If you live in an area served by Charter cable, no doubt you have considered whether it is better to use their cable service or perhaps go with one of the satellite TV companies. In this article, we will compare Charter vs DIRECTV satellite TV, and consider which one will be best for your situation. Charter cable is currently the fourth largest cable TV company in America, and has nearly 5 million subscribers. DIRECTV is the largest satellite TV company, with 18 million subscribers. Their primary competitor remains Dish Network, who boasts 14 million subscribers of their own.
When starting a comparison of DIRECTV and Charter cable, one thing to do up front is evaluate exactly what video, internet, and home phone services you require. Many prefer to go with one company for all of those services if possible, making it easier if their is a customer service issue.
DIRECTV of course is a pay television provider, so you won’t be ordering a complete bundle including home phone service and high speed internet from them. On the other hand, a cable TV company like Charter has the capability of offering all of these communication options. While a Charter bundle might seem like the way to go based on this information, considering other factors like price, customer service, and HD channels access are also important.
Now if you do decide that DIRECTV is the right choice for you, the alternative is to use Charter or your local phone company for high speed internet and phone service. Big telecom companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Centurylink have partnered with DIRECTV so that you can sometimes get a discount on service, or at least combined billing for DSL, voice, and video service.
Charter vs DIRECTV Channels
If you compare the channel lineups in the Charter digital cable lineup and the DIRECTV packages, you probably will not see much of a difference. Certainly there are a few channels here or there that may not be found with one company or the other, but generally the major cable channels and local networks like NBC are going to be found with both companies. If there is a secondary cable network you are especially interested in, be sure to either call Charter and DIRECTV and see which package has your channel of interest before ordering.
Now if poor customer service gets to you, pay attention here to how DIRECTV compared to Charter cable. Its hard to argue that ANY pay television company provides great customer service. For years, cable TV built a poor reputation nationally as they pretty much ignored the service aspect of the business. While horror stories about both DIRECTV and Charter abound on the internet, customer service surveys give a better picture of how these companies perform. The latest University of Michigan survey rates DIRECTV at the top of the heap when it comes to customer service beating out Dish Network, Time Warner and Comcast among the biggest providers. Unfortunately Charter cable came in at the opposite end of the rankings.
According to the 2009 ACSI survey, Charter cable scored a 51, which was a decline of 5.6% when compared to their 2008 score. DIRECTV scored a 71, which was a 4.4% increase over their 2008 score. While Charter cable is currently in bankruptcy, it really doesn’t excuse being the lowest rated cable or satellite provider in America.
New Customers Get the Best Deals
So lets look at the pricing and package structures of both Charter and DIRECTV satellite television. Both Charter and DIRECTV offer deals if you are a new customer. With DIRECTV you can take $26 off of your package price for one year, as long as register for your rebate, and register your email address online and accept e-mail from directv.com. Charter cable deals are as follows:
Charter starter cable is just $9.99 a month for six months. This is an absolute bare bones basic cable package, which has your local channels and a few other networks tossed in. Most will want to start at least with the Charter digital cable package, which is $49.99 a month for the first six months. Charter on demand programming is also included here, which will give you access to more than 6,000 shows and movies each month. The regular price for this package is $70 a month in the St. Louis Missouri market, but you may want to check the area you live in as cable TV prices can vary based on the region you live in.
Finally, the Charter HD package is $54.99 a month for the first six months, and it includes everything in the Charter digital bundle plus of course any high definition channels available in your area. Normal Charter pricing on this package is $70 per month after six months.
Now if you are looking at comparable bundles from DIRECTV, the first option is the Entertainment package, which runs $29.99 a month for a year, then it goes up to the regular price of $54.99 monthly. Now if you are looking to compare a DIRECTV package with Charter Digital cable TV, the two offers that are most closely aligned are the Choice package and the Choice Xtra bundle.
The DIRECTV Choice bundle is currently priced at $34.99 per month for the first year, while ChoiceXtra is $39.99 for the first year. Both of these prices reflect the $29 dollar a month discount discussed earlier. As far as channel selection, Choice has 150+ channels, and Choice Xtra has 200+ channels counting audio and video networks. By comparison, the Charter digital cable package has about 100 video channels and 45 commercial free audio channels in the lineup. HD access can be added to any DIRECTV package for $10 per month.
So who comes out on top when comparing Charter’s high definition channel selection against DIRECTV? This debate used to be pretty one-sided, as DIRECTV was the leader in offering HD channels while Charter cable floundered far behind in most areas of the country. But in the last year or so the gap has been closed quite a bit.
While DIRECTV has about 112 national HD channels, they advertise more (170+) when in fact they are counting pay per view movie channels in some of their marketing material. Actual HD channel counts are important to consider when comparing providers, as they oftentimes pad their numbers to make it look like they have more HD then the competition. An unbiased source to review is this unofficial chart , which currently has Charter HD offering 96 HD channels in wide distribution, and another 20 in limited areas. Your actual HD channel count could be quite different depending on your area, as hi def channels are not rolled out nationally with cable TV providers as they are with satellite TV companies.
If you are one who goes for the all inclusive type of package, both Charter and DIRECTV have something along those lines, just be prepared to shell out quite a bit of cash each month for this option. The DIRECTV Premier package is currently about $120 a month, then you would have to pay another $10 a month for HD, and $6 per month for each additional receiver. This package will give your more than 265 channels total, including more than 30 commercial free premiums like HBO. Discounts are given to new customers for the first and second year of service.
Charter has a similar option, which is basically the Digital Home with HD, then adding on the premiums at $36 for all of them together. Added to the promotional price of the Charter digital package with HD of $54.99 a month and the Digital view channels for $20 a month and you will be looking at $111 a month for the first six months before the price goes up.
Video on Demand – Which is better?
Another consideration when looking at a comparison of DIRECTV against Charter cable is the On-demand platform offered by each company. Charter has deployed on demand content like other big cable companies like Comcast and AT&T U-verse, though they have fewer selections at this time. Right now, Charter offers more than 6,000 titles in their on demand library, which kind of pales in comparison to Comcast’s 17,000 plus titles, or the 18,000 offered by Verizon Fios at this time. Then again, how much TV can one person really watch? DIRECTV offers their own on-demand system as well, but it relies on the customer having their own high speed internet connection, which you don’t need with Charter on demand. While the DIRECTV on demand setup is workable, it can be a bit frustrating compared to the robust on demand platform of Charter, or any other cable TV company for that matter.
Considerations for Sports Fans
Now if you are a hardcore sports junkie, you certainly don’t want to be left out in the cold when it comes to the big game. If you are serious about your team, you may want to seriously consider DIRECTV over Charter cable, as the sports programming options are far superior on satellite TV.
The basic sports channels can be found on both Charter and DIRECTV. These include ESPN, ESPN2, and other regional sports networks like Fox Sports. The area where DIRECTV holds an edge is in carrying the premium sports packages, and some of the secondary sports channels like the NFL Network. Everyone of course is familiar with the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is an exclusive of DIRECTV. But it goes quite a bit further in that DIRECTV carries, all of the sports bundles, and Charter doesn’t carry many at all.
With Charter, you will only be able to subscribe to the following sports packages if they are of interest to you: MLB Extra Innings, NHL Center Ice, ESPN Gameplan and ESPN Fullcourt. With DIRECTV, you can get all of these packages, plus these if they are your cup of tea: NBA League Pass, NCAA Mega March Madness, MLS Direct Kick, the previously mentioned Sunday Ticket, and NASCAR Hotpass which is actually free at this time. Obviously most of these premiums sports packages are going to cost you some money, but keep in mind you won’t even be able to get them on Charter. The NFL Network is another important sports channel that is not carried on Charter or Time Warner cable.
Another consideration is DVR service, and because of the convenience and popularity of digital video recorders, you definitely will want to get one with either Charter or DIRECTV. The Charter DVR will run you $15 a month for each DVR, while with DIRECTV it is currently priced at $6 per month. DIRECTV does offer some of the latest and greatest when it comes to Whole Home service, with their “Genie DVR” being the latest option for those wanting to record and access content on multiple TVs throughout the home.
As mentioned earlier, both Charter and DIRECTV want your business, so they offer deals to new customers to get you to sign up. DIRECTV offers include free installation and a large discount during year one and a smaller discount in year two. Some of the additional Charter deals are as follows: The Digital home, Digital view, and 2 premiums package for $80.99 a month for 6 months, then the regular price is $94 a month. The basic Charter triple play offer is $69.97 for limited basic cable, 1.5 Mbps DSL and Digital phone. This is good for 12 month then goes to the regular price of $104.97.
Charter Digital Cable plus 5 Mbps Internet package is $93.98 for six months, and includes one premium channel but no Charter phone service. The regular price here is $138.99 a month. The Charter Ultimate Bundle includes anything and everything from the cable company. Charter Digital home, Charter HD, and 3 Premium movie channels kick off this package. Added next is 10 Mbps Charter high speed internet service, and finally Charter Telephone with unlimited local and long distance calling to the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico rounds out the bundle. Total price here is $165.97 for one year, then $200.97 after the promotional period.
Additional Charter packages are available which mix and match different levels of cable, internet, and home phone service to your specifications. Full details can be found at their website charter.com or by calling Charter customer service at 1-888-438-2427.
For further information, please browse our Charter cable review, or visit our homepage to start learning more about satellite TV.