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.