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Best Satellite TV for 2017

DIRECTV or Dish? We review the best satellite TV providers

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Satellite TV Reviews

For many consumers, finding the best satellite tv is based around finding the right fit. Price and customer service can go a long way to helping you identify the best satellite tv providers.

If you are looking to switch from cable, there are many perks to going with satellite TV. I've reviewed the top satellite tv companies and listed them below.

Best Satellite TV: What to Consider

Best Satellite TV

  1. DISH

Finding the best satellite TV deals doesn't have to be a painstaking process. Because there are only two companies to choose from, it makes it simple to compare to find the best one. Here are some of the things you should consider:

1. Package Offering

Satellite TV providers are similar to cable companies in that they offer different packages. To demonstrate, if you want a family friendly package only, then it's important to the best satellite TV provider that offers this.

Meanwhile, if sports is your passion, having access to sports packages is imperative. To find which company is better, you should first prioritize your viewing habits. This will help you identify the right provider and package for you.

We'll dive into package offerings a bit further in the review. For now, when examining DIRECTV and Dish, look at the add-ons they offer such as sports packages, live streaming and on-demand options to find the provider that aligns most with your viewing habits.

2. Pricing

Pricing will also be a key component to factor. It's important first to consider your needs from a viewing standpoint then see which providers offers the best price. Often, if you find a better price with a competitor you can negotiate with the provider to lower its rate.

Provider TV Channels Monthly Price
- $49.99-99.99
190-290 $34.99-49.99
- $39.99-69.99
145-315 $50.00-125.00
125-200 $59.99-99.99

3. Contracts

One thing you'll want to be mindful of is that both providers that made our list do require service contracts when you want to sign up for satellite TV service. This means if you decide to cancel before the two-year term, you'll pay an early termination charge.

4. Bundling

Another important consideration is bundling services. Of 85 percent of people who have the internet, cable and/or phone with the same provider, 50 percent would do it again with the same company. It's just an easier way to receive the services you and only have one bill for them, if the price is right.

5. Reliability

Along with the internet, another area you want to focus on is signal reliability.

Because satellite dishes need an unobstructed view of the sky to receive clear reception, it's important you have that availability present or else this might not be the best option for you.

6. Location

Location also factors into your service options. If you live in a remote area, it's important first to research the satellite TV providers in your area and see if they offer all the channels you want before choosing to do service.

Further, if you elect to have satellite TV, the provider will have to install equipment, including a dish. If you rent an apartment or live in an area with an HOA, it's vital you receive approval before scheduling installation.

7. Customer service

Customer support is also crucial. If you experience a service disruption, it's important the satellite TV provider offers flexible customer service hours to accommodate you.

Here are some key factors to be mindful of:

  • If they offer internet service, do they have 24/7 technical support?
  • Do they offer online troubleshooting guides for common issues?
  • What are their response times for solving problems?
  • How have other customers remarked on their experiences with that particular company?

Asking these questions provides a window into the service you can expect to receive. For instance, if many customers have a problem with longer wait times when they have service concerns, it indicates to you that provider doesn't take customers' considerations seriously.

Cable vs. Satellite TV

If you are on the fence on electing to switch from cable to satellite TV, there are important considerations to be mindful of. Here is a look at some of the differences between the two.

Cable companies typically hold the edge on the best TV service. This is because they offer all the top features like live streaming options, on-demand programming and best of all, when there's inclement weather, you are less likely to lose service, depending on your area.

By the same token, satellite TV providers are doing an excellent job mirroring the services offered by their cable counterparts. Consumer Reports also noted that satellite TV companies are as good as cable in channel selection, sound and picture quality.

It's understandable to be hesitant to switch to a satellite TV provider if you haven't had the service before. At the same time, what you will find is aside from the equipment, they are the same. In fact, you might be able to secure a better deal by switching to satellite TV service.

Dish vs. DIRECTV: Which Satellite TV Provider is Best?

Both satellite TV providers offer much in the way of package offerings to give you flexibility in what you can choose. However, as you compare both company's features, there are benefits to choosing each one.

If cost is your main concern, then it's going to be hard for you to beat Dish's package prices, as you can save up to $252 in two years with them, according to its estimates. Not only are they less expensive than DIRECTV on average, Dish locks in their package prices for two years, so you won't encounter a bump in costs like you would with DIRECTV.

Moreover, Dish provides more customization options for you. Its Flex Pack allows you to choose a bundle of channels based on your viewing preferences, which is likely to be the future for satellite and cable TV providers.

However, Dish does have some disadvantages that play to DIRECTV's favor. For one, Dish requires you to lease its equipment, which means there will be a monthly charge in addition to the package you select.

Meanwhile, DIRECTV doesn't require you to buy its equipment. So you'll save some money if you elect to go with them. In addition, if you are a die hard NFL fan, DIRECTV offers NFL Sunday Ticket, a feature Dish does not have available.

Overall, it's hard to beat both options. The goal is to decide what your viewing habits are, how much you want to spend on satellite TV service then examine both providers to see which one aligns most with your needs.

The Best Satellite TV Providers

The two major providers available to most are DirecTV and Dish. Both have different perks that make them appealing. Here are the satellite TV reviews to give you an overview on each.

TV Channels
Monthly Price $49.99-99.99

Exede Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Well known provider with a solid reputation
  • High speeds with all plans
  • Little difference in speed between peak and slow times
  • Late night free zone for unmetered bandwidth usage
  • Competitive pricing
  • Cons
  • No standard 30 day return policy/cooling off period
  • No live chat facility for customer support

Exede has some great internet plans, and they offer a lot of things no one else in the satellite internet game is doing. For example, their Freedom Plan offers the closest thing to an unlimited package around. 12 Mbps is their standard download speed, with 3 Mbps as their upload speed, both being fairly speedy for this type of internet connection.

Their Freedom Plan is an excellent choice for those in need of unlimited access without a data limit. Unfortunately, though, this plan is only available in select areas. They offer 25GB of data monthly, which is average for the industry, however, they also offer the option of purchasing additional data if need be. Conveniently, and cost-effectively, DIRECTV service can be bundled with Exede internet for added savings.

TV Channels 190-290
Monthly Price $34.99-49.99

Dish Network Packages

  • Pros
  • Good value pricing
  • Bundle TV, phone, and internet for savings
  • Free professional installation
  • No fee for HD service
  • Customer support among the industry's best
  • Cons
  • Customer service can take a while to reach
  • Two-year service agreement required

DISH typically waives all of your initiation fees when you begin service. And there is no additional installation fee for a technician to come out to your home. This gives DISH a bit of an edge over many cable providers who charge installation fees. However, one thing DISH does require you to buy your equipment from them, so expect to see a monthly charge on your bill for that.

Though, one point in DISH Network's favor is that they do provide custom installation of TVs (such as wall mountings) and home theaters and wireless networks. In addition, DISH does charge $10 per month for high-definition service. But if you enroll in Auto Pay with paperless billing, DISH will waive any charges for HD service, which essentially makes it free.

In addition, DISH also recently introduced The Genie. The Genie provides full HD service in every room in which service installed. Secondly, once you have had The Genie for enough time it begins to predict your viewing habits and records shows it expects you will enjoy.

Like DIRECTV, DISH requires a two-year commitment once you begin service. So if you like to jump around between providers you will have to keep that in mind. But you will have some quality service at competitive prices to look forward to for those two years. Dish Network's cable services range from $19.99 to $39.99 per month, which is fairly cheap. Though, their channel offerings and sports packages don't quite measure up to DIRECTV. If you want to bundle, Dish has you covered as their satellite internet and cable service bundles range from $39.99 to $69.99 per month.

TV Channels
Monthly Price $39.99-69.99

Dish Internet Review

  • Pros
  • Reputable brand that has been around for years
  • Entry level and comprehensive package available
  • Discounts and fee waiver available on bundles
  • Up to 30GB monthly data plans available
  • Get up to 10Mbps
  • Cons
  • Speeds considerably slower than cable internet
  • Not ideal for heavy gamers due to poor latency
  • Not BBB accredited

DishNet is extremely popular for their great prices, especially in regards to their bundled services, which can include television and phone service. As one of the most reliable and readily available internet choices, DishNet satellite internet is widely available in all 50 states. They do not have the same level of high speeds as others in the industry, however, they offer exceptional affordability. 10 Mbps is their standard download speed, and 5 Mbps is their upload speed.

Most plans come with a standard 50GB of data available for use at off-peak times. Another aspect to consider is that the technology involved is continuously evolving, and companies are always developing new advancements to improve the level of quality; DishNet is always on point with this. Along these lines, DishNet boasts some of the most steadfast internet connections, designed to work in any weather conditions.

TV Channels 145-315
Monthly Price $50-125

DIRECTV Packages

  • Pros
  • Over 280 channels
  • Exclusive sports packages
  • A variety of HD channels
  • Excellent customer service
  • Good signal for satellite
  • Cons
  • Requires two-year contract

DIRECTV offers a wide range of features, channels and packages, DIRECTV is among the best and most popular cable services around. Particularly among sports fans because of their exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket package. DIRECTV makes setting up service as easy and inexpensive as possible. First, there is typically no equipment to buy as most fees are waived once you order service. This is a welcome perk because there are some providers who charge you monthly to buy or lease your equipment. In addition, DIRECTV doesn't charge you for HD service and if you don't have an HD receiver in your home, your technician will provide you with one free of charge.

Furthermore, there is never any charge for the technician to come out to your home to install service. This is another welcome perk that is in direct contrast to a number of the company's competitors. However, one thing to be aware of is that DIRECTV requires a two-year contract, so you're committing to them for a bit of time when you do sign up.

While DIRECTV is a bit more expensive than much of its competition, it certainly offers the quality service to justify it through its array of packages and bundles. The company's cable packages range from $29.99 to $89.99, and that includes NFL Sunday Ticket free of charge and three months of premium movie channels. While DIRECTV does not offer internet service, if you do want to bundle services, it offers a variety of options via third party agreements with Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, Exede Internet, HughesNet, Windstream, Mediacom, and Time Warner Cable.

TV Channels 125-200
Monthly Price $59.99-99.99

Charter Cable Packages

  • Pros
  • No contract TV plans
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Access to over 10,000 shows and movies through on-demand
  • Better affordability with bundled services
  • 1 hour service appointment guarantee
  • Cons
  • Customer service among the worst in the industry

Dish vs. DIRECTV: Comparing Packages

A good way to choose between both providers is to examine their package offerings in fuller detail. Let's start with DIRECTV.

DIRECTV's most basic offering is the Select Package, which has 145 channels, including popular options like Cartoon Network, HGTV and TBS. Starting from $50.00 monthly, this is a great choice if you want news and family friendly entertainment.

However, if you crave sports, you'll want to elect for the Entertainment package, beginning at $55.00 monthly. This includes many of the popular sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and ESPN 2.

If you want features like NFL Sunday Ticket, you'll have to choose at least the Choice All Package. This grouping of channels includes the NFL Network and the NBC Sports Network, all for $60.00 monthly.

Moving up the spectrum, DIRECTV's most encompassing offering is the Premier All package. This features every channel offering and sports package available. Starting from $125.00, the cost is steep, but the entertainment options are plentiful.

Now it's important to note DIRECTV offers teaser rates for its packages. To demonstrate, if you want the Choice All package, for the first year you'll pay $60 plus taxes, but for the second year, you'll pay $104.00.

Therefore, it's important to understand the price you receive in the beginning isn't the one you'll pay throughout your two-year contract. Moreover, when you do select a package, it includes HD and DVR service for two rooms of your home.

Next, let's see how Dish's packages compare to DIRECTV's offerings.

Dish is revolutionizing the way you watch TV by offering its Flex Pack option. How this works is you receive 50 channels (History, USA, TBS) then you choose from groupings such as sports, news or kids networks. It's important to note there are no local sports or news offerings included in the basic package.

What's excellent about this is it provides you with a choice to pick, to an extent, the channels you want while not paying for others you won't ever watch. The package starts from $39.99, making it more affordable than the base package from DIRECTV.

Dish also offers packages as well in case you don't want to use its customization option. Its basic offering is America's 120+ package, starting from $54.99. This includes channels like ESPN, the NFL Network, and up to 6,500 on-demand titles.

If you want more, America's Top 200 package features 240+ channels for $64.99. With this, you receive ample sports offerings like the MLB Network and unique movie choices such as the Sundance channel.

Dish's most encompassing package, America's Top 250, comes with at least 290 channels. It also features the Red Zone channel from NFL Network, movie channels such as Encore and specialty channels like Nat Geo Wild. This package starts from $74.99.

Satellite TV and Internet

When you find the best satellite TV service, you should examine its internet offerings. To illustrate, DIRECTV partnered with AT&T U-Verse to offer satellite TV and the internet in one package. Dish also works with multiple companies to help you receive internet service.

However, just because a company bundles services doesn't make it a great thing. It's ideal to study Consumer Reports and even Google Reviews to see how customers' experience has been with that particular company concerning internet performance.

Satellite TV Providers By ZIP Code

Since service availability depends on where you live, you can go to DIRECTV or Dish's website and enter your zip code to see if they service your area. If they do, you'll also see the channel options available to you.

Satellite TV for RV

One of the excellent features about satellite TV is its portability. This means you can receive portable satellite TV for your RV when you are on the road.

How this works is you receive the mobile satellite TV equipment from your provider. In most instances, this will require you to buy the satellite equipment, including the dish and receivers. Next, you'll choose a package through the provider. To demonstrate, Dish offers pay as you go service where you can select packages beginning from $7 a month. It's important to note that if you opt for HD service, you'll pay a premium charge to access these channels.

When selecting equipment, you'll have the option of choosing a portable dish, where you place it in an area with an obstructed view of the sky to capture coverage or a fixed mount. This is where you attach the satellite dish to the RV--typically the roof to receive service. If you elect for a mounted satellite dish you will need to remove it each time you travel.

Best Satellite TV Providers Recap

While there are only two providers available nationwide for satellite TV service, both offer enticing benefits. Before choosing one, it's important you factor in price, availability, customer service reliability and package offerings, as these considerations will steer you in the right direction.

Overall, it's my sincere hope this guide helped you find the best satellite TV provider for you. In the meantime, you might be interested in learning more about the best internet providers or the best satellite internet providers to go along with your new satellite TV service.

Best Satellite TV FAQs

How does a dish TV work?

DishTV works by transmitted television data from a station, through a network of satellites, to the satellite dish you have set up for your home. This lets you get a variety of channels from all around the planet because the data can be moved very quickly through space.

Is DIRECTV on-demand free?

DirecTV on demand is not free, but many shows that are available can be viewed for free. If the show is from a network included in your subscription, you can watch it for free. For shows from other networks, or for movies, you'll pay an additional fee.

Who created the satellite dish?

The first satellite dish to be used for television was used by Taylor Howard of San Andreas, California, who repurposed a military satellite dish in 1976. In their early days, satellite dishes were massive, more ranging from 10-16 feet in diameter. Today's dishes are much smaller, at approximately 1.5 feet in diameter.

What is a digital satellite receiver?

A digital satellite receiver is a box, much like a cable box, that enables you to decode satellite television signals and turn them into a viewable image. These boxes take the data that your satellite dish receives, confirms that you are a subscriber with the proper access, and then displays the image on your TV.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.