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DIRECTV vs. Dish Network Review


Have you been considering making the switch to satellite TV? The two major satellite companies are begging for your business. They are trashing each other’s reputations to win you as a customer. If you watch a DIRECTV commercial, then you will come away believing that Dish Network is a terrible value. Tune into a Dish Network commercial and you will believe that DIRECTV has horrible service. Who is really telling the truth? Which is the better value? Let’s size up both competitors and see who comes out standing:

DIRECTV vs. Dish Network


DIRECTV has been around for 16 years and is a subsidiary of Liberty Media. The company is the biggest satellite service provider in the United States. DIRECTV’s main selling point is in claiming that it is the best value in the satellite industry. Let’s see if this is true:

DIRECTV offers the following packages to new customers:

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  • The basic CHOICE package is $29.99 for 150 channels.
  • The CHOICE XTRA package is $34.99 for 210 channels.
  • The CHOICE ULTIMATE package is $39.99 for 225 channels.
  • The PREMIER package is $59.99 for 285 channels.

My favorite package is the Choice Ultimate package because you get all of the core viewing channels, local channels, and on demand movies for a reasonable price. DVR and HD services are $10 extra a month. You have to pay $20 a month for HD and DVR service with the Choice and Choice Xtra packages. The Premier package looks cheap but really isn’t. You have to sign up for the NFL Sunday Ticket to get the discounted pricing. The NFL Sunday ticket will cost you $59.99 a month for 5 months. That’s an extra $300 on your bill!

Remember these prices are only good for 12 months. You have to sign a 2 year contract to get the low 12 month pricing. You can be sure that prices will rise in the second year. Watch out for cancellation fees. DIRECTV has been known to charge customers cancellation fees up to $360.

Dish Network

Dish Network was started by EchoStar and has been around since 1996. The company is the main competitor to DIRECTV.

Dish Network packages are as follows:

  • The America’s Top 120 plan costs $24.99 for 120 channels.
  • The America’s Top 200 plan costs $39.99 for 200 channels.
  • The America’s Top 250 plan is $49.99 for 250 channels.
  • America’s Everything Pak is $84.99 for 295 channels including movie channels.

The America’s Everything Pak is a great all-in-one pack for movie watchers. This package comes with 250 channels plus 31 premium movie channels including HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. This can save you a lot of money compared to DIRECTV. The movie packages at DIRECTV can really add up. HBO is $14.99. Showtime, Starz, Cinemax, and other premium channels are $12.99 a piece. Another major selling point for Dish Network is that the company offers Free HD service for life on all of its packages.

The bad news is that Dish Network has 24 month contracts as well. Prices will likely rise in year two. Also, local channels can run you between $5.00 and $5.99 a month on Dish Network. Dish Network’s cancellation fees are just as high as DIRECTV’s. Lastly, Dish Network is lacking some channels that DIRECTV has such as the Disney Channel HD, ESPNews HD, Disney XD HD, and ABC Family HD.

The Winner

I may be a little biased because I have DIRECTV service myself but I am a fan of DIRECTV. They have more channels, sports packages, and overall content than Dish Network. You will, however, pay more for these options. The low cost of Dish Network makes it a very attractive option. You cannot get all of the movies channels that Dish Network offers on DIRECTV for such a low price. If you want the most channels for your money, then DIRECTV is for you. If you are looking to save money and still get a nice offering of channels, then Dish Network is the choice for you. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

(Photo credit: diaper)

Mark Riddix is the founder and president of an independent investment advisory firm that provides personalized investing and asset management consulting. Mark has written financial columns for Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area newspapers and is the author of the book, "Your Financial Playbook."