Cord cutting has been in the spotlight for a while now — that is, cancelling your pay-for-TV cable service in favor of streaming. But for some cord cutters, rather than go to video streaming providers, like Sling, Netflix, Hulu, and the like, the term means a different thing: switching from cable to a satellite TV subscription — like DIRECTV.
Instead of relying on wires to deliver your TV, satellites orbiting the earth send signals to a receiving dish on your roof. DIRECTV technicians provide and mount the satellite dish on your home, then setup in-house wiring to and from it. This allows you to receive signals from the satellite and watch TV.
So if you’re looking to do some cord-cutting yourself, or you’re tired of always having to choose a show to watch with your streaming service (rather than being able to stumble across Armageddon at 2am while flipping channels), than DIRECTV might be the service you’re looking for.
We dug through everything we could find, from their packages and pricing, to bundling options, channel lineup, features, and more to help you figure that out.
Packages + pricing
DIRECTV packages + pricing
|Plans||Number of channels||Price*||View plans|
|DIRECTV SELECT||155+||$35/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT||160+||$40/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV CHOICE||185+||$45/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV CHOICE||185+||$45/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV XTRA||235+||$55/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV ULTIMATE||250+||$60/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV PREMIER||330+||$110/mo.||View plans|
*Price are based off the 1st year of a 2-year contract. Increases in months 13-24.
When you start out with DIRECTV, you get some pretty good prices. You start out paying about $0.25 per channel, then at the PREMIER level you’ll pay about $0.30 per channel. For a comparable number of channels to the CHOICE package you’ll $59.99/month with DISH Network. Not bad.
The issue with DIRECTV’s prices comes after you pass the 12-month mark in your contract (yes, contract — we’ll talk about it later). After the 1-year mark, the rates of all your packages skyrocket.
Each package more than doubles in months 13-24 — making DIRECTV much less competitive than DISH. That’s pretty painful.
DIRECTV rate hikes
|Plans||Months 0-12||Months 13-24||View plans|
|DIRECTV SELECT||$35/mo.||$81/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT||$40/mo.||$93/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV CHOICE||$45/mo.||$110/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV XTRA||$55/mo.||$124/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV ULTIMATE||$60/mo.||$135/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV PREMIER||$110/mo.||$181/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV SELECT + AT&T Internet||155+||AT&T Internet 10-100Mbps||$75/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV CHOICE + AT&T Internet||185+||AT&T internet 10-100Mbps||$85/mo.||View plans|
|DIRECTV SELECT + Internet + Phone||155+||AT&T internet 10-100Mbps, Phone unlimited||$94.99/mo.||View plans|
A nice thing about DIRECTV is that you can bundle your package with an AT&T or CenturyLink internet service package. While the price for your DIRECTV package doesn’t change, you get a discount on your internet service ($10 with AT&T; $5 with CenturyLink).
While we showed a few popular bundles in the table above, you can also build your own, mixing and matching DIRECTV with internet, wireless, and home phone options.
We mentioned it early, and here we are: the 2-year contract. DIRECTV requires one. After the first 12 months, your monthly rate increases. And if you want to cancel before the full 24 months are up, you’ll face an early termination fee.
That includes a $15 deactivation fee, and a prorated fee of $20 for every month remaining on your contract.
DIRECTV channel lineup
|SELECT||A&E HD, AMC HD, Animal Planet HD, AUDIENCE HD, AXS TV HD, BabyFirst TV, BBC America HD, BET HD, Bloomberg TV HD, Bravo HD, BYUtv, Cartoon Network East HD, Cartoon Network West, Christian Television Network, Church Channel, CMT HD, CNBC HD, CNN HD, Comedy Central HD, Contemporary Christian, CSAN, CSPAN 2, Daystar, DIS XD, Discovery HD, Disney Channel East HD, Disney Channel West, Disney Junior HD, E! HD, Enlace, EVINE, EWTN, FETV, Food Network HD, Fox Business Network HD, Fox News Channel HD, Free Speech TV, Freeform, FX HD, FXX HD, Galavision HD, GEB America, GEMS, GOD TV, Hallmark Channel HD, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries HD, HGTV HD, History HD, HITN, HLN HD, Hope Channel, HSN, INC TV, INSP, Investigation Discovery HD, ION Television East HD, ION Television West, Jewelry Television, Jewish Life Television, Lifetime HD, Link TV, MAVTV, MHZW, MSNBC HD, MTV HD, MTV2 HD, NASA TV, National Geographic Channel HD< NEWSMX, Nickelodeon HD East, Nickelodeon West, NRB, OAN HD, Ovation HD, Paramount Network HD, Pursuit, QVC HD, QVC Plus, ReelzeChannel HD, RFD TV, SBN, SYFY HD, TBS HD, TCM HD, TCT Network, TeenNick, The Word Network, TLC HD, TNT HD, Trinity Broadcasting Network, truTV HD, TV Land HD, Univision Este HD, Uplift, USA HD, Velocity HD, VH1 HD, VICELAND HD, WE tv HD, World Harvest Television||View plans|
|ENTERTAINMENT||All of SELECT’s channels, plus: CANAL ONCE, ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, FOX Sports 1 HD, NBC Sports Network HD, Vme||View plans|
|CHOICE||All of SELECT and ENTERTAINMENT’s channels, plus: AWE HD, BTN HD, CCTV News, CNBC World, COMTVH, Cooking Channel HD, ESPNEWS HD, ESPNU HD, Fuse, Fusion HD, GSN, IFC HD, JC HD, MLB Network HD, NFL Network HD, Nick Jr. HD, Nicktoons, OWN HD, POP, Science HD, SEC Network HD, Sundance TV HD, Tennis Channel HD, The Weather Channel HD, Travel Channel HD, TV One, UniMas, UP, WGN America HD||View plans|
|XTRA||All of SELECT, ENTERTAINMENT, and CHOICE’s channels, plus: American Heroes Channel, ASPiRE HD, BBC World news HD, BET Her, CBS Sports Network HD, Destination America HD, Discovery Family Channel, Discovery Life, DIY Networkj HD, FM, Fox Sports 2 HD, FYI Hd, Golf Channel HD, Great American Country, LMN HD, Logo, MTV Classic, Nat Geo WILD HD, NBA TV HD, NBC Universo, NHL Network HD, OLYCHD, Oxygen, Revolt HD, Sportsman Channel, Universal Kids HD||View plans|
|ULTIMATE||All of SELECT, ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE, and XTRA’s channels, plus: Boomerang, CWBY, El Rey HD, ENCORE (Suspense, Action HD, Black, Classic, East HD, Family, West, Westerns), Nature Sounds, Sounds of the Seasons, Taste of Italy, THE MOVIE CHANNEL EAST HD, THE MOVIE CHANNEL WEST, Univision Deportes Network||View plans|
|PREMIER||All of SELECT, ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE, XTRA, and ULTIMATE’s channels, plus: Eleven Sports Network, ESPN Buzzer Beater HD, ESPN Classic, Flix, Brazilian Pop, Classical Masterpieces, Italian Favorites, Outdoor Channel, THE MOVIE CHANNEL XTRA EAST HD||View plans|
DIRECTV really shines when it comes to channel selection -- they deliver when it comes to choices.
One place DIRECTV really shines is their channel selection — they deliver when it comes to choices. The top plan gives you more than 330 channels to choose from, including a wide range of sports, premium, and local networks. The only TV service provider to beat them out on that front is Frontier.
And even within DIRECTV’s smallest package you’ll still find most of your favorite channels.
If you love premium channels, like HBO and STARZ, you can grab the PREMIER package and get those and 2 more by default:
- 10 HBO channels
- 7 STARZ channels
- 8 CINEMAX channels
- 8 SHOWTIME CHANNELS
But if you don’t want to go all the way with PREMIER, you’ll get access to the premium channels for the first 3 months. After that, if you still want them you can pay $53.99/mo. to add them on.
If you’re a major sports fan, you’ll be best suited going with DIRECTV. DIRECTV offers the most complete sports packages of TV providers, hands-down. That means NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which you currently get included free starting with the CHOICE package and higher. After that (months 13-24), it’s $78 per month.
Aside from NFL SUNDAY TICKET, you also get a variety of channels included for free or as add-ons:
- FOX SOCCER PLUS
- NBA LEAGUE PASS
- MLB EXTRA INNINGS: Mix Channel, MLB Network, MLB Network Strike Zone
- NHL CENTER ICE
- DIRECTV SPORTS PACK: Universal Sports Network, ESPN Classic, beIN SPORT, Univision, Deportes, MLB Network
- NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX: NFL SUNDAY TICKET, RED ZONE CHANNEL, DIRECTV FANTASY ZONE CHANNEL, Short Cuts
You can check those out further here, starting at $35 per month.
DIRECTV is the only TV provider that has NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
DIRECTV local channels
|Network||Number of channels|
DIRECTV offers many local channels. But, although DIRECTV has affiliate channels with these networks, availability varies. You may get access to some PBS programming on one of your local channels, but because PBS doesn’t own that channel, you may not get all programming.
You can use this tool to check out local channel availability.
Equipment and features
DIRECTV Genie DVR
The great thing about DIRECTV’S Genie DVR is that it’s free — no extra cost for the initial receiver. As you start picking up minis, though (to be able to watch the same or different shows in multiple rooms), you’ll start paying up front and monthly fees: $7/month for each additional receiver and $49 upfront for the 5th and 6th receivers.
That said, you get 200 hours of HD storage, or 800 of SD. The Genie is pretty good, but not as good as DISH Network’s Hopper 3 — that’s a best-in-class DVR that lets you record up to 16 shows simultaneously. The Genie only lets you do 5.
The Restart feature allows you to you — you guessed it — restart any live show you want if you tune into it late. There’s no additional charge for this, but it is limited to only certain channels.
The 72-hr Rewind feature gives you the chance to rewatch any program that aired within the last 3 days (72 hours) on more than 60 networks. You just need the HD or Genie DVR.
HD + 4K channels
More than 200 of DIRECTV’s channels are offered in HD — the specific number varies by package. There are also many 4K movies and shows available on demand, giving 4K TV owners the best picture quality that’s currently available.
If you own an iPhone, you can turn it into a DIRECTV remote. Grab some Genie Minis and presto — you can watch as many as 4 different shows in 4 different rooms at once, too.
The DIRECTV app is one of the best available for streaming content on the move, earning 4.7 out of 5 stars on iTunes. You can watch live TV, DVR-recorded shows, and on demand titles. You can also schedule a recording using the app.
DIRECTV in competition
DIRECTV vs DISH Network
The battle between DIRECTV and DISH comes down to price. DIRECTV starts out better, but jacks the price up after the first year; DISH starts out higher, but remains there, with a 2-year price guarantee. They have comparable features, with DIRECTV coming out on top with sports programming in particular due to carrying NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
But, DISH has the Hopper 3, which is just best of the best.
DIRECTV vs. Xfinity
Xfinity is a little less expensive on the lower end of packages ($24.99 for Xfinity vs. $35 for DIRECTV), and Xfinity offers both 1 and 2 year contracts, as well as month-to-month plans. You do have to pay for installation, though, whereas with DIRECTV you don’t. Plus, Xfinity is a cable provider, and it doesn’t offer 4K programming.
DIRECTV vs. Fios
Fios was ranked #1 by the ACSI in customer satisfaction, and Fios gives you excellent, crisp picture quality and reliable service. They also offer a custom TV plan that gives you more control over your channel selection, rather than one-size-fits-all packages. The biggest problem with Fios, though? They’re only available in 13 states in the northeast.
But, even though they’re a cable provider, Fios is still worth considering over DIRECTV if they’re available in your region.
DIRECTV was rated #3 in customer satisfaction by the ACSI in 2018, coming in just behind Fios and U-verse. But that said, because Fios and U-verse rely on fiber to provide service, DIRECTV ranks higher than all cable TV providers.
Plus, DIRECTV took the highest J.D. Power ranking for customer satisfaction in 2018.
Recap -- is DIRECTV any good?
Offering a wide range of plans (6 total), DIRECTV’s initial pricing is great — then becomes less-than-desirable. But they’re also the only provider to offer NFL SUNDAY TICKET, along with providing 4 premium channels for free for the first 3 months — including HBO, which DISH can’t say the same for.
While some tech may not top-of-the-line (looking at you, Genie), it’s still very good for most people and DIRECTV offers a lot of other good features, like Restart, Rewind, a great app, and being able to turn your iPhone into a remote.
Despite DIRECTV’s mid-contract price hike, they remain a solid, competitive satellite service provider.