DirecTV vs Dish Network- Which Satellite TV Provider is Best?

The following review is based on the top satellite TV service providers in the US: DirecTV and Dish Network. The review focuses on 3 main areas such as pricing, channel offerings, and DVR packages, which we feel are the most important for consumers to consider before committing to a 2-year service agreement.

DirecTV vs Dish Network News and Review

Price Plans

Both Dish Network and DirecTV offer reduced cost price plans for new subscribers. DirecTV prices start at $29.99 per month for 12 months for customers who sign a 24 month contract. This “Entertainment” package is regularly priced at $54.99 per month, but an instant rebate for the 24 month contract subscribers lowers the price to the $29.99 price point. Included in this package are the 140-plus channels in the Entertainment tier, as well as three free months of HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax. The “Choice” package, priced at $34.99 per month, includes more than 150 digital channels and three free months of HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax. The “Choice Xtra” package, priced at $39.99, includes more than 205 digital channels and three free months of HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax. The “Choice Ultimate” package, priced at $44.99, includes more than 225 digital channels and three free months of HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax. Finally, the “Premier” package has the most available DirecTV channels at $89.99: 285 channels, with premium networks like HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax included for the duration of the 24 month contract. Currently, DirecTV is offering the full season of the “NFL Sunday Ticket,” which broadcasts the NFL games every week live, with all price plans excluding the Entertainment package.

The Dish Network price plan packages offer lower prices for customers who are happy with more basic tv packages. The “Smart Pack” is priced at $19.99 with a 24-month contract and includes 55-plus channels. The “America’s Top 120″ package has more than 190 channels and is priced at $24.99 with a 24-month contract. The “America’s Top 200″ package offers more than 224 channels and is $34.99 with a 24-month contract. The “America’s Top 250″ plan boasts more than 290 channels and is $39.99 with a 24-month contract. Currently, Dish Network offers three free months of Blockbuster at Home, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz for all 24-month package buyers.

Advantage for price: Dish Network offers lower prices for comparable packages. However, NFL fans may feel that the higher-priced DirecTV packages are worth the investment to get the NFL Sunday Ticket.

Channel Offerings

Dish Network LogoThe channel offerings for both DirecTV and Dish Network include a remarkably wide range of options, but each network does have its exclusive channels that can’t be found on the other. For example, ABC Family, BET, CMT, Cartoon Network, CNBC, Bravo, and CNN are all in the DirecTV Entertainment package (their entry level plan) — but they are not on the Dish Network entry level Smart Pack. Dish Network’s Smart Pack does have a few channels that you can’t get on DirecTV, however: The DIY channel, GEMS network, HSN2, Idea network, the Prayer channel and The Science Channel are all Dish Network channels. The entry level package Dish Network-exclusive channels number considerably fewer than the entry level DirecTV exclusive channels, and the DirecTV ones are better known channels. However, this truly depends upon what the individual feels are “must have” channels — and that varies for everyone.

Advantage for Channels: It’s a draw. DirecTV has their exclusive channels and Dish Network has theirs. The network that has your “must have” channels has to be your personal pick.

DVR Packages

Both Dish Network and DirecTV offer whole-home DVR systems that are included with a new system purchase. The Dish Network “Hopper” is a whole home DVR system that is housed in a central DVR box. Smaller receivers, dubbed “Joeys,” can be placed with each tv in the home. This allows for a possible four different tvs, on four different channels, at any given time. Two more can be recording in the background, for a total of six recordings at once possible. Users can move between rooms, watching and pausing programs as desired, without interfering with the programming on any other tv in the home. The Hopper system allows for recording, pausing, and rewinding channels anytime. The “Prime Time Anytime” feature records each show broadcast during prime time hours on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC for viewer convenience and later playback. The “AutoHop” feature is a allows for commercial-free viewing, which has attracted viewer praise but sponsor ire due to potential loss of advertising revenue and exposure. Limited Web surfing is possible via the Facebook, Pandora, MSNBC, NBC Sports, MLB and Twitter apps included. The remote will work on both the main Hopper unit and on Joeys. The Hopper can hold up to 500 hours of high definition programming or 1000 hours of SD programs.

The DirecTV “Genie” uses just one central receiver, however that receiver has “Remote View Technology” that can transmit different content to different televisions within the home so installation of additional small units is not required. Ultimately, this has much the same effect as the Hopper system does. The Genie can record up to five different programs in high definition at once. The “Genie Recommends” suggestion engine gives helpful ideas for other programs viewers might enjoy based on their viewing history. The “Start Over” feature allows for the pause of any live program, to re-start it at the beginning. The Genie can hold up to 200 hours of high definition programming or 800 hours of SD programs.

Whole-Home DVR: Who Wins: The DirecTV Genie may have a slight edge in this contest as it’s slightly newer technology and requires only one central unit to work. However, the Hopper has much greater storage capacity and more Web interaction. Bottom line: Evaluate exactly how much tv your family really watches and records before making your DVR choice.

Overall Winner

There isn’t one clear choice for everyone. Both satellite providers offer competitive DVR packages, mostly similar channel packages, and pricing plans. Non-sports fans may want to consider Dish Network if you want to save a few dollars every month. Or, if you prefer to have more tuners on your DVR to record multiple programs at the same time, DirecTV may hold a slight advantage for you with their new Genie DVR. Though the Dish Network Hopper DVR does have a nice feature with its auto-skip technology for skipping commercials.

Do you have a satellite TV package with DirecTV or Dish Network? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts on each provider. Do you feel that satellite TV offerings are better than cable tv service such as what is offered by Comcast?

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