DIRECTV vs Comcast Xfinity

DIRECTV vs Xfinity TV – both are widely available across the United States. Why? Well, DIRECTV is satellite TV, so you can get it just about anywhere. Comcast Xfinity, while cable, has a huge coverage area, too.  

So with that said, chances are high that you’ll see both of them as being available TV services in your area – and thus have to compare them.

For us, the comparison of which one is better comes down to a few things, namely: 

  • Monthly pricing; 
  • Channels;
  • Contracts and price hikes;
  • Extra fees, like DVR and installation costs;
  • DVR quality;
  • Customer service; and
  • Picture quality.

For you, one thing or another on that list might stand out as more important – or you may have other things in mind, like bundling options, specific channels (like NFL SUNDAY TICKET), orva specific package (I.e. Xfinity’s sports entertainment package). 

Regardless, we compared DIRECTV and Xfinity cable TV on all these counts – so dig in to find out which one is better where. 

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: Packages + Pricing

DIRECTV plans

Plans Number of channels Price (months 0-12) Price (months 13-24) View plans
DIRECTV SELECT 155+ $35/mo. $81/mo. View plans
DIRECTV ENTERTAINMENT 160+ $40/mo. $93/mo. View plans
DIRECTV CHOICE 185+ $45/mo. $110/mo. View plans
DIRECTV XTRA 235+ $55/mo. $124/mo. View plans
DIRECTV ULTIMATE 250+ $60/mo. $135/mo. View plans
DIRECTV PREMIER 330+ $110/mo. $181/mo. View plans

DIRECTV gives you 6 package options to choose from, starting at a cheap $35 a month for over 155 channels, including channels like AMC and Food Network. And since DIRECTV is satellite service, you’ll see the same packages and channel options (minus locals) everywhere you go - and the same price, to boot. 

Per channel, you’ll pay about $0.22 in the first year, which is pretty good. The one exception is DIRECTV PREMIER, but you get HBO and a host of other premiums included, so the leap in price makes sense — we’ll talk more about it later. 

And you sweeten the pot when you notice that CHOICE level and up includes NFL SUNDAY TICKET for free for the first season. 

Yet DIRECTV’s biggest downfall with price is their 2nd-year price jump: you only get the advertised prices for the first 12 months. In months 13-24 of your contract (more on this soon), you’ll see your monthly rates jack up by more than double

Xfinity plans

Plans Number of channels Price View plans
Digital Economy 100+ $39.95/mo.* View plans
Digital Starter 140+ $49.99/mo.* View plans
Digital Preferred 220+ $59.99/mo.* View plans
Digital Premium 260+ $104.99/mo.* View plans

*Price includes 1-year agreement. 

Xfinity, in contrast, gives you 4 packages to pick from. You wind up getting fewer channels, but pay more than DIRECTV’s first-year rates – to the tune of about $0.27-$0.40/channel, depending on the package. 

But the nice thing? If there’s a price jump in the 2nd year (common practice in the industry), it likely isn’t anywhere near DIRECTV’s - so suddenly Xfinity’s pricing looks a lot more attractive, doesn’t it? Plus you get more contract flexibility - more on that in the next section.

But Xfinity doesn’t include any premiums in their packages, and even at a lower channel count Xfinity still has filler content – like a million-and-one music channels. DIRECTV does, too, but at least they have more channels as a buffer.

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: Contracts + Fees

Xfinity gives you 2 options when it comes to cable TV agreements: a 1-year and no-term agreement. The difference? You pay about $10 bucks more per month with the no-term contract.  

But even then there’s another cool thing – if you choose the no-term agreement, your rate will still get locked in for the first 12 months – sweet. 

DIRECTV requires that you sign a 2-year contract, though – and as mentioned, the price leaps to the moon after the first year is up. 

In either provider’s case, going with a contract means early termination fees: 

  • DIRECTV - prorated at $20 per month remaining in your contract, up to $480 total
  • Xfinity - prorated at $10 per month remaining in your contract, unclear the top-end limit

Fees

Fee Xfinity DIRECTV
Installation (1-time) $89.99 pro install; $15 self-install Free up to 4 TVs
First DVR $9.95/month DIRECTV Genie (free)
Additional DVRs $5.99-$9.95/month/receiver $7/month/receiver
Regional Sports $8.25/month $8.49/month
Broadcast TV $10/month Free
HD tech $10/month Free

In addition to monthly rates and contracts, both providers have some “hidden” fees. We say hidden because they’re not advertised within the monthly price – you have to pay attention to notice them. 

These include installation fees, DVR fees, Regional Sports Fees (in some areas), HD receivers, and Broadcast TV fees. 

You can check out the table above for specific numbers, but suffice to say that DIRECTV comes out on top here, with many of the fees included – that could make up in part for higher 2nd-year prices. 

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: Bundles + Deals

Provider Sample Bundle Price View Bundles
Xfinity X1 Starter Double Play (150Mbps internet) $79.99/mo. View Bundles
DIRECTV DIRECTV Select + AT&T Internet 10-100 $75/mo. View Bundles

In terms of bundling options, Xfinity comes out shinier than DIRECTV. Pretty much across the board, whether it’s a double-play or triple-play (not pictured), DIRECTV will save you only about $10/month. 

Xfinity, however, starts out saving you anywhere from $25 all the way up to $60 bucks a month when you bundle services. They also offer more options: alongside double- and triple-plays, you can also throw home security on for a quad-play bundle.

Nice. 

Regarding the internet quality of both providers, Xfinity offers higher top-end speeds (up to 2Gbps) in some locations. 

DIRECTV’’s AT&T Internet broadband goes up to 100Mbps at a moderate price-point; but their fiber is great with speeds starting at 100Mbps and going up to 1000Mbps (1Gbps).

Plus, while you can potentially save more moola with Xfinity bundles, if you bundle in an AT&T smartphone service with your DIRECTV, any on demand viewing won’t count against your data for the month – pretty great if you like to stream on the go. 

So it’s something of a toss-up when it comes to money – if you’re looking at bottom-dollar price, want a no-contract option, or want to save money bundling, Xfinity may be the one to go with – just watch out for those extra fees which bump things up. 

But if the 2nd-year price jump doesn’t scare you, DIRECTV may give you better-quality channels and bonus add-ons, like free premiums for 3 months and NFL SUNDAY TICKET for free at CHOICE and above.

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: Channel Lineup

Provider Channel Count
Xfinity 100 -260+ channels
DIRECTV 155 - 330+ channels

Xfinity channels

Despite their lower overall channel count, Xfinity still has quite a bit to offer. They pretty much wipe out the other providers when it comes to availability of the major networks – NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, The CW, and even PBS.  

Plus you’ll see channels like Animal Planet, AMC, and even the Golf channel in their most base-package (Economy). 

But at those lower tiers, Xfinity lacks a lot of programming geared toward families – there just isn’t much in Economy or Starter. And oddly enough, despite including FXX, FX and Freeform aren’t in the Economy pack. The Preferred package is where you’ll find all the “basic cable channels” – until then, you’ll feel like something’s missing.

You can check out the full lineup here

Use Xfinity's availability checker to find out what networks are available in your area. 

DIRECTV channels

DIRECTV, in contrast to Xfinity, is a little lacking in local channels. But in most areas you’ll still get most of the major ones; the big difference is that PBS tends to a lot less available than with Xfinity. 

Take a gander at DIRECTV’s availability checker for locals in your area.

But lower-tier packages are better with DIRECTV. You get a pretty well-rounded selection of the basic cable channels even at the smallest (SELECT) level package: plenty of news, cartoons, and entertainment, including FX and Freeform. 

At the highest level (PREMIER), you get HBO, STARZ, CINEMAX, and SHOWTIME, making it a great deal – as you’ll see. In between, you get more sports or entertainment channels, depending on the package – check the full lineup here.

Premiums

Add-on Xfinity DIRECTV
HBO $15/mo. $17.99.mo.
SHOWTIME $12/mo. $13.99/mo.
CINEMAX $12/mo. $13.99/mo.
STARZ $12/mo. $13.99/mo.
EPIX $5.99/mo. N/A

DIRECTV, if you’re willing to pay for it, offers potentially the best deal for premium channels: they’re included at the PREMIER-level. 

Given that PREMIER costs $110 a month to the previous package’s $60, that’s a $50 price jump – but it includes HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and CINEMAX – plus others. 

You can still get each channel separate - for costlier than Xfinity’s prices - but your best deals come with either PREMIER (for $50 extra, but including other entertainment + sports channels), or by buying the entire Premiums package for $53.99/month.

If you just want 1 or 2 of the premium channels, though, Xfinity’s cheaper prices make it a better deal. 

Sports

Sports is where DIRECTV shines. Of course there’s NFL SUNDAY TICKET – free from CHOICE and up – but they also have the most 4K sports content – like ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD, FOX Sports 1 HD, and NBC Sports Network HD, which are all included in ENTERTAINMENT (2nd-tier). 

The downside is if your a sports fan you’ll need to invest in the 2nd-tier package to get some of the basic channels (like ESPN); and if you really want a well-rounded sports package you’ll need to bump up to CHOICE, which adds on:

  • ESPNU HD
  • MLB Network HD
  • NFL Network HD
  • SEC Network HD
  • Tennis Channel HD

Xfinity lacks NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but otherwise includes a solid selection – again, just to get ESPN, you’ll have to buy the 2nd-tier package or higher. 

Both also offer a variety of sports packages.

DIRECTV:

  • 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

Xfinity: 

  • SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT
  • NFL NEtwork
  • NFL Redzone
  • NBA TV
  • College Sports
  • MLB Network
  • Golf Channel
  • NHL Network
  • NASCAR
  • MLS Direct Kick
  • Pay-Per-View Boxing
  • Pay-Per-View WWE

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: DVR + Equipment

Features Xfinity X1 DIRECTV Genie
Storage 500Gb 1TB
HD hours 100 HD 200
4K No Yes
Number of simultaneous recordings 4 5
Number of TVs 5 8
Extra fees $10/mo. Included/Free

While both providers’ DVRs have decent user interfaces, okay storage, and similar simultaneous recording abilities, DIRECTV’s Genie gets the nod from us over the Xfinity X1. 

Why? A few reasons: 

  1. The Genie has double the storage (1TB);
  2. The Genie has double the HD recording capacity;
  3. You can hook up 8 TVs to the X1’s 5;
  4. The Genie is cheaper. 

It all adds up to make a better offering: you can record and store twice as much content with the Genie, including HD shows and movies, and it’s included for free. How can you not go with it? 

Equipment + Installation

When it comes to equipment and installation it’s something of a toss-up: Xfinity costs $15-$90 bucks or so to be installed (or self-install). 

DIRECTV doesn’t give you an option to self-install – but they’ll do it for free for up to 4 TVs.

With Xfinity, you’ll also have to pay for each receiver, which costs $5.99-$9.99 a month per TV; DIRECTV’s additional TV receiver costs just $7 a month. 

And for HD service? Xfinity will tack on another $9.95 a month.

DIRECTV vs Xfinity: Customer Service

Since online reviews tend to be negative, we’re going to focus on hard numbers when it comes to customer satisfaction. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, DIRECTV is far and away the better of the 2 providers. 

DIRECTV scored 66/100  in 2019, placing it cleanly above average for the industry; Xfinity, meanwhile, scored just 57/100, placing them clearly below. 

The J.D. Power awards also gave DIRECTV the win, with 5 Power Circles in every category but one (which had 4 circles). Xfinity was in 5th place, with 2-3 Power Circles in most categories.

Recap

So who’s better, DIRECTV or Xfinity?

DIRECTV gives you more channels (and packages to choose from), more HD options, a better DVR, and fewer extra fees tacked on. Plus, you can take advantage of some great promos, like 3 months of free premium channels and a free season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET. 

Just budget for the 2nd-year price jump and watch out for ETFs with that required 2-year contract. 

But Xfinity doesn’t have a bad offering either, especially if you’re looking for a cheaper-overall provider or to bundle with internet. 

You’ll just need to keep a weather eye on the extra HD, equipment, and broadcasting fees.

So for those qualities we listed at the beginning, here’s how it breaks down: 

  • Price and price hikes: In terms of per-channel counts, DIRECTV still wins despite their price jump.
  • Channels: DIRECTV gives you more channels, plus premiums thrown in for trial, and NFL SUNDAY TICKET for free. 
  • Contracts: A no-contract option gives Xfinity the win here.
  • Extra fees: DIRECTV has fewer extra fees, with more things included in the price (helping to make up for the price jump later!).
  • DVR quality: DIRECTV wins again - the Genie has more storage and functionality, for free.
  • Customer service: By the numbers, DIRECTV wins easily. 
  • Picture quality: DIRECTV has more HD and 4K options. 

Q&A

Does DIRECTV have on demand like Comcast?

Yes. Many networks are available for on demand viewing. You can also use the DIRECTV app to stream content on the go – whether on demand, recorded, or live TV. 

Does Xfinity have NFL SUNDAY TICKET?

No. But they do have sports and channel packages that cover just about everything else. 

Is DIRECTV different from cable?

Yes. DIRECTV is a satellite TV provider, which means a dish mounted on your home sends and receives signals from a satellite in space to provide service. 

Xfinity is a cable TV provider. That means they rely on a network of underground cables to relay TV signals to your home. 

What’s the difference between Comcast and Xfinity?

There is no difference. The names can be used interchangeably, because Xfinity is the brand name for Comcast’s TV, internet, and home phone services. 

Luke Pensworth Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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