2020 DIRECTV vs. DISH comparison

Compare plans, pricing and features to choose the best satellite TV provider for your home.

Is DIRECTV or DISH better for your home?

DIRECTV and DISH differ slightly in price, available channels, sports packs and DVR equipment. Depending on what you’re looking for in a TV service, you may find one provider to have an edge over the other.

Best year-over-year pricing 

DIRECTV and DISH currently offer the same introductory pricing, but the price for DISH stays the same for two years. DIRECTV’S prices increase by about $30/mo. after the first year. 

Best for 4K content 

Both DIRECTV’s Genie and DISH’s Hopper 3 have 4K capabilities. Currently, DIRECTV offers more 4K channels than DISH. DISH’s 4K options are mainly available via On Demand and the integrated Netflix app. 

Best equipment 

DISH has the better DVR equipment. DISH’s Hopper 3 can record up to 16 shows at once; DIRECTV’s Genie can record five. Plus, DISH has voice remote, with a built-in mic right on your remote. DIRECTV does not offer that feature. 

Best for NFL 

DIRECTV has exclusive rights to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which broadcasts every NFL game every Sunday. No other provider can offer this exclusive NFL package.

Best international programming 

DISH offers international channels in 28 languages, a much broader selection than DIRECTV’s eight international programming offers. 

Best installation options 

Most DISH plans have free installation. DIRECTV has a $35 activation fee, which sometimes goes on promotion for $19.95, or even free. 

Best customer service 

DISH and DIRECTV rank nearly identically for customer service and satisfaction. They both offer 24/7 support, including live chat. And they both rank higher than cable TV options. 

Best mobile app 

Both DISH and DIRECTV have useful apps. DISH’s app allows you to watch live tv on the go and manage your DVR. DIRECTV’s app has all those features, plus you can use it as a remote.

We’ve done the research on DIRECTV and DISH for you, so you can easily compare and choose the best TV provider for your home. Here’s a look at how the two providers compare in pricing, channels, DVR equipment and contract requirements.

DIRECTV vs. DISH quick comparison

  • Plans starting at $35/mo.*
  • 155-330+ channels
  • HD included
  • 4K channels available
  • Record up to five shows at once
  • Store up to 200 hours HD content
  • Two-year contract required
  • Price increase after one year
  • Plans starting at $59.99/mo.*
  • 190-290+ channels
  • HD included
  • Record up to 16 shows at once
  • Store up to 500 hours HD content
  • Two-year contract required
  • Two-year price guarantee

DIRECTV vs. DISH pricing and fees

DIRECTV and DISH offer the same introductory pricing, but the price for DISH stays the same throughout the two-year agreement.  DIRECTV’s prices increase in the second year.

  • Lowest-priced package: SELECT starting at $59.99/mo.* for 155+ channels
  • Highest-priced package: PREMIER starting at $134.99/mo.* for 330+ channels
  • Price increase: after one year
  • Installation fee: standard installation included in up to four rooms
  • Local channels fee: $0
  • First DVR device: included
  • Additional receivers: $7/mo.* each
  • Lowest-priced package: America’s Top 120 starting at $59.99/mo.* for 190 channels
  • Highest-priced package: America’s Top 250 starting at $89.99/mo.* for 290+ channels
  • Price increase: after two years
  • Installation fee: standard installation included in up to six rooms
  • Local channels fee: $12/mo.* (included in package price)
  • First DVR device: included
  • Additional receivers: $5-10/mo.* each

DISH vs. DIRECTV hidden fees

Fees for HD programming and standard installation are included with DIRECTV and DISH packages. While both DIRECTV and DISH include one DVR device, they charge a fee for each additional device, ranging from $5 to $10 each month. Both providers may charge an added fee for whole-home DVR service in addition to DVR device rental fees. Depending on the provider and package you select, ou may also be charged a regional sports fee, which can vary by location.

DIRECTV vs. DISH packages

When it comes to package options, DIRECTV has a slight advantage over DISH. DIRECTV offers six unique channel packages to DISH’s four. Both providers offer add-on packages for premium channels, sports packs and international channels.

Take a look at available packages from each provider below, and check out our DIRECTV channel guide and DISH channel guide to see what channels come with each package.

Lower-tiered DIRECTV and DISH packages offer similar channel lineups and pricing, but DIRECTV’s top package gives you more than any DISH package. DIRECTV’s PREMIER™ package includes HBO®, Showtime®, Cinemax® and STARZ/STARZ ENCORE networks, plus 70+ regional sports networks. DISH’s largest TV package, America’s Top 250, only includes STARZ ENCORE channels, which is similar to DIRECTV’s ULTIMATE package.

NFL SUNDAY TICKET is another advantage exclusive to DIRECTV. The pro football sports package gives subscribers “every live, out-of-market game, every Sunday” and is only available from DIRECTV. New customers who sign up for the CHOICE™ package or above can get a season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET included at no extra cost.

DIRECTV vs. DISH DVR equipment

This is one category where DISH has a clear advantage. DISH’s Hopper 3 offers more recording capabilities and storage space than DIRECTV’s Genie. Plus, the Hopper 3 features a handy remote finder button and access to apps like Netflix and YouTube from the device.

DIRECTV Genie vs. DISH Hopper 3

Both providers include one main DVR device at no extra cost. Additional DIRECTV receivers can cost up to $7 per device, while additional DISH receivers cost $5 to $10 each. Get the DIRECTV Genie or the DISH Hopper 3 with any standard TV package.

DIRECTV vs. DISH customer satisfaction

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, DIRECTV and DISH rank relatively high in customer satisfaction compared to other TV service providers. Both ranked higher on customer satisfaction scales compared to cable TV. Here’s how the two satellite TV providers scored over the past three years.

Provider/service2019 score2018 score2017 scoreAvg. past three years

J.D. Power also rates DISH and DIRECTV higher than cable in overall customer satisfaction, with DISH leading in the North/Central and West regions and DIRECTV leading in the East and South regions in 2018.

DIRECTV vs. DISH frequently asked questions

Is DIRECTV or DISH better?

Both providers offer similar packages and pricing. DISH has a more powerful DVR, capable of recording 16 shows at once. DIRECTV has more channels and package options, including the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Determining which provider is better for you also depends on what channels are important to you. DIRECTV and DISH plans vary in what channels they offer so research what package has your must-have channels for each provider.

Do you have to install a satellite dish to get DIRECTV or DISH Network?

Yes. Both providers require you to install a satellite dish to receive service. Equipment and standard installation are included at no extra cost with DIRECTV and DISH.

Does DIRECTV or DISH have internet?

Neither DIRECTV or DISH offer internet. AT&T acquired DIRECTV in 2015, so bundling options with AT&T’s internet plans may be available in some areas. HughesNet and Viasat are popular satellite internet providers, but your home may also be eligible for DSL, cable or fiber-optic internet services.

Is Netflix free with DISH or DIRECTV?

Netflix is not included with either service. However, the Hopper 3 from DISH lets you access your Netflix account from the DVR, so you don’t have to switch cables or inputs to watch Netflix.

Can you get local channels with satellite TV?

DIRECTV and DISH both offer local channels with their main TV packages. In most locations, local channels are also available in HD resolution.


No. DIRECTV is the sole provider of NFL SUNDAY TICKET. However, DISH does offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone with select packages, plus local channels for your in-market games and ESPN for Monday Night Football.

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