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DISH vs. DIRECTV

After hundreds of hours of hands-on testing, online digging, and over-the-phone research, we've determined that DISH is superior to DIRECTV.

Best overall

DISH

Price: $57.99–$137.99/mo.*

Channels: 190–290+

DVR: 500 hrs.

Simultaneous recordings: 16

DVR fee: $10.00/mo.

Best for sports

DIRECTV

Price: $64.99–$139.99/mo.

Channels: 165–340+

DVR: 200 hrs.

Simultaneous recordings: 5

DVR fee: Included in package

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
*Flex Pack and America's Everything Pack are for existing customers only.

Is DISH or DIRECTV better?

DISH Network is the best satellite TV provider for the money, and the Hopper 3 DVR is the best DVR out there. That said, DIRECTV offers more HD channels and is the best satellite TV service for sports fans. So which is better, DISH or DIRECTV?

In our annual Editor’s Choice Awards, we named DISH TV service the best overall—as well as the best TV provider for families. We’ll explain why in this review.

DISH vs. DIRECTV pros and cons

DISH

3-yr. price guarantee
Best DVR
Best kids programming
HBO is back
Expensive plans

View Plans

DIRECTV

NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Free DVR
Best sports programming
Expensive plans
Price hike after 1st yr.

View Plans

DISH vs. DIRECTV deals and promotions

Before you choose a DISH or DIRECTV plan, have a look at the promotions each provider offers.

DISH deals and promotions

  • With DISH 55 (for seniors) and “Those Who Serve” (active military, first responders, nurses, teachers, and veterans), DISH offers various perks like extra channels, free movie rentals, six free months of equipment protection, and upgraded identity theft protection.

DIRECTV deals and promotions

  • Free premium channels: When you order the ENTERTAINMENT package or above, you can get CINEMAX®, EPIX, HBO Max, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ® free for three months.
  • Free NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX: New customers get the current season of this awesome football package free with the CHOICE plan or higher.

And don’t forget to check out our dedicated DISH deals and DIRECTV deals pages.

Compare DISH vs. DIRECTV head to head

Provider Price Channel count DVR storage Simultaneous
recordings
Details
DISH $57.99–$137.99/mo.* 190–290+ 500 HD hrs.† 16† View plans

Read DISH Review
DIRECTV $64.99–$139.99/mo 165–340+ 200 HD hrs. 5 View plans

Read DIRECTV Review

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
*Flex Pack and America’s Everything Pack are for existing customers only.

DISH’s strong points are its industry-leading Hopper 3 DVR and three-year price guarantee. But keep in mind that it has smaller channel lineups, which can make it difficult to get the exact channels you want. Oh, and did we mention that the Hopper 3 will cost you $10 extra per month?

DIRECTV has the best sports programming around, and every plan comes with an included Genie DVR. But the Genie isn’t as powerful as the Hopper 3, and DIRECTV prices increase drastically after the first year of your two-year contract.

Wanna know more before you sign up? We’ve dug into packages, features, and more, so you can find the right DISH or DIRECTV plan for you.

Verify TV providers in your area

Because DISH and DIRECTV are satellite TV providers, they’re available almost everywhere in the US.

Enter your zip code below to confirm that DISH and DIRECTV are available near you (and maybe even check out some other TV options while you’re at it).

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DISH vs. DIRECTV packages and pricing

With nine packages to choose from, things can get a little, um . . . confusing. But have no fear! We’ve made it easy to pick a plan by researching every DISH and DIRECTV package and listing up-to-date pricing, channel counts, and popular channels.

DISH packages and pricing

Package Price Channel count Popular channels Details
Flex Pack $57.99/mo.* 50+ AMC, CNN, and more View Plan
America’s Top 120 $79.99/mo. 190 Disney Channel, ESPN, and more View Plan
America’s Top 120+ $94.99/mo. 190+ NFL Network, Pac-12 Network, and more View Plan
America’s Top 200
Best package
$99.99/mo. 240+ Disney Junior, Hallmark Channel, and more View Plan
America’s Top 250 $109.99/mo. 290+ Nicktoons, STARZ ENCORE, and more View Plan
America’s Everything Pack $137.99/mo. 330+ (incl. premiums) SHOWTIME, FLIX, STARZ, and THE MOVIE CHANNEL View Plan

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
*Flex Pack and America’s Everything Pack are for existing customers only.

We recommend DISH America’s Top 200 for true-blue TV fans because it includes more than 240 channels, like Disney HD and Investigation Discover, for the price of $99.99 per month.

For more insights into TV service from DISH, read our full DISH review—highlighting plans, channel lineups, and more.

Pro tip: America’s Top 120 and America’s Top 120+ pretty much share the same name and channels. The difference is that America’s Top 120+ has more sports channels, like NFL Network and Pac-12 Network.

View DISH Plans

DISH vs. DIRECTV contracts

Both DISH and DIRECTV have two-year contracts—but there’s a big difference between them. In the second year, DIRECTV’s prices jump by 30%–38% (or $25–$62 a month), whereas DISH’s three-year price lock keeps your payment from increasing even a year after your initial two-year contract. And a price guarantee is a rare find in an industry that thrives on raising prices after promotional periods.

You can learn more about the DIRECTV rate hike in our guide to the Hidden Costs of DIRECTV.

DIRECTV packages and pricing

Package Price Channel count Popular channels Details
Entertainment All Included $64.99/mo. 165+ ESPN, TNT, and more View plans
CHOICE™ All Included
Best package
$69.99/mo. 200+ FX, IFC, and more View plans
ULTIMATE All Included $89.99/mo. 270+ Boomerang, FLIX, and more View plans
Premier™ All Included $139.99/mo. 340+ HBO, CINEMAX, and more View plans

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.

No doubt about it, DIRECTV has unbeatable deals and promotions. You can get NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX and HBO Max free for a year when you sign up for its CHOICE All Included plan and above.

What’s more, all DIRECTV packages include the Genie DVR free of charge. DISH includes the Hopper Duo DVR with its plans, but it charges a $5.00 service fee and a $10.00 upgrade fee if you want the far superior Hopper 3 DVR instead.

But the main catch with DIRECTV is that ridiculous price hike after the first year of your two-year contract. For example, our recommended package, CHOICE All Included, jumps up from $69.99 a month to $129.00 a month after the first year—zoinks!

Still, if you gotta have all the sports, and you want a really solid DVR for free, go with DIRECTV.

To learn more about TV service from DIRECTV, read our comprehensive review of DIRECTV plans, channel lineups, and more.

View DIRECTV Plans

DISH vs. DIRECTV channels

DIRECTV has 340+ channels, including more sports channels than any other provider, along with regional sports networks, and that juicy NFL SUNDAY TICKET add-on. That’s why it’s our best TV provider for sports. But that doesn’t mean DIRECTV doesn’t have a slew of popular cable channels in every category: entertainment, news, kids & family, premium channels, and more.

Check out our comprehensive DIRECTV channel lineup guide to see which packages have the channels you want. You’ll also be able to find channel numbers for each network except for your local broadcast affiliates (channel numbers for those vary by location).

DISH has 290+ channels, with more and better kids’ channels than DIRECTV, which is why DISH gets our Editor’s Choice award as the best TV provider for families. (And have we mentioned that it’s our pick for best overall TV provider, too?) While you won’t find as many sports channels with DISH, there are more than enough to keep sportsball fans happy.

You can see exactly which sports, entertainment, family, and premium channels DISH carries in our DISH channel lineup guide.

DISH vs. DIRECTV sports

DISH DIRECTV
Sports channels (not incl. RSNs) 78 (59 in HD) 52 (42 in HD)
Regional sports networks (RSNs)* 25 16
Sports add-ons 10 9
Pay-per-view live sports
Sports-friendly DVR features
  • Picture-in-picture

  • GameFinder

  • Quad split-screen
  • Picture-in-picture

  • Sports Mix

  • ScoreGuide
  • Sports apps
  • DISH Anywhere

  • DraftKings
  • DIRECTV app

  • DIRECTV Sports Bar Finder
  • Data effective as of post date.
    *Not all Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are available everywhere.

    As we’ve mentioned, we think DIRECTV is the best TV provider for sports—our DIRECTV Sports Packages page is a great place to see everything the satellite service offers for sports fans. But DISH is no slouch in the sportsball department either. Just look at that table above.

    DISH beats DIRECTV in almost every sports category. But there are some details not captured in those numbers. Let’s break down some key differences between the satellite TV rivals’ sports content.

    • DISH’s channel count includes 12 beIN SPORTS CONNECT and 5 TUDNxtra channels, which isn’t the same as 17 different sports networks. But even without counting those overflow channels, DISH still has 61 sports channels to DIRECTV’s 52.
    • DISH doesn’t have Fox College Sports, GolTV, Next Level Sports, TyC Sports, and Univision Deportes.
    • DIRECTV doesn’t have Lo Mejor de Liga MX, Outside TV, Pac-12 Network, Stadium, WILLOW, World Fishing Network, and Zona Fútbol. It’s also missing NFL RedZone, but you can get the similar RED ZONE CHANNEL and DIRECTV FANTASY ZONE with NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
    • Not all regional sports networks (RSNs) are available everywhere. The ones you get will depend on your zip code, but DIRECTV has a larger selection of RSNs compared to DISH.
    • Sports add-ons vary widely by price and content. Only DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET (regularly $295.94) for the 2022 NFL season, which is worth major bonus points.
    • DIRECTV and DISH have FOX Soccer Plus.

    We’ve also compiled a sports channels-only comparison table so you can see exactly which ones DISH and DIRECTV have. Fair warning: This is a long table. If you don’t need a channel-for-channel comparison, you can skip directly to our expert opinion on how the two satellite TV providers’ sports offerings compare.

    DISH vs. DIRECTV sports channels

    Sports channel DISH DIRECTV
    ACCN
    beIN SPORTS
    beIN SPORTS CONNECT 4
    beIN SPORTS CONNECT 5
    beIN SPORTS CONNECT 6
    beIN SPORTS CONNECT 7
    beIN SPORTS CONNECT 8
    beIN SPORTS en Español
    Big Ten Network
    Big Ten Network Alternate
    CBS Sports Network
    DIRECTV Deportes
    ESPN
    ESPN2
    ESPN Alternate
    ESPN Buzzer Beater
    ESPN College Extra
    ESPN Deportes
    ESPNews
    ESPNU
    Estrella TV HD
    Fox College Sports
    Fox College Sports Alternate
    FOX Deportes
    FOX Soccer Plus
    FS1
    FS2
    FZCHD
    Galavisión
    Golf Channel
    GolTV
    Lo Mejor de Liga MX IPLL
    Longhorn Network
    MLB Extra Innings
    MLB Extra Innings Mix
    MLB Network
    MLB Network Alternate
    MLB Strike Zone
    MLS Direct Kick
    MOTOR TREND
    NBA League Pass
    NBA Team Pass
    NBA TV
    NBC Universo
    NFL Network
    NFL RedZone
    NFL SUNDAY TICKET
    NHL Center Ice
    NHL Network
    NHL Network Alternate
    Next Level Sports
    Outdoor Channel
    Outside TV
    Pac-12 Network
    Pac-12 Network Alternate
    Pursuit Channel
    Racetrack Television
    Ride TV
    SEC Network
    SEC Network Alternate
    SHOWTIME
    Sports Alternate
    Sports Mix
    Sportsman Channel
    Stadium
    TBS
    Telemundo
    Tennis Channel
    TNT
    TUDN
    TUDNxtra 1
    TUDNxtra 2
    TUDNxtra 3
    TUDNxtra 4
    TUDNxtra 5
    TUDNxtra 6
    TUDNxtra 7
    TUDNxtra 8
    TUDNxtra 9
    TUDNxtra 10
    TUDNxtra 11
    TUDNxtra 12
    TVG
    TVG2
    TyC Sports
    UniMás
    UniMás West
    Univision East
    Univision West
    Univison Deportes
    WILLOW
    WILLOW Xtra
    World Fishing Network
    Zona Fútbol

    Data effective as of post date. Channel lineups may vary by location and are subject to change. Some channels may require an additional monthly fee.

    To us, the DISH vs. DIRECTV sportsball battle comes down to available add-ons. NFL SUNDAY TICKET is just too good, with all of those out-of-market NFL games, and the current season is free to new subscribers. And RSNs are crucial for MLB, NBA, and NHL fans, so DIRECTV having the most RSNs is huge for watching in-market games.

    Without the add-ons, each provider has a balanced lineup of sports channels—but DISH has more of them, not to mention more variety. So we wouldn’t dismiss DISH just because DIRECTV has those juicy add-ons and RSNs. It all depends on what sports you enjoy watching.

    Pro tip: Visit our CableTV.com Sports hub page for a closer look at league-specific guides and other resources to help you watch your favorite sports.

    DISH vs. DIRECTV equipment and features

    Although DISH and DIRECTV have similar channel counts and first-year pricing, the two satellite TV providers differ quite a bit in terms of equipment and features.

    Read on to find out about everything from DVRs to bundling your TV service with internet.

    DVRs

    TBH, a DVR can make or break your TV experience. Luckily, you can’t lose with the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie.

    DISH Hopper 3 vs. DIRECTV Genie

    DVR Price Storage Simultaneous
    recordings
    Video
    quality
    Details
    DISH Hopper 3
    Best DVR
    $10/mo. 500 HD hrs. 16 Up to 4K Ultra HD Read Hopper review
    DIRECTV Genie Included 200 HD hrs. 5 Up to 4K Ultra HD Read Genie review

    DISH Hopper 3

    DISH Hopper 3 DVR

    While DISH has more than one DVR, we recommend the Hopper 3 if you want an amazing DVR experience. While the Hopper Duo comes included with most DISH packages, it’s basic af.

    On the other hand, the Hopper 3 is the best DVR out there, with sixteen simultaneous recordings and 500 hours of HD storage capacity. If DVRs are your thing, you should probably go with DISH.

    DIRECTV Genie

    DIRECTV Genie DVR

    The Genie DVR ain’t too shabby, either. With five simultaneous recordings and 200 hours of HD storage, it’ll get the job done for most people.

    It’s especially nice if you’ve got NFL SUNDAY TICKET because you can program a Mix Channel that allows you to watch up to eight live games at once.

    To learn more about DIRECTV’s DVRs, read our Genie review.

    Pro tip: You can learn more about how the Hopper 3 and the Genie compare head to head by reading our in-depth vs. article.

    Installation

    When you sign up for DISH, your service includes the cost of standard installation from a professional.

    To make installation even smoother, you can view your technician’s photo, monitor their location, and review your scheduled time with the appointment feature in the MyDISH app. In this user-friendly world, it’s a feature we appreciate and think more TV providers should implement.

    While DIRECTV charges a $20 activation fee to start your service, it doesn’t technically charge anything for installation. Still, 20 bucks is 20 bucks, amirite?

    Watch out: DIRECTV has other hidden fees, too. Check out our Hidden Costs of DIRECTV guide for more details before you sign up.

    It would be nice if DIRECTV got a technician-tracker tool like DISH. There are a few complaints online that make us concerned about technicians arriving late or rescheduling last minute.

    In the end, we think DISH is the clear winner when it comes to installation.

    Streaming apps

    The DISH Anywhere app and DIRECTV app are on-the-go streaming apps that turn your phone or tablet into a tiny mobile TV.

    DISH Anywhere app

    The DISH Anywhere mobile app lets you watch your live TV channels and on-demand movies and shows while you’re away from home.

    You can even transfer your DVR recordings from your DISH Hopper 3 to your mobile device so you can watch them offline wherever you are. What’s more, DISH Anywhere allows you to set and manage DVR timers while you’re away. And parents will love the ability to adjust DISH’s top-notch parental controls, with separate profiles for each child—we love this.

    To learn more about this value-adding DISH perk, check out our DISH Anywhere app guide.

    DISH Anywhere home page

    DIRECTV app

    The DIRECTV app has features similar to those of the DISH Anywhere app. You can stream live channels and on-demand content from your DIRECTV package and watch/set/manage DVR recordings. And the app even acts as a voice remote so you can avoid sticking your hand between the couch cushions (eeeeewwwww) if you misplace your Genie clicker again.

    And just like with DISH Anywhere, you can set and manage parental controls from the DIRECTV App. But DIRECTV’s parental controls aren’t quite as good as DISH’s, which the company created in a partnership with Common Sense Media.

    So we say the DISH Anywhere is superior, with a more intuitive user experience. Plus, as we keep pointing out, DISH is a better satellite TV provider than DIRECTV.

    Internet bundles

    You can bundle Frontier internet with DISH and AT&T or CenturyLink internet with DIRECTV. But there’s not much benefit to bundling your satellite TV service with an internet plan since none of these providers offer bundle discounts.

    Rather than restricting yourself to these providers, we recommend you choose the best internet service provider in your area on its own merits.

    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: Is DISH or DIRECTV better?

    While both premium TV providers have unique strengths, for most folks, DISH is the way to go. DIRECTV is best for sports fans with NFL SUNDAY TICKET and a slew of sports channels. But DISH is cheaper, has a three-year price guarantee, boasts the industry-leading Hopper 3 DVR, industry-leading parental controls, and has plenty of sports channels in its own right—but no NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

    DISH vs. DIRECTV FAQ

    What's the difference between DISH and DIRECTV?

    Satellite TV providers DISH and DIRECTV both have fairly similar plans and pricing, and both require two-year contracts. But there are some key differences between the TV services:

    • DIRECTV prices jump by 30%–38% after the first year, but DISH guarantees that your payment won’t change for three years.
    • DIRECTV has 340+ channels, while DISH has 290+.
    • DISH charges $10 a month for its Hopper 3 DVR, but DIRECTV includes its Genie DVR at no extra cost.
    • The DISH Hopper 3 stores 500 HD hours and lets you record 16 programs at once; DIRECTV’s Genie stores 200 hours and has five simultaneous recordings.
    • DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but DISH doesn’t.

    Is DIRECTV's picture better than DISH?

    There’s not a big difference in picture quality between DISH and DIRECTV. Live and on-demand content from both providers is in 1080p high definition (HD), and the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie both support 4K content.

    Where is satellite TV available?

    Satellite TV is available across the US anywhere you can set up a south-facing satellite dish. This might be an issue for some apartment buildings without a clear shot of the southern sky.

    Is satellite TV reliable?

    Yes, satellite TV technology has come a long way and can provide a reliable signal through most weather conditions.

    What is the cheapest satellite TV package?

    DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT All-Included ($64.99 a month, 165+ channels) is the cheapest satellite TV package—but DIRECTV prices jump by 30%–38% in the second year. If that rate hike scares you off, DISH America’s Top 120 ($87.99 a month, 190 channels) is a comparable option. It costs more initially, but DISH guarantees your price won’t change for three years.

    What is the best satellite TV deal?

    America’s Top 250 from DISH has the best cost per channel between all DISH and DIRECTV plans. Of course, if you aren’t going to watch all those channels, or if it’s missing any of your favorites, it might not be the best deal for you.

    Are there low-income options for satellite TV?

    While participants in the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can get assistance with internet bills, TV isn’t considered a utility and doesn’t come with the same benefit.

    But over-the-air and streaming TV can be affordable alternatives. Check out our Free and Low-Cost Cable TV guide for more information.

    Which is the worst satellite TV package?

    Speaking purely to cost per channel, PREMIER All Included from DIRECTV is the worst value. However, since that cost includes a DVR and all the most popular premium channels like HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX, it’s a pretty awesome “worst package.” But one legitimately awful thing about PREMIER All Included—all DIRECTV packages, actually—is that the monthly payment goes up by 30%–38% ($25–$62) in the second year of your contract.

    How does satellite TV work?

    Satellite TV involves a TV provider sending a signal into space, where it bounces off of a satellite and back down to the dish on your roof, which routes the signal to your receiver.

    Are there other satellite TV options besides DIRECTV and DISH?

    There really isn’t an alternative to DIRECTV or DISH, which are the only satellite TV providers in the US. But if you’re open to other types of TV service, you can check out cable TV providers or streaming TV services.

    Methodology

    Our experts have logged hundreds of hours of hands-on testing and research on both DIRECTV and DISH Network. For this piece, we compare DISH and DIRECTV, rating the satellite TV providers on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction so our readers can make informed buying decisions.

    For more information on our process, check out our How We Rank page.

    Disclaimers:

    * DISH: for 24. months. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

    ** DIRECTV: for 12 mos. plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year.  Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.

    DISH Hopper 3 DVR costs $10/mo. for 500 HD hours of storage & 16 tuners.

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