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DirecTV has long been the “premium” option for HD TV across the US. If you need proof, just walk outside and look at the roof of any building. There's almost certainly a DirecTV receiver or two clinging to it.

Since being acquired by AT&T, their customer service has gone down a little and the pricing has gotten more complicated. Take a look at the average prices I've calculated in the plans table below to see what you'll pay over two years.

On the plus side, they now offer discounted pricing for AT&T Internet customers, and don't count mobile viewing against your data cap if you use AT&T mobile. (Not my top pick for mobile, but a good perk if you're already a customer.)

In spite of those issues, the overall service and image quality has actually improved, and they're still the only option for NFL fans who need access to NFL Sunday Ticket. In most cases, you can get a season or two bundled in for free when you sign up. My experience has been that they will extend the free NFL Sunday Ticket access if you call and request a loyalty discount before each season starts.

DirecTV is commonly compared with competitor Dish Network. I've written up a pretty detailed Dish vs DirecTV comparison that explains the core differences. The main difference is that Dish trends on the cheaper side, but sacrifices some premium channels to make it happen.

Pros

  • Huge range of sports channels and sporting options
  • Access to DirecTV On Demand and DirecTV Everywhere
  • Available nationwide

Cons

  • Might be pricier than a cable bundle
  • Minimum two-year contract

Services Overview

DirecTV offers customers no less than 6 different packages to choose from. Those packages are: the Select All Included, Entertainment All Included, Choice All Included, Xtra All Included, Ultimate All Included, and Premier All Included.

Each package is available on a 24-month plan, with a $35 activation fee and includes all equipment fees for anywhere up to 4 rooms of TVs, along with a Genie HD DVR rental at no extra cost. You will have access to DirecTV on Demand, featuring 1000s of On Demand titles, and DirecTV Everywhere, for accessing DirecTV on mobile devices, from anywhere.

You also get a 3 month free trial of HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz with all packages.

DirecTV Plans

DIRECTV Package Channels Promotion price Final price 2-yr average price NFL Sunday Ticket
SELECT 150+ $35/mo. $76/mo. $55.5/mo. Not included
ENTERTAINMENT 155+ $40/mo. $87/mo. $63.50/mo. Not included
CHOICE 185+ $45/mo. $101/mo. $73/mo. Included
XTRA 230+ $55/mo. $110/mo. $82.50/mo. Included
ULTIMATE 245+ $60/mo. $120/mo. $90/mo. Included
PREMIER 325+ $110/mo. $173/mo. $141.50/mo. Included

Details on Each DirecTV Plan Currently Offered

Select All Included – $50/month (first 12 months) $90/month (months 13-24)

DirecTV’s basic package.

  • 150+ channels, including Discovery, Disney, TLC, CNN, Syfy, Comedy Central, MTV, Bravo & more.

Entertainment All Included – $55/month (first 12 months) $101/month (months 13-24)

Access more sport with the Entertainment package.

  • 155+ channels, including everything in Select + ESPN ESPN2, Fox Sports 1, SONICTAP, and Vme.

Choice All Included – $60/month (first 12 months) $115/month (months 13-24)

Even more entertainment and sports, plus pick up the NFL Sunday Ticket for free with Choice.

  • 185+ channels, including everything in Entertainment + Science, The Weather Channel, TV One, Nicktoons, Cooking Channel, NFL Network, NBC Sports, MLB Network, Prime Ticket, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket

Xtra All Included – $70/month (first 12 months) $124/month (months 13-24)

Extended entertainment and sporting package, Xtra.

  • 230+ channels, including everything in Choice + VICELAND, Sprout, Oxygen, Nat Geo WILD, Discovery Family Channel, Logo, NBA TV, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket

Ultimate All Included – $75/month (first 12 months) $134/month (months 13-24)

Ultimate gives you more movie watching opportunities.

  • 245+ channels, including everything in Xtra + All Starz/Encore Channels (Suspense, Action, Black, Classic, East, Family, West, and Westerns), Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey, The Movie Channel East, The Movie Channel West, SONICTAP, and Univision Deportes Network.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket

Premier All Included – $125/month (first 12 months) $187/month (months 13-24)

Premier is the sports lover’s dream package, and includes regional sports.

  • 325+ channels, including everything in Ultimate + Flix, ESPN Classic, ESPN Buzzer Beater, beIN SPORTS, Eleven Sports Network, Altitude Sports, FSN Regional, Root Sports Regional, Sport Time Ohio, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket

Which DirecTV Plan Offers the Best Value?

Which package you take up with DirecTV really depends on what sports you follow. For those not particularly into watching sports, the Select package should suit your needs well at the right price. For sporting fans, check out what’s available on each of the other packages to see what will best fulfill your needs.

For even better value, you can choose to bundle DirecTV with your internet services (with a variety of different providers), which can save you up to $120.

DirecTV vs Dish: What’s the Difference?

Dish tends to be the “budget option”, while DirecTV focusses on premium services and sports. Both are usually cheaper than traditional cable.

DirecTV is often lined up in comparison with Dish. So what’s the difference between these two big players in the TV services industry? Well, for a start, they both use satellite technology to get content to your home, they both provide an extensive array of channels at similar price points, and have similar DVR equipment, on-demand, and on-the-go services.

In terms of how they stack up against each other, it’s really more to do with personal tastes.

Browse through Dish’s list of channels to see whether it’s more your style. Dish is also a currently cheaper than DirecTV, however isn’t quite as geared towards sports fans – it’s more for those looking for straight-up entertainment.

DirecTV Channel Offerings

Here’s just a taste of what’s available on DirecTV. The majority of channels you’ll find on DirecTV are in HD. Be sure to check packages carefully as not all channels as available on all packages.

Family Channels

This package focusses on kid-friendy content, with Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney, Nicktoons, Discovery Family Channel, Disney Junior, and more.

Latest & Greatest Channels

Series and entertainment come in the form of channels like AMC, Comedy Central, E!, and VICELAND. In my opinion, this package is a little lean and doesn't differentiate much from basic cable.

News Channels

This package bundles up some extra news channels including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and BBC America.

Education Channels

This is another good family-friendly option and includes History, Discovery, Food Network, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Science, and more.

Music Channels

Get a handful of music channels with MTV, CMT, VH1, Sonic Tap, and XM Satellite Radio.

Movie Channels

Movies are generally accessed with the Premium add-on (with HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and Showtime). However, there are a few movie channels such as Hallmark Movies, The Movie Channel, and Flix.

DirecTV Sports Options

This is where DirecTV really shines: sports offerings.

Depending on the package you pick up, you’ll be able to access channels like ESPN, FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, MLB Network, ESPNEWS, Prime Ticket, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, NBA TV, NHL Network, Sportsman Channel, FOX Sports 2, BeIN Sports, Eleven Sports Network, ESPN Classic, Altitude Sports, Comcast SportsNet, and more.

Subscribers to the Ultimate package are also able to access regional sports channels.

Don’t forget that Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, and Premier subscribers all get the NFL Sunday Ticket at no extra cost.

DVR and Equipment Options

DirecTV gives you a powerful HD DVR, known as ‘genie’ for use within your home. Genie allows you to record up to 5 channels simultaneously, storing up to 200 hours of recordings. The device also allows you to catch up on various shows from the past 72 hours and rent or purchase newly released movies. Genie is included as a part of all packages.

As for installation, you’ll require a place to set up your satellite Dish (usually attached to the roof of your home), with Dish and installation costs also included as a part of your package. Be aware that some landlords will object to the installation of Dishes.

DirecTV Availability

DirecTV installation almost always requires scheduling a professional installation, which takes the better part of an afternoon. Image via Mike Mozart/Flickr

Because DirecTV uses satellite technology, all you need to get the service in your home is a place to put your satellite Dish with an unobstructed view of the southern sky. DirecTV satellite systems cover the whole of the US, so it’s available virtually everywhere!

Problems with DirecTV: Slim TV Series/Movie Entertainment Choices and Pricey Service Overall

Consider DirecTV NOW if you want to cut the cord without losing access to premium channels.

If you are determining whether to pick up DirecTV, then you should carefully examine the channel selections in each package before signing up for the service. Compared to other cable, satellite, and internet TV services, DirecTV may be a bit light on for entertainment in the form of your most-watched series and movies. Customers wanting more entertainment might like to add something like Netflix or Amazon Prime to their TV setup, at less cost than DirecTV’s Premier package.

If you can't handle the price for premium TV, DirecTV NOW offers some of the same core content at a reduced price with no credit check or contract needed. Just keep in mind this has the same image quality and buffering issues as any streaming service, and only works if you get strong download speeds from your Internet provider. Dish TV also offers overall lower pricing on similar content.

Make sure to read the fine print, too! While Select is offered for $50/month, if you read the fine print you’ll see the price almost double halfway through your subscription (and DirecTV can even increase this second price). I've calculated the “average price” you'll pay over 2+ years in my plans table at the top of this post. When comparing them to cable, remember that virtually all providers do the same thing with pricing, so figure out their final price rather than comparing only the “promo price.” I've done my best to list these on my site, but sometimes they don't include them or change them based on your credit score or location.

The Big Picture: DirecTV is My Top Pick for Sports Fans

If watching live sports, replays, news, and classics in HD is your jam, then DirecTV is going to make a good choice for your TV service. You get a good mix of other channels with a whopping dose of sports, NFL Sunday Ticket, and tons of customizable packages.

If you need a top-up for on-demand entertainment, you can add a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime at not much extra cost per month.