Have you been looking at cable TV providers and couldn’t make up your mind between DIRECTV and AT&T? Well, that’s totally understandable, as their offers and packages are pretty similar. But since you can’t have both, which one should you choose?
That’s what you’re going to find out in this review. Both cable providers have their advantages and drawbacks, so in the end, it all comes down to what you prefer watching more.
In this review, you’ll get introduced to their packages, contracts, and fees. Finally, you’ll be able to see who comes out on top as the best provider on the market.
First and foremost, let’s talk about what matters most — the channel packages. Both providers have impressive offers and similar prices. So let’s see where they differ most.
At DIRECTV, you can take your pick between one of their six packages. No matter which one you choose, you’ll get their Genie HD DVR included. Also, you’ll get three months of free premium channels with the majority of the packages.
The Select channel package will set you back $35 a month. You’ll get over 155 channels, and they include CNN, TNT, and Nickelodeon.
With the Entertainment package, you’ll get over 160 channels for $40 a month. Some of the channels you’ll be getting are ESPN, ESPN2, and NBCSN.
The Choice package is their most popular one, and it costs $45 per month. With this package, you’ll be able to watch over 185 channels. Some of the channels in the Choice package include ESPN, SCI, and Pop. Not only that, but you’ll also get HBO and the NFL Sunday Ticket.
One step up from the Choice package is the Xtra. With Xtra, for the price of $55 a month, you can watch over 235 channels. The package features some top channels like Golf, NBC Universo, and Oxygen.
With the Ultimate package, you’ll get over 250 channels for $60 a month. Again, you’ll get HBO and the NFL Sunday Ticket. Also, you’ll be able to watch channels like National Geographic Wild, CBS Sports Network, and Boomerang.
If you want to go all out and treat yourself with the biggest channel selection, you can go with the Premier package from DIRECTV. You’ll be able to watch over 330 channels for $110 a month. The Premier package includes HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax.
If you go with AT&T, you’ll have five packages to choose from. Also, keep in mind that you’ll get these special package prices once you sign a 1-year contract with AT&T.
You should get the U-Basic package if you like to watch local channels. With it, you’ll get over 25 channels for $19 a month. AT&T doesn’t really specify which channels you get; they just say you’ll get all of your “everyday favorites.” The U-basic package is the only one which doesn’t require a 1-year subscription.
The U-Family package is a lot bigger compared to the U-Basic one. With the U-Family TV, you’ll have access to over 190 channels for $35 a month. Some of the channels you’ll be getting are Disney XD and The Hallmark Channel.
Next, you have the U-200. For $55 a month, you’ll get over 350 channels, which include ESPN, Bravo, and Cartoon Network. Not only that, but you’ll also get free HBO for one year, without any additional charges.
The U-300 is one of AT&T’s most popular channel packages. You’ll get over 495 channels for $60 a month. Some of the channels you’ll get are Showtime, Starz, and The Movie Channel. Again, with the U-300, you’ll also get free HBO for one year.
Finally, you have the U-450 from AT&T. For $110 a month, you’ll get over 565 channels. The U-450 package includes HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax.
All in all, when it comes to channel packages, AT&T might have DIRECTV beat just by the sheer number of channels. However, it all comes down to what you enjoy watching more and how much you’re ready to spend. Whichever service provider you decide to go with in the end, you can feel confident you’re making the right choice.
While on the subject of channel packages, let’s take a look at some premium and sports channel offers from both AT&T and DIRECTV.
Premium channels are another feature where these two providers don’t differ much from each other. There are two ways you can get premium channels at DIRECTV. First, if you want to get premium channels like HBO or Showtime, you will have to pay an extra $1 or $2 a month for each of them.
On the other hand, you can get one of the top-tier packages, which include the premium channels for free. However, where AT&T and DIRECTV differ most is their selection of sports packages.
If you get the Choice package or any other above it for that matter, you’ll get the NFL Sunday Ticket. With the NFL Sunday Ticket, you’ll be able to watch every out-of-market, live game every Sunday. Also, if you just want to get the add-on sports package, you can do so for $13.99 a month.
You would have to get either the U-300 or the U-450 channel package if you wanted to watch some premium channels, such as Showtime, Starz or Encore. However, keep in mind that you’ll get HBO only if you choose the U-450.
Also, while AT&T doesn’t have an NFL Sunday Ticket, their add-on sports package is cheaper compared to DIRECTV’s. With AT&T, you can get the sports package for $10 a month.
Now that you know all about the packages from AT&T and DIRECTV, it’s time to talk about their services, fees, and overall pricing. When it comes to pricing in general, both companies have pretty similar fees, so again, it all comes down to what your cable TV budget is.
With DIRECTV, you’ll have a couple of one-time service fees you’ll have to pay. These include:
- An activation fee, which is $19.95.
- A cancellation fee, which is $20 for every month remaining on your contract.
- A regional sports fee, which is $8.49 a month.
Your DVR and HD technology, as well as the Broadcast TV fees, are all included in your subscription. Also, note that the regional sports fee only applies to the Choice and Ultimate packages. Furthermore, DIRECTV will waive your activation fee if you order online.
Again, the AT&T service fees don’t differ that much from DIRECTV’s. Here’s what you’ll have to pay:
- An activation fee, which is $35.
- A cancellation fee, which is $15 for every month remaining on your contract.
- A broadcast TV fee, which is up to $7.99 a month.
What’s more, your DVR and HD technology fees are included in your subscription. As you can see, the only difference between the two providers is the Broadcast TV fee. Furthermore, AT&T will charge you less per month if you want to cancel your subscription.
What about the bundles? Which service provider will give you a better deal if you want to get both their cable TV and internet services? Well, let’s take a look.
First, if you go with DIRECTV’s bundle, you can choose from four different internet packages. You can get:
- Basic 5 — You get 5 Mbps internet speed, which adds $30 a month to your chosen DIRECTV channel package.
- Internet 100 — Next, you can get the Internet 100 package, which features 100 Mbps internet speed and adds $40 to your channel package.
- Internet 300 — With the Internet 300, you’ll have an internet speed of 300 Mbps; it adds $60 to your monthly channel package.
- Internet 1000 — Finally, with the 1000 package, you’ll have an internet speed of 1000 Mbps; it will set you back an additional $80 a month.
Also, keep in mind that if you want to get the bundle, you’ll have to sign on with DIRECTV for two years. The cancellation fee for the internet package is $15 for every month left on your contract.
AT&T’s offer is pretty similar to DIRECTV’s. If you choose AT&T, you’ll also get $10 a month off your bill. However, if you pick AT&T as your internet service provider, you’ll be able to get three predetermined bundles.
First, there’s the Internet+U-Family bundle. With the U-Family package, you’ll get over 190 channels and internet speed of 100 Mbps. This bundle will set you back $75 a month, and you can find the complete list of the channels included here.
U-Family with a Digital Home Phone
You can also get the U-Family bundle with a Digital Home Phone. You’ll get the same number of channels and the same internet speed. However, with a digital home phone included, it increases the price of the bundle to $94.99 a month.
If you decide to go with the U-300 bundle, you’ll get over 495 channels for $100 a month. Same as with the U-Family bundle, you will get 100 Mbps of internet speed. The Wi-Fi and HDR equipment are included for free in both of these bundles. Not only that, but the installation fee is waived when you order any of these.
As you can see, the bundles from AT&T and DIRECTV are different. With DIRECTV, you can add any internet package to whichever channel package you want. On the other hand, AT&T has three different bundles, all with the same internet speed.
While it all comes down to what you need most, DIRECTV might win this round just because of how customizable their offer is. Of course, if you want the whole package with cable TV, internet, and home phone, you should definitely go for the AT&T offer.
Before you reach your final verdict, you should first figure out how long you want your contract to be. In fact, contracts are one of the few areas where you can see a real difference between AT&T and DIRECTV.
If you want to use DIRECTV’s cable or internet services, you’ll have to sign up for a two-year contract. However, even though you have a two-year contract, the prices of your packages still might increase after one year.
Again, if you want to terminate your contract earlier, you’ll have to pay $20 for every month that’s left on it.
On the other hand, if you go with AT&T, you only have to commit to a one-year contract. However, just like DIRECTV, AT&T reserves the right to increase your package prices after one year. What’s more, the price after one year can be doubled compared to what you were paying in the first year.
All in all, before you sign any contract, make sure you’ve read the fine print at the bottom of the page. Not only can you avoid committing to a contract that isn’t suitable for you, but you can also find some interesting promotional offers or discounts.
Cable providers usually have a bad reputation when it comes to customer support. That being said, both AT&T and DIRECTV have fared pretty well in the ACSI customer satisfaction reports. AT&T bested DIRECTV in this area — but not by a lot.
Out of 100 points on the customer satisfaction scale, AT&T scored 70, while DIRECTV scored 64 points. Most users said they had a pleasant experience with the customer services in both companies.
If you want to contact DIRECTV, you can do so via a Live Chat on their website or by calling them. You can find more information here.
You can reach AT&T via a Live Chat which is available to you every day from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET. Also, their technical support is available 24/7, and you can even reach them on social media. To find more information on how to contact AT&T, click here.
As they say, knowledge is power. So now that you know everything about the offers from AT&T and DIRECTV, the final decision is up to you. If you want a broader selection of channels — you might want to go with AT&T.
However, if you want to be able to bundle up and customize your entire package, you might be happier with DIRECTV. Also, before you sign on with either of these providers, make sure you’ve read the fine print at the bottom of the page.