There isn’t much variation between pricing when comparing DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse. Both the company's cheapest package starts out at just $35 per month and the most expensive package is $110 per month.
One of the biggest differences is the fact that with DIRECTV you have to sign a two-year contract and after the first 12 months, you’ll see a giant price hike on your bill.
AT&T U-verse only requires you to sign a one-year contract. However, the $35 per month price is only for new residential customers, so there is really no escaping that second-year price increase.
Type of Service
A major difference between DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse is the type of service.
DIRECTV brings you TV via satellite. As a satellite company broadcasts encrypted signals from a broadcast center, the satellite will broadcast those signals over a large area. The signals are then picked up by satellite receivers, transmitted to your digital receiver, and shown on your TV screen.
AT&T U-verse uses fiber optic cables carrying digital information that is coded in a beam of light. Once reaching your TV, the data is decoded and displayed on your screen.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to using satellite versus a fiber-optic network. Satellite TV excels in the following categories:
- Coverage area — Satellite TV is an excellent choice for those who live in rural areas surrounded by rough terrain.
- Broadcasting — TutorialPoint.com points out that, “Satellites are inherently designed for broadcasting.” Anything that is sent via satellite can be received by thousands simultaneously.
- Mobility — You need less infrastructure
On the other hand, fiber-optic networks are preferable for the following reasons:
- Bandwidth — Fiber optics have a much higher bandwidth.
- Reliability — Fiber optics are not affected by weather and less prone to electromagnetic interference.
- Light Weight — Fiber optic cables are generally made of glass or durable plastic. This makes them lighter and easier to install.
Currently, AT&T U-verse is only available in 21 states. Although fiber-optic networks have a lot of positive aspects to them, unfortunately, it is extremely costly to have to install and implement new fiber-optic lines with all the old cable and DSL infrastructures.
DIRECTV is available just about anywhere in the United States. The benefit of having a satellite TV provider is the fact that even if you live in remote areas, you can probably still get cable TV.
Surprisingly, you get more channels with AT&T U-verse. The company’s U450 package gets you over 565 channels — a considerable increase in channels from DIRECTV’s PREMIER™ package.
Number of Packages
DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse have six packages for customers to choose from. While DIRECTV’s tiered plans are fairly extensive and have a lot to offer, AT&T U-verse ups the ante by giving new subscribers a $100 Visa Reward Card* for signing up.
*Different offers may apply for eligible multi-dwelling unit customers. Pricing, programming, features subject to change at any time without notice. Subject to AT&T U-verse TV Terms of Service (at att.com/legal).
AT&T U-verse’s Total Home DVR is a decent choice but if you want a slightly more advanced DVR, then DIRECTV’s Genie is where it is at.
The Total Home DVR provides customers with plenty of storage and a few notable features; however, there are a few areas where it falls short. Check out the following features of the Total Home DVR*:
- Record up to 4 shows at once
- 500 GB of storage capacity (165 hours of HD)
- The monthly cost is included with the service
- Clean and user-friendly interface
*There are a few different models of the Total Home DVR. Depending on which U-verse package you get and where you live will determine which model you receive.
If DVR’s are a big deal then perhaps you want to skip over the Total Home DVR and go straight for DIRECTV’s Genie. Here are a few specs that might make you consider getting the Genie:
- Record up to 5 shows simultaneously
- 1 TB of storage capacity (200 hours of HD)
- The monthly cost is included with the service
- Watch up to 8 channels on one screen
The mobile apps for both TV providers are pretty much on par with each other. They both allow subscribers to manage the DVR, watch live TV or On Demand shows, and use the app as your remote control. The only difference is that AT&T U-verse is compatible with iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV devices, whereas DIRECTV’s mobile app is compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle, and PC devices.
No matter which TV provider you sign up with, there are a number of hidden and unexpected fees. Be sure to read up on the details of your contract to make sure you’re not paying for something you aren’t using. Be aware of an activation fee, early termination fee, equipment fee, and any other service fees. These often catch subscribers off-guard and can take a huge toll on your wallet.
Both DIRECTV and U-verse include premium channels with their top tier packages or as a separate add-on plan. So if you’re willing to hand over some extra cash you can choose a lower-tiered plan and add on channels like HBO, STARZ, and Showtime. Or you can just purchase the PREMIER™ or U450.
It’s hard to beat DIRECTV’s exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket. Right now, the only way to get access to every out-of-the-market game is to purchase a package (CHOICE™ and above) through DIRECTV.
DIRECTV also has just a general sports package that you can buy for just $13.99 per month.
It’s not that you can’t watch sports with AT&T U-verse, it’s just that you don’t have all the same perks as DIRECTV subscribers do.
U-verse’s sports package is available for just $10 per month.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Telecommunications 2018-2019 report, subscription television services ranked last for customer satisfaction.
That being said, AT&T U-verse was given a 69 out of 100 (which puts them in first place), while DIRECTV wasn’t too far behind with a 66 out of 100.
When it comes to choosing a TV service provider, the biggest deciding factors for consumers are price, contract length, and channels.
DIRECTV and AT&T U-verse offer shockingly low introductory prices. For just $35 per month, you can get at least 155 channels with both companies. Unfortunately, the low prices only last for the first 12 months of your contract. You can expect a fairly steep price increase for your second year — in some cases it can be nearly double what you were paying originally.
AT&T U-verse does have a leg up on DIRECTV as the company offers a one-year agreement. So if you’re not a fan of long contracts and want to completely avoid that second-year price hike, AT&T U-verse might be the better option.
However, don’t count DIRECTV out yet. AT&T U-verse might offer more channels per package, but DIRECTV includes some of the most common and popular channels in with their lower-tier packages. Furthermore, DIRECTV has exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket — which may be enough to convince football fans to sign up.
DIRECTV pretty much dominates when it comes to sports coverage, plus the company offers a decent amount of high-quality channels among its mid-tier packages. Additionally, a larger household might appreciate the Genie’s ability to prevent heated discussion over whether you’re going to watch This is Us or Deadwood after dinner.
However, if you don’t need to record five shows simultaneously and you aren’t ready to commit yourself to a company for two years, AT&T U-verse is a viable alternative.