DISH Network Review

The 30-Second Review

DISH Network is an innovator among pay-TV providers, offering a Flex Pack subscription that allows customers to choose only the channels they want. Its Hopper 3 DVR is unmatched, with the ability to record 16 shows simultaneously and hold 500 hours of HD programming. All plans come with a two-year price guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about rate increases over the course of your contract. You do have to tack on an extra $10 per month if you plan on getting a DVR, though. But that aside, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value among traditional TV providers.

DISH Network

DISH Network Customizable programming and a guarantee not to raise rates for two years.

DISH Network is committed to “challenging the economics of pay-TV.” That means providing quality programming, the latest technology and flexible packages for an affordable monthly rate.

Three standard TV packages are available, ranging from $55 to $75 per month. This is slightly more expensive than what you’ll find with DISH Network’s main competitor, DIRECTV, but DISH’s plans come with a two-year price guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about rate increases after the first year, like DIRECTV customers do. Over the course of a two-year contract, DISH’s plans actually work out to be over $200 cheaper than DIRECTV plans; although, DVR users will have to pay a $10 to $15 monthly service fee that DIRECTV customers don’t have.

DISH Network offers customizable and affordable TV packages, along with the best DVR in the industry.

For the truly budget-conscious, it’s hard to beat DISH Network’s Flex Pack, which gives customers the power to design a custom package with just the channels they like. You get 50 base channels for $30 per month, and then you can add extra channel packs based on your interests (kids, news, outdoors, etc.) for an additional $4 to $10 per month for each additional channel pack.

DISH Network offers over 200 HD channels, as well as some 4K programming. Its Hopper 3 DVR is unmatched in the industry, enabling you to record 16 shows at once and store up to 500 hours of HD programming. DIRECTV’s DVR, by comparison, only lets you record eight shows at once and 200 hours of programming. DISH Network’s mobile apps and HopperGO give you the option to access all those recorded programs, as well as On Demand shows, movies, and even live TV from your smartphone or tablet.

A Closer Look at Features

Price

Flex Pack: Starts at $30/month
America’s Top 120+: $55/month
America’s Top 200: $65/month
America’s Top 250: $75/month

Channels

Flex Pack: Varies by selected packages
America’s Top 120+: 190+ channels
America’s Top 200: 240+ channels
America’s Top 250: 290+ channels

HD Channels

200+

TV Provider Type

Satellite

Contract Term

24 months

Early Termination Fee

$20 per month remaining in your contract

Installation Fee

None

Credit Check Required?

Yes

Internet and Phone Bundles Available?

Yes

Best For

People interested in flexible TV packages, sports fans

Not For

People who want TV service that won’t get interrupted during inclement weather

  • Available nationwide: Unlike cable TV providers, DISH Network isn’t limited by a physical network, so it’s available even in places not serviced by cable. All you need is a clear view of the sky.
  • Two-year price guarantee: With DISH Network, you don’t have to worry about unexpected rate increases after your first year. It guarantees your rate for the duration of your contract, unlike most other TV providers.
  • Excellent customer service: DISH Network was consistently rated above all major cable TV providers by the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, though it did fall slightly behind DIRECTV. It scored above average in every region of J.D. Power’s survey and was voted the top provider in the West.
  • Outages due to inclement weather: As a satellite TV provider, DISH Network’s service may be temporarily interrupted if you’re experiencing strong storms. It promises 99% reliability, though, so if you do experience outages, it won’t be very often.
  • Superior Digital Video Recording: DISH Network’s Hopper 3 DVR enables you to record 16 shows at once and store up to 500 hours of HD programming. That’s over twice the capacity of most DVRs. There’s also an AutoHop feature that automatically skips commercials without requiring you to fast forward through them. Your recorded programs are accessible through the mobile apps and the HopperGO, which is a portable device that you can store up to 100 hours of programming on and stream to up to five devices at once.
  • Monthly fee for DVRs: Depending on what type of DVR you get, you’ll have to add $10 to your monthly bill. This monthly service fee is common among cable TV providers, but DISH Network’s are on the high end. Most range between $8 and $10 per month. Of course, this fee is easily avoided as long as you’re content to live without DVR.
  • Save by bundling: DISH offers bundles with internet and phone service, though TV must be included. You can choose your TV package, the internet speed (12 Mbps or 40 Mbps) and how many minutes of long distance calling you want. You can’t order these bundles online, so you’ll have to call and speak to a representative if you’re interested in one of these deals.
  • Watch your favorite shows anywhere: The DISH Anywhere mobile app is available for Android and iOS devices as well as Kindle Fire. It enables you to watch live and recorded programs, as well as access DISH Network’s On Demand library, which contains over 6,500 titles. You can also set new recordings on your phone for your DVR back home. Depending on what kind of receiver you have, you can even transfer recorded programs from your DVR to your smartphone or tablet to watch offline.
  • Three months of premium channels free: When you sign up for TV service with DISH Network, you get three months of free premium channels, including HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. If you don’t want to continue paying for the service after the three months are up, you’ll have to contact DISH Network before the trial ends and remove it; otherwise, you’ll automatically be charged.
  • Great for sports fans: DISH Network offers the NFL Network and NFL RedZone on all three of its standard TV packages. There’s also ESPN, the MLB Network, and the CBS Sports Network; although, the latter two aren’t available on the America’s Top 120+ plan. The Flex Pack has special channel packs for sports lovers as well, so whichever package you go with, you’ll be able to stay connected to your favorite teams.
  • 4K video: DISH Network’s receivers support 4K Ultra HD programming, the latest advancement in video resolution. All you need to get started is a 4K TV, a Hopper 3 DVR, and one of its TV packages.
  • Built-in TV apps: Your Hopper 3 DVR comes with built-in apps for Netflix, Pandora, The Weather Channel and other popular applications. DISH Network is currently working on adding a YouTube app to the mix as well.
  • Advanced voice remote: With DISH Network’s voice remote, you can find a program just by speaking to it. Tell it to record programs, change the channel or find a movie On Demand. The remote also has a location feature, so if it gets lost, you just press a button on the Hopper and your remote will beep, so you can find it.
  • Portable satellites for outdoor viewing: Roadtrippers and tailgaters can bring their DISH service with them by purchasing a portable satellite. You can either pay as you go for the outdoor service, or you can add it to your regular TV subscription for an extra $7 per month.

What Others Are Saying

The Los Angeles Times discusses DISH Network’s new Flex Pack and the advantages it holds for consumers who don’t want to pay upwards of $50 per month for a traditional TV subscription. It also highlights who this option isn’t good for:

“It's cheaper than Dish's other packages, especially if you get local channels with an antenna. But you have to be fine with missing out on popular channels like college-focused regional sports networks, ESPN, Fox News or Disney Channel. If you wanted just those channels, you would have to add a bunch of additional channel packs that bring the bill to $80, more than Dish's existing bundles. Premium channels like HBO are also extra.”

PCMag reviewed the Hopper 3 DVR and was very impressed. It gave it an “outstanding” rating and couldn’t find any flaws, except that there’s currently little 4K media for those who want it. But this is trivial in light of its 500-hour storage capacity and the option to record 16 shows at once. The article calls the Hopper “the new must-have set-top box for satellite television service.”

Other TV Providers We Like

DirecTV DIRECTV offers industry-leading DVR technology and customizable programming, but requires a two-year contract.

DISH Network’s main competitor for satellite TV, DIRECTV offers six packages ranging from $50 to $125 per month. All packages come with free installation and no monthly equipment fees for your first two rooms. There’s also no DVR monthly service fee, which is uncommon. However, your prices will go up after the first year. DIRECTV offers some exclusive options you can’t find elsewhere, like the NFL Sunday Ticket, but it can’t compete with DISH when it comes to DVR. DIRECTV’s most advanced model can only record eight shows at once and store 200 hours of HD programming, although this should still be plenty for most people.

Comcast XFINITY Comcast XFINITY only requires a one-year contract and offers eight different programming packages.

Comcast XFINITY offers eight cable TV packages ranging from $13 to $100 per month. You only have to sign a one-year contract and your price is locked in for that year. Comcast also offers double and triple play bundles for those who are interested in adding internet or home phone service. XFINITY is one of the few cable providers that offers Internet+Voice bundles for those who prefer not to sign up for a traditional TV subscription.

Verizon FiOS Verizon Fios provides the highest-quality digital television available, but is only offered in 13 states.

Currently the only provider to offer 100% fiber-optic digital television, Verizon FiOS offers crisper quality and faster download speeds than traditional cable. And, unlike DISH Network and DIRECTV, the service is impervious to storms, since it’s not satellite-based. Unfortunately, it’s only available in 13 states. Its Premium Service plan can record up to 12 shows simultaneously and store more than 200 hours of programming. The standard FiOS TV and DVR options are similar to a standard cable package anywhere else, including similar channels and interface.

Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives

If you find DISH Network’s TV packages too pricey, you can always sign up for a streaming service instead. These services give you access to current season TV and movies for a fraction of what you pay for a traditional TV subscription. DISH Network owns Sling, a streaming TV service that starts at just $20 per month, so this is one option to consider if you aren’t willing to pay for one of DISH Network’s other packages. Sling enables you to stream your favorite shows on all your smart devices, and there’s no long-term contract, so you can cancel the service at any time.

We also recommend the Roku Premiere Plus for streaming. It enables you to search across all your streaming apps simultaneously in order to help you find out if the program you want to watch is available for free anywhere. It also has voice search functionality, so you can just tell it what to search for without having to manually enter any information.

The Bottom Line

DISH Network is a great choice if you’re fed up with traditional TV subscriptions, but aren’t quite ready to join the ranks of cord cutters yet. And with the Hopper DVR’s impressive storage capacity, even the most avid binge-watchers won’t have to worry about being able to record all their favorite shows at once.