I used to sell DishNetwork and DirecTV systems.
With either one of these, you should save money and heartache over a cable company. DishNetwork gives you more channels for less money than DirecTV, and my customers always reported a more favorable customer-service experience with DishNetwork.
There are some drawbacks, however:
Weather interference. If you’re in a place where it snows a lot, or have a lot of cloud cover on a consistant basis, you might have signal problems. Spray your dish with Pam to prevent snow build-up, but NEVER, NEVER use any silicone-type product hoping to save your ass from climbing up on the roof every so often. Silicone fractures the signal. There are also nice dish covers on the market which work pretty well. If you have a lot of trees obstructing your view of the south west horizon you could also have signal problems. If you have a lot of trees around byour house, reconsider getting a dish, or have it mounted on a pole in a clearing. Some unscrupulous dealers will go ahead and do the installation when there isn’t a good shot, and you’ll have no end of grief.
You might be in an area that doesn’t allow you to have your local stations on the dish. You can check availability in your area by going to DishNetwork’s and DirecTV’s websites and entering your zip code.
Sports: DishNetwork usually doesn’t carry a lot of sports. You can get college football games on Dish, but DirecTV has the corner on that market, and their NFL package can get pretty pricy.
DishNetwork occasionally runs their free-dish-free-install program. I don’t think it’s available right now, but they always bring it back, due to customer demand. This program requires a year committment of $39.99, but it comes with a lot of channels, including three different cartoon channels, and two Movie Channels. (This is their Top 150 package.) You can also get instead their Top 100 package plus a movie package of your choice. You must give them a current cable bill to be eligible, and also have a credit card.
DirecTV doesn’t run as many free this-n-that promotions. Usually, you have to purchase the equipment, and you get so-much off of your programming price.
As I said, I had a lot more positive feedback from my customers through DishNetwork than I did with DirecTV. DishNetwork has been consistent with their prices thus far. I’ve heard they’re going to raise the package price a dollar or two soon, but this is the first raise that I can remember. DirecTV raises their prices more frequently, and has so much money wrapped up in their NFL package that they cannot afford to add new channels the way that DishNetwork does frequently. DishNetwork also has more bandwith, IIRC, and has more room for new channels, where DirecTV doesn’t.