On Demand Face-Off: Netflix vs DISH Movie Pack™ and DIRECTV on Demand

Netflix
DISH Movie Pack
DIRECTV on Demand
Comparison Score: 92/100
Customer Rating: (4.4/5)
Comparison Score: 84/100
Customer Rating: (4.1/5)
Comparison Score: 88/100
Customer Rating: (4.0/5)
Price
$7.99 per month

Promo: first month free, no strings attached.
No contract required.
One package/pricing for everyone.

Price
$10 per month

Promo: free for first 3 months.
Requires qualifying DISH package.
One package/pricing for everyone.

Price
Free with subscription

No cost as long as you're a customer.
Requires qualifying DIRECTV package.
One package for everyone.

Total # of Movies
> 3,250

Estimated average; their library tends to fluctuate in volume as licenses with movie and distribution companies come and go. I'd estimate > 80% are more than 3 years old and/or "B movies". So, if you prefer blockblusters or newer movies, Netflix is probably best suited as an add-on service.

Price/movie: free with subscription.

Total # of Movies
> 700 on demand + 15 movie channels

While DISH's on demand offerings are still a bit light, your subscription also includes the following movie channels: EPIX, Sony Movie, FXM, Crime & Investigation, MAVTV, STARZ Cinema, Encore & more (each channel runs movies 24/7, so there's pleny of potential value).

Price/movie: Most on demand movies are $2.99 each (SD/HD). The 15 movie channels are free with subscription.

Total # of Movies
> 3,000 on demand, no movie channels

Branded as DIRECTV Cinema™, this service is strictly on demand (no free channels). Thanks to DIRECTV's clout in the industry, they boast an impressive and growing library of movies. They also tend to get recent Hollywood blockbusters at least a few weeks before Netflix and Blockbuster.

Price/movie: $4.99 (SD) - $5.99 (HD)

Total # of TV Episodes
> 21,000

Of all the on demand services out there, Netflix has the most TV network partnerships. As a result, you'll get the largest mix of shows from A&E, Animal Planet, Bravo, Comedy Central, ESPN, FX Network, etc.

Total # of TV Episodes
> 200

Similar to the movie situation above, DISH Movie Pack doesn't wow with volume but makes up for it with their 15 movie channels.

Total # of TV Episodes
> 7000

Again, pretty nice selection and most television shows/seasons are fairly recent. Volume of recent TV shows is comparable to Netflix (though DIRECTV doesn't have anywhere near the archive of older shows).

Can you download or save?
No

Only streaming is allowed.

Can you download or save?
Yes

Save purchased shows to your DVR, computer or phone.

Can you download or save?
Yes

Save purchased shows to your DVR, computer or phone.

How to watch on: TV
XBOX 360, PS 3, Wii, TiVo, DVRs, etc.

One of their major advantages, it's incredibly easy getting Netflix hooked up to your TV. If you have a recent game console, blu-ray player or any other type of set-top box, chances are Netflix is already bundled. Just login and you're off to the races.

Required
• Broadband connection
• Equipment: one of the devices above (XBOX, etc)

How to watch on: TV
Program Guide

Simply press your remote's DVR button and choose DISH on Demand. From there, hit "DISH Movie Pack" and you should have full access (if not, contact customer service). The 15 movie channels are on their own dedicated channels (see your channel guide).

Required
• Broadband connection
• DVR: Hopper or DVR ViP® 612, 622, 722, 722k, 922

How to watch on: TV
Program Guide

As with DISH, all the On Demand options are quickly and easily available via the program guide. Search by actor/title or bring up all your automatically saved recent searches. Alternatively, go to channel 1100 to browse all the movies available.

Required
• Broadband connection
• DVR: Genie, DIRECTV Plus® HD or TiVo DVR
• Other: CINEMA Connection Kit

How to watch on: Computer
Netflix.com

The original Netflix option, watching on your computer gives you access to additional features, including expanded search and better, more customized suggestions


How to watch on: Computer
Dish anywhere .com

Visit the address above and login with your online ID (if you need one, contact customer service or register an on-demand account here). Sort by theme, rating and more to find your programming.

How to watch on: Computer
Directv.com

Click the "Movies" or "TV Shows" button from the top menu. Browse and filter through movies and shows (make sure you're logged in). If it's your first time, you'll need to install the DIRECTV player plugin.

How to watch on: Mobile
Install the app: Apple, Android, Kindle

They also offer apps for Windows Phones and nook. As new phones/OS come online, Netlix is usually first on the scene with a compatible app.

How to watch on: Mobile
Install the app: Apple

Grab the app on your iPhone or iPad and login with your online ID. They currently don't have Android, Kindle or other mobile app options (and don't expect them anytime soon).

How to watch on: Mobile
Install the app: Apple, Android (phone)

Watch DIRECTV On Demand on your Apple iPhone/iPad or Android phone. There's currently no official app for the Android tablet or Kindle.

Streaming speed
Excellent: 97/100

Even while on your phone's LTE network (not to mention WiFi), there's almost never any lag; excellent picture quality of up to 1080p (HD).

Streaming speed
Above average: 88/100

Without the bandwidth or compression technology of other providers, streaming on your phone or computer can lag at times (though it's much better of late).

Streaming speed
Very good: 96/100

As with most things DIRECTV, they're at the leading edge of streaming technology. Provided you have adequate bandwidth, playback is always smooth and efficient.

Overall
Industry Leader

With over 20 million subscribers, Netflix has a ton of clout in the on-demand (and now, mainstream) TV industry. They're very good at leveraging that status into better-priced licensing deals, ultimately passing those savings onto their customers (it's tough to beat $7.99/mo). If you're not into sports or don't need live or local programming, Netflix may be all you need.

Overall
Still a good value

DISH Movie Pack (previously called Blockbuster @Home) used to also include a monthly DVD mailing service. Due to shrinking demand and profit, that service is now being discontinued. The remaining online section profiled here (shows and movies) still provide quite a bit of value, however. Price-wise, there's rumor their $10/mo rate may be reduced to more closely compete with Netflix, so stay tuned.

Overall
Excellent service

Given the fact you're not paying for channels or unlimited movies (as with Netflix and DISH's Movie Pack), this is really more of a straight pay-per-view comparison. So, if you're just looking to purchase movies and/or TV shows - especially new releases - and don't want to worry about choppy streaming or buffering, you can't do much better than DIRECTV on Demand and Cinema.

or call 1-855-785-0665
or call 1-888-336-3795
or call 1-855-239-7313


BUYING GUIDE

DIRECTV VS. DISH
Leaning towards satellite TV? Compare the pros and cons of the leading providers here.
Compare the Deals
View a side-by-side comparison of the top satellite promos currently available to new customers.
Channel Lineups
Search this interactive table and find out which packages include your favorite channels.
DIRECTV Genie
If you need to hook up more than a couple TVs, consider upgrading to the Genie whole-home DVR system.
DISH Hopper
The first whole-home DVR system on the market, learn about how it skips commercials, syncs your TVs, etc.
Cable VS. Satellite
If you'd rather go coax, check out this breakdown of cable's features and its leading providers.

What to look for with On Demand

Fresh Programming: an on-demand service isn't worth its weight if it doesn't constantly add to its movie and TV offerings. These days (especially with high-profile movies), that's a carefully choreographed process. After a blockbuster movie leaves the theaters, it gets sent to a list of on-demand and PPV companies, in a specific order. That order is almost completely determined by the licensing fees companies are willing to pay. For On Demand companies, licensing agreements force them to navigate a VERY fine line. Their overall profit margins are generally pretty tight and getting locked into a poor licensing deal can spell doom for quite a while (and might even force them to hike subscription rates). So, which companies offer the biggest movies first? With the deepest pockets, DIRECTV tends to offer blockbusters first with Netflix close behind. It's not uncommon for DISH (and their Movie Pack) to opt out of higher priced movies.

Picture Quality: it doesn't matter if you can watch all the flicks in the world if the picture gets fuzzy or, worse, stalls during buffering. Back in the day, all on-demand services required a VERY high speed internet connection. With the advent of 4G and LTE, most of the top services send you data in an incredibly efficient way, allowing you to watch movies on your smartphone or iPad without a WiFi connection. Compression technology isn't created equally, so you may be able to watch a movie on your phone perfectly fine on one service, yet choppy on another. Location matters as well (proximity to cell towers), so before you order, you might want to ask around town or try out different services on your friends' phones.

The Future

On Demand services and technology breakthroughs are driving a RAPID evolution in the industry. Still in its relative infancy, it's all about tech, both with compression and how it communicates with the user interface via an app or computer. The quicker/better it performs, the faster an on demand company can grow, allowing for better distribution deals and, ultimately customer growth. So, not surprisingly, most of the top companies are heavily investing in R&D. As a consumer, the best way to make sure you're with a winning provider is to contantly assess their service. Have they followed through on promised features? Does streaming seem to be slowing down, especially from different parts of the county/state? Of course, Netflix, Sling TV, DIRECTV's new streaming service, HULU and other on demand subscription services are month-to-month, so if things start to look dim, it's easy enough to give another provider a try for a month or two (most offer free trials), and find out if the grass is truly greener.

Have something to share?

If you've tried any/all of the On Demand services profile on this page or would like to suggest an important feature not covered, please feel free to get in touch.

Toggle menu
Back to top
Close