Satellite television is one of the great technological success stories in American history. Only 20 years ago, cable television operators had a virtual monopoly on the pay television market, but as of 2012 there are now more than 30 million subscribers to satellite television.  With 18 million subscribing to DIRECTV and more than 13 million enjoying DISH Network satellite TV, consumers should certainly review their options when it comes comparing cable and satellite.

The advantages of satellite TV are many, but like anything in life there are disadvantages as well.  Cable and telco competition are keeping the pressure on satellite television companies, as are new streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.  We will try to provide you with both the pros and cons of both DISH Network and DIRECTV.

If you are looking for something specific simply head on up to the top of our site.  There you can ust the search box to filter hundreds of articles and reviews on satellite, cable, and newer telephone TV options like Verizon FiOS and AT&T Uverse.  If there is anything you want to know about DIRECTV or DISH Network, whether it be programming, packages, channels, pricing, HD, DVR information, or just about anything else, you can find it there.

So why should you seriously consider satellite TV, what makes DIRECTV and DISH Network superior choice to cable?  One thing to remember is that no matter where you live in the United States, you can hook up a satellite dish and get high quality, 100% digital picture and sound. While people who live in rural areas almost exclusively subscribe to satellite TV, many in the suburbs and cities also have come to see the advantages. Even those in apartments have recently won the right to install a dish on their deck or porch in order to receive programming. DISH Network and DIRECTV are also deploying new technology that will allow those in high rise apartment buildings the ability to subscribe to satellite services. So now satellite TV is just about with reach of everyone.

So if you move into a new area, explore side by side what the local cable company offers with what either DISH Network or DIRECTV can provide. You may be surprised to find out that a dish TV provider can offer you free installation for up to four rooms, free receivers including DVR’s, and discounted programming packages that either give you several months of free service, or a monthly discount for the first year. The dish they bring out is also free as well. Another thing to compare is what the price will be after any promotional period is up. Often DISH Network and DIRECTV deals are 15-20% lower than a comparable cable TV package from a provider like Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision or Cox cable.

One current consideration is the high definition, or HD market that is growing by leaps and bounds.Everyone is going out and buying brand new flat screen, plasma, and HDTV sets from Costco, Sam’s Club, Best Buy and the like. But what happens when you bring that brand new HDTV home and hook it up? Well of course it looks great because it is probably a 40’ TV or even bigger if you decided to go for the gusto. But are you really getting the best picture you can get? Amazingly some folks don’t know you have to subscribe to an HD package from either your cable or satellite provider.

Here is where satellite TV has an inherent advantage over the cable company. Cable TV is delivered by a hard line to each and every house that it serves. These homes are served from nodes spread throughout the neighborhoods you live in. With this type of situation, each area has to be upgraded to provide the additional capacity to carry HD channels. Some cable companies have even “compressed” high definition programming in an attempt to try to deliver these HD channels to their customers when their networks cannot really support the amount of data being pushed out. This has resulted in some cases in an even worse picture than standard definition, or SD programming.

With a satellite dish, there is no hard line to the customer. Once the agreement is in place between the programmer and the satellite carrier – either DISH Network or DIRECTV, then everyone in America can get the channel all at the same time once it is turned up.

This contrasts with cable companies, which have to deploy HD channels in one area at a time, and only after network upgrades have been completed. The end result with this is that the densely populated areas are the focus of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and other cable operators. Logically that makes sense for them, as they want to get new HD services to as many customers as possible, but it leaves smaller towns, isolated neighborhoods, and rural areas out of the loop. Why should the cable company upgrade 500 subscribers when they have 5,000 down the road who are waiting for HD?

The bottom line when it comes to HD is found in the results offered by satellite TV companies.  DIRECTV offers 110 national high definition channels and DISH Network offers 116 as of October 2012.  DISH Network is adding 17 additional HD channels on August 1st, 2008, and Direct TV has a new satellite in orbit already that will soon allow them to upgrade their HD lineup even further. Most cable companie s offer anywhere from 20 to 60 national HD channels. That is a wide range, but as mentioned earlier, every area and every cable provider is different. You will have to research the cable operator in your area to make an accurate comparison.

Now the question I get the most is which is better- DIRECTV or DISH Network? The answer to that question is kind of like answering the question:

“Which one of your kids do you like the best?”

There really is not a definitive answer which satellite TV Company to choose. Each has their good and bad, just like your kids! But if you really must know, here are a few of the high and low points of DISH Network and DIRECTV.

First, a short DIRECTV review.

DIRECTV is the largest satellite television company in the country right now, boasting over 17 million subscribers. DISH and DIRECTV were neck and neck for many years, but DIRECTV has executed their sports and HD channel deployment very well in the last few years, and it now shows up in the subscriber numbers.  Comcast is the only company in America that can claim more subscribers, with upwards of 25 million customers.  DIRECTV has resale agreements with AT&T, Verizon, and also bundles video service for Qwest customers in many western states including Colorado and Arizona.

DIRECTV has had strong subscriber growth over the last few years due to two specific points of focus.
Their first strength is in their exclusive sports programming packages. Now we are not just talking about sports channels like ESPN, ESPN2, and the regional Fox Sports Networks. What we are discussing is the specialized sports packages that offer fans much more than traditional broadcasting has offered in the past.DIRECTV is the sole provider of the NFL Sunday Ticket, the NASCAR HotPass, and the NCAA Mega March Madness package.  In addition, DIRECTV has picked up smaller packages including the Masters, the French Open, and Wimbledon.  DIRECTV also carries MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, and NHL Center Ice packages, though not exclusively.

So if a sports fan is looking into satellite TV, and they are passionate about a specific sport and want extra coverage, DIRECTV is really the only choice. This fact alone has separated DIRECTV not only from cable TV operators, but also from DISH Network.
The company’s second strength is in their high definition channel lineup. In 2007, DIRECTV started a big campaign advertising that they would have 100 HD channels by the end of that year. While they didn’t reach that goal, ending up with about 92, the publicity around the campaign really touched a nerve with the public.DIRECTV set out to become the #1 source for those interested in HD, and they still are widely recognized as the leader. With their recent launch of the DIRECTV 11 satellite, the company should shortly have enough capacity for up to 150 HD channels.

DIRECTV of course offers plenty as far as programming, packages, and the DIRECTV DVR. Additional details on these items can be found throughout this site. These are the areas where you will find things generally equal between DISH Network and DIRECTV.

So those are a couple of strengths with DIRECTV. Are there any caution flags you with DIRECTV that you should consider?

As with any purchase, you should certainly consider all of the factors involved. DIRECTV currently has a fairly strict credit and contract policy. Credit checks are done on all new customers, and most new customers are expected to honor a 24 month agreement to stay with satellite TV from DIRECTV. Why such a long contract for what many consider a utility?

It has to do with what is referred to in the business as subscriber acquisition cost, or SAC.

How much do you think it costs DIRECTV to acquire and set up a new subscriber? $100? $200? $300?

Not even close, try $700 plus for each new subscriber, according to DIRECTV conference calls with investors and analysts.

Remember, DIRECTV pays for the dish, the receiver, and the technician to come out and install service in up to 4 rooms in your home. Newer HD equipment is costly, and depending on current promotions, there may be some upfront costs for the subscribers. But in general, DIRECTV pays those costs for the customer, because they want you to subscribe to their service. So don’t expect to get out of a contract with DIRECTV unless there is something truly wrong with the service.

So those are a few of the pros and cons with DIRECTV, lets consider a brief DISH Network review.

DISH Network currently counts more than 13 million satellite TV subscribers. They are the third largest pay television company, with Comcast and DIRECTV having more subscribers.

When comparing DISH Network and DIRECTV side-by-side, DISH offers basically everything that you can find with the DIRECTV offer, except for the exclusive sports packages. So if sports aren’t a big deal to you, DISH Network can probably fit your needs, and at a slightly lower price.

DISH Network offers a little more flexibility in building a package exactly how you want it. For example, you can get a base package with DISH Network without local channel programming. While most people want their local channels, if you do not watch local networks, you can decline this option, and save $5 per month.DISH Network also offers packages comprised of just HD channels. Their new TurboHD offering allows you to pick from several different HD bundle options.

DISH Network is also known for their wide variety of international programming. Foreign language channels in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Russian, Korean, and several other languages. These packages are designed to help those who have moved to America from different parts of the world stay in touch with what is happening at home. While DIRECTV also offers foreign language programming, DISH Network has been the leader in this area, especially with their DishLATINO programming lineup.

Another area which DISH Network dominates is their Digital Video Recorder or DVR for short. DISH Network’s ViP 722 DVR has won praise and accolades from the press, and continues to be the best DVR on the market today. CNET has awarded the ViP622 their Editors Choice award, winning out over the DIRECTV HR20 and eventeh TiVo HD DVR.

The dishDVR can record up to 350 hours of standard definition (SD) programming, or up to 55 hours of HD programming. Of course it handles all of the other DVR features with ease, such as pausing live TV, watching one program while recording another, and best of all, the ability to bypass commercials. DISH Network truly provides you full control over how and when you watch television.

So there you have it, well at least some of it. Obviously the market continues to evolve and improve as satcasters compete against each other, as well as cable television operators across the country.   New competitors like AT&T U-Verse and Verizion FiOS will make things a bit more interesting over the next few years.  A little comparison shopping goes a long way, so we invite you to look around our site for further satellite TV information on DISH Network and Direct TV.