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Best Satellite TV Providers 2023

DISH is the best satellite TV provider based on its affordability, transparency, and family-friendly content—but sports fans may prefer DIRECTV.

Editor's choice

Price: $92.99–$117.99/mo.

Channel count: 190–290+

DVR storage: 500 hrs.

Simultaneous recordings: 16

DVR fee: $10.00/mo.

Price: $92.99–$117.99/mo.

Channel count: 190–290+

DVR storage: 500 hrs.

Simultaneous recordings: 16

DVR fee: $10.00/mo.

Best for sports

Price: $69.99–$159.99/mo.

Channel count: 165–340+

DVR storage: 200 hrs. (Genie) or 450 hrs. (Genie 2)

Simultaneous recordings: 5 (Genie) or 7 (Genie 2)

DVR fee: $15.00/mo. (Advanced Receiver Service Fee)

Price: $69.99–$159.99/mo.

Channel count: 165–340+

DVR storage: 200 hrs. (Genie) or 450 hrs. (Genie 2)

Simultaneous recordings: 5 (Genie) or 7 (Genie 2)

DVR fee: $15.00/mo. (Advanced Receiver Service Fee)

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

We highly recommend DISH Network. In fact, DISH is our Editor’s Choice for the best overall TV provider for the last three years due to its high channel count, industry-leading DVR, and three-year price guarantee. DISH is also our pick for the best TV provider for families, with tons of kids channels and excellent parental controls.

DIRECTV has more channels than DISH, and a new two-year price guarantee—but also higher prices and a $15 monthly fee for its Genie DVRs (formerly included). That said, DIRECTV is the best TV provider for sports fans thanks to its abundance of sports channels, regional sports networks (RSNs), and sports add-on packages.

Can I get satellite TV where I live? 

Satellite TV is available almost anywhere. Check DISH and DIRECTV availability in your area—plus check out local cable TV competitors—by entering your zip code below.

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Best satellite TV providers

  • DISH ($92.99–$117.99/mo.)–Best overall, best for kids
  • DIRECTV ($69.99–$159.99/mo.)—Best for sports

For a more in-depth comparison of satellite TV providers, read our DISH vs. DIRECTV guide, which covers everything from DVRs to installation to internet bundles.

Best overall: DISH Network

DVR storage:
500 hrs.
Simultaneous recordings:
DVR fee:


  • 3 yr. price guarantee
  • Best DVR (Hopper 3)
  • Best kids programming
  • Best parental controls
  • DISH Anywhere app


  • $10 monthly fee for Hopper 3 DVR
  • Limited bundling options

DISH has four main satellite TV packages priced $92.99–$117.99/mo. (and two current-customer plans that you can read about in our DISH review). We recommend America’s Top 200 ($107.99 a month, 240+ channels) because it has the most channels for the best value.

Like DIRECTV, DISH has two-year contracts, but it locks in your price for three years—nicely countering DIRECTV’s steep second-year price hike.

Pro tip: HBO is back at DISH after a three-year absence.

DISH also has the best DVR in the business: the Hopper 3, which records up to 16 shows at once and stores up to a whopping 500 hours of HD movies and shows. It does cost an extra $10 per month, but that’s an amazing value considering what you get with the Hopper 3.

If you don’t wanna pay the extra $10 for the Hopper 3, DISH offers the Hopper Duo for $5 a month. The Duo stores only 125 hours of HD content and records only two shows at once, but that’s plenty for smaller households.

Our recommended DISH package:

America’s Top 200

Price: $107.99/mo.

Standout feature: 240+ channels, Hopper 3 DVR ($10/mo.)

Get America’s Top 200

Best for sports: DIRECTV

DVR storage:
Up to 200 hrs.


  • 2 yr. price guarantee
  • Genie DVRs
  • 3 mos. of free premium channels


DIRECTV has the most channels and packages, plus seductive perks like three free months of Max, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and MGM+ for new customers. It also has more sports channels than DISH.

But DIRECTV’s plans while priced somewhat competitively in lower tiers, get expensive in the higher ones. Also, all DIRECTV plans now come with an Advanced Receiver Service Fee ($15 a month), which is a sneaky way of charging for the Genie DVR, which used to be included. Sigh. At least DIRECTV now has a two-year price guarantee, which means there’s no longer a massive, second-year rate increase.

DIRECTV also charges $13.99 monthly for regional sports networks (RSNs) for CHOICE, ULTIMATE, and PREMIER, among other hidden costs.

Our recommended DIRECTV package:


Price: $84.99/mo.

Standout feature: 200+ channels, DVR included, and premium channels (including Max) offers.

Data as of post date. Not all offers are available in all areas.


We think DIRECTV’s CHOICE™ package ($84.99 a month, 200+ channels) is a decent deal, especially when you consider the added value of free three-month trials of SHOWTIME, Max, STARZ®, Cinemax® & MGM+™.

For perspective, DISH offers 190 channels with America’s Top 120 ($92.99 a month) or 190+ channels with the more sports-oriented America’s Top 120+ ($97.99 monthly).

What to look for in satellite TV providers

What are the most important qualities of a satellite TV provider (besides a good personality and sense of humor)? If you said channel count or DVR equipment, you’re right.

It’s also smart to see if the provider has an app for mobile watching and account management, value-adding perks, and good customer satisfaction ratings.

Let’s dive deeper into why these are key features.

Channel count

For TV providers, channel count is a crucial stat. The higher the number, the more impressive. But quality also matters: to make sure you can get the channels you want, check out our channel guides for each provider.

DISH and DIRECTV channel lineups

DVRs and other equipment

When you sign up for satellite TV service, you’re also committing to a DVR/receiver unit—and possibly a monthly rental fee. Make sure the machine meets your needs.

  • Is the DVR included or is there a rental fee?
  • Is there also a separate fee for DVR service?
  • How many hours of HD content does the DVR store?
  • Can you buy separate DVRs or receivers for multi-room viewing?
  • Does the DVR have cool, exclusive features?
  • Does the remote control have voice search capabilities?

Also, many providers offer access to your DVR content (and maybe even your channel package) via a mobile app. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Pro tip: We take a closer look at DVRs in our comprehensive guide DISH Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie.

Mobile apps

Most cable and satellite service providers have apps that allow account management (bill pay, support, etc.), watch-anywhere streaming, or both. You should get some of that convenience in your life.

DIRECTV (AndroidiOS) and DISH (AndroidiOS) both have mobile apps that allow you to watch your live channels, on-demand content, and DVR recordings on your smartphone or tablet. You can also use both apps to set and manage DVR timers and parental controls.

Perks, deals, and other promotions

DIRECTV and DISH sell pretty much the same product for the same price. So, to get your business, they regularly offer deals to entice new customers to sign up.

Check out our DISH Deals and DIRECTV Deals pages for the most current offers.

Customer satisfaction

It’s always smart to see what other customers think of a provider before you commit.

In our annual customer satisfaction survey, we asked customers of the top cable and satellite TV providers* to rate providers on billing, channel selection, customer and technical support, DVR satisfaction, installation, signal reliability, user experience, and overall satisfaction.

DIRECTV finished second in overall customer satisfaction with 69% indicating complete or very high satisfaction. DISH finished 7th with 62% (remember, these are customer ratings, not’s editorial ratings).

Is DISH or DIRECTV more worth it?

So which satellite TV service is best? We recommend DISH.

Like we said earlier, DISH’s three-year price-lock was the clincher (with a boost from the awesome Hopper 3 DVR). DISH might have fewer channels than DIRECTV, and charge a monthly fee for the Hopper 3, but it’s still more affordable than DIRECTV. Sports fans, however, might be okay with paying more for DIRECTV’s sports offerings.

Best satellite TV providers FAQ

What is the cheapest satellite TV provider?

DISH is the cheapest satellite TV provider—its plan prices and DVR fees beat DIRECTV’s, and so does the DISH three-year price guarantee. DIRECTV has more channels and offers a two-year price guarantee, but its hidden fees add up.

Can I get free satellite TV?

You can pick up free-to-air satellite TV channels with your own satellite dish and receiver, but you won’t get the kinds of channels that are available through satellite TV companies like DIRECTV or DISH. It’ll be mostly government-sponsored stations like PBS. But if you’ve relocated to the US from another country, free-to-air satellite TV can pick up channels from your home country.

What are the best satellite TV providers?

Out of the two satellite TV providers in the US, DISH is best. It has 290+ channels, the Hopper 3 DVR (500 hours of storage, 16 simultaneous recordings), and a three-year price guarantee.

What is the difference between cable and satellite TV?

Cable TV comes through a cable. Satellite TV bounces from Earth to a satellite and back to a satellite dish on top of your house.

What are the best satellite TV deals?

Here are the deals and promotions we dug up for DIRECTV and DISH.


  • Free premium channels: Get three months of CINEMAX, MGM+, Max, SHOWTIME, and STARZ free when you sign up for ENTERTAINMENT or higher.


  • Free installation: DISH currently waives the $199 installation fee on new orders.
  • DISH 55: Dish customers aged 55 or older get free installation, one free movie rental, six free months of equipment protection, and upgraded identity theft protection.
  • DISH “Those Who Serve”: If you’re active military, a veterans, or a first responder, you’ll get one free movie rental plus the Stars & Stripes channel pack (regularly $10/mo.) at no additional cost. If you’re a healthcare worker or a teacher, you’re eligible to get a movie rental plus the Heartland channel pack (regularly $6 a month).
  • Free premium channels: New customers get 3 free months of SHOWTIME, STARZ, and the DISH Movie Pack. Remember to cancel before the promo period ends, or you’ll be charged $20 per month.
  • eAutoPay discount: DISH gives you a $5/mo. discount for using paperless billing.


Our experts employed hours of hands-on testing and crunched the numbers, rating DISH and DIRECTV on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction.

Then we matched up the satellite TV providers head to head to give a clearer picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

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