Q. I just bought a new house and I’m considering getting a satellite dish for my TV programming. But I was wondering which one is better, DIRECTV or Dish? Do you have any insights on that? — Melanie, Malibu, California.
Melanie, that’s a great question, one that’s been hotly debated since the 1990s when DIRECTV and Dish first began offering TV programming via the small dishes.
While DIRECTV has more subscribers (roughly 20 million to Dish’s 13 million), the two services offer similar programming packages and prices with a few exceptions.
For instance, Dish carries the Pac 12 Network and Epix channel while DIRECTV does not. But DIRECTV has the exclusive rights to the highly popular NFL Sunday Ticket, which has undoubtedly contributed to its advantage in subscriber numbers over the years.
So to judge that one is superior would depend on what you are looking for. As someone who has used both, I would not rate one service demonstrably better than the other.
However, that said, it’s worth noting that the latest J.D. Power ‘Customer Satisfaction’ study does rate one better than the other. The study, which was released last week, gives Dish a score of 753 out of a possible 1,000, compared to DIRECTV’s 751. (Dish and DIRECTV finished first and second overall in the pay TV category, which included all major cable and telco TV providers.)
This is the first time since 2005 that Dish finished first overall in the J.D. Power ‘customer satisfaction’ ranking, which is based on such factors as ease of use and product quality. (J.D. Power, which has been doing the study for 17 years, surveyed nearly 28,000 consumers to compile its rankings.)
Dish should be proud of the accomplishment, but its small margin of victory (753 to 751) is more evidence that the gap between the two satellite TV services is narrow, and largely depends on what you value in a TV provider.
So, Melanie, before choosing a satellite TV service, I would study the lineups and determine if one has a channel, or programming offering, that you can’t do without. If that’s the case, get that one.
But if not, it’s basically a coin flip.
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— Phillip Swann