Satellite TV companies like DIRECTV have signed up millions of customers over the past 20 years, in most cases at the expense of cable television companies like Time Warner and Comcast. But five years ago, new competitors broke into the marekt – traditional telco players like AT&T and Verizon. AT&T has been deploying their U-Verse service, and Verizon has been extremely aggressive promotion their new cable TV product. In less than a decade, Verizon now has more than five million FiOS TV customers.
So with this option now available to many in the Verizon footprint, you might be wondering – Which service should you go with, DIRECTV satellite or Verizon FiOS?
While comparing technology and prices can be difficult, Verizon has put forward a fairly straightforward pricing strategy, making the comparison a little easier.
Verizon FiOS keeps it pretty simple when reviewing the packages and pricing. Their website promotes three different options, with the FiOS Prime HD package being the first option for $64.99 a month. This package includes over 210 all digital channels, including all of the popular networks such as ESPN,TNT,USA, MTV, Discovery, CNN and others. Local channels such as ABC, NBC, and CBS are also in this package. In addition, 55 HD channels are offered.
FiOS Extreme HD offers 290 channels, with 75 in HD. Pricing is $10 higher, so you will pay $74.99 monthly. The top package is the Ultimate HD option, for $89.99 a month. Here you will get almost 400 channels with more than 110 in high definition.
Verizon also offers a Spanish language package titled La Conexión. This package competes with the Direct TV Mas packages available via satellite. La Conexión offers nearly 190 channels including 70 Spanish language networks. The rest of the programming is made up of digital audio including 46 commercial free music stations and English language content to round out the package.
Where Verizon FiOS makes their money is in their add-ons. Check out the following charges that can really add up if you aren’t carefully tracking your spending.
Sports $7.99/month -Includes over a dozen different sports channels like Outdoor Channel, The Golf Channel, etc…
High Definition Set Top Box $11.99/month
Digital Video Recorder (DVR) $16.99/month
Multi Room DVR $19.99/month
Fully Loaded Entertainment Package $39.99/month Includes Starz, Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, Encore, TMC, Flix and Sundance.
From this list, you can see how your Verizon FiOS TV bill could easily exceed $100 per month based on having a couple of HDTV’s and a movie package added to your account.
One nice feature is the Verizon FiOS Home Media DVR, which allows all of the TV’s hooked into FiOS service the ability to access the content on the main DVR. DIRECTV responded with their own version of this product, the Whole Home DVR, which can connect and share content throughout the entire home.
What about promotions with Verizon FiOS? As with any cable or satellite company, there are always deals out there to try to lure the customer in the door. FiOS deals are no different, and they have a couple of options right now for the customer.
Current Verizon FiOS promotions include free activation and discounts on service for two years, if you agree to a contract. Verizon is also offering a $100 gift card with their FiOS double play (Prime HD and 15/5 Internet for $79.99 a amonth). In addition, you can get HBO, Showtime and Cinemax discounted by 50% for six months. Check with Verizon directly to find out the exact terms and conditions, and remember to order online as the best offers are found there.
With DIRECTV satellite you also get free activation and free installation. Depending on the package you select, you will get an upgrade to their latest HD DVR model, though there is of course a monthly fee associated. DIRECTV also offers free movie packages for 3 months as a new customer. The big savings come in though when looking at the monthly discounts on programming. Discounts on DIRECTV currently run up to $39 if you get a package and the HD DVR during the first year, and another $10 off during year number two. Of course if you are leaning towards satellite service, you also may want to compare Fios vs Dish Network to see if the other satellite provider may be best for you.
As far as monthly fees go, with DIRECTV there are several programming package options available, starting from $29.99 per month for the DIRECTV Entertainment package, and going all the way up to the all-inclusive Premier package, which runs in the area of $120 per month before promotional discounts.
One thing that Verizon FiOS does offer that you can’t usually find with regular cable TV companies like Comcast and Time Warner is international programming. FiOS
bills these channels individually, so there aren’t any bundles packages of international channels. Here are the channels and pricing for international with Verizon FiOS:
TV JAPAN $25.009
TV Polonia $17.99
The Filipino Channel $11.99
TV Asia $14.99
Rang A Rang $14.99
With satellite TV, there are several different bundles that include international programming – including the popular DIRECTV Mas Spanish language package. These options include several channels in the represented language, and can be bought either as stand alone package or as add-on bundles to basic DIRECTV packages.
One area to consider when comparing Verizon FiOS and DIRECTV is the number of HD network offered. High definition programming has become more important as homeowners look to hook up their new flat screen and plasma TV’s with the latest technology.
DIRECTV currently has about 112 HD channels, a number that hasn’t moved much in the last two years. Verizon’s FiOS HD lineup is very competitive with DIRECTV in fact they surpassed the satellite provider recently and now offer 136 HD channels. Only U-verse offers more HD at this time, and since AT&T and Verizon don’t battle head-to-head, FiOS comes out on top in the areas where the service is available.
While most are familiar with satellite TV services like DIRECTV, getting cable TV through your telephone company is a different animal. How does Verizon provide its FiOS TV service?
In order to provide FiOS cable television service, Verizon has to upgrade an area to fiber optic lines. This deployment is extremely costly and time consuming – keep in mind every line to every home, apartment, and business has to be switched out to fiber optics. According to Fortune magazine, the cost for Verizon to do this across half of its network will be an estimated $23 billion dollars.
Once the lines are in place, Verizon can offer the customer voice, video, and high-speed internet all through the same line. These so-called triple play bundles are the holy grail of communications, at least in the eyes of the companies selling such bundles. Verizon gets not only a hefty payday each month from customers subscribing to these packages; they also have a loyal customer who is tied in with multiple services through one provider. This is part of the reason Verizon is investing billions in the project, because they expect to make it back in the decades ahead.
Availability is another obstacle you many need to overcome. If you are currently reside in the Verizon footprint, you may be able to get FiOS TV – it all depends on if Verizon has upgraded your area the fiber necessary to deliver the signal. On the other hand you definitely can get DIRECTV if you have an area where a small dish can be placed with exposure to the southern skies.