DISH vs. DIRECTV: Who Has the Best Cable?

DISH and DIRECTV are the top two choices when talking about satellite TV providers. The companies are well aware of this fact, and their features, offers, and packages are built to make the decision even harder for you. However, in the battle of DISH vs. DIRECTV, DISH comes out on top. The reasons are more straightforward pricing and a better DVR. The provider uses Hopper 3 — a device that stands out among all other DVRs on the market. Still, DIRECTV isn’t significantly inferior to DISH. This satellite TV provider is a great option if you love sports, as it enables you to watch NFL Sunday Ticket.

Those differences aside, let’s take a look at prices, equipment, and capabilities of DISH vs. DIRECTV services.


  • $59.99–$89.99 a month
  • 190–290+ channels
  • 500 HD hours
  • 2-year contract


  • $35–$110 a month
  • 155–330+ channels
  • 200 HD hours
  • 2-year contract

Keep in mind that these prices come with a 2-year contract and eAutoPay. Also, DIRECTV has a price-hike during the second year of your contract. First, take a look at how packages and prices are formatted in DISH vs. DIRECTV.

DISH vs. DIRECTV — Prices and Packages

DIRECTV allows you to watch great sports channels, but there’s also a big price hike. While the prices of these two providers seem similar at first, DIRECTV’s costs will skyrocket way past DISH’s after the first twelve months of your contract. The lack of a price increase is one of the biggest advantages that DISH has over DIRECTV. Their services are cheaper in the long run, and you get more value for your money.

Dish Satellite TV Packages, Monthly Prices, and Channel Count

  • America’s Top 120 — $59.99 a month with 190 channels
  • America’s Top 120+ — $69.99 a month with over 190 channels
  • America’s Top 200 — $79.99 a month with over 240 channels
  • America’s Top 250 — $89.99 a month with over 290 channels

DISH’s America’s Top 250 package will give you over 290 channels, but DIRECTV’s ULTIMATE package offers over 250. However, once the first year of your contract has ended, DIRECTV will charge $45 more than DISH per month.

DISH’s pricing scheme is a bit confusing because America’s Top 120 and America’s top 120+ packages are quite similar. One offers 190, and the other 190+ channels, but the provider doesn’t specify the exact number or their range. The only actual distinction is that America’s Top 120+ offers some additional sports channels. The package is deserving of the additional $10 a month fee if you want to watch all the major sports channels.

DIRECTV’s prices could be seen as a bit misleading. Compared to DISH, you seem to get more channels for less money. Although, after the first year of your agreement, you will experience a major price hike. So always check the availability of these packages, as it may vary by location and may be subject to change.

DIRECTV Packages, Monthly Prices, and Channel Count

  • SELECT — $35 a month for the first year, $81 for the second year, with over 155 channels
  • ENTERTAINMENT — $40 a month for the first year, $93 for the second year, with over 160 channels
  • CHOICE — $45 a month for the first year, $110 for the second year, with over 185 channels
  • XTRA — $55 a month for the first year, $124 for the second year, with over 235 channels
  • ULTIMATE — $60 a month for the first year, $135 for the second year, with over 250 channels
  • PREMIER — $110 a month for the first year, $189 for the second year, with over 330 channels

As you can tell, DIRECTV’s packages offer more channels, the highest number being over 350. However, the distinction between these packages aren’t obvious at first glance — so let’s clarify them. ULTIMATE adds more movie channels, while ENTERTAINMENT gives you a few more sports ones. Also, keep in mind that although you do get more channels with PREMIER than you would with DISH’s most expensive package, the increase in price is a huge disadvantage.

The biggest motivation for sports lovers to opt for DIRECTV is that you get NFL Sunday Ticket with all packages at no additional charges. The price of this channel changes every season, and its actual value is over $200. If you’re trying to find a satellite TV provider to watch sports specifically, DIRECTV could be a great choice. However, remember to cancel your subscription to NFL Sunday Ticket once the season is over, as it contains a hefty auto-renewal fee.

DISH Is the Overall Winner

DIRECTV gives you additional channels, but your bill will almost double after the first year of your contract. If you want to have a variety of channels or that one channel that is missing from DISH — DIRECTV might be the better option. Also, DIRECTV could be worth it for the NFL Sunday Ticket alone. However, DISH gets the points for straightforward pricing. What you see is what you get, and there are no hidden costs or mid-contract price hikes, which is a rarity when it comes to satellite TV providers. Next, you will be able to see the differences between DISH vs. DIRECTV DVRs.

DISH vs. DIRECTV — DVRs and Features

The Hopper 3 DVR from DISH is miles ahead of its competitors. The main aspects to be focused on in this DISH vs. DIRECTV review are:

  • Storage capacity
  • Concurrent recordings
  • Price

DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR reigns supreme in all categories and offers some amazing specifications and features.

Many reputable websites have selected the Hopper 3 as the best DVR for 2018, and you can see why that’s the case. DIRECTV’s Genie is a great DVR nonetheless and follows the Hopper as a close second. You won’t be making a mistake if you opt for either of these devices — but why not choose the best one the market has to offer?

Hopper 3 vs. Genie

The best part is that both companies include the main box in the price of their service. Most of their competitors charge extra for receivers, even though they are necessary for your satellite TV to work. While other companies choose to nickel-and-dime you, DISH and DIRECTV offer inexpensive DVRs that are included in the price of your package.

Moreover, both devices have great capabilities, decent recording potential, and support a good number of devices. All of these features are great, and while these two DVRs may seem similar at first glance, there are some differences in their performance. These are the key features that the Hopper 3 and Genie have to offer.

DISH Hopper 3

  • 2TB of storage capacity
  • 500 hours of HD recording
  • 4k support
  • Up to 16 simultaneous recordings
  • Supports 6 TVs
  • DVR service TV is an additional $5 a month.


  • 1TB of storage capacity
  • 200 hours of HD recording
  • 4k support
  • Up to 5 simultaneous recordings
  • Supports 8 TVs
  • Service fees for the DVR are incorporated in the price

As you can tell, there are distinct differences in the hardware of these two devices. Compared to Genie, Hopper 3 can more than double the number of your HD recordings. This number represents almost three uninterrupted weeks of binge-watching. Moreover, Genie is limited to only five simultaneous recordings, whereas Hopper 3 can manage 16.

If you think that nobody needs to have 16 shows recording at the same time, that’s probably true. But this number means that you will never have to think about missing out on a particular program. When you’re limited to five shows, there’s a chance that the device will malfunction, and you could lose the content you wanted to record. Life is already full of difficult decisions that you have to make; it’s better when you don’t have to decide if you want to record the big game or the newest episode of The Bachelorette.

Winner — DISH’s Hopper 3

DISH is the clear winner of this category, and their DVR has the best features on the market. However, that doesn’t mean that DIRECTV’s Genie is bad — it’s still a top-of-the-line DVR. So although DISH is the better choice, you won’t make a mistake choosing either one.

DISH vs. DIRECTV — Customer Service

Once again, in a tight race, DISH comes out on top. Based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI), both satellite TV providers rank slightly above average. However, being average in this category is nothing to be proud of, as most TV service providers are known for having terrible customer service.

According to ACSI, DISH has a customer service rating of 67/100, and DIRECTV ranks slightly behind with 64/100 points. Still, it could be a lot worse, as their scores put these two providers in the top five for subscription TV.

DISH Wins But Still Needs to Do Better

Not an enthusiastic win, but a victory nonetheless. While DISH does offer a better customer service experience compared to DIRECTV, some improvements should be made by both providers.

DISH vs. DIRECTV — Which Is the Better Option?

That was a difficult decision, and both providers put up a good fight. Here’s a brief summary of how DISH and DIRECTV compare in the following categories.


Even though DIRECTV starts off with lower prices, they will increase after the first 12 months of your contract. So if you want to save more money overall, you should go with DISH.

Channels and Packages

While DISH offers a great selection of channels, it does need more sports content. DIRECTV is the only provider that offers NFL Sunday Ticket. However, unless you primarily watch sports, you should go with DISH.


Hopper 3 is the best DVR currently available on the market. Because of this, DISH is the clear winner of this category. Although, DIRECTV’s Genie isn’t a bad DVR by any means, and it’s still one of the best ones the market has to offer.

Customer Support

While both providers could make some improvements in the customer service department, DISH places slightly higher than DIRECTV, based on ACSI.

Overall Winner — DISH

In the battle of DISH vs. DIRECTV, DISH comes out victorious. DIRECTV does have its strengths, and the availability of sports channels it offers shouldn’t be brushed off. However, its DVR is not quite as good as the Hopper 3, and the second-year price hike is something you just shouldn’t get behind.

DISH offers the most fairly-priced channels and allows you to enjoy your subscription without worrying about your bills increasing after the first year of your contract. The satellite TV provider represents the very top of the market and gives you the image quality and recording capabilities you deserve. Moreover, DISH offers the best DVR and a great selection of premium channels.


Where Is DISH Available?

DISH is available almost anywhere in the United States, and only a small number of people aren’t eligible for DISH’s services. The provider routes the signal from space, so you only need to have a receiver.

Where Is DIRECTV Available?

DIRECTV also uses satellite technology, so you shouldn’t have any trouble using their services anywhere in the U.S.

Reliability of Satellite Signals

There’s a common myth that satellite signals are unreliable. While interferences caused by bad weather are possible, they will only happen in periods of heavy precipitation. Even though it’s plausible to run into issues, both providers claim to have 99% of signal reliability. As far as previous customer experiences are concerned, this statement rings true. However, if you live in an area that goes through a lot of heavy rainfall and thunderstorm, you should think about getting a cable service rather than satellite.

Bad Weather Interfering with Satellite TV

As you now know, weather-related issues are technically possible with satellite service, but you’re unlikely to experience them. These issues arise only in periods of heavy rainfall, and your image will be clear for the majority of the time.

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