DIRECTV vs. Cox
At a Glance
Data effective 1/10/2018. Pricing subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
Is DIRECTV or COX the best TV provider for you and your family?
Choose DIRECTV for superior sports packages and wide availability.
DIRECTV remains the provider of choice for sports fanatics, especially football. And the nearly nationwide availability makes it an excellent choice for highly mobile families and RV dwellers. The company has dropped somewhat in the rankings this year relative to other providers, but its customer satisfaction scores have greatly improved since last year. Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with DIRECTV.
Choose Cox for better channel selection and a contract-free experience.
If you refuse to sign a contract for cable or you just don’t want a satellite dish on your roof, Cox makes an excellent alternative to DIRECTV. Cox is available in many states across the country, and the channel selection and service reliability are also points in its favor. The greatly increased satisfaction scores this year just sweeten the whole package. Our only real gripe with Cox is the price—it’s a little high, at least compared to DIRECTV.
Installation & Setup
DIRECTV has traditionally ranked high in this category, and a score of 3.93 would normally be great. This year, though, scores across the board rose, and DIRECTV is now one of the lowest-ranked providers in this category. That said, this seems to be less about DIRECTV doing something wrong and more about the rest of the industry stepping up its game. So, despite the lower ranking, we think you’ll still have a very pleasant experience with DIRECTV’s installation process.
Cox is kind of like the Goldilocks of TV providers. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing. Instead, it’s “just right,” falling basically smack in the middle of the pack. The nice thing about the Cox installation process is the free self-install option because most people probably won’t need a professional technician to come out and plug the box in for them. If you do need help, though, a professional installation will cost you only about $25, which isn’t bad at all.
DIRECTV Installation Fee: $35.00 activation fee
Cox Installation Fee: $25.00
When it comes to channel selection, DIRECTV’s claim to fame is sports programming. The provider offers a large selection of sports channels, and it still has exclusive rights to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, which is the best football programming you’ll find anywhere. If you’re not a sports fan, there’s still a lot to love, though. DIRECTV offers a healthy channel count, and all the usual premium channels are available, like HBO® and Cinemax®.
Check out the full DIRECTV channel lineup.
Cox has a much higher total channel count than DIRECTV. That’s good news for channel surfers—you’ll find plenty of variety here. While it doesn’t have NFL SUNDAY TICKET, Cox does still offer a good sports selection, with favorites like the NFL Network, MLB Network, and even the Tennis Channel. There’s also HBO®, SHOWTIME®, and other premium networks, plus a healthy dose of on-demand programming to choose from. Overall, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to channel selection with Cox.
You can see Cox’s full channel lineup here.
DIRECTV Channels: 330+
Cox Channels: 380+
DIRECTV famously advertises 99% signal reliability, and generally this has been true. Considering satellite’s reputation for being prone to interference, this provider has always ranked well. This year, while DIRECTV’s score did actually improve, other companies just improved more. While we still think that DIRECTV offers a reliable service, there is the possibility of interference in bad weather, and maybe people aren’t as willing to tolerate that chance anymore.
As a cable provider, Cox should generally be more reliable than a satellite service, and that is pretty much our experience. Cox service holds up well in both bad weather and congested viewing times, delivering a clear picture and rarely dropping out. Much like the situation with DIRECTV, while the satisfaction score did improve, other providers improved more, causing Cox to drop a few spots in our rankings.
DIRECTV Type of Service: Satellite
Cox Type of Service: Cable
DIRECTV’s pricing is pretty reasonable for what you get. At the low end, you can get a satellite TV package for $35.00 per month, which is one of the more affordable options out there from any TV provider. And your DVR is included in that price, too. Our pick for best value is the ULTIMATE package, though, which gets you 245+ channels for $60 per month.
Cox’s prices are higher than DIRECTV’s, with TV-only packages starting at $64.99 per month. Satisfaction scores are also higher, though, so customers seem to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. One thing to keep in mind is that this price doesn’t include the DVR, so you have to add another $19.99 on top of whatever package you choose. That’s one of the higher DVR fees we’ve seen. As for what package is the best deal, we like the Contour TV + High Speed Internet Preferred bundle, with 220+ channels and 100 Mbps internet for $89.99 per month.
DIRECTV Price: $35.00–$110.00 per month
Contract: 2 years
Cox Price: Starts at $64.99 per month
Tech Support & Customer Service
DIRECTV has traditionally been an industry leader in customer service and tech support, but it seems like this year the rest of the industry caught up. While technically DIRECTV saw a solid increase of .3 points, everyone else—including Cox—just increased more. We’d imagine that when DIRECTV sees the changing public opinions about who’s on top for customer service, they’ll step up.
Cox saw big gains in customer service scores this year, but because every other company did too, it has retained its fifth-place ranking. Cox’s support site is well-organized and packs a lot of info and a useful search function. There are also videos front and center, which many will appreciate.
TV and Internet Bundles
DIRECTV customers who want internet can opt for bundling with AT&T Internet service. While satellite internet is an option, it can be slower than fiber, and AT&T’s internet is some of the fastest around. The only bummer is a 1 TB data cap, but while we aren’t fans of any data limits, 1 TB is pretty generous. Most people won’t have to worry about hitting it.
AT&T internet plans start at $40 per month, but if you can get it, we highly recommend springing for the AT&T Fiber package. For $80 per month, you get 1000 Mbps of fiber internet, capable of handling anything you could throw at it and then some.
Cox internet has a good reputation for being fast and reliable. Packages start at $19.99 per month, but that price will only get you 10 Mbps. You’ll want to step up to the Preferred (100 Mbps for $49.99) or Ultimate (300 Mbps for $69.99) packages to get the most out of Cox’s cable internet. Cox enforces a 1 TB data cap and charges $10 per 50 GB over the limit.
There’s also the Gigablast 1 Gbps package for $119.99 per month, but it’s only available in limited markets and is quite a bit more expensive than AT&T’s Fiber service. Its price makes it a little less enticing, though it’s still really fast.
More About the Providers
DIRECTV is a subsidiary of AT&T and is one of the largest satellite providers in the world, serving over twenty million customers in the US alone. It’s also one of the few providers with nationwide availability.
Cox Communications, a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is one of the largest cable providers in the US. This company provides TV, internet, and phone service to over thirty-four million people in eighteen states.
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