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A Consumer Guide to Satellite TV

We've created this Guide to help you figure out whether satellite TV makes sense for your home and, if it does, what provider has the combination of programming that best matches your viewing needs.

Since most people are interested in knowing what channels they can get and how much their bill will be each month, we have organized this section around answering these two questions. As you click through to each page, you'll be able to put together your optimal programming package and find the answers to frequently asked questions.

Monthly Bill Estimate


    DIRECTV DISH Network
Programming
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Sports
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Monthly Total: $0.00
     
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System + Install




When you are ready to get satellite TV

The process can be a bit confusing, so here is a quick summary of how to go from thinking about satellite TV to actually watching it:
  1. Use the tools on this site to decide between DISH Network and DIRECTV.
  2. Order your equipment. If you wish, you can choose one of the offers on this page for a free system with free installation, enabling you to get satellite TV at the best price without leaving your home.
  3. During the ordering process, you will pick your equipment, schedule installation, and select your programming.
  4. The installer will bring the equipment, set it up, and get your programming activated. If you want to update the programming selections you made when ordering, you can do it through the installer.
  5. Your programming is turned on, letting you get down to the important business of deciding what to watch.
Additional Resources
  • Frequently Asked Questions


Compare DIRECTV and the DISH Network

As the only two major satellite TV providers in the nation, DIRECTV and the DISH Network have a lot in common. However, their prices and features vary in a few important instances that could really affect your satellite TV service.

Satellite Company

DIRECTV DISH Network
Cheapest  Plan Entertainment plan
  • 140+ channels
  • $29.99/month
  • $54.99/month after first 12 months
Smart Pack
  • 55+ channels
  • $19.99/month
  • $24.99/month after first 12 months
Most expensive Plan Premier plan
  • 285+ channels
  • $89.99/month $119.99/month after first 12 months
America’s Top 250
  • 290+ channels
  • $39.99/month
  • $69.99/month after first 12 months
Premium Channels HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax free for first 3 months. HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax free for first 3 months.
Cost of  receiver Receivers cost between $69 and $399. Monthly $6 fee for additional receivers. Certain receivers included free under certain plans. Hopper HD DVR is included free in some plans, or available for a $99 upgrade from the basic plan. No prices listed for more basic DVRs. $10/month whole-home DVR fee. $7 for each additional DVR.
Cost of receiver service $10/month for first 2 years. $20/month thereafter $6/month. Additional $10/month for HD service.
Installation Free installation. Free installation.

DIRECTV vs the DISH Network

Prices versus Features

Overall, DIRECTV seems to be the more expensive between the two providers. However, DIRECTV always offers some extra features. It is up to you to decide if the extra features are worth the extra cost.

In the above chart, we compared the cheapest plans currently available with DIRECTV and the DISH Network. However, these two plans aren’t really comparable. The DISH Network Smart Pack plan is much cheaper than the DIRECTV Entertainment plan but DISH Network Smart Pack plan has far fewer channels.

The DISH Network America’s Top 120 plan which costs $24.99/month for 190+ channels is a more comparable plan to the DIRECT Entertainment Plan. After the first 12 months are up, the DISH Network America’s Top 120 costs $44.99/month. Like the DIRECTV Entertainment Plan, the DISH Network America’s Top 120 includes a free whole-house HD DVR.

Satellite Television Channels and Extra Features

However, DIRECTV has a couple of features that the DISH Network doesn’t have. With the Entertainment Plan, you can watch 4000 On Demand shows and movies at no extra cost. On the other hand, the DISH Network includes a 3 month subscription to the Blockbuster@Home program which allows you to stream movies for free.

You also don’t get some channels with the DISH Network that you do get with DIRECTV. DIRECTV channels include Bravo, Animal Planet, BET, and Nick Jr. To get these features with the DISH Network, you have to upgrade to a better DISH Network package like the America’s Top 200 or America’s Top 250 plans.

Both providers include 3 free months of premium channels HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax. Compare the DISH Hopper vs. the DIRECTV HMC Genie.

When you are ready to get satellite TV

The process can be a bit confusing, so here is a quick summary of how to go from thinking about satellite TV to actually watching it:

  1. Use the tools on this site to decide between DISH Network and DIRECTV.
  2. Order your equipment. If you wish, you can choose one of the offers on this page for a free system with free installation.
  3. During the ordering process, you will pick your equipment, schedule installation, and select your programming.
  4. The installer will bring the equipment, set it up, and get your programming activated. If you want to update the programming selections you made when ordering, you can do it through the installer.
  5. Turn on the TV and decide what to watch!