DIRECTV vs. Cox: Which TV Provider is Better?

DIRECTV and Cox have comparable prices, but DIRECTV takes the cake with bigger channel lineups and a free DVR. Our review gives you all of the details.

Best for sports

Price: $74.99–$149.99/mo.

Channels: 160–330+

DVR storage: 200 HD hrs.

So-so TV plans

Price: $53.00–$138.00/mo.

Channels: 75–250+

DVR storage: 250–1,000 HD hrs.

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

Is DIRECTV or Cox better?

DIRECTV is the way to go if you’re a die-hard sports fan. From NFL SUNDAY TICKET being included in the CHOICE™ and higher-tiered packages to a stadium-sized slew of add-on sports package options, you can satisfy your seasonal viewing needs.

Cox offers so-so TV service with a high price tag. We recommend DIRECTV over Cox for most people, but if you’ve got to have Cox, make them your internet provider instead of your TV service provider.

DIRECTV vs. Cox pros and cons

DIRECTV

Excellent channel lineup
Robust sports content
Free DVR
Expensive plans
2nd yr. price hike

Cox

Bundle discount
Excellent DVR
Expensive plans
Expensive equipment fees

DIRECTV vs. Cox deals and promotions

DIRECTV deals and promotions

DIRECTV always has a variety of deals going on like NFL SUNDAY TICKET and HBO Max™ included with select plans.

Check out our DIRECTV Deals and Promotions page to keep up on offers that can help you save.

Cox deals and promotions

Outside of bundle and low-income discounts, Cox doesn’t offer many deals or promotions.

That said, our Cox Deals and Promotions page will keep you up to date on any special offers as they pop up.

Compare DIRECTV vs. Cox head to head

DIRECTV vs. Cox

Provider Price Channel count DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
DIRECTV $74.99–$149.99/mo. 160–330+ 200 HD hours 5 View Plan
Cox $53.00–$138.00/mo. 75–250+ 250–1,000 HD hrs. 2 View Plans

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

DIRECTV TV plans are fairly similar in price to Cox TV plans, but DIRECTV has nearly double the number of channels for similar prices, so it’s the winner here. DIRECTV also offers robust sports content in its packages and add-on options.

Cox does offer some great DVR options, but those cost you $10–$30 per month, whereas DIRECTV’s Genie gets you 200 HD hours and is included with your package.*

A downside to both services: DIRECTV and Cox both providers raise prices after your first year or your contract term is up, respectively.

Cox locks you in for one year and can cost you $20–$30 more a month after your contract expires. DIRECTV locks you in for two years, but you only get the good prices the first year—in the second contract year, the price still jumps 20%–30%. Yeesh.

Pro tip: From equipment fees to charges for regional sports networks, both Cox and DIRECTV have quite a few hidden costs. Check out our guides to the Hidden Costs of Cox and the Hidden Costs of DIRECTV before you sign up.

In either case, your monthly bill is going to spike, so you’ll have to decide which is the lesser of two evils here. As a Cox user nearing the end of a contract, it has definitely made me examine other options.

*Additional and advanced receiver fees may apply.

DIRECTV vs. Cox plans and prices

Cox and DIRECTV plans are pretty comparable in price, with DIRECTV being less expensive, aside from Cox’s TV Starter package—which we don’t recommend, for the record, because basic TV is never worth it.

Here’s a look at the costs and channels involved with each provider.

DIRECTV plans and prices

Plan Price Channels Details
ENTERTAINMENT All Included $74.99/mo.* 160+ View Plan
CHOICE™ All Included $79.99/mo.** 185+ View Plan
ULTIMATE All Included $99.99/mo.** 250+ View Plan
PREMIER™ All Included $149.99/mo.** 330+ View Plan

*for 12 mos. plus taxes. AutoPay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year.

** for 12 mos. plus taxes. AutoPay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies.

Entertainment is DIRECTV’s basic package, and it gets you double the number of channels that Cox’s TV Starter package does—and it’s heavier on the quality channels (a.k.a. not music and shopping channels) to boot.

With the prices of each provider being pretty comparable, DIRECTV channel lineups give you more bang for you buck.

Cox plans and prices

Plan Price Channels Details
Cox Contour Starter $53.00/mo. 75+ View Plans
Contour TV Preferred $98.00/mo. 140+ View Plans
Contour TV Preferred Plus $118.00/mo. 170+ View Plans
Contour TV Ultimate $138.00/mo. 250+ View Plans

‡ 1-year term agreement

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

We recommend the Contour TV Preferred Plus package if you’re set on going with Cox. It offers a well-rounded group of channels so that household members with varied tastes can have plenty to watch.

In fact, Contour TV Preferred Plus features popular cable channels like USA, ESPN, and HGTV mixed with premium channels like CINEMAX®, HBO Max, and SHOWTIME®.

DIRECTV vs. Cox channel lineups

Like we said before, DIRECTV’s channel lineups are heartier than Cox’s channel lineups. But you’ll wanna double-check to make sure your favorite package has every channel you want.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that both DIRECTV and Cox offer add-on packages in addition to their main plans. DIRECTV’s lower prices make its add-ons more affordable to start with, of course. And as we’ve mentioned, the sports add-on options are superb.

The DIRECTV Sports Pack has more than 40 channels of 24/7 sports, including out-of-market regional and specialty sports networks from around the country like Bally Sports and ESPN College Extra.

Cox has some inexpensive Sports Pak options priced at $10 a month each. Though they aren’t as channel-deep as DIRECTV’s add-ons, the price isn’t too bad when you’re looking for a little more sportsball action.

DIRECTV vs. Cox equipment and features

The Cox Contour 24 and the DIRECTV Genie are both one of our top five DVRs of 2022.

DIRECTV’s DVR won’t cost you anything, giving it the edge, while the Cox’s costs from $13.50–$30.00 per month—but gives you loads of storage hours if you’re willing to pay for them.

Cox Contour DVR

DVR Price Storage Tuners
Cox Contour Record 2 $13.50/mo. 250 HD hours 2
Cox Contour Record 6 $20.00/mo. 250 HD hours 6
Cox Contour Record 24 $30.00/mo. 1,000 HD hours 24

The Cox Record 24 DVR gives you impressive DVR storage hours, but if the $30 spend is too much for you (because wow), we’d recommend the Cox Contour Record 2. It has 250 hours of storage and 2 tuners, which should be plenty for most households for $13.50 a month.

Cox Contour D V R
Screenshot of the Cox Contour DVR box.

DIRECTV Genie DVR

DVR Price Storage Tuners
Genie Included 200 hrs. 5

DIRECTV keeps it simple. With the DIRECTV Genie, you get 200 hours of storage and can record 5 programs at once. The cost? Zero dollars—it’s included in your package.

No, it can’t store 1,000 hours of programming, but as long as you’re not recording entire seasons of your favorite shows every week, we think the Genie is a better deal for most people.

DIRECTV Genie DVR
Screenshot of the DIRECTV Genie DVR box.

DIRECTV vs. Cox installation

Both DIRECTV and Cox offer free installation. The devil is in the details, though, so read on to see which service offers a more convenient option.

DIRECTV installation

When you set up your DIRECTV satellite TV order, professional installation is the only way to go.

You’ll determine a time for a technician to come to your home, and once they arrive, the professional will figure out where the best place for your dish is and get it connected for you.

There’s no fee for the installation. Cool, right? But DIRECTV does charge a $19.95 activation fee. Fortunately, if you order online, you can get it waived.

Cox installation

Cox offers two installation options. We’ll break it down here, but for a more in-depth look, check out our Cox Installation Guide.

Cox Easy Connect is a self-installation plan, and it doesn’t cost you anything. The “easy” in the name is for good reason, too—I can attest firsthand.

When I became a subscriber, I got a kit within 48 hours with all the needed materials and a step-by-step guide that walked me through the process in just a few short steps. That’s why we recommend this process for most people.

But if tech stuff makes you uncomfortable, get Pro Connect,  Cox’s professional installation service where a technician comes to your home to hook up your service for you.

The price varies by plan and region, so when you sign up, make sure to talk to your representative about the exact fee in your area.

DIRECTV vs. Cox apps

DIRECTV and Cox apps are available and free to download for iOS and Android phones and tablets. Using your login and password from your provider’s account, you can hide out anywhere in your house or on the go and watch your faves on your favorite mobile device.

With both providers, not all live and on-demand programming is available to view outside of the home.

I didn’t realize that when I first got the Cox Contour app and planned to watch a live show on my tablet while dog-sitting. So there I was, covered in fur and waiting in suspense for a program I couldn’t watch.

But between live content that you can access when you’re on the go, your DVR recordings, and plenty of on-demand titles, you’ll still have plenty you can watch at the gym or coffee shop—you get it.

DIRECTV app

DIRECTV’s app allows streaming on unlimited devices simultaneously—as long as you’re at home. When you’re on the go, you can have up to five streams. Its on-demand library has more than 45,000 movies and shows—that could keep you busy for a day or two while you’re out and about.

The app also lets you control your TV from anywhere so you have a backup remote when you inevitably can’t find the physical one or set recordings to watch shows at a more convenient time.

You can also set parental controls so that you can rest assured that your kids are using the app to your satisfaction.

A picture of the DIRECTV app for mobile viewing.
Screenshot of the DIRECTV app’s homepage on a phone.

Cox Contour app

The Contour app is one of Cox’s best assets. It has a very easy-to-use menu, so you can get from one point to another with ease.

Parental security controls let you feel safe when your younger users are watching on the go, and its content filtering is great for finding just what you want. Plus, you can stream on up to five devices at once.

If on-the-go viewing is your dealbreaker, we say go with Cox cable TV.

A picture of the Cox Contour app for mobile viewing.
Screenshot of the Cox Contour app’s home page on phone.

DIRECTV vs. Cox internet bundles

In general, bundling internet with Cox cable TV or DIRECTV isn’t the best option for most folks. We break down why that’s the case and give some better options below.

DIRECTV bundles

DIRECTV used to be a part of AT&T, and though the service isn’t attached anymore, you can still bundle it with AT&T’s internet service. Check out the following AT&T internet package at the price below.

DIRECTV plans and prices

Package Price for 1st yr.† Download speeds up to Details
AT&T Internet 100 $55.00/mo. 100 Mbps View Plan
AT&T Internet 300 $55.00/mo. 300 Mbps View Plan
AT&T Internet 500 $65.00/mo. 500 Mbps View Plan
AT&T 1 Gig Internet $80.00/mo. 1,000 Mbps View Plan
AT&T 2 Gig Internet $110.00/mo. 2,000 Mbps View Plan
AT&T 5 Gig Internet $180.00/mo. 5,000 Mbps View Plan

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

*for 12 mos. plus taxes.

†for 12 mos. plus taxes and RSN fee.

We don’t recommend bundling service with AT&T because you won’t get a bundle discount and you’ll still have to deal with two bills.

If you don’t want to bundle with AT&T, check out our Five Best Internet Providers to help select a standalone internet provider.

Cox bundles

There are plenty of Cox internet bundles available, and you can bundle internet with TV, home phone, or both services.

Download speeds range from 250–1000 Mbps, and aside from the occasional outage, Cox internet is fast and reliable.

Cox plans and prices

Package Price Download speeds up to Details
Internet Preferred 250 + Contour TV Preferred $151.99/mo.† 250 Mbps View Plans
Internet Preferred Ultimate + Contour TV Preferred $190.99/mo.† 500 Mbps View Plans
Internet Preferred Gigablast + Contour TV Preferred $210.99/mo.† 1,000 Mbps View Plans

† For 12 mos. w/ 1-yr agrmt. Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Unfortunately, Cox bundles are expensive AF, so we recommend just getting a standalone Cox internet plan and pairing it with a live TV streaming service or a satellite TV provider instead of bundling.

For example, you could just order Cox internet and DIRECTV services separately. You’d get great sports content and zippy internet service without an expensive Cox TV plan.

If you’re not sure which providers service your area, enter your zip below to find out your options.

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Final take

DIRECTV and Cox both have attractive qualities, but thrown in the ring together, DIRECTV emerges victorious due to its big channel lineups and free DVR.

As for Cox, we recommend skipping its TV plans, getting a standalone internet plan, and pairing it with either a live TV streaming service or a satellite TV provider like DIRECTV.

Methodology

Our experts spent over 100 hours hands-on testing DIRECTV and Cox to determine the functionality of each provider—good and bad. We also got our hands on their respective apps to determine their ease of use and spread of features. From there, we compared their packages and pricing, channel line-ups, fees, and equipment to determine which provider holds the better value.

To learn more about our methods, check out our How We Rank page.

FAQ

Are DIRECTV and Cox available everywhere?

DIRECTV is available all across the US, and Cox is available in 18 states. Enter your zip code below to find out if Cox is in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Do DIRECTV and Cox have discounts for seniors?

There are currently no senior discounts available for DIRECTV or Cox subscribers unless you qualify for low-income internet and live in a Cox internet service area.

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