I used to use a VCR with DirecTV - until we upgraded to HD and got their DVR/receiver "combo" - that was optional, so I'm sure you can still run the signal through the regular DirecTV receiver if you don't use their DVR. I have to say that since getting DVR service, I've never looked back at VCRs. One nice thing about DVR service with DirecTV is that you can program your recordings remotely - using your computer or phone, which is handy if you're away. And they store a LOT of shows!
I use Hulu now and then (the free version). There's also a subscription version that provides more options. But I don't watch that much TV...most of what I watch I can get online these days, but my family uses the DVR all the time.