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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: $69.99–$159.99/mo.

Channels: 75–150+

DVR: Up to 450 hrs.

DVR fee: $15.00/mo.


Price: $69.99–$159.99/mo.

Channels: 75–150+

DVR: Up to 450 hrs.

DVR fee: $15.00/mo.

So-so TV plans


Price: $61.00–$152.00/mo.

Channels: 75–250+

DVR storage: 50–1,000 hrs.

DVR fee: $5.00–$30.00/mo.


Price: $61.00–$152.00/mo.

Channels: 75–250+

DVR storage: 50–1,000 hrs.

DVR fee: $5.00–$30.00/mo.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.; AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

Is DIRECTV or Cox better?

DIRECTV is the way to go if you’re a die-hard sports fan. DIRECTV no longer offers NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but there’s still a stadium-sized slew of add-on sports package options to 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


2-year price guarantee (no more second-year price hike)
Genie DVRs (up to 450 hrs.)
Robust sports content
2-year contract
Expensive plans
Hidden fees


Bundle discount
Excellent DVR
Expensive plans
Expensive equipment fees

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

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DIRECTV vs. Cox deals and promotions

DIRECTV deals and promotions

DIRECTV always has a variety of deals going on—these is the best current DIRECTV promotions:

  • Free premium channels: New DIRECTV customers get three free months of Max™, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, MGM+™, and Cinemax®. If you don’t want to keep the channels, be sure to cancel when the trial ends—otherwise, you’ll see a big charge on your next bill. (Note: the PREMIER package has all of these premium channels except MGM+, but you’ll still get it free for three months.)

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

Cox deals and promotions

We dug around and found a pretty good Cox deal:

  • Contour TV Preferred Plus deal: Customers can upgrade from Contour TV Preferred ($115 monthly) to Contour TV Ultimate, which adds Max, CINEMAX, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, MGM+, and STARZ to your plan for only $37 monthly. This deal is a great way to get your premium channels without having to upgrade to Contour TV Ultimate.

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

Compare DIRECTV vs. Cox head to head


Provider Price Channel count DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
DIRECTV $69.99–$159.99/mo.* 75–150+ 200–450 hrs. 5–7 View Plan
Cox $61.00–$152.00/mo. 75–250+ 250–1,000 hrs. 2–24

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.; AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

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 $5–$30 per month, whereas DIRECTV’s Genie gets you 200 HD hours (or 450 hours with the Genie 2) for $15 monthly.

Cox has a one-year contract and raises your payment by $20–$30 per month after your one-year contract expires. DIRECTV locks you in for two years but guarantees your monthly payment won’t go up in that time.

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.

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 $69.99/mo. 165+ View Plan
CHOICE™ All Included $84.99/mo. 200+ View Plan
ULTIMATE All Included $114.99/mo. 270+ View Plan
PREMIER™ All Included $159.99/mo. 340+ View Plan

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.; AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

ENTERTAINMENT, DIRECTV’s basic package, has 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 your buck.

Cox plans and prices

Plan Price Channels Details
Cox Contour Starter $61.00/mo. 75+
Contour TV Preferred $115.00/mo. 140+
Contour TV Preferred Plus $146.00/mo. 170+
Contour TV Ultimate $152.00/mo. 250+

‡ 1-year term agreement

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

We typically recommend the Contour TV Preferred Plus ($146.99 monthly, 170+ channels) 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, Max, and Paramount+ with SHOWTIME.

Currently, though, Contour TV Ultimate has even more channels for less money than Contour TV Preferred Plus, so we can’t help but suggest grabbing Ultimate while this deal lasts.

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 among our top five DVRs of 2023.

DIRECTV’s Genie DVRs costs $15 a month for up to 450 hours of storage and 7 simultaneous recordings. Cox’s Contour Record DVRs cost $5.00–$30.00 monthly but gives you up to 1,000 hours and 24 recordings.

Cox Contour DVR

DVR Price Storage Tuners
Cox Contour Record Starter Free for 12 mos.; $5.00/mo. after 50 hrs. 1
Cox Contour Record 2 $13.50/mo. 250 hrs. 2
Cox Contour Record 6 $20.00/mo. 500 hrs. 6
Cox Contour Record 24 $30.00/mo. 1,000 hrs. 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.


DVR Price Storage Tuners
Genie $15.00/mo. 200 hrs. 5
Genie 2 $15.00/mo.* 450 hrs. 7

DIRECTV keeps it simple. With the DIRECTV Genie, you get 200 hours of storage and can record 5 programs at once for $15 monthly. If you don’t care for cable clutter, the wireless Genie 2 (also $15 a month) has 450 hours and seven simultaneous recordings—but you’ll pay a $99 bridge fee at activation to set it up.

No, the Genies can’t store 1,000 hours or record 24 shows at once like the Cox Contour Record 24. But the Genie’s 200–450 hours and 5–7 simultaneous recordings will satisfy most people for half the price.

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’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 offer bundles with AT&T internet, but no longer. You can still purchase a TV plan from DIRECTV while you checkout with your AT&T internet package, but the bills will be separate and there will be no bundling savings.

To learn more, see our guide to DIRECTV bundles.

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 100–2,000 Mbps, and aside from the occasional outage, Cox internet is fast and reliable. Learn more in our guide to Cox bundles.

But, for our money, Cox bundles are expensive AF. Instead, 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.

Is DIRECTV or Cox more worth it?

DIRECTV and Cox both have attractive qualities, but thrown in the ring together, DIRECTV emerges victorious due to its big channel lineups, sports content, and more affordable 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.


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.

Why you should trust us

Our experts spent hundreds of 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.

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