Last updated on Apr 14, 2020

DIRECTV vs. DISH

The two big satellite TV providers go head-to-head ​
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If you’re tired of missing out on regional sports programming or wanting a more extensive channel list, satellite television may be the solution. When looking for satellite television, it comes down to DIRECTV vs. DISH Network. 

We’ve compared DIRECTV vs. DISH Satellite’s features, including channel lineup, pricing, DVR capabilities, and customer service ratings to help you decide on which satellite TV provider is best for you.

DVR Capabilities
DVR Monthly Price
Price Range
J.D. Power Customer rankings
DIRECTV
Genie: 5 simultaneous recordings at once and storage for 200 HD hours
Included in package price
$49.99 to $124.99 per month
4/5 stars
DISH
Hopper 3: 16 simultaneous recordings at once and storage for 500 HD hours
$5 per month
$59.99 to $94.99 per month
5/5 stars

Data effective as of March 19, 2020.

Installation

You’ll need to have your satellite dish professional installed by a DISH or DIRECTV technician. Both companies include free installation when you sign up for a package. All you need to do is call the company and set up an appointment. 

Both DISH and DIRECTV have tracking tools, so you know the installation technician’s whereabouts, without having to wait around at home all day. 

If you rent your home or apartment, DIRECTV will ask you to have your landlord sign a permission slip before installing the dish on your rooftop.

Channel Packages

DIRECTV and DISH offer customers a great variety of channels. DIRECTV edges out DISH in the number of channels by offering over 330, compared to over 290 for DISH Network. 

Of special note is DIRECTV’s sports channel lineup. The provider offers more regional and sports channels than DISH. And the highly popular NFL Sunday Ticket is exclusive to DIRECTV and gives football fans special access to games not available locally.

DISH Network offers subscribers four channel packages:

  • America’s Top 120: 190 channels
  • America’s Top 120+: Over 190 channels
  • America’s Top 200: Over 240 channels
  • America’s Top 250: Over 290 channels

DIRECTV has six programming packages to choose from:

  • Select: Over 155 channels
  • Entertainment: Over 160 channels
  • Choice: Over 185 channels
  • Xtra: Over 235 channels
  • Ultimate: Over 250 channels
  • Premier: Over 330 channels

DVR Capabilities

Both companies provide subscribers DVRs that allow you to record and store your favorite programming. If you’re a power TV watcher, you’ll like DISH’s DVR more. 

DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR can record up to 16 programs at the same time and store up to 500 HD hours (or 2,000 hours in SD) of shows. It will cost you an extra $5 per month to upgrade, but the extra storage is worth the small cost.

DIRECTV’s Genie DVR is pretty impressive itself. It doesn’t have the same storage capabilities of the Hopper 3, but you can record five programs at once and store up to 200 hours worth of HD programming. Best yet, there is no additional fee — it comes free with the package you choose.

Which Is Best for Who?

DISH is best for TV viewers who record a lot of programming. DISH customers have access to the Hopper 3, the highest-storage DVR of the two companies. Plus, Netflix is built into the DVR. 

DIRECTV is best for sports fans due to the wide variety of sports programming available and the exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket. 

Both companies offer plenty of HD and 4K programming for nearly anyone to enjoy. It really comes down to whether you need more sports channels or not. 

FAQ

Why choose satellite TV?

Some rural customers may have no choice with limited options in their areas. For others, the extensive channel lineup and access to exclusive sports provide better choices than cable TV.

Can anyone sign up for DISH or DIRECTV?

No. The satellite dish must be installed in a high, south-facing area with unblocked access to the sky. Otherwise, the TV signal would be interrupted.

Can bad weather really affect my TV reception?

Yes. Heavy clouds, rain, or snowfall can interrupt the signal traveling from the satellite to your dish. Interruptions aren’t common, but if you live in an extreme climate zone, it’s something you should consider.

About the Authors

The Reviews.com staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.