On a per-channel basis, Dish is cheaper than DIRECTV, although its entry-level plan costs around $15 more. The crucial factor is the number of channels provided. Dish's entry-level plan offers 120 channels at $84.99 per month, for cocktail-napkin math of about $0.71 per channel. In contrast, DIRECTV's entry plan is lower at $69.99 per month but you get only 75 channels for roughly $0.93 per channel. Still those monthly savings might be tempting if the 75 channels include your favorites. Both providers offer additional channels specific to your location with each plan and both have a menu of pricier options. Dish guarantees your plan's price for three years, compared to DIRECTV's two-year guarantee.

To make an informed decision, you should (1) verify the exact channel lineup offered by Dish and DIRECTV at your location for each plan; (2) determine if a more expensive plan is necessary to get your preferred channels; (3) consider any leasing fees for equipment; and (4) look for current special offers or promotions and ask if there are any unpublished offers still available. Dish continues to compete with traditional cable services, whereas DIRECTV is expanding its competition with streaming TV services, like YouTube TV, aiming to provide a seamless experience similar to these streaming platforms.

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