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A Consumer Guide to Satellite TV

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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.

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 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!

Compare DIRECTV and DISH

As the only two major satellite TV providers in the nation, DIRECTV and the DISH 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
Cheapest  Plan Select plan
  • 130+ channels
  • $24.99/month
  • $29.99/month after first 12 months
Smart Pack
  • 55+ channels
  • $19.99/month*
  • $32.99/month after first 12 months
Most expensive Plan Premier plan
  • 285+ channels
  • $92.99/month $97.99/month after first 12 months
America’s "Everything" Pak
  • 330+ channels
  • $89.99/month*
  • $124.99/month after first 12 months
Premium Channels HBO and Showtime free for first 3 months. HBO, Showtime, Starz, and CINEMAX included with package.
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 all but one of the plans, or available for a $99 upgrade from the basic plan. $10/month whole-home DVR fee.*
Cost of receiver service $10/month for first 2 years. $20/month thereafter $6/month. Additional $10/month for HD service. Basic DVR is available for Smart Pack with $7 monthly DVR Service fee.*
Installation Free installation. Free installation on up to 6 TVs.
To order Call 855-864-0469 Call 888-468-1999

DIRECTV vs DISH

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 DISH. However, these two plans aren’t really comparable. The DISH Smart Pack plan is much cheaper than the DIRECTV Entertainment plan but the DISH Smart Pack plan has far fewer channels.

The DISH America’s Top 120 plan which costs $29.99/month* for 190+ channels is a more comparable plan to the DIRECTV Entertainment Plan. After the first 12 months are up, the DISH America’s Top 120 costs $54.99/month. Like the DIRECTV Entertainment Plan, the DISH 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 DISH doesn’t have. With the Entertainment Plan, you can watch 4000 On Demand shows and movies at no extra cost. On the other hand, DISH 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 DISH that you do get with DIRECTV. DIRECTV channels include Bravo, Animal Planet, BET, and Nick Jr. To get these features with DISH, you have to upgrade to a better DISH package like the America’s Top 200 or America’s Top 250 plans.

DISH also includes 3 free months of premium channels HBO, Starz, Showtime, and CINEMAX, while DIRECTV offers only 3 free months of HBO and Showtime for the Select and Entertainment packages.  Compare the DISH Hopper vs. the DIRECTV HMC Genie.

 

 

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