What we like: Cheaper for PBS fans than other cable and satellite options
Drawbacks: Contracts and higher overall price
Who it’s perfect for: PBS fans who can’t cut the cord (or just don’t want to)
The PBS Video app is great if you’re into watching on demand. But what if you’re looking for live content or don’t have an internet connection strong enough to support video streaming?
DIRECTV offers pretty much every PBS station in the nation, and it’s included with DIRECTV’s cheapest package (SELECT). It’s also satellite TV, so you don’t have to worry about glitching or fuzzy picture quality during peak usage hours.
There is a catch, though. DIRECTV customers have to sign a two-year contract. And don’t be fooled by that low $35-per-month starting rate, either. DIRECTV plans can more than double in price halfway through your contract.
Long story short: if you’re planning to move within the next couple of years or you’re on a tight budget, you may be better off going the antenna route.
How much does DIRECTV cost?
To get PBS, you’ll need DIRECTV’s SELECT package or higher. The SELECT package costs $35 per month, assuming you sign up for autopay and paperless billing—otherwise, it’s $40 per month.
You need to keep in mind, though, that that’s just the introductory rate. After 12 months, the cost of the SELECT package more than doubles to $78 per month. If you average that out over the course of your two-year contract, that means you’re paying about $56.50 per month for PBS access.
That’s pretty cringe-worthy, especially considering how (comparatively) cheap it is to get PBS Passport or watch over-the-air broadcasts. So if your budget just won’t support that high TV bill, we’d definitely recommend one of the other options on our list.
Can I watch PBS on DIRECTV?
DIRECTV is ultra-reliable, especially compared to streaming or traditional broadcasts. DIRECTV is a satellite provider, so your TV feed is completely independent from your internet connection.
In other words, no glitching or buffering when everyone else in your neighborhood is online. And since your signal is transmitted via satellite, you don’t have to worry about getting a fuzzy picture if you live too far from your local broadcast tower.
DIRECTV’s Genie® HD DVR
Another perk to getting DIRECTV instead of the PBS Video app or an antenna is the included DVR.
If you get the SELECT™ plan, you also get DIRECTV’s powerful Genie HD DVR included with your package. The Genie offers up to 200 hours of HD storage, so you can easily record every episode of Call the Midwife without getting even remotely close to your storage limit.
Being able to record shows for later is a perk you don’t get with either the PBS Video app or an antenna, so if you’re all about fast-forwarding through commercials, DIRECTV is definitely the way to go.
DIRECTV installation and equipment
Because DIRECTV is a satellite service, it has a more in-depth set-up process than the other options on our list.
Once you order your DIRECTV service, you’ll set up an installation time with a DIRECTV technician. Unless you’ve had DIRECTV at your house previously, you’ll probably have to set aside most of your day so the technician can install your dish and get it all hooked up to your TV. The good news? You don’t have to pay installation fees (phew).
You will have to pay for extra equipment if you’re trying to connect multiple TVs, though. Each TV you connect will need a Genie Mini, which costs $7 per month each. That really starts to add up if you’ve got a TV in each room. If that doesn’t work for you, you may want to check out one of the cheaper options on our list.