Comparison of Dish, Mediacom, & DirecTV

By Jean Marie Bauhaus

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Television provider options are so varied that it can be difficult to determine which one is best for your needs. Learning which provider offers the best lineup of channels for the best price can be a challenge, and when you add in extras such as DVRs and Video On Demand, it becomes more difficult to decide which provider offers the best choice.

Type of Carrier

The biggest difference between Mediacom and the other two providers is that Mediacom is a cable television provider, while Dish Network and DirecTV are satellite providers. With cable television, your TV set is connected via cable wiring to a community antenna that receives specially programmed channels. With satellite, your TV is connected to a personal satellite dish mounted somewhere on the premises that receives a broadcast signal from a satellite in orbit. One advantage of cable television over satellite is that cable is less likely to receive interference from cloudy skies or stormy weather. Satellite dishes also have the disadvantage of needing to be repositioned periodically throughout the year to maintain a clear signal. One drawback of cable companies, however, is that they tend to be regional companies. Mediacom, for instance, only provides service in parts of the South and Midwest. Both DirecTV and Dish Network, on the other hand, both provide nationwide service.


Of the three, Dish Network offers the lowest basic package at only $24.99 a month for the first 12 months and $34.99 afterward, at the time of publication. This includes 60 channels and high definition (HD). For $29.99 a month for the first year, and $44.99 a month after that, you can obtain access to 120 channels. Dish Network offers free HD for life for customers who sign up for paperless billing and autopay.

DirecTV's lowest priced package at the time of publication is $29.99 a month for the first year, after which the price increases to $60.99 a month. This includes 150 digital channels, including local channels, and a free three-month subscription to Showtime.

Both DirecTV and Dish Network offer free equipment and installation, and they both require a two-year contract.

Mediacom's advertised digital cable packages start at $49.95 a month for the first 12 months, after which it increases to $69.95 a month. This package includes up to 135 channels of both television and digital music programming, up to 50 selected channels in HD, 15 Starz and Encore movie channels, and free standard installation. Mediacom also requires a two-year contract.


Mediacom offers the option of bundling your television service with telephone and Internet services to lower the cost of each service. Mediacom lets you bundle all three for $29.99 a month for each service. It also offers a digital cable TV and Internet bundle for $79.90 a month for the first 12 months.

DirecTV and Dish Network both partner with wireless phone and Internet providers to offer bundling services. Availability and pricing vary according to region. Call the service provider or visit its website for details.

DVR and On Demand Viewing

Mediacom does offer On Demand DVR service; however, no pricing information on this service is available at the time of publication. Dish Network offers the first DVR box free, and charges a $6 per month subscription fee for the service. Beyond that, you will pay $7 per month for each additional DVR tuner and $3 for each additional service subscription. DirecTV also offers the first DVR box free and charges a flat rate of $5 for each additional DVR.