Comcast Cable Versus DIRECTV Satellite Service: I Want My MTV…and My MTV2

I love movies and like to catch up on the latest happenings of TV land, so when it comes to connecting to the wonderful world of pop culture, news and sports, what do I turn to? When I first relocated to Michigan, I was set up with Comcast Cable, but dissatisfied with the service (for a couple of personal reasons), I decided to make the switch to DIRECTV.

When you’re vulnerable or unhappy with a current service or product, it is easy to see the upside in dealing with a different company. I was visiting a store that advertised a special with DIRECTV. You get the satellite, 4 room receivers, as well as 3 free months of all movie channels (like HBO), plus 3 months of $19.99 per month service. Also, after one full year of service, you get to keep all of the equipment. I was excited to say the least when the opportunity presented itself and immediately gave my current Comcast service the boot (to put it nicely).

I will say that there are both advantages and disadvantages in regards to Comcast and DIRECTV, but depending on your television needs, one may appeal to you more than the other. In my household, the switch was precipitated by the cost, negative customer service experiences, as well as the absence of ESPN2.

Price

With Comcast, I was paying a monthly bill close to 70-something dollars and wasn’t receiving what I considered to be a fair amount of stations for the price. One of the main reasons I switched to DIRECTV was because I would only have to pay about $40 per month. Unfortunately, you have to read the fine print because you are charged $4.95 per month for each receiver you use. In my case, I am using all four. In the end, I didn’t accomplish my goal of saving too much money, but I am receiving way more stations for the price.

Equipment

Comcast Cable: TV box, remote and cables
DIRECTV Digital Satellite: Satellite dish, receivers for each room, remote

Set Up

Choosing cable television is just how it sounds; you receive your service through cable. Before I switched from Comcast, there were no visible cable cords running through the house. With DIRECTV, not only do I have to deal with unsightly cords, but I also had about 8 holes drilled into the walls of my house, including a visible hole that can be seen in the front yard.

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Most satellites are positioned on the roof of your house, but in our case, the only way to catch a good signal was to mount the dish on our fence in the backyard. It also took the technician an hour to figure out if the house could be fitted with the proper equipment and wiring. Some houses will be a nightmare to set up the equipment, while others will have no problems at all.

The technician sets up all of your receivers and programs them for you so that each remote works. With cable, the set-up is easy to figure out on your own: the plug coming out of the wall connects to the back of your TV into an easily identifiable spot. With DIRECTV on the other hand, someone unplugged the VCR from the television connection and I now have no clue where the cords connect. I’ve tried every possible solution and nothing works, so now I have a receiver in the basement that isn’t even connected to the television.

With Comcast, I had television connection in the master bedroom, guest bedrooms (upstairs and downstairs), the den, the kitchen and the downstairs family room. With DIRECTV, each satellite dish can only support four receivers, meaning you have to decide which rooms are most worthy of television access.

Channel Selection

One of the reasons I switched from Comcast was because of the lack of good channels. My boyfriend is an avid sports fan and disliked having to go to local bars to catch his favorite college basketball team. ESPN2 is not offered through Comcast, but DIRECTV offers this channel and definitely much, much more. With DIRECTV, you also receive tons of digital XM radio stations. For me, I am quite satisfied with WE, Lifetime Movie Network, Oxygen, MTV, MTV2 and TVOne, while my boyfriend watches non-stop sports between the wide-range of ESPNs, NBAtv and NFLtv. Before the beginning of the NBA season, he was able to receive a discount on ordering the NBA package, which delivers an overload of basketball games during the season (playoff games not included).

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The Guide

The guide for DIRECTV is much better to deal with than a cable guide. Cable guides scroll at an unnerving pace, displaying only 2 hours of programming at a time. Turn your head for a moment and you have already missed the details of the channel you’ve been waiting minutes for to appear. Unless you have a TV Guide beside you, at 3pm, there is no way of knowing what comes on at 8pm. The details of a TV show or movie are limited on cable guides, whereas a decent amount of information is provided through DIRECTV.

The DIRECTV guide allows you to perform searches by time, date, channel, as well as genre. You can see what is playing up to a week in advance; set channel reminders; and order pay-per-view movies with a simple click of a button. At first, the TV controller may seem too much to digest, but give it some time and you will be a channel surfing whiz in no time.

Reception

I had no problems with Comcast during rain, sleet or snow, but with DIRECTV, since we are dealing with digital satellite television, rainstorms and snowstorms have the potential to send your system searching for a signal. During the winter, I have also had to swipe clumps of snow from the satellite in order to restore my signal. When the technician set up the service, he told me that we would have terrible reception in bad weather, but I have to say I’ve only dealt with minor inconveniences. Nothing major.

Customer Service

I began to inquire about alternate TV services after a negative experience with customer service. I used to pay my bill directly at the Comcast office. Many times I was greeted my rude and evasive employees. The last time I visited the office, I wanted to put a personal access code on my account to be used every time someone inquired about the account. This was a big hassle and it was never properly followed. Any telephone inquiries I placed regarding the account and the access code was never asked. I switched over to DIRECTV before I discontinued my Comcast service (just in case DIRECTV didn’t work out).

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When things were running smoothly with the digital satellite connection, I told Comcast that I no longer needed their services. Weeks passed by and the cable was never disconnected. When I called the company, they told me that someone called the office and said to put the service back on (which I was going to be charged an extra $30 for “changing my mind”). When I asked if the access code was given, they acted as if they didn’t know what I was talking about. Anyhow, the matter was eventually taken cared of, but the hassle was just plain unnecessary. As for DIRECTV, I have never had to call customer service and I easily pay my bill online with no troubles.

Disconnection Woes

Once I forgot to pay the Comcast bill and was disconnected. When I called the company, they told me that they do not always have to notify a customer when they near disconnection. I immediately paid the bill, but I had to wait for a worker to come out to the house and reconnect the service. With DIRECTV, since everything is digital, reconnection are just as fast as flipping a switch.

The Bottom Line: I am happy with my DIRECTV service because of all the great channels received for the price I pay. I also enjoy the convenience of the digital channel guide. The only things I’m a bit bent out of shape when it comes to the satellite installation is the holes in the walls, visible cords, as well as the limit of 4 installation rooms. Other than that, I have endless possibilities to choose from when I turn on the television.

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