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10 Things to Know Before You Switch to DirecTV



So you’re thinking about switching to DirecTV from a traditional cable company like Spectrum, Time Warner or Frontier. This is what you need to know about switching, the truth about reliability, the best DirecTV deals and other important features and facts.

We’ll cover the most important things you need to know about ordering DirecTV, how long you’ll get a good price for and other important details that we’ve learned.

We switched to DirecTV from Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) after suffering through poor TV signal, awful DVR experiences and awful customer service. We’re well past the honeymoon phase so we can help you understand the good and the bad of DirecTV.

What you need to know before you switch to DirecTV. Leonard Zhukovsky /

What you need to know before you switch to DirecTV. Leonard Zhukovsky /

What You Need for DirecTV

You need a clear view of the southern Sky for DirecTV to work at your home or apartment. You may need permission from an HOA or apartment management to install a dish, so make sure you line that up as you are exploring this option.

You need a DirecTV box of some kind for each TV that you want to watch DirecTV on. You will need to pay for these each month, but most offers include at least one added box free of charge. This used to be a major difference from Cable, but companies like Spectum and Time Warner now require boxes on all TVs. The DirecTV Genie boxes are leaps and bounds better than the unreliable, featureless cable boxes Spectrum forces users to use on secondary TVs without upgrading to a full digital box.

You don’t need an Internet connection at home to get DirecTV, but it is how you access on Demand programming and it is recommended.

Does DirecTV Include Local Channels?

You can watch your local channels with DirecTV. There may be some changes depending on where you are located, so it is a very good idea to use this tool to see what DirecTV local channels you will get.

In seconds you can find out what local channels you will get through DirecTV, if they are in HD, and how to watch them with an antenna if your favorite, obscure, local channel is not on DirecTV.

How to Get DirecTV Deals

If you are a new subscriber you can save big on DirecTV with introductory offers and by using a referral code from a friend.

New DirecTV subscribers can get DirecTV deals as low as $50 a month with four TVs, an HD DVR, no equipment fees and 3 months of premium channels. This only lasts for 12 months, after which the price returns to the normal rate.

You can often find a deal that includes a $100 VISA reward card when you sign up. Another option is to ask a friend for their DirecTV referral code. This allows you to save $10 a month for 10 months ($100) and gives your friend the same discount.

AT&T users can save $25 a month on DirecTV when they have one of the new AT&T unlimited plans.

What You Need to Know About DirecTV Contracts

You will need to sign a DirectTV to contract to get started. This is typically a 24 month contract and promotional pricing is typically only for the first year. We’ll tell you what to do after a year to save more money on your bill without leaving.

If you decide to leave DirecTV early, you must pay a $15 disconnect fee and $20 a month for each month left on your contract. We are seeing many cable companies switch to contracts but referring to them as “price guarantees”, so compare and read the fine print as you look at other options.

How to Save After the DirecTV Intro Price is Over

One of the biggest things you will hear is that the price of DirecTV jumps to astronomical levels after the first year. Yes, you can expect a decent price jump after the promotion ends. You don’t need to threaten to quit, but if you call in and ask for a good deal you will typically see a discount applied for 3, 6 or even 9 months. You simply repeat the process when that deal ends.

DirecTV customer service reps have a lot of flexibility when it comes to offering discounts and credits. You don’t need to demanding or threaten to leave to get these, just call and ask for a better deal. If you need to call for any other service questions the rep will likely look for discounts before ending the call.

How Reliable is DirecTV?

What you need to know about DirecTV reliability. Jonathan Weiss /

What you need to know about DirecTV reliability. Jonathan Weiss /

If there is a lot of snow or rain you may lose your DirecTV signal. The equipment is way better than it was years ago. In the last two years, we’ve lost signal less than five times and that was during white out conditions or incredible rainstorms. Here are common DirecTV problems that you should know about.

When this happens it can be incredibly frustrating, but if you have a DVR and you have the on Demand options you can still watch many programs. You can also use the DirecTV app to stream many live shows to your tablet or phone.

We’ve heard that the latest receivers are better suited for wind, rain, and snow, but have yet to test one out.

NFL Sunday Ticket is Awesome But Pricey

One of the reasons we switched to DirecTV was for NFL Sunday Ticket. This allows you to watch any out of market NFL game, so you can watch your favorite team even if you are across the country.

It’s very important to note that blackout rules apply and you will need to watch local stations if you want to see those. This can also impact how you watch on your smartphone or other connected devices.

The NFL Sunday Ticket Max package appears to be the standard and includes streaming, but pay attention as you select your options since DirecTV previously required a more expensive option to stream to your phone.

When you sign up for a new DirecTV membership you can likely negotiate a free NFL Sunday Ticket Max subscription for your first year.

DirecTV Streaming & DirecTV NOW

You can stream many DirecTV channels.

You can stream many DirecTV channels.

You can watch many of your DirecTV channels live on iPhone, iPad, Android and Amazon devices with a DirecTV subscription, but you cannot watch all of them. If you have AT&T, you can watch them without using your data. This allows you to watch live TV on your iPhone, iPad or Android without any added fees or equipment. You can even watch your DVR’d shows.

DirecTV NOW is a different service that you can choose instead of a traditional DirecTV plan. With DirecTV NOW the entire experience comes through the Internet. You have access to 120+ channels, but it is not the same experience as on a traditional DirecTV plan.

Do I Need the DirecTV Protection Plan?

“Is the DirecTV protection plan worth it?” This is a question we asked many times and we’ve heard from friends who switch.  Ultimately it depends if you will upgrade your equipment every two years and if you don’t want to buy a new box if one breaks.

We have the service and just realized that we have yet to take advantage of the new equipment feature. Part of the reason we haven’t yet done that is because it requires scheduling an appointment and setting up time as well as abandoning what is on our DVR.

There is a more expensive option for $19.99 a month that includes other devices like your TV, laptop and tablets and you can even add an accidental damage option for $24.98 a month. While we think the basic DirecTV Protection Plan is worth it if you use the upgrade feature, the more expensive plans may simply add coverage you have through warranties, other plans or your insurance.

DirecTV Works With Most Apps

One final note that is very important is that DirecTV works with most apps that allow you to watch more on your iPhone, iPad or Android. This includes WatchESPN, most of the network apps, smaller cable apps and the like.

We consistently ran into compatibility issues with Time Warner Cable, but have yet to find one that DirecTV doesn’t work with.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. CR

    03/09/2017 at 9:22 am

    I have been a long time DirecTV customer and have been happy with them. The technology they offer is top notch and I feel 2nd. to none. The programming is much more than I use but it’s there if I do decide to use it. I also have the $19.99 warranty which I have used. The first month I had it the hard drive went out in my Mac Book. I just sent it to DTV and they fixed it free of charge. The only thing adverse I would have to say is the inability to come to terms with the PAC 12 conference. I expect to be a long term customer with DTV which I don’t mind paying for as long as I get what I expect.

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