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Looking to cut the cords on cable TV, but can't live without your favorite shows? The best alternative to your cable box is a streaming or satellite TV service.
DIRECTV is a rare bird that offers older Americans both streaming and satellite TV, so if you can't stream because you live off the grid, they've got some options for you too. DIRECTV is also the pick for lifetime sports fans and movie buffs, because its top-tier plans give you access to thousands of on-demand titles (HBO Max included), three major regional sports networks, and NFL Sunday Ticket. No other TV provider can make that claim!
Is there anything not to like about DIRECTV? Well, at $74.99 per month minimum, DIRECTV is pricier than some of the top-ranked senior-friendly cable TV plans we've looked at this year. Spectrum TV plans, for instance, start at $49.99 per month, and you can grab a Cox starter package for around $50. But because DIRECTV is owned by AT&T, there are always bundles, which are a great way for budget-aware golden-agers to save on monthly entertainment fees.
For the complete lowdown on the best DIRECTV bundles for your wallet — plus plans, pricing, and special features for older Americans — just scroll down.
|Package (satellite or streaming service)||Price for satellite package*||Price for streaming package*||Number of channels||Highlights||Best for|
|Entertainment||$74.99 per month||$74.99 per month||75+||40,000 on-demand titles, with ESPN, TNT, Nickelodeon, and HGTV||Seniors who want basic entertainment for themselves and the grandkids|
|Choice||$79.99 per month||$99.99 per month||105+||45,000 on-demand titles, ESPN, TNT, Nickelodeon, and HGTV, plus regional sports networks||Older sports fans who want a little more variety|
|Ultimate||$99.99 per month||$109.99 per month||140+||55,000 on-demand titles, all channels included on the Choice™ Plan, plus STARZ ENCORE®||Older sports fans and channel-surfers who need at least one movie channel|
|Premier||$149.99 per month||$154.99 per month||150+||65,000 on-demand titles, all channels included on the Ultimate plan, plus
HBO Max™, Cinemax®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®
|Golden-age completists and cinephiles who want it all|
*Price with autopay
Note for seniors: Prices for DIRECTV's satellite packages are slightly less expensive than their streaming packages. These prices don't include taxes, installation, or equipment rental fees on some plans, and require autopay.
Senior tech tip: There are more TV plans to choose from than ever before. Before you get lost in the fine print, check out our cable TV buyer's guide for seniors for a breakdown of the top TV plans on the market for older Americans.
If you live in a rural area or your internet connection isn't strong enough (DIRECTV recommends speeds of at least 24 Mbps for Stream packages), you'll want to explore DIRECTV's satellite option. Otherwise, you may get a jangly viewing experience, especially if you're streaming two programs at the same time.
Just keep in mind that if you go with the beam (satellite), you'll need to sign a two-year contract. That's because they're installing some pretty big equipment on your roof. DIRECTV Stream is pay-as-you-go, and you can stop your service at any time without any cancellation fees. If you live in an area where DIRECTV Stream is available, your internet is fast, you want to avoid long-term contracts, and it fits your budget, Stream is the way to go.
Price is a huge factor when we're settling on any kind of digital service, especially when contracts are involved.
Still, choosing your TV provider isn't as simple as going with the cheapest offer. Maybe you can say no to local sports on demand, but take away your Sopranos reruns? Never. With that in mind, here's a look at what our three top DIRECTV packages look like: who they're for, how much they cost, and how they compare to close competitors.
FYI: TV has changed completely since it went digital. Now we can watch our favorite shows and movies whenever we want, or on demand. The best thing about on-demand content (besides getting to watch The Crown five times back to back)? You can pause to get up and make more popcorn!
Just in case you missed it, the base prices for DIRECTV's streaming packages are slightly higher than for their satellite offerings. There are some semi-hidden costs that mostly apply to satellite plans, but don't worry about those. I'll cover them in detail below.
Is 40,000 programs enough for you? Then the Entertainment plan will probably be a good fit. If you go with DIRECTV's starter package, just be aware that you won't get any regional sports on demand. However, you will get ESPN, ESPN2, NBC Sports Network, and TNT, plus plenty of your old favorites: CNBC, CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery, and the Disney Channel, to name only a few.
I think you get the picture — a lot of stuff, but maybe not the stuff you're looking for. If you're addicted to your favorite HBO series, you may consider upgrading to a Choice plan or higher (see below).
In terms of value for money, starting at $74.99 per month, DIRECTV's starter plan is similarly priced to an equivalent Xfinity TV plan, so not much of a difference there. You will notice a substantial difference between DIRECTV's entry-level plan and a basic plan from Cox TV, which costs around $50 per month, or a Spectrum TV package, which starts at $49.99 per month.
However, Spectrum's bargain plans will jump after the first year. (Cox starter packages won't, but their higher plans will.) When you throw an Internet + TV bundle into the mix (I'll cover those below), DIRECTV is the clear winner with cheaper and faster service.
The big perk with DIRECTV's Choice plan, which starts at $79.99 per month, is regional sports. This is a plan for serious sports fans who want complete coverage of their local teams, plus a little more variety in channels and on-demand titles. The Choice package also includes three free months of premium channels like HBO Max and STARZ, and one season of NFL Sunday Ticket, but you won't have any premium channels after that.
Did You Know: Regional sports programs are probably the most expensive cable television offerings, because the rights to broadcast local sports cost more than the rights to any other content. When a TV provider charges viewers extra fees to access RSN content, it isn't necessarily because they're greedy. Some of those fees go to footing those extra large bills.
This is the package for golden-agers who want the TV equivalent of a Shoney's breakfast buffet. With 65,000 on-demand titles, the best RSNs, HBO Max, Cinemax, SHOWTIME, and STARZ, DIRECTV's Premier package for $149.99 per month offers a tremendous selection for households that see a lot of traffic and want to make sure there's something for everyone.
If sports are your thing, DIRECTV is the king of regional sports coverage. Since we're on the subject of deals, I'll also suggest DIRECTV's Choice package + AT&T Fiber 1 GIG bundle if you can make do with HBO alone. For about the same price as their TV plan, you'd be getting lightning-fast internet too. Scroll down for the full story on that.
DIRECTV has oodles of on-demand content — up to 65,000 titles, in fact, including the big three RSNs (SportsNet, NBC Sports, and Bally Sports), and a nearly unlimited selection of new releases, TV shows, and network offerings.
Some of that on-demand content will require extra subscriptions. DIRECTV throws in three free months of HBO Max, Showtime, Epix, and Cinemax with their premium packages, for example, but after that, you'll be paying by the month.
Pro Tip: Sometimes it feels like digital TV is shrouded in initialisms. “DVR” is one of those terms you've probably heard a million times without knowing what it actually means. “DVR” actually just stands for “digital video recorder.” You know, like a VCR (video cassette recorder), but without the tape.
Whatever extra entertainment you decide to bundle in with your DIRECTV plan, you won't be able to watch it all at the same time, which is where DIRECTV's DVR storage comes in handy.
DIRECTV offers a pretty generous 200 hours of storage. That's over 500 GB of content, watchable on up to five screens at once. (You can record up to five programs simultaneously too.) Even better, unlike some competitors, DIRECTV doesn't charge for their Genie DVR. Just keep in mind that if you want to watch the content you record on multiple TVs, you'll need a receiver for each extra TV. Those receivers run $7 per month.
If you're streaming, DIRECTV gives you a slightly subpar 20 hours of content in the cloud for up to 90 days. For comparison, Spectrum TV offers 30 hours, and Cox offers up to 50 with its starter package. For unlimited cloud DVR storage, DIRECTV charges $10 per month.
We all miss live shows we've been dying to see from time to time. DIRECTV's Lookback feature lets you watch any live programming you missed for up to three days after. Family sports fans will definitely dig this. Just check on channel compatibility first, as Lookback is a fresh rollout.
FYI: Many subscription TV services are on demand these days (think Netflix or HBO), but that doesn't mean live TV is dead. Watching live network TV just means you've got to tune in at a specific time and day, like we used to.
DIRECTV's Restart feature is also pretty great. Imagine you're 10 minutes into a live program when your buddy walks in and wants to know what's going on. Instead of pausing and delivering a verbal recap (ugh!), you can just hit Restart and play the show from the beginning. Again, this feature may not be available for every channel you watch. Check DIRECTV's list before you get your hopes of “no more verbal recaps ever again” dashed.
If you like what DIRECTV has to offer, it makes sense to bundle in your internet and save. Here's a quick breakdown of our favorite DIRECTV bundles for older adults. (You'll notice there's no phone service here. That's because AT&T's “triple” bundle, which includes a phone, is only for landlines.)
If you're looking for the best cell phone plans for seniors, AT&T does have a few sensible options. Check out our AT&T senior plan review for a complete breakdown of the top AT&T packages for older Americans.
|Bundle||Type||Price||Internet||Channels and titles|
|Entertainment Package + AT&T Fiber 300 Mbps||Streaming||$124.99 per month||Up to 300 Mbps||75+ channels and 40,000 on-demand titles with 20 hours of cloud DVR storage|
|Choice Package + AT&T Fiber 1 GIG||Streaming||$169.99 per month||Up to 1 Gbps||105+ channels and 65,000 on-demand titles with DVR cloud storage (20 hours), regional sports networks, and HBO Max™|
|Entertainment Package + AT&T Fiber 300 Mbps||Satellite||$129.99 per month||Up to 300 Mbps||165+ channels and 40,000 on-demand titles, plus NFL Sunday Ticket and regional sports networks*|
|Choice™ Package + AT&T Fiber 1 GIG||Satellite||$159.99 per month||Up to 1 Gbps max||200+ channels and 65,000 on-demand titles, plus NFL Sunday Ticket and regional sports networks*|
*Prices for satellite bundles don't include the Regional Sports Fee (up to $9.99 per month).
You should know: When you bundle your DIRECTV and internet, AT&T charges a monthly $10 internet equipment fee, in addition to its DIRECTV fees (see below). AT&T bundles aren't available everywhere. Check the AT&T website for availability in your area.
One thing you probably noticed is that DIRECTV's streaming bundles are a little more expensive. That's because you get regional sports networks and HBO (with the Choice plan) at no extra cost. Other than that, it's just a question of speed and budget.
I'll break down my two favorite bundles below.
Don't turn up your nose at 300 Mbps. You can do pretty much anything you want on the internet with that kind of speed. The big gap here is local sports programming and the premium HBO subscription you get with DIRECTV's Choice plan. Otherwise, the Entertainment bundle gives you high-speed internet for an extra $50 per month for streamers and $45 for satellite beamers.
Obviously, not everyone needs a lightning-fast 1 Gbps connection. Serial downloaders? Family videographers? Cinephiles with a taste for hi-def? This is the bundle for you. It's also the right package if you haven't missed your favorite team play in … ever. Because with coverage from the three big RSNs, you won't. Plus (if you stream), you get HBO on the house, which would normally run you $9.99 per month.
Did You Know: The FTC defines broadband internet as anything above 25 Mbps (megabits per second). You can stream (one or two programs at a time in standard definition), surf, and email with a 25 Mbps connection. So what would you need an extra 975 Mbps for? More family connecting at once (for fuller households), better-quality video with zero buffering, and (much) quicker downloads and uploads.
The only downside to the Choice package is a lighter wallet — your lighter wallet. AT&T's 1 GIG TV and internet bundle will set you back an extra $80 for your internet if you stream and $90 if you beam.
DIRECTV isn't offering any discounts for seniors at the moment. This can be frustrating for older customers who aren't looking for handouts but are simply juggling increased healthcare bills1 and property taxes, along with the ever-increasing costs of quality entertainment. Still, there are a few ways you can trim your DIRECTV bill down, including a price lock that's good for at least a year.
You can make DIRECTV's streaming device fee disappear by using your own device. Remember, leasing DIRECTV's device is $5 per month. Google Chromecast, which is fully compatible with DIRECTV, costs about $30. Google TV, which gives you a remote control, is about $50. You'll start saving money after a few months if you decide to purchase your own equipment!
DIRECTV charges a reasonable one-off $19.95 activation fee. But they'll waive that for you if you order online. If you're more of a phone person, I hear you, but in this case, it makes sense to fire up your laptop.
Senior saving tips: If you're looking for ways to get great services for less — and who isn't? — check out our seniors deals and steals guide. We bring you the best discounts for seniors on the web as they hit the press: retail, grocery, travel, restaurants, tech, and more.
Another way you can economize with DIRECTV is to let them deduct your monthly payment automatically. This is a small compromise to make for five extra bucks in your wallet at the end of every month.
DIRECTV touts “no hidden fees” loud and clear, and while most of them aren't technically hidden, when it comes to paying fees, it's better to be aware of even the “mildly camouflaged” ones.
Whichever DIRECTV service you choose, you'll have to pay a one-time $19.95 activation fee (see above for a trick to get that fee waived).
Your satellite subscription comes with an HD DVR, but that device only covers one TV. So, if your DVR is in the TV room and you want to watch in the bedroom, you'll need a second receiver in the bedroom. Those will run you $7 per month.
DIRECTV's Regional Sports Fee can be up to $11.99 per month, depending on where you live. The good news is, this is a satellite-only fee. Streaming local sports is free with DIRECTV's premium streaming plans. So, if sports are your thing and you've got a strong AT&T signal, this may be a great incentive to ditch the dish.
If you cancel before your two-year contract ends, there's a pretty stiff early cancellation fee of $20 per month for every month left on your DIRECTV contract. Keep that in mind. You can avoid the contracts and early termination fees altogether by signing up for a streaming package, but those cost a bit more per month.
Senior tip: Keeping an eye on your TV bill isn't always enough to keep you safe from unwanted charges. Make sure you use a strong password to secure your account, too. Online identity theft has reached new and disturbing levels since the pandemic hit, and older Americans are disproportionately the targets.2 Check out our top-ranked ID monitoring services for seniors for a better look at the providers we trust.
Starting at $74.99 per month, DIRECTV is a tough carrot to refuse for sports fans looking for complete local sports coverage. DVR features like Restart and Lookback, and a free Genie HD video recorder with 200 hours of storage, give you even more control over your live viewing. As you move up in pricing tiers, you'll be tempted by premium entertainment channels that will eventually bump you up into some pricey terrain — until you consider those attractive AT&T TV and internet bundles.
AT&T (DIRECTV's parent company) offers blazing-fast internet. Even its slower (300 Mbps) connections sail past close cable competitors, and they positively blow competing satellite internet services out of the water. So bundling in your TV and internet really does make sense with DIRECTV. Couple that speed with DIRECTV's brand-new streaming service, and you're going to see crisp, bufferless programming wherever and whenever you want it.
Just keep an eye on your statements, especially at the beginning, to avoid “bill shock.” (I'm thinking particularly of the regional sports fee on satellite plans.) And don't forget that, while streaming is going to be seamless with a fast internet plan, you'll still need streaming devices or receivers to connect to each TV you want to stream on. Those cost money.
Other than that, I'm pretty sure you're going to have a lot of fun with your DIRECTV plan. In fact, with all that programming, you may never want to leave your couch again.
FYI: Like Philo, Hulu, and FuboTV, DIRECTV Stream is an over-the-top (OTT) internet service. That means you'll need an AT&T internet signal to use it. But that doesn't mean home internet comes with your TV plan. You'll need to buy that separately or bundle it in.
DIRECTV doesn’t have any seniors-only discounts at the moment, but there are some ways for older Americans to save on all DIRECTV plans, like buying their own streaming device (saves $5 per month), using autopay (saves another $5 per month), and paying online (waives the $19.95 activation fee).
DIRECTV plans start at $74.99 for satellite packages and $74.99 for streaming plans.
DIRECTV Stream uses an internet connection to stream content to your TV via streaming device. DIRECTV’s satellite service uses a dish (typically placed on top of your roof) to receive transmissions beamed from space. The services cost the same, but there are some differences in offerings and extra fees, as we cover in our review.
Yes, DIRECTV offers three bundles for both its streaming and satellite services.
Choice, Ultimate, and Premier plans offer coverage from the three major RSNs (SportsNet, NBC Sports, and Bally Sports). DIRECTV Stream includes RSN coverage at no extra cost. Satellite plans have an additional RSN fee of up to $9 per month.
Only DIRECTV’s top-tier Premier plan comes with HBO Max. With the Choice and Ultimate plans, you can try HBO for free for three months.
AARP. (2021). Pandemic Proves to Be Fertile Ground for Identity Thieves.