The bottom line: DISH has four TV packages with a total of 290+ channels, and its Hopper DVR, which can record 2,000 SD hours, just might be the best DVR out there. DISH’s promotions are also hard to ignore: its “2-Year TV Price Guarantee” is one of the better deals we’ve seen. And DISH’s Watch Anywhere features make it easy to catch movies and shows when you’re away from the TV, or even on the road (e.g., offline viewing is available).
- 2-Year TV Price Guarantee
- The best DVR we’ve reviewed
- Watch anywhere service
- Requires two-year contract to sign up
- Okay customer service
DISH pricing and packages.
DISH has good, if not great, pricing. Plus it offers plenty of bang for your buck.
|Packages||1st year pricing||Regular rate||Channels||Contract||Details|
|America's Top 120||$49.99/mo.||$69.99/mo.||190||2 yrs.||View Plan|
|America's 120 Plus||$59.99/mo.||$79.99/mo.||190+||2 yrs.||View Plan|
|America's Top 200||$69.99/mo.||$84.99/mo.||240+||2 yrs.||View Plan|
|America's Top 250||$79.99/mo.||$94.99/mo.||290+||2 yrs.||View Plan|
*The ‘+’ means you might get a few extra channels, but it depends on your area.
What’s the real price?
DISH’s promotional prices are extremely competitive. However, most promotional prices are only good for the first year, and accepting any promotional offer requires a two-year contract. So be sure to ask yourself if you’re okay with paying the higher, regular price for at least one year.
DISH’s receiver fee is $5.00 a month, but it’s only applicable if you’re setting up multiple TVs (each additional TV requires one receiver). And DISH’s receiver fee is lower than most other TV services—AT&T’s is $9.00 a month and Comcast’s is $10.00 a month.
Though we briefly mentioned DISH’s 2-Year TV Price Guarantee, it’s a great way to avoid fees. DISH goes so far as to say it has “no hidden monthly fees.” We checked the fine print, and it’s true; there’s no fee for HD programming, local channels, or regional sports.
DISH channel offerings
DISH has hundreds of channels, the PAC-12 Network, and international programming.
DISH’s top package offers 290+ channels, and 200+ are available in high definition (HD). The total channel count and how many channels are available in HD depends on the package you get. If you want to know which package has the channel you want—HD or not—the quickest way to find it is to use an online channel guide.
Sports: PAC-12, NFL SUNDAY TICKET and more
If you’re someone who has to watch every NFL game, live or recorded, DISH is probably not for you—NFL SUNDAY TICKET is a DIRECTV exclusive. However, DISH has a sports channel that DIRECTV doesn’t: The PAC-12 Network. So if you’re a college football fan, DISH would be the better choice, whereas for professional football, you should probably go with DIRECTV. But if you’re not an NFL super fan, you’re probably fine catching highlights on ESPN (included in America’s Top 120). As for other sports options, DISH has the same sports subscriptions (except NFL SUNDAY TICKET) you can find anywhere elsewhere (NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, MLB Extra Innings). Of course, you’ll just have to pay extra for those sports options.
Latino and international channels
DISH offers five separate Latino packages with 55–270+ channels, which is more selection than we’ve seen elsewhere. And as for other international programming, DISH has channels in 29 languages from areas across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, where, for example, DIRECTV only has channels in eight languages.
DISH’s equipment and special features
The Hopper DVR and DISH Anywhere are excellent.
Compared to the Hopper, other DISH DVRs seem… well, inadequate. The Hopper packs a 2 TB internal hard drive, which allows 500 hours of HD recording (2,000 hours in SD). The Hopper also can record up to 16 programs at once (DIRECTV’s top DVR does five). Even though other DVRs are supposedly available from DISH, they are nearly impossible to find, and they are not available at the checkout screen.
Also, using the Hopper with multiple TVs will require a DISH receiver: a Joey, a Super Joey, or a Virtual Joey (PS3/PS4).
Watch Anywhere service
The DISH Anywhere feature is just what it sounds like. As long as you have an internet connection, you can watch live or recorded TV on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Personally, we think it would be nice for watching shows in the break room during lunch.
For the computer, all you have to do is log in to a dedicated website to use DISH’s watch anywhere service. And if you’re using a smart device, you can even download shows so you can watch TV on an airplane or somewhere else without internet. (You’ll just need to download the content beforehand.)
Your enjoyment of DISH Anywhere will depend on your internet connection and device, but it’s a feature we like to have.
DISH’s customer service
DISH’s customer service is better than average, but it could be better.
DISH’s customer service isn’t great, but its competitors don’t fare better. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), call center satisfaction for subscription television services is down to a score of 63 (out of 100) in 2015, and that’s from an already low 66 in 2014. DISH Network’s rating stands at 67 for 2015 (same as 2014), which is better than the average TV provider, but still lower than we’d like see.
Customer service representatives at DISH answered all our questions (we posed as customers), and each representative was helpful enough. But DISH reps were also constantly trying to push their products, once or twice to the point of ignoring our original questions. Still, this seems to happen with most TV and Internet companies, so it didn’t come as a surprise.
Don’t call—chat instead
If you want to find out more for yourself, try the chat feature. It may not be as fast as a call, but we find it much more pleasant than holding on the phone. Plus, with chat, you can keep a record of the conversation with the representative in case you need to reference it later. (If there’s no save or print option, take a screenshot.) So why not get comfortable, open up your laptop, put on some music, and surf the web while you chat with a representative.
Have questions? Contact a representative.
Our final take
DISH is the best… for now.
DISH currently has our highest overall rating, and for good reasons: its 2 TB Hopper DVR is awesome, and DISH’s pricing is competitive. Sure, customer service could be improved and the two-year contract can be a pain, but we haven’t found better deals elsewhere… yet.
The America’s Top 120 package is what we want
If we were to choose a TV package, we’d go with the less expensive America’s Top 120, but spring for the Hopper DVR (no pun intended). America’s Top 120 covers most of the shows we’re interested in, and the Hopper would let us record them all. America’s Top 200 and Top 250 had plenty more channels, but many were less-popular sports or niche channels. If you want all the sports channels, we understand paying more for America’s Top 200 or Top 250. (We do know someone who’s switching to DISH just for the PAC-12 Network, so we know you’re out there.)
If you want to know more and decide for yourself, here’s an overview of DISH packages.