There are two satellite TV providers in the United States, DirecTV (often misspelled Direct TV) and Dish Network which means that you will have to choose between then two if you have decided to go with satellite. The largest of these two is DirecTV with over 20 million subscribers and availability in just about every city in the United States. Both satellite providers have been in fierce competition for market share over the years with DirecTV leading the way for quite awhile now. For information on the other option for satellite television check out our review of Dish Network.
What Is DirecTV?
They are a nationwide company that provides television viewers with a paid satellite TV service. They have over 20 million subscribers as of January 2014 and also provider the most HD channels. They not only provide more HD channels than Dish but also more than any cable providers in the United States.
How Much Does Service Cost?
The price varies quite a bit but in general is a little bit more expensive than their competitors at Dish. Usually you are require to sign a two year contract which comes with a significantly lower price for the first year of service. Once you get into the second year of service the cost goes up to the normal price.This is exactly how Dish operates as well. Despite these concerns there are still generally less than cable while providing better programming options. Currently packages for the first year of service start at $29.99 for 140 channel and go all the way up to $91.99 per month for their top tier program. This package includes over 285 channels and all of the special add on packages such as movie channels, sports channels, a HD DVR, and free NFL Sunday Ticket for the following season. During the second year the lowest package goes up to $49.99 with the top tier package going up to $129.99. As you can see, satellite is pretty cheap for a low end package but you can also end up spending a lot more than cable if you want all of the extras.
How Much Does Installation And Equipment Cost?
In order to get DirecTV satellite television subscribers need a satellite dish and a receiver for each room where they want to watch TV. In most cases new customers can get all of the equipment for free by agreeing to a 24 month contract. This also includes free installation by a professionally authorized agent. If you do not sign a contract installation and equipment will generally cost you several hundred dollars. Generally, upgrades to a DVR or HD receiver are also free with a 24 month agreement.
What Add On Packages Are Available And How Much Do They Cost?
Direct TV has several exclusive packages that can only be purchased through their company, mainly NFL Sunday Ticket. Others include Nascar HotPass and NCAA Mega March Madness. They always have the largest selection of sports channels to choose from. With them it's all about choosing and paying for what you want. Outside of the standard packages you can find various lower tier packages that cost less, with the option to simply add on specific premium channels for the specified monthly fee. Of course if you have a lot add-ons it will be cheaper to get them as part of a top tier package. Another thing to note is that the company use to get a bad rap for offering very poor access to local channels and even charging an extra $5 for them. This is no longer the case and any 2 year agreement includes local channels free of charge.
All new contracts give you three free months of movie channels. Once this is up it costs $17.99 for HBO, $12.99 for ShowTime Unlimited, $12.99 for the Starz Superpack, and $12.99 for Cinemax. If you are looking to get several of these packages you can usually save on your monthly bill by simply upgrading to a pre-set package that has them built into the price. They also have a large number of different sports packages that you can add. You can get NBA League Pass For $30 per month for the 4 month NBA Seasons, NFL Sunday Ticket (see price info below), ESPN Full Court for college basketball at $83 for the two months it airs. They also offer NHL Center ice for four monthly payments of $29.99 and Fox Soccer Plus for $14.99 per month.
How Much Does A DVR Cost?
The device is generally free with a service contract of 24 months. As far as a monthly fee for use, that depends on what package you have and the DVR you chose. The top tier packages sometimes have the monthly fee built into their price, while lower tier plans generally require you to add DVR for a monthly fee. In general depending on which receiver you choose you can expect to pay anywhere from $5-$25 per month. Their top of the line receiver, the Genie will cost you the most money but will give you the most features as well.
What Is NFL Sunday Ticket?
NFL Sunday Ticket is an exclusive rights programming option that you can only get by being a DirecTV subscriber. The NFL only broadcasts 2-3 games on Sunday in each city but with NFL Ticket you get all of the games. This means that no matter where you live you can watch your favorite team or that marquee matchup every single week. The service normally costs several hundred dollars but with a new contract you get it for free for the first year. In subsequent years you will automatically be billed and renewed at the then market price. If you do not want to renew no worries, you can cancel before, or once you see the charge on your bill you can call in and then will remove the service and adjust your amount due.
A new service they recently began offering is NFL Sunday Ticket Max. Ticket Max offers everything you get with the regular service plus the Red Zone Channel, On Demand viewing after games, player trackers for fantasy football, and also the ability to watch any game anywhere via your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Sunday Ticket costs $39.99 per month for the 6 month season ($239.94 total) and Sunday Ticket Max costs $54.99 per month for the full season ($329.94 total).
How Many HD Channels Will I Get?
Broadcasts for all channels is in digital form, which means that you get the best picture quality available. Currently they boast the largest number of HD channels in the television industry. Basically put, if the channel broadcasts in HD, you can get it in HD with Directv.
Do I Have To Sign A Contract?
No. But if you don't you will have to pay all installation fees along with missing out on the first year special that new subscribers get. This special is usually up to half off. No contract satellite TV is generally the worst thing you can do when switching to a paid service. Either get the discounts provided by committing or go with a different type of service.
Will They Run A Credit Check?
Yes, the company has a fairly strict policy regarding who can be accepted for a service contract. Credit checks are ran on all new subscribers before they are accepted.
Do They Offer Any Other Services Besides TV?
Not directly, but they do give you the option when signing up to bundle your service with a third party Internet and/or phone service provider in order to reduce costs. Their website says they work directly with Verizon, AT&T, Century Link, Exede Internet, Cincinnati Bell, HughesNet Gen 4, and Windstream.
Do You Have Any Reviews From Current Customers?
We have had a handful of people email us with their comments regarding the service, which you can see several of below. For further comments from users you can also see our comment section at the bottom of this post.
"I switched from Time Warner Cable to Direct TV and we love it. I'll never go back to cable. I've now convinced by two daughters and their husbands to do the same. Great service, programming is outstanding, what's not to like? There is good and bad in every company and none are perfect, (I was a Time Warner employee for 13 plus years) trust me!"Ryan said...
"I have been a customer for over 10 years, and I will attempt to be as "down the middle" as I can be.
First the good: Great programming. I am a transplant and I love the sports programming. You get a ton of channel options and everything is available in HD.
Now the bad: I have had many issues with directv. From a sloppy install to rude techs to lazy techs. I recently moved from MD to AZ and scheduled my install the day I arrived. My window for install was 12-4 and I arrived at 11am. I put away all my boxes and waited. Around 330 I went to check my phone to make sure the volume was up. I noticed I had just missed a call from DTV, they left a voicemail saying they didn't have my apt number. I called back right away and tried to give them the number. The first person I spoke with claimed they didn't have any info on an install, and that the tech was at my old location, I said that can't be, and she patched me to someone else. The next operator told me it was too late and we had to reschedule. I said the office just called and said to please call ASAP with the number. The operator told me he couldn't get in touch with the tech.
Now I have never done their job before, but my immediate reaction was if they don't have my apt number they can call my cell (every time I have had them out they have called to give me a status update, usually it was hey we are running late, but they called.) The other option was to walk into my leasing office and ask what apt do I live in? Don't those sound like two reasonable solutions? However this tech didn't seem to think of it. So there really are only 2 excuses. The tech was lazy, or stupid.
I spoke with DTV office after and they gave me $10 off for the first 6 months, which I thought was insulting. 60 bucks for all the confusion? I filed a compliant with the BBB and nothing was really done. Just a canned apology.
My advice is this, if you aren't a sports nut then cable and dish network are better options. The customer service here is poor, the service is worse, and bottom line is they are just a very poorly run business. Now I know this is one persons opinion but just let me just give a quick run down of the installs I have had and the issue and you be the judge.
2011- They installed but didn't check to see if receiver worked in upstairs bedroom. They came back out and then split the cable so picture would cut out from time to time. They sent another tech out who yelled at me cause I didn't hear him knock the first time
2010- After being told I could freeze my account for a year, it turned out they could only do it for 6 months. When I tried to reactivate service because I was in an area that had the proper angle, one of their operators sold me on completely new service. He said that was what we were doing yet I now had two accounts with DTV. I called to complain and they corrected the issue, again offering me the same stupid $10 off for 6 months.
2008- They came out to install and the first tech just sat it his truck and eyeballed the specs and said I didn't have a proper angle, again I called up and miraculously they were able to find a signal.
2007- I scheduled an install, and was told to get a pole to set the dish on, when tech arrived he said pole was too small, yet it was the specs I was told on the phone.
There is the body of work, you can now judge for yourself if its worth getting involved with this company."Tanner said...
"I love my DirecTV. Needing faster internet, I've done a lot of research and talked with a lot of people. I find my AT&T DSL and DirecTV appear to remain the best buy. I've had DirecTV for 8 years and it has been out maybe 4 hours total.
Their website looks great, but is absolutely useless, but my TV is always there, looks and sound great (HD 720P or 1080P + 5.1 surround). Alas, I guess I will stay with slow AT&T DSL because no one I can find seems to have better service than DirecTV. UVerse and Cable have great internet and lousy TV. Talk to all your neighbors before you sign any contract. I did and mine all say stick with DirectTV. A ROKU box for $99 is also a good deal, and it works amazingly well with my slow DSL, although you only get Stereo Sound and maybe 720p picture. Again, talk to your neighbors. Every neighborhood seems to be different."Sergey Chernokov said...
"Beware of DIRECT TV's sneaky policy. They are designed to avoid giving you benefits they have promised. I was never able to get the promotional rate I was promised. When I signed up through AT&T, the website said I will pay $34.99 for the first year for the $64.99 package. This was the only reason I could justify signing 2-year agreement.
On the first statement I didn't see the promotional rate. I saw $64.99. I called AT&T because I receive the bill from AT&T not direct TV. I ended up in the promotional rate departments and the automated machine told me it takes up to 3 months to receive the promotional rate. I waited 3 months then I called. Then I ended up being transferred to DIRECT TV agents. They told me that this is not promotional rate but a rebate that has 90 days expiration. Since, I was late to file the rebate I was not longer qualified for the discount. They told me that they sent me an email with the explanation on how to get the rebate. I don't recall getting an email. Besides, email should not be used for such important things without my consent.
Nowhere it was mentioned that this is a rebate. VERY MISLEADING. I am very upset and will switch to anything but DIRECT TV when my agreement expires."Are There Any Red Flag Issues That Current Or Former Subscribers Have Ran Into?
All customers should be aware that there will be a early termination fee if you decide to cancel your service before your contract is up. One thing that we have noticed is that some customers seemed to have thought that they would be able to easily get out of their contract if they moved. Getting out of any contact with them is going to be difficult and everyone should be careful before committing for 24 months. If you are concerned that you may be moving to an area where their service isn't available you need to check the terms of the contract before you sign it. Generally if they can't provide service you can get out, but if it doesn't say that in your contract then don't count on it. Don't count on it even if an uninformed customer service rep told you that you could get out of your contract if you moved. The only thing you can count on it what is written in your contract.
Another issue to check out is whether you have a clear view of the southern sky. If you do not then you shouldn't even bother getting their service. This is a requirement for getting a good signal with any satellite provider. Without a good signal you will get bad reception and at times you may get no reception at all. If you do sign up and the installing agent can't find a suitable place to install the satellite dish then he won't perform the install and you will be denied service through the company.
As far as customer service goes, if you have any issues you should be able to get your problems worked out but it may take a bit longer than it should because you may get an incompetent or unenthusiastic rep on the phone. In general the company does a good job of dealing with most customer service issues. You however will see a ton of complaints on the Internet, partially because some people are just out to complain, partially because no company is perfect. When you have over 20 million subscribers you are bound to have a high number of complaints. They key indicator however is that on a percentage basis they have an extremely low complaint rate.