DIRECTV Review: An Entertainment Powerhouse?

DIRECTV Review: An Entertainment Powerhouse?

Faced with huge bills and subpar customer service, countless people these days are abandoning cable TV providers. Digital TV and streaming services have emerged as convenient and affordable alternatives to cable. Nevertheless, these services may not be enough to satisfy true TV fanatics.

If you’re looking to upgrade from cable, DIRECTV may be for you. DIRECTV’s satellite service has been on the market for ages, and for a good reason — it has a lot to offer. As a nice middle ground between streaming and cable, DIRECTV may be what you’re looking for to satisfy your entertainment needs.

Prices and Packages

DIRECTV offers an incredibly low price per channel, especially before your contract hits the halfway mark. Prices start at around 25 cents per channel. This climbs to around 30 cents per channel with their PREMIER package, so the difference isn’t too bad. Overall, it’s a great deal for people who love to have a wide variety of channels to choose from.

It’s important to note that prices will increase halfway through your contract. On average, you’ll end up paying around 40 cents per channel. It’s a fairly significant bump in price. However, contracts last for at least two years, so you should have plenty of time to prepare for higher monthly expenses.

Keep in mind that while DIRECTV’s price per channel is pretty reasonable, there are a ton of channels — even in the cheapest package. So, even if you’re a total TV nut, it’s not likely that you’ll watch all of the channels you have available. This means that, unfortunately, you won’t be able to avoid paying for channels that you will never use.

Nevertheless, it’s not a problem exclusive to DIRECTV. You’ll run into this no matter what TV provider or streaming service you choose.

Comparison

Compared to the competition, DIRECTV strikes an attractive balance between price and the number of channels on offer. For 155-300+ channels, DIRECTV charges around 40 cents per channel. As already noted, the price changes halfway through your contract, so this number may vary. Even so, DIRECTV compares rather favorably to its opponents on the market.

DISH and Xfinity are slightly less expensive options, at 33 and 36 cents per channel respectively. However, they don’t offer nearly as many channels. Xfinity has around 260 on offer, while DISH has 290.

Out of DIRECTV’s major competitors, Spectrum has the smallest number of channels at 125-200. At 51 cents per channel, they also charge the most. Frontier offers more channels than DIRECTV at a much better price: 400+ at an impressive 24 cents per channel. Its main drawback, though, is that it isn’t available everywhere. On the other hand, DIRECTV should be accessible regardless of where you live.

One other noteworthy feature that DIRECTV offers is the ability to choose from six different packages. To compare, DISH and XFINITY only offer four. If you like having options, then DIRECTV is definitely the better choice.

Internet Bundles

If you have access to AT&T or CenturyLink Internet services in your area, you have the option to pair DIRECTV with their Internet packages. This is a great idea if you’re already getting your Internet from one of these providers.

You can choose from any of the DIRECTV packages. What’s more, you’ll end up saving around $10 every month on your Internet bill. If you get your Internet from a different provider, saving $10 per month is probably not enough to entice you to switch over. But if you already have an AT&T or CenturyLink plan, it’s definitely worth considering the bundle.

Channels

DIRECTV is all about giving you options. As noted above, it provides you with over 330 channels to choose from across six packages. While that may not be the highest number on the market, the number of potential channels is still staggering. You’ll never be able to complain again about having nothing to watch!

Packages

DIRECTV’s six packages vary in their content, but each one offers a great range of channels that can satisfy even the most demanding of viewers.

  • SELECT
    • $35 per month
    • 155+ channels
  • ENTERTAINMENT
    • $40 per month
    • 160+ channels
  • CHOICE
    • $45 per month
    • 185+ channels
  • XTRA
    • $55 per month
    • 235+ channels
  • ULTIMATE
    • $60 per month
    • 250+ channels
  • PREMIER
    • $110 per month
    • 330+ channels

As you can see, there’s a fair variety of packages available in terms of price and channels.

The exact contents of each package are beyond the scope of this review. Regardless, there are a few important details about the packages that you should be aware of.

With SELECT, ENTERTAINMENT, and CHOICE, you’ll miss out on some specialty and niche channels. Examples include BBC World News, NHL Network, Nat Geo WILD, and Travel Channel, among others. None of these are necessarily must-haves, so one of the less expensive packages may suit you. SELECT also doesn’t have ESPN.

If you’re after a huge variety of channels but don’t want to break the bank, XTRA and ULTIMATE are your best bets. Movie buffs should opt for ULTIMATE, as most of the 15 extra channels are movie channels. Otherwise, you’ll probably be fine with what XTRA has to offer.

And why the huge price spike from ULTIMATE to PREMIER? The PREMIER package provides you with 33 premium channels and 40+ sports channels on top of ULTIMATE’s lineup. It’s a good value for money, but it’s a steep price for casual viewers without as much money to burn.

If you’d like to compare the channel selection for yourself, you can find it all in a handy PDF here.

Premium Channels

Can’t live without premium channels but don’t want to pay for PREMIER? Well, you’re in luck. DIRECTV allows you to add networks like HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX à la carte to a regular package. There’s no need to pay for PREMIER if you only want HBO, for example. Prices vary between the packages, so make sure you compare them before you opt for one.

Sports

Sports fans have a good reason to switch to DIRECTV. The SPORTS pack is a truly impressive collection of more than 40 different sports-centric channels. While the pack is included in PREMIER, like with the premium packs, you can add it to any existing package.

The selection is extremely varied. It includes most of the major sports networks as well as many regional networks. The mainstream American sports are front and center in this pack, so fans of more obscure sports may be a bit disappointed. With so many networks, though, it’s likely you’ll be able to find more than a game or two to cheer at.

If you’re an NFL fan, then DIRECTV is your best (and only) bet for having access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET. It’s a DIRECTV exclusive that can be a great way to keep up with your favorite teams, especially if they’re based in another state.

Local Channels

Depending on where you live, DIRECTV may be able to offer you a massive selection of local channels. ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS each have over 200 affiliate channels available through DIRECTV. It’s an exceptional variety. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get access to all of those channels. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s normally available in your region. Even so, DIRECTV is a great way to stay tuned in to your favorite local stations.

4K Programming

Unfortunately, DIRECTV only offers three 4k programming channels. Those are 104, which has mixed content, 105, which offers pay-per-view movies, and 106, which is an event channel.

DVR

For most people these days, DVR is an absolute must-have. Maybe you’re rather busy, or perhaps you simply can’t watch everything at once. Either way, DIRECTV has you covered.

DIRECTV gives you the option to add the Genie DVR to your package. The Genie can store up to 200 hours of HD video, which is enough for saving entire series at a time. The price is surprisingly reasonable. At $7 per month, you’ll be able to save a sizable number of high-quality recordings. You do have to pay around $50 up front for the Genie, but for most users, the cost is small compared to its benefits.

Even more impressive than the Genie’s price is its functionality. DIRECTV’s Genie DVR can record as many as five shows at the same time. You read that right — it can record up to 5 shows on different channels simultaneously. That means that you no longer have to worry about missing anything during prime time. You won’t need a time machine to catch all of the hottest shows!

Restart and Rewind

Unfortunately, for most of us, life often gets in the way of our TV time. If you’re the type of person who misses the start of shows because of work or other distractions, DIRECTV won’t let you down. Their Restart and 72 Hour Rewind features are included by default, at no extra charge.

Restart lets you do just that — restart a show that’s playing now. Even if you’ve missed a big chunk of the show in question, you can go right back to the beginning and pretend that you tuned in on time.

72 Hour Rewind allows you to watch shows that debuted up to 3 days prior. It’s a handy feature for a number of reasons. If you run out of space on your DVR (which is hard to do with 200 hours of storage), then you’ll still be able to catch shows that you missed and couldn’t record. It also allows you to free up that space for other shows that you may want to watch later.

If these features sound too good to be true…well, they almost are. Unfortunately, they’re only available for a limited number of channels. You’ll have to be careful about this when deciding on what to DVR and what to Restart or Rewind. It takes some getting used to, but after some time, you shouldn’t have any trouble catching up with everything you want to watch. In the end, these features can be a real lifesaver!

Customer Service Experience

TV and Internet services — and cable TV in particular — are especially notorious for their poor customer service. In fact, many people have abandoned these services for that very reason. So, if you’re thinking of switching from cable to DIRECTV, then you’re probably wondering how their customer service compares.

Unfortunately, customers typically rate DIRECTV’s customer service as poor to average. That being said, DIRECTV does enjoy a much higher rating than its competitors on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Their score (64) is at least marginally higher than that of other providers, which generally score between 50 to 60 from a total of 100.

If customer service is important to you, you can certainly do worse than DIRECTV. It may not be the most shining endorsement, but it counts for something!

The Verdict

DIRECTV has a lot going for it. Its diverse selection of plans gives you more to choose from than the competition and allows you to customize your experience. Channel selection is fantastic, and you’ll have ample opportunity to expand upon the default choices. What’s more, DIRECTV’s Genie DVR is a great tool that’s easy to use and incredibly functional — it’s probably the best on the market.

All that being said, both DIRECTV’s pricing and customer service leave something to be desired. Signing a 2-year contract is a big commitment and the increase in price halfway through isn’t exactly something to look forward to. Additionally, while DIRECTV does a better job of satisfying its customers than the competition, there’s still some room for improvement.

If you’re a television fanatic who craves variety, you can’t go wrong with DIRECTV. If the price is simply too steep for you, it might be worth considering digital alternatives. But if you have some money to spare, DIRECTV offers a big bang for your buck.

Pros:

  • Massive selection of channels, including premium and local
  • Variety of plans that cater to different tastes and budgets
  • An excellent Genie DVR system

Cons:

  • Minimum 2-year contract with a mid-contract price hike
  • Customer service is average

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