Comcast Digital Cable Vs. DirecTV: Choosing Sides in the Ongoing Battle

In one hand, we have Comcast, a company founded by a father and son combination that, over many decades, have created a conglomerate brand poised to dominate their market nationally. In the other hand, we have DirecTV, which was an investment spawned by an already existing media empire into new technology as a way to diversify themselves economically. Both deliver a great product, but there are still a few differences that often end up causing many customers to choose one over the other.

When choosing their cable package, a large number of consumers are faced with the same choice I was: whether to keep Comcast Digital Cable or “go dish.” For many years, I have had Comcast in all its various forms, from the early analog days up to its current digital incarnation. However, I wondered, was it now time to make a switch? I ended up deciding to give DirecTV a shot.

When comparing Comcast Digital Cable and DirecTV, it is often best to begin with their similarities. Both Comcast Digital Cable and DirecTV deliver high quality digital performance. Both Comcast Digital Cable and DirecTV each offer multiple packages including premium networks. Both Comcast Digital Cable and DirecTV each offer Digital Video Recording, known as DVR, as well High-Definition programming.

Nevertheless, there are many differences. The first is the price. Whereas DirecTV’s all-inclusive package, the Total Choice Premier, costs $99.99 and includes the monthly DVR subscription, Comcast Digital Cable’s all-inclusive equivalent, the Digital Platinum, costs $108.95 and does not include the DVR subscription. Instead, Comcast Digital Cable charges $8.95 per box per month for DVR. Mind you, both of these prices are simply for “one receiver.”

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It does not include fees for setting up independent programming on more than one TV in the home. This is another situation where DirecTV has a distinct advantage over Comcast Digital Cable. DirecTV charges just $4.99 for each additional receiver. Comcast Digital Cable, on the other hand, charges up to $8.95 for each additional digital converter box, almost double of DirecTV’s current price.

Another advantage DirecTV has over Comcast Digital Cable is especially significant for sports fans. DirecTV offers the DirecTV Sports Pack, which allows the customer access to over 25 regional sports networks located around the country. The importance of the Sports Pack is that a customer can watch many different teams in different sports play from the local perspective.

For example, an NBA fan in Philadelphia can watch the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls and over 20 other teams play without actually needing to buy NBA League Pass. This package is also included in DirecTV’s Total Choice Premier.

A Comcast Digital Cable customer, on the other hand, would have to subscribe to the NBA League Pass to receive the same access. That is a service that costs $189 for the entire NBA Season, a charge that would be in addition to your normal cable bill. DirecTV does in fact offer NBA League Pass for any interested consumer at the same price. In addition, DirecTV has exclusive access to the NFL’s Sunday Ticket, which means that to watch any out of market NFL games, DirecTV is the only option.

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Comcast Digital Cable is not without its benefits however. One aspect I liked was the comprehensiveness of Comcast’s On Demand service. For those who do not know, this service allows the customer to pick a show or movie from a variety of networks and watch it at any time, day or night.

The other plus with that service is that it also has the usual VCR functions with it, meaning you can stop, pause, rewind or fast-forward that above-mentioned show at will. DirecTV is still working on trying to offer something similar, but to date, they have nothing close to what Comcast Digital Cable already has in place. This service is included with all of their Digital Cable packages as well.

In the end, this, like many things in this world, comes down to personal preference. For me, I highly enjoyed Comcast Digital Cable’s On Demand. The service got a lot of mileage out of those periods when you have hundreds of channels and
“nothing’s on.”

On the other hand, I also liked DirecTV for its Sports Pack and its economical cost effectiveness when compared to Comcast. From my experience, I might be willing to call it a push, but if DirecTV ever offers an On-Demand that rivals what Comcast has in place then all bets are off.