DISH vs. Xfinity
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
|Provider||Monthly price||Available channels||Learn more|
|Xfinity TV||$49.99–$104.99†||260||View Plans|
DISH vs. Xfinity—quick comparison
A better DVR and lower, long-term pricing make DISH the winner.
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.
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|America's Top 120||$59.99/mo.‡||190||View 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|
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.
|Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|Digital Starter||$49.99^||140+||View Plan|
|Digital Preferred||$59.99^||220+||View Plan|
|Digital Premier||$104.99°||260+||View Plan|
Comparing DISH and Xfinity prices and plans
Turns out you pay more for Xfinity in the long run.
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 Reviews.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Xfinity recap
- 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.