DIRECTV is our top choice for regional sports networks and offers channels for every appetite, but watch out for second-rate DVR tech and hidden fees.
DIRECTV satellite offers a metric ton of channels, including almost all the most popular networks in the US. It also offers more regional sports networks than any other TV provider, making it one of our top choices for content among all the providers we review.
Local channels are the heart of a good TV package, and DIRECTV has you covered at every tier. You get access to the big four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) plus a handful of Spanish-language channels. You’ll miss out on a few of the nation’s top 100 picks because they’re only available over the air, but there’s no provider out there that can beat out DIRECTV for local coverage.
DIRECTV offers access to every one of the top sports channels out there plus a bunch of regional sports networks, meaning you can catch nearly every game under the sun. We have to say nearly, though, because DIRECTV lost its exclusive contract with NFL Sunday Ticket at the end of 2022. We still think DIRECTV is a stellar choice for sports fans of all kinds, but you’ll have to add the Sunday Ticket channel from YouTube TV if you want every out-of-market game. Pricing starts at $349 per season for YouTube TV subscribers and $449 for just the premium channel.
Family and education: 5/5
When it comes to shows for kids and families, you can’t do better than DIRECTV. You get access to all the heavy hitters, from Disney Jr. to PBS and National Geographic. There’s also PBS, Cartoon Network, and plenty of shows and movies to choose from.
News and politics: 5/5
Like with sports, DIRECTV offers almost all the news and analysis you could hope for. You get local, national, and international coverage plus commentary from both sides of the aisle.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 4.5/5
DIRECTV offers all the movies, reality shows, home improvement series, and true crime channels you can think of. At its top tier, you even get premium channels like HBO, Showtime, and STARZ. When you want everything under the sun with just one package price, DIRECTV is a fantastic option.
DIRECTV’s satellite service is a solid choice for viewers who don’t have access to cable TV or fast internet, and it has all the most popular channels, plus access to more regional sports networks than any other provider. However, its high prices and required two-year contract make it a poor fit for budget-conscious shoppers.
With DIRECTV’S top offering, PREMIER, you get more than 340 channels. That’s more channels than you can get through most other cable or satellite services and more channels per dollar. You might not care about all the channels—specifically the music and advertising ones—but there’s sure to be something for everyone. You’ll pay extra for sports add-ons, but prices for these extras are on par with the competition.
DIRECTV offers one of the best day-to-day viewing experiences available from any live TV service, and its picture quality is hard to beat.
Ability to watch: Great
Watching DIRECTV is a pleasure, whether you’re watching from your couch or catching up on your DVR shows from bed. The companion app is also easy to use, and it lets you watch from all the top streaming devices, including Apple TV and Roku.
DIRECTV reports 99% signal reliability (virtually the same as DISH), but if you live in an area with a lot of storms or other interference, it’s possible for your signal to drop out. If that happens, you can still access your DVR, find on-demand content, or stream online. You can also stream away from home using the DIRECTV app on your iPhone or Android.
Ability to record: Great
DIRECTV’s Genie HD DVR receiver is everything you’d expect from a premium cable TV or satellite service. We like how easy it is to find shows you’ve saved to your DVR or bookmarked, and the on-demand library is solid. Your Genie can record five channels at once and store up to 200 hours of HD content. That’s not quite as many channels as with the latest DISH Hopper 3 DVR, and you also get less storage capacity than with almost any live TV streaming service we tested. But unless you need to record a ton of content or several channels at once, DIRECTV’s tech should be adequate.
Rental of your first Genie HD DVR receiver is included with your subscription, but you may have to pay up to $25 every month to use the HD DVR. You will also be charged $7 per month (plus activation fees) to rent additional mini receivers or to upgrade to the wireless version of the Genie HD DVR.
Ability to find: Great
DIRECTV has done a stellar job with its channel guide, making it easy to find your shows in a variety of ways. You can sort the channels in a few ways, choose favorites, or browse by category. You can also select favorites for quick access.
The included backlit remote comes with all the controls you expect for finding, recording, and selecting channels. It doesn’t come standard with voice control, but it’s possible to set that up if you have one of Amazon’s Alexa devices. You also won’t be able to watch streaming services like Netflix and Hulu on your Genie, but that comes standard with DISH.
DIRECTV has some factors that make the customer experience great, but others that we find almost unacceptable. You get free professional installation if you sign a 2-year contract, for example, but there’s a weird $20 activation fee. DISH also includes installation at no extra cost, but traditional cable TV providers can charge $50–$100 or more, even if you do the work yourself.
Included installation is a big benefit, but you’ll pay for it in the long-run over the course of your 2-year commitment. Plus, there are massive cancelation fees of nearly $20 per month remaining on your contract if you want to get out early. There are other fees to watch out for, too. Check the fee schedule from DIRECTV for a complete breakdown.
If you need to contact customer service, your experience will be about average among TV providers we reviewed. You’ll find a lot of complaints in online reviews, but that’s pretty par for the course.