At a Glance

Type of Service Satellite Cable
Channel Count 315 channels/200 HD 620 channels/165 HD
Price $50–$125 $64.95–$109.95
Equipment Fees Included (Genie DVR and up to three additional receivers) $10/month
Installation Fee No Yes
Contract 2 years None
Customer Satisfaction 3.63/5 3.26/5
Packages View DIRECTV Plans View Optimum Plans

Data effective 2/8/17. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers are available in all areas. 

You know what you want—great, reliable TV with plenty of choice and flexibility at an affordable price. The hard part is figuring out which provider can deliver on those expectations. That’s where the team at CableTV.com can help. We’ve got a wealth of reviews and expert knowledge at our fingertips to draw comparisons, break down where each provider excels, and give you plenty of at-a-glance information so you can choose a package and a provider that’ll fit your priorities.

See what DIRECTV and Optimum plans are available in your area:


 

Should you choose DIRECTV or Optimum as your TV service provider?

The Verdict

DIRECTV
DIRECTV is one of the highest-rated television providers for customer satisfaction—and for good reason. With DIRECTV, you get a great variety of HD channels, the best sports packages of any provider, great customer service, and free installation. You also get service nearly anywhere due to its use of satellite technology. On the other hand, with DIRECTV you have to deal with contracts, the total channel count is low, and the DVR can only record five shows at once. There is also always the possibility of satellite interference, although it’s a small one. But if DIRECTV has the channels you need and you don’t mind relying on satellite, it makes a great pick.

Optimum
 Optimum’s biggest issue is availability. If you don’t live in one of the four states it services, you’re out of luck. If you do, though, you’re in for a treat. With Optimum, you get a huge channel selection, a DVR that can record up to fifteen shows at once, and a contract-free experience. Optimum’s internet service is also quite fast. If any of those features are on your list, Optimum will be a good choice for you.


DIRECTV

Overall Customer Rating

3.63 Stars (3.63 / 5)

 

Optimum

Overall Customer Rating

3.26 Stars (3.26 / 5)

Advantages

  • Widespread availability
  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Strong customer support
  • Free installation

Advantages

  • No required contract
  • No weather interference due to cable infrastructure
  • Internet speeds up to 300 Mbps
  • DVR with a high capacity

 

Disadvantages

  • Two-year contract
  • Possibility for weather-related interference
  • Low total channel count

View Plans

 

Disadvantages

  • Limited availability
  • Fewer HD channels
  • Installation fees

View Plans

 


Installation & Setup

DIRECTV

3.85 Stars (3.85 / 5)

DIRECTV leads in customer satisfaction in this area, probably because it doesn’t charge a fee. Most other companies charge quite a bit for installation, activation, or both. DIRECTV also provides great customer service in general. This extends into the installation experience, which is often where customers form their first impressions of the TV provider.

Optimum

3.29 Stars (3.29 / 5)

Optimum scores dead last by a wide margin in our survey. It charges a fee for professional installation, and it doesn’t seem to inform you of how much that fee will be until you get the bill. But beyond that it was hard to find a specific reason for such a low score. Our survey indicates that people are generally not very satisfied with Optimum, so it could just be that general dissatisfaction bleeding over into the more specific categories. On the plus side, it does provide self-installation instructions with clear diagrams and images that are both easy to find and follow.


Channels

DIRECTV

3.69 Stars (3.69 / 5)

DIRECTV is a sports fan’s dream, especially if they like football. That’s because DIRECTV is the only provider of the NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, which is by far the best football package available from any TV provider. DIRECTV’s total of 315 channels is lower than many other providers, but the number of HD channels is high, at over 200. Since most people have HDTVs—over 80% of households as of 2015—this is enough of a draw to overcome the low channel selection. Overall, DIRECTV ranks second in our customer satisfaction survey for channel selection.

Optimum

3.30 Stars (3.30 / 5)

Optimum doesn’t fare as well, ranking third from last in channel satisfaction. While it offers a whopping 620 channels, only 165 are in HD. On the plus side, it does offer many international packages, and the total channel count is among the highest out there, so that may tip the scales in its favor if variety is important to you.


Reliability

DIRECTV

3.91 Stars (3.91 / 5)

As a satellite provider, DIRECTV is vulnerable to weather interference. The company, however, advertises “99% worry-free signal reliability.” And it appears to be telling the truth because DIRECTV has one of the highest scores for reliability among all providers. In day-to-day use, you shouldn’t have to worry about interference or outages—just know that it is a possibility, especially with heavy rain or snow.

Optimum

3.62 Stars (3.62 / 5)

Optimum gets the second-to-worst score for reliability in our satisfaction survey, but we couldn’t find any complaints about reliability online. Cable-based services like Optimum tend to be pretty reliable, with only occasional hiccups during peak traffic periods, so it’s a little unclear where this dissatisfaction stems from.


Monthly Bill

DIRECTV

2.92 Stars (2.92 / 5)

DIRECTV offers a wide variety of packages, so you should be able to find something that fits your budget. Unfortunately, like many providers, the advertised rates are valid only for a portion of your contract. After that period is up, you can expect the bill to increase. In many cases, it can almost double, so always read the fine print. Also, be aware that because DIRECTV requires a contract, you are subject to early termination fees (ETF) if you cancel the contract early. This fee includes a deactivation fee of $15 plus $20 for each month left in the contract. So, cancelling after twelve months (when your promo pricing typically ends) would cost you around $250.

Optimum

2.8 Stars (2.8 / 5)

Optimum scores even worse than most here. On the plus side, it doesn’t require a contract, so there are no cancellation fees to worry about. It does charge that installation fee, though, and its cheapest packages are quite a bit more expensive than what DIRECTV offers.


Tech Support & Customer Service

DIRECTV

3.77 Stars (3.77 / 5)

DIRECTV has a surprisingly good reputation for customer service for a TV provider. It scores second in our survey, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) ranks it third, only slightly behind Verizon and AT&T. Though navigation is a bit unorganized, its support site is clean and has a good search function.

 

Optimum

3.30 Stars (3.30 / 5)

Optimum scored second-to-last in our survey. ACSI doesn’t include Optimum, possibly because it services only a small area, but its parent company Cablevision ranks sixth on the ACSI. However, Optimum’s support site is very well-organized and pleasant to use. There are videos and installation guides right up front on the landing page, and the search function works as expected. In fact, its whole web presence is a notch above the competition in terms of design and usability. As long as you can stick to the online customer support, you should be fine.

 


Equipment

  DIRECTV Genie Optimum Multi-Room DVR Plus
Simultaneous Recording 5 15
Storage 1 TB (up to 200 hours of HD content) 300 hours SD/75 hours HD
Price Included $10/month
Approximate Dimensions 13” x 9.5” x 2” NA (most boxes are about 13” x 10” x 2”)
# of TVs per DVR 8 Unlimited
Additional Features 4K support, 3D support, Sports Score Bar

Read our full review.

Rewinds live TV, stores programming in the Cloud so it can be played back in multiple rooms

Data effective 2/8/17


Internet Service

DIRECTV

DIRECTV doesn’t directly provide internet service, but because it is owned by AT&T, you can bundle AT&T Internet and Phone service with DIRECTV if you like. Speeds go up to 75 Mbps, and bundles start at $80 per month for DIRECTV and internet access, or $89.99 per month for DIRECTV, internet, and home phone.

Optimum

Optimum offers internet and phone services, either separately or bundled with TV. The internet packages range from 10 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload up to 300 Mbps download/35 Mbps upload, which is quite good. Prices for internet service alone range from $24.95 to $94.99 per month. The Triple Play bundle is also available at $89.95 per month, with over 250 channels (75 HD), 50 Mbps internet, and unlimited nationwide calling.


More About the Providers

DIRECTV

DIRECTV is an American satellite television service provider based in El Segundo, California, operating since 1994. Today it provides broadcast TV services to nearly twenty million subscribers in the United States, and another ten million subscribers in Latin America and the Caribbean. DIRECTV was acquired by AT&T in July 2015.

Optimum

Optimum is a smaller digital cable provider owned by Altice USA (formerly Cablevision). The company offers cable television, internet, and phone service to customers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

 

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