Cox vs. DirecTV (comparison)

Cox Communications is the third largest cable TV provider in the United States. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the company has about 6 million subscribers, with approximately 3 million customers paying for digital cable service. As a multi-system operator (MSO), Cox also provides Internet and phone service along with TV.

Read Directtv vs Dish to get the full story.

Cox’s recently launched Contour TV product (an extra $10 per month) lets you record up to 6 programs at a time, and, lets you watch programming on Apple’s iPad. We might also note that Cox recently started selling wireless service through Verizon.

Cox offers 7 different TV packages including the least expensive TV Economy and the top-tier Advanced TV Ultimate. The packages start at $34.99 per month for 260 channels and go up to $143.99 per month for 390 channels. Of course, equipment rentals and other add-ons are extra. All of the Cox plans include free access to HD channels, but the economy plan won’t give you On Demand titles or Whole Home DVR service. DISH did well in our DISH vs DirecTV comparison, so let’s see if COX does well here, though you might want to take a look DISH’s channel offering first.

Based in El Segundo, CA, DirecTV is the largest satellite TV provider in the US with about 20 million TV subscribers. DirecTV’s distribution rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket clearly put them at an advantage with football fans who can’t miss a game. And, the company’s long-perceived dominance in having the most HD channels has made them a favorite among hi-def enthusiasts with an eye for the sharpest image quality.

DirecTV offers five different tier packages starting at $29.99 per month and up to $99.99 per month. The five packages available from DirecTV include Entertainment (140 channels), Choice (150+ channels), Extra (205 channels), Ultimate (225+ channels), and Premiere (285+ channels). These base prices, like Cox’s, do not include all equipment costs you might need for your home or office.

How do these two TV services compare? Let’s take a look.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

1. Installation

Cox has two options for installing service in your home. Cox services can be professionally installed, as well as self-installed. Equipment can be purchased at a Cox location or have it shipped to you for a fee. Their professional service costs $60, while a self-install (equipment is picked up at a Cox location or shipped) costs $30. You may also have to pay $5 per device (including Whole Home HD Receiver, HD Receiver, and CableCARD). We’ll note that Cox does offer free installation with some bundled services. In contrast, DirecTV does not charge for installation (their 2-year contract seems to absorb those costs).

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 


 

2. HD Channels

Cox offers High Definition services with Tv Economy, Cox Advanced Tv, and Advanced TV Premier. HD offers the most life-like pictures and free local broadcast stations. Using a zip code in the Phoenix, Arizona market, we generated a lineup of 140 HD channels including local HD networks. The company boasts free local HD, which makes since local networks are already broadcast for free over-the-air. However, Cox does provide HD channels at no additional charge with their Advanced TV service.

DirecTV lists 166 HD channels including locals in the same Phoenix zip code area. DirecTV has several HD channels that Cox doesn’t have, including 3net, beIN SPORT (in English and Spanish), and MSG+. To be fair, DirecTV also provides free local HD channels in their promotional copy.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

3. On Demand

Cox On Demand services provide endless selection of movies, sitcoms, music and much more. New titles are added weekly, so you’ll always have something to watch.  A large selection of the free On Demand selections from your TV provider come from whatever premium networks you subscribe to. So, if you get HBO, you also get On Demand access to all past episodes of Game of Thrones and other HBO original series.

DirecTV says their On Demand library consists of over 10,000 titles you can watch at no extra charge. We score this evenly because both providers offer plenty of content to watch On Demand.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

4. Equipment & Special Features

Cox‘s recently released Contour, branded as a “personalized TV experience,” was rolled out last month across Cox markets in the US. The Contour Record 6 DVR Package lets you record 6 shows at once (even in HD), to store 1,000 hours of SD programming (about 300 HD hours) to the DVR’s 2TB hard drive. Using an iPad and the Contour app (for iPad 2 or newer), as many as eight users can create a personal playlist, view recommendations, set DVR recordings, Pause/Resume watching on connected HDTVs, and send whatever you’re watching on the iPad to your TV. The Record 6 DVR Service costs $14.99 per DVR, and each additional set-top box costs $8.50 per month.

DirecTV’s top-tier Genie product lets you record 5 shows at once, watch two channels at the same time with Picture-in-Picture (or side by side), and record approximately 150 hours of HD on its 1TB hard drive. The Genie Mini will let you connect other TV sets in your house to the main Genie box. The Advanced Receiver Service from DirecTV will cost you an additional $25 per month, and each connected-TV requires an additional fee. They also have the GenieGO that lets you watch your DVR recordings on your laptop, tablet, or phone even without an Internet connection.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

5. Contract Periods

Cox does not require a long-term agreement. Although, if you want to lock-in a monthly rate they have options for 1-year or 2-year agreements. DirecTV requires a 24-month contract for all new customer sign-ups.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

6. Value Packages

Cox’s TV Economy package is priced at $43.49 per month (although, a special promotion gives you 3 months for $33.49 per mo.). The package provides over 170 channels and includes one standard receiver. Cox Advanced TV includes access to FREE HD and 220 channels.

DirecTV’s least expensive service is the Entertainment package that sells for $29.99 per month for new customers and provides over 140 digital channel options (over 50 in HD plus locals in HD), free HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax for three months, and a free Genie upgrade (although additional fees for equipment and services apply).

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

7. Top Tier Packages

Cox’s Advanced TV Ultimate package gives you over 390 channel options, includes 3 premium channels, HD DVR service, and is Contour Eligible. The package costs $125.99 per month (a promotion offers 3 months at $101.99). When choosing your service you have the option of upgrading to Contour TV for an additional cost. If you choose the Record 6 Whole Home DVR Service, you need to add $14.99 per month. And, you’ll still need to rent a rental fee of $8.50 per month any box you’re using. This is where Cox’s Contour TV really starts to add up in price if you want their top-of-the-line system. Tack $33.99 onto the $125.99 per month for Advanced TV Ultimate and you get $159.98, plus $8.50 for any additional room.

DirecTV’s Premier package gives you over 285 digital channels, HBO, Starz, Showtime, and Cinemax premium channels, watch anywhere capabilities (on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone), over 35 specialty sports channels, a Free Genie HD DVR upgrade (value $299), and a free Genie Mini (value $99) for connecting another TV to the main Genie HD DVR. Although additional receivers require additional fees, the main Genie with Genie Mini is included in the monthly service cost. Premiere normally costs $124.99 per month. But, a special sign-up promotion for new customers offers the first 12 months at $86.99 per month and the remaining 12 months at $91.99 per month in a 24-month contract. Fees include $25 Advanced Receiver Service per month, and $6 per month for each TV used. 24-month pricing for one TV starts off at a promotional rate of $60.99, but after three months goes up to $107.99 for the rest of the first year. For the second year, you’ll be paying $145.99 per month. Keep in mind, these prices are for new customers only. If you’re already a DirecTV customer, you’ll see much higher prices on these packages.

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV


 

8. Conclusion

DirecTV has a great selection of HD channels, especially if you’ve got a 3D TV and want to watch Discovery’s 3net 3D channel. And, they’ve got the NFL Sunday Ticket this season (although that could change next year). Even though they lost in our DISH network vs DirecTV comparison, DirecTV’s Genie DVR service is a great system, allowing you to record up to 5 shows at once to a 1TB hard drive.  But while Cox falls slightly short in the  HD channel count, their new Contour TV upgrade beats DirecTV’s Genie system. It may cost a bit more, but the 2TB hard drive will store twice the amount of programming. And, if you’re a TV fanatic, the ability to record six channels at once beats DirecTV’s five. For folk’s who don’t want to be tied down, Cox’s TV service doesn’t require a long-term contract. While DirecTV’s 2-year agreement may be a problem for some, the savings are worth it.

Call DirecTV to Speak to a Representative Directly: 888-859-5635

GET DirecTV

Call Cox to Speak to a Representative Directly: 855-418-4284

GET COX 

Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot has a background in web development and design, as well as working in broadcast television as a studio engineer, lighting director and editor. He frequently writes about technology, broadcasting, digital entertainment, and the internet.

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18 Comments

  1. Cox stinks, here in phoenix we have a plethora of choices, Cox, Directv, Dish Network and Prism.

    I have had Cox, Dish and Directv.

    Directv is great if you like football as they have the most sports packages, the NFL ticket and redzone.
    Also, 90% of channels are in HD and service is real good, as well as their all wireless DVR (Genie) system. No more coax cables for each T.V.

    Cox in my opinion stinks, it is behind the times and tries to hodge podge things together to maintain against their competition.
    Channels are not in HD and sports packages stink.
    Internet is horrible and has to be shared with neighbors so at peak times it boggs down.

    Dish network is pretty decent but not enough sports packages and not a very good DVR system, however prices are lower than cox or directv and service is real good as well.

  2. Where I live COX has been a mainstay in coax TV. The biggest problem is the proprietary and can and do charge whatever they want to charge. For years and years when they were the only game in town, they took such advantage of their customers. They constantly had problems that sometimes would last a day or two and even then would not refund the outage time. They hardly ever kept thir promise on scheduling installation and getting any sort of customer support was so incredibly difficult you usually ended up paying someone to come to your house anyway. In the recent past, Comcast became available in Roanoke and began taking their business. It was then and only then did they start to offer deals and they also revamped their cusomer support. Cox still has a proprietary setup on phone service and wireless internet connection for certain areas in Roanoke and true to their colors, the support is horrendous. Without going into detail, I went through hell to get them to assist me with providing the correct router information when setting up my router. I finally called my router people and the guy who helped me actually had gone through the same issue with another customer and had the settings for me. He laughed at the inability for Cox to provide me what I needed. And dealing with the phone support is equally as bad. I swore a long time ago that I would not do business with Cox whenever they were not the only game in town. Hopefully, I will be able to get wireless network soon enough as the Valley changes and I can rid my hosuehold of anything Cox.

  3. At one point I was fed up with cox because of the higher fees so after getting promised a ton of things from direct tv I made a switch. After an incomplete install where the person came 4 hours late installed the dish and 2 out of 5 devices told me it was to late for him to install the rest he handed it to me and told me to do it myself. Afterwards I called customer service to get the rest installed the answer was no. I learned that I wasn’t getting all the channels I was promised and if I wanted the same channels I had before I had to pay and extra 40 dollars. That was on top of the extra I was already paying to have an extra box. And then I learned that instead of the 55mps plus internet service I was promised I would be lucky to get 40 plus. The tv service didn’t even work on the already installed tvs and my customer service rep stopped responding to me. When I started constantly calling their regular service line I was repeatedly told that there was nothing anyone could do to fix anything, that they were sorry I was lied to but they couldn’t give me what I was promised. Finally one person told me that “direct tv would appreciate it if I killed myself” I went crying back to COX and they gave me back everything I had before, fixed the hole in the wall that direct tv made. I’ve been very happy with them ever since. I pay a little more and have to call 1-2 times a year to get new promotions but, I get reliable service, fast internet and all the channels I want. Plus no one from cox has ever told me to kill myself.

  4. I was a Direct TV customer when I’m still in CA. I have a bad experience with them because they overcharge me for almost .$300.00. I called customer service and their billing department but they do not want to correct it. So I told my son that’s it I’m not gonna pay them not until they correct their billing. Then we return their boxes. Then we move here to Vegas my son got the Dish no complain. Then here we go again Direct TV offer me to go back with them they will give me $250.00 Visa Gift Card. I said it’s OK as long your not going to overcharge me. Then we switch with Direct TV after we’re done with Dish contract. You know when we move to an apartment I got their bill after we moved I was overcharge again of $215.00 I was so pissed because they even have a promo when you move you will save almost $500.00 . How come they did not even mention that they have a promo and when I complain again with customer service they did not corrected it. Now I switch to Cox. “F” that Direct TV.

  5. The way (very sneaky) COX increases your bill every 3-6 months is unethical. COX is misleading. You threaten to quit and they come-up with some promotion to retain your service. I’m finished with COX.

    1. Just dealt with that this week! At the time of installation, I secured a 2 year COX bundle contract for an assortment of premium services which included a landline. My bill has increased about $50 monthly. Conversations with Customer Loyalty went nowhere. My last 1hr 40min conversation (Less hold time than anticipated, but still the series of transfers in which you re-identify yourself each time and endure sales pitches along the way to readjust your current bundle with new so-called savings) ended with no resolution. I was informed that the 1st $22.one was an ‘annual’ increase, but would not explain why that occurred a mere 7 months into my ‘contract’. The other two increases were brushed over as well. I did, however, get insight into the sky-rocketing prices I will be facing at the end of my 2 year contract if I wish to continue to enjoy Cox services as a premier customer. They are the only game in town other than DISH. I am actively seeking to put at least $1,500 of that annual cost (It’s shocking when you multiply it!) into my household recreational budget.

  6. I have Cox for tv and Direct tv for tv.
    I need Direct tv to watch the Seahawks since I live in Arizona and I need Direct tv for the Vietnamese channels due to my wife, her mom and dad are from Vietnam and they live with us I keep direct tv upstairs so they are together and away from me. I have cox downstairs because cox does not offer the Vietnamese channels so they will not bother me downstairs. If i had a direct tv box downstairs they would be with me which is unacceptable.

  7. Fter 20+ yrs with COX and having to fight the constant price increases for the past 6 yrs, Last yr i decided to quit so they lowered my rate then every month it went up as they said discounts expires. I finally convinced they to listen to the conversation. They did and refunded the difference but refused to lower the rate on my bill now they want to raise it another $30 this yr and another $20 next yr with a 2 yr contract., DISH has a 3 year price lock going on with no hidden fees… they say. It can’t b worse than COX where Contour has to be reset by a rep once a month after losing channels. The FF is erratic. Directv has the same price as DISH with a 2 yr pricelock.

    My advice is choose the best deal for for and switch every 2 or 3 yrs to get good rates. Get COX, probably all providers. guaranteed rates in writing. It seems none of them can be trusted to deliver what their reps promise.

  8. The Contour boxes are horrible. The lockup all the time and you have to reboot several a day. Can’t pause most of the time I. try to use it.

  9. Any chance you could upgrade this for 2015. Our Cox bill has gone up $100.00 since June 2014. They say it is because promotions and discounts (that I was unaware of) expired in December. Now, the only way to get my price down is sign a 2 year contract. But even that doesn’t lock in my price. I will get one price for a year and an increased price the next. There is a $240.00 penalty for early termination. Moreover, my price keep fluctuating depending on who I talked to. On a given day I talked to 2 different reps and got 2 different prices. I was told that pricing was at the discretion of the representative. Once I refuse a price they were not obligated to offer that same price to me again.

    Direct TV requires a 2 year service contract, and has a healthy fees for early termination but from what I can tell, it will drop at least $100 off my bill. But I don’t know much about Direct TV. We do have two HD TV’s.

    Could this be because in my area Cox is expecting the price to drop? In other words, raise the price to drive the customer into a service contract in anticipation of an increase in competition and possible price drop?

  10. Just an additional note…. Costco is offering a great deal if we switch to Direct TV right now – including free installation, a $200 Costco Gift Card! I don’t work for Costco… but am a customer of COX, who feels like we are being ripped off, and am ready for a change! We need the reliability of their phone and internet service (in our area it can be a problem, and Cox is the best)… but for our TV, we are definitely considering a CHANGE… and this blog really helped!

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