The best satellite TV providers of 2019

Compare DIRECTV and DISH to find the best satellite TV provider for your home.

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How does satellite TV work?

Satellite TV providers send TV signals to satellites above the earth which then transmit those signals to smaller dishes attached to homes. Satellite TV receivers convert the signals into a TV image, similar to how your modem converts incoming signals into internet service. This technology allows satellite TV providers to offer TV service nearly anywhere in the U.S.

Satellite TV is a great option whether you’re looking for a basic TV package or a plan stacked with premium channels, sports networks and more. In addition to channel package variety, satellite TV also delivers high-quality picture and sound, advanced DVR technology and exceptional availability.

What are the best satellite TV providers?

When it comes to satellite TV providers, DIRECTV and DISH have 100% of the market share, making them your only two options. Either DIRECTV or DISH could be the best satellite TV provider for you depending on what you’re looking for.

DIRECTV vs. DISH quick comparison

ProviderStarting prce*ChannelsDVR recordingsContract
DIRECTV Logo
DIRECTV
$35/mo.155-330+Up to 5 shows at once2 years

Dish
$59.99/mo.190-290+Up to 16 shows at once2 years

*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. As of 06/26/2019.

DIRECTV offers more channel package options and lower introductory pricing on select packages than DISH. Plus, DIRECTV is the only TV provider to offer NFL SUNDAY TICKET. DIRECTV may be better if you’re a football fanatic or already have services from AT&T, which owns DIRECTV.

On the other hand, DISH has the unrivaled Hopper3 DVR, which can record up to 16 shows at once and automatically skip commercials. Plus, you can store up to 500 hours of HD content. DISH may be better if you love to record and store lots of shows or want to secure your monthly TV cost for two years.

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

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.

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.

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Satellite TV vs. cable - Is satellite better?

Satellite and cable are two popular choices for TV service. While both satellite and cable will give you similar channel packages and picture quality, there are some differences between the two. For example, satellite TV will likely give you more channel options and lower introductory pricing, but cable is far less likely to be affected by bad weather such as heavy rain.

Satellite TV service advantages and disadvantages compared to cable

  • Availability – Satellite TV is available throughout all 50 states, whereas cable service and providers vary widely by location.
  • Channel selection – You’re likely to get more channel variety and package selections with satellite TV vs. cable.
  • Picture quality – Satellite TV supports higher bandwidth than cable, which can allow for more 1080 HD channels, or even 4K programming.
  • Customer satisfaction – DISH and DIRECTV had higher ACSI ratings than most major cable TV providers in 2019, scoring a 67 and 66 out of 100, respectively.

  • 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 – DISH and DIRECTV require a two-year contract, and often include price increases after the first year.
  • Dish installation – To get satellite TV, you need a satellite dish. While the equipment and installation cost is typically included, your installer will need to affix the dish to your roof or another exterior surface on your home.

Satellite TV will likely give you more channel options and lower introductory pricing than cable. 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. However, satellite TV service can be affected by weather, so there might be times where you can’t view any programming.

Cable is less likely to be affected by bad weather such as heavy rain, but can cost more initially. Cable can be a better option if you don’t want a TV contract or if a cable provider has an amazing bundle promotion in your area.

What to consider when comparing satellite TV and cable:

  • Packages – Satellite TV offers more channel package options than most cable companies. Plus, you’ll likely have more add-on channel options with satellite TV, so you can get more sports, premium and international channels. If you’re looking for a basic package with little more than local channels, however, cable may be your better option.
  • Pricing – Monthly costs for satellite TV can run lower than cable, especially during the first year or two of service. After that, price increases can bring your satellite TV up to or higher than what you’d pay for a similar cable package. Pricing varies by provider and location, so it’s best to shop multiple providers and plans in your area.
  • DVR equipment – Satellite TV boasts some of the most advanced DVR equipment available. You can record up to 16 shows at once with DISH and up to 5 shows at once with DIRECTV. Cable providers typically vary from recording 2-6 shows at once.
  • Contract – Satellite TV often comes with a contract of 1 or 2 years. Cable service may require a contract, but some providers, such as Spectrum, do not require a contract.

Get details about satellite and cable TV services from our experts. Call to shop available TV providers, plans and special offers for your home.

Frequently asked questions about satellite TV

Bad weather such as heavy rain, snow and severe cloud cover may cause temporary loss of your satellite TV signal. Keep in mind that such instances are typically rare, and both DISH and DIRECTV have 99% signal reliability.

No, a satellite dish is required for traditional DISH and DIRECTV satellite TV service. However, if you do not want a satellite dish or are restricted from installing one, DIRECTV NOW offers live TV streaming without needing a satellite dish.

Satellite TV providers such as DISH and DIRECTV often include select equipment such as the satellite dish, mounting hardware, cables, etc. at no extra cost. Standard satellite installation services are also commonly included for free.

DIRECTV and DISH are the two largest satellite TV providers in the U.S. by far. Pricing and package options are fairly similar between the two. DISH stands out with their Hopper3 DVR which can record up to 16 shows at once. DIRECTV is known for their sports programming, including the exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Currently, there are two main satellite TV providers to choose from — DIRECTV or DISH. Both TV providers offer a variety of packages with dozens to hundreds of channels to choose from, as well as On Demand movies, premium channels, sports packages and more.

The difference between cable TV and satellite TV is the method through which you are connected to receive the channel signal. 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 also be able to choose from providers such as Cox, Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon or Xfinity.

Last updated 06/26/19.

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