DirecTV vs. AT&T U-Verse – Which Is Best for Sports Fans?

by Kent Sterling

UnknownThe day my family got cable was one of the best moments of my life.  Not being limited to the three networks was liberating, and being able to watch the Cubs everyday after moving to southern Indiana gave me a taste of home.

After an adulthood of pirating cable while in college, switching to DirecTV after it was generously gifted as a wedding present a full decade after Julie and I married by the great Len Totlan, and then finally pulling the trigger to bundle all media under the AT&T umbrella, I am again ready to explore options.

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The problem is that getting a straight answer out of a salesperson or from a website from either DirecTV or UVerse is difficult.  Comparing two services is damn near impossible because of the different tiers of options.

My knowledge of DirecTV is that the NFL Sunday Ticket is available only there.  MLB Extra Innings too.  DirecTV also has a ton of 1080p HD programming.  All great selling points.  The downside to DirecTV is the occasional issues with dish clutter – like snow – that can mess up reception.

When I had DirecTV in the past, the occasional signal outages weren’t that big a deal.  We have an over the air antenna, so when the satellite gets squirrelly we adjust.

U-Verse is okay.  Not great.  Not bad.  No complaints really, but no joy either.  A couple of annoyances – I feel like I’m wasting a bunch of bandwidth by having hundreds of standard def stations on channels 1-999.  I hate that they exist.  I have no use for them, so I would like for them to vanish.  I’m well aware they are easily ignored, but it’s a lot like disregarding feral cats in the backyard.  I don’t walk around in the backyard, but who wants rogue felines cavorting about?

The sports coverage is okay with UVerse, but the points of differentiation I’ve noticed are useless contrivances.  They have six or seven cameras at Wrigley Field that you can specifically access to watch a Cubs game.  I visited a couple of times – enjoying it for a few minutes because I like the wide shots so you can see the positioning of the players.  As much as I like that, the static long shot got old in a hurry.  That might have worked back in the 1950s, but without a little movement, watching the game is duller than hell.

There is a difference with the DVR.  With DirecTV, you can go back in time up to five weeks to record a program.  If that’s possible with U-Verse, no one told me.  You can also record five programs at once on DirecTV.  Now I can’t imagine there ever being five shows on simultaneously that I would want to watch – not as long as programmers continue to renew vapid dreck like “Two Broke Girls,” but it’s nice to know.  With U-Verse, the maximum is three – I think.

The cost is roughly equivalent after the discounts that apply for the first 12 months, but the free NFL Sunday Ticket for 2014 with DirecTV is a nice bonus with DirecTV.

Another strange difference is that the DVR on the DirecTV receiver holds something like 800 hours of HD programming.  God help me if I ever hoard a backlog of 800 hours of stuff I need to watch, but in my world more is always better than less.

So it seems I have made my decision to return to the satellite driven delivery system of DirecTV, and jettison AT&T.  I think the reason is that I still see AT&T as a phone company, and all DirecTV does is feed TV into our homes.  My imagination tells me that there are dozens of conference rooms at AT&T’s headquarters where overpaid executives meet endlessly to talk landline service, cell service, internet service, TV service, and all kinds of other services.  At DirecTV, there is one room where they try to figure out how to bring quality television programming into my home, and that’s it.

I’m sure the reality differs from my imagination, but its wisdom drives my decision making.

You might wonder why no discussion about the Dish Network.  DirecTV and U-Verse are like Nordstrom and Von Maur in my world.  Dish is TJ Maxx.  I would rather buy one high quality and expensive shirt than six cheap shirts that unravel in the washing machine.  Couldn’t tell you why because TV is TV, but I can’t imagine dealing with Dish.

Hello, DirecTV, it’s Kent and I want to come back.

9 thoughts on “DirecTV vs. AT&T U-Verse – Which Is Best for Sports Fans?

  1. Bert B.

    Well, those are certainly the two I’ve often compared. For me, I like U-verse overall. I’m close to the main switch box in our hood so have no tech issues. And the very few I’ve had have always been resolved with a reboot. As for the sports programming, DirecTV is superior in its overall offerings. A). U-Verse doesn’t even offer NHL Net and they make you buy a movie tier to get NBA and MLBTV. All of the league nets are in the equiv U200 on DirecTV (though, I don’t have a cost comparison). B). U-verse doesn’t have Xtra Innings or Center Ice offered, let along Sunday ticket. BUT, I pay $7/mo. for REDZONE. That’s all I need. I wouldn’t pay a dime for Sunday Ticket (and apparently not one is now) unless my team was out-of-market and I had to watch them every week). But as a Colts fan, the Colts and REDZONE are my only NFL requirements.

    The only thing I want and don’t have is MLBTV and NHL NET. Beyond that, I don’t care. Being in Indy, we get a lot of baseball – White Sox (my team) and Cubs on CSN CHI and Reds on FSCincy. We get the Blackhawks on CSN and Blues on FSSTL. Add that to the Pacers and Colts and that’s pretty damn good.

    I’ve been with U-Verse for seven years and no need to change. It works all the time (no storm issues) and whenever I do have an issue, it’s fixed. they just sent me a new router, two wireless boxes (great for weekend sports viewing) and all new remotes with no hassle. And, unlike my friend this year, I’m not scrambling to knock snow off my dish in the middle of a game. Screw that. Comcast is not an option, either. They don’t even have CSN CHI – a total non-starter for me.

    But DirecTV is solid, so you’re good either way. If you do come back to U-verse, I’ll send you my rewards referral number 🙂

  2. Zee

    Kent, can you say “carriers”? That’s all they are. Just like deciding which trucking company will move your furniture across the country the fastest, with the least damage, and maybe even place each item where you told them … every minute without fail. Period. My main point is which is best doing that? After all, that is the Prime Directive.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      DirecTV is the best right now. The UPS Store owner I spoke to says 99% of his business is in returning UVerse equipment.

  3. Andrew

    U-Verse. There’s no question. I had direct TV and while it had good channel selections, whenever there was a storm, it would go out. The U-Verse has the same selection except that their picture quality is better and more consistent. The internet is fast and stable as well

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Still have the internet through AT&T. U-verse is lacking in sports programming, and I have found the picture quality for DirecTV significantly superior.

  4. Pauly Balst

    So tell me, am I a chump for using Comcast? Isn’t Comcast the top in market share? I’ve never compared. I’d consider U-verse, probably not Direct TV.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Do not switch to U-Verse. When I switched to DirecTV, I hauled my U-Verse stuff to the UPS Store as directed, and the guy saw me walk in and told me exactly what to do. I joked he must do this a lot, and he said that 99% of his business he packaging and returning U-Verse equipment. My experience with them was neither negative not positive – just okay.

      I’ve never lived in a Comcast area, so I have no idea what that service is like. Of the content providers I have enjoyed over the years, DirecTV is superior in almost every way.

  5. fromct2atl

    I have had all three. COMCAST IS THE DEVIL. They are by far the worst company ever. I would get uverse or directv and not get any discounts and still take it over comcast for free.

    Uverse and Directv are negligible to me. But talking to people I think it matters where you are in relation to the switch for uverse. I was close and I loved it. I’m a jets fan living in Atlanta so Sunday ticket is much cheaper than going to a bar every Sunday. Other than Sunday ticket ( the only sports package I’d pay for) they are very similar. Uverse can handle up to 4 signals. So if you have 4 tv’s and are recording 2 programs while wife and kids are watching other 2 tv’s, you can’t watch 4th tv. Usually not an issue but when you have multiple people over, its a nuisance. Wireless boxes are a Godsend…no need to drill or run wires. But you can only have 2. Storms with Directv, I don’t know if I got used to them or they didn’t knock out service that much…but it didn’t seem to happen that often…But whem there are dark clouds, no tv…get rabbit ears.

    That’s my $0.02


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