THE BOTTOM LINE: Suddenlink doesn’t bring a lot of extra features, but its core service is solid with over 200 channels and a TiVo-powered DVR. However, with only two advanced cable service options, you’re limited unless you pay for additional packages.
- No contracts
- Any-Room DVR powered by TiVo
- Limited choice in packages and DVR
- Expensive expansions
Location, location, location.
When it comes to pricing, using different ZIP Codes yielded very different results in the checkout process. Your monthly HDTV bill could start anywhere from $47 to $60. That’s before considering premium channels or add-on packages. And while it’s not unusual for companies to charge differently based on location, these differences could cause monthly prices to vary drastically—especially when you consider premium channels, which we’ll talk more about later.
Even if the pricing in your location is on the higher end, Suddenlink is pretty good for a no-contract provider. Here’s a comparison of similar services:
|No contract plans||Average Monthly Price||Channel Count|
|Optimum TV Value||$64.95||182|
|Charter TV Gold||$99.99||200|
|Verizon Fios Preferred||$89.99||245|
Suddenlink charges $5.88 monthly for sports and broadcast fees, which is standard. However, we’d still like to see these prices at least mentioned in the checkout process rather than being an unwelcome surprise on your bill.
If you’ve wondered why TV service providers charge additional fees, here’s what Suddenlink had to say about it:
“…a $3.00 sports programming surcharge will be added to the bills of customers subscribing to this service to cover a portion of the skyrocketing cost of dedicated sports channels and general entertainment networks with sports programming. The broadcast station surcharge will increase $2.88 per month to cover the escalating fees charged by broadcast TV station owners.”
Your one-time installation charge will range from $20 to $40; some companies charge upwards of $100, so this is a pretty good deal. Installation for up to three TV outlets is included with your package. For more than three TVs, there is an additional one-time charge of up to $60 and monthly charges of $3.50 per TV. If you want a protection plan, Suddenlink’s Safeguard covers in-home wire repairs for $4.99/month. This service doesn’t cover accidental damage, but it could come in handy if you run into trouble.
Two just isn’t enough.
Suddenlink is limited in packages, and even then it’s unclear what you’re actually getting. After consulting the TV channel lineup, there are roughly 400+ channels included with SL300, but 100 of them are HD versions and 50 are music channels. So for pure variety, you’re looking at about 250 or so channels. If you want to order the SL300 but don’t see it in the buyflow, contact an agent.
“HDTV SL200” package
Suddenlink’s first tier of non-local programming has 200 channels. They’re popular favorites, so most users can find the shows they want. Notable channels include USA, FX, the History Channel.
“HDTV SL300” package
The biggest benefit to upgrading is the addition of Pac-12 sports (western division), which seems odd for a company based mostly in the South and East. In many of the tested ZIP Codes, this option did not pop up in the buying process despite the agent confirming its availability in the area. If this poses a problem, contact Suddenlink. Notable channels include Sundance TV, IFC HD, and NFL HD.
Bring on the add-ons.
With only two package options, your real ability to choose channels lies in add-ons. You can add up to 100 special interest channels with packages for sports and info, movies, and family entertainment. Each package costs $9.00/month. Unfortunately, the packages don’t directly spell out which channels are included, so it’s a bit of a shot in the dark.
If you do get all three packages, you’re getting 100 channels for an additional $27/month, but is this actually a good value? Let’s compare:
- With DIRECTV, the jump from their Select package with 145 channels to their Ultimate package with 240 channels costs $28.50.
- DISH’s America’s Top 120 plan has an average monthly cost of $49.99. For another $20, you get at least 100 more channels in their America’s Top 250 plan.
With these facts in mind, Suddenlink’s add-on pricing seems reasonable, but remember this doesn’t include premium channels like HBO or Encore.
On demand/HD channels/premium channels
Suddenlink has an impressive On Demand selection with 11,000 titles, many of which are free. You get up to 100 HD channels free with your TV service.
Premium channels are subject to location, along with the pricing. In some locations, you’ll see the premium channels as combined add-ons that do actually save you money. For example, there’s a combined HBO/Cinemax package that’s $20.50/month, which is a pretty good deal. However, in some areas, that package doesn’t exist. Instead, those premium channels are listed for $18–$19/month each, effectively doubling the monthly charge for the exact same thing.
Click here to plug in your ZIP Code and see your Suddenlink TV Channel Lineup
Equipment and features
TiVo is nice, but choice is better.
|Equipment||Storage Capacity||Recording Hours||Service Fee||Simultaneous Recordings|
|Any-room DVR powered by TiVo||300 GB||75 HD/ 150 SD||$16/mo||3|
DVRs and receivers
With the Any-Room DVR, you can record and watch on up to three TVs from a single DVR and also pause and rewind TV in any room. You will need receivers in each room requiring service; mini-DVR receivers are $7/month each. Conveniently, the service is provided by TiVo, so you can access your account anywhere in the world to set and watch your recordings.
Although you have the option to go with a third party DVR, we still think it’s a little unusual to only have one DVR available. The storage capacity and recording hours are weak compared to our top 2016 DVR picks, like the DISH Hopper 3, which features 2 TB of storage with 500 HD/2,000 SD recording hours. Although the Any-Room DVR has options for expanding with additional receivers, it’d be nice to get everything you need in one box.
You can pause and play live TV in any room in your home, which is great if you need to take a break to run errands or make a snack. You can also skip ahead 30 seconds or get an instant replay. More than just for watching, the Suddenlink2Go app allows you to use your smart device as a remote control, set your recordings, and download shows to go. If you’re watching a show on your tablet or smartphone, you can push it to your TV so everyone can enjoy. Between the TiVo app and the mobile website Suddenlink2Go, you’ll be able to take your favorites on the road easily.
Convenient and direct, Suddenlink won’t keep you waiting.
Suddenlink’s live chat is great for answering your questions. The agents are friendly and to the point, as long as you ask your questions directly. They provided helpful links and specific information that wasn’t just copied and pasted, unlike other providers. Of course, they’ll try to add on services or get you to commit to a plan, but that’s expected.
They even go above and beyond with their news blog at SuddenlinkFYI.com, where they inform customers of new movies on demand, new and upcoming TV shows, and technical details.
For most, great service is enough.
With no contractual obligation, decent prices, and all the favorite channels, Suddenlink is a great no-frills service. While you might not get the advanced features you could find with providers like DISH, you have a more-than-capable DVR, great customer service, and device support with on-the-go capabilities.
The best bang for your buck is the SL200 package with an add-on package or two catered to your needs (Movies, Sports & Info, or Family pack). If it’s available to you, the HBO/Cinemax combination is a good deal at $20.50/month. And if you need DVR service, a single Any-Room DVR box should be enough for the average family, coupled with a receiver for each TV.
Click here to sign up for service or get more information from Suddenlink.