December 12, 2016

Dish TV Review: Is It Good?

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Thinking of switching to DISH? Get the dish on the DISH. Read this in-depth review before you choose it as your satellite TV provider.

Why Dish Network is Still a Good Value

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Nothing is simple about watching TV anymore.

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu have become the norm. Cable companies are now old-school. Satellite providers like DIRECTV and DISH need to get creative to get your business.

DISH is standing out from the pack lately, with lowered prices and tempting technology.

Its new DVR has 16 tuners, so everyone in a multi-TV family can watch what they want. It offers 4K content (ultra high-definition quality) and the ability to play multiple sports games at once on a 4K TV. You also get access to YouTube and Netflix. Should you bite?

Read on to decide if DISH is a solid choice for your overall TV-watching experience.

Dish Packages

Dish offers 4 different packages to suit every viewing need. You can even create a fully customized TV programming package. The options are:

  • Flex Pack ($39.99/month): Only pay for channels you watch. This comes with a base pack of the 50+ most popular channels (including CNN, TBS, and Food Network), and well as one unique channel pack selected by you. You can add or remove channel packs at any time. If you decide you only need the base channels, the price drops down to just $29.99/mo.

  • America's Top 120 Plus ($54.99/month): This is the best value. You get over 190 channels, including Local Channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CW). This is also great for sport fans as you also get the ESPN suite and regional sports networks.

  • America's Top 200 ($69.99/month): At this level, you get more of the premium channels including Disney, NFL Network, Fox Sports 1, NBC Sports Network, and Discovery Family.

  • America's Top 250 ($79.99/month): This is the ultimate package, with over 290 channels. Some of the additional channels you get include: STARZ Encore, The Movie Channel, Nat Geo Wild, and FXM.

See here for a more detailed review of the DISH packages.

With all packages, you also get:

  • Free Hopper Upgrade - One of the best and most advanced DVR's in TV
  • Free HD for life with a 24-month agreement
  • Free next-day installation (depending on scheduling)
  • Free activation with a 24-month agreement
  • Free Showtime, Cinemax and Starz for 3 months
  • Free HBO for 1 full year - only with an America's Top package

Please note: The Hopper equipment is free with any of the DISH packages, but there is a monthly DVR fee of $15. And if you have more than one TV you would like to record and watch from, you would need to pay a receiver fee of $7/month for each additional TV.


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  1. You don't like commercials
    Who does? The Hopper (now the new Hopper3) allows you to instantly skip commercials with one click on primetime recorded shows. Instead of fumbling with the remote to fast-forward through ads, the DISH Hopper skips them automatically. DISH is the only provider that offers this no-forwarding feature. That alone might be worth the price.

  2. Your price is locked in for 2 years
    DISH has a 2-year price guarantee, which comes out to a better deal overtime compared to other cable companies. Usually, promotional packages end after 12 months. But DISH locks in the price for 2 years. Their best value plan is the $54.99/mo package (which includes 190+ popular channels), and you'd get this for a whole 24 months.

    There are no hidden fees whatsoever. You won't get charged a regional sports fee (whether you watch sports or not). Plus, you don't have to pay extra for HD. However, watch out for high cancellation fees if you try to cancel before the 2 years.

  3. You only want to pay for channels you actually watch
    Don't you just hate paying for features you don't even use? Dish introduced the Flex Pack, which allows you to curate your own TV programming. For just $39.99/mo, it comes with 50+ popular channels plus one unique pack you select yourself.

    For example, you can pick a National Action pack (which includes ESPN) to keep up with all the sport games, or a Kids Pack (which includes Disney) for your children. Additional packs can be added for $4-$10 each, depending on your interests.

  4. You can watch TV on the go
    DISH ANYWHERE (more detail below) allows you to watch your shows from, well, anywhere. You can get your shows straight to your mobile device. So if you're constantly on the go, you can catch up on your shows wherever you are, whenever you have the time. You can manage your DVR recordings and library from afar as well.

  5. You get unlimited choices
    With the America's Top 250 top tier plan, you'll get more than 290 channels to choose from. And if you enjoy international shows, DISH offers packages that include regional TV from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. You'll also have over 15,000 On Demand programs to choose from, with many of them free. And if you're a SiriusXM fan, you can forgo the subscription fee and access 70 channels through DISH.

  6. You can record ALL your shows
    The DISH DVR boasts an impressive hard drive capacity of 2 TB (terabytes). That's 2,000 hours of programming (500 hours if it's HD) and up to 16 recordings at the same time. So if all your favorite shows just happen to air at 9 pm, you don't have to miss any of them.

  7. Completely transparent billing
    This is important for those of us who like to scrutinize our monthly spending. There's nothing worse than seeing mystery charges - whether it's an extra dollar or twenty.

    DISH's bills are clearly laid out, so it's easy to check for services you've used. If you've ordered a Pay Per View movie or a special sports program, you'll see the charges clearly. No one likes dissecting a confusing bill.

  8. 24/7 Live Customer Service
    Yes, a real person. All day and all night. If you wake up in the middle of the night because you realized you forgot to make a payment or your satellite service is having issues, there's someone at DISH who's living and breathing and waiting to help.

  9. Turn your TV into a smart TV
    DISH lets you turn your TV into an all-in-one entertainment center. You can stream Netflix, Youtube, Vevo, and Pandora right on your TV. You can also browse Facebook, access your personal photo collection on the Hopper, and play over 50 games (with a subscription), including Monopoly and Tetris.

    Accidentally deleted someone's recorded program? Use the Recover key, and you'll instantly get that show back. Feeling lazy? Just tell your TV what you want with the Voice Remote. Lose your remote? DISH can find it for you. Following multiple sports games? DISH's Sports Overlay provides updated data every 30 seconds so you can track all the live games. Your TV will become a multi-tasker.

  10. You're a parent
    DISH comes with the usual parental controls, but takes it a step further. You can set parental controls to block certain channels for your little ones, and it allows you to catch your kid if he's found a workaround. So after little Timmy sneaks into your bedroom to watch TV, you can see what he was up to via a feature that shows you the last four channels watched. Those sneaky little ones will have a harder time watching something they shouldn't.


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  • Renters beware
    If you rent your home, your landlord may not let you have a satellite dish on your balcony.

  • Wind and rain is the enemy
    Cable TV is less affected by weather than DISH. If you live in an area where heavy storms are a constant factor, you might be better off choosing cable.

  • You're a sports fanatic
    You won't get the kind of sports programming on DISH that DIRECTV offers through its NFL Sunday Ticket. Nor will you get as much live sports programming as Comcast Xfinity provides. So if you need to fulfill your football fix or you're a baseball nut, you'd may be better off choosing another provider.


There are more programming choices than ever now. But there's just not enough time to watch all the shows you want to when you've got places to go. Who can agree to that?

DISH Anywhere lets you watch on-demand programming, live TV, and your recorded shows on your mobile devices. You can even download shows beforehand, so you can watch them without an internet connection. If you take public transportation to work or travel a lot, this is a perfect way for you to catch up on shows. No more saying "I don't have time to watch anything."

Plus, if you forget to program your DVR, you can easily do it from the DISH Anywhere remote app. This works on both Apple and Android devices.

Satellite TV: DISH vs DIRECTV

How does DISH compare to DIRECTV? When these two satellite providers go head-to-head, it's a tossup when it comes to picture and sound quality. But DISH wins when it comes to pricing. We appreciate their 2-year price guarantee, lack of hidden fees, and their packages cost less as the tier levels increase.

DISH's DVR also has the edge. DIRECTV's DVR can only record 5 shows at once and store 200 hours (in HD). And DISH is the champ for ad skipping, hands-down. However, when it comes to sports programming, DIRECTV is the winner.

DIRECTV could win your favor if you need it for other services. Acquired by ATT, DIRECTV offers bundles and discounts if you're an ATT cellphone, Internet, or home phone customer. In comparison, DISH only provides Internet service.

DISH is also looking to out-do DIRECTV in the arena of non-traditional TV viewership and targeting those potential customers. They've recently acquired Sling TV, which is the first streaming service to offer several live channels, as reported by Jim Probasco of Nasdaq.

Cable TV: DISH vs Comcast

How does DISH compare to Comcast XFINITY? Satellite TV has arguably a better HD picture quality than cable (so DISH wins here). But if you're not a technophile who can spot every little pixel, this is probably a non-issue. However, when it comes to features, both Comcast and DISH have their strong and weak points.

Comcast offers more On Demand program choices. It also allows you to watch these shows offline without an Internet connection. And Comcast is also an Internet service provider, so you can bundle Internet and TV for a slight discount.

But that's just about where Comcast's plusses end when pitted against DISH. DISH offers more channels and better pricing overall. DISH offers HD for free, but you will have to pay for it with Comcast (once out of the promotional period). Comcast's whole-home DVR system can only record shows from the main DVR, though they'll play back in any room. With DISH, you can record and play back in any room. It also has


The world of TV programming has changed. Providers, for the most part, have kept up on a technical level with picture and sound quality. So it's really a matter of viewing habits and budget that determine which provider is best for you.

DISH is a great choice for a full TV watching experience, with streaming capabilities and traditional programming at a lower price. We also love its flexibility to create your customized programming.

Cynthia Cohen is a retail analyst at CreditDonkey, a tv comparison and financial education website. Write to Cynthia Cohen at Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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Dish TV Packages

Dish Flex Pack

Dish Network Phone Number

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