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Watching TV is pricey. Even millennial-friendly streaming services can quickly add up to triple digits if you have eclectic tastes since so much of the best TV series are exclusive to specific services. (Stranger Things on Netflix, NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV, etc.).
That said, plenty of “basic” programming is available in more formats than ever before. Surprisingly, satellite TV options like DirecTV and Dish are often the most affordable way to bundle together a wide variety of channels, particularly since changes in broadcast requirements and licensing agreements have been driving prices up the past few years.
The DirecTV Select package (formerly known as the DirecTV Family Package) might be something for you to consider if you have been affected by this recent change in broadcast requirements with your current cable provider. So why consider the Select package from DirecTV versus what is available from cable?
First off, the Select package is extremely affordable. At $35 per month ($76 after the promo period), which averages out to $55.50/month over a two-year period, the only cheaper package out there is the Dish Family package by competitor Dish Network. By way of comparison, the lower-priced packages on traditional cable or digital wired “IPTV” are going to be at least $70 per month for a similar quantity of premium channels.
The channel count of ~130 (when you factor in local channels) on Select is slim compared to upper-tier DirecTV plans. However, it includes a diverse variety of HD channels for family subscribers, including Cartoon Network, TNT, VICELAND, and Fox News. There are around 50 HD channels in total. As an added bonus, new customers get a handful of extra premium channels for the first three months or so — most notably HBO. Surprisingly, HD channels still aren’t a given with many traditional cable providers.
To check the full listing available at your address, you can enter your zip code at DirecTV’s official channel listings.
I generally recommend that anybody interested in DirecTV for family use start out with this package and add on channels later. That way you aren’t spending a lot out of the gate, you get a few months of free premium channels, and sometimes you can even surf a new limited-time offer to get channels added for cheaper than the up-front package cost. (This isn’t a given, but it happens from time to time.)
DirecTV Select comes with an HD DVR for the first twelve months — currently, the Genie HD DVR, which can record up to five shows simultaneously and is 4K compatible (read: future-proof). It can store around 200 hours of HD content at a time, which translates to 800 hours of SD. Binge until you’re dead, basically. They charge around $5/month for it in the second year of a two year agreement.
However, since DirecTV usually comes with a $100 VISA gift card (be sure to confirm and ask for it specifically when you call), which translates to a $4.16/month discount over two years, you’re effectively paying $10.08 for the full two years… if you can follow the math there.
If you want to expand your home TV setup with multi-room functionality, you can bundle in the Genie Mini for $5–7/month. It’s a pretty solid device for improving family friction, but I think it’s a bit pricey unless you’re already paying for one of the higher-tier TV packages. On Select, it’s probably overkill and for the same price difference, you can get a ton more channels on the next package tier.
DirecTV sometimes charges an “activation” fee of $35, but installation is currently free and includes a walk-through on how to use your DVR and equipment. If you have a complex setup with more than four televisions they may begin to add on service fees for the technician’s time.
So there you have it: those are the basics of the DirecTV Family package. While it certainly can’t compare with the content available with the Premier package, it’s a great way to keep the kids happy and try out DirecTV’s service quality at an affordable price.