Cable TV Comparisons
Given all the options on the market, choosing a television provider may feel like one of life’s necessary evils. However, with a little research into the different service types and companies, it doesn’t have be that hard. Read on for a comprehensive AT&T and XFINITY comparison that can help make the process a whole lot easier.
Thanks to the 2015 merger between AT&T and DIRECTV®, AT&T is now the world’s largest pay-TV provider. A large portion of AT&T television services are provided through DIRECTV, which uses satellite to deliver the season’s hottest shows, premium channels, and extensive sports coverage. Existing DIRECTV customers weren’t required to make any changes after the merger, but AT&T has started offering special deals on TV to current phone subscribers.
XFINITY by Comcast is a cable television provider that also provides Internet and phone services across the United States. After AT&T, XFINITY is the second largest provider of pay-TV services. XFINITY offers a variety of packages that deliver local and national channels, premium programming from networks like HBO® and SHOWTIME®, and dedicated sports and news coverage.
Both providers also offer streaming services that allow customers to watch their favorite shows on any device from virtually anywhere. On Demand programming is also available, which provides access to thousands of movies, television shows, and documentaries. It’s easy to see that both companies provide a wide selection of quality programming and services that take TV viewing beyond the living room. The details of how each stacks up against the other in the key areas that matter to consumers are outlined below.
Specific pricing is usually based on location for both AT&T and XFINITY. In addition, both providers offer package deals or bundles that can give subscribers a break on the monthly price when two or more services are purchased together.
Pay-TV packages with AT&T through DIRECTV start around $50.00 per month for the first 12 months with a 24-month contract, and these inexpensive plans come with more than 145 channels. Additional stand-alone TV packages range all the way up to more than 315 channels, with a similar 12-month structure and a 24-month contract. Local channels are also available in most markets, but specific availability needs to be verified. Unlike cable, DIRECTV doesn’t widely advertise many small, basic channel packages.
In terms of bundles, the AT&T/DIRECTV merger has given the company somewhat of an edge: subscribers can bundle TV plans with wireless phone packages. For many users, this option may make up for the lacking Internet bundles available from the paired providers.
XFINITY, on the other hand, has several packages with more than 140 channels available starting at $49.99 per month for 12 months with a one-year term. From there, that same TV package jumps to around $89.99 per month for 12 months with a two-year agreement when combined with an Internet plan offering incredible speeds up to 50 Mbps. The company also offers a smaller stand-alone television package that costs $29.95 per month for 12 months, all without a minimum term contract.
For superior viewing, XFINITY customers can upgrade to premium channels starting at $10 per month. XFINITY also offers a limited basic package that includes only local channels and the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX). Limited basic packages can start under $30 per month, but customers need to call customer service to get specific pricing in their area.
Both AT&T and XFINITY are fairly reliable when it comes to providing a consistent television signal. Equipment failure is one reason that cable or satellite television might go out, but advanced technology has made equipment failure less common across the board. That said, neither service is impervious to brief outages.
Because DIRECTV is a satellite provider, the signal needs a clear view of the southern sky. Though improvements in satellite technology have minimized the frequency of interruptions, extreme weather conditions can interrupt a satellite television signal, and customers will have to wait until the storm passes to watch live television. Fortunately, recorded programs on a DIRECTV Genie® may still be accessible during downtime.
XFINITY is a cable television connection, which isn’t typically affected by things like weather. Cable connections may, however, be susceptible to service interruptions as a result of contract negotiations — both with other providers and the channel networks themselves. Depending on the exclusivity of network content, though, viewers may still be able to access shows on alternate networks during downtime.
Customer Service and Reviews
While very few online reviews provide a completely accurate picture of the service being rated, there’s a lot to be gleaned from what others have to say about a given provider. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is a great resource for this, as the index measures satisfaction in several areas, including picture quality, outages, website, call center, and ability to easily understand bills.
DIRECTV has been rated number one with the ACSI on multiple occasions. Even in years where the company hasn’t taken first, it has remained near the top of the list. This shows DIRECTV’s clear efforts to emphasize customer experience.
Customer reviews for the company highlight satisfaction with installation, the patience and helpfulness of customer service reps, and top-notch technical assistance. Not all reviews are stellar, but the majority of DIRECTV customers seem to be pleased with the quality and service provided.
XFINITY has struggled somewhat with customer service ratings. The company scored 54 out of 100 possible points for customer satisfaction, according to ACSI measurements. That’s six points lower than the year before, but certainly not the worst score on the chart.
In response to their low scores and unhappy customer reviews, XFINITY has made the customer experience a top priority. The company has also rolled out a Tech Tracker app that lets customers know, in real time, where their technician is and when they should arrive.
Channels and Special Packages
In a generation of binge-watchers and fan followings, programming access is no small issue. Many viewers want a pay-TV provider that can offer a lot of channels for the price.
To cater to those who want as much programming as possible, DIRECTV provides a huge selection of channel options. The company’s smallest well-advertised package starts at over 145 channels, and true television addicts can binge away with packages that offer more than double that.
DIRECTV also has a corner on the market when it comes to sports programming. Football fans will enjoy the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which is available without any additional cost for the 2016 season with the CHOICE™ Package and above. The package includes every out-of-market game broadcast live every single Sunday. Customers can customize their DIRECTV subscription by adding other major sports channels, international sports, and foreign language packages.
XFINITY also offers a wide range of channel lineups, starting with a limited basic plan that offers just the major networks and local PBS and governmental programming. Higher plans include national and international channels, sports networks, premium channels, and more. XFINITY’s largest lineup offers more than 180 channels.
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