During my college years, I moved into West Philadelphia, University City to be precise. Once there, due to Comcast’s restriction of Comcast
SportsNet, broadcaster of Phillies, Flyers and 76ers games, from satellite providers, I was forced to select a local hardwire cable service. Because West Philadelphia is Time Warner Cable’s territory, and they offered a special discount for college students, I chose them. Since that student discount was so low, though, I was still able to keep my satellite dish service, which at the time was DISH Network. I had switched from DirecTV to DISH some time before that since they offered virtually the same thing but DISH was a touch cheaper. However, when dealing with Time Warner, I gained a new appreciation for both DISH Network and DirecTV.
When comparing Time Warner Cable and DirecTV, it is best to begin with their similarities. Both Time Warner Cable and DirecTV deliver high quality digital performance. Both Time Warner Cable and DirecTV each offer multiple packages including premium networks. Both Time Warner Cable and DirecTV each offer Digital Video Recording, known as DVR, as well High-Definition programming. Both offer solid customer service and a fairly prompt response to issues and concerns.
Nevertheless, there are many differences. The first is the price. Whereas DirecTV’s all-inclusive package, the “Total Choice Premier,” costs $99.95, Time Warner Cable’s all-inclusive equivalent, the Total Digital Premium, costs $101.95, almost $12 more. Mind you, both of these prices are simply for “one receiver.” However, DirecTV’s package fee does include the monthly DVR subscription. Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, charges an additional $8.95 for their monthly DVR subscription fee.
Neither DirecTV’s Total Choice Premier nor Time Warner Cable’s Total Digital Premium include fees for setting up independent programming on more than one TV in the home. However, this is another situation where DirecTV has a distinct advantage over Time Warner Cable. DirecTV charges just $4.99 for each additional receiver. Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, charges up to $7.71 for each additional digital converter box, almost double of DirecTV’s current price.
Time Warner did offer a nice student discount special, where you could get almost 150 channels plus 11 screens of HBO for just $49.95. That happens to be the same price as DirecTV’s “Total Choice Plus” programming package, which does not include any premium networks.
Another advantage DirecTV has over Time Warner Cable is especially significant for sports fans. DirecTV offers the DirecTV Sports Pack, which allows the customer access to over 25 regional sports networks located around the country. The importance of the Multi Sport package is that a customer can watch many different teams in different sports play from the local perspective. For example, an NBA fan in Philadelphia can watch the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls and over 20 other teams play without actually needing to buy NBA League Pass. This package is also included in DirecTV’s “Total Choice Premier.”
A Time Warner Cable customer, on the other hand, would have to subscribe to the NBA League Pass to receive the same access. That is a service that costs $189 for the entire NBA Season, a charge that would be in addition to your normal cable bill. DirecTV does in fact offer NBA League Pass for any interested consumer at the same price, however, with the DirecTV Sports Pack, I found it to be almost redundant.
Time Warner Cable is not without its benefits however. One aspect I liked was the On Demand service. For those who do not know, this service allows the customer to pick a show or movie from a handful of networks and watch it at any time, day or night. The other plus with that service is that it also has the usual VCR functions with it, meaning you can stop, pause, rewind or fast-forward that above-mentioned show at will. DirecTV is still working on trying to offer something similar, but to date, they have nothing close to what Time Warner Cable already has in place. This service is included with all of their Digital Cable packages as well.
In the end, this, like many things in this world, comes down to personal preference. For me, I highly enjoyed Time Warner Cable’s On Demand. Although not as complete as Comcast’s version, Time Warner Cable’s On Demand got some mileage during those dry periods when you have hundreds of channels and “nothing’s on.” On the other hand, I also liked DirecTV for its Sports Pack and its economical cost effectiveness when compared to Time Warner, especially once you get into multiple premium networks and/or multiple rooms. The only thing missing from both DISH and DirecTV right now is Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia and an On Demand option. If either dish service had been able to offer those two things in addition to their already great price, I would have been happy to completely kiss Time Warner Cable goodbye for good.