DIRECTV Satellite TV Review

  • pro
    Starts at $59.99/mo.
  • pro
    Comes with up to 330+ channels
  • pro
  • con
    Price doubles after first year

Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
Read More
May 05, 2020

With dozens of sports channels to choose from—including the coveted NFL SUNDAY TICKET—DIRECTV’s lineup is hard to beat when it comes to catching every play. Bundle it with AT&T internet and you'll make all your fantasy football picks in record time too. The main catch with DIRECTV is the two-year contract. Your first year is a pretty sweet deal, but your price will more than double during your second year—bummer.

DIRECTV plans and pricing














*Data current as of 5/4/2020. Introductory price for 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless billing, and autopay. †Price increases for months 13–24, when bundled with another service such as TV or home phone. Standalone price is $10 more for any service.

The best part about DIRECTV plans is the introductory price you get your first year. Sure, your bill does go up (a lot) in your second year. But it’s worth noting that the first year prices are even lower than DISH’s prices. Not to mention you’ll never pay more than an average of $0.50 cents per channel, which is fairly average across cable and satellite TV providers.

Our favorite DIRECTV plan is CHOICE because of its affordable pricing and decent selection of popular channels, such as ESPN. If you bundle internet with your TV package, you can get DIRECTV CHOICE for $69.99 per month. CHOICE comes with NFL SUNDAY TICKET included and three months of premium channels like HBO® for free. Not too shabby, eh?


As with any subscription service, there are a few fees to keep an eye out for with DIRECTV.


  • Activation fee: $19.95 one-time payment
  • Installation fee: None
  • Cancellation fee: $20 for each month remaining on your contract (up to $240)

Compared to other TV providers, DIRECTV’s fees are more than reasonable. If you’re a fan of fewer fees (and more football), DIRECTV is a score.

Pro tip:
When you call to sign up for DIRECTV service, ask your sales rep about current deals and promotions like free premium channels and gift cards.


Need internet with your TV? You can bundle DIRECTV with AT&T Internet, AT&T Fiber, or AT&T Fixed Wireless. And you’ll typically save on your monthly bill if you bundle—that’s a win-win.

DIRECTV bundling options

Data per month
Connection type

AT&T Internet


5–100 Mbps

1 TB

DSL/fiber hybrid

AT&T Fiber


100–1,000 Mbps

1 TB or Unlimited


AT&T Fixed Wireless


10+ Mbps

215 GB

Fixed wireless

Data current as of 5/4/2020. Speeds and availability may vary. *Price for 12 months with a 1-year contract, when bundled with another service such as TV or home phone. Standalone price is $10 more for any service.

What’s fixed wireless?
Fixed wireless uses transmitters to send your internet signal from one point to another. Usually you’ll find these transmitters attached to poles, buildings, or towers to create a wireless network. But, heads up, unlike a cellular network, fixed wireless relies on an ISP to deliver those signals.

This is where we steer you away from fixed wireless bundles. Unless fixed wireless is your only option, go with DSL or fiber. Why? Because if you’re like most people, you’ll blow through the monthly 215 GB data cap and get slapped with $10 overage fees for every 50 GB you go over the limit. And nobody wants that.

If bundling is your jam, get DIRECTV and AT&T Fiber (if it’s available in your hood). DIRECTV will deliver the entertainment and fiber internet will deliver better speeds at an affordable price. 

So, for example, if you bundled DIRECTV CHOICE with AT&T Internet 100, you’d only be paying $85 per month for the first year, never miss an NFL game, and still be able to upload your fan reaction videos to YouTube before the instant replay officials overturn that bad call.

DIRECTV Contract

If you’re new to DIRECTV, you’ll sign a two-year contract to get service. But after two years, you’ll need to sign only a one-year contract to keep the entertainment flowing. We wish DIRECTV wouldn’t raise prices so much during the second year, but at least you can save some bucks and get NFL SUNDAY TICKET free during your first year.

DIRECTV channels

With more than 330 channels to choose from, the chances of you spending Sunday afternoon with nothing to watch just got slimmer.

Here’s how each DIRECTV package compares when it comes to channels.


Channel count: 160+

Cost: $64.99/mo.

Channel highlights: All SELECT channels plus ESPN, ESPN2, FOX Sports 1, and NBC Sports Network

Best for: Sports on a budget

Need your sports fix without the high price tag? ENTERTAINMENT might be a good fit. It comes with ESPN and ESPN2, as well as FOX Sports 1, and NBC Sports Network. That means less time spent at noisy sports bars and more time enjoying the game from the couch. Score!

Our Pick

Channel count: 185+

Cost: $69.99/mo.

Channel highlights: Most ENTERTAINMENT channels plus ESPNEWS, ESPNU, MLB Network, NFL Network, Nicktoons, OWN, Travel Channel, and UniMás. NFL SUNDAY TICKET included.

Best for: Channel variety

In addition to NFL SUNDAY TICKET and a ton of sports channels, DIRECTV CHOICE comes loaded with lifestyle channels like OWN, Nicktoons, and the Travel Channel. That’s perfect for those times when you need some inspirational Oprah moments during halftime of the big game.


Channel count: 250+

Cost: $84.99/mo.

Channel highlights: All XTRA channels plus DTV4K, STARZ, and Univision Televisa Deportes. NFL SUNDAY TICKET included.

Best for: 4K viewing

Put your 4K TV to work with the DTV4K channel, featuring lush nature documentaries and vibrant live events in ultra-high definition. You’ve also got the wide world of sports at your fingertips along with the untamed areas of the Earth with Discovery Family Channel and Nat Geo WILD. Oh, and did we mention STARZ? Don’t plan on leaving the house anytime soon.


Channel count: 330+

Cost: $134.99/mo.

Channel highlights: All ULTIMATE channels plus beIN Sports, CINEMAX, DTV4K, ESPN Classic, HBO, Outdoor Channel, and SHOWTIME. NFL SUNDAY TICKET included.

Best for: Premium channels

Enjoy HBO, SHOWTIME, and CINEMAX without paying for an add-on package. PREMIER includes all your favorite premium channels and shows (Game of Thrones and Homeland, anyone?). And you’ll get extra sports with beIN Sports and ESPN Classic, plus some wild sports with the Outdoor Channel.

En español

Channels/canales: 125–350+ / 125–350+ Cost/precio: $35–$110/mo. / $35–$110/mes

Curl up on your couch and binge-watch telenovelas or cheer like you’re in the stands at the fútbol match. That’s what weekends are made for, right?

DIRECTV add-on channels

Don’t forget about those add-ons. From quirky to sporty, DIRECTV offers some exceptional extras for those who like to pick and choose.


Channel count: 33

Cost: $53.99/mo. (free for your first 3 months)

Don’t miss an episode of Silicon Valley or Homeland with this premium channel package.


Channel count: 2+

Cost: $293.94/season

Catch all the action in every out-of-market NFL game and track your favorite players. Better tell your friends your Sundays are off-limits now.

P.S. NFL SUNDAY TICKET is traditionally included for free for the first year with DIRECTV packages—as long as you get the CHOICE package or above. Oh yeah!


Channel count: 7 plus 30+ regional sports networks

Cost: $13.99/mo.

Does your family have a mega sports addiction? Huddle around the TV for slow-motion replays on channels like CBS Sports, ESPN Classic, and several regional networks.


Channel count: 3

Cost: $177.90/season or $29.65/mo. for 6 mos.

MLB EXTRA INNINGS is the best way to follow pro baseball throughout the season.


Channel count: 19

Cost: $59.99/season

No need for a body check—NHL CENTER ICE is the best way to watch your favorite team skate through the season.

NBA League Pass

Channel count: 17

$199.95/season or $39.99/mo. for 5 mos.

Watch your favorite team bring the house down. NBA League Pass treats you to up to 40 out-of-market games each week.

DIRECTV installation and equipment

No surprise here: you’ll need a satellite dish and a Genie DVR installed to watch DIRECTV.

Here’s what to expect in terms of installation, payment, and your new DIRECTV equipment.

Installation price

Aside from a $19.95 activation fee, DIRECTV installation doesn’t cost extra. So unless you want it installed in more than four rooms or need more than four receivers, you won’t have to dig into your pockets for more cash. (Heads up: DIRECTV also charges a $99 fee to set up your wireless Genie Minis.)

It’s worth mentioning that if your installation tech needs to change your telephone line, set up audio/visual equipment, or finish other specialized work, you might be charged a “custom work fee.”

If this happens, the technician should provide you with a Custom Work Rate Sheet that details what work they completed and how much it cost. The technician will collect payment for the specialized work right when they finish—don’t worry, this is to be expected!

DIRECTV installation process

  1. Once you order your DIRECTV package, you’ll receive an installation appointment notification.
  2. Your technician visits within two days of placing your order, and installation will take about five hours.

To make sure your installation goes as smoothly as possible, here are some things you can do before the tech arrives.

  1. If you rent, get the Landlord Approval Form signed by your landlord or HOA. This gives DIRECTV permission to install your dish—and helps you avoid any nasty cease-and-desist letters in the future.
  2. Make sure your internet or phone service is active.
  3. Plan for someone who’s at least 18 years old to be home when the tech comes.
  4. Move TVs away from the wall if you want DIRECTV set up there.
  5. Clear away anything that might get in the way of your tech climbing onto your roof.

Payment and equipment lease options

Your DIRECTV payments will start at an introductory price that lasts for 12 months. But remember, you’ll be on a contract for two years, and once your 13th month rolls around, you’ll see your bill go up.

Here’s how much you’ll pay each month by channel package.

DIRECTV package prices














*Data current as of 5/4/2020. Introductory price for 12 months with a 2-year contract, paperless billing, and autopay. Does not include equipment cost, taxes, surcharges, or any other additional fees. For equipment cost, see details below.

And what about your DIRECTV equipment fees? Here’s how your leasing options shake out.

DIRECTV equipment fees

  • No additional cost for your first Genie DVR
  • $99 setup fee for wireless Genie Minis (a single fee for all receivers)
  • $49 per receiver for any receivers after your first four
  • $7/mo. for additional Genie Minis

Genie DVR

Your DIRECTV package comes with a Genie HD DVR—no extra monthly fees required. It’s one of the best out there as far as DVRs go, and it comes with some pretty hefty features. We highly recommend the Genie because it comes included with your package (no $10 per month rental fee—yes, we’re looking at you DISH) and plenty of storage for most folks.

Genie DVR features

Simultaneous channels
Simultaneous recording
Max # of TVs

1 TB (up to 200 hours of HD)

Up to 8 channels on 1 screen

Up to 5 shows

Up to 8 (with Genie Minis)

Customer satisfaction

The latest report from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) gives DIRECTV an above-average score for customer satisfaction.



While we’d like to see DIRECTV move closer to a perfect score, it’s still leaps and bounds beyond the satisfaction scores of other TV providers.

If you need to talk to DIRECTV customer support, give them a call at 1-800-288-2020 on any day of the week from 8:00 a.m. to midnight EST. Or see if you can troubleshoot it yourself with our DIRECTV FAQ.

Our verdict: DIRECTV is worth tuning in to.

With a huge lineup of sports channels, 4K options, and first-year prices that are lower than DISH, we think DIRECTV is a match made in heaven for most folks. Just remember that your price will more than double after the first year of your contract. Is that a price worth paying for loads of awesome programming (especially sports) in one convenient spot? We’d say so, but we’ll let you decide.

  • pro
    Starts at $39.99/mo.
  • pro
    Comes with up to 330+ channels
  • pro
  • con
    Price doubles after first year

*Data current as of 5/4/2020, when bundled with another service such as TV or home phone. Standalone price is $10 more for any service. Pricing and availability vary by location.

Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor,, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.