DISH and Comcast Xfinity are both big-time TV providers, but which delivers the better TV experience? Both DISH and Comcast Xfinity offer hundreds of channels, tens of thousands of on-demand programming options, and some pretty nifty DVRs (Xfinity’s X1 and DISH’s Hopper 3). In the end, we found that DISH does TV better than Xfinity—though it’s a bit of a close call.
Overall winner: DISH
DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity—overall comparison
|Comcast Xfinity||$49.99–129.99/mo.||140–220+||View Plans|
*First-year pricing of two-year contract.
DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity—quick comparison
A better DVR and lower, long-term pricing make DISH the winner.
DISH is satellite TV service, so you can get it anywhere in the United States (as long as you’re willing to install a satellite dish). On the other hand, Comcast Xfinity is a cable TV provider, so its service is delivered via coaxial cables to your home. Also, DISH requires a 2-year contract, but Comcast Xfinity lets you choose between contract and no-contract service.
|America's Top 120||$49.99/mo.||190||View Plan|
|America's Top 120+||$59.99/mo.||190+||View Plan|
|America's Top 200||$69.99/mo.||240+||View Plan|
|America's Top 250||$79.99/mo.||290+||View Plan|
*”All offers require credit qualification, 24-month commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay.”
**Supposedly other DVRs are available, but we couldn’t find any. Good luck!
DISH’s four TV plans don’t vary that much (the DVR is the same for all), but we think the America’s Top 120+ plan should meet most people’s needs. It has sports channels and 21 of the 25 most popular cable channels1 (FX, ESPN, USA, TNT, etc.). If you’re wondering, you can check the channels in each plan using DISH’s channel guide.
Comcast Xfinity TV
|Digital Starter||$49.99/mo.||140||X1 (60 hrs.)||View Plan|
|Digital Preferred||$59.99/mo.||220||X1 (60 hrs.)||View Plan|
|Digital Premier||$69.99/mo.||260||X1 (60 hrs.)||View Plan|
Comparing DISH and Comcast Xfinity prices and plans
Turns out you pay more for Xfinity in the long run.
Comcast Xfinity adds a handful of monthly fees to its monthly service price. It has a local channels fee, a regional sports fee, and more.
Though these fees vary slightly by location, they can easily add up to more than $20 a month. So even though Xfinity’s Digital Starter is advertised at a price of $49.99 a month, the actual price is closer to $69.99 a month, and we still haven’t talked about the contract.
Yes, DISH requires a 2-year contract, which we don’t like, but if you’re living in a home and putting down roots, commitment doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Plus, DISH’s 2-year contract saves money because its prices are guaranteed for the length of the contract, whereas Xfinity’s prices increase after the first year of service.
Don’t get us wrong—we give Xfinity points for offering no-contract TV service. (Some of us at Reviews.org had to get no-contract Xfinity service because of commitment phobia.) However, Xfinity’s no-contract service is more expensive than its contract service—usually about $5–10 more a month.
According to DISH,2 you save $576 over two years with its TV service instead of Xfinity. We crunched the numbers and $576 is a little generous, since it assumes higher regional fees and a higher price increase after the first year of service for Xfinity. However, it’s not that far off from our numbers.
It’s fair to say DISH saves hundreds of dollars long-term, but maybe you’re more interested in having plenty to watch with Xfinity than saving dollars.
DISH has more channels total, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have more to watch. Channel counts are like the advertised price—they don’t tell you what you’re really getting. For example, every TV provider, not just DISH and Comcast Xfinity, includes music stations and promotional channels (example: a “what’s-coming-soon” channel) in channel counts. We think it’s fair to say the majority of customers don’t pay for TV service to listen to Radio Margaritaville (yes, that is a real channel).
We checked which plans from DISH and Comcast Xfinity include the 25 most popular cable channels (by viewer count), and it turns out that the cheaper plans include most, if not all, of the top 25 channels.
Packages and pricing summary—DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity
- Though pricing seems comparable, DISH will save you money with a long-term contract.
- DISH’s and Comcast Xfinity’s plans have similar channel lineups, except for Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel.
Which has better equipment and features, DISH or Comcast Xfinity?
DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR records eight times as much as Comcast Xfinity’s X1 DVR.
Sure, 60 recording hours may be more than enough for one person, but what if you’re sharing the DVR, or you’re a movie fanatic, or you just never want to delete past seasons of Archer?
For example, we record every episode of Chopped. Each episode is an hour long (with commercials), so Chopped can fill up the DVR fast. On an Xfinity X1 DVR, one season of Chopped would take up almost half the available storage space, which means if we were sharing an X1 DVR, we’d have to be picky about what we choose and choose not to record. We don’t like being “choosy,” especially when it comes to Chopped, so having a DVR with plenty of space is definitely a benefit.
Another thing to think about is how many shows you want to record at once. DISH’s Hopper 3 can record up to sixteen shows at once, and Xfinity’s X1 can record up to six at once. We can’t imagine recording sixteen different shows or movies at the same time, but again, we like the idea of never having to be choosy with what we watch.
DISH vs. Comcast Xfinity recap
- Overall winner: DISH.
- Plans and prices: DISH’s long-term contract saves you money, and you won’t have to bother with Comcast Xfinity’s extra fees.
- Equipment and features: Considering DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR can hold and do so much (500 hours, 16 simultaneous recordings, etc.), the Xfinity’s X1 DVR doesn’t come out looking nearly as impressive.
- Full reviews: Check out our full-length reviews of DISH and Comcast Xfinity.