While not our first pick for serious sports lovers, DISH® offers cost-effective TV service with a solid range of channels and add-ons. Plus, DISH is the first traditional TV provider to introduce a cool new integration with Amazon’s Alexa.
Customer service could be better, but DISH still makes it pretty easy to get the channels you want without too much fuss. Most importantly, it won’t hike up the price in the middle of your contract, and the Hopper® 3 DVR runs circles around its main competitors. (Just ask Alexa.)
Dish Network Plans
Contract pricing is steady with some attractive promos.
Dish Network packages by price & channel count
|America's Top 120||$59.99/mo.||$75.99/mo.||190||View Plan|
|America's Top 120+||$69.99/mo.||$79.99/mo.||190+||View Plan|
|America's Top 200||$79.99/mo.||$89.99/mo.||240+||View Plan|
|America's Top 250||$89.99/mo.||$99.99/mo.||290+||View Plan|
Like most TV service providers, DISH Network packages require a 2-year contract when you sign up. But at least when DISH gives contract pricing, it really does mean for the length of the contract. Unlike some of its competitors (*cough* DIRECTV *cough*), DISH won’t jack up your prices halfway through the term.
DISH also gives you three months of premium channels free. That means you can watch channels like Showtime and STARZ and wonder who killed Laura Palmer for free for three full months before DISH starts charging you. If you want to keep the channels after the promo period ends, you’ll need to add a premium channel package to your service.
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Wondering why “Gross Receipts Tax” or “Service Provider Tax” is listed on your bill? A few states charge TV service providers special taxes and fees. They’re similar to sales taxes in other states, but instead of charging you, the state charges your TV provider. Most providers, including DISH, pass these costs right along to customers, which is why you might see them listed on your bill.
Speaking of premium channels, DISH throws you an extra one by including HBO for three months—even with its lowest priced package, America’s Top 120. You can keep up with an entire season of Game of Thrones and still have time to binge Silicon Valley before DISH starts charging you for the privilege. Just remember that after 3 months, you’ll have to add HBO to your service to the tune of $15 per month if you want to keep watching.
That $15 subscription price is the same as getting a monthly HBO NOW subscription, so if you do want to keep watching HBO shows, you might consider taking that money and switching to the streaming version with fewer ads. You can also add HBO to an existing Hulu subscription for the same price. However, Hulu’s Limited Commercials option still has multiple ad breaks throughout its shows, in which case, we’d recommend keeping HBO as part of your TV package.
Remember: DVR fees are extra
DISH Joey receiver options
|Joey model||Price per month|
One last thing to keep in mind with DISH package pricing: it doesn’t include the (excellent) Hopper 3 DVR or its additional receivers. You’ll pay $10 per month for the DISH Hopper and an extra $5–$10 per month for each Joey receiver, depending on which model you choose.
Competitors might charge more mid-contract, but some services like DIRECTV include DVR and additional receiver costs in their pricing to begin with. So consider whether you want to get the Hopper and take your viewing to every TV in your house before you get excited by DISH prices.
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Like most TV service providers, DISH activation and upgrade fees can vary based on your credit qualification. Maybe keep that in mind if you’re working on rebuilding your credit score.
DISH channel lineup
DISH has most of the channels you’ll be looking for.
|DISH||$59.99–$89.99/mo.||120–290+||2 yrs.||View Plans|
Even DISH’s basic package has most of the popular channels you’ll be looking for (FX and Food Network top our personal lists), but DISH channels don’t offer serious football fans their favorite options. If you want to catch a lot of games, you’ll want to consider a Multi-Sport pack add-on to get NFL RedZone, which you can use to watch college and professional football. However, even DISH’s lowest priced package includes ESPN, so if you just want the highlights, you’re good to go.
Equipment and features
Integration with Amazon’s Alexa wins DISH equipment an easy A.
If it wasn’t already clear by how many times we’ve mentioned it in this review, we’re big fans of DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR. The Hopper 3 lets you record up to 16 shows at once and gives you way more storage than leading competitors. With 2,000 hours of SD storage, you could save up enough content to binge-watch TV 24/7 for almost three straight months before you ran out of shows. We’d be concerned if you actually did that, but we’re just saying . . . you could.
Hopper specs at a glance
|Recording hours||HD recording hours||Recording capacity|
|Hopper 3 Smart DVR||2,000||500||16 shows at once|
Compare the Hopper 3’s stats to its main competitor, DIRECTV’s Genie.
Amazon Alexa lets you ditch the remote
DISH recently added a new feature to the Hopper’s already impressive portfolio: the Hopper 3 integrates with Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa already works with various streaming services, but DISH is the first TV provider to offer an integration feature for people who want to combine their traditional TV service with their favorite home automation system.
If you already ask Alexa to stream music, turn off the lights, or play audiobooks, then you’ll love this integration. We were happy to learn that, along with being able to tell Alexa to turn on the TV or rewind a show, you can also perform specific searches based on genre or actors. You can ask Alexa to find you a horror movie then tell her to change to Too Cute! when your significant other gets scared. If nothing else, DISH’s Alexa integration proves TV service providers can still learn some new tricks. DISH hasn’t announced other plans for tech features yet, but we’re keeping an eye out.
DISH Anywhere keeps your content accessible
DISH lets you stream both live and DVR content on all your devices with DISH Anywhere. The app lets you watch shows and recordings both online and off, so planes, trains, and automobiles are all fair game for binge-watching (though maybe not if you’re the one operating them).
Did you know?
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DISH owns Sling TV, a streaming video service that works on every device. Want to see how it stacks up? Check out our Sling TV review.
What about DISH and 4K?
If you have a 4K TV, DISH is middle of the road. DISH does support 4K programming, but it doesn’t have a dedicated 4K channel. But DISH does offer Netflix compatibility. That matters because Netflix lets you watch most of its original shows in 4K, including hits like House of Cards, for when you want to see deception in high definition. Keep in mind, you will need DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR to access 4K capabilities.
Want a more in-depth 4K comparison? Check out our review of the best TV service for 4K.
Free installation, available nationwide
DISH’s DVR is an obvious selling point for its service, but if you just want a standard TV package with some popular channels, DISH equipment still fits the bill. It’s a satellite service, which differs from cable and means you’ll need a satellite dish. Unlike most cable providers, DISH provides free standard professional installation in up to six rooms with sign-up. We can personally confirm that satellite service installation is generally easier and more customer-friendly than the infamous cable experience. Let us know if that’s been true for you! We’d love to hear your experience, and we’ll take it into account for future reviews.
DISH is available nationwide, so if you live in a rural or remote area, you don’t have to worry about geo restrictions. Satellite TV service does require a “line of sight” to the, well, satellite, so if you notice signal issues, make sure your receiver is clear and free of debris. Especially during the winter, snow piling up around the receiver can affect reception.
DISH beats out Comcast and Time Warner, but it still falls short overall.
You know it, we know it, everybody knows it: TV and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have lackluster customer service. We grade on a curve here, so we compare DISH’s customer service only to other TV service providers. On that note, DISH is about average.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), one of the best sources for unbiased customer service scores, ranks DISH fourth overall in subscription television services.1 DISH falls just below its biggest competitor, DIRECTV, but ranks well above secondary competitor Xfinity (Comcast).
As with other providers, we recommend using the chat feature on DISH’s website to communicate with customer service. It’s usually faster, always easier to keep records, and definitely better than waiting on the phone.
The bottom line—is DISH good?
Overall, we recommend DISH as a cost-effective option for those who want steady prices and a killer DVR. Keep in mind that if you want both a DVR and additional receivers, DISH’s pricing may not be as cost-effective as it is without those extras, but the Hopper 3 makes it worth it, and the Amazon Alexa integration is nice.
Want to compare DISH to DIRECTV? Check out our review of the best satellite TV providers.
Tell us what you think
Do you have DISH TV? How do you think it compares to competitors like DIRECTV? We want to hear from you! And if you have any questions for us, just ask.
1. American Customer Service Index, “ACSI Telecommunications Report 2017”