McCall Martin
McCall Martin | Senior Editor
Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population watches TV on any given day and the average American adult watches nearly five hours of television per day, making TV America's most popular pastime. 

Now you've probably seen a plethora of ads for different TV service providers, all vying for your business. But you've done your research and settled on satellite TV. 

Luckily for you, there aren't too many satellite TV providers to sort through. Your choices are pretty much DIRECTV and DISH. 

After comparing these two companies side by side, see why we recommend DIRECTV to sports fans and TV buffs, while we recommend DISH to the everyday TV watcher looking for an affordable TV plan.  
7.5 Overall Score
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Reviews for DIRECTV

Helpful Favorable Review

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Stephanie Bloniarz

March 22nd, 2024

We have been Directv customers for over 25 years. We depend on them to deliver us great service, quality equipment in our home and wonderful customer service. We recently had an issue with them losing our NBC station, which was hard, because most of our favorite showes were on NBC. The loyality department gave us a generous credit to make up for it. We really appreciated that. Highly recommend! A+++++

Helpful Critical Review

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Todd Miller

January 29th, 2024


We are going to cancel my direct TV ASAP! They think we are stupid by blacking out Fox News in the Bay Area by saying some BS about the local channels not offering Fox but we all know it is a way of blocking conservative issues.  They told me to "educate myself" by considering why they can't offer it. We are mad as heel and we are NOT going to take it anymore. Fir AVE SSF 94080.

Reviews for DISH

Helpful Favorable Review

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March 8th, 2024

Edited March 11th, 2024

Dish is really good when you have no trees or other houses around you to interfere with the signal. It's awful when it rains too, because the signal might go out as well. Satellite internet is good, but can also be hung up by signal. Wen everything does work, it has a clear picture and no lag or latency. Customer service is also really easy to work with.

Helpful Critical Review

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Libre Penseur

May 15th, 2024


I know that they have a record of how many times over the last two years I have called because of bad service. I finally closed my account today. My last day if DISH will be May 21st. I can't wait to see what bogus fees they try to charge me for. I will NEVER EVER be a DISH customer again. NEVER.

The Final Word

When it comes to overall savings, DISH comes out on top in this category. While both companies will have you sign a two-year contract, DISH guarantees the price for the entire 24 months. DIRECTV may have lower initial prices, but if you look closely at the fine print, there will be a price increase after the first year.

TV Channels
Although DISH is cheaper, DIRECTV offers more channel-wise.

DIRECTV has a variety of channels stuffed into each package, which is great for a household of people with an assortment of movie and TV tastes. So if dad is a sports fan, mom likes home renovation shows, and the kids want to watch Nickelodeon, DIRECTV has you covered.

TV Packages
DIRECTV has six different TV packages for you to choose from. The company is reasonably transparent about each packages channel lineup and even mentions the most notable channels. With every package tier, the number of channels increases and the price per channel goes down. The PREMIER package may cost more, but you're paying less per channel. Additionally, you get the premium networks as a part of your subscription. You'll get channels like HBO, CINEMAX, STARZ, and Showtime for a year for free.

DISH has four TV packages to choose from. The prices and channel lineup count start higher but the range of channels is much lower. However, DISH's most expensive package — America's Top 250 — has over 290 channels plus 17 movie channels.

DVR Receiver
When it comes to DIRECTV's and DISH's DVRs, there are a few pros and cons to each. It all depends on your TV-watching preferences — don't worry though, both DVRs let you skip commercials.

DISH has several DVRs for you to choose from; however, the recommended DVR is the Hopper 3, which includes these noteworthy features:
  • Record 16 shows simultaneously
  • 2 TB storage capacity
  • Record up to 500 HD hours
  • Get 4K Ultra HD support
  • Control your TV with the voice remote
  • Play up to four programs at once with the Multi-View mode

The Hopper 3 is the most advanced DVR on the market. However, all its power and amazing capabilities come at a cost. 

At the end of your two-year contract, you'll have paid about $360 in monthly rental fees. However, if you choose to purchase your equipment upfront, then you can expect to pay anywhere between $220–$250 (depending on where you buy it from). If you want an additional receiver, the Joey is an extra $5 per month and the Super Joey is an extra $10 per month. 

DIRECTV's Genie may not be as powerful as the Hopper 3, but it is an excellent option for the average TV watcher. 

Here are some notable features you'll get with DIRECTV's Genie:
  • Record up to five shows simultaneously
  • 1 TB storage capacity
  • Record up to 200 HD hours
  • Multiview sports bar with the NFL Sunday Ticket
  • 4K Ultra HD Support

The Genie comes included with each of DIRECTV's packages, so you don't have to worry about paying that pesky monthly fee. However, you will have to pay for any additional receivers, but the Genie Mini is only $7 per month.

Overall, DISH's Hopper 3 is great for those with a large household. You'll never have to worry about missing a show or recording conflicts. Nonetheless, DIRECTV's Genie isn't a bad choice and is an excellent choice for sports fans. You can record up to 200 hours of HD programming and watch up to eight live sports channels at once.

Mobile App
Both companies have fairly extensive mobile apps that allow customers to watch On-Demand, live TV, and pre-downloaded shows. 

The DISH Anywhere mobile app lets you transfer DVR recordings, manage your DVR library and even start recording a show from your phone.

Separate from the DISH anywhere app, customers can download the MyDISH account management app. This lets you pay bills, order pay-per-view events, update your preferences, and get quick support in case you need to do some troubleshooting or are having equipment issues.

The DIRECTV app is similar to DISH's app, but you can control your HD receiver from your smartphone.

Alongside the DIRECTV app, customers can download the NFL Sunday Ticket app. This allows you to keep up with your favorite NFL teams, plus you can get alerts for your favorite players, so if anything significant happens, you don't have to worry about missing the action. 

When it comes to the industry, fees are unfortunately common. Both DIRECTV and DISH have several additional monthly fees, that (if you're not careful) might make their way onto your bill. Things like DVR Service Fees and HD Access Fees might not seem like a big deal, but they can add an extra $10–$20.

Before ending your satellite TV subscription, make sure to ask about the cancellation or early termination fee.

Premium Channels
DISH and DIRECTV both offer new customers free premium channels on a few of their TV packages. If you sign a one or two year contract with either company, you get a few premium channels like STARZ, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, or HBO for free. Generally, the deal only lasts for about three months and unless you cancel you'll have to pay an extra $30 per month. 

HD Channels
You can get HD channels with DIRECTV, but you'll have to pay an HD service fee of $10 per month. On the other hand, DISH offers free HD for life.

Despite what you've heard, you can still watch your favorite sports events with DISH. The top three packages offer channels like the Pac-12 Network, NFL Network, MLB Network, NHL Network, and the Golf Channel. DISH even has an MLB EXTRA INNINGS package, so baseball fans follow their favorite teams.

However, DIRECTV is the better choice if you are an avid football fan. We recommend going with any of DIRECTV's packages from CHOICE™ and on up, as this will give you access to the exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket season — for no extra cost.

Customer Service
The American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2018–2019 revealed that DISH had a customer satisfaction score of 67 out of 100 and DIRECTV’s customer satisfaction score was 66 out of 100. 

If you have any problems with your satellite TV provider, both companies offer 24/7 customer support. However, according to several reviews here on, it seems that both DIRECTV and DISH have some work to do. 

A few common complaints against DIRECTV include the following:
  • price hikes
  • late technicians
  • cancellation of local channels

The majority of complaints against DISH include the following:
  • high prices
  • spotty reception
  • slow to answer customer problems

DIRECTV and DISH are on par with each other in several categories — depending on how you look at it. While DIRECTV may technically have more TV packages and channels than the competition, DISH's top package has more than 290 channels, so you're definitely not limited with your selection. Additionally, both companies offer up-to-date and advanced DVRs and mobile apps. Depending on which provider you go with your DVR might have several cool features such as voice remote, the ability to watch several live channels simultaneously, recording multiple shows and programs at once, and more. 

Unfortunately, you're going to see a few monthly fees pop up on your bill with either company. 

Also, both DIRECTV and DISH have some work to do to bring up their customer satisfaction score.

However, when it comes to pricing, DISH comes out on top. Yes, at first glance it looks like you will have to pay more with DISH, but in the long run, you're going to save money. The companies two-year price lock is almost unheard of in the TV provider industry. DIRECTV's prices start a bit lower, but after the first year, you can expect a price hike. 

Additionally, sports fans don't need to shy away from DISH. The company still offers plenty of sports channels, but if you're a die-hard football fan, definitely go with DIRECTV. 

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