How Good is Dish Network?
Dish Network Review
Dish Network, now rebranded into DISH, is a satellite TV service provider that offers 4 TV packages with channels ranging from 190 to 290+ channels. 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
With the industry-leading DVR, and excellent customer ratings from the likes of J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index, DISH Network is definitely a TV network provider worth checking out.
So, if you’re looking for channel variety at a great value, plus some great extra features, you’ll find that with DISH Network.
But just how well do they pull it off? Dive into our Ultimate DISH Network review to find out.
DISH TV packages & Pricing
|Plans||2-yr contract price||No-contract price||Number of channels||View Plans|
|America’s Top 120||$59.99/mo.||$79.99/mo.||190||View plans|
|America’s Top 120+||$69.99/mo.||$84.99/mo.||190+||View plans|
|America’s Top 200||$79.99/mo.||$94.99/mo.||240+||View plans|
|America’s Top 250||$89.99/mo.||$104.99/mo.||290+||View plans|
|Flex Pack||N/A||$37.99/mo.||50||View plans|
It’s straightforward pricing for legit channels you actually care about.
Those numbers look pretty intimidating at first glance, but bear with us. Price hikes are one of the worst things about the TV subscription industry; DISH doesn’t buy into that. What you see is what you get, locked in. DirecTV, DISH’s direct competing service provider, can’t say the same — after the first 12 months, they jack up your rates to as much as double in the second year.
Of course, if you get a bunch of add-ons, DirecTV may end up being cheaper for 2 years, but for most people DISH TV will likely end up being the more affordable option.
With each of the 5 packages DISH TV has you’ll get local networks (like ABC, CBS, FOX, etc.), as well as ESPN, Disney Channel, HGTV, Food Network, and more.
And don’t worry about the channel counts being inflated with random music channels — what you see is what you get. It’s straightforward pricing for legit channels you actually care about (assuming you care about legit channels and don’t care about music channels).
Unfortunately, to get the best price with DISH Network, you need to sign up for their 2-year contract. Going without means paying an extra $15-$20 each month, depending on the plan you choose. But it’s nice that they give you the option to go without — just in case you want it.
Early termination fees
Now, if you decided to go with the contract to get the better rates, then decide you want to cancel — ouch. It may hurt if you have a lot of months left. Cancellation fees with DISH are heavy, as the Network uses a prorated approach, charging $20 per month left in your contract.
Extra fees add up
Even with the 2-year contract pricing on the packages, DISH Network’s hidden fees start to add up quickly. Alongside the $59.99-$89.99 per month you’ll pay for the TV subscription, tack on:
- $10-$15/mo. for the Hopper Duo or Hopper 3 DVR
- $5-$10/mo. for each additional Joey receiver
- Anywhere from $4 – $12/mo. for add-on channels
But these are relatively small fees – the Hopper 3, for example, is the best DVR available, and we’ll talk more about it soon. The add-on channel packs are pretty great, too.
DISH Internet Bundles
|Provider||Sample Bundles||Price||View Bundles|
|Dish + Frontier + Frontier||America’s Top 120 TV + Frontier Broadband Core + phone||$109.99/mo.||View bundles|
|Dish + Frontier + Frontier||America’s Top 200 TV + Frontier Broadband Ultra + phone||$106.99/mo.||View bundles|
|Dish + Frontier + Frontier||America’s Top 250 TV + Frontier Broadband Elite + phone||$134.99/mo.||View bundles|
It’s great to get all your TV and internet services in one place. Unfortunately, DISH Network doesn’t have its own internet service. That said, they do have the ability to But they can connect you by bundling with a few ISPs they work with: Frontier and HughesNet.
Frontier internet starts at just $20 per month, with both DSL and FiOS-capable networks nationwide reaching up to 115Mbps (DSL) and 1000Mbps (FiOS). They’re also one of the most widely-available internet providers you can get, which is great if you live in a rural region.
HughesNet starts higher at $59.99 per month, providing a satellite internet connection — which might be your only option if you live somewhere very rural and can’t get DSL or FiOS. But they’ve proven themselves super-reliable at delivering solid internet speed for users and are one of the best satellite internet providers.
Both providers service nearly the entire country, so if you want to bundle Internet + DISH, you’ve got your choice. And it’s no one-way only deal, either– you can get bundle discounts from both DISH and either ISP for greater savings.
DISH Network Channel lineup
Every one of DISH’s packages includes local channels – networks like FOX, NBC, ABC, and CBS. Which specific local channels you get will vary by location, though – so enter your zip code to find what’s in your area.
Otherwise, the main between DISH TV’s packages is just that more premium channels are on the higher-tier plans. We go into detail about the channel lineups below, though, so you don’t have to just take our word for it.
America’s Top 120
|America’s Top 120 Channels|
|A&E, ABC, Alma Vision, Hispanic Network, AMC, AXS TV, BabyFirstTV, Beauty & Fashion Channel, Believer’s Voice of Victory Network, Bravo, Business Television, BUZZR Play, BYUTV, C-SPAN, C-SPAN2, Cartoon Network (E), Cartoon Network (W), CBS, CGTN-E, Christian Television Network, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Create and Craft, CW, Daystar, DEAL, Discovery, DISH 101, DISH Studio, Disney Channel (East), Disney Channel (West), E! Television, Enlace, Epic, ESPN, ESPN Alternative, ESPN Alternative 2, ESPN 2, ESPNews, ESPNU, Eternal Word, Television Network, Evine, FETV, FM, Food network, FOX, FOX Business, Fox News, FOX Sports 1, Free Speech TV, Freeform, Fuse, FX, FXX, Gem Shopping Network, geTV, GRIT, HLN, HGTV, Hillsong Channel, History Channel, HITN, Home Shopping Network, Home Shopping Network 2, Hopper Insider, Impact Network, In Country Television, Independent Film Channel, Inspiration Network, ion Television, Jewelry Television, Justice Central, Justice Network, LAFF, Lifetime, Link TV, Mercury Television, MSNBC, MTV, MTV Live, MTV2, Multi-Channel View, NASA, National Geographic, NBC, Newsmax TV, Nickelodeon (E+W), Paramount Network, POP, PPV Event, Prayer, Pursuit, QVC, QVC+, REAL< ReelzChannel, Russie Today, SALE, SMART, Sonlife Broadcasting Network, Syfy, Three Angels Broadcasting Network, TLC, Travel Channel, Trinity Broadcasting Network, truTV, Turner Broadcast System, Turner Network Television, TV Games Network, TV Games Network 2, TV Land, USA Network, V-ME, Value TV, Velocity, VH1, Weather Channel, Weather Nation, WEtv, YOUTV, Z Living|
America’s Top 120 is the baseline package for DISH Network. Starting at $59.99 per month (with 2-year contract) can seem steep, but just look at all those channels! Considering that, it’s pretty budget-friendly, including ESPN, USA, Disney, and E!
You also get a cast of various others, like ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS. There’s also Food Network, TLC, LifeTime, FX, and more. As a baseline package, DISH Network’s America’s Top 120 is frankly amazing.
|America’s Top 120+ Channels|
|All those included with America’s Top 120, plus: Big Ten Network, Fightbox, Fox Sports 2, FOX Sports Arizona, Longhorn Network, NFL Network, PAC-12 Network, SEC Network, Sports Alternate 1-5|
America’s Top 120 = version 1.5. You get some premium sports channels for just $10 bucks more.
America’s Top 120+ beefs up DISH Network’s base plan, adding some more variations to channels, particularly regional shows and college sports. The best way to think of 120+ is as America’s Top 120 Version 1.5. You get some premium sports channels for just $10 bucks more.
That said, if you’re a sports fan, you’ll be happy to see the additions of the NFL Network, PAC-12 network, Big Ten, SEC, and more alternate sports channel. You also get a few more perks, like 8,000 on-demand titles and 70 SirusXM music channels.
|America’s Top 200 Channels|
|All those included with the previous packages, plus: Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, Boomerang, CBS Sports Network, Cooking Channel, Discovery Family, Disney Junior, Disney XD, DIY, Game Show Network, Golf Channel, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Drama, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime Movie Network, MLB Network, MLB Network Alternate HD, NBA TV, NBC Sports Network, NHL Network, Nick Jr., Olympic Channel, Outdoor Channel, OWN, Oxygen, RFD-TV, Science, Sundance TV, TeenNick, Tennis Channel, Turner Classic Movies, UniMas (E+W), Univision (E+W), Univision Deportes, Galavision, Uplifting Entertainment, VICELAND, WGN America,|
If you were feeling underwhelmed by the previous two plans, DISH’s America’s Top 200 should set your mind at ease. It caters to just about every audience much better than either the Top 120 or 120+.
For the sports buffs, America’s Top 200 fills in most of the gaps left by the previous plans, giving you a few more sports channels, including the Golf Channel, MLB Network and Alternate, NBA TV, NBC Sports, NHL Network, and the Olympic Channel.
Plus, you get more of Disney’s channels, as well as some Hispanic-language sports channels. So at $79.99 per month, that’s a solid buy.
|America’s Top 250 Channels|
|All those included with the previous packages, plus: American Heroes Channel, beIN SPORT, beIN SPORT en Espanol, BET Her, Bloomberg Television, Cowboy Channel, Destination: America, EPIX Drive-In, Fusion, FX Movie Channel, Great American Country, Logo TV, MoviePlex, MTV Classic, Nat Geo Wild, NBC Universo, Nicktoons, Ride TV, Smithsonian Channel, Sportsman Channel, STARZ Encore (E+W), STARZ Encore Action, STARZ Encore Black, STARZ Encore Classic, STARZ Encore Family, STARZ Encore Suspense, STARZ Encore Westerns, The Movie Channel (W), The Movie Channel Xtra (W), TheBlaze|
At over 290 channels, America’s Top 250 is best for movie lovers. It’s biggest additions are its slew of STARZ Encore, FX Movie Channel, and The Movie Channels. But America’s Top 250 also includes entertaining additions, like Nat Geo Wild and Nicktoons.
Premium Channel Packs
DISH used to offer HBO, but a dispute has kept that channel unavailable for months now. Thankfully, you can grab HBO Now – HBO’s standalone streaming service – to catch up on your favorite shows (Game of Thrones anyone?).
But, DISH has the rest – and for cheaper than DIRECTV. DISH also offers the ir premium channels for free to new customers for the first 3 months of their service.
Other Channels & Add-ons
DISH falls short in failing to provide NFL SUNDAY TICKET -- but they have most other sports channels.
ESPN and many others are included in each of DISH Network’s plans. But although they offer NFL RedZone as a separate package, DISH Network falls short in failing to provide NFL SUNDAY TICKET — a coveted bonus package that DirecTV and DirecTV NOW have kept tied up for years now.
That aside, DISH Network does a good job providing enough sports channels to keep most fans happy. And for college sports fans, DISH has the most coverage available.
We hinted at this before, but DISH Network also offers plenty of international channels. Prices range from $9.99/mo. – $29.99/mo., depending on the channel:
- Hindi TV
- Arabic TV
- Brazilian TV
- Urdu TV
- Punjabi TV
- Polish TV
- Cantonese TV
- Italian TV
- Greek TV
- And more
Finally, DISH Network includes 8,000 on demand titles for free, with 20,000 titles total. DIRECTV offers up to 10,000 free — but DIRECTV’s reliability can be hit or miss, with just a handful of episodes available for some shows.
So that’s a point in favor of DISH’s on demand selection.
That said, gone are the days of checking the TV guide — most channels come with lots of on demand content, so you can binge-watch any shows you might have missed.
DISH TV vs DirecTV
For satellite TV, your only real options are DISH Network and DirecTV. Our choice is DISH for its more straightforward pricing (especially that locked-in rate), but DirecTV isn’t far behind– and in some areas, is definitely ahead (NFL SUNDAY TICKET, ahem).
*For 24 months, with 2-year contract and eAutoPay setup.
**For first 12 months, with 2-year contract, paperless billing, and autopay set up. Price increase after first 12 months.
DISH TV Equipment + features
DISH doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to equipment. While you may have to add the price of the Hopper DVR and its Joey receiver in addition to the package plans, they’re worth the extra cost.
The Hopper DVR: Hopper Duo vs. Hopper 3
|Price||HD storage||Simultaneous recordings|
|Hopper Duo||$10/month||125 hours||2|
|Hopper 3||$15/month||500 hours||16|
The Hopper 3 is the best DVR system available right now. It’s got super-responsive controls for easy recording and gives you 500 hours of HD storage. For perspective, the entire 9-season set of The Office (U.S.) is only 99.5 hours long. It’s going to take you a while to run out of room.
Plus, you won’t be arguing with your significant other and children about who gets to record which show at five since you can record up to 16 at the same time. It also works with Alexa, can support 4K and 3D viewing, and works with DISH Tailgater, too.
But if it’s only you, then the smaller Hopper Duo might be fine since it can record 2 shows simultaneously.
In any case, Netflix and Hulu are integrated right into your Hopper, so all you have to do is hit the Netflix (or Hulu) app and you’ll be good to go.
The Joey receiver
The Joey receivers are like mini-DVRs. So if you have multiple TVs that you want to connect to your Hopper, just grab a Joey and connect it to each TV. For cost, you’ll pay differently depending on which one you get:
- Joey: $5/month.
- Super Joey: $10/month.
- Wireless Joey: $50 upfront, then $7/month.
- 4K Joey: $7/month
DISH Anywhere is an app that’s free for you to use on any of your devices. It works like a streaming device, and has no streaming limits – so watch you on demand shows or movies, or even live TV on the go.
|Type||Price||Number of TVs|
|Standard Tailgater||$299, one-time payment||1|
|KING DISH Tailgater||$350, one-time payment||2|
The DISH Tailgater is for any DISH subscribers who want to go camping, road-tripping, or just watch live TV outdoors. It’s a compact satellite TV antenna that allows you to connect one TV per Tailgater, so you can keep up with your shows on the road.
DISH’s User Interface is clean and works, and has good text-sizes– much better than DIRECTV’s.
DISH Network is the first to become compatible with Amazon Alexa. Whether you have Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Tap, or the Hopper 3, your Alexa will sync up without a problem and learn your preferences.
DISH also provides you a voice remote that can help you easily and quickly find what you’re looking for — all you need to do is hook up your Hopper to the internet and you’ll be set to couch-surf the channels without lifting a finger.
While plenty of reviews will tell you otherwise, DISH Network won the J.D. Power’s #1 place for Overall Customer Satisfaction in 2018. The customer service category gave DISH’s service — best of the best. DirecTV came in 2nd with four circles.
That said, they’ll likely try to sell you hard when you talk to them. Say you’re not interested, and they’ll move on.
DISH Recap: Are they good?
DISH Network’s prices may be intimidating at first glance, and it’s true: you might miss out on DIRECTV’s introductory pricing for the first 12 months of your contract.
But the bottom line is that over the life of your contract, you’ll come out paying less with DISH than with DIRECTV (in most cases). So if you decide that satellite over cable TV is the way to go, DISH Network is your best value.
Is it easy to switch?
Yes. A DISH Network contract installer will come over and perform the installation of the satellite dish and other equipment at no extra charge.
Which plan is right for me?
That depends on what you want.
- Looking for cheap HD: America’s Top 120
- College sports + niche channels: America’s Top 120+
- Best sports channels + decent price: America’s Top 200
- Movie freaks: America’s Top 250 has you covered
Do I need to buy the Hopper 3?
No; you can skip it. The real question is: Do you want the Duo? The Duo isn’t terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but if you record a lot of shows, then you can easily reach the 2 show limit for simultaneous recording by yourself. If you add other people to the mix, it might become a headache that isn’t worth saving $5 a month.