Comparison Shopping – DIRECTV Satellite and Time Warner Cable

Time Warner currently the second largest cable TV company operating in the United States today. DIRECTV is the biggest satellite television company. How do they match up in a side by side competition? We will consider that in this article.

Comparing Time Warner Cable and DIRECTV Satellite

Time Warner cable operates currently in 27 states currently. Large areas that are served by Time Warner cable, or TWC include Southern California, New York, Wisconsin, and the New England area. Additional Time Warner cable franchises are in Kansas City, the Carolinas, and San Diego. DIRECTV on the other hand is available across the entire United States, provided you have an area where a satellite dish can be placed facing the southern sky.

So what should you consider when looking at TWC vs DIRECTV? Price is on most people’s minds today, so lets start with that. Cable TV companies like Time Warner are always being criticized because of their ever increasing prices. Time Warner is no exception, with TWC rates going up between $3-4 dollars a month this past January. Their DVR service also was hiked, going from $7.95 to $10.95 a month.

DIRECTV isn’t innocent when it comes to raising rates. The nations largest satellite TV company pushed through their own price increase this spring on their 17 million strong customer base. Prices for DIRECTV customers went up $3-5 per month, depending on their DIRECTV programming package.

Now pricing can vary wildly with both DIRECTV and Time Warner cable. That is because both companies offer incentives during the first year in order to sign you up as a subscriber. With TWC the best deals are found when you subscribe to additional services beyond just cable TV. Adding high speed internet and/or TWC digital phone service will certainly result in a much better price over the first year when comparing prices against regular Time Warner cable rates.

DIRECTV also offers incentives to new customers. Currently, new subscribers get a $21 per month discount on service for the first year. For example, the DIRECTV Choice Xtra package is normally $60.99 per month, but with the discount for the first year, you are looking at $39.99 per month. A package like this includes local channels, and 200+ video and audio stations. In addition, DIRECTV satellite will also give you one the necessary equipment such as a new HD DVR device, though you will have to pay extra each month for DVR and HD service.

Looking at regular pricing with Time Warner cable, here is what is offered in a comparable package. These prices are pulled from the Raleigh, North Carolina area, and prices vary a bit depending on which TWC area you live in. The digital cable package in this market is $71.95 per month, and includes one digital cable box and one remote. So when lining up a digital cable lineup comparing DIRECTV vs. TWC, you will save about $10 per month with satellite TV, but of course there are many other factors to consider besides price.

Picture quality is a prime consideration when comparing Time Warner to DIRECTV, and what you will find here can vary from area to area. Time Warner has actually been one of the leading cable TV companies when it comes to upgrading their network to accommodate new HD channels. In many areas served by TWC, you can now get more than 100 HD channels. Of course this depends on the local Time Warner cable network, so it is necessary to check with them directly to find out what is available to you. On the other hand, since DIRECTV serves their customer base from satellites, all of their customers currently have access to more than 130 HD channels.

Another consideration when comparing Time Warner cable vs. DIRECTV is the service you receive when you have a question or a problem with your television service. Time Warner unfortunately has one of the lower satisfaction ratings, at least according to the 2008 survey. Last year they came in with a score of 59, which beat out Comcast and Charter cable who both bottomed out at 54. DIRECTV topped all pay television providers when it comes to customer service with a rating of 68, edging out Dish Network for the highest rating last year.

Additional fees and charges can really add up, so what can you expect from DIRECTV and Time Warner cable when it comes to those nickel and dime charges? Both companies offer local channels at no additional charge, while you pay $5 per month for locals with Dish Network. One thing that Time Warner and other cable TV companies have been pushing is the sales point that they offer “Free HD”.

As mentioned earlier here, the next time your cable company gives you something for free will be the first time. While TWC isn’t actually breaking out a charge for HD service on you bill, you can be sure you are paying for it somewhere. With DIRECTV, you have the option of declining HD service, say if you don’t have a flat screen or plasma TV. If you do have one of those fancy new LCD TVs, HD service is $10 per month with DIRECTV. Neither DIRECTV or Time Warner have all HD packages like the Dish Network Turbo HD offering.

As far as DVR service goes, DIRECTV has a couple of packages which include DVR service, those being the Plus DVR and the Plus HD DVR bundles. If you go with a DIRECTV package that doesn’t have the DVR service included, expect to pay $6 per month extra. With Time Warner cable, the current monthly charge for DVR service is $10.95 a month, again pricing taken from the Raleigh, NC area.

Now depending on how many television sets you have in your home, you will have to pay extra for either cable boxes or satellite TV receivers. With Time Warner cable, each extra digital cable box is $7.23 per month, and there is a .32 charge for each remote control, so a total of $7.55 per television. With DIRECTV, you will pay $5.00 per receiver after the first one.

When it comes to programming and channel lineups, you will find that when comparing DIRECTV vs TWC almost all of the main cable TV channels are available in both places. One notable exception however is in the sports department. DIRECTV has a strong leadership position when it comes to sports programming, mainly because of the exclusive sports programming packages they carry. For example, you can only get the NFL Sunday Ticket, the NASCAR Hotpass, and the NCAA Mega March Madness packages on DIRECTV. Another sticking point for football fans is the ongoing dispute between Time Warner cable and the NFL Network, which has locked TWC subscribers out of games carried on the NFL’s in-house channel.

On the other hand, there are quite a few premium sports packages that are available on both Time Warner and DIRECTV. Those are the NBA League pass, the NHL Center Ice package, and the MLB Extra Inningsbundle. Bottom line? If the NFL is at the top of your list, DIRECTV wins out over Time Warner, otherwise things are equal in this area as you will still get ESPN, ESPNEWS and your regional sports networks.

Now as mentioned earlier, there are DIRECTV deals out there which give new subscribers a $21 discount per month for the first year of service. What Time Warner deals are available to new customers? Again, the promotional period and the regular price are important to consider, as this is the price you will have to pay once the promotion runs out. With TWC, there are several options that give new subscribers a discount during the first six months of service.

One deal currently being offered on Time Warner packagesis an introductory price of $49.95 per month for the first half year. This can be combined with promotional prices on Time Warner Road Runner Lite service for as low as $19.95 a month for the first year. Road Runner Basic at $32.95, Road Runner Standard at $42.95 and Road Runner Turbo for $52.90 are the other TWC package options. The final piece of the triple play bundle is the Time Warner digital phone option which can be added for another $25 per month. Time Warner deals change frequently, so its best to call directly to find out what the latest offer might be.

A final consideration when weighing whether to subscribe to either DIRECTV or Time Warner cable is the “on-demand” capabilities of each company. Time Warner On Demand currently claims to offer 10,000 programs each month. DIRECTV On Demand claims to offer over 4,500 choices per month. So even the most dedicated couch potato won’t be able to keep up with either TWC or DIRECTV.

The main difference when comparing satellite on demand to cable on demand is the delivery method. Cable TV companies like Time Warner have a hard line connection to each home, and they have built robust systems to deliver the program to you at a moments notice. DIRECTV satellite TV relies on the customers own DSL or cable modem connection. You have to download at least part of the program before you can begin watching it. Depending on your internet connection speed, DIRECTV on demand can be a bit of a hassle. Advantage to Time Warner in the on demand arena.

So there is a brief summary of what a Time Warner vs DIRECTV comparison looks like. If you are in an area served by the nations largest cable TV company, Comcast, be sure to read our Comcast vs DIRECTV comparison, or our Comcast vs Dish Network review.


  1. Time Warner has to be the worst company to deal with in America. Even after six phone calls and three service calls, I was unable to get my cable and phone service working correctly. I wanted Fios from Verizon but they haven’t built out to my area yet. So that left Direct TV or Dish network. Direct TV had a pretty good deal with verizon for the phone part, so I went with that. HD picture is awesome, and no more dealing with Time warner cable is the best part.

  2. I cannot stand Time Warner. I have ahad it 3 days an my remote stops working after approx 20 min, the On Demand Freezes eveytime (convieniently right after I hit ‘order’), and the reciever is slow and unresponsive. I can only pray the u-verse comes soon. For now I am very exicted to go back to Direct TV.

  3. Your comments on picture quality are useless. The number of ‘HD’ channels tells us nothing about bitrate, signal strength, signal compression, or anything else. Granted quality is a subjective evaluation, but please try to find something meaningful to say. I’d very much like to know what you think.

  4. I am absolutely fed up with Time Warner. We have been dealing with our tv freezing up for more than a month now. This requires you to call TW and have a technician reboot the system (at least 30 min). We have had people come out and TW cannot seem to find the problem. They have witnessed the issue also. Each time they schedule to come out they give you a 4 hr window in which someone must be home. When you contact them on the phone, you must detail the issues each time. They keep no record (apparently) of previous call. Have I mentioned that our bill just increased for the 3rd time this year? I am currectly not sure what to do at this point. We are researching our options.

  5. First off, this article is very poorly written (ever heard of proofreading before submitting?). Moving on.
    Time Warner has pushed me to the very limit. In the last year my bill has increased by $43.17 and now on my last bill they announced another price hike adding up to $12. Comparing TWC with DirectTV or Dishnetwork I’ve found that I actually wouldn’t be saving more than about $10 each month by switching. BUT, it seems that what I get for my money is by far more and better with satellite.
    For years I’ve believed the hype about signal loss in bad weather and yet everyone I know who has satellite over the last 3 years has had practically no interruptions at all while I average about 5 a month (picture freezing after I buy a movie or just randomly, complete blackouts for hours with no explanation etc.).
    And don’t get me started on customer service. Last time I ordered a movie it froze at 29 minutes and turned off on its own. When I restarted it it got stuck in fast forward until the end of the move and there was nothing I could do to stop it. When I tried to watch it from the start again it said “this movie is unavailable.” After calling them they told me I should wait 1 hour and try again (it was already midnight by this point). I waited and when I tried to resume the movie it wanted me to buy it again. I called and they said “buy it again and we will credit your account.” Next statement: no credit. Called them again and they claimed they had no record of my call, my complaint, or a service disruption on that night. This isn’t a one time occurrence either. Another time I bought a movie I had to pause it 30 seconds in to it so my wife could check on our sleeping baby upstairs. By the time she came back the pause feature had expired and reset back to the movie listing. When I tried to resume it wanted me to buy it again. Now when I buy movies and I have to pause them longer than a couple of minutes I am constantly switching between “pause” “play” “rewind” and “pause” again to keep it from timing out.

  6. second largest cable TV company operating in the United States today,time warner has to face much due to coming of satellite television.

  7. I agree. Time Warner Cable has been nothing but a nightmare. The price is my biggest gripe! When they first installed my internet, cable and phone, they cut the hard line on my security system and when I called to have them come fix it, they tried to tell me it was my own fault for not telling the installation man that I had a security system. There were only stickers on every freakin window in the house and a yard sign in the front yard. The second time I called, I asked to speak to a manager, and they told me they would send someone out to fix my security system in TWO WEEKS! I was so pissed. They’ve shut my service off twice thinking I was delinquent and wasn’t without warning, and I have three 9-year-olds in the house who were not impressed with their loss of Nikelodeon. I may just try the satelite service if I can find something else for my internet and phone. I’ve had it with Time Warner!

  8. I’ve had time warner for about 10 yrs and their prices are getting to be outrageous. Less than a year ago my bill was $112 and today with no changes to service it’s $130. I’m done with TW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I have had time warner cable in the past. They have the worst customer service!!!!!!! Every time it rained outside we did not have cable. Don’t even try to call them when it goes because they have an automated teller stating TIME WARNER CABLE IS OUT IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS….. or some crap like that. I switched to direct tv a few years ago and I would not change back to time warner unless it was FREE and then I would have to really think about it. 🙂

  10. I had TWC for the past 4 years and everytime I had a problem it took months to fix it. For example I had the Triple play package and I decided I no longer wanted their phone service. Well it took over 3 months to get the service disconnected. I had to call back over 10 times and my person favorite was TWC told me they’d credit my account by $111 for all my problems and when I got the credit it was $80. When I called up to ask, as other people said they had no record of the phone call, but they had records of other phone conversations we had! My other favorite part was that I was getting charged all those months $32 for the phone service which I was not getting because there was (and I quote) “a glitch in their system”.
    With that said I never had a problem with their product but man did their CS suck!

  11. i am a current directv customer. their customer service SUCKS. My wife and I have the super combo of wireless, tv, and home phone. the wireless dsl is in no way shape or form as good as roadrunner. I had rr when it debuted in our town. no comparison. RR owns dsl. I never had the problems with RR/TWC that I have had with directv. Directv, you move, they renew your contract. TWC, no contract. SCREW directv. I dont need a home phone anymore, but I have to pay 32 bucks a month for something I dont use, because im on DSL.
    Had a problem with my bill on directv…. Took 6 calls, they sent me a check, that I was required to cash, and then send back…. and ya, if it gets all nasty weather wise, ya, directv goes out, TW doesnt.

  12. We have had TWC for many years in several different states! However, I’m at my wits end with TWC. We now live in Texas, just bought a new home and regretfully requested TWC services (the bundle). OK, the tech/service guy spent over 5 hrs at our home trying to “set up services”. He said everything “was good to go” and he left. We later found out that our Internet service was not working; made NUMEROUS calls to TWC customer service……each time, we were told we would have to schedule a appt, in other words, we had to block another 4 hrs out of our day to sit at home and WAIT for TMC to come to our aid…….now, 5 days after starting this whole process with TWC, 5 days of spending countless hours on the phone “repeating” our problem, we learn that it was a simple “router” issue!!!! Are you kidding me????? Additionally, TWC continues to increase our bill…..they charge a whopping $17.99/mo for a DVR….and if you request a 2nd DVR recorder, they charge the same price $17.99….no deal there!!!! Direct TV offers full home recording…..ONE BOX….for $7.99….record all your shows and watch them on any tv in the house!!! Hmmmmm……DIRECT TV…..that’s where we are heading!!! Been with TWC over 15 years…time to say GOOD BYE!!

  13. Directv use to be a lot better but things are changing and changing fast. They are both putting rates up but one thing that is better about TWC is the contract. Directv will make you renew your contract when you want to do all kinds of different things. I wanted to add a high def box to my package because i got a new tv well not only will it cost me $150+ to get the receiver i have to extend the contract if i want to do it. Beware of contracts they have outrageous fees and are written to get as much money out of you that is legally possible. Directv service is good but it is not that cheap and they are not what they use to be they have gotten greedy. and this is coming from someone who has been a customer since 2000.

  14. Diectv has the best channels. We used to have Time Warner Cable I have a scientific atlanta explorer 2000 cable box from Time Warner Cable cot on Fire and start smoking. When My Mom switch to Directv I have no trouble with my Directv digital cable box.

  15. Time Warner stinks. Horrible service, terrible customer service, and exorbitant prices. Internet has been down for a week. They miss appointments regularly, had me on chat for 2 hours, had me on the phone for 90 minutes, still no Internet acess. We are done.

  16. The problen that I have with Direct TV is packages they have for new customers, but they have nothing to offer customers that have been with them for years. I am presently searching for an alternative to satellite and cable.

  17. direct tv is a hundred times better than twc i had twc for ten years and the price kept going up and the servie got worse.

  18. I honestly believe that DIRECTV must have a huge staff of full-time employees that do nothing but post comments online, and thus improve its reputation. My time with DIRECTV was the worst experience with a company in my life. The majority of their sales staff will tell bold-faced lies in order to get you to buy a package, and sign a 2 year contract with a $450 cancellation fee. Don’t believe all the lies that the DIRECTV sales staff have posted on here and on other sites! If you go with DIRECTV, be sure to ask them how much you will have to pay your second year, the price almost doubles. TWC does the same thing, but at least with TWC there is no contract, and no $450 cancellation fee. You have to pay extra for the local channels (or you did when I was with the 2.5 years ago) and then you still don’t get all of the local channels. The reliability is horrible, and there are so many other problems. TWC offers HD cable, phone, and extremely fast internet for just a little more than your average DIRECTV package. You are not going to find faster internet than TWC’s basic internet package for less than $50 a month. After dealing with DIRECTV, TWC, Dish Network, and several local cable companies, I have moved several times, and the number one thing I look for before moving is a place that is covered by Time Warner Cable.

    When I first signed up, I was told that I could switch to any of the other packages within the first year, and keep the same introductory price. With that in mind, I got a package that I couldn’t afford over the long term, but I wanted to try it for a month. It was $80 a month. When I called to downgrade to a lower package, they told me it would cost me over $60 a month to get their worst package which only had about 13 channels. So I refused to pay my bill. They called me several times a day for the next several months. One lady said that she talked to her supervisor and would be able to switch my package to a different package at the introductory rate, but I would have to pay my bill first. As soon as I paid the bill, she said she couldn’t switch my package, but she would transfer me to someone who could, and then hung up on me. I called back, and they said that that lady must have told me wrong, because no supervisor there had authorized anyone to switch introductory packages. So again I refused to pay my bill and it is still on my credit report.

    To make it even worse. I was at a friends house one time and I wanted to watch the Duke vs. Carolina game that was supposed to come on a local channel. The only problem was, DIRECTV did not carry that local channel, my friend would have had to pay an extra $20 a month to get that local channel.

    With DIRECTV you will lose signal every time it rains too hard. You have to pay an extra $100 or more for each DVR or HD box, and $200 for each HD-DVR. With TWC its only about $10 more each month for an HD-DVR and all of the cable boxes are HD.

    I have only had one problem with TWC since I’ve been with them. One time one of the cable boxes would go in and out–the picture would go black and then come back on. I could temporarily fix the problem by resetting the cable box, but when I got tired of doing that I simply took the box into the store and got a new cable box in less than 5 minutes–the cashier scanned the barcode on the box I had and then grabbed a box from right behind her and scanned that barcode and said I’m good to go. I could have had them brought me a new one, but I would have had to wait 3 or 4 days.

    Time Warner Cable does increase their rate after a year. I was going to cut it off and put it in my girlfriends name to get another year of inexpensive cable, internet, and phone, but when I called to cancel they gave me another year at the first year rate and gave me free HBO with the purchase of any other premium channel package which was only about $15. Yeah the bill could go up twice in a year–once when your first year is up, and then again when a free trial of a movie channel runs out, but if you call TWC and tell them your about to switch to another provider, they will offer you a deal that is worth staying for. TWC even offers free repairs because you don’t have to buy the equipment. With DIRECTV you have to buy the equipment and pay to have it serviced and repaired. It’s $50 everytime DIRECTV comes out to fix something. It may take a little longer for TWC to get to you to fix your problem, but you always have the option of taking your equipment in.

    I honestly can’t believe that any real person would not be satisfied with TWC. It has been the most perfect experience I have ever had with a cable or satellite provider. I do not understand how DIRECTV could have so many people saying that it is a good service, unless it isn’t even real people… DIRECTV sales staff lie to get sales and lie to get people to pay their bills. So wouldn’t it make since that they also lie to make everyone think that they provide good service? And if you think I’m a sales person, please visit my website and give me a phone call… I just feel very very very passionately about DIRECTV being the absolute worst service I have ever had, its been worse than any customer experience I’ve had even buying vehicles or getting repair work done or going to a restaurant… DIRECTV is the worst service period! On the other hand Time Warner Cable, while it’s not the kind of personalized service I get when I go to get my hair cut, or out to my favorite restaurant, but for a cable or satellite provider, it is undoubtedly the best service I’ve ever experienced.

    I’ve heard that FiOS from Verizon is the best service, but it’s also a little pricier, but it’s not available in my area, so I can’t tell you for sure if its even worth getting, but I’ve heard its the best (but that’s what I heard about DIRECTV before I experienced it). I’ve heard some good things about AT&T U-verse: better quality HD and they offer options for faster internet than TWC (again I haven’t check it out); but they are a whole lot pricier than TWC and I can’t afford it. They do have packages for the same price as the bundle with DIRECTV, but these packages come with internet that is only 10% of the speed of TWC’s basic package and about a quarter of the channels that comes with TWC’s basic package.

    I hope I’ve helped some people make an informed decision. But if you noticed, in the fine print it says this site has no official connection with DIRECTV, but if you look at the ads that provide the revenues for this site, you’ll quickly realize that this website is paid for by DIRECTV.

    • Thank you for your experience with Direct TV. I have AT&T and will see how this combo works financially. The only reason I changed is that TWC kept increasing every few months in Ca. Reading your commentary I feel dreadful about the combination with AT&T and Direct. My decision was to combine both so I would not have separate bills. This is a new install (this past week) so I’ll have to wait and see. If Direct is a terrible as you say I will just pay the penalty and be done. I will stream from Apple TV and rent movies.

  19. My wife and I have been looking at ISP options in our area and recently determined that TWC does not wish to share with us what our rate will be after their 12 month promo expires. I have read many older posts to this effect and am surprised that this non-disclosure problem still exists. How can a family budget accurately, especially in these hard times, when companies refuse to be transparent with their billing practices. 🙁

  20. The only cable service I have ever had is TWC. I sold my house four months ago and cancelled my service because I had not found a new house yet and would be staying with family. Four months later I am ready for new cable service with TWC. The initial appointment started out ok until the technician could not complete the cable process because I needed a new cable line added (my original line was dead). I had to reschedule another appointment three days later to finish putting in the cable. Three days later and after waiting two hours, a representative calls to tell me they wouldn’t be able to make it and would need to reschedule for the next morning. So, again, the next morning I wait and wait for three hours without a show! I decided that if TWC wasn’t reliable enough to show up then they didn’t need my business – I called and cancelled my whole service!

  21. This seems to be pretty old. 39-42 years. I just found that to be funny since we didnt have either of them at the time. TWC sucks. Yet Im still with the jerks.

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