DirecTV vs Dish Network, Which to Choose?

A common question that arises for consumers who are making the decision to sign-up for satellite television is the classic DirecTV vs Dish Network question? Which of these providers is the best deal? Which will provide the best quality of service, the most channels, the most features, and cost the least amount of money for the shopper?

As a consumer who may or may not be up on the latest and greatest technology, making this choice can be a fairly daunting challenge. Since both Dish Network and DirecTV have a number of new package deals available for shoppers to take advantage of this year, the following guide is provided as a framework to help consumers make smart decisions when attempting to decide which of these content providers is best for one’s individual situation.

What Type of Customer Contract is Required?
Before even looking at pricing , packages, or features, a prudent step to take with both Dish network and DirecTV is to verify why type of service contract is being required for services at the time of sign-up. Although Dish Network used to offer a month-month agreement, it is not clear on their website if this is still a valid option for consumers. Of the “special deal” packages available on the company’s website at the time of this writing, there is a requirement for a 24 month contract or payment of a monthly penalty for each month less than 24 months if one decides to cancel the service.

DirecTV is similar, in that they also require a 24 month commitment from the consumer for all of the “special deals” listed on their website. Cancelling a contract with DirecTV is similar to Dish Network in that you will likely have to pay a fee per-month that is short of the contract length; however, they have been known to give military members breaks on this requirement if moving overseas.

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Does DirecTV or Dish Network have the Cheapest Basic Programming Package?
Each of the satellite providers offers low-end programming packages to get individuals or families started using their service. Each year, both companies typically start running discount packages prior to March Madness kicking off in the United States. The basic difference between the low-end packages between the two providers has traditionally been you get more programming with DirecTV than Dish; however, you can pay less money for the basic Dish package.

DirecTV Select Package
At the time of this writing, DirecTV is offering their “Select” package for only $24.99 (normally $29.99) for 12 months if one agrees to a 24 month contract. The package normally retails for $49.99 and includes 130+ digital channels and if you order online, HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and ShoTime come for free for three months. Additionally, there is free installation, a free Genie DVR upgrade, and no extra charge for local programming channels. Current DirecTV Package lineups are here: DIRECTV Packages and Pricing - Call 855-802-3473

Dish Network Smart Pack
The Dish Network Smart Pack offer is currently on sale for $19.99 per month in the United States. With the basic pack, consumers are able to enjoy 55+ channels of content to include Nickelodeon, Fox News, and the Cooking Channel. The package is normally priced at $32.99 per month, comes with free installation, and shoppers get Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, STARS, and Blockbuster @Home for free for three months. Free HD does not come with the Smart Pack. This package does not qualify for the popular free Hopper DVR home upgrade that many of the other Dish Network packages offer.

Current Dish Network package lineups are here: Satellite TV Packages & Programming | DISH

Content Channel Lineup Comparison
Although there are a few specific channels available through each satellite provider, the channel lineups for each company are pretty equivalent. This aspect of the comparison between the companies comes from the fact of it being a business. If either Dish or DirecTV is able to offer a popular channel, the subscribers for the other service will typically demand it as well. The primary difference between each company lies in the level of package selected and which channels are made available to the consumer.

DirecTV Channel Lineups
DirecTV provides 200+ channels starting with the company’s Xtra package. The package is currently on sale at the time of this writing for $39.99 for the first 12 months of a new service contract when obligating to 24 months of service. The package’s retail price is set to $73.99 per month, includes a $100 prepaid Visa gift card, and includes premium movies channels for three months. The package includes free access on mobile devices, free installation, a free Genie DVR upgrade, no start-up costs, and no extra charge for local channels.

Dish Network Channel Lineups
The Dish Network marketing folks are smart. It used to be, to get 200 channels on Dish you would have to get the fourth largest package offered by the content provider. If a consumer wants to fall just shy of 200 channels, he or she can order the “America’s Top 120” package and get 190+ channels for $29.99. If you want to make the comparison between the two providers at the packages that give you more than 200 channels, then the “America’s Top 200” will give you 220+ channels for $39.99 per month. Each of these packages provide a free Hopper DVR upgrade, premium movies for three months, free HD for two years, free installation, and is normally priced at $69.99 per month.

Get a Free Hopper and iPad Mini with Dish Network
One of the current deals being offered by Dish Network when one orders the “America’s Top 120,” “America’s Top 200,” or “America’s Top 250” is that you have the choice of getting both a free Hopper DVR and a free iPad Mini to watch your Dish content by paying a higher monthly rate for your satellite TV service. The free Hopper upgrade includes the Whole-Home HD DVR upgrade, but the 120 package will cost you $54.99 per month, the 200 - $69.99 per month, and 250 - $79.99 per month.

DirecTV Free Visa Prepaid Card and NFL Sunday Ticket Offers
DirecTV’s counter to the free iPad Mini from Dish Network at the time of this writing is to offer consumers a free $100 Prepaid Visa gift card and a complimentary NFL Sunday Ticket when subscribing to the Choice ($34.99), Xtra ($39.99) , Ultimate($44.99), or Premiere($92.99) content packages.

What’s the Bottom Line in DirecTV vs Dish?
It really depends on what you are looking for in a home television service. Dish Network has probably come the furthest in the past five years in catching up to DirecTV in the HD content market; however, still lags a bit on their sports packaging, higher end offers, and simultaneous HD DVR capability. Each company is currently offering deep discounts as compared to their standard package pricing as we lead up to March Madness, so its recommended that the consumer thoroughly research the latest content packages offered by each company before signing up for a long-term contract with either company.

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