Direct TV vs Dish Network Satellite

Direct TV Dish Network

DIRECTV vs DISH Network. The debate will continue forever because the real answer depends on you. What programming and what services you want. To help with that decision, I’ve put together a comprehensive comparison based on my experience and knowledge. By the way, the correct spelling is DIRECTV, but many people refer to the service as Direct TV, which is not correct.

Basic Programming Packages


  • Family Package: 50+ channels including Discovery, Nickelodeon, Science Channel, and National Geographic, plus locals for $29.99/month
  • Choice™ Package: 150+ channels (40+ HD) including CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, MTV, Science Channel, TBS, TNT, USA, and local channels for $58.99/month
  • Choice Xtra™: 210+ channels (50+ HD) including the 150 Choice channels plus Discover Kids, G4, National Geographic, Speed, and others for $63.99/month
  • Choice Ultimate: 225+ channels (55+ HD) including the Choice Xtra channels plus 11 extra movie channels, G4, National Geographic, Speed, and others for $68.99/month
  • Premier™: 285+ channels including the Choice Ultimate channels plus HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax, and Sports Pack channels for $114.99/month

DISH Network:

  • Smart Pack: over 55 of your favorite channels including ESPN HD, CNN HD and TNT HD, as well as your local channels. (Promo: $19.99/mo for 1 year)
  • America’s Top 120: over 120 of your favorite channels, including CNN, ESPN, Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel, 30+ Dish CD music channels, and local channels for $44.99/month (Promo: $24.99/mo for 1 year)
  • America’s Top 120 Plus: same as the Top 120 package with the addition of local sports networks for $49.99/month (Promo: $29.99/mo for 1 year)
  • America’s Top 200: over 220 channels including the best in news, sports, and family programming, along with over 60 SIRIUS music channels $59.99/month (Promo: $34.99/mo for 1 year)
  • America’s Top 250: Includes Top 200 package channels plus 15 movies channels, Discovery Kids, History Channel International and more for $69.99/month (Promo: $39.99/mo for 1 year)
  • America’s Everything Pack: Over 295 channels including 31 premium movie channels like HBO®, Cinemax®, Showtime®, Starz®, and NBA TV for $104.99/month (Promo: $84.99/mo for 1 year)

DVR (Digital Video Recording)

DIRECTV: $7.00 per month flat fee (up to 6 DVR recievers). DISH Network: $6.00 per month flat rate.

HD Programming

DIRECTV: $10/month for HD access which includes up to 105 HD channels depending on your package.

  • Choice™ Package: 40+ HD channels
  • Choice Xtra™: 50+ HD channels
  • Choice Ultimate™:55+ HD channels
  • Premier™: 105+ HD channels

DISH Network:  Included with packages.

Extras, A la carte


  • HD Extra Pack (7 channels): $4.99/month
  • 8 HBO channels (4 HD): $14.99/month
  • 15 Starz channels (8 HD): $12.99/month
  • 13 Showtime channels (10 HD): $12.99/month
  • 3 Cinemax channels (2 HD): $12.99/month
  • 30+ Specialty and Regional Sports channels: $12.99/month
  • MLB Extra Innings: $139.96/season
  • NASCAR Hot Pass: TBD
  • NFL Sunday Ticket: $299.95/season
  • NBA League Pass: TBD
  • Mega March Madness: TBD
  • ESPN Full Court (NCAA Basketball): TBD
  • NHL Center Ice: TBD
  • MLS Direct Kick: $49/season
  • ESPN Gameplan (NCAA Football): $115.96/season
  • Fox Soccer Plus: $14.99/month

DISH Network:

  • 8 HBO channels (8 HD): $16.00/month
  • 5 Cinemax channels (4 HD): $13.00/month
  • 10 Showtime channels (7 HD): $13.00/month
  • 8 Starz channels (6 HD): $13.00/month
  • Playboy channel: $16.00/month
  • Any 2 Premium Packages: $24/month; Any 3: $33/month; Any 4: $42/month
  • Multi-Sport Package: $7/month
  • NBA League Pass: $24.50/mo for 2 months
  • ESPN Full Court (NCAA Basketball): $29.95
  • MLS Direct Kick: $49.99/mo for half season
  • ESPN Gameplan (NCAA Football): $18.75/mo for 4 months
  • NHL Center Ice: 1 payment of $79.90
  • Fox Soccer Plus: $15/month
  • Race Track Network: $50/month

Other Fees


  • Lease Fees: $5.00/month per additional receiver (1st one free). This fee is the same for all types of leased receivers.
  • DIRECTV Protection Plan: Optional $5.99/month covers repair/service calls for all equipment on the account.

DISH Network:

  • Lease Fees: $5.00-7.00/month per additional receiver (1st one free). (DISH Network DVR receivers are multi-room capable which means one receiver can provide programming for two TV’s in different rooms).
  • DISH Home Protection Plan: Optional $7.00/month covers repair/replacement of leased and/or purchased equipment ($15 for in-home service vs. $95 without plan).

Current Promotions for New Customers (Best Deals)


  • Save up to $29/mo for 12 months, after rebate agreement + HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz FREE for three months. Includes FREE HD for life, 2 FREE receiver upgrades, free installation, and free shipping. ONLINE ONLY. Get this deal.

DISH Network:

  • HD Free for life + $20 off per month for 1 year + free upgrade to HD DVR + 3 months free HBO®, Cinemax®, Showtime®, and Starz® + 3 HD receivers for free. This offer requires a 24-month agreement. Get this deal.



  • Standard Receiver: Provides one tuner for one TV.
  • Standard Definition DVR Receiver:
    • Features two tuners to record up to two shows simultaneously. Stores up to 100 hours of programming.
  • High Definition Receiver:
    • One Satellite HD tuner to provide programming for one HDTV.
  • High Definition DVR Receivers:
    • DIRECTV Plus HD DVR (HR20): The newest receiver offered features two HD satellite tuners, and one ATSC attenna input for Over-The-Air (OTA) HD broadcasts. Can record two HD programs simulaneously while watching another pre-recorded show. Also features a single 90 minute buffer. (While tuned to a channel you can rewind/pause up to 90 minutes of live TV without having to record it.) DirecTV Plus HDDVR
    • DIRECTV HR10-250: No longer offered since it cannot receive the new HD channels broadcast with MPEG4 compression. It does currently still work and can be found used. Many people prefer this unit to the newer one because of its TiVO user interface and dual live buffers.
  • Common Features
    • All current receivers can display caller ID information on the screen when the receiver has a phone line connected and caller ID service is enabled by telephone provider.
    • All receivers have Dolby Digital output for when the programming supports it.
    • All receivers feature on-screen program guide data.
    • All receivers use a custom user interface created by DIRECTV. The previous DVR receivers used a TiVO branded user interface, which according to user reviews is preferred over all other DVR user interaces. Even earlier models used the Ultimate TV user interface (developed by Microsoft), which was also well liked.

DISH Network:

    • Standard Receivers:
      • DISH 322: Features two tuners for independent satellite TV viewing on two separate televisions. Product Brochure
      • DISH 311: Provides one tuner for one TV. Product Brochure
    • Standard Definition DVR Receivers:
      • DISH DVR 625: Two tuners to support two separate televisions. Can record two programs simultaneously while watching a third pre-recorded program. Stores up to 100 hours of programming. Product Brochure Dish 625
      • Solo DVR 512: Dual Satellite SD tuner supports one SD TV. Product Brochure

High Definition Receivers:

  • High Definition DVR Receivers:
    • DuoDVR ViP722 DVR: Supports 2 independent viewing TVs. HD/SD on one TV and SD only on the other. Also includes ATSC tuner input for for off-air digital/HD broadcasts. Can simultaneously record two satellite programs while watching a third pre-recorded program. All functions can be controlled from either TV. All SD programming can be up-converted for viewing on the HDTV. All HD programming can be down-converted for viewing on the SDTV. Records up to 350 hours of standard definition programming and/or up 55 hours of HD programming (hard drive space is shared for SD and HD content). Product Brochure
    • DISH 942: Similar toVi722, but no longer sold. This receiver is only capable of receiving MPEG2 programming. DISH is in the process of moving all HD broadcasts to MPEG4 compression to make room for more channels.
  • Common Features:
    • All receivers can display caller ID information on the screen when the receiver has a phone line connected and caller ID service is enabled by telephone provider.
    • All receivers have Dolby Digital output for when the programming supports it.
    • All receivers feature on-screen program guide data.
    • Multi-room receivers (noted by Duo branding) can provide programming to a second TV in another room. This is accomplished by RF modulation on selected channel. The 2nd television must be feed via coaxial cable from the receiver. Remote control is enabled by Radio Frequency (UHF), which unlike most remotes that are infrared, RF remotes can send signals through walls. The RF modulation also allows the ability to distribute programming throughout an entire house for any TV to receive, although only one RF remote is provided, and only one program can be broadcast at one time.
    • All DVR receivers feature a 30 second commercial skip, which is becoming more scarce these days with pressure from the media giants. With a single button push on the remote, recorded programs skip 30 seconds ahead. Six pushes quickly passes by a 3 minute commercial. Most DVR service providers, including the independent TiVO service only provide fast-forward and rewind, which makes it difficult to stop right at the end of the commercial.

Key Differences

  • HD Programming and Pricing: Currently DIRECTV has more HD channels and the HD service fee is the same for both providers, but DISH does have a few channels that DirecTV does not.
  • Multi-Room Recievers: Most DISH receivers are multi-room capable which reduces the number of receivers and lease feess, allows recorded content on DVR receivers to be access and shared with other TVs, but may also cause confilcts in certain cases (i.e. when there are only two tuners and one program is being recorded and another program being watched live, no live programs could be watched on the 2nd TV).
  • Commercial Skip: DISH Network DVR receivers feature a 30 second commercial skip (instant), while only the newest DIRECTV DVR features a similar feature, 30 second SLIP: the skip is not instantaneous, rather one push of the button causes the program to fast forward 30 seconds ahead, so you see what what is being skipped/slipped.
  • Programming Packages: Both providers offer slightly different packages (i.e. the National Geographic Channel is included in DIRECTV’s Choice Xtra package, but not in DISH Network’s comparable Top 200 package). For detailed channel lineups, check with each provider: DISH Network Channel Lineup or DIRECTV Channel Lineup.
  • Extras: Movie channels offers are almost identical, but only DirecTV offers NFL Sunday Ticket.
  • HD Locals: Both providers offer local HD channels over satellite in select markets, and continue to grow those markets. Offerings differ between the providers, so check with each provider: DISH Network Local Channels or DIRECTV Local Channels In areas without HD locals over satellite, an antenna can be installed to receive over the air HD broadcasts.


It’s probably apparent by now that neither provider is clearly better than the other. Their services are very similar. When making a personal choice between the two, you must decide which features and channels are most desirable and which provider offers the best solution at the best price for you. Check out the deals to see which provider can save you the most. Compare the LATEST DEALS:

Disclaimer: DIRECTV, CHOICE, PLUS, PLUS HD, PREMIER, DIRECTV Plus are trademarks of DIRECTV, Inc. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

DISH Network Disclaimer: Programming Package credits: requires a 24-month Agreement and qualifying programming. Must maintain qualifying programming to receive all credits. Upfront credit: receive a credit for each of the first 12 months after service activation. Online Bonus Credit: after activating your DISH service you must register on within 45 days to redeem. Redemption requires you to agree to continuous enrollment in AutoPay with Paperless Billing and opt in to the DISH E-Newsletter. Online Bonus credit will apply for the first 12 months after offer redemption.