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DIRECTV vs Spectrum: Which is Better?

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DIRECTV vs Spectrum
DIRECTV & SpectrumCompare DIRECTV & Spectrum plansCompare Plans

Trying to decide between satellite TV provider DIRECTV and cable TV from Charter Spectrum?

You'll need the details on each of these providers in order to make an informed choice.

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In this guide, we'll look at a variety of factors in the battle between DIRECTV vs. Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications acquired TWC in 2016).

Key Considerations

There are several things you should take into consideration before signing up for any TV service:

  • How much will you pay once the promotional pricing expires?
  • Are your favorite movie and/or sports networks available?
  • Is there a contract, and how long is it?
  • What features and storage capacity do you get in the equipment?
  • Are there mobile viewing/management options?

Stay tuned for those answers and more in our complete guide to DIRECTV vs Spectrum.

TV Package & Price Comparison - DIRECTV vs Spectrum

DIRECTV offers six packages compared to three from Spectrum. Inevitably this means that some of the value you get in the mid-tiers from DIRECTV is dispersed across Spectrum's smaller selection of plans. In other words, you'll get some channels in the lowest tier with Spectrum that you won't get in the lower tiers with DIRECTV.

While the pricing between the two providers' comparable packages appears similar, you'll need to factor in extra fees that Spectrum charges separately:

  • Broadcast TV fee
  • Professional installation (self-installation is free)
  • DVR rental fee
  • DVR service fee (yes, this is a separate fee from your equipment rental)

On the other hand, DIRECTV charges the Regional Sports Fee, which Spectrum includes with your package cost.

DIRECTV TV Packages & Prices

Provider/PackageTV ChannelsMonthly Price
DIRECTV Select155$35.00
DIRECTV Entertainment160$40.00
DIRECTV Choice185$45.00
DIRECTV Xtra235$55.00
DIRECTV Ultimate250$60.00
DIRECTV Premier330$110.00

All packages include one Genie DVR plus dozens of music channels. Choice and up include NFL Sunday Ticket free.

Spectrum TV Packages & Prices

Provider/PackageTV ChannelsMonthly Price
Spectrum TV Select125$44.99
Spectrum TV Silver175$64.99
Spectrum TV Gold200$84.99

All Spectrum TV plans include a large selection of music channels. Silver and Gold both include premium movie channels.

TV Channel Comparison - DIRECTV vs Spectrum

These two providers offer similar channel counts with a range of movie options and sports coverage.

DIRECTV Channels

  • Top four plans include NFL Sunday Ticket
  • The most popular channels start in the bottom tier, like Food Network, Cartoon Network, Hallmark Channel, Disney, and AMC
  • Only Premier comes with premium movie networks like HBO, Starz, Cinemax, and Showtime

Spectrum Channels

  • Strong sports presence in lowest tier - ESPN, ESPN2, NBC Sports, and Fox Sports 1
  • Comparable basics to DIRECTV included from the smallest package
  • NFL RedZone included with Gold package
  • Premium movie networks come with both top tiers - HBO, Showtime, Starz, Encore, and Cinemax

Bottom line: Spectrum has a solid general sports offering starting with its lowest tier, while DIRECTV gives NFL fans every game as long as you're in one of the top four plans. DIRECTV has the edge by providing middle-of-the-road options for those who don't want to choose between all or nothing.

DVR & Equipment Comparison - DIRECTV vs Spectrum

Unfortunately for Spectrum, the comparison between the DIRECTV Genie vs Spectrum's DVR is almost embarrassing. There are two possible models available, and you don't get to choose.

DIRECTV Genie:

  • 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 (must have a compatible 4K TV)
  • Manage and watch on the go with app

Spectrum DVR (Motorola or Cisco/SA)

  • 80 GB or 160 GB - up to 21 or 30 hours of HD/50 or 90 hours of SD
  • Record up to two shows at once
  • Connect up to 8 TVs (additional receiver required for each one)
  • Manage and watch on mobile with app

Bottom line: The Genie is modern and capable with plenty of storage. While Charter has managed to keep their channel lineup fresh and relevant, the Spectrum DVR equipment is stuck in the past.

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Availability Comparison - DIRECTV vs Spectrum

Satellite TV is available nationwide, so DIRECTV has wider coverage than Spectrum.

States with DIRECTV: 50

States with Charter Spectrum: 41

While Spectrum's state count seems high, it's a bit misleading. Several states that Spectrum operates in only offer TV service across a tiny area. As with most traditional cable companies you're more likely to find availability if you live in a large metropolitan area.

Contract Comparison - DIRECTV vs Spectrum

Spectrum comes out on top with the most favorable terms in this category.

DIRECTV Contract Terms

  • Two-year service agreement required with all packages
  • Introductory pricing lasts for 12 months, second-year prices vary based on package
  • Early termination fee of $20 per month for each unfulfilled month in your contract

Charter Spectrum Contract Terms

  • No contract required
  • Introductory pricing lasts 12 months, then rates go up by $20 per month
  • Spectrum will reimburse the ETF from your former video service provider up to $500 (must subscribe to Double Play or Triple Play package)

Bottom line: There's no denying Spectrum is lacking in package options and their DVR equipment is woefully outdated. The lack of a commitment, however, may be enough to swing the pendulum for those who don't want to be stuck with their cable provider. The ETF reimbursement is another added bonus if you're looking to bundle your phone, internet, and TV services.

Recap

DIRECTV vs Spectrum is hardly a fair fight. The Genie DVR alone nearly knocks Spectrum right out of the race. On top of that, DIRECTV beats out Spectrum in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) with a score of 64 to 58 (on a scale of 0-100).

There are two reasons which may swing the pendulum toward Spectrum for you:

Of course you can bundle DIRECTV with a variety of internet and phone options, however Spectrum offers extremely competitive pricing on their bundled services.

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