DIRECTV vs Cablevision – A Comparison Shopping Guide

DIRECTV and Cablevision are two of the biggest players in the pay television market. DIRECTV of course is the largest satellite television company in America, and is only second to Comcast in total subscribers. Cablevision is a big cable player in the Northeast, and is the 5th largest cable TV company in America today. How do they compare? In this article, we will compare Cablevision vs DIRECTV satellite.

The major difference when comparing Cablevision to DIRECTV is of course how the signal gets to your home. With Cablevision, the signal comes in via last mile technology, an actual hard line from the cable company into your home. DIRECTV satellite signal is of course sent from outer space to a small satellite dish mounted on your home. While some don’t like the fact that they have to have a satellite dish on their house, they of course love the programming available via satellite service.

As mentioned earlier, Cablevision is one of the big cable TV players in America today. Based out of New York, Cablevision serves some of the most populated areas in the Northeast. In New York, the cable TV operator has franchises in the Bronx, and Brooklyn. Other large areas in New York served by Cablevision include Long Island and much of the Westchester area. Cablevision also serves large areas in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Cablevision markets their services under the Optimum brand name. Their cable service is known as iO TV, short for “It’s Optimum”. Other services such as “Optimum Online” and “Optimum Voice” round out the offerings from Cablevision, allowing customers to subscribe to a triple play bundle of voice, video, and internet service. You certainly may find that subscribing to all three services through Cablevision might be right for your family, but for an accurate comparison with DIRECTV, let’s look at the prices and programming for just iO TV, lining them up against the satellite programming from DIRECTV.  One thing to remember is that new customers often get the best deals.  DIRECTV deals for new customers should be compared against their Cablevision counterpart to get an accurate picture of what each company offers.

Pricing can vary a little in the different areas served by Cablevision, as each area has specific rates. The prices reviewed here are from the Cablevision website using zip code 10012, an area in New York.

Cablevision does offer a very low priced entry package with their Broadcast Basic package, which is only about $11 per month. This package though is basically your local channels delivered through the cable company. A more realistic entry level package is the Family Cable package, offered at $52.95 per month. This is comparable to the DIRECTV Choice package, which is $55.99 per month; though you can get a $21 per month discount during the first year of service bringing the price to $34.99 a month for that period.To give you an idea of what channels are in the Cablevision Family package, here is a current channel lineup:

ABC Family
Animal Planet
Animal Planet HD
Bravo HD
Cartoon Network
CNN Headline News
Comedy Central
Comedy Central HD
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel HD
Disney Channel
Food Network
Food Network HD
FOX News Channel
fuse HD
HD Theater
History Channel HD
MSG Plus
News 12 Traffic & Weather
Nickelodeon HD
Religious Programming
Sci-Fi Channel
Sci-Fi HD
Speed Channel
Speed Channel HD
Spike HD
Spike TV
SportsNet New York
SportsNet New York HD
The Learning Channel
Travel Channel
Travel Channel HD
Turner Classic Movies
TV Land
Universal HD
USA Network
The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel HD
WE tv
YES Network

The next TV package from Cablevision is the iO package, and is comparable to the digital cable packages you will find with Comcast or Time Warner. Here you will find about 50 additional channels as compared to the Family cable package. Comparable to the DIRECTV Choice Xtra package which offers about 200 video and audio channels, the iO TV package is $63.80 per month compared to the DIRECTV Choice Xtra price of $60.99 per month.

You do pay $6.51 per month for the first Cablevision digital box or DVR unit, while with DIRECTV the first unit is included.DIRECTV charges $5.00 per month for each additional receiver, while you will find the same $6.51 charge for each digital cable box, or $2.00 a month for Cablevision cable cards.

Cablevision does offer two additional packages, which are the iO Silver and the iO TV Gold packages. These build off of the iO package and add a number of premium movie channels. The iO Silver package adds quite a few HBO, Encore and Starz channels and is priced at $75.95 per month. The Cablevision iO Gold package has everything in the Silver package plus another 25+ Cinemax and Showtime channels. Overall, the all inclusive package from Cablevision compares well with the DIRECTV Premier package, which currently runs about $110 per month.

If you are looking for foreign language programming, usually your best bet would be something like the DIRECTV Mas package, or one of the other foreign language satellite TV packages. Cablevision does offer the iO en Espanol package, priced at $14.95 a month above your regular cable package price. The Cablevision Spanish package has about 35 channels, so it falls short in comparison to the nearly 50 Spanish channels available in the DIRECTV Mas package.

With DIRECTV, you can select from literally dozens of foreign language packages, including popular options like Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Cablevision does offer a few foreign packages, such as the South Asian package for $19.95 a month and a Korean package for $14.95 per month. With Cablevision you do have to pay extra on top of your regular digital cable package for foreign channels. Some DIRECTV foreign language packages can be bought on their own, resulting in big savings vs. Cablevision.

Now when it comes to high definition content, this is an important thing to evaluate, DIRECTV HD vs. Cablevision HD. Most Americans have made the move by purchasing a new HDTV, so of course they want as many channels in HD as possible. Again there will be slight variations in each area served by Cablevision as far as the number of HD channels you will get.iO claims to offer more than 100 HD channels, with a “where available” disclaimer posted on the Cablevision website.They do have HD broadcast of all 9 major New York sports teams, which is great for fans.  DIRECTV HD currently claims more than 130 channels, but again those numbers are inflated by pay per view channels and regional sports networks that aren’t always available to all customers.

Check for the HD channels you want with both providers, comparing DISH Network satellite as well,  to be sure you are getting what you want. Unfortunately, neither Cablevision nor DIRECTV offer 100% HD only packages, like those offered by DISH Network Turbo HD.

A couple of final considerations when comparing DIRECTV vs Cablevision are DVR services and on-demand offerings.DVR service is virtually a must have these days, with the network and cable channels clogged up with commercials every ten minutes.DIRECTV offers DVR units that can hold up to 50 hours of HD content, or 200 hours of standard definition content.The Cablevision DVR for iO holds up to 24 hours of HD content, and 100 hours of SD content.

So DIRECTV has an advantage here with more capacity.DIRECTV also beats Cablevision on price when it comes to the monthly DVR service fee.With DIRECTV, you will pay $6.00 per month for DVR service, unless you subscribe to either the Plus DVR package or the Plus HD DVR packages, where the fee is built into the package prices.With Cablevision iO, the monthly DVR service fee is $9.95, so you can save a few bucks here with DIRECTV satellite.

On the other hand, Cablevision has the advantage over DIRECTV when it comes to their on-demand programming. Big cable companies like Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast have upgraded their networks to offer thousands of programs at the touch of a button to their subscribers.Cablevision offers on-demand pay per view, allowing you to watch a movie at any time for a small charge.They also offer Free movies on-demand, which come from the libraries of the cable networks that are carried in your iO TV packages.

DIRECTV offers on-demand programming as well, but it isn’t as robust as the platform used by cable TV companies.Basically, you have to hook your DVR up to a high speed internet connection, either from the phone or cable TV company.Then you can access a wide variety of programming and download it into your DVR.The bad thing about DIRECTV on demand is that you usually have to wait at least a few minutes for some of the programming to download before your can watch.Plus, if your high speed connection isn’t all that fast, it can literally take hours to download a movie.

One final thing to look at when comparing DIRECTV to Cablevision is the potential triple-play savings that may come from Cablevision.Most households today do in fact use voice, video, and high speed internet service, and having them all through the same provider can be a convenience.Just keep an eye on the promotional period, as after one year the price for the Cablevision triple play bundle can jump significantly.


  1. Hmmm, competition is really fast spreading. Cable TV is a lot expensive unlike just buying Dish TV but either way it is still best to have internet because you can do anything using it anyways.

  2. I choose to subscribe to cable for a couple of reasons: First, I’m used to the cable line-up and the on-screen guide. Second, the San Diego cable companies have an exclusive deal with the San Diego Padres where they show over 140 games a year for free on their own baseball channel. So, you can’t get the Padres games on satellite.

  3. I will have to say that between these two, I recommend looking into DISH Network. I am always looking for ways to save money, and there is no better option for that than DISH. I actually work at DISH, and right now they are offering new customer up to three HD receivers for free. Plus you can use the HD free for life promotion and upgrade your channel to HD for no additional cost on your bill. DISH really is the best option for TV when it comes to saving money.

  4. I want to know why the REELZ Channel hasn’t been added to the list?!
    AT&T DIrect TV, Dish all have it BUT NOT Buckeye Cable.
    I’m thinking of switching because Buckeye isnt keeping up to date with the listings and REELZ is a great channel.

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