Spectrum vs. DIRECTV

DIRECTV’s pricey packages might be worth it for sports fans, but Spectrum offers affordability, flexibility, and simplicity.

Cheapest

Price: $49.99–$139.98/mo.*
Live channels: 125+
Cloud DVR: Varies

Best for sports

Price: $64.99–$139.99/mo.**
Live channels: 165–340+
Cloud DVR: 200–450 hrs.

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

* Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

** Offer ends 12/10/2022. New approved customers only w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies.

Is DIRECTV or Spectrum better?

Spectrum offers cable TV and internet services to select regions across the US without a contract. Its TV plan is affordable, flexible, and simple, bundling well with Spectrum’s high-speed internet service.

DIRECTV satellite TV service is available almost anywhere in the country, includes the Genie DVR at no extra cost, and is the best TV provider for sports. But DIRECTV is losing NFL SUNDAY TICKET after the 2022–23 season. And it’s too bad that DIRECTV has contracts, limited bundling options, and high prices—including a steep second-year price hike.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV pros and cons

Spectrum

Affordability
No contract
Spectrum TV app
Limited availability
DVR fees

View Plans

DIRECTV

Wide availability
Genie DVR included
No NFL SUNDAY TICKET as of fall
2-year contract
30%–38% second-year price increase

View Plans

Is Spectrum or DIRECTV available where you live?

You can get DIRECTV, a satellite TV service, almost anywhere in the US. Spectrum, a cable provider, is available only in some regions of the country. Enter your zip code below to see if Spectrum is available in your area.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV

Before we compare Spectrum and DIRECTV packages and pricing, let’s see if either provider has any good deals or promotions.

Spectrum deals

Current deals for new Spectrum customers:

  • Free Peacock Premium: Get 12 months of Peacock Premium (reg. $4.99/mo.) at no cost with an eligible Spectrum TV package. Or, with any Spectrum internet package, get 90 days of Peacock Premium free.

Look for more special offers on our Spectrum deals page.

DIRECTV deals

These are some of DIRECTV’s current offers for new customers:

  • $10/mo. discount: Until December 10, 2022, new customers who order online get $10/mo. off for 12 mos.
  • Free premium channels: New customers who order the ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE™, or ULTIMATE packages get HBO Max™, SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, Cinemax®, and EPIX® free for three months.

For more money-saving offers, see our DIRECTV deals page.

Pro tip: Starting with the 2023–24 season, NFL SUNDAY TICKET will move from DIRECTV to either Amazon Prime Video or Apple TV+ (probably Apple). We’ll post the news as soon as we hear something.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum head-to-head

Service Price Channels Simultaneous recordings DVR Details
Spectrum $49.99–$139.98/mo.* 125+ Unlimited Varies View plan
Read Spectrum review
DIRECTV $64.99–$139.99/mo.** 165–340+ 5 200–450 hrs. View Plans
Read DIRECTV review

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

* Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

** Offer ends 12/10/2022. New approved customers only w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies.

While Spectrum has fewer channels than DIRECTV and charges for its equipment and comparatively paltry cloud DVR service, it’s ultimately a more affordable, flexible, and simpler TV provider than DIRECTV.

But DIRECTV might be worth it if you’re willing to pay a premium to have the most sports channels, plus plenty of DVR storage for all of those sportsball events.

Pro tip: Don’t waste money on basic cable TV plans. You can get all the same channels with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna, which costs as little as $25–$60 (instead of $20–$60 a month).

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV

Spectrum plans and prices

Plan Price Channels Simultaneous recordings DVR Details
Select TV $49.99/mo.* 125+ Unlimited Varies View plan
Mi Plan Latino $34.99/mo.* 140+ Unlimited Varies View plan

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

* Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter.

Spectrum has only one plan, TV Select ($49.99 a month, 125+ channels). That’s a good deal TV Select comes with all of the most popular channels and its low price leaves room for premium add-ons.

Spectrum’s Mi Plan Latino ($34.99 a month, 140+ channels including 75+ en Español) is one of the best TV plans we’ve encountered for Spanish speakers (but DishLATINO is better overall—check out our English DishLATINO review and Spanish DishLATINO review).

But note that Spectrum’s equipment and DVR fees will add $15–$20 monthly. That makes TV Select about the same price as DIRECTV’s ENTERTAINMENT ($64.99 a month, 160+ channels) and CHOICE™ ($69.99 a month, 185+ channels). But don’t get too excited—that’s for the first year only. After that, DIRECTV’s second-year price increase swoops in to ruin everything.

Pro tip: On average, standalone cable TV plans cost about $79.

DIRECTV plans and prices

Plan Price Second-year price Channels Simultaneous recordings DVR Details
ENTERTAINMENT $64.99/mo. $107.00/mo. 165+ 5–7 200–450 hrs. View plans
Our pick
CHOICE™
$69.99/mo. $129.00/mo. 200+ 5–7 200–450 hrs. View plans
ULTIMATE $89.99/mo. $159.00/mo. 270+ 5–7 200–450 hrs. View plans
PREMIER $139.99/mo. $214.00/mo. 340+ 5–7 200–450 hrs. View plans

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

** Offer ends 12/10/2022. New approved customers only w/24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $11.99/mo. is extra & applies.

Even with the $10-a-month discount promo, DIRECTV’s prices are on the higher end versus most providers. And, ironically, that discount will make the 30%–38% second-year price hike sting even more.

To put the price increase into perspective, this is what you’ll pay monthly for DIRECTV plans over two years. (We’re adding the current DIRECTV first-year promotional pricing with the second-year DIRECTV rates from the table above).

  • ENTERTAINMENT: $86.00/mo.
  • CHOICE™: $99.50/mo.
  • ULTIMATE: $124.50/mo.
  • PREMIER: $177.00/mo.

So Spectrum still wins on pricing.

Pro tip: Live TV streaming services have no contracts, lower prices, smaller (but more streamlined) channel lineups—and no hidden fees.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV fees and extra charges

Spectrum fees and extra charges

Fees Amount
Broadcast TV fee Up to $21.00/mo.
Self-installation activation $19.99/mo.
HD TV box $9.99/mo. each
Apple TV 4K (rent-to-own) Starting at $9.99/mo.**
Apple TV 4K (purchase) $180.00**
Cloud DVR (record up to 50 shows) $5.00/mo.
Cloud DVR Plus (record up to 100 shows)* $9.99/mo.*
Late payment fee $8.95

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

* Requires Apple TV 4K.

** Limit one Apple TV 4K per account.

Virtually all cable and satellite TV providers have hidden fees. Spectrum and DIRECTV are no exception. Watch out for Spectrum’s broadcast TV fee (up to $21 a month), which is one of the highest we’ve encountered.

Also, the “self-installation activation fee” is kinda gross. We don’t like the idea of paying Spectrum to do the installation ourselves (sure, it’s easy—but come on).

We have more to say about these charges in our guide to The Hidden Costs of Spectrum.

DIRECTV fees and extra charges

Fees Amount
TV access fee (per receiver) $12.00/mo.
Regional sports fee Up to $11.99/mo.
Returned check/electronic funds transfer (EFT) Up to $30.00 (as permitted by law)
Phone payment fee Up to $5.00 per payment
Order assistance fee Up to $5.00 per payment
Late payment fee Up to $6.25
Payment extension $15.00
Duplicate statement fee Up to $1.75
Ledger request Up to $2.75
Minimum service fee Up to $9.99/mo.
Early termination fee $20.00/mo. per remaining month
Restoral fee Up to $20 per restoral
Dispatch fee $99.00
Leased equipment fees (due at signup) $0.00–$50.00 depending on the device
Bridge fee (for wireless setup with Genie 2 and Genie Mini Wireless) $99.00 due at signup
Activation fee (main service) $19.95/mo.
Activation fee (Genie Mini) $49.00 per device over 4
Activation fee (Genie Mini Wireless) $49.00 per device over 4

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

DIRECTV calls its broadcast TV free a “TV access fee” and it’s 75% lower than Spectrum’s maximum fee. But the $11.99-a-month regional sports fee more than makes up for that. DIRECTV also has more b.s. activation and “payment assistance” fees.

Note: Be sure to sign up for AutoPay so you can get the advertised pricing—and get out of payment assistance fees.

See our guide, Hidden Costs of DIRECTV, for more information on these fees.

There are no hidden fees in the stream

It would be weird if a TV provider didn’t have hidden fees. Right? Well, live TV streaming services have no hidden fees.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV channels

Does channel lineup size matter? Yes and no. A huge channel count is only superficially impressive. Eventually, you’ll realize that you’re paying for a bunch of channels you’ll never watch—and the provider stashes some of your most-wanted channels in the more expensive packages.

In this article, that’s only a DIRECTV problem.

Popular channels

Spectrum’s single package contains all of the top 35 most-watched channels of 2021, according to Variety’s annual rankings.1

DIRECTV carries all but two of these channels (The CW and MeTV). But to get all 33 popular channels in one DIRECTV package, you’ll need to select CHOICE™ ($69.99 a month, 185+ channels) or higher.

Variety’s Top 35 most-watched channels of 20211

  • CBS
  • NBC
  • ABC
  • FOX
  • FOX News Channel
  • ESPN
  • MSNBC
  • Univision
  • HGTV
  • Hallmark Channel
  • CNN
  • TNT
  • ION
  • Telemundo
  • TBS
  • TLC
  • HISTORY*
  • Discovery Channel
  • USA Network
  • Food Network
  • The CW
  • INSP
  • MeTV
  • Bravo
  • Lifetime*
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • A&E*
  • UniMás§
  • TV Land
  • AMC
  • FX
  • WE TV
  • Paramount Network
  • Syfy

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

* Not included in DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT package

§ Add-on only for DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT package

Add-on only for DIRECTV

Not carried by DIRECTV

Spectrum and DIRECTV channel lineup details

If you’re looking for particular entertainment, family, news, sports, or premium channels, See our Spectrum Channel Lineup Guide and DIRECTV Channel Lineup Guide and use CTRL-F to find your favorite channels.

Now let’s see how Spectrum and DIRECTV equipment compares.

DIRECTV vs. Spectrum equipment, specs, and features

Spectrum equipment and cloud DVR

Device Price Additional devices DVR storage Simultaneous recordings or streams Supported TVs
HD TV Box $9.99/mo. $9.99/mo. N/A Unlimited 4
Apple TV 4K (rent-to-own) $9.99/mo. N/A* N/A Unlimited 1
Apple TV 4K (purchase) $180.00 N/A* N/A Unlimited 1
Cloud DVR $4.99/mo. N/A Up to 50 shows Unlimited N/A
Cloud DVR Plus** $9.99/mo. N/A Up to 100 shows Unlimited N/A

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

* Limit one per account.

** Requires Apple TV 4K.

Spectrum offers two device choices. If you’d like to use something like the physical receiver/DVR unit, you can choose the HD TV Box ($9.99 a month each) for up to four TVs. Note, though, that this does not include DVR storage. You’ll have to pay for that separately.

Cloud DVR ($4.99 a month) allows you to record up to 50 shows, but this DVR plan works only with the HD TV Box. Cloud DVR Plus ($9.99 a month) doubles your storage allowance to 100 shows. Note, however, that Cloud DVR Plus is available only if you choose the Apple TV 4K ($9.99 a month) streaming device as your Spectrum TV box.

By the way, choosing the Apple TV 4K has other advantages: it’s a rent-to-own deal, so the device is yours once you’ve made all 20 monthly payments. Or you can buy it outright for $180.

DIRECTV equipment and DVR

Device Price DVR storage Simultaneous recordings/streams Supported TVs
Genie DVR Included 200 hrs. 5 recordings N/A
Genie 2 DVR Included* 450 hrs. 5 recordings N/A
Genie Mini $7.00/mo. each N/A N/A Up to 6
Genie Mini Wireless $7.00/mo. each N/A N/A Up to 8
DIRECTV app Free N/A 5 streams N/A

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

* $99 bridge free due at signup.

DIRECTV’s Genie and Genie 2 DVRs, which use physical instead of cloud storage, are quite powerful—and both come included with your TV plan (but there is a $99 bridge fee to set up Wi-Fi for the Genie 2).

The Genie’s 200 hours of storage is about the same as Spectrum’s Cloud DVR Plus (if all of your Spectrum recordings were two-hour movies). The Genie 2 has 450 hours of storage, which is way better.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV mobile apps

Spectrum TV app
Android, Apple
DIRECTV on the Go
Android, Apple
Price Included Included
Apple Store rating 4.7 / 5.0 4.7 / 5.0
Google Play Store rating 4.7 / 5.0 3.5 / 5.0
Watch live channels
Watch on-demand content
Watch DVR recordings
Downloading for offline viewing
Watch pay-per-view, rental, and purchased content
Set and manage DVR recordings and timers
Set and manage parental controls
In-home streams Unlimited 3
On-the-go streams 2 3
Use phone as remote

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

Like most TV providers today, Spectrum and DIRECTV have free mobile apps so you can stream your TV package, on-demand titles, DVR recordings, and more while you’re on the go. These apps add a ton of value to your cable or satellite TV subscription.

Pro tip: DIRECTV is different from the DIRECTV STREAM live TV streaming service, which has 140+ channels, cloud DVR, and no contracts. But the prices are still pretty high.

Final take

In case it’s not obvious, we think DIRECTV’s pricing is too high—and lacks transparency. So we recommend DIRECTV only to sports fans who are okay with paying a little more to get the live sports they crave. But if you really want satellite TV, you’ll find transparent, slightly cheaper pricing and a better overall experience if you choose DISH over DIRECTV

Spectrum is much cheaper with more transparent pricing, and it’s best if you’re looking for an affordable TV and internet bundle.

Spectrum vs. DIRECTV FAQ

Which is better, Spectrum or DIRECTV?

Spectrum is a more affordable, flexible, and simple TV service than DIRECTV. DIRECTV has more channels, a better DVR, and broader availability—but also high prices and poor pricing transparency.

What are some advantages of Spectrum TV over satellite?

With Spectrum, a cable TV and internet provider, you don’t need to mount a satellite dish to your roof. And, if you choose the Apple TV 4K streaming device as your Spectrum TV box, you won’t have to drill holes into your house like with standard cable TV service.

Is Spectrum TV and internet any good?

Spectrum TV and internet are pretty good. The provider offers only one TV plan with 125+ channels, but it’s reasonably priced—and Spectrum offers another 80+ channels available in affordable add-on packs. Spectrum’s high-speed cable internet is fast, with speeds up to 1 Gbps, but a little more expensive than other internet providers.

Learn more in our Spectrum TV review and Spectrum internet review.

Why are Spectrum prices so high?

Whenever cable or satellite TV prices go up, TV providers like Spectrum blame their own rising operating costs, which they pass on to the consumer.

Is DIRECTV better than cable?

The main advantage DIRECTV, a satellite TV service, has over cable TV services is wider availability. But DIRECTV and rival satellite TV provider DISH do tend to have higher channel counts than cable TV providers.

Which costs more Spectrum or DIRECTV?

DIRECTV costs more than Spectrum. It’s no contest, actually, since DIRECTV’s first-year prices are higher than Spectrum’s—and DIRECTV prices jump by 30%–38% in the second year.

How can I get Spectrum to lower my bill?

If you’re a current Spectrum customer willing to switch providers to get a better rate, contact Spectrum’s customer service department and ask for customer retention. You might be able to get a loyalty discount for sticking around.

Methodology

The experts at CableTV.com have thousands of hours researching and testing cable and satellite TV providers like Spectrum and DIRECTV. For this guide, we compared each provider’s plans and bundles to each other as well as nine other competing TV providers. We then analyzed the data and turned it into helpful recommendations for our readers. To learn more about our process, check out our How We Rank page.

Endnotes

1. Michael Schneider, Variety, “Most-Watched Television Networks—Ranking 2021’s Winners and Losers,” December 2021. Accessed July 21, 2022.

Don't miss an update

Stay updated on the latest products and services anytime anywhere.