Review Summary
DirecTV (844-298-9664) is my top pick for premium TV viewers. They offer the most HD channels and sports options, and availability is nationwide. Their core strengths are HD picture quality and exclusive sports content like NFL Sunday Ticket. For customers who can't handle the credit check and 2-year contract, they recently launched a streaming service called DirecTV NOW.

DirecTV has long been the “premium” option for HD TV across the US. If you need proof, just walk outside and look at the roof of any building. There’s almost certainly a DirecTV receiver or two clinging to it.

Since being acquired by AT&T, their customer service has gone down a little and the pricing has gotten more complicated. Take a look at the average prices I’ve calculated in the plans table below to see what you’ll pay over two years.

On the plus side, they now offer discounted pricing for AT&T Internet customers, and don’t count mobile viewing against your data cap if you use AT&T mobile. (Not my top pick for mobile, but a good perk if you’re already a customer.)

In spite of those issues, the overall service and image quality has actually improved, and they’re still the only option for NFL fans who need access to NFL Sunday Ticket. In most cases, you can get a season or two bundled in for free when you sign up. My experience has been that they will extend the free NFL Sunday Ticket access if you call and request a loyalty discount before each season starts.

DirecTV is commonly compared with competitor Dish Network. I’ve written up a pretty detailed Dish vs DirecTV comparison that explains the core differences. The main difference is that Dish trends on the cheaper side, but sacrifices some premium channels to make it happen.

Pros:

  • Huge range of sports channels and sporting options
  • Access to DirecTV On Demand and DirecTV Everywhere
  • Available nationwide

Cons:

  • May be pricier than a cable bundle
  • Minimum two-year contract

Services Overview

Dish and antenna on top of roof.
DirecTV coverage is nationwide, so long as you have space for a reception dish and view south.
DirecTV offers customers no less than 6 different packages to choose from. Those packages are: the Select All Included, Entertainment All Included, Choice All Included, Xtra All Included, Ultimate All Included, and Premier All Included.

Each package is available on a 24 month plan, with a $35 activation fee and includes all equipment fees for anywhere up to 4 rooms of TVs, along with a Genie HD DVR rental at no extra cost. You will have access to DirecTV on Demand, featuring 1000s of On Demand titles, and DirecTV Everywhere, for accessing DirecTV on mobile devices, from anywhere.

You also get a 3 month free trial of HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and Starz with all packages.

DirecTV plans

DIRECTV PackageChannelsPromotion priceFinal price2-yr average priceNFL Sunday Ticket
SELECT150+$35/mo.$76/mo.$55.5/mo.Not included
ENTERTAINMENT155+$40/mo.$87/mo.$63.50/mo.Not included
CHOICE185+$45/mo.$101/mo.$73/mo.Included
XTRA230+$55/mo.$110/mo.$82.50/mo.Included
ULTIMATE245+$60/mo.$120/mo.$90/mo.Included
PREMIER325+$110/mo.$173/mo.$141.50/mo.Included
Setup Service
To check availability or sign up for service, call 844-298-9664.

Details on each DirecTV plan currently offered

Piggie bank with tech tip.
Pro Tip: there are almost always promo codes available online for DirecTV Pay-Per-View sports events like MMA Fight Nights.

Select All Included – $50/month (first 12 months) $90/month (months 13-24)

DirecTV’s basic package.

  • 150+ channels, including Discovery, Disney, TLC, CNN, Syfy, Comedy Central, MTV, Bravo & more.

Entertainment All Included – $55/month (first 12 months) $101/month (months 13-24)

Access more sport with the Entertainment package.

  • 155+ channels, including everything in Select + ESPN ESPN2, Fox Sports 1, SONICTAP, and Vme.

Choice All Included – $60/month (first 12 months) $115/month (months 13-24)

Even more entertainment and sports, plus pick up the NFL Sunday Ticket for free with Choice.

  • 185+ channels, including everything in Entertainment + Science, The Weather Channel, TV One, Nicktoons, Cooking Channel, NFL Network, NBC Sports, MLB Network, Prime Ticket, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket 2017*

Xtra All Included – $70/month (first 12 months) $124/month (months 13-24)

Extended entertainment and sporting package, Xtra.

  • 230+ channels, including everything in Choice + VICELAND, Sprout, Oxygen, Nat Geo WILD, Discovery Family Channel, Logo, NBA TV, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket 2017*

Ultimate All Included – $75/month (first 12 months) $134/month (months 13-24)

Ultimate gives you more movie watching opportunities.

  • 245+ channels, including everything in Xtra + All Starz/Encore Channels (Suspense, Action, Black, Classic, East, Family, West, and Westerns), Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey, The Movie Channel East, The Movie Channel West, SONICTAP, and Univision Deportes Network.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket 2017*

Premier All Included – $125/month (first 12 months) $187/month (months 13-24)

Premier is the sports lover’s dream package, and includes regional sports.

  • 325+ channels, including everything in Ultimate + Flix, ESPN Classic, ESPN Buzzer Beater, beIN SPORTS, Eleven Sports Network, Altitude Sports, FSN Regional, Root Sports Regional, Sport Time Ohio, and more.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket 2017*

*Cancel your NFL Sunday Ticket before the 2018 season starts or you will be charged $281.94 for the 2018 season.

Which DirecTV Plan Offers the Best Value?

Which package you take up with DirecTV really depends on what sports you follow. For those not particularly into watching sports, the Select package should suit your needs well at the right price. For sporting fans, check out what’s available on each of the other packages to see what will best fulfill your needs.

For even better value, you can choose to bundle DirecTV with your internet services (with a variety of different providers), which can save you up to $120.

DirecTV vs Dish: What’s the Difference?

A DISH and DIRECTV side-by-side receiver comparison.
Dish tends to be the “budget option”, while DirecTV focusses on premium services and sports. Both are usually cheaper than traditional cable.
DirecTV is often lined up in comparison with Dish. So what’s the difference between these two big players in the TV services industry? Well, for a start, they both use satellite technology to get content to your home, they both provide an extensive array of channels at similar price points, and have similar DVR equipment, on demand and on-the-go services.

In terms of how they stack up against each other, it’s really more to do with personal tastes.

Browse through Dish’s list of channels to see whether it’s more your style. Dish is also a currently cheaper than DirecTV, however isn’t quite as geared towards sports fans – it’s more for those looking for straight-up entertainment.

DirecTV Channel Offerings

Cat watching TV.
Give it the cat test: if the cat thinks it’s real, the HD receiver is working properly.
Image via JKehoe_photo/Flickr
Here’s just a taste of what’s available on DirecTV. The majority of channels you’ll find on DirecTV are in HD. Be sure to check packages carefully as not all channels as available on all packages.

Family Channels

This package focusses on kid-friendy content, with Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney, Nicktoons, Discovery Family Channel, Disney Junior, and more.

Latest and Greatest Channels

Series and entertainment come in the form of channels like AMC, Comedy Central, E!, and VICELAND. In my opinion, this package is a little lean and doesn’t differentiate much from basic cable.

News Channels

This package bundles up some extra news channels including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and BBC America.

Educational Channels

This is another good family-friendly option and includes History, Discovery, Food Network, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Science, and more.

Music Channels

Get a handful of music channels with MTV, CMT, VH1, Sonic Tap, and XM Satellite Radio.

Movie Channels

Movies are generally accessed with the Premium add-on (with HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and Showtime). However, there are a few movie channels such as Hallmark Movies, The Movie Channel, and Flix.

DirecTV Sports Options

This is where DirecTV really shines: sports offerings.

Depending on the package you pick up, you’ll be able to access channels like ESPN, FOX Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, MLB Network, ESPNEWS, Prime Ticket, Time Warner Cable SportsNet, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, NBA TV, NHL Network, Sportsman Channel, FOX Sports 2, BeIN Sports, Eleven Sports Network, ESPN Classic, Altitude Sports, Comcast SportsNet, and more.

Subscribers to the Ultimate package are also able to access regional sports channels.

Don’t forget that Choice, Xtra, Ultimate, and Premier subscribers all get the NFL Sunday Ticket 2017 at no extra cost.

DVR and Equipment Options

DirecTV gives you a powerful HD DVR, known as ‘genie’ for use within your home. Genie allows you to record up to 5 channels simultaneously, storing up to 200 hours of recordings. The device also allows you to catch up on various shows from the past 72 hours and rent or purchase newly released movies. Genie is included as a part of all packages.

As for installation, you’ll require a place to set up your satellite Dish (usually attached to the roof of your home), with Dish and installation costs also included as a part of your package. Be aware that some landlords will object to the installation of Dishes.

DirecTV Availability

Directv installation van.
DirecTV installation almost always requires scheduling a professional installation, which takes the better part of an afternoon. Image via Mike Mozart/Flickr

Because DirecTV uses satellite technology, all you need to get the service in your home is a place to put your satellite Dish with an unobstructed view of the southern sky. DirecTV satellite systems cover the whole of the US, so it’s available virtually everywhere!

Problems with DirecTV: Slim TV Series/Movie Entertainment Choices and Pricey Service Overall

DirecTV NOW logo
Consider DirecTV NOW if you want to cut the cord without losing access to premium channels.
If you are determining whether to pick up DirecTV, then you should carefully examine the channel selections in each package before signing up for the service. Compared to other cable, satellite, and internet TV services, DirecTV may be a bit light on for entertainment in the form of your most-watched series and movies. Customers wanting more entertainment might like to add something like Netflix or Amazon Prime to their TV setup, at less cost than DirecTV’s Premier package.

If you can’t handle the price for premium TV, DirecTV NOW offers some of the same core content at a reduced price with no credit check or contract needed. Just keep in mind this has the same image quality and buffering issues as any streaming service, and only works if you get strong download speeds from your Internet provider. Dish TV also offers overall lower pricing on similar content.

Make sure to read the fine print, too! While Select is offered for $50/month, if you read the fine print you’ll see the price almost double halfway through your subscription (and DirecTV can even increase this second price). I’ve calculated the “average price” you’ll pay over 2+ years in my plans table at the top of this post. When comparing them to cable, remember that virtually all providers do the same thing with pricing, so figure out their final price rather than comparing only the “promo price.” I’ve done my best to list these on my site, but sometimes they don’t include them or change them based on your credit score or location.

The Big Picture: DirecTV is my top Pick for Sports Fans

If watching live sports, replays, news, and classics in HD is your jam, then DirecTV is going to make a good choice for your TV service. You get a good mix of other channels with a whopping dose of sports, NFL Sunday Ticket, and tons of customizable packages.

If you need a top up for on-demand entertainment, you can add a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime at not much extra cost per month.

Comments

  • Image of Jim Milano
    Jim Milano says
    12/16/2017

    On my DirecTV bill I have $ 44.00 worth of what looks to be equipment charges. $21.00 for multiple tv and $10.00 for advanced receiver service.- HD and $10.00 for Advanced receiver service -DVR and $3.00 dollars for directv whole home DVR service. My package is Choice extra classic . My total bill is $141.08 per month. Am I being ripped off. Been with them since 2007

    Reply

    1. Image of Adi Marcovich
      Adi Marcovich says
      12/26/2017

      Hi Jim, this is (alas!) a normal price for a 2007 account on Choice Extra Classic. Accounts started after 2014 have a different pricing structure around the "multiple TV" fee. Basically, you're paying for the first TV with the "advanced receiver" fee and all additional TVs under the "multiple TV" fee. How many TVs do you have? Sometimes you can save a few dollars monthly by checking that your "multiple TV" bill matches the number of TVs you currently have (or lose a TV or two to shave it down.) I'd recommend calling the DirecTV help line printed on your bill and asking them to confirm how many TVs they're charging you for and check that you're actually using those TVs around your house. Alternately, Dish is running some nice discounts for new customers starting in 2018 if you can live with less NFL programming. Best wishes and Merry Christmas Jim!

      Reply

    2. Image of Patti
      Patti says
      12/20/2017

      I suggest looking into the preferred xtra package. $2 off the xtra package, no regional sports fee ($7.99 for me, it's based on your region) and lose a bunch of sports channels. I'm happy to save $10 and not have channels that have never been on any of my 3 tv's.

      Reply

      1. Image of Adi Marcovich
        Adi Marcovich says
        12/26/2017

        Patti, excellent recommendation for folks who don't watch sports. I tend to write from a sports nut perspective, will update this post with more info on Prefered Xtra soon ;)

        Reply

      2. Image of Sherri Schouviller
        Sherri Schouviller says
        04/11/2018

        I don't know what package I have It's been awhile since I called I can't understand the person talking to me we need American speaker or at least somebody who speaks good English. I want to know is what package do I have what channels do I get?

        Reply

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