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8 / 10  Review Rating

All you have to do is walk down a city block to see that DirecTV is one of the most popular satellite TV options in the country. A quick check of the apartment building roof where I’m typing this very post found nine DirecTV Dishes, four Dish Dishes, and one unmarked Dish that is decidedly sketchy.

…Meanwhile, a quick review of my neighbors (the ones who are still talking to me anyway) was conclusive in another regard: nobody is paying the same price for DirecTV service.

In this post, I would like to provide a quick overview of DirecTV pricing… and how you can get around it to pay the smallest amount possible for the shows you need. (Or, if not need, at least want.)

Step one: DirecTV vs DirecTV NOW

Image via The Photographer/Wikimedia

DirecTV has two options these days: traditional satellite TV, called “DirecTV,” and “DirecTV NOW,” a streaming service similar to Sling. Aside from the all-caps brand names, these services have surprisingly little in common.

DirecTV has more channels (~315 maximum) while DirecTV NOW has a maximum of around 120. The main benefit of DirecTV NOW is that it’s cheaper, comes without a contract, and you can get it regardless of your credit. DirecTV, meanwhile, offers more features, a proper DVR for recording shows, and more on-demand content.

While satellite gets a bad rap for the ugly Dish on the roof and iffy connection in poor weather, my experience with satellite DirecTV has overall been much better. The picture is clearer and less prone to interruption, there’s no “buffering,” and you can get the all-important NFL Sunday Ticket. (Note: NFL Sunday Ticket is not available on DirecTV NOW at this time.)

That said, DirecTV NOW is absolutely the budget price. You can lock in only $35/month with no added fees or contracts. DirecTV, meanwhile, averages out to $55.50/month at the absolute smallest plan when you factor in the 2-year contract and promo pricing… and that’s before you add on DVR fees, box fees, activation fees, and etc.

Step two: Mind the Promo Rate

If you go with DirecTV, the trick is to make sure you understand the difference between the “final price” you pay long-term and the “promo price” that’s advertised alongside each plan.

The promotional pricing is still often a good deal, but when comparing pricing I recommend finding the “average” over a two-year period. For example, at the time I’m writing this DirecTV’s “Select” package costs $35/month for the first year and $76/month for the second year. That’s an average of $55.50/month over a two year period (35+76/2=55.5), and that price will creep closer to 76 the longer you remain a customer.

Considering the free installation, quality of signal, and all the channels included, this is still an excellent deal for the right household… but it’s not as excellent as it looks on the surface. Always do the math!

Step three: How much do you love the NFL?

NFL Sunday ticket obviously a huge draw for DirecTV, since it’s exclusive to the platform and not available elsewhere. Can you stream it somewhere else? Yes. Will it cost you a ton of money? Also yes.

Streaming NFL Sunday Ticket as a standalone product costs a mind-boggling $69.99/month. Before you get any bright ideas about splitting it among friends and family Netflix-style, there’s more bad news: each account is limited to a single stream. (Believe me… I tried.)

For most customers, it makes way more sense to find a DirecTV package that includes it alongside all the other programming you want. (HBO, etc.)

Long story short: if you want NFL Sunday Ticket, forget about DirecTV NOW. Getting a Dish on your roof is really the only way to get it affordable.

Step four: Bundle with AT&T Internet

There is one more way to save, however: by bundling DirecTV with your AT&T Internet.

Regardless of which DirecTV service you subscribe to, you get mobile viewing options on the side. Normally these will count against your monthly data limit with your Internet provider or mobile provider. If you have AT&T, you get unlimited DirecTV streaming, so you don’t have to worry about overage fees or throttling.

AT&T has been building more fiber into their Internet network in many cities nationwide, so it’s worth checking out the speeds available for their Internet service in your area. In many cases, it’s just as fast if not faster than the cable provider you’re probably using.

…In most cases, you can also get around $10/month shaved off your Internet+TV if you buy both wired home Internet and DirecTV as a bundle deal.

How much will you pay? Between $35–187 depending on your needs

To summarize: the cheapest you can get DirecTV is $55.50/month for a two-year period. The cheapest you can stream DirecTV NOW is $35/month, without a contract.

On the higher end, DirecTV pricing ranges as high as $187/month for all the premium channel bundles. DirecTV NOW also gets pricey once you add on all the extras, close to $70 (and well past 100 if you want to stream NFL Sunday Ticket on top!).

If you’re willing to go with AT&T for Internet and/or mobile service, you’ll save an additional $10 or so per month.