AT&T acquired satellite television provider DIRECTV in 2015. Even though the communications company also runs AT&T U-verse, the two services differ in several ways.
Both options provide a wide range of channels and enticing sign-up offers. Which is better for you in the long run, though?
Price is obviously a factor in your decision, but you also need to consider things like contract length and availability of your favorite networks. You should also look at whether AT&T U-verse in your area is delivered by fiber or cable.
In this comparison, we'll look at DIRECTV vs. AT&T U-verse so you can get a clear picture of the pros and cons of each before making a decision about the best cable TV service for you.
Table of Contents
When it comes to pricing, DIRECTV vs. AT&T U-verse is a pretty even choice.
Both services have similar pricing structures, including the fine print:
- With both TV services, once your promotional rate expires the monthly cost goes up by about double, depending upon which package you have. This is more of a potential issue with DIRECTV since you're committed for a full year beyond the length of their promotional offers.
- U-Verse installation is included with your package. DIRECTV also includes installation, however, there may be an activation fee depending on which promotion you sign up for.
- U-Verse includes the smaller Total Home DVR in your package price while DIRECTV charges a monthly fee for your Genie rental.
AT&T U-verse TV Packages & Prices
|Provider/Package||TV Channels||Monthly Price|
All packages include local channels and an on-demand library.
- U200: 360+ digital channels, HD, DVR and digital music channels included, premium movie channels optional
- U300: 470+ digital channels, HD, DVR and digital music included, premium movie channels included
- U450: 550+ digital channels, HD, DVR, digital music and premium movie channels plus HBO and Cinemax included
DIRECTV TV Packages & Prices
|Provider/Package||TV Channels||Monthly Price|
All packages come with the DirecTV Genie DVR and HD capability.
- Select: 155+ digital channels
- Entertainment: 160+ digital channels, ESPN and ESPN2 included
- Choice: 185+ digital channels, NFL Sunday Ticket included
- Xtra: 235+ digital channels, DVR rental fee and NFL Sunday Ticket Included
- Ultimate: 250+ digital channels, DVR fee and NFL Sunday Ticket included, good for movie lovers with the Encore family of channels and The Movie Channel included
- Premier: 330+ channels, DVR, NFL Sunday Ticket and HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax included
Bottom line: U-Verse is a strong contender for movie lovers and channel surfers. If you're shopping for a cheap cable TV provider, they also offer a very basic package at a low price.
DirecTV has the market cornered on national and local sports coverage and higher channel quality across its mid-tier offerings. DirecTV also offers way more channel options in its lowest tier package.
This is where the bulk of your decision-making process rests. Regardless of price, you're not going to want a TV service that doesn't give you your favorite shows, your kids' must-have channels, or coverage of your beloved sports teams.
So which service has the channel setup you want?
- Packages range from 360 to 550 channels/200 HD
- Solid international offerings
- Family package missing some basics like Cartoon Network
- Choose from 150 to 325 channels/200 HD
- Solid channel lineups in all packages
- NFL Sunday Ticket available
The DVR receivers that you get with these two providers are similar, with each one providing slightly different benefits.
AT&T U-verse Total Home DVR
- 500 GB -155 hours of HD recording/422 hours SD, or -
- 1 TB - 330 hours HD/900 hours SD
- Connect up to 8 TVs (extra rental fees apply to additional receivers)
- Record 4 streams at once on the smaller DVR, 6 on the larger
- Manage and watch anywhere with app
- 1 TB - 200 hours in HD/800 hours SD
- Record up to 5 unique streams at once
- Connect up to 8 TVs (additional receivers cost extra)
- 4K capable (must have 4K-compatible TV)
- Manage and watch on the go with app
Bottom line: Unless you really need to record six different shows simultaneously or you're already heavily into the 4K scene, the two DVRs are very comparable in terms of function and features. The equipment won't likely be the make or break factor in your decision between DirecTV vs. U-Verse.
Satellite television like DIRECTV has one distinct advantage over fiber and cable services like AT&T U-verse: it's available everywhere.
States with AT&T U-verse: 21
States with DIRECTV: 50
U-Verse coverage is concentrated throughout the eastern/southern and far western areas of the US, while DirecTV coverage is virtually everywhere.
See what's available in your zip code with our cable TV provider tool.
If you don't like long-term commitments, this issue is the one that might swing you in one direction or the other in your assessment of U-Verse vs. DirecTV.
- No contract required for regular pricing
- One-year contract required for U-Verse promotional offer pricing
- Early termination fee is equal to $15 per month remaining in the contract (for example - cancel 8 months into a one-year commitment, pay a $60 early termination fee)
- No penalty for canceling after one year is up
- Two-year contract required
- Early termination fee is equal to $20 per month remaining in the contract (maximum of $480)
Bottom line: AT&T U-verse contract requirements are shorter and more forgiving, thus it's the better choice if you don't want to be locked in with one provider over the long haul. DIRECTV has a longer contract commitment, but if you want that local sports coverage it may be worth it.
Now let's take a look at how DIRECTV vs. AT&T U-verse package pricing measures up:
When you're deciding between these two TV providers you should take multiple factors into consideration:
- Channel lineup
- Special interests like movies or sports
- DVR features
- Other fees