DISH vs. DIRECTV: Satellite TV Review 2023

With transparent pricing, DISH is best for almost everyone. But if you love college sports, DIRECTV scores big with ESPN College Extra.

Best Price
4 out of 5 stars
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Price Range
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Best for Sports Fans
3.5 out of 5 stars
Starts at
Price Range
Channel Count Range
Chantel Buchi
Sr. Staff Writer, TV & Streaming
April 05, 2023
7 min read

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When it comes to satellite TV providers, DISH and DIRECTV rule the roost. While other satellite TV providers are available on the market, these two providers stand tall against the rest. Let’s take a closer look at which satellite TV provider is best for your entertainment, sports, and movie needs.

If you're a college sports fan, DIRECTV is a top choice, thanks to ESPN College Extra. But, DISH has the best DVR option with the Hopper, along with the best prices. Before you install a satellite dish on your home, keep reading this review to learn which option might be best for you. 

How do DISH and DIRECTV compare?

Max DVR hours500 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay.
All prices include $5 Autopay & Paperless Bill discount, which may take 1-3 bill cycles to begin (pay $5 more per month until discount begins). New approved residential customers only. 24-mo. agreement required. Offers may be discontinued at any time.

How much are DISH and DIRECTV packages?

DISH blasts past DIRECTV, thanks to transparent pricing and no contract options

At first glance, DIRECTV and DISH might appear to be neck and neck with pricing. But things quickly change when you compare DISH's three-year price lock compared to DIRECTV's two-year contract. 

With that in mind, pricing is one of DISH’s biggest advantages. DISH is now offering "inflation-free TV" with their new 3-year TV price lock as well as free installation. Making DISH TV not only cheaper in the long term, but you also get a little more for your money.

DIRECTV used to have huge price hikes after its two-year contract pricing ended. Now, after your contract is up, your price will revert to DIRECTV's current package rates on a month-to-month contract. Needless to say, we like that way more than package prices doubling after 24 months.

How much does DISH cost?
TV channel count
America's Top 120$79.99/mo.190
America's Top 200$99.99/mo.240+
America's Top 250$109.99/mo.290+
All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay. Prices include Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

DISH scores major points for having the clearest pricing, but do its packages add up?

We think so. We’ll dive into DISH channel selection in a bit, but we think it’s pretty great that each DIRECTV and DISH package comes with ESPN, the Disney Channel, HGTV, and Food Network. Seriously, that hits all of our binge-watching needs—and your family’s too.

How much does DIRECTV cost?
TV channel count
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included$64.99/mo.^165+
CHOICE™ All-Included$84.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°200+
ULTIMATE All-Included$109.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°270+
PREMIER™ All-Included$154.99/mo. for 24 months plus taxes and fees°340+
^ w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.
° w/ 24-mo. agmt. AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. and Regional Sports Fee up to $13.99/mo. are extra & apply.

If you want more information on what the difference is between each DIRECTV package, check out our DIRECTV review. But in a nutshell, ENTERTAINMENT gives you your basic favorite channels, CHOICE gets you a lots of sports channels, ULTIMATE is perfect for movie watchers, and PREMIER is best for TV and film buffs, providing over 45 premium channels. And International sports fans are in luck with access to Fox Deportes and Fox Soccer Channel.

DIRECTV used to be a football lover’s dream offering a free season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Going forward for the 2023 NFL season, the new home for NFL SUNDAY TICKET will be YouTube TV.

If you're a college sports fan, DIRECTV is one of the only service providers outside of Verizon Fios TV to offer ESPN College Extra which gives you access to hundreds of exclusive live college sports games.  

Already have DIRECTV and looking to switch?

If you're interested in swapping out your DIRECTV service with DISH, these perks could be yours:

  •  $300 prepaid Mastercard
  • 3-year TV price guarantee
  • Eligibility to receive rewards for each eligible DISH subscriber
  • Eligibility to participate in a DISH contest for big prizes

Use offer code DTV2DISH to get the deal here.

Do DISH and DIRECTV have a contract?

DIRECTV requires you to sign a two-year contract, whereas DISH gives you a no-contract or two-year contract option (the two-year contract options saves you $10–$15 per month.)

With DIRECTV, your bill used to go up by almost double after 24 months. Now that your prices will match DIRECTV's prevailing rates when your contract is up, choosing between providers comes down to the nitty gritty details. So if you don’t mind dropping some exceptional sports coverage for a more straightforward monthly bill, we highly recommend DISH.

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How much are the equipment, installation, and early termination fees?

Sadly, almost every service you sign up for comes with additional fees. DISH and DIRECTV are no exception, so make sure you budget for these costs.

How much do DISH's and DIRECTV's fees cost?
Activation feeUp to $50$19.95 (one-time)
First DVR receiver fee$5.00–$10.00/mo.Included
Additional DVR receivers fee$5.00–$10.00/mo. each$7.00/mo.
Regional sports fee$0-$3/mo.$11.99/mo.
Local channels fee (optional)$12.00/mo.NA
Data as of 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Data effective 4/04/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

We’ll start by explaining DISH’s receiver fees because they can get a little confusing.

When you order one set-top box for your home, you’ll get the Hopper Duo (125 HD hours) with DVR service included without any up front cost. You can upgrade to the Hopper 3 or a Joey for an extra $5 a month.

It pays to have a big family because when you get the Hopper 3, you’ll get to enjoy 500 or HD storage hours. 

The additional receivers you order for your child’s bedroom and TV room downstairs are called Joeys. Joeys are $5 per month each (except for the $10-a-month Super Joey.) And you can connect up to six Joeys to your Hopper.

DIRECTV so kindly includes the Genie DVR (200 HD storage hours) with your plan, and it’ll cost $7 per month for each additional receiver.

Can you avoid early termination fees?

Maybe. We’ve put together a quick guide on how to avoid all those pesky fees when you’re ready to swap TV providers.

Which channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

DISH features channels for every interest under the sun, but DIRECTV trumps all when it comes to premium channels

It can be hard to tell DISH and DIRECTV apart because they both have a well-rounded channel selection.

DIRECTV is one of the only providers that offers ESPN College Extra. But DISH has more total sports channels and better college sports coverage with ACCN, Big Ten, SEC, PAC-12, Longhorn, and ESPNU. 

And both are going to have your local, lifestyle, and kids channels. So check out DISH’s channel lineup and DIRECTV’s channel lineup to see if one has a more complete channel lineup than the other for you.

Which popular channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?
BravoAll packagesAll packages
The CWAll packagesNot available
Disney ChannelAll packagesAll packages
ESPNAll packagesAll packages
Food NetworkAll packagesAll packages
Fox NewsAll packagesAll packages
HGTVAll packagesAll packages
Lifetime ChannelAll packagesCHOICE, ULTIMATE, PREMIER
MSNBCAll packagesAll packages
TBSAll packagesAll packages
UnivisionAmerica’s Top 200 and upAll packages
USA NetworkAll packagesAll packages

Data effective 4/04/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Which premium channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

Both satellite TV services are comparable when it comes to premium channels, but we think DIRECTV's freebies rank a bit higher.

When you order one of  DIRECTV's packages, you'll get free subscriptions to Max, SHOWTIME, STARZ, MGM+, and Cinemax for three months.

DISH also offers a free 3-month subscription to SHOWTIME and DISH Movie Pack (11 movie channels, including Sony Movie Channel and MGM HD).

How much are DISH's and DIRECTV's premium channels?
ChannelDISH priceDIRECTV price
STARZ ENCORE$6.00/mo.Included with STARZ subscription

Data effective 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

You can also grab add-on packages with extra movie channels from both DISH and DIRECTV. This might save you some cash if you can’t get enough of all those premium channels and movies.

  • DISH Movie Pack: $10/mo. (includes 11 movie channels such as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Movieplex).
  • DIRECTV Movies Extra Pack: $4.99/mo. (includes nine move channels such as Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and Sony Movie Channel.)

Whichever satellite TV provider you choose, you'll most likely be able to get your favorite premium channel.

Which sports channels do DISH and DIRECTV have?

If you’re anticipating the next season more than an 8-year-old anticipates their birthday, it’s worth making sure you can view your games on DISH or DIRECTV.

Both satellite TV providers offer a pretty beefy sports channel lineup if you’re willing to pay for higher-tier packages—DISH even offers the NFL RedZone Channel if that’s your jam. But like we’ve mentioned before, DIRECTV is one of the only place you’ll find ESPN College Extra.

Here’s a quick look at how DISH and DIRECTV compare when it comes to sports.

DISH has the following sports channels:

  • ACC Network (ACCN)
  • beIN Sports
  • beIN Sports en Español
  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPNews
  • FOX Sports (FS1), FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • Longhorn Network
  • MLB Network
  • MotorTrend
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • PAC-12 Network
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TUDN
  • TUDNxtra 1–11
  • Zona Fútbol

If you’re looking for the best satellite TV service during the NBA and MLB seasons, DISH is definitely our choice. DISH made our top providers list for the NBA season and the best way to get both NBA LEAGUE PASS and MLB Extra Innings.

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN College Extra
  • ESPNews
  • FOX Sports (FS1), FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • SEC Network
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TUDN
  • TVG

Does DISH or DIRECTV have the best DVR and equipment?

If we could choose only one DVR, it’d be the DISH Hopper 3

Image: DISH

When it comes to DVRs, we look at HD storage space, the number of simultaneous recordings it can handle, and the price. Unfortunately for DIRECTV, DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR stomps the Genie DVR in the first two categories.

DIRECTV offers the main set-top box in the cost of service—which is nice—while DISH charges $5–$10 per month. A lot of providers charge a fee for the primary receiver, even though it’s basically necessary to use the service.

And we should also mention DISH comes with a voice remote, and DIRECTV allows you to download an app to use as a voice remote. Watch what you want within seconds with just a few words!

The DISH Hopper 3 DVR and DIRECTV Genie DVR comparison
FeaturesDISH Hopper 3DIRECTV Genie
Storage capacity2 TB1 TB
HD hours500 HD hrs.200 HD hrs.
4K supportYesYes
Simultaneous recordings165
# of TVs supported74
IntegrationsAmazon AlexaAmazon Alexa
Main receiver price$5.00–$10.00/mo.Included
Additional receivers$5.00–$10.00/mo./receiver$7.00/mo./receiver

Data effective 04/05/2023. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Those are some crazy-good specs. There are some notable differences in hardware, though.

With 500 HD recording hours, the Hopper 3 can store more than twice the amount of HD content as the Genie—that’s nearly three straight weeks of continuous watching. As for the simultaneous recordings, the Hopper 3 can handle a whopping 16 at once, whereas the Genie is limited to just five.

You may think you’ll never need to record 16 shows at one time, and you might be right.

That’s the point, though—with the Hopper 3, you basically never have to worry about recording conflicts, whereas with the Genie, there’s a very real possibility that you may run into them. Recording conflicts are something you only think about when they crop up, and they can be very frustrating.

(Who wants to decide between the big game and the latest episode of Blue Bloods?)

The Hopper 3 also skips commercials automatically, which is the icing on top for us. That said, the Genie is still an outstanding DVR, so if you choose DIRECTV, you won’t be too far behind.

Recap: Which is better, DISH or DIRECTV?

We think DISH is the best satellite TV for most, especially if you’re on a budget and want to avoid mid-contract price hikes. But when it comes to premium channel freebies, DIRECTV is hard to beat. 

  • Pricing: DISH, hands down, has the best pricing. While DIRECTV’s and DISH’s pricing looks similar, DIRECTV’s monthly cost goes up to its current price after the second year of your contract, and DISH promises a 3-year price lock. That means you’ll save money overall if you choose DISH.
  • Channels: We think DISH has an excellent assortment of channels, and it offers a few more sports channels. But DIRECTV is the only way you can get ESPN College Extra. We college sports fans need that.
  • DVR: DISH’s Hopper 3 is the most powerful DVR on the market—and as a result, DISH takes this category by a landslide. DIRECTV’s Genie is still great, though, it has quite a bit less storage space than the Hopper 3.

Want to dig into the details? Check out our in-depth DISH and DIRECTV reviews.


DISH service is available nearly everywhere in the United States. In fact, if you can’t get DISH, we’re surprised.

This is because the satellite TV signal is routed from space. All you need is a receiver rather than complex cable infrastructure that other providers need.

DIRECTV should be available basically anywhere in the United States thanks to its satellite technology.

Generally, yes, satellite TV signals are reliable.

There’s a popular notion that satellite TV is unreliable, but while weather-related interference is technically possible, you’ll only see issues during particularly heavy rain, snow, or hail.

Both DISH and DIRECTV advertise “99% signal reliability,” and that’s about what you can expect. That said, if you happen to live in an area that gets a lot of rain or thunderstorms, you might be better off with a cable TV provider rather than satellite TV.

Weather interference with satellite services is technically possible, but you’ll only have issues in extremely heavy precipitation. For the most part, your satellite signal will come in loud and clear.

Chantel Buchi
Written by
Chantel Buchi
Chantel is all about finding the best tv or streaming service to watch as many football games as possible to keep her Fantasy Football team in check. Prior to being a TV and Streaming Tech Reporter for, she worked for NFL Network and The Alliance of American Football. Before that, she received a B.A. of Communication at the University of Utah and an M.S. in Sports Journalism at USC. Go Utes and Fight On. Contact her at

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