The DISH vs DirecTV Comparison Guide

DISH simply gives you more for less than DirecTV.
DISH Network versus Directv. Who has a better deal?

DISH configuration: The price covers two TVs, your channels, DVR, and HD service. The receiver is a Duo HD-DVR (model 722k) and it operates two televisions. Both TV (A) and (B) can watch different channels at the same time, and can each perform DVR functions, but only TV (A) will be able to watch HD programming. TV (B) will receive standard definition programming (both TVs can record HD programming simultaneously.) If you want HD and HD-DVR on more than one TV then you need the Hopper and Joey w/ Sling receiver system.

Directv configuration: The price covers two TVs, your channels, DVR, and HD service. The receiver system is the Genie, which is more comparable to DISH's Hopper and Joey system than the 722k. We chose this comparison because DISH offers the 722k without an upgrade fee, so we have a less expensive option than Directv. Directv has a non-Genie option, but it requires expensive up front fees.

What you get with DISH that you don't with DirecTV:

  • Free Hopper HD-DVR upgrade
  • Free Installation in up to 6 rooms
  • Over 30 Premium Movie channels free for 3 months
  • Watch commercial free Primetime TV
  • Better technology so you can record up to 8 shows at once

DISH and DirecTV are both excellent satellite TV services. This guide will show you the differences between the services. As a DISH retailer, we're probably biased toward DISH but in this guide we will do our best to give you objective facts to help you make your decision. And of course, we have live reps available to talk with you.

We believe DISH is the better choice for you in most cases, but not all.


DISH wins versus DirecTV in the price category. As you can see (pictured right), DirecTV loses this comparison pretty handedly. For service two rooms, with a free HD-DVR receiver upgrade, DISH's most popular package, America's Top 200 is $86.99 per month. DirecTV's CHOICE Xtra is $100.99 per month. DISH's second most popular package, the America's Top 120 is $71.99, where DirecTV's CHOICE package is $95.99.

But, does DirecTV offer more? Is that why they're more expensive?

DirecTV promotes the argument that they offer you more than DISH does and that's why they're more expensive. There are several ways to measure value, and that will be different for everyone, but a good benchmark is: number of channels per package and cost per month. Let's look at a couple examples of a common, two room system, with an HD-DVR receiver:

Two rooms, with HD-DVR: America's Top 120 includes 190 channels: $71.99 per month. DirecTV's Xtra package includes 205 channels: $100.99 per month.

Two rooms, with HD-DVR: America's Top 200 includes 235 channels: $86.99 per month. Directv's Ultimate package includes 225 channels: $110.99 per month.

To see a side by side list of DISH and Directv Channels, click here.

To see a side by side list of DISH and Directv High Definition (HD) channels, click here.

Switch to DISH today and we will offer you a $75 Cash Back rebate.

1-800-970-9509 Offer ends soon

How does DISH HD and HD-DVR receiver upgrades compare to DirecTV's?

Above we talked about package pricing. That argument is straight forward: DISH costs less than DirecTV. When you start comparing the HD receiver upgrades, HD service, and the different HD-DVR offers, like the Hopper or the Genie, then the argument becomes more nuanced. In other words; it's not as straight forward. In this section we will do our best to frame those subtle differences in a way that helps you determine which offer is best for you.

Both DISH and DirecTV have several HD, HD-DVR, and equipment upgrades:

HD Service: DISH's offer versus DirecTV's offer.
DISH's offer: HD service is free for 24 months. Agree to the contract, and AutoPay billing, and that's it. Any HD receiver will work and most of the most popular programming packages qualify for this.

DirecTV's offer: HD service is free for 24 months, but with several conditions. Besides the basic stuff, like a contract and autopay, you have to order a DVR receiver in order to get free HD service. If you don't want DVR, then HD service is $10 per month from day one.

Both providers charge $10 for HD service after the promotional period.

HD service is not free with DirecTV unless you order a DVR receiver.

FREE HD Receiver upgrades (non DVRs): DISH versus DIRECTV
DISH offers
up to three non-DVR, HD receiver upgrades free (more on DVR offers below). The HD free for 24 months promotion with DISH does not require that you order an HD-DVR.

DirecTV offers up to four non-DVR, HD receiver upgrades for free. HD service is not free with DirecTV when ordering non-DVR HD equipment. If you order an HD-DVR as one of your receivers, then you no longer get four HD receiver upgrades for free: every subsequent receiver incurs an upgrade fee (minimum of $99). This policy is likely in place to force new custoemers into the Genie receiver system, which we'll talk about later.

DVR and HD-DVR Receiver upgrades (this deserves its own section).

... DirecTV charges $25 per month for Genie DVR service.

... DISH charges $12 per month for Hopper DVR.

Introduction to DVR offers
Both DISH and DirecTV have two types of Digital Video Recorder (a.k.a., DVR) receivers: regular HD-DVRs, and Whole-Home HD-DVRs. The difference is exactly what it sounds like. The regular DVRs are designed to deliver DVR to a limited number of TVs in the home while the Whole-Home DVRs are designed to deliver DVR to all of the TVs in the home. Both companies have separate offers for each type of DVR.

Regular HD-DVR Receivers and Upgrades: DISH vs DirecTV
DISH offers one free HD-DVR receiver upgrade. The DVR service is $7 per month and the HD service is free for 24 months. DISH has two different HD-DVR receivers. One is the ViP 722k, which is a two-room HD-DVR, the other is the ViP 612, which is a single-room HD-DVR. You can use this receiver upgrade and still get two additional non-DVR HD receiver upgrades for free.

DirecTV charges an upfront fee of $199 when ordering the regular HD-DVR. This receiver operates one TV. They do not charge a monthly fee for the DVR service on this type of receiver.

Whole home HD-DVR promotions. DISH's Hopper and Joey vs. DirecTV's Genie
This comparison probably deserves its own webpage, but for now, we will describe the two offers for you briefly and cut right to the chase.

DISH offers one Hopper and three Joey's as free receiver upgrades. Hopper DVR service is $14 per month. HD service is free for 24 months. The Hopper receiver fee is included in your channel package price, and each Joey is $7 per month and has full HD-DVR access via the Hopper. This free upgrade will service up to four TVs and can record up to six HD channels simultaneously. If you want service on six TVs you will need one additional Hopper ($49) and one additional Joey ($99), totalling an upgrade fee of $148. With two Hoppers you can record up to nine HD channels simultaneously. All six TVs can watch separate channels at the same time. *With the four room setup not all four TVs can watch separate channels at the same time.

DirecTV offers one Genie and three Genie Mini's as free receiver upgrades. The DVR service (which they call an Advanced Receiver fee) is $25 per month. That fee includes the HD service for $10 per month, which they discount for two years. The DVR service is effectively $15 for the first two years. Each Genie Mini is $6 per month and has full HD-DVR access via the Genie. This free upgrade will service four TVs and can record up to five HD channels simulatensouly. If you want service on six TVs you will need two additional Genie Mini ($49 each), totalling an upgrade fee of $98. Since the Mini's do not have tuners, and you're not getting another Genie, this six room setup still only has five tuners, which means it can only record up to five HD channels at the same time. *This also means that not all six TVs can watch separate channels at the same time.

DVR service fees and promotions
DISH charges $7 per month for regular HD-DVR service, or $14 per month for the Hopper HD-DVR service. In both cases, HD service is free for 24 months. It's as simple as that.

Directv combines their DVR fee with their HD fee and they call it an "Advanced Receiver Fee." DirecTV's charges $25 per month if you order the Genie HD-DVR. For the first two years the give you a $10 discount, which they call their free HD service promotion. This effectively means that DirecTV charges $15 per month for DVR service.

*It's noteworthy here to point out that; even though DISH charges $7 per month for each additional Hopper or Joey after the first Hopper, and DirecTV only charges $6 per month for each additional Genie Mini; that DirecTV's DVR service is as much as $8 more expensive per month. If you order Genie for six TVs, this completely nullifies the $1 discount they offer on each additional Genie Mini when compared to DISH, however; if you order less than six TVs with the Genie, then you end up paying more per month, per TV, even though the per Mini fee is $1 less.

Promotions that you could consider "exclusive."

Both DISH and DirecTV offer a lot of promotions for new customers. If monthly price, or the equipment promotions aren't enough to decide one way or another, sometimes the exclusive promotions can. That's what we'll discuss here.

DISH offers a few exclusives that DirecTV cannot offer. One is the Sling functionality. The Sling feature, built into the Hopper, allows you to watch recorded or live TV content anywhere you want with devices such as: mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. Another is Blockbuster @HOME. Blockbuster @HOME includes streaming video to your TV or PC, and adds 20+ premium HD channels to your programming package.

DirecTV's flagship exclusive promotion is that they are the only TV provider to offer the NFL Sunday Ticket. Every year they offer a huge discount to new customers. After that it's about $300 per season, but the people who want it pay it, and they love it. If you want the NFL Sunday Ticket, then DirecTV wins this battle every time. DISH does not carry it. They do carry the RedZone, which is awesome, but not comparable. DirecTV also has access to the YES Network and the MSG networks, which broadcast the New York sports teams, like the Yankees for instance. However, they are only available in the most expensive package, which is $140.99 per month for HD service in two rooms. But DISH does not have either channel.

Promotions both DISH and DirecTV do well

We said it in the beginning of this guide: Both DISH and DirecTV are premium satellite TV services. They both deliver a high quality product. Some of the differences are stark, like the monthly price being lower with DISH, and other differences are more nuanced, like the intricacies of the HD and HD-DVR promotions. But both companies have similarities in their offers that they both do well.

Both companies will offer free standard professional installation, a monthly discount on your channel package for a period of time, a free trial of the premium channels like HBO and free account activation which they base on approved credit and a 24 month agreement. DISH collects the first bill before installation, DirecTV automatically drafts the first bill roughly thirty days after ordering.

We hope you enjoyed our DISH versus DirecTV guide! If you still have questions, or would like to order, please call1-800-970-9509, , or customize your package.


All Directv pricing and policy information sourced from and/or live DirecTV associates.