If your interests in documentaries and music are very diverse, then possibly the satellite systems are for you. Cable televisions seems to have successfully cornered a more localized market and if your cup of tea is local channels and news, then digital cable is where its at.

Choosing a Home Satellite TV System: DirecTV vs. Dish Network and Cable

James Russo

Choosing a Home Satellite TV System:
DirecTV vs. Dish Network and Cable
by James Russo

If your interests in documentaries and music are very diverse, then possibly the satellite systems are for you. Cable televisions seems to have successfully cornered a more localized market and if your cup of tea is local channels and news, then digital cable is where its at.


There are currently a number of home satellite and cable systems vying for your attention and your wallet. Cable providers most notably Optimum Online have conducted a somewhat ruthless advertising campaign as of late against satellite television. The aggressive ads highlight satellites one obvious weakness over a cable TV system….that you may lose the TV signal entirely in severe weather. This has long been a shortcoming of dish satellite systems that has been blown out of proportion. First of all, the recent and aggressive advertising campaign by cable against satellite has nothing to do with the quality or reliability of either system…it is a question of politics and economics. Recently, monthly cable fees have been hiked tremendously especially in the New York area and most notably for those who subscribe to premium sports and movie packages. The ad against satellite TV systems are cable TV's way of justifying these rate hikes by exploiting what they view as satellite TV's Achilles heel.

The most notable advantage of satellite over cable is the price. For only around $50.00 a month, a viewer can subscribe to over 150 channels including local channels in the Subscribers area. The Direct TV channels are from across the United States and offer a wide and diverse range of programming. There are also a handful of international channels including BBC America. Many owners of cable TV complain about annoying and ultimately useless local channels thrown into the basic package. Current digital cable TV packages include horse racing channels and low-budget local TV news channels.

DirecTV's main rival in the satellite television business, Dish Network, is fairly close to DirecTV as far as channel selections and price. In fact, Dish Network now offers Sirius satellite radio on some stations. However, Dish Network suffers in the technical area. In producing this article, two homeowners with Dish Network were spoken to and their systems tested. Both complained of poor customer service by Dish Network and of high prices for home visits to maintenance equipment. In testing the equipment, Dish Networks systems experiences many problems with signal tuning. DirecTV's stations tune within ten seconds at the longest while Dish Networks took considerably longer and several stations did not tune in at all. The on-screen menu is slow, sluggish, and difficult to read. It took a good minute before the menu screen was tuned in completely.

DirecTV has taken up the fight against cable TV's ads quite successfully. DirecTV systems experience much less downtime due to weather conditions than previous systems. DirecTV currently offers a heated dish to melt snow accumulations as well as a plastic cover for the dish which all but eliminates the downtime. DirecTV also offers a slicker monthly television guide. Another plus for DirecTV are the Freeview events. Every month a different concert runs free several times each weekend of the month. In addition, DirecTV changes and adds to the channel line up more frequently than cable. Recently, DirecTV added the Golf channel to its Total Choice Plus line up. Previously, the Golf channel had only been available as a premium sports channel. DirecTV also allows viewers to see the first five minutes of any pay-per-view movie for free giving the viewer a chance to see if they like the movie before they order it.

When push comes to shove, the individual viewer will have to decide which satellite system is best for them. Both DirecTV and Dish Network offer a plethora of channels from around the globe. If your interests in documentaries and music are very diverse, then possibly the satellite systems are for you. Cable televisions seems to have successfully cornered a more localized market and if your cup of tea is local channels and news, then digital cable is where its at.


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