The bottom line: Verizon Fios has four TV packages with up to 435 channels, and its fiber-optic network delivers better picture quality than cable and satellite. The Multi-Room DVR Premium Service can hold 200 hours in HD and record 12 shows at once, but the DVR comes with a large monthly fee. Fios is one of only a few TV providers to offer no-contract TV, but in exchange for no contract, you’ll have to pay above-average package prices and put up with additional fees.
- Fiber-optic network
- No contract
- More than 435 channels
- Custom TV package
- High fees
- Limited availability
- Fewer HD channels
Extra fees and high prices make Fios TV less appealing.
|Packages||1st year pricing||Pricing after 1st year|
What’s the real price?
Compared to other TV providers, Fios’ prices are higher than average. Its Custom TV package starts at $64.99 a month for the first year, and it doesn’t have as many channels as DIRECTV’s Select package, which starts at $19.99 a month for the first year ($49.99 a month for the second year). Fios’ higher prices might have to do with it being a no-contract TV service, which is great for those who don’t want to enter a contract. Whatever the reason for the not-so-attractive pricing, you can always cancel if you’re not getting your money’s worth.
All of Verizon’s TV packages are subject to a range of fees, both monthly and one-time. For example, there is the $3.49 per month Broadcast Fee, a $6.39 monthly Regional Sports Network fee (assuming you get a TV package that includes sports channels), a $10 per month router fee, and an $11.99 monthly HD fee. That’s $29 in monthly fees right off the top, and that doesn’t even include the one-time installation fee, which can run up to $89.99.
Like other TV services, if you want to connect more than one TV, you’ll have to pay for receivers—one for each additional TV. Verizon calls a receiver a “set top box,” and the fee is $12 a month. It’s the highest price we’ve seen yet.
Hundreds of channels, no contract, but higher-than-average pricing.
Custom TV package
You get to pick and choose, so it’s great if you have specific tastes.
Verizon Fios’ Custom TV package lets you put together a channel lineup that caters to your interests. Here’s how it works: You get an array of base channels (about 45 in total, including local broadcast channels), plus two themed “Channel Packs.” Verizon offers seven Channel Packs to choose from—Lifestyle; News & Info; Entertainment; Pop Culture; Kids; Sports; and Sports Plus—each of which is a cluster of related channels. The lines separating each aren’t always particularly clear (it’s hard to see what separates the Lifestyle and Entertainment channel packs, for example), but we do like the fact that a real sports hound can double up on sports-themed Channel Packs to get his fix.
Verizon will let you add additional Channel Packs for $10 each per month. But be forewarned: A lot of the channels available under the Custom TV umbrella are available in SD only.
Notable channels: CNN, AMC, Food Network, HG TV.
Preferred HD package
The first package to get you access to On Demand and popular cable channels.
With more than 245 channels, Verizon’s Fios Preferred HD package delivers plenty of programming. It includes channels like ESPN, TNT, Comedy Central, and more. You also get full access to the Fios On Demand library, which contains more than 100,000 titles. However, we think you should get just a little more for $74.99 a month.
Notable channels: Comedy Central, FOX News, MTV, TNT.
Extreme HD package
More selection that Preferred HD, but many new channels aren’t worth watching.
The Extreme HD package delivers more than 325 channels, including several like BBC America, Sundance TV, and FX that aren’t available with Preferred HD. Though it’s just $5 a month more than the Preferred HD package, there’s only a handful of additional channels worth watching (the ones we mentioned). Also, like Preferred HD, the Extreme HD package gives you access to Fios’ On Demand library.
Notable channels: FX, GSN, BBC America, The Oprah Winfrey Network.
Ultimate HD package
Adds more sports and movie channels for the TV completist.
The Fios Ultimate HD package includes more than 420 channels, of which more than 140 are available in HD. The Ultimate HD monthly cost includes access to a long list of sports channels, including ESPN’s Full Court NBA package, several regional Fox College Sports networks, and ESPN Classic and Deportes, as well as the Showtime, Cinemax and Movie Channel packages.
Naturally, access to the Fios On Demand library of over 100,000 titles is included with the subscription price.
Notable channels: Showtime, Cinemax, Revolt, Fusion.
You’ll find the channels you want, but only some are in HD.
Verizon Fios TV service offers a full range of premium movie channels—HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Epix, Starz, and Encore—which can all be bundled in various ways at a number of different price points ($19.99–$49.99 a month). Fios also has the popular cable channels (AMC, Comedy Central, ESPN, etc.) that you can find anywhere else, but what channels you get depends on the package.
Fios offers most live sports subscriptions (e.g., NBA League Pass). You can get out-of-market games all season long for baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer—but not pro football, as NFL SUNDAY TICKET, the official NFL sports subscription, is a DIRECTV exclusive.
What’s in HD?
All of Verizon’s Fios packages deliver between a quarter and a third of the channels in HD. But even for the Ultimate HD package, that’s about 140 HD channels (it may vary depending on your area). By contrast, DIRECTV’s top-of-the-line package has over 200 HD channels.
Equipment and features
Fios’ DVRs offer variety, but recording capacity is lower than we’d like.
Picking a Fios DVR
Fios’ Multi-Room DVR service ($13 a month) lets you record up to 50 hours of HD programming. You can record one show while watching another, or you can record two shows at once while watching a third, previously recorded program. However, you can also upgrade to the multi-room DVR option, which lets you watch recorded programming on any of the other TVs in your home, provided they’re hooked up to a non-DVR set-top box.
|DVR||Recording capacity||Price||Simultaneous recording|
|Multi-Room||50 HD||$13/mo.||2 channels|
|Enhanced||100 HD||$18/mo.||6 channels|
|Premium||200 HD||$26/mo.||12 channels|
With Fios TV, there are two levels of service: Enhanced and Premium. The Enhanced service includes a DVR that can record up to 100 hours in HD, simultaneously record up to six shows at once, and costs $18 a month. The Premium service of Fios TV includes a DVR that can store up to 200 hours of HD programming, record up to 12 shows at once, and control live TV on up to 10 different televisions simultaneously; however, it costs $26 a month and requires two or more TVs (plus the receiver fee for each TV).
Fios TV fee
We found the following fee in the fine print: “There is a one-time charge of $179.99 (plus tax), which may be billed in up to 3 monthly installments, for a Verizon technician to install new TV equipment.”
Ouch. As with any installation fee, it doesn’t hurt to ask a representative if it can be waived.
Verizon delivers over 130,000 titles through their On Demand service, many of which can be streamed to iOS, Android, or Amazon devices via the Fios Mobile app. You can also use the Fios Mobile app to watch live TV (95 live channels). However, unlike a few other TV services, you can’t download your shows. So if you’re without an Internet connection, you’re out of luck.
Rated the best, or near it, and so far we’re inclined to agree.
TV providers aren’t known for stellar customer service, but Fios TV consistently places at or near the top of customer satisfaction ratings. In 2014, Verizon Fios TV placed third (68 out of 100) in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for TV subscription service, just one point behind both DIRECTV (69) and AT&T U-verse (69). In 2015, Verizon Fios earned the number-one spot in the ASCI report with a score of 71.
In the J.D. Power 2015 Residential Television Customer Satisfaction Study, Verizon Fios ranked highest overall in the South region. In other regions where it was available, Fios scored an overall satisfaction of “among the best” or “better than most” (i.e., 5/5 and 4/5).
When we reached out to Verizon to sign up for Fios TV, all of the representatives were more than helpful. Sure, there were times when they were a little stiff, but each representative took the time to answer our questions and didn’t try to upsell us other Verizon products. Our experience confirmed what ASCI and J.D. Power already concluded: Fios has great customer service.
There’s enough to recommend, but high fees and higher prices are still a pain.
Even with its faults, Verizon Fios may be the best no-contract TV service. Its package prices are higher than we’d like, and the additional fees add up quickly. But if you’re looking to avoid entering into a contract, it might be worth it.
If we were to go with Fios, we’d give the Custom TV package a try. It’s not available anywhere else, and we like the idea of being more in control of what we watch. If we did want to add a channel pack to the package, it would only be $10 more a month. And if it turns out we don’t like Fios, we can cancel it because there’s no contract—something you can’t do if you sign up with contract TV providers (e.g., DISH, DIRECTV, etc.).
If you want to know more and decide for yourself, here’s an overview of Verizon Fios packages.