Satellite TV: DirecTV or Dish Network?

Satellite TV: DirecTV or Dish Network

In the world of Satellite TV, there are several options available. However, you need to narrow the field and you’ll want to go with a provider that offers quality signals, a variety of programming and one that has good customer service. This narrows the field to two companies Dish Network and DirecTV. Both stand head and shoulders above their competition, but how do you decide between them?

Satellite TV Coverage

Both of these major Satellite TV providers cover the main portions of North America. However, if you are in outlying areas of the continent, then you may want to confirm their coverage.

Both Dish Network and DirecTV need a clear view of the southern sky to receive a good signal. This is something both companies clearly state in all of their literature and it is a major factor to consider before switching to Satellite TV. If you live in a city and there are several large structures obscuring your southern view, then you should check with the provider and they can test the reception for your location.


Both companies run comparable equipment and carry a variety of high-end analog programming. They also carry High Definition (HD) broadcasts which can only be viewed using a HD receiver and a HD capable television, both companies can offer the equipment at a cost which will allow you to enjoy HDTV.

Dish Network Hopper - Satellite TV
The Dish Network Hopper definitely has its advantages over DirecTV’s DVR.

Dish Network and DirecTV typically provide one standard receiver for free with each new subscriber. A standard receiver does not have DVR or HD capabilities. To get HD or DVR capability you would have to pay an upgrade fee for the equipment. This fee is typically refundable through a rebate program that both companies offer.

Subscribers to DirecTV have to pay a leasing fee for each receiver and the receivers are returned when your contract is terminated. Because DirecTV owns the receivers, they are responsible if they should fail and will replace them at no cost to you. The DirecTV DVR system lets you record up to five programs at once.

Dish Network also rents the equipment for a monthly fee, but they also offer you the option to buy the receivers. Purchasing the receivers may be a higher cost initially, but you will not be paying a monthly rental fee. However, since you own the receivers, you are responsible for their replacement if they break.

Dish Network has the Dish Hopper™ Whole-Home HD DVR, which allows for viewing and recording in multiple rooms, among many other things. This is a wireless system, so it can be hooked up in any room and it allows you to access the recorded programs from any connected television. This is great for the family as it prevents arguments over recording and viewing.


This is where some major divergence occurs between the companies. The best deals offered by both companies are only available through service contracts that commit you to a specified time frame, with a possible penalty for early cancellation.

DirecTV requires that all of their subscribers agree to a minimum 12-month service contract and they do not have a monthly option.

Dish Network does allow you to subscribe on a month-to-month basis, however, this is a more expensive option than the committed service contract. Even though it may be more costly, a monthly subscription may be helpful to students, renters, or short-term lodgers as they are not locked into a contract and will not have a penalty to pay upon cancellation.

Cost and Packages

NFL Sunday Ticket - DirecTV Satellite TV
Having the ability to sign up for the NFL Sunday Ticket makes DirecTV a much desired Satellite TV system for sports fans.

You’ll want to keep up to date with the ever-changing deals on Dish Network and DirecTV. Both satellite providers offer similar packages from a low-cost basic family package to an all-inclusive premium movie package. Dish Network tends to be slightly lower in cost than DirecTV, when comparing the basic package offerings. However, Dish Network offers less channels than DirecTV on most of the comparable packages. All local channels are included in both companies’ packages, as well as basic premium channels and several movie channels.

If you are a sports fanatic, DirecTV comes out the clear winner with an offering of several sports channels and packages that Dish Network does not have, including NFL Sunday Ticket and UFC. For the rest of us, Dish Network provides more premium channels than DirecTV, including EPIX 3, Veria and several adult channels.

In summary, both Dish Network and DirectTV have comparable offers, so which one you go with is up to you. The sports fan will feel that DirectTV comes out way ahead because of their comprehensive sports packages. But Dish Network, with their Hopper™ Whole-Home HD DVR system and their premium channel selection, may be the preferred provider for a family with diverse viewing tastes.

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