In my experience DirecTV is better, but I feel like this is a personal choice question that doesn’t have a “real” answer. I had DirecTV for a while and enjoyed the layout of the guide as well as the channels available. I had visited friends who had Dish and didn’t like the layout as well.
I looked at the channel packages both offer and it seems like DirecTV has more packages available, but Dish claims to have more channels and their prices are a bit lower. Dish’s top package has 290+ channels for $45 introductory and $75 monthly after while DirecTV’s top package as 285+ channels for $87 introductory and $92 monthly after.
Dish does have the Hopper, which is included in that price, while DirecTV does not have something similar to Hopper (at least in terms of being able to skip commercials). I used to like DirecTV because of the TiVo contract they had. The quality of DirecTV is still good, but the Hopper might make life easier.
From the Dish point of view, Dish has better receivers, i.e., faster changing channels, menu layout is whatever you have become accustomed to.
Dish has PAC12 football channel, DirecTV does not.
DirecTV has the NFL football package, Dish does not.
Some say the HD picture quality on DirecTv is a little better, others say they can't see a difference.
Dish is a little cheaper, usually, but as your number of receivers mounts up the receiver fees cab also mount up - but DirecTV charges receiver fees also.
Generally programming wise, Dish has more movie channels, DirecTv has more sports, and the sports available vary depending on where you live on both services.
Before I had my upgrade from 1 Dish ViP722K and 3 Dish ViP 211s to my 2 Hopper, 3 Joey system I compared what DirecTv had to offer and they could not beat Dish pricewise, especially for providing HDTV signal to 5 HDTVs.
You need to decide what equipment and programming you want and compare the two services and see who comes out on top.
If you decide to go Dish Network I can provide you with a code that will get you a $50 discount on the install - I do not work for Dish.
^ What he said. Both services are great, I've had them both. I've used both DirecTV Genie and Dish Network's Hopper DVRs and both do a great job for what they're designed to do, except their response time to remote control commands are a little slow. DirecTV does have more sports, which is why I went with it.
I have had both satellite services as well as Comcast cable. The satellite services far outclass Comcast as far as picture quality and ease of use. I started with DISH and was very happy with the service until we started having problems with our equipment. DISH's customer service was (IMHO) very poor in dealing with our equipment issues and we finally switched to DirecTV. I am very satisfied with DirecTV, both with programming and service.
In comparing the two, I feel like DirecTV has more programming for the buck and more HD channels. (Caveat: It has been 3 years since we had DISH). In our area (south-central PA), we experience less weather related outages with DirecTV than with DISH. We have DirecTV with the whole house DVR system.