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There’s a reason you can’t throw a rock without hitting a DIRECTV dish in most cities: they provide the best service with the most sports at a reasonable price. It’s a must-have for NFL fans thanks to their exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket.
The main “catch” with DIRECTV is the confusing pricing. Currently, they charge two prices: a “promotional price” and a “final price.” Much to my chagrin, these prices currently switch in the middle of their minimum two-year contract.
To make this easier to understand, I've calculated the “average price” you'll pay over the full two-year period in the plans table below.
Once you’ve clicked that “Buy” button, the folks at DIRECTV will check your credit. The next step is getting the first month’s billing out of the way and setting up direct payment every month. And then, finally, you’ll need to choose a time to schedule your installation. Thankfully, this is all bundled into their sign-up process.
Once you’ve scheduled your installation time, all you need to do is make sure that:
If DIRECTV does not provide you with a permission form during signup, this standard DIRECTV permission form is available for printing at home.
Since the hire of your satellite dish and professional installation is free with DIRECTV, you won’t save any money if you were thinking about going down the DIY route. Installing TV systems is tricky and we don't recommend trying to do it yourself.
The technician will install the service and connect it all up for you. There are some special cases where you may need to pay extra, such as when extensive cabling is needed or if the satellite dish needs to be mounted higher than a 25ft ladder can reach. In some cases, customers with bad credit may need to pay a fee in order to get connected. However, DIRECTV usually builds credits or savings into the price so that you recoup this fee long-term, assuming you keep your account paid and in good standing.
There are two big considerations when installing DIRECTV:
Satellite TV works by collecting satellite broadcasts. To do that, you'll need to be able to point the dish at a clear view of the southern sky. (Why? Because that's where the satellite is!)
This isn't an issue for most anybody with a roof, but it can be problematic if you're next to a tall building or in a dense urban area. Be sure to do a visual check on this before signing up for service.
As for snow, this is the only real weather concern I've experienced with DIRECTV. Even during heavy rainstorms, I've had no issue getting decent HD reception, but snowdrift pileup on my roof has caused problems.
My recommendation: make sure you can easily reach the dish with a ladder or broom (or both) to sweep away snow that gathers in or around the dish if you live in a wintery area. Otherwise, these things make up for what they lack in looks with rugged durability.
Currently, DIRECTV comes standard with the Genie HD DVR rental at no extra cost. You can also get up to 3 free Genie Minis along with it – enough for 4 TVs in the home. Additional Genie Minis are charged at a $49 fee, or choose wireless for just 1 Genie to service up to 8 SmartTVs in the home for a $99 one-off fee.
Genie minis essentially are accessories to the Genie HD DVR — you can think of them as glorified receivers.
The Genie acts as the “brain” and records shows, distributing them to Genie Minis throughout your house. These can connect wirelessly or via a wire, depending on the size of your house (expect the installation technician to make an educated recommendation). A mini without a central Genie DVR can't do anything since when you push the “record” button on a mini, it's just relaying instructions back to the Genie. When you request content on a Mini, it's streaming that content from the stored video on the main Genie DVR.
If you have 6+ TVs in the home, and they are SmartTVs, go wireless for better value (and less fuss) than extra Genie Minis. This will cost you a flat $99 rather than the extra ~$40/device DIRECTV charges for additional DVRs.
If you’re bundling DIRECTV with your internet and/or phone package, then you stand to possibly save a fair amount of money, up to $120 per year. The number one most bundled provider is with AT&T, however, you can choose from others such as Verizon, HughesNet, CenturyLink, Frontier, Windstream, Exede, Cincinnati Bell, and Mediacom. Depending on your internet needs and preferred provider, it may be worth considering a bundle deal.
DIRECTV is known for their top of the line sporting channels, such as ESPN, FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, MLB Network, ESPNEWS, Prime Ticket, and extra sporting additions like NFL Sunday Ticket.
If you are already with one of these providers, it’s worth checking in with them to see if you can add DIRECTV for a decreased cost. All bundles have a minimum 24-month contract and beware that your current internet or home phone service will likely charge an early termination fee if you leave their service before your current contract is up.
Overall, DIRECTV is the “premium” offer in satellite TV. Their offerings look more pricey on the surface, but the lifetime value of the service is top-notch. Like all TV providers, premium and sports channels come with additional costs.
Make sure that you cost out how much your total package will cost (I've included 2-year averages in the plan table above). If pricing is your primary concern, it's worth checking deals from their competitor Dish TV before signing up. However, if sports are your top concern, you won't find a better option than DIRECTV in today's TV market.