At this point in time, there are almost countless options for someone wanting access to high-quality television. The satellite company DirecTV and the cable company Time Warner are two of the services that are typically considered to be the "cream of the crop." Much like any other service or good, though, both DirecTV and Time Warner Cable have great qualities and questionable aspects. When choosing between the two, some things to keep in mind are what channel packages are offered, what kind of fees are involved, what sort of bundle options are offered, the total price, and the customer service.

DIRECTV & Time Warner Cable Pricing

DirecTV offers a total of four different channel packages. The lowest of these packages is 150+ channels for the price of $29.99 for new customers. That price goes to $58.99 after 12 months. The next package offered by DirecTV costs $34.99 for new customers (63.99 after 12 months) and includes 210+ channels. The third package consists of 225+ channels for $39.99 for new customers ($68.99 a month after 12 months). The fourth and final package is classified as "Premier" and includes over 285 channels. It will you $85.99 as a new customer and will cost $114.99 a month after the first 12 months.

Time Warner Cable offers basic cable for $14.99 a month, which includes 40-50 channels but lacks a lot of fan-favorite channels, such as the History channel and Discovery. Next, Time Warner offers Expanded Cable for $43.70 per month, which includes those channels not included with Basic. Time Warner also has a few other package options, including the Family Choice plan. This package costs $12.99 and is geared toward family friendly programming. It excludes channels such as FX and Comedy Central, which air mature content at times.

When it comes to specialty packages, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable both offer premium movie channels such as HBO for $15 per month. They also both offer great options for sports fans, such as a package called MLB Extra Innings, which provides every baseball game during the season. However, DirecTV has one thing that Time Warner Cable does not, and that is NFL Sunday Ticket. This package is currently exclusive to DirecTV and offers every NFL game during the season, live and in HD. However, this package is not without its drawback, as it costs over $300 for the season.

Gaining access to high-definition channels will cost you an extra $10 per month for DirecTV. Also, if you choose to hook up a DVR to be able to record your favorite shows, it will run you an extra $7 per month, plus the cost of the DVR. A high-definition DVR costs $199.99, but a new customer could theoretically get a discount. Time Warner offers HD content without charging an extra fee, although they do offer an "HD VIP" package for $9.95 per month that includes extra HD channels. Time Warner also charges $7.99 a month for each cable box. Time Warner offers a DVR service of their own, which will run you up to $10.95 per month, depending on your area. However, you do not have to buy any extra equipment like you do with Direct tv.

DIRECTV & Time Warner Cable Bundle Comparisons

DirecTV offers a few options for bundling together internet, phone, and satellite. The carrier of the phone and internet depends on the area in which you live. For example, areas that have Qwest High Speed internet can bundle together unlimited local and nationwide calling, 7Mbps high-speed internet, and the DirecTV package that includes 210+ channels for $79.99 a month. Time Warner Cable offers several bundle options as well, including $79.90 per month for digital cable and Roadrunner internet. They also offer a bundle that includes home phone, digital cable, and high speed Roadrunner internet for $119.85 per month.

Depending on what package options you choose and how many channels you deem necessary, the prices for DirecTV and Time Warner Cable are similar. DirecTV appears more expensive at first, but by the time you consider the fees that Time Warner Cable charges, including the $7.99 per month for having a cable box, both services end up being very close in price. In bundle pricing, though, DirecTV is nearly $40 cheaper. Their phone, satellite, and internet bundle is $79.99 compared to $119.85 for the same three services from Time Warner.

DIRECTV & Time Warner Cable Service Ratings

When comparing customer service ratings, it really is not much of a comparison. DirecTV has received the dreaded "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but those ratings can be skewed due to uninformed consumers upset with price increases (you must realize that the promotional prices are limited to 1 and 2 year lengths). The reliability of their company and service is not in question. The fact that they do not deal with complaints very well has also been brought up, but that is often again due to contract issues and price. Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, has received glowing reviews from the BBB, getting an incredible A+. There was no particular praise, but obviously the Time Warner product as a whole is typically reliable. However, most experiences vary from person to person, so you cannot put too much stock into these ratings. (For example, JD Power rates DIRECTV #1 in Customer Satisfaction.)

DirecTV and Time Warner Cable both offer excellent options for digital television. As with any other service, both companies have their strong points and their weak points. The three biggest strong points for DirecTV are the immense channel selection, the fact that DirecTV is available almost everywhere, and their excellent bundle options. Two of the drawbacks of DirecTV are their questionable customer service and the price, which can be very high if you choose the highest package. For Time Warner Cable, one of the biggest selling points is that there are very cheap options available for those who simply want a few channels. Another selling point of Time Warner is that no extra equipment is required when choosing to activate a DVR service. The two biggest drawbacks of Time Warner Cable is the very expensive price for their bundles and the fact that they are not available in many states.

All in all, both Direct TV and Time Warner Cable offer a great service. However, it appears that Time Warner targets the more casual viewer, while DirecTV is more concerned with those who watch a lot of TV, love sports and/or movies, and expect only the best quality picture and sound. If you plan on bundling services, we'd recommend DIRECTV due to their great partnership deals with internet providers (Qwest, AT&T, Clear Wireless, etc.) Which option is right for you all depends on what you are looking to get out of your television service and whether you are looking for a stand-alone product or a way to bundle several services together.