DISH vs. Xfinity

Who does TV better, DISH or Xfinity?
Available channels
Monthly price
Available channels
Monthly price


DISH and Xfinity are both big-time TV providers, but which delivers the better TV experience? Both DISH and 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. Xfinity—overall comparison
ProviderMonthly priceAvailable channelsLearn more
DISH$59.99$94.99*290View Plans
Xfinity TV$49.99$104.99260View Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.
For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1-year contract.

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DISH vs. Xfinity—quick comparison

A better DVR and lower, long-term pricing make DISH the winner.

DISH and Xfinity are two of the biggest TV service providers out there, but besides both being household names, the two don’t have much in common.

DISH is a 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, 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 Xfinity lets you choose between contract and no-contract service.

Here’s quick look at what DISH and Xfinity have to offer.

DISH TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
America's Top 120$59.99/mo.190View Plan
America's Top 120+$74.99/mo.190+View Plan
America's Top 200$84.99/mo.240+View Plan
America's Top 250$94.99/mo.290+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
for 24. months. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

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 22 of the 25 most popular cable channels1 (FX, ESPN, USA, TNT, etc.). If you’re wondering, you can check the channel lineup in each plan.

Xfinity TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Digital Starter$49.99^140+View Plan
Digital Preferred$59.99^220+View Plan
Digital Premier$104.99°260+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ For the first 12 months.
° For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

There’s an 80-channel difference between Xfinity’s Digital Starter and Digital Preferred plans, so we say go for the latter. It’s the best for the money. If you want to know which Xfinity plans include which channels, check out Xfinity’s channel lineup.

Comparing DISH and Xfinity prices and plans

Turns out you pay more for Xfinity in the long run.

We included the monthly service prices from DISH and Xfinity in the tables above, but they don’t tell the whole story (in a perfect world, we think they should).


At first glance, DISH and Xfinity seem pretty comparable. You’d think it’d be like comparing apples to apples.

Comcast Xfinity adds a handful of monthly fees to its monthly service price.

Xfinity adds a handful of monthly fees to its monthly service price. It has a broadcast fee, a regional sports fee, and more.

Though these fees vary slightly by location, they can easily add up to more than $30 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 $79.99 a month, and we still haven’t talked about the contract.


DISH offers a no-contract and 2-year-contract option, each with their own pros and cons. While going contract-free lets you jump ship whenever you’d like, that extra freedom will cost you about $10 more per month.

If you’re living in a home and putting down roots, however, the commitment of a long-term contract doesn’t seem like such a big deal—especially if it helps trim your bill. Plus, DISH’s 2-year contract guarantees your price 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 had to get no-contract Xfinity service because of commitment phobia.) However, like DISH, Xfinity’s no-contract service is more expensive than its contract service—usually about $10 more a month.

The savings

With all the extra fees Xfinity adds to your bill, DISH and its two-year price guarantee will probably cost you less over the course of two years than Xfinity. But while it’s fair to say that DISH can save you hundreds of dollars long-term, you may be 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 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 Xfinity include the 25 most popular cable channels (by viewer count), and it turns out that the cheaper plans include most of the top 25 channels.

25 most popular channels

Xfinity’s Digital Starter, Digital Preferred, and Digital Premier plan all have the top 25 cable channels seen above except HBO.

As for DISH, it has all of the top 25 cable channels except HBO in the America’s Top 200 and America’s Top 250 plans. But its America’s Top 120 and America’s Top 120+ plans do not have Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel.

Packages and pricing summary—DISH vs. Xfinity

  • Though pricing seems comparable, DISH will save you money with a long-term contract.
  • DISH’s and Xfinity’s plans have similar channel lineups, except for Investigation Discovery and the Hallmark Channel.

Which has better equipment and features, DISH or Xfinity?

DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR records eight times as much as Xfinity’s X1 DVR.

Xfinity’s X1 DVR boasts some neat features (like a voice-controlled remote), but when compared to DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR, the X1 just doesn’t hold up.

Storage hours

DISH Hopper 3

First off, the Hopper 3 can hold 500 HD recording hours. Xfinity’s X1 holds only 60 HD recording hours, which means the Hopper 3 can hold eight times the movies and shows—that’s a big difference.

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 Brooklyn Nine-Nine?

For example, we record every episode of This is Us. Each episode is an hour long (with commercials), so This is Us can fill up the DVR fast. On an Xfinity X1 DVR, one season of This is Us would take up almost a quarter of 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 This is Us, so having a DVR with plenty of space is definitely a benefit.

Simultaneous recording

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.

Equipment and features summary—DISH vs. Xfinity

  • The DISH Hopper 3 DVR can record eight times the movies and shows of the Xfinity X1 DVR (500 hours compared to 60 hours).
  • The Hopper 3 can record sixteen shows at once, while the X1 can record six simultaneously.

DISH vs. Xfinity recap

DISH Authorized Retailer

DISH wins for having a DVR that can “out-record” the Xfinity X1 in every way possible. Also, DISH doesn’t have as many extra fees, so though it requires a contract, you’ll save more money with DISH down the line.

  • Overall winner: DISH.
  • Plans and prices: DISH’s long-term contract saves you money, and you won’t have to bother with 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 Xfinity.

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  • Betsey Kirkemo

    Well, I’m looking at my shiny new Dish bill and you can take this into further consideration: I have America’s Top 250+ and it costs $84.99/month. The next line item is the $10 local channels fee. I have the Hopper and 2 Joeys. The cost for Hopper DVR service is $26/mo and each Joey is $7. That’s $50 of fees above the monthly service (which is more expensive than you published). The reason I’m looking at a switch is because I’m sick and tired of Dish’s outages when they renegotiate with the carriers. I missed the MLB All Star game in July because of the Fox outage. I missed a Broncos game and Thanksgiving football in November when there was a CBS outage. I never had this problem with DirecTv. And it’s discouraging considering how often Dish has these issues. They certainly don’t credit consumers when they have these outages either.

    • Kick the Can

      Me too, but I don’t think Comcast/Xfinity is any better about fees. Also, you are required to have high speed internet service to run the Dish DVR & Joeys (we do – from Xfinity). I am now considering switching over to cable from Xfinity – which I hate, but for $220 a month for Internet & Dish I am going too broke to care anymore. I’m going to find out how much the drive out price is for the xfinity 220 package with all the fees before I switch. I have to have Destination America. Damn it all.

      My Current Services
      Monthly Services $ 104.99
      America’s Top 250 $ 84.99
      HD 250 $ 10.00
      Local Channels $ 10.00

      Equipment $ 26.00
      Hopper DVR Service $ 12.00
      Joey Receiver $ 7.00
      Joey Receiver $ 7.00

      Monthly Total $ 131.02
      Monthly Services $ 104.99
      Equipment $ 26.00
      FCC Regulatory Fee $ 0.03

    • Deodric Marquise Buchanan

      Why not switch back to Directv Call me at 865-406-9819 and I can get you back on with Directv again as if you have 3 tvs that is only $70 a month for the choice package with 185+ channels and NFL Sunday ticket. it goes up to like $110 but it is still worth switching if they are adding on $50 of fees. All tv providers that I work with have a regional sports fee though at higher packages as otherwise they would not be able to show those sports channels to your area.