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Best Satellite TV Providers 2023

Our experts researched and tested DIRECTV and DISH Network for hundreds of hours to help you get the right satellite TV provider for you.

Editor's choice

Price: $79.99–$109.99/mo.

Channel count: 190–290+

DVR storage: Up to 2,000 hrs.

Best for sports

Price: $74.99–$149.99/mo.

Channel count: 155–330+

DVR storage: Up to 200 hrs.

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

We highly recommend DISH. In fact, we named DISH the best overall TV provider two years in a row because of its high channel count, industry-leading DVR, and three-year price guarantee.

We’re not fans of DIRECTV’s price hike after the first year, but we do think the provider’s array of regional sports networks (RSNs) make it the right choice for hardcore sports fans.

Can I get satellite TV where I live? 

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Best satellite TV providers

  • DISH ($79.99–$109.99/mo.)–Best overall, best for kids
  • DIRECTV ($74.99–$149.99/mo.)—Best for sports

For more in-depth information, our DISH vs. DIRECTV guide goes into everything from DVRs to installation to internet bundles.

Best overall: DISH Network

DVR storage:
Up to 2,000 hrs.


  • Free installation
  • 3 yr. price guarantee
  • Hopper 3 DVR (up to 2,000 hrs.)
  • Multiroom viewing w/ Joey devices


  • $10 monthly fee for Hopper 3 DVR

DISH has four main satellite TV packages priced $79.99–$109.99 a month (and two current-customer plans that you can read about in our DISH review). We recommend America’s Top 200 ($99.99 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 2,000 hours (500 hrs. HD) of movies and shows. It does cost an extra $10 per month, but that’s an amazing value considered 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. But if you’re gonna go for the Hopper Duo, you might as well consider DIRECTV’s Genie, which gives you 200 hours of HD storage and five simultaneous recordings.

Our recommended DISH package:

America’s Top 200

Price: $99.99/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.


  • Free installation
  • Genie DVR included
  • Multiroom viewing with Genie Mini
  • HBO Max offers


  • 2 yr. contract
  • $35 activation fee
  • Heart-attack inducing 2nd-year price hike
  • No NFL SUNDAY TICKET in 2023

DIRECTV has the most channels and packages, plus seductive perks like HBO Max (three months) for new customers. It also has more sports channels than DISH.

But DIRECTV’s plans, while priced competitively in lower tiers, get expensive in the higher ones. Also, beware the 30–40% rate increase in the second year. Why, DIRECTV?

Speaking of the “second year,” DIRECTV requires a two-year contract—par for the course with satellite providers, but also a drag. It also charges a $35 activation fee—and activation fees are silly, not to mention slippery. For more information, read our piece on the hidden costs of DIRECTV.

Our recommended DIRECTV package:


Price: $79.99/mo.

Standout feature: 185+ channels, DVR included, and premium channels (including HBO Max) offers.

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


We think DIRECTV’s CHOICE™ package ($79.99 a month, 185+ channels) is a fine deal, especially when you consider the added value of free three-month trials of premium channels.

For perspective, DISH offers 190 channels for $69.99 a month (America’s Top 120) or 190+ channels for $84.99 monthly (America’s Top 120+). But these packages don’t include—heads up, sportsball fans—as many sports channels.

But remember: DISH will give you the Multi-Sport Pack free with America’s Top 120+ or higher. It’s a pretty generous deal, especially considering that DIRECTV recently lost NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

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 SD and 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? Hands-free, even?

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 and DISH both have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Both 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 took top honors, scoring 3.96 out of 5.00. DISH finished 7th with 3.81 (remember, these are customer ratings, not’s).

Final take: What’s the best satellite TV provider?

So which satellite TV service is best? We’re recommending 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 much cheaper than DIRECTV in the long run.

Best satellite TV providers FAQ

What is the cheapest satellite TV provider?

DISH is the cheapest. While its prices are similar to DIRECTV’s, DISH has a three-year price guarantee that keeps your payment from changing while you’re under contract. DIRECTV doesn’t have that, so your payment might start out reasonable—but it’s gonna jump by 30–40% in the second year.

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 goverment-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 three 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 in space and back to the 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+™, HBO, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® free when you sign up for ENTERTAINMENT or higher.


  • Free installation: DISH is currently waiving 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 8-channel 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 12-channel Heartland channel pack (regularly $6 a month).
  • Free premium channels: New customers get 3 free months of SHOWTIME® and DISH Movie Pack. Remember to cancel before the promo period ends, or you’ll be charged $20 per month.
  • Movie on Us: All you gotta do is check a box at checkout to get one free movie rental a month.
  • $100 gift card: For a limited time, DISH will give you a $100 gift card with online orders.
  • 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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