Dish Network Review

Dish Network is an innovator among pay-TV providers, with a solid channel lineup and best-in-class DVR features. Its Hopper 3 DVR is the best of any TV provider we saw, with the ability to record 16 shows simultaneously and hold 2,000 hours of HD programming. For comparison, the DVR from Dish Network’s major competitor, DIRECTV, only lets you record five shows at once and holds just 200 hours of programming. All of this DVR power costs you $15 per month, but we think that’s a fair price for those features.

As a satellite service, Dish isn’t for everyone. You might not be able to install a satellite on your rental house or apartment, and these dishes are more vulnerable to extreme weather outages than a cable provider. However, if you live in a milder climate, Dish is absolutely worth considering.

The Claim

Dish Network claims to be committed to “challenging the economics of pay-TV.” That’s marketing-speak for making quality service affordable. For Dish, that means providing quality programming, the latest technology, and a variety of packages that allow you to find the best programming for your viewing habits — all without breaking the bank.

Is it true?

Yes.

With Dish’s Hopper 3 DVR, its TV technology is leaps above the rest. The Hopper 3 is equipped to record 16 shows at once and store up to 2,000 hours of HD programming. And with Dish’s mobile apps and HopperGO, you can access any recorded or On Demand program from your on-the-go devices.

Granted, this storage space may not be for everyone; Dish charges an extra $15 per month for its DVR service, whereas competitor DIRECTV’s base prices include DVR. Unless you plan on storing roughly 1,000 HD movies or 100 seasons of TV, that extra cost may be overkill. However, if you or your family requires lots of storage space, Dish’s DVR is a better value.

Dish offers four TV packages, ranging from $60 to $90 per month for new customers. Its main competitor, DIRECTV, offers cheaper packages, but these rates spike after the first year unless you bundle with “qualified AT&T services.” By comparison, Dish offers a two-year price guarantee for every new customer. That translates into significant savings.

For example: The America’s Top 200 package from Dish is $80 for the first two years of service, while the comparable Ultimate package from DIRECTV has a cheaper promotional price of $65 for the first year. However, after the first year, that DIRECTV price jumps to $128.

Product Overview

Best for

People who want to record a lot of shows, sports fans

Not for

People who often experience severe weather conditions or live in apartments

Features

Price America’s Top 120: $60 per month
America’s Top 120+: $70 per month
America’s Top 200: $80 per month
America’s Top 250: $90 per month
Channels America’s Top 120: 190
America’s Top 120+: 190+
America’s Top 200: 240+
America’s Top 250: 290+
Standout Features
  • Hopper 3 DVR stores 2,000 hours of HD programming and can record up to 16 shows at once
  • Mobile apps let you access all recorded programs, On Demand shows, movies, and live TV from your smartphone or tablet
Number of States Served 50
Fees
  • Early termination fee: $20 per month remaining on contract
  • Late payment/returned check: $10
  • DVR service: $15 per month
Contract Term 2 years
TV Provider Type Satellite

Excellent customer service

Dish Network consistently ranks among the top TV providers for customer service by the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. It scored above average in every region of J.D. Power’s 2017 US Residential Television Service Provider Satisfaction survey and was voted the top provider in the North Central and South regions.

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 ESPN on all four of its standard packages and the NFL Network on three of the four. The America’s Top 200 and America’s Top 250 packages also include the MLB Network, NBA TV, and the NHL Network.

Built-in TV apps

Streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu are built into the Hopper 3 DVR (though you’ll still have to pay their monthly subscription fee). You also have access to YouTube, Pandora, The Weather Channel, and other popular apps.

Possible Drawbacks

Satellite dish

Dish Network is a satellite TV provider, so you’ll have to install a satellite dish onto your roof in order to use the service. That installation is done professionally by Dish for free, and the company takes care of setting up the DVR and receivers.

These satellite dishes are the reason that Dish Network is available in even the most remote locations, but there are some caveats. The dish on your roof must have direct access to the satellite in space, so there can’t be any trees or buildings in the way. Satellite service can also be interrupted by winds and rain, so if you live in an area with frequent severe storms, cable might be a more reliable option.

Monthly fee for DVRs

If Dish’s fancy DVR features appeal to you, you’ll have to add $15 to your monthly bill. This DVR fee is common among cable TV providers, but Dish Network’s is on the high end: Most range between $8 and $10 per month.

Bundle options

Dish’s internet service is only available when bundled with your TV package. Unfortunately, you can’t order these bundles online, and the website offers very little information about its internet service. If you’re interested in one of these deals, you’ll have to call and speak to a representative.

The Competition

Dish Network
DIRECTV
Xfinity
Verizon Fios
Price
$60-$90 per month for two years
$35-$110 per month for first year
$25-$115 per month for first year
$64.99-$89.99 per month for first year
Availability
50 states
50 states
40 states
9 states
TV Provider Type
Satellite
Satellite
Cable
Fiber
Contract Length
24 months
24 months
12 or 24 months (or no contract option)
24 months (or no contract option)
Channels Available
290+
330+
260+
425+

Dish Network vs. DIRECTV

DIRECTV, Dish Network’s main competitor for satellite TV, offers six packages ranging from $35 to $110 per month. All of them include standard installation and no monthly equipment fees for your first two rooms. There’s also no DVR monthly service fee, which is pretty uncommon. Like Dish, DIRECTV requires a two-year contract, but prices roughly double after the first year unless you bundle with a “qualified” AT&T service. DIRECTV does offer 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 five shows at once and store 200 hours of HD programming, although that may be plenty for most people.

Dish Network vs. Xfinity

Xfinity offers six TV packages, ranging from $25 to $115 per month. You only have to sign a one-year contract, and your price is locked in for that year. Xfinity excels in the cheaper range of plans — for a relatively low monthly bill, you get access to its large On Demand library and solid selection of HD channels. It also has great deals on bundles for those who are interested in adding internet or home phone service. Overall, if you’re just looking for the service with the best TV channels for the lowest price, Dish is your best bet. But if you want to bundle with internet and phone, Xfinity might have better deals for your all-around needs.

Dish Network vs. Verizon Fios

Verizon Fios offers a 100 percent digital fiber-optic connection, which translates to crisp video quality and hyper-fast download speeds. Its Premium Service plan can record up to 12 shows simultaneously and store more than 200 hours of programming — while short of Dish’s offerings, it’s still likely enough for a single user. And unlike the satellite-based Dish Network and DIRECTV, the service is impervious to storms. Unfortunately, it’s currently only available in nine states, so it doesn’t have the same far-reaching capabilities as Dish.

Dish Network FAQs

Can I watch Dish from an RV?

Dish Network is a great option for roadtrippers, boaters, and tailgaters because you can bring your Dish service with you anywhere 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.

Does Dish have 4K channels?

Dish Network’s receivers support 4K Ultra HD programming, but the availability of channels that broadcast in 4K resolution is still fairly limited. Right now, Dish mainly offers 4K video through its On Demand library and Pay-Per-View. While it’s still pretty rare for live television to be broadcast in 4K, Dish is clearly on the forefront. In 2017, it began airing college football games every weekend in 4K, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “This move is part of a broader agreement that includes future 4K coverage of college basketball games, Major League Baseball, and NASCAR racing,” Dish announced at the time.

Does Dish let you stream live TV out of the house?

The Dish Anywhere mobile app lets you watch live and recorded programs from anywhere, as well as access Dish Network’s On Demand library, which contains more than 20,000 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.

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 3 DVR’s impressive storage capacity, even the most avid binge-watchers won’t have to worry about being able to record all of their favorite shows at once. While people who experience extreme weather conditions may be better off with a traditional cable service, Dish is unlikely to disappoint.