Best Satellite TV Provider: The Comparison Guide

By now, you’ve probably figured out that there are only two major players who control the satellite TV market: DirecTV and Dish Network. Now you're probably wondering how to compare them effectively, so you can make the right decision. Never fear, this guide will walk you through all of the key points for determining which provider is best for your needs so you can move onto the more important things in life, like sitting on the couch channel-surfing.

Dish Network or DirecTV: The Preliminary Round

As both companies launched in the mid 1990’s, they’re equally competent in the categories of overall satisfaction, cost of service, billing, performance and reliability, and customer service, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2010 U.S. Residential Television Service Ratings and Satisfaction survey. However, DirecTV seems to rank slightly higher when it comes to offerings and promotions. This is because even at their cheapest price, The CHOICE Package, DirecTV offers 30 extra channels in direct comparison to Dish Networks’ least expensive offering, America’s Top 120. As of the time this article is being published, both are currently being offered at a promotional price of $29.99 a month as of the time this article was published. Expect this price to rise after a year [hint, hint: always read the fine print]. Of course, each provider does offer some standard price packages below this threshold with fewer channel options. But, you won’t receive the equipment for free, and will have to pay for it up front. Also, if your credit ratings are less than stellar, you’ll have to pay for the equipment regardless of which package you choose.

Dish Network or DirecTV: The Major Similarities

Both companies offer you the following items:

  • Free equipment and receiver installation in up to 4 rooms (depending on your credit ratings)
  • Free DVR and HD receiver (verify monthly service charge on both, though)
  • Installation in your home in less than 5 days
  • Service commitment requirement of 1 year (for all promotional offerings)
  • Toll-free ordering and customer service year around, 24 hours a day
  • Local channels automatically included

Now, let’s analyze the differences.

Dish Network or DirecTV: The Major Differences

When comparing Dish Network or DirecTV, you'll find the most contrast between these types of channels: music channels, pay-per-view, sports packages, and international programming. Here’s a more comprehensive comparison for each provider:

Music Channels

  • Dish Network: 52 channels + 60 Sirius Satellite Radio Channels
  • DirecTV: 84 Sonic Tap Satellite Radio Channels


  • Dish Network: 75 Movies / month + Sport + Special Events
  • DirecTV: 60 Movies / month + Sport + Special Events

Sport Packages

  • Dish Network: 7 Total
  • DirecTV: 9 Total

International Packages

  • Dish Network: African, Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, South Asian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese
  • DirecTV: Arabic, Brazilian, Caribbean, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, South Asian, Spanish, Ukranian, Vietnamese

The difference in international programming will only matter if you are seeking to tune into a particular country’s channels. Otherwise, it is irrelevant. Besides the distinctions mentioned above, another thing to keep in mind is the unique specials offered by each provider. Pay close attention to any movie or sports channels they may be offering for free, as well as lease upgrades. Individually, this might make a more significant difference to you.

Dish Network or DirecTV: Who is the best satellite TV provider?

Which is better? Well, that’s mainly going to depend on who you are as a person. Are you a movie buff who would prefer to have more options? Or, are you a sports buff instead? Maybe you don’t have as much time to sit and watch TV, and would prefer to tune into music channels instead. Or, perhaps you’d like the opportunity to enjoy the channels from your home country. These are all specifics you, as an individual, will have to determine. We don’t know you, so unfortunately we can’t help you there. Ultimately, you’ll need to ask yourself what is a higher priority to you in order to make a final decision.

Start Shopping Now
Ready to start shopping what's available in your area? Enter your address on the box on the right side of this page now for a list of TV providers and plans available at your address. You can easily compare features and prices to pick that plan that's right for you. You can even save up to 30% by you bundling your TV plan with Internet and home phone service. Get started now!

Click the following links for more information on comparing satellite TV providers:
Satellite TV Providers
3 Easy Steps When Shopping for Satellite TV Systems and Service

All pricing and product information was accurate as of the publication date of this article. These details are subject to change and vary depending on your service area.