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How to choose Satellite TV provider? Dish vs. DirecTV?

This is one of the two most important questions you need to answer before you order satellite TV. There are only two providers for satellite TV today in the industry DishNetwork and DirecTV. While DirecTV is older, bigger and more popular company, DishNetwork is absolutely comparable company and you won't see a difference while watching TV. You need to choose the one that works best for your needs.

In order to compare two competing companies, you need to go through all the steps (look the question bellow) with DirecTV and then with DishNetwork and only this way you can compare apples to apples and know which company is less expensive for the package and equipment you need.

If you need some international channels, you may not even be able to choose, because DishNetwork and DirecTV sometimes don't have the same channels and the particular channel is available only with one company.

How to choose Dish packages and equipment?

  • 1. Choosing the main package

    There are a lot of different packages available from $19.99/month to $74.99/month, from 60 to 300+ channels. The more you pay the more you get, but most people watch only their favorite channels. If you want to save money, choose the smallest package with your favorite channels. Some very popular channels are included only in more expensive packages. For example National Geographic Channel (NTGEO) is included only in Top 200 and above packages.
    Keep in mind that promotional prices are for a limited time only, usually one year.
    Note: there is a Welcome package for $14.99/month; however, you will have to pay for the equipment. You should consult with professional before you order such package, because it's not for everyone.
    You can get free installation with the main package or above.

  • 2. Choosing the international package or channel.

    If you don't need international packages, you should skip this step. International channels come in packages or "a la carte" which means you pay for the single channel. Sometimes it gets very expensive if you need few a la carte channels. It all depends on the particular language, country and popularity. The less people watch that channel the more expensive they pay. Sometimes you will have to switch to DirecTV to get your favorite channel or install a separate system like World TV.

  • 3. Choosing the movie package.

    Movie packages are called Premium packages. There are 4 main packages: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. There is no way to know which one you will like without trying them. Here, quality is more important than quantity.
    HBO consist of 9 premium movie channels, 4 in HD.
    Cinemax consist of 5 premium movie channels, 5 in HD
    Showtime consists of 9 original series and Hollywood movie channels, 4 in HD.
    Starz consist of 8 movie channels, 6 in HD.
    Most of the times you get for free some of the packages for the first 3 month. Don't forget to make a decision, which ones you like or none of them and cancel the ones you don't like before 3 months will expire, otherwise you will have to pay a substantially higher bill. The more Premium packages you order, the less you pay per package.

  • 4. Chose extras

  • 5. How many rooms you need a TV for?

    That's an easy answer. Not always! You should think two years ahead. If you are planning to get an extra TV sometime soon, it is less expensive (usually free) to connect additional room at the day of original installation rather than paying later.
    However, keep in mind that installation is free for six rooms and you have to pay for every subsequent room. There are a lot of different options of installation and savings. You should seek a professional advice if you want to install TVs in more than 6 rooms. We strongly advise to consult with a professional retail company that has more experience with more complicated installations.

  • 6. Choosing the equipment

    Here is one more piece of the puzzle. Most people want the latest technology in their house. DishNetwork advertises that you get equipment for free, at least most of it. However, you have to pay an extra monthly fee on some equipment and service. Also, you have to return the equipment to DishNetwork when you cancel the service. So, it's more like leasing rather than "getting" the equipment.
    Standard Receiver – you need at least a standard receiver in order to get the DishNetwork service.
    Single tuner receiver is for one TV. Dual tuner is for two TVs and you can watch them independently. Less boxes in your home is less junk in your home. However, sometimes due to the structure of the house it may not be possible to connect two rooms that a distance away from each other.
    DVR – great machine that allows you to record different shows, pause, go back and skip commercial ads. It may save you a lot of time.
    Again there are dual and single DVRs. You have to pay $6/month for the first DVR and $3/month for each additional DVR.
    HD – high definition is the latest technology of image. The image is crispier, clearer and colors are brighter. If you watch HD for a while, it will be difficult to switch back to standard TV.
    Again there are single tuner and dual tuner HD receivers. Also, there are HD DVRs, also single tuner and dual tuner. It is important to know that with dual tuner receivers, second TV won't be HD.
    Also, it's not enough to get HD receiver, you have to subscribe to HD programming. Dish has a great ongoing promotion now called "HD for life" – you get free HD service for life if you sign up for credit/debit card auto pay and paperless bills. Keep in mind that money for your bills should be always available on your credit/debit card or the program will be cancelled and you will be charged $10 per month for the HD service. Or you can pay $99 one time HD fee and you will get free HD for life, and you don't have to sing for auto pay.

  • 7. Calculate the price

    Now you add the price of your main package, international channels, premium movie channels, DVR service and HD service.

    Main package + international channels + Premium movie channels + DVR service fee + HD service fee = Monthly fee for the first 12 months.

    It is a good idea to check what you will be paying after first year, since the contract is 24 months.
    You can downgrade and upgrade the package anytime. However, there is a downgrade fee of $10.

  • 8. Compare providers

    Do the same calculations with DirecTV and compare prices. Most likely it will have slightly different channels and equipment. Choose the one that suits your needs the best.

How to choose DirecTV packages and equipment?

  • 1. Choosing the main package

    There are a lot of different packages available from $19.99/month to $74.99/month, from 60 to 300+ channels. The more you pay the more you get, but most people watch only their favorite channels. If you want to save money, choose the smallest package with your favorite channels. Some very popular channels are included only in more expensive packages.
    Keep in mind that promotional prices are for a limited time only, usually one year.
    Note: You can get free installation with the main package or above.

  • 2. Choosing the international package or channel.

    If you don't need international packages, you should skip this step. International channels come in packages or "a la carte" which means you pay for the single channel. Sometimes it gets very expensive if you need few a la carte channels. It all depends on the particular language, country and popularity. The less people watch that channel the more expensive they pay. Sometimes you will have to switch to DirecTV to get your favorite channel or install a separate system like World TV.

  • 3. Choosing the movie package.

    Movie packages are called Premium packages. There are 4 main packages: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. There is no way to know which one you will like without trying them. Here, quality is more important than quantity.
    HBO consist of 10 premium movie channels, 8 in HD.
    Cinemax consist of 8 premium movie channels, 8 in HD.
    Showtime consists of 21 original series and Hollywood movie channels, 16 in HD.
    Starz consist of 15 movie channels, 14 in HD.
    Most of the times you get for free some of the packages for the first 3 month. Don't forget to make a decision, which ones you like or none of them and cancel the ones you don't like before 3 months will expire, otherwise you will have to pay a substantially higher bill. The more Premium packages you order, the less you pay per package.

  • 4. Chose extras
  • 5. How many rooms you need a TV for?

    That's an easy answer. Not always! You should think two years ahead. If you are planning to get an extra TV sometime soon, it is less expensive (usually free) to connect additional room at the day of original installation rather than paying later.
    However, keep in mind that installation is free for four rooms and you have to pay for every subsequent room. There are a lot of different options of installation and savings. You should seek a professional advice if you want to install TVs in more than 4 rooms. We strongly advise to consult with a professional retail company that has more experience with more complicated installations.

  • 9. Choosing the equipment

    Here is one more piece of the puzzle. Most people want the latest technology in their house. DirecTV advertises that you get equipment for free, at least most of it. However, you have to pay an extra monthly fee on some equipment and service. Also, you have to return the equipment to DirecTV when you cancel the service. So, it's more like leasing rather than "getting" the equipment.
    Standard Receiver – you need at least a standard receiver in order to get the DirecTV service.
    DVR – great machine that allows you to record different shows, pause, go back and skip commercial ads. It may save you a lot of time.
    You have to pay $7/month for DVR service.
    HD – high definition is the latest technology of image. The image is crispier, clearer and colors are brighter. If you watch HD for a while, it will be difficult to switch back to standard TV.
    DirecTV offers HD channels for free.

  • 6. Calculate the price

    Now you add the price of your main package, international channels, premium movie channels, DVR service.

    Main package + international channels + Premium movie channels + DVR service fee = Monthly fee for the first 12 months.

    It is a good idea to check what you will be paying after first year, since the contract is 24 months.
    You can downgrade and upgrade the package anytime. However, there is a downgrade fee of $10.

  • 7. Compare providers

    Do the same calculations with Dish and compare prices. Most likely it will be slightly different channels and equipment. Choose the one that suits your needs the best.

Why Do I need to sign the contract?

Satellite providers similarly to cell phone companies can give you discounted price with the contract. They pay for your installation (nothing is free) hoping, that you will stay with them long enough to recover the cost of installation and finally make some profit. Currently DishNetwork and DirecTV have 24 month contract. That means that you cannot cancel your service without a cancellation fee.

There are options for having service without the agreement; however you have to pay substantial fees upfront and you won't get equipment for free. Consult with professionals about this option.

What is Single tuner/Solo receiver?

Single tuner or Solo receiver supports one independent viewing TV. It includes one remote control.

What is Dual tuner receiver?

Dual tuner or Duo receiver supports independent viewing of two TVs. It includes a remote control for each TV.
Note: Dual HD receiver has no HD image on second TV.

What is DVR?

DVR is satellite receiver with build-in digital video recorder. It allows you to records, pause, play back, go forward or skip with time intervals. It may save you a lot of time. It is easy to learn how to use it.

Dish has single and dual DVRs. Dual DVR supports 2 TVs. You can watch one show and record another show at the same time. You can access all the recordings from both TVs.

DirecTV has single DVR receivers only. Model HR24 has option to record two programs at the same time. Model HR34 has option to record up to five programs.

Different receiver models have different recording capacity from 160GB to 1TB.