Dish Network vs. DirecTV – Who’s Really Cheaper? You Decide

We have seen the commercials from both Dish Network and DirecTV, both claiming they are cheaper than each other. The only thing they both can agree upon is that anything is better than cable. No offense cable users, but I have tried cable TV on and off for more years than I care to recall, and I have never been satisfied with the service nor the pricing. Just my two cents.

But is Dish Network or DirecTV really cheaper as they both claim? I personally doubted the claims of either company and here is the reason why. Each of us have different requirements for our homes. The options from both companies make comparisons difficult, because each uses different types of equipment.

Example. I have Dish Network using an HD-DVR set top box that works for two televisions. For DirecTV you would need one HD-DVR box for one TV and another HD receiver for a second TV.  DirecTV states with this setup you can then watch recorded programs from either TV. But, with two boxes, you have to pay an additional $5 for the second box. Does this matter? Nope, not at all.

Once you compare the two services, pricing is fairly close. I used my current system and tried to duplicate the same with setup using DirecTV. As I previously mentioned, I have both DVR and HD service, I have the 250 channel setup [don’t ask – LOL], the HD Premium service, and local HD channels. Last month my bill was $71.60.

I went over to DirecTV and tried to match a similar package and came up with a price of $70.88. Like I said, the pricing is very close. One must also remember that the pricing for DirecTV was for new customers only.

But as of six months ago, I was paying $91.60 a month. So I called Dish and said I wanted to cancel because I could save $20 a month going with DirecTV. The nice folks at Dish decided that since I was such a wonderful human being, that they would knock off $20 a month to keep me as a happy customer.

Bottom line is this. Both Dish and DirecTV have their good and bad features, but I believe that pricing is fairly close.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for Lockergnome for eight years.

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  • Kevin Bailey

    I am like you only the other side of the three sided coin. I currently use DirecTV and have only used DirecTV but have viewed and used Dish at my sister’s house. They both seem to have the same channels, services, and quality. Looking at pricing after trying to build similar configurations I get to within a couple of bucks one way or the other. This is of course is for “New Customers” and near as I can tell the same is true after the prices have the “New Customer Discount” removed after a determined number of months.

    So I think I concur with your statement that Dish and DirecTV are cheaper than each other if you compare one’s “New Customer” price to the others “Regular Price” but on a real even comparison it probably depends on the way the sun is facing your computer monitor at the particular time you check prices.

    The one thing I know we agree on is after numerous years of paying the same price (or more!) for cable I have gotten less channel options, less service, and lower quality. And that was even with there “New Customer” and “Bundled Packages”. I might consider using cable again if all satellite television options AND all Internet viewing disappears but until then… well I think you get the picture.

    • Ron Schenone

      Hello Kevin,
      The only way I would go back to cable is if all of the TV satellites fell out of the sky! LOL

  • Dave R

    Until the regulations are changed so that Americans can order “a la cart” and pay for ONLY the channels which they WANT to receive, it really doesn’t make much difference, as both satellite demi-monopolies and the defacto Comcast monopoly will continue to load the available channels with drek.
    Why should we have to pay for ANY channels that are 100% commercials, such as HSN and QVC? They should be paying US to use those channels,; why should we be subsidizing them?
    The last offer from DISH received with the Sunday paper, featured low-ball rates and lofty promises, but buried in eight lines of FOUR-POINT type (unreadable by most without a magnifying glass and a bright light) was this statement:
    “All prices, packages, and programming subject to change without further notice”. Huh? Doesn’t that make the entire contract totally meaningless? Additional restrictions and requirements in the fine print promise huge penalties if the customer doesn’t toe the line. Paperless billing required too, which means you have to pay for internet service regardless.
    What a crock!

    • Ron Schenone

      Hello Dave R,
      I agree. Having to pay for stations that I do not, nor do I care to watch, is annoying.

  • D

    Have had DirecTV since 2002 & enjoy the service…even though their package selections do leave something to be desired. For instance…due to the job situation…dropped from a $75 plan to a $40 plan…but lost Sci-Fi/NatGeo/History/TCM/IFC. Plus…where I’m located…no local channels where I used to have them where I lived before.

    Due to having to sign a 2 year contract for HD service…whether or not you own or rent the box…will be dropping the service when I complete the 1 year contract for doing the movers connection after being month-to-month for many years. That way…will be Hulu/Netflix/websites & a coat-hanger antenna for the local channels…most of these are or will be soon in HD.

  • David Crandall

    Interesting article. I’ve had DirecTV for years. I’ve used Dish at friends’ houses before and I just find the overall experience more enjoyable with DirecTV – but that’s just personal opinion. Also, customer service has been pretty good for us. We can always get to an actual human being to speak with, and on those occasions where we needed someone to service our dish or look at problems, we’ve never paid a thing, and have often received free dish and receiver upgrades. Simply put, DirecTV has its percs. I’m sure everyone has seen the “refer a friend, and you and your friend will get $100″ commercials. It used to be $50, and what they’d do is knock $10 a month off your bill for 5 months. Now, since its doubled, they may knock $20 a month off for 5 months, or $10 off for 10 months, or maybe just send you $100 bucks. Point is, is if you refer multiple friends, you could potentially lower your bill drastically for awhile – you can have your $70/mo. service for $50 or $60/mo.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

  • Tinman

    I just got a flyer in the mail for Dish. Now they’re offering free HDTV for life, which I believe shouldn’t be costing us extra to start with. I’ve been a DTV user for years and years, since they came on line, but I’m seriously thinking about Dish with the free HDTV. That’ll save me an extra $120.00 a year…

    • Ron Schenone

      Hi Tinman,
      Before you drop DTV, call them and see if they will wave the $10 HD fee for a good customer.
      DTV is also offering free HDTV for life to new customers. Tell them if they don’t you will flee over to Dish.
      Give it a try and let us know if it works for you.
      Regards, Ron

  • Rodger Grant

    I switched to DirecTV from Dish Network quite a while back due to the poor channel packages, the number of signal problems, and most of all the constant updates that would cut into a program I was trying to watch and then when the update was completed required my input to continue and go back to the show I was trying to watch or record. When I called them on it they said there was nothing they could do about that…even after inquiring as to why they couldn’t do that in the background, unnoticed like DirecTV. So, I switched immediately (the heck with contract early termination fees), and have never regretted it.

  • Cliffystones

    I dropped cable in 1984. Watched off-the-air only for years. When we moved multiple mountain ranges from Los Angeles the evening atmospheric “skip” was unbelievable. More often than not I couldn’t watch my Star trek TNG because a station from Dallas-Fort Worth was overlapping channel 13! ( I confirmed this with the FCC)

    So in 1998 we became DTV customers. Now they send me e-mails telling us that we’ve been “Loyal Customers” for x-number of years and offering some meaningless discounts on Sports Packages that they can see by looking at our history we will never sign up for.

    DTV is a very good service. But like Dish and cable, they seem to suffer from the same “Monopoly Malaise”. The price for regular service gradually creeps up over the years, while they try to nickel and dime existing customers for new add-ons and at the same time try to “snipe” each others customers with low-ball introductory deals.

    A good friend of mine worked for DTV at one of their call centers. He confirmed that if you call and complain and threaten to take your business to the other guy they will knock down the price. But from what he told me about the headaches some customers are (not paying the bill, technically illiterate, etc.) that they would lower the price for customers who had been with them for more than a decade and had never caused them any problems.

    Oh well, like my Mom used to say, “You can wish in one hand and s#!t in the other and see which one gets full first!

  • Peter Warner

    Remember the huge selling point when Cable was first introduced? No commercials. Greed killed that. Since the mid fifties I have watched over-the-air for free, but that is slowly coming to an end. Three weeks ago I could pull in at least 50 QAM channels (over Cable) in addition to the local channels that Comcast is required by Law to provide. Now, I can only pull in thirteen including the locals and more than half are pure crap. I am in a bad area for over-the-air. This means that anyone who hooks up an HDTV directly to Comcast Cable (and who pays a monthly subscription) can no longer pull in QAM stations without Comcast’s Cable box (one box for EACH TV) and of course, they charge for each box. Comcast is now scrambling almost every channel except the locals. Even though I am paying Comcast $140.00/mo, if I own 5 TV’s and want to watch ESPN on each TV, I will have to pay for 5 Cable Boxes. Media Center PC’s with Digital tuner cards can now only receive the local channels (even paying $140.00/mo). The definition of the word “RAPE” has taken on an entirely new meaning. The only plan I want to see is one where I can subscribe to ONLY the channels I watch on a regular basis——-and have that plan be a “Household” plan where every TV has access. I’m sure we will get a plan like this as soon as our Congressmen and Senators are required to be a part of our NEW Healthcare system—and not have a special “lifetime” Plan just for them. Yeah—-right.

    • Ron Schenone

      Hello Peter,
      Have you given any thought to DTV or Dish?

  • Peter Nieto

    I have had Dish Network for many years. Then I called and cancelled and went with DirecTV about 4 years ago…I was so dissatisfied with service. The main reason is I think the DVR, Guide was much slower than it was with Dish Network. Dish Network has the fastest interface of the two…and especially Comcast. My brother has Comcast and I get so mad when I am there because it takes FOREVER to use the guide!!!

  • Fred Jones

    I think Directv is better. Directv has the Fox channels right now, and they carry more sports, which I like. I signed up with Directv a few weeks ago, and they are great, great picture, everything. Plus I was able to save loads of money by using the “refer a friend” thing they have. All I did was go to and then entered in an account code 40711911, then I went to order the package I wanted. I ended up saving $100 ON TOP of the Directv package they had.

  • Connie

    It’s nice that Dish matched the price for the service bill (reducing $20). I asked for the same deal from DirecTv and they declined. They gave me a bunch of “free” features for 6 months, but that doesn’t lower my monthly bill.

  • Army Al

    Been along time Directv customer. But when DIrectv created the multi room viewing, Dish can never get my business. I have 8 tvs and only need one HD dvr to view the recorded programing on any of the HD receivers in the other 7 rooms. All recorded programming in HD if recorded as such.

    • Ron Schenone

      Hello Army Al,
      Thanks for the info.
      I just signed up for DirecTV and will report back what I think about the service.
      I went with DirecTV because of a special offer they made me that I couldn’t refuse. :-)
      I have been with Dish for about 6 years and have enjoyed the service from them.

  • Joe Dirt

    If you sign up for directv DEFINITELY USE REFER A FRIEND

    I’m not sure if Dish will do that, but just calling Directv can save you money. Has deals on premiums (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Sports) all the freakng time, and same with equp upgrades–call in! They don’t always list the deals online. Ask for the best price, say “Can you do better”

    You have to que the CSR

    Also ask about free HD even if you’re existing customer, gets you 24 mo free sometimes

    • Ron Schenone

      Thanks Joe Dirt for the information.

  • Paul Miller

    Got an offer from Dish yesterday that would put them at about $90/mo for the same services I was getting from DTV at $129/mo (and this is after any intro months). I’m still looking into it. But I called DTV immediately and asked about the “free HD” thing and they waived it for 2 years. I told him I think HD should be free all the time since you can’t even buy an SD TV anymore and he said that would likely happen at some point.

  • Zach

    I have DISH Network and I have had it for a long time before I started working at DISH. You mentioned DIRECTV’s free HD for life and I just wanted to share some facts with you that you might not have known. DIRECTV doesn’t offer free HD for life on their basic package. Also DIRECTV will not give you free HD with their Choice package. DIRECTV charges up front fee for HD equipment that can range from $99-$199 per box. Also if you are looking to get the most HD, DISH has over 200 National HD Channels.

    • Ron Schenone

      Hi Zach,
      I got a HD-DVR and a HD Receiver and it cost nothing.

  • George

    Just got a letter from Dish, discontinuing my DISHHD Absolute package.. Was a great package at $40 per mo, including HD DVR and Tax. All HD. Now they’re offering regular packages at regular prices (around $20 more and one year free HD Platinum (Which was part of my package anyway). I guess it’s time to talk to Directv now. With their promotions, I should be getting a better deal. Dish already asked me to talk to their “Loyalty” Dept. Haven’t done so yet, until I talk to Direct. We’ll see what happens. I guess I knew, this day was coming, the package was just too good to be true..

    • Ron Schenone

      Hello George,
      Have you read what Zach and Erik wrote? DIRECTV are crooks. LOL
      The picture with DIRECTV is better than Dish and that is a fact you can take to the bank.
      My Panasonic Plasma HDTV’s have never looked so good. :-)

      Personally I have no brand loyality and use who ever is cheapest.

  • George

    Hello Ron,

    You said it. Who ever comes up with the best deal, will get my account.. The only thing, I hate, is having to sign a 2 yr contract with Direct. Have never had a contract with Dish..