I'd finally had enough of cable after their last service hike. It was time to join the masses of satisfied satellite customers and make the big switch.
But, which one to choose? After all, I'd been a tried-and-true cable buyer for so long; I had no idea which satellite provider was best.
"Oh, just pick one," my neighbor told me. "They're all the same."
That couldn't be right , I thought.
Or could it ?
So I began a month-long saga of satellite TV research, comparing Dish Network vs Direct TV every which way until I knew every last detail about each service.
Much to my family's despair, I was determined to find out everything I could about the satellite providers available, and make an informed consumer choice.
And the problem is, most sites that pretend to tell where to find the best deals are just plain awful .
Now, I did find three that were worthwhile. To find out which ones those are, you have to scroll down to the bottom of this story where you'll find the links.
The good news, of course, is that there are only two companies to choose from – Dish Network and Direct TV. Considering how hard it was to find many differences between the two (and ultimately decide which one was best), I sure was glad there weren't others.
My first concern was whether or not I could use both companies where I live. That wasn't a problem for me, but a friend was told that Direct TV could not provide a signal in his neighborhood due to some large oak trees in the neighbor's yard which interfered with their signal. But, he told me, since the signal from Dish Network came from the opposite direction (go figure), he was able to sign on with them – making his decision easier than mine.
Next, I looked at service.
Both companies provided about the same level of service for relatively the same price. Packages for both Dish Network and Direct TV begin at about $ 19.99 a month, with their most useful family packages ranging around $ 50- $ 60.
I did find that Direct TV offered more comprehensive sports packages, including the NFL Sunday Ticket (hooray!), As well as packages covering all of the major college and professional sports teams. They also sport fewer blackout dates in many of the big cities like Philadelphia, making their packages well worth the extra money.
While Direct TV also offers other less-popular international sports such as cricket, rugby and soccer, Dish Network tends to concentrate more on the international sports coverage, according to many of the people I talked to.
One of the things that stood out among the Dish network programming seemed to be their variety of Latino and International channels and shows. For those looking for non-American (non-English) programming, Dish might be the way to go.
Since both companies offered all-digital packages, loads of high definition channels and plenty of individual packages to choose from, my next concern was in regards to set-up fees and installation.
It's true that both providers "officially" charge for equipment and installation, however, unless you're the kind of person who walks onto a car lot and just pays sticker price, you shouldn't ever have to pay for this.
Both Dish Network and Direct TV continually offer a variety of promotions and specials for first-time users that provide basic installation and equipment for free, in addition to a myriad of coupons and gift certificates that can be redeemed for additional equipment and / or services including 1-3 months of free service; free pay-per-view movies; channel upgrades and more.
Where do you find these deals?
Again, you really have to go down to the bottom of this story and click on those links ! They'll save you a ton of time!
So, on to the million dollar question: which service is better?
Believe it or not, after all that research I came away convinced that neither service outranks the other in more than a few small areas. Both offer between 180-250 channels, a variety of comprehensive sports packages (although Direct Direct TV seems to provide more professional sports game options for the all-around sports lover), 100% all-digital and High Definition packages. And they do this for relatively the same price.
In the end, I chose Direct TV simply because they offered the NFL Sunday Ticket and Dish didn't. Boy, am I glad I did!
As promised, Direct TV has given my family more than 250 channels to choose from, loads of sporting events, music concerts and pay-per-view movies. We've never enjoyed such a crystal clear picture before, and I am happy to report that we've only lost our signal once, and that was during a major snow storm last winter that ended up knocking out the electricity, so we wouldn ' t have been able to watch TV anyway.
And, by the time the electricity came back on, so did our satellite signal! (Our neighbors with cable weren't so lucky – their signal was out for three days. Hah!)
Am I glad I ditched cable? You bet I am! I have a clearer picture, more channels to choose from and hassle free service, all for a fraction of the cost!
Don't forget to check out the three sites below to make sure you're always up to date on the best deals .