Comcast recently rebranded their product as Xfinity, and at the same time they have upgraded many of their facilities to offer more when it comes to cable television. How does Xfinity compare with DIRECTV? Does the new name mean anything when you are evaluating Xfinity vs DIRECTV? Lets take a closer look and compare these two services.
Comcast is still the biggest pay television company in America, boasting more than 25 million customers. Their new Xfinity TV program builds on their traditional cable TV network – adding more HD channels, faster internet speeds, and of course voice service. Xfinity TV will be the brand name used by to market these services, while Comcast will remain the corporate name. DIRECTV continues to grow its subscriber base, with 18 million subscribers of their own. Some experts predict that DIRECTV satellite TVwill be the largest pay television company within the next five years.
High definition content is what is mainly on the mind of the American TV viewer today. With HDTVs dropping in price to around $500, almost everyone can now afford this technology. DIRECTV has grown its subscriber base over the past five years by offering more HD than most competitors, including Xfinity. But the Xfinity TV upgrade now levels the playing field quite a bit when it comes to HD.
In areas where Xfinity is now available, you can usually get 100 high definition channels or more. DIRECTV brags that they now have more than 130 HD channels, but on close inspection many are pay per view movie channels and/or regional sports networks. DIRECTV does now offer Free HD (a $10 saving s per month) for new customers with a 2 year agreement, while there may be a charge for HD with Xfinity depending on the level of service you select. Overall, when comparing Xfinity HD vs. DIRECTV HD things are fairly even these days, although DIRECTV does now offer 3D TV channels, which are not found with other providers at this time.
Another big selling point from Comcast with their Xfinity TV service is the On-demand content available. With Xfinity you get access to nearly 20,000 On-demand titles per month. Of course many of these titles roll over from month to month, but you will usually find new stuff added every few weeks. Many of the “titles” are not full shows, such as movie trailers and other short length features, but overall there is always something on with Xfinity On-demand.
Xfinity TV also offers their Fancast feature as well, which is the same on-demand content on your computer. This is nice if you are away from home a lot, as you can simply stream your favorite content on your laptop. Xfinity Fancast TV offers hundreds of brand new episodes through your PC, something you won’t find anywhere with your typical satellite TV connection.
DIRECTV also offers their own version of On-demand, but you will probably find it inferior to the Xfinity version. To get set up with DIRECTV On demand, you first have to connect your DVR to a high speed internet connection. This in itself is a problem for many who subscribe to DIRECTV- those living in rural areas in America where there is not yet high speed connectivity. If you are able to set up with the on demand service from DIRECTV, you will have access to around 6,000 titles. The service really doesn’t compare to On demand from Xfinity in that you have to download content to your DVR with your internet connection, while with the cable version they hold the content on their servers.
Another consideration when comparing DIRECTV and Xfinity is whether to go with a bundled package. The cable TV option is a bit easier here, as the Xfinity triple play can get you going with all of your communication services as a discounted rate if you are a new customer. In most areas, you can get an Xfinity bundle for around $99 if you go with the lower level of TV and internet service. Xfinity voice rounds out the triple play package and includes both local and long distance calling across the United States. The main thing to watch out for here are add-ons like the Xfinity DVR which can add another $15 a month, and the price after the promotion ends. The Xfinity deals are deeply discounted for the first year of service, so it is important to know what you will be paying once the deal ends.
DIRECTV packagesare also discounted during the first year of the contract. You can save $29 a month off of the Choice package or higher (plus the Free HD) when you are a new satellite television customer. As far as building a DIRECTV internet and phone bundle, you are going to have to rely on other companies to finish out your communications package. DIRECTV does not offer internet or phone service through their satellites, but they do have partnerships with three of the major telecom companies in America. Many who prefer satellite service have created their own DIRECTV triple play by subscribing to DSL and home phone service from AT&T, Verizon, or Qwest. All three of these carriers have resale agreements in place with DIRECTV, though two of them also offer their own video product. U-verse from AT&T and Verizon’s FiOS service are alternatives to both Xfinity and DIRECTV if you are interested in fiber optic TV choices.
Now if price is you main concern, it can be a bit like comparing apples to oranges when evaluating DIRECTV and Xfinity TV services. Both companies will jump at the chance to offer you a discounted deal if you are a new customer. As mentioned, DIRECTV drops your price by nearly $30 for the first year, but of course you are locked into normal DIRECTV prices for a one year period after that before your can leave the company without penalty. In the Seattle, Washington market you could subscribe to the Xfinity Digital Premier package for $84.99 for six months. After that it goes to $104.99 for the next six months, before finally going up to the normal price of $124.99 a month. This compared to the DIRECTV Premier package which is an all inclusive type setup for about $115 a month. As you can see, the satellite TV option is a bit less than Xfinity cable when just comparing similar packages.
Other factors of course come into play with the various Xfinity bundle options. To get a real handle on which option is best, you will probably have to get a quote from whichever phone company you intend to use for high speed internet and voice service, then add that to the DIRECTV rates. Then you will be able to line up Xfinity prices against DIRECTV in a way that makes sense.
Another thing to keep in mind with Xfinity and DIRECTV is the DVR services offered by each company. DIRECTV is the clear leader here, especially if you have multiple rooms where you want to record and playback content from your DVR. Their new Whole Home DVR allows this to happen at a fairly affordable price, $10 a month for the main unit and $5 a month for additional HD receivers. With Xfinity this option is not yet available, and if you do want one regular HD DVR it costs nearly $15.95 a month unless you go with the HD Premier XF package which is a $200 bundle.
Finally, if you are a sports fan you probably already know about the NFL Sunday Ticketand the exclusive contract that DIRECTV has with the league. If you are an out of market football fan, you are basically given no other option than DIRECTV if you want to watch your team week in and week out. The price for 2010 is going to be a little over $300, but there is one silver lining in that all games will be in HD without paying an additional fee. Xfinity does offer an alternative in that they now have the NFL version of the Red Zone channel along with Dish Network, which will run a few extra bucks a month on a special sports tier.