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AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV

Whether you like livestreaming or satellite TV, you’ll end up paying more with either AT&T TV or DIRECTV.

Best for bundling

Price: $59.99–$79.99/mo.
Live channels: 65–130+

Loaded channel lineups
500-hour DVR
Two-year contract
View plans
Best for football

Price: $64.99–$84.99/mo.
Live channels: 160–250+

Even more channels
NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Extra equipment
View plans

Bottom line: Is AT&T TV or DIRECTV better?

Aside from their delivery methods, AT&T TV and DIRECTV are quite similar—right down to the package names, two-year contracts, and ownership (that would be AT&T). AT&T TV is streamed over the internet, and DIRECTV is beamed via satellite in the sky.

We think AT&T TV is the better choice of the two for TV service because it gives you a lot of essential channels for a lower price than DIRECTV, and there’s less equipment to deal with (satellite dishes on the roof are so 2010). Neither would be our first choice for TV, however.

We’ll get to the details that knock AT&T TV down a notch compared to our favorite livestreaming TV services, like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. But it isn’t bad for the (initial) price.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV pros and cons

AT&T TV
👍 Loaded channel lineups
👍 500-hour DVR
👎 Two-year contract

DIRECTV
👍 Even more channels
👍 NFL SUNDAY TICKET
👎 Extra equipment

How are AT&T TV and DIRECTV different?

Streaming vs. satellite

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FeatureAT&T TVDIRECTV
Price$59.99–$79.99/mo.$44.99–$134.99/mo.
Live channels65–130+155–330+
Max. DVR storage500 hrs. (cloud)200 hrs. (hard drive)
Compatible devices44
Max. multiple streams36
Free trialNoneNone
View plansView plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The numbers are close between AT&T TV and DIRECTV, the biggest difference being channel counts—which are misleading, considering that DIRECTV’s appear higher but include hundreds of filler audio-only music channels. AT&T TV carries less bloat, meaning there are more channels you’ll probably actually watch.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV prices and plans

AT&T TV prices and plans

Plan
ENTERTAINMENT
CHOICE
XTRA
ULTIMATE
Price Live channels Cloud DVR Streams
$59.99/mo. 65+ 500 hrs. 3 View plans
$64.99/mo. 90+ 500 hrs. 3 View plans
$74.99/mo. 105+ 500 hrs. 3 View plans
$79.99/mo. 130+ 500 hrs. 3 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Four plans, pretty simple and cheap—but not really. In order to get those packages, you’ll also have to have internet service (fiber-optic, cable, or DSL, depending on what’s available in your neighborhood). Livestreaming TV requires internet, and AT&T is banking that you’ll go the path of least resistance and bundle with AT&T Internet.

Should you go the AT&T TV and Internet bundle route, here’s what you’ll actually be paying:

AT&T TV plus internet prices and plans

Package
ENTERTAINMENT + AT&T Internet
CHOICE + AT&T Internet
XTRA + AT&T Internet
ULTIMATE + AT&T Internet
Price Live channels Cloud DVR Streams Download speeds
$89.98/mo. 65+ 500 hrs. 3 100–940 Mbps View plans
$94.98/mo. 90+ 500 hrs. 3 100–940 Mbps View plans
$104.98/mo. 120+ 500 hrs. 3 100–940 Mbps View plans
$109.98/mo. 130+ 500 hrs. 3 100–940 Mbps View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Where it’s available, AT&T fiber-optic internet service can reach download speeds of 940 Mbps. Where it’s not available, you get AT&T DSL (digital subscriber line) internet, which is delivered over telephone lines and maxes out at 100 Mbps of download speed.

Here’s another twist: AT&T TV’s television plans go up nearly double in price after the first 12 months of your two-year contract. DIRECTV’s plans come with a similar 12-month price hike that brings them to about the same monthly cost as AT&T TV’s post-increase, so there’s not really a substantial price difference between the two.

While AT&T TV is technically a livestreaming TV service aimed at cord-cutters, it’s still up to the same old satellite TV money-grabbing tricks that cord-cutters are trying to get away from.

DIRECTV prices and plans

Plan
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included
CHOICE All-Included
XTRA All-Included
ULTIMATE All-Included
Price Live channels DVR Multiple TVs Details
$64.99/mo. 160+ 200 hrs. Up to 6 View plans
$69.99/mo. 185+ 200 hrs. Up to 6 View plans
$79.99/mo. 235+ 200 hrs. Up to 6 View plans
$84.99/mo. 250+ 200 hrs. Up to 6 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Those names look familiar, right? The tacked-on “All-Included” refers to DIRECTV’s Genie DVR/receiver and free installation, both included in each plan’s price. Of course, that’s not really “all” you need to watch satellite TV; we’ll get to the other fees and charges shortly.

As we mentioned earlier, DIRECTV’s large channel counts include extraneous padding like Sonic Tap music “radio” channels and home shopping networks. The big numbers look impressive at first glance, but chances are you’ll never even scroll through those channels.

Cord-cutting savings

If you’re looking to ditch cable boxes (which AT&T TV requires) and satellite dishes for good, try livestreaming TV. It’s live television delivered over the internet with minimal extra equipment, no contracts, and all the channels you love (for less money, in most cases). Check out CableTV.com’s guide to the Best Live TV Streaming Services of 2020.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV fees and extra charges

AT&T TV fees and extra charges

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FeeAmount
Activation fee$19.95
Regional sports fee$8.49/mo.
Additional receiver fee$10.00/mo. per box
Early termination fee$15.00 for each month left on contract

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The above fees are standard stuff—for a cable or satellite subscription. AT&T TV is a livestreaming outlier in that it requires its own receiver, as opposed to an app on a third-party streaming device, like Roku or Apple TV. Charging for extra receiver boxes is yet another old satellite/cable bill ploy that shouldn’t apply to internet-based TV, but there it is.

DIRECTV fees and extra charges

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FeeAmount
Regional sports fee$9.99/mo.
Additional receiver fee$7.00/mo. + $99.00 installation fee
Early termination fee$20.00 for each month left on contract

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

You can’t get away from those regional sports and early termination fees, but at least DIRECTV throws in the installation and Genie DVR/receiver for no extra cost. We think DIRECTV has the edge in this category.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV live channels

One of the many things that AT&T TV and DIRECTV have in common is an abundance of channels, from the popular (AMC, Comedy Central, Disney, TNT, etc.) to the obscure (what’s Destination America, anyway?).

Jump to: Live sports channels | Local channels | Premium channels

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y

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Channel
AT&T TV
(Ultimate plan)
DIRECTV
(Ultimate plan)
A&E
ABC
AAC Network
AMC
Animal Planet
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg TV
Boomerang
Bravo
C-SPAN
Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
CBS
CBS Sports Network
Cheddar News
CINEMAX®
CMT
CNBC
CNN
Comedy Central
COMET
Cooking Channel
COZI TV
The CW
Destination America
Discovery Channel
Discovery Family
Disney Channel
Disney Junior
Disney XD
DIY Network
E!
El Rey
EPIX®
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
Food Network
FOX
FOX Business
FOX News
FOX Soccer Plus
FS1
FS2
Freeform
Fuse
Fusion
FX
FXM
FXX
fyi
Galavisión
Golf Channel
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HBO®
HGTV
HISTORY
HLN
IFC
Investigation Discovery
ION
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network
MLB Network
MOTOR TREND
MSNBC
MTV
MTV2
MTV Classic
Nat Geo WILD
National Geographic Channel
NBA TV
NBC
NBC Sports Network
NBC Universo
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite
Nicktoons
Olympic Channel
OWN
Oxygen
Pac 12 Network
Paramount Network
PBS
Pop
Science
SEC Network
SHOWTIME®
Smithsonian Channel
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
STARZ®
SundanceTV
Syfy
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
Telemundo
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNT
Travel Channel
TruTV
TV Land
Universal Kids
Univision
USA Network
VH1
VICE
WE tv
Weather Channel

Data effective as of post date.

Fun fact about AT&T TV: it’s one of the few livestreaming TV services that carries Hallmark Channel and Lifetime, a distinction it has in common with cousin AT&T TV NOW and competitors fuboTV and Philo. That’s something to consider when the season for 24/7 Christmas movies rolls around.

Sports channels

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ChannelAT&T TV
(Ultimate plan)
DIRECTV
(Ultimate plan)
AAC Network
Big Ten Network
CBS Sports Network
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
FS1
FS2
Golf Channel
MLB Network
MLB Bases Loaded
NBA TV
NBC Sports Network
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Olympic Channel
Outdoor TV
Pac 12 Network
SEC Network
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
Tennis Channel

Data effective as of post date.

Both AT&T TV and DIRECTV are particularly solid on sports channels, though DIRECTV has an edge being the only TV provider that has NFL SUNDAY TICKET. That exclusive deal is set to expire in 2022, at which time we suspect it’ll be up for grabs for streaming services. Until then, DIRECTV is the only place to get NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Local channels

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ChannelAT&T TVDIRECTV
ABC
CBS
FOX
NBC
The CW
PBS
Telemundo

Data effective as of post date. Not all channels are available in all regions. The CW programming is available on-demand through YouTube TV and fuboTV in select markets.

As with sports, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV carry mostly complete local channel lineups across the US (well, except when there’s a carriage dispute resulting in channel blackouts). If local channels are important to you, either service will have you covered.

Want more local channels?

You can pick up local channels with a one-time purchase of a digital antenna, which can supplement your satellite or streaming lineup. Check out some of our favorites in CableTV.com’s Best Antennas for Cord-Cutters review

Premium channels

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ChannelAT&T TVDIRECTV
HBO$15/mo.$15/mo.
CINEMAX$11/mo.$11/mo.
SHOWTIME$11/mo.$11/mo.
STARZ$11/mo.$11/mo.
EPIX$6/mo.$6/mo.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Since AT&T owns HBO, HBO Max, and CINEMAX, of course they’re available on its AT&T TV and DIRECTV properties. There’s no difference between the two when it comes to other premium channels, either; SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX are repped across AT&T TV and DIRECTV.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV specs and features

As far as gear goes, DIRECTV requires more of it than AT&T TV—most notably, a satellite dish on your roof or a side of the building.

AT&T TV just has a set-top box, which you can install yourself and start streaming with quickly (as long as you have an internet connection, that is). AT&T TV wins here for convenience.

DVR

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DVR featureAT&T TVDIRECTV
Storage included500 hrs.200 hrs.
UpgradesNoneNone

DIRECTV’s DVR is a physical hard drive inside the included Genie receiver, which can store up to 200 hours of HD programming. The storage is more than adequate, but the Genie can record only five shows at once, which could lead to scheduling conflicts. What if you had to choose between recording 90 Day Fiance on TLC and Married at First Sight on Lifetime? The horror!

AT&T TV’s DVR is cloud-based, freeing it up from simultaneous recording limits and allowing for a generous 500 hours of storage (for 90 days). AT&T TV’s set-top box also comes with apps like Netflix and Pandora pre-installed, and a Google voice remote.

If you want TV service in multiple rooms, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV require extra receiver boxes for each TV you hook up, pushing the monthly cost up a little more.

Multiple streams

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Stream featuresAT&T TVDIRECTV
Streams included36
UpgradesNoneNone

With five Mini Genies, you can have up to six TVs connected, wired or wirelessly, in a household—which is DIRECTV’s version of multiple streams. AT&T TV allows for three simultaneous streams, which is the industry baseline for internet TV. If you need multiple TVs hooked up, DIRECTV is the way to go.

Compatible devices

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DeviceAT&T TVDIRECTV
AirTV Player
Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Android phones and tablets
Android TV
Apple TV (4th gen.)
Apple TV 4K
Chromecast
Chromecast Built-in TV
Hisense TVs
iPhone and iPad
LG TVs
Nintendo Switch
NVIDIA SHIELD
PC and Mac Web browsers
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Roku
Roku Express
Roku Ultra
Samsung TVs
VIZIO TVs
Wii
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Data effective as of post date.

AT&T TV and DIRECTV have standalone apps that can stream live and recorded content, but their platform reach is limited. Both are available only on Apple, Android, and Amazon Fire TV devices, and none of them work particularly well. It’s almost as if AT&T wants to keep you on their satellite and streaming boxes exclusively. Weird.

Get your stream on

Looking for a new (or first) streaming device? Read our Best Streaming TV Devices review before you go shopping.

Video quality

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Video qualityAT&T TVDIRECTV
Resolution720p1080p

When it comes to live programming, DIRECTV has an advantage in that it can broadcast in Blu-ray quality 1080p resolution, whereas AT&T TV—and all other livestreaming services—can reach only 720p. Streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video can do 1080p (and even 4K) for on-demand content, but immediate livestreaming isn’t quite there yet.

Having issues with your stream?

It might be time to upgrade your connection. Learn more about speed needs with our Best Internet for Streaming guide.

Channel guide

AT&T TV’s transparent channel guide is more aesthetically pleasing than DIRECTV’s stark black-and-grey bars, but they’re otherwise mostly identical.

AT&T TV, like DIRECTV, also assigns numbers to local and all other channels—you don’t get that with other livestreaming services. If you prefer the familiarity of a standard channel grid with numbered channels, rather than the numberless anarchy of livestreamers like Sling TV and fuboTV, AT&T TV might be the way to go.

Commercials

In most cases, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV allow you to fast-forward through commercials on DVRed shows and movies. There are occasions where you’ll run across un-skippable ads while watching shows on demand, as well as DVRed content, but not at an overly obnoxious rate.

Free trials and deals

You can get a free year of HBO Max when you sign up for select AT&T TV or DIRECTV plans online.

Our final take: Is AT&T TV or DIRECTV worth it?

While DIRECTV does have its pluses, like superior picture quality and the coveted NFL SUNDAY TICKET, we’re just not into the roof dish, the filler channels, or the higher monthly bill. It’s great for sports bars, but not necessarily homes (unless you live in a sports bar, then congrats).

We don’t like a few aspects of AT&T TV, like the two-year contract and the mandatory set-top box, but we think it’s a solid streaming service for those who like the familiarity of satellite TV. BTW, we also think one-year price hikes within two-year contracts are just straight-up robbery, so we’re not completely sold on either service.

Not quite ready to decide? You can jump back to our side-by-side comparison or read our full reviews on DIRECTV and AT&T TV.

AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV FAQ

What’s the difference between AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW?

Even though it looks nearly identical to the satellite service DIRECTV, AT&T TV streams over the internet. Also like DIRECTV, AT&T TV requires a set-top receiver box from AT&T and features numbered channel lineups like a traditional satellite or cable service.

On the other hand, AT&T TV NOW is a standalone livestreaming app that doesn’t require a contract (you pay month-to-month) and will work with third-party streaming devices (like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast). It carries most of the same channels as AT&T TV.

Does AT&T TV require AT&T internet service?

AT&T TV will technically work with any internet service, but it’s cheaper and more convenient to bundle it with AT&T internet. If you’re happy with your current non-AT&T internet provider, we’d suggest going with AT&T TV NOW or another livestreaming TV service.

Does AT&T TV carry local channels?

Like most other livestreaming TV services, AT&T TV doesn’t carry every local station in every market, meaning broadcast channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, or PBS might be missing from lineups in certain cities.

In some cases, shows from these missing channels are available from the service on demand. Another solution for getting missing local channels would be to buy a digital antenna and pick up those channels for free.

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