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Direct TV or Dish Network: Which is Cheaper?

written by: sherisaid•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

You've seen the commercials as Direct TV and Dish Network battle it out, but is there any real difference between the two services? Dish Network claims to be cheaper and Direct TV claims more bang for your buck. So, which is cheaper, Direct TV or Dish Network? Compare and decide on your own.

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    Direct TV Basic Package

    The most basic package offered by Direct TV is a lineup of 154 channels for $29.99 per month. About 50 of those are music only channels. Of the remaining 104, 5 are dedicated shopping channels, leaving 99 channels of content. Of those, 45 are popular, well known channels, including some channels that Dish Network does not offer in their basic package, like Animal Planet, FX, the Hallmark channel, Lifetime Network and Bravo. Also included are 6 ESPN and other national sports channels and 2 regional sports channels, 15 news channels, and 12 religious channels.

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    Dish Network Basic Package

    Dish Network's basic channel package, called "America's Top 120", actually lists 117 channels, which includes 32 music only channels and 12 shopping channels, leaving 73 content channels. Of those, 29 are popular, well known channels including Disney, Nickelodeon, Syfy, TBS, A&E, USA, and ABC Family. Remaining channels include 8 ESPN and other sports channels, 6 religious channels, and 8 news channels. Other channels included in the lineup include specialized channels, like Northern Arizona University/University House, the Pentagon channel, Free Speech TV, and Documentary TV. This package costs $24.95 per month.

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    Sports Packages

    Direct TV and Dish Network each carry a number of sports packages, and any comparison of which is cheaper, Direct TV or Dish Network has to consider what each has to offer. Here's a breakdown of the sports packages for each:

    Direct TV exclusive sports packages:

    • NFL Sunday Ticket - Every Sunday NFL game broadcast (HD games are only available if you buy the Superfan package)
    • NASCAR HotPass - Every race of the Nascar Sprint Cup Series
    • MLB Extra Innings - Up to 80 out-of-market MLB games each week
    • CricketTicket - Tournament games and international cricket events from around the world
    • Sports Pack - Thirty-five assorted sports channels

    Dish Network exclusive sports packages:

    • Multi Sport Package - Thirty-two assorted sports channels
    • ZEE Sports - South Asian sports channel

    Sports packages offered by both Direct TV and Dish Network:

    • MLS Direct Kick - 160 season professional soccer games and some playoff games
    • ESPN Full Court - College basketball
    • NBA League Pass - Up to 40 NBA games each week
    • ESPN GamePlan - College football
    • NHL Center Ice - Up to 40 out of market NHL games per week and some playoff games
    • Fox Soccer Plus - Soccer and rugby matches from all over the world
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    Services and Fees

    Both Direct TV and Dish Networks offer comparable pricing on premium channels, sports packages and local programming. Each claims to have more HD channels than the other, but documentation suggests that Direct TV has more content channels available within typical packages, and Dish Network includes pay-per-view channels and sports channels that only broadcast during games to inflate its HD channel count. Both companies charge an extra fee for each HD receiver. DISH Network charges range from $7 to $17 per HD receiver. Direct TV charges $5 for each HD receiver with no variation.

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    Other Considerations

    In addition to a head-to-head channel/price comparison, before you decide which service to purchase, some local research is necessary. In some areas, you will be able to get local channels from one service and not the other, and in some areas one or both companies are not available. Local channels include the major TV networks; ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox and some of the most popular programming on television as well as local news and sports. Consider carefully before choosing any satellite TV service that lacks local programming. Which is cheaper, Direct TV or Dish Network? You'll have to decide for yourself. The answer may depend on where you live.