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Which Is The Better Value: DISH Network or DirecTV?

Value is a funny word and it certainly can mean different things to different people, but generally, when someone talks about value they are talking about whether some product or service is actually worth what they paid for it. To some people paying $49 a month for a satellite or cable television subscription is outrageous while someone else might not bat an eye over shelling out $100 or more for the same thing.

It goes without saying that just about everyone expects a quality product when they spend their hard-earned money on it and there are many people that are willing to put in a lot of time and effort to research a product to make sure they are getting the best deal available before they make the purchase.

Satellite television is more in the service category than product category since you have to keep paying for it every month as long as you want it. At one time it was probably possible to sign up for satellite TV and then simply cancel it after a short time if you didn’t like it.

That’s not really an option these days since signing up for satellite TV will involve signing a contract which means you agree to keep paying for the service for up to two years. Understandably, people are more careful about signing up for something when they know they will have to sign a contract that is probably not easy to get out of.

So What’s Up With The Contracts?

You can probably thank the “serial switchers” for the contract requirement that goes along with a satellite television subscriptions these days. Like most industries, the satellite TV industry is quite competitive and they frequently offer special deals in order to entice people to sign up. These deals were too good for the serial switchers to pass up and they would constantly bounce from service to service as new deals were offered.

For example, someone might sign up for DirecTV to take advantage of an attractive introductory offer of $29 per month. A few months later they see that DISH is offering their own introductory deal for $25 per month so they cancel their DirecTV and sign up for DISH. A few months after that DirecTV runs another promotion that advertises $19 a month and guess what? The serial switcher cancels DISH and goes bacgetting the best valuek to DirecTV.

As a result of “serial switching,” satellite TV companies were spinning their wheels trying to sign up new customers because some of them were always chasing the best deal. This probably wasted a lot of the time for satellite installers as well since they were getting called out to the same homes over and over again to install systems.

In my opinion, this is why the satellite television companies started to require contracts. They wanted to keep people from cancelling their subscription when the next new deal came along. Other industries do the same thing for the same reason, and although we consumers don’t like signing contracts, it’s hard not to understand why they are required these days.

Does DISH Raise Their Rates Frequently?

My experience as it relates to value is a bit mixed. My experience with DISH was pretty good and one of the best things about being a DISH subscriber for me was that DISH didn’t raise their rates too often.

One of the main reasons I signed up for DISH in 1998 was that I had been a cable TV subscriber for about a dozen years and was sick of seeing the bill go up so often. I probably subscribed to three or four different cable TV companies in a number of locations and they all seemed very fond of raising their prices on a frequent basis.

When I signed up for DISH I very rarely saw price increases, which you can read more about in an old blog post from 2006 which is posted here. I’ve been with DirecTV for almost two years now, so I don’t know if prices for DISH have gone up, gone down or remained the same. The way things are going with DirecTV, I suspect I will be signing up with DISH again when my two-year contract with DirecTV expires in the spring. You can read more about why I ended up with DirecTV here.

So, Which One Is Cheaper?

As far as value goes when it comes to comparing DISH to DirecTV, I don’t really have any startling revelations to share. I do have an opinion, but it’s not likely to sway you significantly in either direction.

As you might imagine, the prices that DISH and DirecTV charge subscribers are pretty close. After all, they are competing services so you are not likely to find that one of them is much more or less expensive than the other. In my experience, the big differences I saw between DISH and DirecTV were in their programming packages.

For example, let’s say they both offer a package that costs about $50 per month. Those two packages are not going to have exactly the same channels included. Perhaps they both offer 150 channels but there are going to be some channels in one package that are not included in the other. That means it’s important to know what your “must have” channels are before you sit down and try to decide what service and accompanying channel package you want to sign up for.

Ask Nicely And (Sometimes) You Will Receive

Where value is concerned, here’s something else that’s very worth knowing about. It is possible to negotiate what you are paying for satellite TV. I must admit that I never tried it with DISH but when I gave it a shot with DirecTV it worked like a charm!

When I first signed up for DirecTV back at the beginning of 2015 I was paying about $43 per month. That was an introductory offer that I thought would last for the entire two-year contract but I guess I must have missed something when I first signed up because that was not the case. After we had the service for a year I was a bit shocked to get a bill in the mail that amounted to about $74! I was not expecting a price increase like that after just a year so I was not a happy camper at all.

I really didn’t think that the programming package we had signed up for was worth $74 per month so I decided to call DirecTV and see if I could get them to lower the price. Here’s the key, I was very nice about it when I called and made sure I expressed how disappointed I was with the price increase. I can stress enough that I was very polite about it and made sure I was not the least bit angry or rude.

That strategy seemed to pay off because by the time I hung up the phone, they had agreed to lower the price to $53 a month and they also gave me three premium movie channels free for three months. Naturally it was one of those deals where you had to remember to call them before the three months passed and cancel the free channels before they automatically start charging for them, but I was still very happy with the reduction in the monthly subscription price.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to value, you’re going to have to do a bit of homework before you sign up with DISH or DirecTV to compare programming packages and prices. I’ve been a DISH Network fan for a long time and after almost two years as a DirecTV subscriber, I am probably even a bigger DISH fan than I was before.

My main gripe with DirecTV, as I have reported elsewhere on this site, is that their equipment is inferior to DISH Network equipment. I experience a lot more frustration and random problems with DirecTV equipment than I ever did with DISH equipment. I like my TV viewing experience to be as hassle-free as possible and there’s no question that my experience with DISH was less frustrating than it has been with DirecTV.

If you’re looking at value from only a price perspective, you will probably find that things are, in a word, “changeable.” As I mentioned earlier, both DISH and DirecTV offer introductory deals all the time and the prices tend to rise and fall with industry trends.

You might get a really good deal signing up for DirecTV and then see that DISH is offering a new deal six months later that would save you money. That’s just the nature of the business, so do your research and select the best deal for you at the time and then ride out the contract and sign up for a better deal elsewhere if you are not happy with the service.

I don’t think anyone can say one service is cheaper or a better value than the other because things do change pretty regularly and the prices for the two competing services are usually pretty close to one another.