are quite expensive, with most bundles going over $100/month.
DirecTV bundles can vary, of course, but you can choose between Double Play and Triple Play bundles.
It’s hard to pinpoint an estimated price range, but I can use DirecTV + AT&T bundles as an example. In that case, the price would range between $80 and $100 per month during the promotional two-year period, and more afterwards.
If you’re on a budget, DirecTV is definitely the more cost-efficient option (depending on the provider).
While Xfinity does offer Netflix integration and that nifty high-tech remote, I prefer DirecTV because of its superior channel variety and the NFL SUNDAY TICKET (which is exclusive to DirecTV).
Both providers offer attractive sports packages and features. However, once again, it’s hard to argue with DirecTV’s exclusive access to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET which lets you enjoy every out-of-market NFL game.
Xfinity offers up to four DVR options:
The X1 DVR has 500GB of storage (around 300 SD or 60 HD hours). The DVR lets you record up to four shows at the same time while you’re watching a fifth one.
The HD DVR features the same storage capabilities, but only lets you record one show while watching another, or two shows simultaneously while watching a recording.
DirecTV offers you a choice between TiVo, DirecTV Plus HD DVR, and the Genie DVR.
The Genie features 1TB of storage (around 400 SD or 150 HD hours), and it lets you record up to five shows simultaneously. You can also watch two shows at the same time courtesy of Genie’s Picture-in-Picture features.
If you want to connect additional TVs to the Genie, you’ll need the Genie Mini.
The DirecTV Plus HD DVR has similar storage capabilities to Xfinity’s HD DVR, but it’s estimated that the DVR can store around 200 SD or 75 HD hours.
While Xfinity’s top-of-the-line X1 DVR is definitely impressive, it can’t really hold a candle to DirecTV’s Genie due to its storage and recording capabilities.
If you’re more interested in Double Play deals, Xfinity would seem like a better choice simply because you know exactly what you are getting. Also, their connection speeds are quite attractive and reliable.
Also, Xfinity’s On Demand content offers a lot of options. Allegedly, Xfinity On Demand even features new movies a month before Netflix or Redbox have them. Plus, around 90% of those movies are generally free.
If you’re really interested in a high channel count, then DirecTV is the better option. Their Premium package features 325+ channels, while Xfinity’s most upper-tier package only boasts around 200+ channels.
And if you’re an avid sports fan, DirecTV has got you covered. Their exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET and numerous comprehensive sports packages might be just what you’re looking for.
DirecTV offers free installation if you sign up for their two-year contract offers. However, since DirecTV offers satellite TV, keep in mind that a Dish will have to be installed which might be a bit of an extra hassle.
On the other hand, Xfinity only offers free installation if you’re getting a bundle. Otherwise, the total cost can be around $89,99. Also, equipment rental fees can go as high as $10/month.
Both providers have their own pros and cons when it comes to installations and equipment, though I did like the fact that DirecTV makes it easier to get a free installation.
All in all, I feel that DirecTV is the superior option when it comes to TV services. Their channel count is high, their sports offering is top-notch, and they provide a better DVR than Xfinity. And to top it all off, the pricing for their TV plans is very decent during the one-year promotional period (though it does significantly increase afterward).
Of course, if you’re more focused on bundling services and getting decent Internet deals, and money’s not a huge problem, Xfinity would be the better option.
I also recommend asking any of your neighbors if they have used or are currently using Xfinity or DirecTV. Try to find out if they are pleased with the service, and what they would recommend as well.
But if you’re looking to make a fast decision and are mostly interested in TV, DirecTV is the way to go.
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