DirecTV vs. Dish Network

Dish Network has fewer channels with more value

Satellite dishes from different companies mounted on home

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DirecTV and Dish Network have battled for satellite supremacy for many years. Comparing DirecTV and Dish Network should help you make a sound decision regarding your satellite provider or compare against local non-satellite providers.

Overall Findings

DirecTV

  • More channels

  • DirecTV app lets you stream content to other devices

  • Price bump after 12 months

Dish

  • More (and more powerful) receiver options

  • Cheaper in general

  • Dish Anywhere makes the service portable

  • Locks in price for full two years

Both DirecTV and Dish Network have hundreds of channels and premium options available. They also have a variety of plans to help ensure you get what you want without having to pay for what you don't.

When you look at them side-by-side, you'll start to see some differences, however. Dish is generally cheaper per channel, and it locks the monthly cost in for the full two-year contract. DirecTV raises its prices after the first year.

As far as hardware goes, Dish also has more and better options. Its top-tier DVR has twice the storage and functionality of DirecTV's, and the company offers additional devices to expand functionality.

Customer Commitment or Contract: Dish Locks In Price and Saves on Upfront Costs

DirecTV

  • 24-month contracts

  • Requires autopay and paperless

  • $20 activation fee

  • Early termination fees

Dish

  • Service contract of 24 months

  • Activation fee based on credit

  • Early termination fees

  • Free installation

To get the best offers on both DirecTV and Dish Network, you must commit to a service contract, likely for 24 months. You’ll likely have to pay for activation, although Dish is offering free installation.

If you cancel your contract with either company before it expires, you might be subject to penalties and cancellation fees. Read the fine print before giving credit card information or signing the contract.

Cost of Programming Packages: DirecTV Has More Channels; Dish Has More Value

DirecTV

  • Plans between $50 and $125 per month

  • 155-330+ channels

Dish

  • Plans between $60-$90 per month

  • 190-290+ channels

Both providers offer similar packages, from basic family programming to all-inclusive packages that include premium movie-channel subscriptions. On average, DirecTV's daily prices are lower per month than Dish Network's package of the same type.

The reason DirecTV has lower prices is that it generally offers fewer channels or services on average compared to Dish. But it also has plans with more programming than Dish has and higher monthly prices to go with them.

Dish guarantees its monthly price for the length of the two-year term. DirecTV's site says that the price will go up after the first year. Based on the price per channel and the monthly cost, Dish is the better value over the long term.

DirecTV typically offers several months of free programming to new customers and builds in HD service and expanded channel lineups within basic programming packages. The cost of the basic package will shoot up to the regular monthly price when the special-offer period expires.

Equipment: Dish Has More Variety

DirecTV

  • Genie HD DVR records five shows at once

  • 1 TB capacity

Dish

  • Hopper DVRs record up to 16 shows at once

  • Secondary receivers to extend functionality

  • SD receivers also available

  • 2 TB capacity

New DirecTV subscribers must pay a leasing or "upgrade receiver" fee upon signing up for service. You won't buy your receiver; you'll lease it and return it to DirecTV after you're finished with the service.

Dish Network is known for its leasing of equipment, but now the company also sells receivers, although they tend to be expensive. You won’t have to pay the monthly leasing fee for every receiver you own, however.

As far as the hardware itself, DirecTV uses the Genie HD DVR, which has a 1 terabyte capacity and can record from up to five channels. Dish has more options, including the Hopper 3, which can record up to 16 shows simultaneously and has twice the capacity of the Genie.

Dish also offers other options, including standard-definition receivers and HD boxes without DVR capabilities. It also extends the functionality with secondary receivers that extend viewing abilities to other rooms.

Portability and Mobile Reception: Both Have Options

DirecTV

  • DirecTV app

Dish

  • Dish Anywhere app

Both DirecTV and Dish offer apps that let you watch streaming programming on other devices, including your laptop, phone, or tablet.

These apps work similarly to Netflix or Hulu. They let you watch live TV, on-demand movies, and even stream content you've recorded to your DVR. They have similar functionality, so you aren't missing anything on this front going with one provider over the other.

Final Verdict

For value, hardware, and versatility, Dish wins out. Both providers also provide mobile apps that let you watch your programming on the go.

Minus a few provider-specific channels, the channel lineups for these two providers are about equal. This is a business question. If one provider has a certain channel, then the other will offer it, too, to compete on level ground. So, the key difference is the level of the package you need to subscribe to so that you can view your favorite channels.

DirecTV's most robust plan contains more channels than the one from Dish. But on average, Dish offerings are cheaper, especially over the long term. This provider locks in its price for the duration of its two-year term, while DirecTV will raise its monthly fee after the first year.

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