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The best 2023 satellite TV providers compared 

Compare the Best Satellite TV Providers in 2023.  

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Best satellite TV providers of 2023

  • DIRECTV – Best sports package, more package options, a more extensive high-tier package
  • DISH – Cheapest basic TV package, best DVR equipment

When it comes to satellite TV companies, DIRECTV and DISH cover nearly 100% of the country, making them your main two options. Either DIRECTV or DISH could be the best satellite TV provider for you depending on what you’re looking for.

Best satellite TV providers plans and pricing

Which satellite service provider should you choose?

DIRECTV pros/cons

  • Highest channel count – DIRECTV offers up to 340+ channels. This is one of the highest channel counts available.

  • Two-year contract – One downside of satellite TV is that it still requires long-term contracts, unlike streaming TV services.

  • Price increase – Expect your bill to increase by $20-$30/mo. after the first 12 months.

DISH pros/cons

  • Two-year price lock – DISH helps customers save money by locking in their price for two years.

  • Best low-tier package deal – If you are looking for the best cheap TV package, DISH is a better option than DIRECTV.

  • Not as high a channel count – DISH does not offer as many channels for its most expensive TV package as DIRECTV.

  • NO HBO – While DIRECTV offers HBO Max for free for three months, DISH does not provide HBO whatsoever.

The best provider for you will depend on what you’re looking for. If you want the best channel selection, including sports coverage, DIRECTV is the better option. But if you’re looking to save money and have access to a more advanced DVR, we’d go with DISH, which locks in your price for two years, whereas DIRECTV raises it significantly in year two. 

Both satellite providers lock you into a two-year contract. For DIRECTV’s cheapest plan, the price goes from $74.99/mo. in year one to $122/mo. in year two. DISH’s cheapest package, meanwhile, stays at $69.99/mo. for the entire contract. DISH and DIRECTV both have early contract termination fees.

For a more in-depth look at satellite TV services in your area, check out our DIRECTV vs. DISH page. Or, you can always call our TV experts to get more information about available satellite TV packages for your address.

Call now: (844) 451-2720

The best satellite TV provider for premium channels

If you’re looking to include premium networks like HBO, SHOWTIME and STARZ in your channel lineup, DIRECTV generally offers cheaper prices than DISH. The CHOICE, ULTIMATE and PREMIER packages all include one year of HBO Max, and the PREMIER package ($149.99/mo.) also throws in Cinemax, SHOWTIME and STARZ. 

DISH, on the other hand, doesn’t offer most premium channels. The only ones that are available to add to your package are EPIX and STARZ ENCORE. If you want HBO, SHOWTIME or STARZ, you’ll have to subscribe to their streaming services separately.

A deeper look: DIRECTV

DIRECTV packages come with 165-340+ channels, plus add-on package options and thousands of on-demand titles available.

The CHOICE mid-tier package includes in-market regional sports networks, including the MLB and NFL networks.  

If you love movies and original content, all DIRECTV plans come with some premium channels like HBO Max™, SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, Cinemax® & EPIX® included for three months. After that, you’ll automatically be charged full price unless you cancel. 

You can also add HBO Max™, Cinemax®, SHOWTIME®, STARZ® or EPIX® with the Premium Channel Pack for $53.95/mo.

Fees to be aware of

DIRECTV requires customers to sign a two-year contract and your monthly fee will be larger in year two. If you want to get out of the contract, you will pay a deactivation fee and a prorated charge of up to $480.

There is also a fee of $7/mo. for each receiver and/or Genie Mini/DIRECTV Ready TV/Device on your account.

A deeper look: DISH

DISH offers packages with 190 to 290+ channels and their Hopper 3 device can record up to 16 shows at once, as well as supports 4K.

There are four English channel packages and five Spanish packages. You can add premium and specialty channels like STARZ and SHOWTIME to any plan, but DISH does not offer the popular HBO.

DISH does offer the Multi-Sport Pack that can provide you with access to college and pro games, but it is not as robust as DIRECTV’s sports offerings.

Fees to be aware of

DISH also requires a two-year contract for their service, but they have a two-year price lock, so your price won’t change for the length of your original contract.

DISH does have an early termination fee of $20 for each month remaining on your contract. 

For monthly fees, you can expect a regional sports fee of about $3 to be on your bill, as well as a $12 fee for local channels.

There are also monthly fees for the DVR equipment, ranging from $5 to $10/mo. Don’t forget the upfront, one-time fee of $50 for the Hopper 3.

How does satellite TV work?

Satellite TV is a popular alternative to standard TV services, especially among rural residents. Satellite television providers send signals to satellites above the earth, which then transmit those signals to smaller dishes attached to homes.

Satellite TV receivers, like your set-top box, convert the signals into an image to your TV, similar to how your modem converts incoming signals into internet service for your computer.

What you’ll need for satellite TV service: 

  • A satellite dish
  • A satellite receiver
  • Coaxial cable to connect the dish to the receiver
  • HDMI cable to connect the receiver to your TV

Your installation technician will be responsible for providing your satellite dish and will place it in a way that will ensure high-quality service. The dish will be pointed towards the sky in the direction of a corresponding satellite thousands of miles away. This satellite will receive and transmit all your online requests.

You can either rent a modem and router from your provider for an additional monthly fee (usually $10-$15/mo.*), or you can invest in your own equipment to avoid extra charges. The modem and router will act as the middlemen between your satellite dish and your internet-connected devices by interpreting and transmitting the signal back and forth.

Pro tip: Check with your homeowner’s association or housing community before you schedule your installation and purchase your plan. Satellite installation is considered by most to be an alteration to the outside of a home. Some HOAs will require approval before installation, while communities like apartment complexes may prohibit installation altogether.

Bundle satellite TV and internet

You can get high-speed internet with satellite TV service. DISH and DIRECTV both work with internet providers in your area to bring you satellite TV and internet bundles. Depending on which providers are available in your area, you may be able to snag discounts by bundling multiple home services. AT&T internet and DIRECTV bundles, for example. 

Can satellite TV provide internet?

While neither satellite TV provider offers internet directly, you can combine their TV packages with an internet plan from leading providers in your area. Call today to build your satellite TV and internet bundle with providers such as:

Availability, pricing and internet speeds will vary by location and provider. Call to check satellite TV and internet bundle availability and pricing for your address.

Is cable or satellite TV better?

Satellite TV companies will likely give you more channel options and lower introductory pricing, but cable is less likely to be affected by inclement weather. Both satellite and cable TV will give you similar channel packages and picture quality. Take a look at some other differences between the two to find the right TV service for you.

What makes satellite TV services different from cable TV?

  • Satellite TV uses a dish to get the TV signal to a customer’s home instead of cable lines. 
  • Satellite service delivers all the typical cable TV channels to areas where cable does not reach. 
  • Satellite TV providers are known for carrying a variety of international and sports programming.

Pros of satellite service:

  • Availability – Satellite TV is available throughout all 50 states. Cable service and providers vary by location.
  • Channel selection – Satellite TV typically has more channel variety and package selections than cable. If you’re looking for a basic package with little more than local channels, cable may be your better option.
  • Picture quality – Satellite TV supports higher bandwidth than cable, which can allow for more 1080p HD channels or even 4K programming.
  • Customer satisfaction – DISH and DIRECTV had higher ACSI ratings than most major cable TV providers in 2021, both scoring a 66 out of 100, respectively.

Cons of satellite service:

  • Service disruptions – Inclement weather such as rain, snow, strong winds and heavy cloud coverage can interfere with your signal and cause a temporary service outage. However, your recorded programming will likely still be available.
  • Contracts – Both DISH and DIRECTV require a two-year contract.
  • Dish installation – To get satellite TV, you need a satellite dish, so your installer will need to affix the dish to your roof or another exterior surface on your home.

Our verdict: Satellite service can be a better option for you if you live in a rural area with fewer TV options, want to spend less on TV service or prioritize high customer service ratings. 

Cable can be a better option if you don’t want a TV contract or if a cable provider offers special incentives for bundling TV and internet. Cable is less vulnerable to bad weather, such as heavy rain, which can affect satellite TV service.

Satellite TV FAQs

What’s the difference between cable TV and satellite TV?

The main difference between cable TV and satellite TV is how you receive the channel signal at your home. Cable TV uses a wired connection and receiver box to bring the TV signal into your house. Satellite TV uses a satellite to receive the signal and display the channels on your TV.

Yes. Just as you can use a TV antenna to pick up free over-the-air TV broadcasts, there are “Free to air” (FTA) satellite TV channels that are broadcast via satellite. These FTA channels are typically local news or sports channels, or government-sponsored public TV stations such as PBS. To pick up these channels, you’ll have to invest in an FTA receiver box in addition to your satellite dish.

While there are niche satellite companies, such as Christian satellite network Glorystar, the two main satellite TV companies are DIRECTV and DISH. If cable or fiber TV is also available where you live, you may be able to choose from providers such as Cox, Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon or Xfinity.

Yes. Some satellite providers offer a self-installation kit in place of your installation appointment with a technician. The kit price will vary from provider to provider, but you’ll generally save more money by purchasing a kit and DIY-ing it than you would scheduling an appointment with a professional and paying the fee for installation. Self-installation does run some risk as most providers will not fix any errors for free that you make during setup. Video tutorials are typically available online in the provider’s customer support or forums. 

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Ari Howard

Written by:

Ari Howard

Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content

Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team. She primarily writes about broadband news and studies, particularly relating to internet access, digital safety, broadband-related technology and the digital d… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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