AT&T TV vs. DIRECTV – What’s the Difference?

Though AT&T TV and DIRECTV are household names, it can be challenging to understand what services they offer, how they overlap, and their key differences. But, as an active consumer, you may want to understand the differences between these two services to make a more informed decision on which service or package to choose.

That’s why we’ve listed general information, similarities, and differences between AT&T and DIRECTV so that you can choose the service that’s right for you.

What Is AT&T TV?

As you may have guessed, AT&T TV is the live TV stream option under the AT&T company. Launched on November 30, 2016, AT&T TV boasts signature features that make this a heavy contender among TV package options.

Their most significant feature is the ability to watch and stream content on your phone, tablet, or TV, making this a flexible TV streaming platform for the whole family. Additionally, with AT&T TV, you gain access to twenty hours of Cloud DVR included in your package. You also have the option to upgrade and get unlimited hours of Cloud DVR recordings for ten dollars a month.

With no annual contract, you have the freedom to cancel anytime. And, if you decide against AT&T TV within the first 14 days, you can cancel and return your equipment for a full refund.

The brand offers three different services for customers to choose from, and each package offers plenty of movie titles, DVR storage, and more.

AT&T TV Choice: 84.99 per month

Their first and lowest package, AT&T TV Choice offers you live TV, 45,000+ on-demand titles, and a whopping 20 hours of cloud DVR storage. You also get an HBO Max subscription for one full year and access to Regional Sports Networks without additional fees.

Needless to say, the AT&T TV Choice bundle is a terrific selection if you prioritize live TV and extra content. The 45,000 on-demand titles are hard to beat, especially if you’re a TV and movie junkie.

AT&T TV PREMIER: 139.99 per month

At 139.99 per month, when you choose AT&T Premier, you unlock several hard-hitting features such as HBO Max, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Epix, and unlimited access to regional sports networks with zero added fees.

Additionally, with the premier level, customers also gain access to live TV and 65,000 on-demand titles, and 20 hours of cloud DVR storage.

Obviously, you get much more in this package, but the premier package is especially significant if you enjoy watching local sports.

AT&T TV ULTIMATE: 94.99 a month

The AT&T TV Ultimate package is just that: the package for the ultimate movie, TV, and sports watcher. Not only does this package include everything that the other two bundles include, but also 130+ channels, including Regional Sports Networks, 55,000+ on-demand titles, and 20 hours of cloud DVR storage.

All in all, AT&T boasts some excellent features and deals and is a top contender for home entertainment packages.


Launched in the 1990s, DIRECTV is a satellite TV service that has been serving entertainment to families nationwide for decades. And when we say nationwide, we mean it: DIRECTV provides service in all 50 states.

Not only are they able to provide service everywhere, but they do it well. DIRECTV boasts 99% signal reliability, making it a dependable, enjoyable entertainment experience. Plus, the size of their access is breathtaking. When customers choose DIRECTV, they have access to 80,000+ shows and movies, plus content.

Similar to AT&T TV, DIRECTV offers three package bundles to its customers. The number one satellite TV service in the nation, DIRECTV offers satellite TV and streaming to watch movies, TV, local and national news, weather, and more.

Another perk? Not only can you stream content on your laptop, phones, or tablets, but you can also access DIRECTV via satellite in your RV, trucks, cars, boats, and even on planes. With DIRECTV, you can watch your favorite shows or movies anytime, anywhere.


At 64.99 a month, the first DIRECTV package gains access to over 160 channels, including favorites such as Nickelodeon, CNN, MTV, TNT, SYFY, TBS, Fox News HLN, and many more. Plus, premium channels are included for your first three months.

If you have a big family who likes to watch different programs, the DIRECTV Entertainment Package would be an excellent choice as it allows you to have access to a wide range of channels for a low price.

DIRECTV Choice Package: 69.99 per month

The Choice Package contains everything from the Entertainment Package plus extra feature such as:

  • Includes 185+ channels
  • 5+ in HD, plus regional sports networks
  • 2021 season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET

Additionally, the Choice Package includes a full 12 months of HBO Max,
plus three months of Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, and Epix.


The Ultimate Package is the best of all packages and includes everything from the last two packages plus new features such as:

  • Consists of an extra 250+ channels
  • 155 and more channels in HD
  • As well as access to regional sports networks

The Similarities

As you may have noticed, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV have a lot of overlapping similarities. For example, both services require a two-year agreement, as well as a one-time activation fee. These options also require users to keep a credit card on file.

Additionally, both providers have equal availability of top channels and networks and offer the same amount of DVR storage capacity (although these two services differ on where the storage takes place, an element we’ll go into further detail about later).

Lastly, both providers offer the ability to stream content on personal devices such as iPhones, computers, and tablets.

The Differences

Now that we have a clear idea of how these two services overlap, let’s examine the specific differences between AT&T TV and DIRECTV.

Internet Services

The most significant difference between the two providers is their ability (or inability) to use internet services. For example, DIRECTV does not require internet service, whereas AT&T TV requires internet service to function.

What does this mean? With AT&T TV, your service and video content will be interrupted should your service go out. From power outages to a poor internet connection, having a TV service dependent on an internet connection is risky.

On the other hand, DIRECTV will not go out of service if your internet goes down. So, if you live in a rural area or live in an area where you get a lot of high winds and intense storms, you may want to consider DIRECTV as it is far more reliable than AT&T TV.

That being said, DIRECTV does require a satellite dish to function. Some customers are wary of installing a satellite dish on their roof because it could significantly reduce the curbside appeal and aesthetic of your home.

Additionally, sometimes trees and other natural occurrences may obstruct your satellite’s positioning, which in turn interrupts the signal. Lastly, inclement weather can also lead to poor signals.


AT&T TV overall has a much more autonomous installation process. The service does not require a technician to install as they mail a self-installation kit.

Alternatively, DIRECTV requires a certified technician to install the service. As a result, DIRECTV could be beneficial if you don’t want to deal with installing the service on your own. However, for less tech-savvy consumers, having a professional come to your home and install the service for you might be the better choice.

Credit Check

If you have poor credit, you may want to sign up with AT&T TV as they do not require a soft credit check for signing up with their service. However, this might change in the future.

On the other hand, DIRECTV requires a soft credit check to ensure you have a good history of making continuous payments. DIRECTV also requires a two-year contract, so this is their way of covering their ends to make sure you’ll be able to pay throughout the contract.

Pricing and Hidden Fees

Ultimately, AT&T excels with its no-contract options for purchasing bundles. While you have to pay extra money to opt out of the contract (think between ten and thirty dollars), you can cancel whenever you choose.

If you’d rather sign a contract with AT&T TV, you’re more than welcome to do so. They allow users to sign a two-year contract and save that ten to thirty dollars. With AT&T TV, you have the flexibility to choose a payment plan that fits your needs.

On the other hand, DIRECTV requires you to sign a two-year contract, and the second year increases their prices. However, even though they make their customers sign a two-year contract, their package includes many more channels than AT&T TV, and when you calculate out the plans, DIRECTV is only five dollars more per plan.

When it comes to fees, DIRECTV excels far beyond AT&T TV, as their monthly pricing is less than AT&T TV. Though it’s only a difference of three dollars, every penny counts, and through the years, those three dollars add up. In this sense, DIRECTV wins out over AT&T TV.

As for installation fees, DIRECTV doesn’t have an activation or installation fee like (AT&T TV does), but since it has a rather complicated setup, most customers need more than the one set-top box in their home. Because of this, you may have to pay a $99 installation fee.

With AT&T TV, you can set up your equipment on your own. While this may take a bit more tech knowledge, AT&T TV at least gives you the option to skip the installation fee and set up your equipment solo.

Integrated Apps

If you haven’t heard of the term integrated app, you probably still know what it is without knowing that it’s its name. An integrated application is an application that can integrate into another system. Examples of integrated apps are Netflix, Youtube, Pandora, and so forth.

If you’re a big fan of integrated apps, you may want to choose AT&T TV since they can have integrated apps, although you still have to pay for them as they are not included in any bundle.

Unfortunately, DIRECTV doesn’t allow you to use integrated apps, so if Netflix is near and dear to your heart, you may want to stay with AT&T TV.


If you’re a diehard NFL fan, you should choose DIRECTV because they give you the NFL Sunday Ticket. For those of you who don’t know, the Sunday Ticket is a subscription that grants you access to out-of-market games and is a service that you cannot find anywhere else other than DIRECTV.

DIRECTV has the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPNews
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Tennis Channel

But AT&T TV has some sports benefits, too. For example, when you have AT&T TV, you get the NBA League Pass for free for the 2021 season.

AT&T TV also gives you access to the following sports channels:

  • Big Ten Network
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPNews
  • FS1
  • FS2
  • Golf Channel
  • MLB Network
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NHL Network
  • Olympic Channel
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Tennis Channel
  • TVG

If you are a mega NFL fan, you may want to choose DIRECTV due to its unprecedented access to NFL features like the NFL Sunday Ticket subscription.

If basketball is more your style, AT&T TV gives basketball fans something to get passionate about with their 2021 NBA league pass.

As you can see, both AT&T TV and DIRECTV offer pretty much the same lineup of sports channels. This is great because no matter what you decide, both services offer plenty of sports benefits and channels and options. From tennis to golf to the NHL, if you’re into sports, you truly can’t go wrong with DIRECTV or AT&T TV.


Both services provide users with plenty of storage. The difference boils down to where the storage takes place.

DIRECTV has 500 hours worth of local storage DVR service, and AT&T TV has 500 hours worth of cloud storage DVR Service.

So, which is better? Ultimately, cloud storage is better than local storage. This is because of two main reasons: convenience and security.

Since we are all connected to the internet most of the time (or at least able to access it), you can always access your storage.

Additionally, cloud storage is much more secure than local storage because of the multiple security levels that come naturally embedded in cloud services. Finally, only authorized personnel can access your cloud because of such sophisticated tools as an encryption algorithm.

Because of these reasons, AT&T TV wins out in terms of storage.

Other Features

DIRECTV and AT&T have other differences, too, which comes down to their features.

For example, DIRECTV does not have a voice control remote, whereas AT&T TV does indeed have a voice control remote. So, if convenience and high-tech are your style, you may want to pick AT&T TV as their voice control remote will let you browse through their hundreds of channels.

There are also differences in terms of local programming. For DIRECTV, locals are available in every market. However, because AT&T TV is still rolling out this feature, locals may not be available in every market.

For channels, DIRECTV does indeed have more channels. However, most of these extra channels are music channels. While this is a great feature for music buffs, it doesn’t seem especially necessary given how many music streaming platforms exist. Because of this, those extra channels may not be worth the extra money and second-year increase in prices.

The good news is, you’re able to thoroughly browse the channels that AT&T TV and DIRECTV offer before you commit to either one. And if music channels are your groove, then you’re in luck.

Final Thoughts

Both services give TV and movie lovers tons of features to be excited about. While both services have comparable pricing for premium channels, DIRECTV includes more in their package.

Then again, AT&T TV includes all major channels and subscriptions and allows you to integrate apps like Netflix or Pandora should you choose. AT&T TV also lets you select payment plans without signing a two-year contract and does not require a credit check.

Because AT&T is internet-based, if you don’t have fast internet, live in a rural area, or simply don’t want to depend on internet capabilities, you may want to choose DIRECTV. Also, DIRECTV has better seasonal sports packages and doesn’t require installing your equipment.

Both services are relatively comparable, so the good news is that you won’t choose the wrong one. But, by our counts, AT&T TV has a slight edge in their differences and is the better service.