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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > TV, Home Theater & Audio > Satellite TV

Satellite TV Cost

How Much Does Satellite TV Cost?

low costLow: Basic Non-Local Packages Run $20-$30/monthaverage costMedium: Mid-Level Packages Run $35-$61/monthhigh costHigh: Premier Packages Can Run $100-$110+/month
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As opposed to cable providers and over-the-air broadcasts from television stations, satellite TV is transmitted from orbiting communication satellites that are received by a satellite dish. The signal is then sent from the dish to a set-top box which is connected to a television set. The two main satellite television providers in the United States are Dish Network[1] and DirecTV[2] . In some instances, satellite TV provides an option for those who may live in remote areas where cable or broadcast television is unavailable.

Typical costs:

  • Most packages and available pricing require a contract commitment. DirecTV packages[3] currently require a 12 month service plan while Dish Network plans[4] require 24 month commitments.
  • Dish Network offers a basic DishFamily package for $20 without local channels. The comparable package on DirecTV is $30 with local channels included.
  • There are five middle tier packages from Dish that range from $35-$58 per month. DirecTV's next two level programming packages range from $56-$61 a month.
  • Dish Network's America's Everything Pak is $99 a month and DirecTV's Premier package is $110 a month. These two are the companies' top tier plans.
  • The higher priced tiered packages often include some premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz!.
Related articles: High-Definition Service, Bundled Services, Cable TV, Streaming Movies

What should be included:
  • For new customers, installation is usually free as is the activation.
  • The satellite system is also free.
  • Each package also includes a free set top box receiver and a remote control.
Additional costs:
  • Local channels on Dish Network add $5-$6 a month. This is an additional cost that needs to be included when figuring out the final cost. Local channels are already included in the pricing of DirecTV packages.
  • HD for both companies adds an additional $10 to the package. DVR service adds on approximately $6 per receiver per month. Premium movie channels range from $15 for the first one; and subsequent channels each run about $1-$2 cheaper.
  • A DVR is a digital video recorder that records video onto a hard drive storage medium. It often includes features such as being able to pause live TV, dual tuners for recording two channels at once, and time shifting functions to allow instant replay, rewinding, and fast-forwarding of video programming.
  • While the install for additional receivers may be free, note that each additional receiver leases is about $5-$7 each per month.
  • Foreign language channel packages range from $20-$55 per month depending on the language package and broadcast stations included.
  • DirectTV[5] offers exclusive sports packages that range from about $30 per month for year long sports. For seasonal sports programming, the cost depends on the sport being offered. (NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, etc). These can range from a single one time payment of $140 (MLB Extra Innings) to $280 (NFL Sunday Ticket).
  • New customers to Dish Network who sign a 24 month commitment can save up to $35 for 6 months off for any package.
  • Dish also currently offers HBO and Showtime premium channels free for 3 months.
  • DirectTV offers $21 off each package fee for 12 months with a 1 year commitment.
  • There are also various promotions with DirectTV offering discounts of around $5 off normal pricing with a DVR, HD, or HD DVD package with one a mid-tier Choice Xtra Package.
Shopping for satellite tv:
  • Viewing the options and choices on each Satellite TV providers' website offers a good overview of the various programming packages and choices available to build a monthly viewing plan.
  • TIP: In general, DirecTV offers more exclusive sports programming packages such as NFL Sunday Ticket, NASCAR HotPass, and NCAA Mega March Madness.
  • TIP: Dish Network offers slightly lower monthly subscription fees based on their larger variety of tiers and choices. They also offer more international programming packages.
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