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Best Ways to Watch ION TV

How to make sure you catch every rerun of NCIS: Los Angeles.

CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds—who doesn’t love a good crime drama? But here’s one mystery you won’t have to work out on your own: where to watch all your favorite drama reruns.

We’ve done the digging and investigated the best ways to watch ION Television. Here’s what we came up with:

Top ways to watch ION Television

Best Overall: Digital AntennaDigital antennas let you watch all your favorite local stations with no monthly fees. Cha-ching!Price variesView on Amazon
Best Satelitte Option: DIRECTVDIRECTV is cheaper than DISH in the long run. Plus, you get both your local ION feed and the New York feed—just for variety.$35/mo.*
SELECT™ package
See Plans
Best for DVR aficionados: DISHWhile it’s a tad more expensive than DIRECTV, DISH’s Hopper 3® DVR could be worth the price if you’re a show hoarder.$59.99/mo.**

America’s Top 120 package
See Plans
Data effective 11/09/2018. Offers subject to change.
*For 12 months with a 2-yr contract, paperless bill, & autopay. Price increases for months 13-24.
**For 24 months with a 2-year contract and eAutoPay.

#1 Digital antennas: Cheap, free TV with easy access to ION

What we like: No monthly fees

Drawbacks: No playback features or DVR

Who it’s perfect for: Cord-cutters who want their local ION feed

Do you love free stuff? We definitely love free stuff.

Okay, before you get too excited, digital antennas aren’t free to buy—they’re just free to use. But they are still pretty cheap on Amazon.

Translation: No monthly fees (woot woot).

If you’re thinking that’s just too good to be true, well . . . you’re not completely wrong. There are some drawbacks.

Digital antennas let you watch content as it’s broadcast over the air (OTA), so you have to watch everything live. And since all antennas do is translate digital OTA signals into a picture you can watch, you don’t get a lot of features.

So if you’re looking for a service that offers fast-forwarding, pausing, and rewinding on live TV, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You can also kiss recording shows goodbye too—unless, of course, you cave and pay for a monthly DVR service like TiVo.

#2 DIRECTV: Cheaper than DISH with two ways to watch ION

$35 - $60

What we like: Two ION feeds for national and local programming

Drawbacks: Price goes up after 12 months

Who it’s perfect for: ION fans looking for budget-friendly reliability

Here’s the thing: we don’t love the fact that satellite TV providers make you sign two-year contracts. Or that they cost so much more than an antenna. Or that they sometimes have gotchas in their pricing.

And DIRECTV is guilty on all three counts.

Sure, the introductory price is $35 per month assuming you have good credit and sign up for autopay and paperless billing. But the price for the SELECT package more than doubles after 12 months.

Still, even with the price hike, it’s cheaper over the course of your two-year contract to get the SELECT package instead of DISH’s America’s Top 120 plan.

Oh, and did we mention that DIRECTV gets you not one but two ION Television feeds? Yep—DIRECTV customers get both their local ION station (with all the local programming you love) plus the New York feed.

So if your local ION station decides to air the local Minor League Baseball game instead of the next episode of NCIS: Los Angeles, you can just jump over to the New York feed and still get all the Marti-Kensi action you crave. It’s nice to have choices, isn’t it?

#3 DISH: The best way to DVR all the reruns

$59.99 - $89.99

What we like: The Hopper 3 DVR

Drawbacks: A bit more expensive than DIRECTV

Who it’s perfect for: Binge-watchers who hate commercials

When it comes to watching ION Television, DISH’s main perk is its DVR options.

To get ION TV, you’ll need the America’s Top 120 package ($59.99 per month). And before you scroll up—yes, that is more expensive than DIRECTV’s SELECT package.

All DISH packages include the Hopper Duo DVR, which is alright as far as included DVRs go. It gets you 125 hours of HD recordings (basically about 5 ½ seasons worth of Blue Bloods reruns).

But DISH’s Hopper 3 DVR is where things start to get interesting.

The Hopper 3 quadruples the recording hours available with the Hopper Duo, so you can record up to 500 hours of TV. That’s every episode of Blue Bloods plus every episode of CSI plus almost every episode of Saving Hope. And the Hopper 3 costs you only $5–$10 more per month (depending on your credit).

Bottom line: DISH costs a few extra bucks per month compared to DIRECTV. But if you’re a binge-watcher, it’s the only way to go.

The long and the short of it

Basically, if you want to watch ION Television, we’d recommend a digital antenna first. It’s cheap, free to use, and you get your local feed (though with no playback controls or DVR).

If you’re into a service that provides more reliability and variety, though, you may want to try DIRECTV’s SELECT package. It has two ION TV feeds (your local station and the New York feed), so you can get the full breadth of everything ION has to offer.

And finally, if you’re a big-time binge-watcher, we’d recommend getting DISH America’s Top 120 plan with the Hopper 3 DVR. The Hopper 3 lets you record up to 500 hours, so you can record and hang onto all your favorite ION TV reruns.

Want to find out more about digital antennas or satellite TV? Check out our digital antenna guide, DIRECTV review, or DISH review for more info. *mic drop*

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