Spectrum TV Review
How We Reviewed Spectrum
1 week of research
3 providers compared
46 states served
Everything about Spectrum’s service will appeal to the nomad. Not only does Spectrum’s service come without contracts, the company will also help you leave your current provider’s contract. And if you aren’t thrilled by its service, you can cancel within 30 days to get your money back. Though its television packages come with a fair amount of fees, there are some perks to bundling services that balance it out. Be warned: Spectrum’s customer service ratings are a bit lackluster, although customers in the West region expressed higher satisfaction. Regardless, we recommend you investigate all the TV providers that services your address, and compare them for what you value most.
*Package availability depends on location, prices may vary
On Charter Spectrum’s website (where the company is branded as just “Spectrum”), you’ll find a bold, if vague, promise — “Sign up today to enjoy the best in-home entertainment.” To the customer, that would mean an impressive channel lineup and advanced entertainment technology.
Is it true?
When comparing Spectrum’s TV service with competitors, we wouldn’t quite say it has the “best in-home entertainment.” One the one hand, its channel packages don’t leave anything out, so you’ll be able to subscribe to your favorite networks and every premium channel. But Spectrum doesn’t offer enticing exclusives either. DIRECTV, on the other hand, has an entire DIRECTV-exclusive sports package called the NFL Sunday Ticket — it includes a channel dedicated to fantasy football, a feature that lets you recap games commercial-free, and even airs out-of-market games. We couldn’t find a similarly exclusive entertainment offering with Spectrum.
Entertainment technology also plays a factor in offering the best. Unfortunately, Spectrum doesn’t disclose any details about its DVR system. Competitors boast DVR systems that integrate apps like Netflix, can record up to sixteen shows at once, and store 300 hours of content. If you choose Spectrum, its DVR might get the job done, but don’t expect to be wowed.
Spectrum TV Pros
✔ No contracts
✔ Bundling perks
Spectrum TV Cons
✘ Customer service
✘ Basic DVR equipment
Standout Spectrum Features
No contracts and a 30-day money-back guarantee
Spectrum’s most standout feature is its money-back guarantee and lack of contracts. Anyone who isn’t satisfied with their Spectrum service can cancel without penalties or termination fees. And if you cancel within 30-days of signing up for the service, you’ll get your money back.
All of Spectrum's plans come without contracts too, making it ideal for any kind of temporary living situation. Whether you’re a college student, in the military, or just plan to move soon — TV service without the obligation of a contract is a nice luxury.
And if you’re stuck in a contract with another provider, Spectrum will help cover the termination fees with a contract buyout of up to $500. There’s one catch, however: You have to install a qualifying Triple Play or Double Play package to receive the contract buyout.
Spectrum’s Triple Play deal is packed full of promotional perks. If you’re in need of multiple services (internet, TV, and phone), Spectrum will appeal to you. It comes without any data caps on the internet service and a free modem — enabling you to stream, browse, and download without worry.
Those internet speeds start fairly high at 30 Mbps, often with the upgrade to increase as fast as 300 Mbps. Cox Communications, for comparison, starts its internet plans at 10 Mbps.
Spectrum’s channel packages also begin at generous amounts, with 125-plus channels. And popular premium channels like HBO, CINEMAX, and Showtime are included in middle-tier channel packages. Most providers throw in premium channels only at the highest tier package.
Spectrum cautions that its products and pricing will vary depending on your address. In most locations, you can choose the internet speed and channel package number you’d like to build into a bundle. In other areas, you may only have one internet speed option to pair with a few different channel packages.
With availability in 46 states, there’s a good chance you can choose Spectrum’s service no matter where you live. This widespread availability is a rather impressive feat for cable TV service, nearly matching the nationwide reach of satellite TV. Spectrum’s reach can likely be credited to the merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner in 2016.
Spectrum does a great job when it comes to aiding users with technical support and installation. On the company’s support page, you’ll find several detailed articles and videos geared towards helping you set up your receiver, as well as troubleshooting it. And Spectrum impressed us with their level of detail and technical expertise. This is especially useful if you’re looking to set up any equipment yourself.
Spotty customer service
In our research, we found Spectrum had pretty spotty customer satisfaction rating. J.D. Power rated the company pretty poorly in most metrics (Overall Satisfaction, Performance & Reliability, Cost of Service, Programming, Communication, Billing, Customer Service). Of particular note, Spectrum came dead last in overall satisfaction in the South, North Central, and East regions. However, those in the West might have better luck, as Spectrum beat out Frontier and CenturyLink with an average score of 3/5 for customer service.
Consumer Reports readers rated Spectrum similarly dismally, while the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found its service about average (scoring 59/100). Overall, these results suggest the caliber of customer service you receive really depend on where you live in the country — and customers in the West region are more likely to have better customer service.
Upfront costs and fees add up quickly
As much as we love the no-contract option, Spectrum’s list of upfront costs and fees are fairly extensive. Spectrum’s list of fees is fairly extensive. For each TV you wish to equip with cable service, you’ll need to pay $7.50 every month for the HD box, and then $5 every month for DVR service. Every TV package comes with a $12 monthly Broadcast Fee too. And if you’d like WiFi with your internet, you have to pay $5 per month for the router. If you only equip two TVs with the cable service, you’re looking at $40+ in monthly fees. And when it comes time to install your service, you'll need to pay $50 for professional installation, unless can do it yourself (and even then, there's a $5 fee).
It’s fairly difficult to find any details on Spectrum’s DVR. While most providers use their homepage to promote their equipment, you won’t even find a mention of the box on Spectrum’s site, leaving us to wonder why the company isn’t eager to promote it. If you’re looking for a DVR with advanced recording features or one that can integrate apps, you should consider looking elsewhere.
Is Charter the same as Spectrum?
Yes. When Charter Communications and Time Warner merged in 2016, the company rebranded its united services as Spectrum. This merger also included Time Warner’s sister company Bright House Networks. Following this integration, Charter is now the third-largest cable television service in the United States.