The bottom line: Optimum TV advertises a large number of channels at a decent price, but hidden fees stack up quickly. The Multi-Room DVR has a high capability of recording up to 15 programs at once, but only features 300 SD / 75 HD hours of recording, which is relatively lightweight.
- No contract
- Ability to DVR 15 programs at once
- Exclusive New York programming
- Pricey hidden fees
- Limited availability
While Optimum has nice up-front pricing, they have a lot of additional fees.
Optimum’s biggest problem is all the additional fees. Each package has a monthly Broadcast/Sports surcharge of $5.98 and a cable box receiver fee of $8.80. You’ll pay equipment leasing fees of $16.95 monthly for the Multi-Room DVR Plus, and then $12.95 each month for the actual DVR service. So if you get any package with a DVR, tack on $44.68 every month to the package price for a more realistic idea.
When you take these fees into account, Optimum’s initial pricing seems like much less of a bargain. You do always have the option to use your own/previous equipment to try to save, but this typically limits the features provided with the service. Don’t forget that other cable providers tuck these charges in, as well. Optimum’s pricing is in-line with the rest of the reviewed providers with their surcharges. What we’d like to see more of from every cable provider is upfront pricing that includes non-negotiable fees instead of listing them after the fact. Out of the brands reviewed, DISH had the fewest additional fees.
There is a one-time installation fee of $34.50, which does not depend on the number of cable boxes you select. You will pay $8.80 for each cable box in your home, which is required for any TV that you wish to receive service on. If you want to add rewind functionality to additional TV’s, it is $1.95 each per month.
Extra fees, ranging from $5 to $7 monthly, get you access to On Demand subscriptions for your favorite channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Disney. For sports channels like NFL RedZone, ESPN Classic, and Game Show Network, you’ll have to add the Sports Pak for $8.98/monthly.
Cablevision’s packages are competitive in channel count and don’t require a contract.
Average cost and average price make this a reasonable decision.
This starter package from Optimum is right in the middle of our reviewed group in both price and channel count, but it does have the added benefit of no contract. Perhaps more importantly, it includes a lot of our favorite channels like Cartoon Network and Food Network.
Notable channels: ESPN, Nickelodeon, HGTV.
A beefier package that nearly doubles your channel count.
The Preferred group includes On Demand from Encore, as well as more family channels, sports, and movies. It’s definitely a step up from the Value package and only ten bucks more. This is definitely a good bang for the buck compared to the competition.
Notable channels: BBC World News, Sundance TV, NFL Network.
The silver package bundles premium channels and On Demand access to create savings.
In the higher tier packages, Optimum Silver reduces the need for add-ons while bulking up your channel selection. It definitely pays to go this route since you get three premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz) and it’s only $15 more than Preferred, which is what you’d pay for just one premium channel added, and that’s not counting the On Demand access fees which are $5 for each channel. If you plan on watching any Premium channels, we recommend at least the Silver package.
Notable channels: HBO, Showtime, Starz.
Encompasses the other packages, plus more movies and sports.
With this option, you won’t pay more for fully fleshed out sports programming. Like with Silver, you’ll get HBO, Starz, and Encore, but with Cinemax also included. The $20 jump in package price gets you 50 more channels, which are mostly movies and sports networks and their various iterations. If you don’t need a complete offering, Optimum Silver seems like a more reasonable package.
Notable channels: Cinemax, The Movie Channel, LMN.
Higher channel counts at decent prices.
Hanging with the giants like AT&T, DIRECTV, and Verizon around the 300+ channel range, Cablevision typically has the lower rate comparatively. On top of that, with both Silver and Gold packages, Premium Channels and their HD counterparts are included in the monthly price.
When you’re ordering, the channel lineup guide makes it easy to see what package you’ll need to watch your favorite shows, but unlike some of the other cable providers, even the most basic package includes certain big names like ESPN, ESPN2, FX, and HGTV.
Music channels help comprise the high channel counts advertised. Optimum only features 50 stations, so the number of channels is really not as conflated as some of the other brands like Dish which included 140+ music channels on certain packages.
Based in the NYC surrounding area, Optimum offers local channels that the other big name providers don’t. On top of that, they feature a plethora of international packages, which seems apt since New York is a hub of the world’s cultures. Optimum TV features every HD game broadcast of all nine New York sports teams (Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, Knicks, Liberty, Rangers, Islanders, Redbulls), which seems like a must for any hometown fanatic.
You’ll get each of your SD channels’ HD counterparts for free, which is nice. Like we saw with other providers, it’s hard to pin down an exact number of HD channels. You will need a box capable of receiving HD, but this seems standard with every brand.
Equipment and features
You don’t have any choice in your DVR, but at least it’s fully featured.
|Storage capacity||Receiver||DVR Service||Simultaneous recording|
|2 TB||$16.95/mo.||$12.95/mo.||15 shows at once|
The only current offering is the Multi-Room DVR. While this makes your choice limited, at least the DVR is robust in its capability to record up to 15 programs at once. Optimum won an Emmy award for “Pioneering Work in Implementation and Deployment of Network DVR” for advanced multiple room recording, so you won’t have to worry about the quality of their service. However, at only 300 hours SD recording and 75 hours of HD, you’ll find yourself maintaining or deleting your recording library more often.
You can also rewind and pause live TV and record entire seasons of your favorite TV show, which is nice if you’re planning a binge-watching session. The multi-room feature lets you start a recorded show in one room and finish it in another.
Each TV requires a cable box, which tacks on an additional $8.80 per box monthly. You can opt for a CableCARD to avoid the high equipment fees and access basic programming, but we don’t recommend this as it limits the services you’re already paying for.
Optimum is heavier than other providers on the extras, which some may find unnecessary:
- “Power On” feature allows you to set your TV to start on your favorite channel
- Optimum Photo: Make your TV a digital picture display that cycles through Facebook photos
- Enhanced TV: Sports, news, and weather updates, bill pay, shopping, and more
- TAG games: Poker, sudoku, Tetris, and dozens of other games you can play with your remote.
You might find these features relatively useless, but it seems like a good effort to make your TV more than just for watching shows and movies.
With support for iOS, Android, and Amazon devices, Optimum lets users manage their TV, control live television, and schedule programming. Although we would like to see the option to download shows, Optimum does a proper job of allowing users to bounce between rooms within their homes.
Optimum has a human touch and ranks fairly well with customers.
Optimum’s website has a very casual and personable air to it, and its in-person customer interactions seem relatively positive as well. The ACSI’s 2018 Telecommunications press release rates Optimum as 62 out of 100,1 and a survey by CableTV.com gives Optimum almost four out of five stars.2
As with most other chats, you’ll see some canned responses before the agent gets to you. Luckily, you can tell that you’re speaking with a human who will answer your questions promptly. It took less than a few minutes to answer our question regarding the Multi-Room DVR. (No, you cannot add an external hard drive to increase storage.)
We ran into fewer initial problems with Optimum than with other sites when it comes to collecting information. That being said, every interaction with Optimum was pleasant, but not outstanding. They definitely get points for an enjoyable website that puts humor into their information, and we liked how quickly and easily our problems were resolved.
Optimum provides great services, but tucks in hidden fees.
All things considered, if you don’t need more than one or two TVs with full access, Optimum TV can be a great bargain. But fees add up quickly for each additional TV, and even more quickly when you add more channels or movie packages. We recommend clarifying your equipment fees, DVR fees, and additional TV costs with a sales agent before purchasing.
If you’re in the New York City or Tri-state area and want to get a slew of premium channels, NYC-only sports, and multiple room DVR recording capability, then we’d recommend the Optimum Silver package. It gets you the biggest bang for the buck without going overboard, and if you don’t have more than a couple TVs, you’ll get higher channel counts for less money compared to other brands.