Dish Network versus DirecTV

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

dish network versus directv version 1438534826 cable options
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider over cable or a live TV streaming service. Now the question is: Dish Network or DirecTV? The companies offer remarkably similar programming packages, but there are still some serious differences between the two. If you’re looking for specifics about what its like to be a subscriber to each service, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this handy guide to give you a thorough rundown of each service, and how they compare in terms of specialty content, hardware, and pricing.

Content

directv plays catchup expands mobile viewing android app directtv ipad

The programming packages Dish and DirecTV offer are very similar, but there are a few notable differences that will likely drive your decision in selecting one company over the other.

First, here’s what you’ll get by going with either:

  • More than 300 available channels (exact number ranges between packages)
  • 200 available high-definition channels
  • Three free months of HBO, STARZ, Cinemax, and Showtime
  • Access to locally broadcast programming
  • 4K Ultra HD support

That’s quite a bit in common, but there are perks to choosing one over the other, depending on your viewing preferences.

One major difference between the services is the channel options included in their sports packages — specifically those outside the domain of Disney’s ESPN channel suite. The lion’s share of sports packages — including MLB Extra Innings, ESPN GamePlan, NBA League Pass, Fox Soccer Plus, NHL Center Ice, and MLS Direct Kick — are available on both. Both providers also include common pay TV options like Fox Sports and NFL Red Zone, the latter of which offers a commercial-free way to watch scoring plays from every NFL team that plays each Sunday.

When it comes to differences, Dish’s exclusive sports packages include Outdoor Sports and Racetrack Television Network. DirecTV, however, has the monopoly on NFL Sunday Ticket, which includes every regular season NFL game, regardless of your market. That’s a pretty big point in favor of DirecTV. It’s worth noting, however, that each of these packages are supplemental add-ons to your base channel package, and costly ones at that.

Lastly, the languages each service supports vary quite a bit. Dish supports 29 different languages ranging from Spanish and Italian to Tagalog and Urdu. DirecTV offers a mere eight options, including Spanish, Brazilian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Filipino, Vietnamese and South Asian.

DirecTV’s Support for NFL Sunday Ticket tilts the scales in DirecTV’s favor, here, albeit at an extra cost to your subscription. Unless you’ve got a specific language need that Dish covers, those looking for the most content will want to go with DirecTV.

Winner: DirecTV

Hardware

We’ve included this handy table so you can compare the hardware specs of teh two services side by side, but below we’ll dig a little deeper into specifics.

Dish DirecTV
DVR Hopper Genie
Internal storage 2TB, supports USB storage expansion  1TB
Apps Netflix N/A
Watch Anywhere-supported devices Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Android Tablets, Kindle Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone, Android Phone, Android Tablets, Kindle (Watch Anywhere on DirecTV requires extra GenieGo hardware)
4K streaming Yes Yes
Local programming Yes Yes
Auto-skip recorded commercials Yes (after 24 hours) No
On Demand Yes Yes
Home security No Yes
Tivo No Yes
Picture in picture No Yes
Max TVs 7 8
Max simultaneous recordings 16 5

When comparing Dish Network and DirecTV’s DVR boxes — the Hopper and the Genie, respectively — the major sticking point is recording capacity. You’ll have to shell out a monthly rental charge and supplemental fees for various DVR services, but exactly what those extra services are, and the amount of storage capacity available, differs between each.

Dish Hopper 3

Dish’s Hopper can save up to 500 hours of HD content or 2,000 hours of SD content for a $12 monthly fee. That’s more than double the storage of DirecTV’s Genie, which offers 200 hours of HD programming or 800 hours of SD programming for a $15 monthly fee. Plus, the internal storage on Dish’s Hopper can be expanded with USB storage devices, which could push it well beyond its base 2TB drive, while DirecTV’s Genie remains at a static 1TB. If you aren’t recording dozens of shows, this might be a minor sticking point, but Dish easily carries the day there.

The two boxes also offer varying feature sets. Dish’s Hopper includes a dedicated Netflix app, and commercial auto-skip for select recorded content after 24 hours. DirecTV’s Genie supports picture-in-picture mode, and even offers home security options when paired with your AT&T service.

Both set-top boxes feature some support for voice control, with Amazon Alexa available on both DirecTV and Dish hardware. Dish does currently have a leg up here, however, as its hardware also supports Google Assistant, making it a winner for Android users and those heavily invested in the Google ecosystem.

There’s also a difference in the number of devices and simultaneous streams the two DVR boxes support, as well as mobile viewing options. Dish’s Hopper will allow up to seven TVs to be connected in a single home, and up to 16 simultaneous recordings. The Hopper also allows mobile viewing of DVR content on Mac and Windows PCs, iOS devices, and Android devices including Kindle.

DirecTV’s Genie, on the other hand, allows a maximum of eight TVs (one more than Dish), but only supports five simultaneous recordings. While the Genie features mobile viewing as well, and supports all the same devices that the Hopper does, it requires mobile devices to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your receiver to view DVR content. Dish’s Watch Anywhere has no such network restrictions, and grants access to the same content no matter where you are watching. Dish even offers a special mobile storage device, the HopperGo, which can store up to 100 hours of your DVR recording that can be accessed by your mobile device without an internet connection.

Despite allowing for one less TV connection than DirecTV, Dish’s Hopper is all about allowing for easy access to a multitude of devices, content, and recordings. Storage size and simultaneous recordings available top the Genie, plus it doesn’t require any extra hardware for remote watching on mobile devices. Those are some major points for Dish. While DirecTV has a number of features, like picture-in-picture mode and home security options if you bundle with your AT&T service, Dish still gets the win.

Winner: Dish

Home Theater

AT&T wants to make HBO more like Netflix, and it could be a disaster

After acquiring HBO parent company Time Warner, AT&T is pushing HBO to become more like Netflix, but for all of Netflix’s success, this plan might not be great for either HBO or its customers.
Home Theater

PlayStation Vue: The master guide to Sony’s internet TV service

PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to live TV without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. To help you understand the service, its plans, and numerous features, we've created this handy guide.
Movies & TV

Do you have questions about Hulu and Hulu with Live TV? We've got answers

Not sure which Hulu subscription is right for you? We're here to help. This is your complete guide to Hulu and Hulu with Live TV, including content offerings for each service, pricing, internet requirements, and more.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

Close that torrent! Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Sling TV, Hulu, or Amazon.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Get your Star Wars fix online with our guide

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find them.
Movies & TV

YouTube TV offers a week of free service after frustrating World Cup outage

For sports fans watching a major event at home, there can be few things more frustrating than the broadcast suddenly going blank. It happened recently for YouTube TV subscribers, and now the company wants to make amends.
Home Theater

Time for a TV upgrade? Here’s what you need to know about 4K Ultra HD TV

Ultra HD 4K has quickly taken over the world of TVs. But what is Ultra HD 4K, how does it work, and most importantly, should you upgrade, or keep your old TV? We explain it all right here.
Home Theater

The 7 best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.
Home Theater

Still wondering why you should buy a smart TV? Here's what you should consider

If you've been living under a rock, you might wonder: What is a smart TV, anyway? Lucky for you stone-dwellers, we've put together a quick-hit guide to teach you everything you need to know about televisions with big brains.
Home Theater

How to install an HD antenna so you can start enjoying free television

Today's TV antennas will get you loads of free over-the-air broadcast TV, but setting them up can be a challenge. We walk you through how to install a TV antenna, and provide tips on picking the best antenna for your home.
Home Theater

HDMI 2.0b is a whole lot more than just a connection to your TV

HDMI 2.0b is the backbone for many of the latest updates in 4K UHD technology. And while a new cable standard can often involve a bunch of changes for consumers, that is not the case this time around.
Movies & TV

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn fired for offensive tweets

Guardians of the Galaxy franchise director and writer James Gunn has been fired by Disney after pundits unearthed several offensive tweets posted by the director almost a decade ago.
Home Theater

Need more contrast in your life? Here’s what you need to know about HDR TVs

So what is HDR TV? In a nutshell, it’s the best thing to happen to TV since the arrival of 4K. Here's everything you need to know about the technology, what it can do, and why it’s a must-have.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Mobile

The world can be your oyster with a little help from the best travel apps around

Traveling doesn't need to be a time-consuming nuisance. Our handpicked selection of the best travel apps will keep things simple, whether you need cost comparisons for hotels or directions to renowned eateries.
Movies & TV

First trailer for 'Star Trek: Discovery' season 2 debuts during Comic-Con

The crew of the U.S.S. Discovery will return for more adventures on CBS All Access in the near future. Here's everything we know about Star Trek: Discovery season 2, from the cast and themes to the season premiere.
Movies & TV

'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' needs a new director

Marvel Studios will bring Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and the rest of its team of reluctant cosmic heroes back to the big screen in 2020 for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, so here's everything we know about the sequel so far.
Movies & TV

Robin goes gritty in first trailer for DC’s ‘Titans’ streaming series

DC Entertainment released the first trailer for Titans, the new live-action television series based on the teenage superhero team The Teen Titans, which will debut on streaming video platform DC Universe later this year.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.
1 of 2