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DISH Network Review

Posted by: Scott Teran       Updated: 1/16/2017

Video Review

The Bottom Line

DISH has four TV packages with 290+ channels, and its Hopper DVR, which can record 2,000 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).

  • PROS
  • 2-Year TV price guarantee
  • The best DVR we’ve reviewed
  • Watch anywhere service
  • CONS
  • Requires two-year contract to sign up
  • Second-year price increases
  • Okay customer service

Compare the top 10 TV services or sign up for DISH.

PRICING 10/10

There’s a big difference between first- and second-year prices, but DISH has good, if not great, pricing.

  Promo (First Year) Regular Price Increase
Avg Package Price $42.49/mo $76.24/mo 79%
Average 2-Year TV Price Guarantee $62.32/mo $62.32/mo 0%
 
AVAILABILITY Nationwide
Average Package EXPAND FOR DETAILS Avg. Package Rate $42.49/mo Average 3-Year Guarantee Price $63.32/mo
 

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.

Promo Alert:  2-Year TV Price Guarantee

DISH is currently offering a two-year TV price guarantee, and while it’s only available for three packages (Top 120 Plus , Top 200, Top 250), you can save the most money going with America’s Top 120 Plus ($49.99 a month for two years ).

All in all, the 2-Year TV Price Guarantee is one of the better deals we’ve seen.

Additional Fees

When compared to other TV services, DISH’s fees don’t seem so bad. Its DVR fee is $15.00 a month for its best DVR, the Hopper, whereas Comcast’s X1 DVR fee is closer to $20.00 a month.

DISH’s receiver fee is $7.00 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.

You’ll need a receiver for each additional TV.

Though we briefly mentioned DISH’s 2-Year TV Price Guarantee, it’s a great way to avoid fees. DISH even 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.

Learn more about DISH Pricing or to purchase service.

PACKAGES 8/10

DISH offers plenty of bang for your buck.

PACKAGES PRICING CHANNELS CONTRACT
America's Top 120 $34.99/mo$64.99/mo
1st year rateregular rate
190+ 2yr

"America's Top 120" Package

A package with channels we’d actually watch (AMC, ESPN, Comedy Central, etc.).

With 190+ channels, America’s Top 120 has plenty of what we want. There’s AMC to make sure we get our Walking Dead fix; ESPN has sports; Comedy Central has Amy Schumer and, well, comedy; and there’s Cartoon Network for kids and adults who act like kids (we include ourselves in this last category).

Considering what you get for the low price, this is a great package.

Notable Channels:
America’s Top 120 Plus $39.99/mo$69.99/mo
1st year rateregular rate
190+ 2yr

"America's Top 120 Plus" Package

It’s basically America’s Top 120 with regional sports networks.

Between America’s Top 120 and America’s Top 120 Plus, there’s really only one big difference: America’s Top 120 Plus has regional sports networks (e.g., PAC-12 Network). It’s likely DISH made the Top 120 Plus its own package to distinguish itself from DIRECTV, which does not carry the PAC-12 Network.

Notable Channels:
America’s Top 200 $44.99/mo$79.99/mo
1st year rateregular rate
240+ 2yr

"America’s Top 200" Package

If you’re a sports fan, this is for you.

If you want more sports channels in your package, America’s Top 200 is the way to go. It has the official channels for the Big Three: NFL Network, NBA TV, and MLB Network. It also includes the regional sports networks from America’s Top 120+, and adds a few others, such as CBS Sports and Fox Sports 1.

America’s Top 200 also has a total of 240+ channels, so we’re doubtful you’ll be wondering what to watch.

Notable Channels:
America’s Top 250 $49.99/mo$89.99/mo
1st year rateregular rate
290+ 2yr

"America's Top 250" Package

For those who have to have it all and are willing to pay for it.

At 290+ channels, America’s Top 250 has the most channels, and therefore, the most choice. If you want (almost) everything, this is it. We were intrigued by the reasonable promotion price, which is only $5 a month more than America’s Top 200. But yes, there’s a catch. When the first-year promotion expires, the price for America’s Top 250 more than doubles. Even though its second-year price is still comparable to other TV services, the Top 250 has the highest second-year price increase out of all of DISH’s TV packages.

If you’re a channel junkie, this is the one to get. Just don’t forget about the price increase.

Notable Channels:
America's Top 120
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$34.99/mo
1st year rate
CHANNELS
190+
CONTRACT
2yr

"America's Top 120" Package

A package with channels we’d actually watch (AMC, ESPN, Comedy Central, etc.).

With 190+ channels, America’s Top 120 has plenty of what we want. There’s AMC to make sure we get our Walking Dead fix; ESPN has sports; Comedy Central has Amy Schumer and, well, comedy; and there’s Cartoon Network for kids and adults who act like kids (we include ourselves in this last category).

Considering what you get for the low price, this is a great package.

Notable Channels:
America's Top 120 Plus
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$39.99/mo
1st year rate
CHANNELS
190+
CONTRACT
2yr

"America's Top 120 Plus" Package

It’s basically America’s Top 120 with regional sports networks.

Between America’s Top 120 and America’s Top 120 Plus, there’s really only one big difference: America’s Top 120 Plus has regional sports networks (e.g., PAC-12 Network). It’s likely DISH made the Top 120 Plus its own package to distinguish itself from DIRECTV, which does not carry the PAC-12 Network.

Notable Channels:
America’s Top 200
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$44.99/mo
1st year rate
CHANNELS
240+
CONTRACT
2yr

"America’s Top 200" Package

If you’re a sports fan, this is for you.

If you want more sports channels in your package, America’s Top 200 is the way to go. It has the official channels for the Big Three: NFL Network, NBA TV, and MLB Network. It also includes the regional sports networks from America’s Top 120+, and adds a few others, such as CBS Sports and Fox Sports 1.

America’s Top 200 also has a total of 240+ channels, so we’re doubtful you’ll be wondering what to watch.

Notable Channels:
America's Top 250
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
$49.99/mo
1st year rate
CHANNELS
340
CONTRACT
2yr

"America's Top 250" Package

For those who have to have it all and are willing to pay for it.

At 290+ channels, America’s Top 250 has the most channels, and therefore, the most choice. If you want (almost) everything, this is it. We were intrigued by the reasonable promotion price, which is only $5 a month more than America’s Top 200. But yes, there’s a catch. When the first-year promotion expires, the price for America’s Top 250 more than doubles. Even though its second-year price is still comparable to other TV services, the Top 250 has the highest second-year price increase out of all of DISH’s TV packages.

If you’re a channel junkie, this is the one to get. Just don’t forget about the price increase.

Notable Channels:
Ultimate
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
PRICING
144.99/mo
CHANNELS
380
CONTRACT
2yr

"Contour TV Ultimate with Record 6 DVR Receiver" Package

Get essentially everything... for a price.

The Ultimate package is the most expensive of all services we reviewed, but you've got to take into consideration that you're getting all Cox's additional packages, the major four premium channels and a killer Record 6 DVR. If money is not an issue and you're not able to get Verizon FiOS, then this is the way to go.

Notable Channels:

The “+” means you might get a few extra channels, but it depends on your area.

Get details on DISH packages.

CHANNELS 7/10

DISH has hundreds of channels, the PAC-12 Network, and the best selection of international programming.

Where’s My Channel?

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.

Find the channels you want from DISH.

EQUIPMENT & FEATURES 10/10

The Hopper DVR and DISH Anywhere are excellent.

EQUIPMENT 10/10

TWC makes it needlessly difficult to pick a DVR.

Dish Network Hopper DVR
DVR STORAGE CAPACITY RECORDING HOURS MONTHLY FEE SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
The Hopper 2 TB 500 HD
2000 SD
$15.00/mo 8
(w/ Super Joey)
The Hopper DVR
EXPAND FOR DETAILS
STORAGE CAPACITY
2 TB
RECORDING HOURS
500 HD / 2000 SD
SIMULTANEOUS RECORDING
8 (w/ Super Joey)

The Hopper DVR

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). You can watch The Hopper also can record up to 19 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.

DISH is currently offering a “free” Hopper when you sign up, but it will add $15.00 a month to your bill in the form of a DVR fee. 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.

See packages that include the Hopper DVR and extra features.

CUSTOMER SERVICE 5/10

DISH’s customer service is better than average, but it could be better.

Room for Improvement

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.

DISH’s service is better than average, but the average is low.

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 at DISH.com. 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.

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.

Scott Teran - Reviews.org Writer

BY: Scott Teran

Staff Writer

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