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Cox vs. DIRECTV STREAM

We’ve spent dozens of hours of hands-on testing to help you find the streaming plan of your dreams. Find out why Cox tips the scale in this head-to-head battle.

Best overall

Price: $50.00–$130.00/mo.
Channel count: 140–250+
Max DVR storage: 1,000 HD hrs.†

Best for sports

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.
Channel count: 65–140+
Max DVR storage: Unlimited SD hrs.

Cox is ultimately a better choice than DIRECTV STREAM when reviewing comparable packages from these two providers. The Contour 4K DVR is top-notch, and the overall programming offers just a touch more for a little less money than DIRECTV STREAM, though the latter’s packages hold their own—particularly for sports fanatics.

Cox pros and cons

Pros

  • Best DVR
  • Best kids programming
  • 4D Ultra HD viewing

Cons

  • Limited availability

DIRECTV STREAM pros and cons

Pros

  • Free HBO Max™ for 3 mos.
  • Most regional sports networks (RSNs)

Cons

  • Limited channels
  • Expensive plans

Compare Cox and DIRECTV STREAM head to head

Pricing Channel count DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
$50.00–$130.00/mo. 75–250+ 50–1,000 HD hrs.* Up to 24 View plan
$69.99–$139.99/mo. 65–140+ 20–unlimited SD hrs.* Unlimited ($10.00 fee applies) View plan

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

We recommend Cox over DIRECTV STREAM because of its higher channel count, cheaper pricing, and internet bundles.

Also, for true TV fans, the Cox Contour DVR is as robust a recording option as you can get. With 50–1,000 HD hours of storage and up to 24 simultaneous recordings, you can build an extensive library of programs. If you like one-stop shopping, you can bundle it with internet choices that range in speed from 50 to 940 Mbps (megabits per second).

With the price points of the Cox and DIRECTV STREAM packages being so close, it makes sense to go for the package that’s going to give you the most. And here, we think that is Cox.

We know that knowledge is power, and you probably have a lot of questions—that’s a good thing. So we’ve taken the time to research packages, equipment, mobile apps, and more for you to pick the right Cox or DIRECTV STREAM plan for you.

Cox and DIRECTV STREAM streaming services are available throughout the US.

Enter your zip code below to confirm that Cox and DIRECTV STREAM are available near you (some other TV options might also catch your eye).

Enter your zip code below to confirm that Cox and DIRECTV STREAM are available near you (some other TV options might also catch your eye).
Please enter a valid zip code.

Packages and pricing

Cox and DIRECTV STREAM offer four packages each with similarities that make them true head-to-head competitors. We’ve highlighted the most important features of each plan to help you make the best decision for an optimum viewing experience.

Cox packages

Package
Contour TV Starter
Contour TV Preferred
Contour TV Preferred Plus
Best package
Contour TV Ultimate
Price Channels Popular channels Details
$50.00/mo. 75+ Local channels, MOVIES!, and more View plan
$90.00/mo. 140+ ESPN, Sundance TV, and more View plan
$110.00/mo. 170+ Disney Channel, NBC Sports Network, and more View plan
$130.00/mo. 250+ HBO Max, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® View plan

When comparing TV prices, Cox comes in slightly cheaper than DIRECTV STREAM. Cox also offers internet services bundled along with your streaming TV package of choice—getting your internet and TV in one package is worth your consideration.

Just remember, should you make that your mission, expect Cox’s bundles to hit you a little harder in the wallet, change-purse, bank account—you get it. The reward, though, is multiple services all rolled up into one package.

Overall, we’d recommend the Cox TV Ultimate package. Why not have 100+ extra channels? With more than 10 HBO® channels and a slew of Disney and ESPN options, the content this plan offers is rounded and appealing to households with diverse tastes.

DIRECTV STREAM packages

Package
ENTERTAINMENT
CHOICE™
Best package
ULTIMATE
PREMIER
1st yr. price Channel count Popular channels Details
$64.99/mo.* 65+ ESPN, HGTV, and more View plan
$69.99/mo.* 90+ FX, Paramount TV, and more View plan
$84.99/mo.* 130+ STARZ ENCORE, ESPNEWS, and more View plan
$134.99/mo.* 140+ STARZ ENCORE, ESPNEWS, and more View plan

*For 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt.
Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $8.49/mo. is extra & applies.

Taking a look at the package options between these two providers, it’s easy to see they have similar tiers.

In the end, Cox might cost a little more, but its Preferred Plus and Ultimate packages offer the most bang for your buck, based on a larger and more diverse channel roster.

Cox’s Contour TV Ultimate and DIRECTV STREAM’s PREMIER packages are quite even in price and content. Where the Cox package excites with more channels, sports fans might be lured by DIRECTV STREAM’s array of regional sports networks.

DVRs

Both Cox and DIRECTV STREAM have solid DVR options, but Cox’s Contour has a bit of a leg up here with its ultrahigh resolution—it’s a top-notch option for recording.

The COX Wireless 4K Contour DVR is one of our favorite DVRs. Ample storage and high-quality video make it a must-have for any serious viewer. But to get all the goodies, you gotta pay a hefty $30 per month. Store up the episodes of Succession or American Horror Story for weekend binges.

With DIRECTV STREAM’s Cloud DVR, you have to pay an extra $10 a month for unlimited SD hours. Keep in mind that after 90 days, your recordings are deleted—even if you’re paying for unlimited storage.

The DIRECTV STREAM Cloud DVR has one thing going for it: no physical device is forced to become part of your decor.

Cox’s Contour 4K Stream Player

Cox Contour DVR vs. DIRECTV STREAM cloud DVR

DVR
Winner
Cox Wireless 4K Contour DVR
DIRECTV STREAM cloud DVR
Price DVR Storage Simultaneous recordings Video quality
$13.50–$30.00/mo. Up to 1,000 HD hrs. Up to 24 Up to 4K Ultra HD
$10.00/mo Unlimited SD hrs. Unlimited SD
Data effective as of post date. Not all offers are available in all areas.

Installation

Cox and DIRECTV STREAM streaming services allow for self-installation, which is great for a few different reasons: you don’t have to adjust your schedule for a technician’s visit, and you don’t have to pay a fee.

With DIRECTV, installation is as simple as downloading an app and creating a login.

Each provider gives instruction packets that make it very doable, even if you think you’re not a super tech-savvy pro.

As a Cox subscriber, I handled my own installation and the whole process took under 20 minutes. The guide outlines the process in a really comprehensive way.

And, let’s face it, if you have barking dogs—like me—they aren’t going to howl at you while you’re getting connected like they would if you had a stranger installing it in your home. Mine were curious but quiet.

Pro tip: You don’t need prior experience installing your Cox or DIRECTV STREAM service. The instructions are provided for you and they’re easy to follow. If you’re looking for information on how to hook up your whole TV setup yourself, check out our How to Hook Up TV Ports article.

Mobile apps

The Cox Contour app and DIRECTV STREAM app are on-the-go viewing apps that turn your phone or tablet into a tiny mobile TV.

Cox Contour app

Think of the Cox Contour App as a portable TV. That’s what the folks at Cox call it, and they are correct.

Via your phone or tablet, the app puts live and on-demand TV in your hands. You can also access and manage your DVR library. Download programs to watch offline at your convenience. It truly mirrors the TV experience.

DIRECTV STREAM app

The DIRECTV STREAM app also allows you to enjoy handheld viewing. Maybe you’re pressed up against a window seat on the plane and want to catch up on your latest TV obsession while traveling. No problem.

This app lets you watch live TV, on-demand programs, and up to 500 hours of shows recorded and stored on the cloud DVR.

These apps are highly comparable. Both are iOS and Android compatible and allow users to not only view shows but also view their accounts and pay bills.

Google Play and Apple users feel that in the case of apps, DIRECTV STREAM wins.

I have used both, and it’s true that they are similar. DIRECTV STREAM does have an advantage in that its graphics are bigger, which is appreciated when using a mobile phone.

Internet bundles

DIRECTV STREAM requires high-speed internet and is compatible with any internet provider. It recommends a minimum of 24 Mbps for an optimal viewing experience. There may be times when you’re doing more than one activity at once that requires internet, so 50 Mbps and up is a safer bet.

Cox offers TV and internet bundles, but it cranks the price up a few notches. Taking a thorough look at the package options will help you determine the best option for you. That said, Cox’s high speeds overall add value to their bundles.

Having one provider to deal with for both TV and internet does afford you some efficiency.

Not sure which ISPs are in your area? Enter your zip code below to see internet providers in your neighborhood.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Final take

As premium TV providers, Cox and DIRECTV STREAM both have attractive qualities, but Cox takes the top slot. The difference comes in their highest-level packages.

For just a bit less money, Cox offers 100+ channels (all in HD) more than DIRECTV STREAM, allowing you to maximize your subscription.

FAQ

Where are Cox and DIRECTV STREAM TV available?

Cox and DIRECTV STREAM packages are available across the US. Before you pick your package, run a quick zip code check to get all the options in your area.

Do I have to sign a contract with Cox or DIRECTV STREAM?

Cox and DIRECTV STREAM offer their services contract-free and you can cancel at any time, but you should still read the fine print.

In the case of DIRECTV STREAM, the fine details tell you that prices go up when your second year of service begins.

What is the cheapest streaming TV package?

The cheapest streaming package is Philo’s base package at $25 per month for 60+ channels. It’s a super low-cost option that gets you channels like AMC, TLC, and LMN—so many initials.

What is the best streaming TV deal?

The Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ bundle is only $13.99 a month and gets you thousands of movies and TV shows, as well as live sports events.

Are there low-income options for streaming TV?

Yes, there are affordable over-the-air and streaming TV options. Take a look at our Free and Low-Cost Cable TV guide for more information.

Methodology

Our team of experts conducted dozens of hours of hands-on testing, number crunching, and rating the Cox and DIRECTV STREAM streaming TV service on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction.

We put the two industry powerhouses head to head to offer a comprehensive picture of their strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.