Best Satellite TV Providers of 2020

Wondering which satellite TV provider is right for you? Here are the details on DISH TV, Orby TV, and DIRECTV.

  • DISH

    Best variety

    No price hikes
    Highly rated DVR
    View plans
  • DIRECTV

    Best for sports

    NFL SUNDAY TICKET
    Price hike after 1 year
    View plans
  • Orby TV

    Best for cost-cutters

    Prices start at $40/mo.
    Limited channel lineup
    View plans

 

Which satellite TV provider is best?

DIRECTV and DISH are the two major satellite TV providers that look similar when you’re comparing channels. (Unless you’re into sports—more on that later.) Both DISH and DIRECTV all include over a hundred channels on even their most basic plans, with the channel count rising to 350 or more on some premium plans.

Orby TV is good for cost-cutters who want 50 or so channels at a reasonable price, with no long-term commitment. It won’t ever deliver the full lineup of 350 or more channels like DIRECTV or DISH, but with prices around $40 per month, it’s great for college students or folks on a tight budget.

So, which is the best? Which satellite TV provider will bring you the best in sports, movies, sitcoms, drama, news, documentaries, reality TV, cooking shows, and more?

We recommend DIRECTV because it’s the only way to get NFL SUNDAY TICKET. But, that said, there are plenty of reasons to look into the other two options—particularly if you’re not getting satellite TV just for NFL Sunday games.

Top satellite TV plans

DISH logo
Price
$59.99/mo.–$94.99/mo. for 24 mos.
Channels
190+ to 209+
DIRECTV logo
Price
$64.99/mo.–$134.99/mo. for 12 mos
Channels
155+ to 330+
Orby TV logo
Price
$40.00/mo.–$95.00/mo.
Channels
49+ to 88+

*Data as of 4/27/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Actual speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. †After 12-month introductory period, DIRECTV prices rise to $81/mo.-$189/mo.

DISH vs. DIRECTV vs. Orby TV pros and cons

DISH

Pros

  • 2-year price lock
  • Lots of international, specialty, and regional sports

Cons

  • No HBO
  • No NFL SUNDAY TICKET

DIRECTV

Pros

  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • HBO available

Cons

  • Price hike after 1 yr.
  • Limited access to regional and specialty sports

Orby TV

Pros

  • No contract
  • Low price

Cons

  • Small channel lineup
  • Limited sports, movies, and specialty channels

DISH satellite TV service

If you’re torn between DIRECTV and DISH, here’s a little tip: get DISH if you have a wide range of viewers in your home—or if you like international programming. DISH has our vote as the best variety programming among satellite TV providers. DISH is best for watching a little of everything: movies, TV shows, news, and some sports. Plus, DISH has 85+ Spanish channels. You can get a dozen or so channels in Spanish with most DISH packages, or you can get exclusive Spanish programming starting around $49.99 per month and up.

DISH has the best international programming, so if you’re lucky enough to know a second language, practice your skills by watching a few shows in Finnish each month.

Not all major sports will be available on DISH, although you can find many on NFL Network and many other sports stations included in premium plans. Although DISH doesn’t include NFL SUNDAY TICKET, DISH does give you a lot of sports stations, including NFL Network, NFL Red Zone, beIN SPORTS, and regional sports networks. Plus, DISH wins big with more international sports than you’ll find with DIRECTV.

All in all, it’s hard to find someone who won’t be pleased with DISH. From Hallmark Channel to NBA League Pass, DISH has something for everyone. That’s why we gave DISH our vote for the satellite TV provider with the best variety.

Best DISH TV package

Our pick for the best DISH satellite TV package is America’s Top 120+, which includes the pack of 190 channels you’ll get in America’s Top 120 plus a lot more sports. This package includes the NFL Network, Big Ten, Pac-12, Longhorn, and SEC Networks, Sports Alternate, Fightbox, FOX Sports 2, and the World Fishing Network.

If regional and specialty sports aren’t a hit in your household, don’t go with America’s Top 20+. Instead, go with America’s Top 120. By cutting out the sports, you’ll save $15 per month, which works out to $180 per year.

All DISH TV packages

Swipe left to see all →
DISH TV packageChannelsPrice
America's Top 20190 $59.99/mo.*
America's Top 120+190+$74.99/mo.*
America's Top 200240+$84.99/mo.*
America's Top 250290+$94.99/mo*

*Data as of 4/27/20, plus taxes and any additional fees (such as Regional Sports Network fees, if desired). Prices locked for 2 years. 24-month contract required with service.

H3: How to save money on DISH

If you like premium channels like SHOWTIME, STARZ ENCORE, or DISH MOVIE PACK, we recommend trying out a premium channel individually (as an add-on) rather than signing up for the biggest package available.

True, America’s Top 250 includes almost every station imaginable, but it’s $20* more per month than America’s Top 120+ (which is for sports fans) and a full $40 more per month than America’s Top 120 (for non-sports fans). Paying $40 more per month adds up pretty fast—that’s $480 per year. Our recommendation to all satellite customers is don’t pay for what you won’t really use. Slice off channels you don’t need and take a weekend getaway this summer instead. Or use the extra cash to get tickets to a live sports event or concert.

Did you know that you can also add in a premium channel to your DISH plan and then cancel it a few months later? This can come in handy—if there’s a new season of your favorite show, sign up for a premium channel for a few months. Enjoy it. Indulge! Then remember to cancel it when your show ends.

*Data as of 4/27/2020, plus taxes fees. Prices subject to change.

DIRECTV satellite TV service

For most mainstream Americans, DIRECTV rules for sports, thanks to the option to add on the coveted NFL SUNDAY TICKET. The exception? If you occasionally like watching specialty or international sports, you might get your fix with DISH or Orby TV and avoid paying expensive sports network fees.

And if your tastes run more to news, movies, travel, cooking, science, the arts, or the good old rom com, DIRECTV will have plenty of options.

If you don’t plan to watch NFL games, opt for DIRECTV and you can save a bundle (which you can spend…plenty of other ways).

DIRECTV CHOICE and above plans include one free year of NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which is valued at $293.94 or more per season (prices vary).* This will automatically renew the following year—which you will have to pay full price for—unless you call and cancel it before the beginning of the season.

Is one season of football worth three hundos? Well, for lots of folks, that’s a hard yes. If you’re going to watch every game, that’s a lot of entertainment and it’ll be worth it. If you aren’t much of a sports fan, we recommend canceling it the second year, or opting for a package that doesn’t include NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

 

Pro tip

You don’t have to buy a CHOICE DIRECTV plan or above to get NFL SUNDAY TICKET. You can add NFL SUNDAY TICKET to any plan by buying a season pass for around $300 per year.*

If you get a basic DIRECTV plan and add the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, you will pay less than if you bumped up to a premium plan every month for 24 months. Of course, if you’re adding the CHOICE plan for the premium channels, then go for it.

*Prices vary; currently billed at $293.94 per season (or $73.49 per month).

Best DIRECTV packages

We recommend CHOICE All-Included as the best DIRECTV package. It includes a well-stocked selection of over 185 channels, including drama, news, children’s programming, cooking, reality TV, and more. It also includes one free year of NFL SUNDAY TICKET and three free months of HBO®, STARZ®, SHOWTIME®, CINEMAX®, and EPIX®.

If any of the premium channels happen to tickle your fancy, you can add them individually at $13.99–$17.99/mo., or splurge and add them all for $41.99/mo.

All DIRECTV packages

Swipe left to see all →
DIRECTV packageChannelsPrice
ENTERTAINMENT All-Included160+$64.99/mo.*
CHOICE All-Included185+$69.99/mo.*
XTRA All-Included235+$69.99/mo*
PREMIER All-Included330+$134.99/mo.*

*Data as of 4/27/2020, plus taxes and additional fees. Autopay & Paperless bill reqd. Prices higher in 2nd year. 24-month contract required with service.

How to save money on DIRECTV

If you like premium channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, or STARZ ENCORE, we recommend adding HBO individually to DIRECTV’s CHOICE All-Included instead of signing up for the biggest package available.

True, Premier All-Included offers almost every station imaginable (okay, that’s pretty cool, actually. . .) but it’s $65* more per month than CHOICE All-Included. You’ll pay an extra $1,560 over a two-year period if you sign up for that premium package.

Did you know that you can add premium channels occasionally during the season premieres of your favorite shows? Yup. Just contact customer service or adjust add-ons in your account.

You can also upgrade at any time to a bigger package without it affecting your contract. Downgrading can sometimes reset the two-year contract, though.

Orby TV satellite TV service

Orby TV is a streamlined satellite TV service that launched in 2019. Instead of packing every package with over a hundred channels (only a few of which—let’s be honest—you ever watch), Orby TV does things differently.

This satellite TV service doesn’t promise access to every Sunday NFL game or even every cable channel, but it does offer a tidy package of “essential” stations, with the option to add on premium channels like HBO®, CINEMAX®, STARZ®, EPIX, and more.

Best Orby TV package

We recommend the Orby TV Essentials Package with your choice of one add-on, when the bingeing mood strikes you. The Essentials Package gives you 43 network stations plus all your local channels, which brings you to a total of 50+ channels for $40 per month (which includes taxes and fees).

Orby TV packages and add-ons

All Orby TV packages start with the Essentials, which includes 49+ channels. To add favorites like the BET stations, HBO, STARZ, epix, Hallmark Channel, and others, select an add-on package that includes your desired channels. You can check your local channels on the Orby TV website.

Swipe left to see all →
Orby TV packageChannelsPrice
Essentials49+ channels*$40/mo.*
+ Extras+ 23 channels+ $10/mo.*
+ Premium HBO+ 4 HBO channels+ 18/mo.*
+ Premium CINEMAX+ 3 CINEMAX and 5 STARMAX channels+ 12/mo.*
+ Premium STARZ+ 4 STARZ channels+ $9/mo.*
+ Premium EPIX+ EPIX channels+ $6/mo.*

*Data as of 4/27/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Although Orby TV is marketed kind of like a Netflix-esque streaming service geared to millennials, let’s be clear on this: Orby TV isn’t a streaming service, and it does not require internet service. Orby TV gives you access to all your local TV stations, plus 40 other network channels in the Essentials Package through satellite service.

Although Orby TV charges a moderate installation fee ($125), there’s no contract, so you can cancel at any time.

Bottom line: Get the best satellite TV provider for your main interests.

The bottom line is that you should get the best satellite TV professor that delivers the entertainment catering to your main interests.

Satellite TV has a lot of perks over streaming TV options. You’ll never get a buffering symbol, (although there are occasional pauses while the programming or menu loads), and you don’t have to use valuable internet data on all your entertainment (which is a big plus if you use a satellite internet connection with a data cap).

Get DISH to please a big crowd of watchers at your place. With a two-year price lock and a wide variety of programming, DISH delivers the best in movies, TV shows, news, and more.

For all you diehard football fans out there, we know what you’re after. You’ll want to choose DIRECTV to get access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET, plus movies, cartoons, National Geographic, E!, and oodles more.

Orby TV is fun and inexpensive, as long as you can resist all the extra stations. Costs will pile up if you get lots of extra packages. Orby TV is more limited when it comes to sports and multilingual and international programming—it’s still new and perhaps it hasn’t secured contracts yet.

  • DISH

    Best variety

    No price hikes
    Highly rated DVR
    View plans
  • DIRECTV

    Best for sports

    NFL SUNDAY TICKET
    Price hike after 1 year
    View plans
  • Orby TV

    Best for cost-cutters

    Prices start at $40/mo.
    Limited channel lineup
    View plans

FAQ about best satellite TV packages

What is satellite TV?

Satellite TV is a TV service that relies on satellites orbiting the earth to bring television programming to homes and businesses. The most well-known satellite TV providers are DISH, DIRECTV, and Orby TV.

How does satellite TV work?

Satellite TV delivers national and local TV channels and specialized satellite programming into your home via a satellite dish attached to your home (usually on the roof or on a pole). This dish picks up signals from satellites orbiting the Earth in a geostationary orbit.

Which satellite TV plans do not have price hikes after the first year?

DISH and Orby TV do not have price hikes after the first year. Some providers offer a low introductory rate that raises prices after 12 months. DISH and Orby TV have a set rate (some call this a price rate guarantee) that you can count on, year after year. DIRECTV prices do go up after a year, more than doubling on some plans. After a 12-month introductory period, DIRECTV prices rise.

What’s the cheapest satellite TV provider?

Orby TV is the cheapest satellite TV provider. For $40 per month (which includes taxes and fees), you can get 50+ channels. DISH is a little more expensive, with plans starting around $60 per month for 190 channels (plus taxes and fees). DIRECTV is the most expensive in the long run—although it looks like it’s cheaper than DISH at first glance.

For example, DIRECTV plans start around $50, plus taxes and fees (although these plans don’t include NFL SUNDAY TICKET). But after 12 months of your 24-month contract, your price nearly doubles. DISH and Orby TV are more affordable, although DIRECTV rules for sports programming—especially if you like football.

What other satellite TV companies are there?

DIRECTV, DISH, and Orby TV are the main satellite TV providers. There are also specialty satellite providers, but DIRECTV, DISH, and Orby TV are the most popular satellite TV providers.

Can I get satellite TV for free?

You can install a large satellite dish in your yard and get some satellite stations for free (mostly the local channels with a few extra add-ons), but you need to know what you’re doing or have a professional install it since it takes some tinkering to get it right.

How many satellite TV companies are there?

There are three main satellite TV companies available to people living in the United States: DISH, DIRECTV, and Orby TV.

How much does Orby TV cost?

Orby TV is $40 per month, which includes all taxes and fees. It’s the cheapest satellite TV service provider available. Orby TV also does not require a contract, so you can sign up and cancel at any time. Just know that there’s a $125 installation fee.

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