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DISH Network Review 2018

DISH ends up being a few bucks cheaper than the competition, but what else sets it apart?

Our Rating
User Experience
4/5
Value
4/5
DVR
5/5
Monthly Cost
Starting at $59.99

Our Rating

Package Name PriceChannelsDVR Website
America's Top 120$59.99/mo.**190 channels125 hoursView Package
America's Top 120 Plus$69.99/mo.**190+ channels125 hoursView Package
America's Top 200$79.99/mo**240+ channels125 hoursView Package
America's Top 250$89.99/mo.**290+ channels125 hoursView Package
PriceChannelsDVR Website
$59.99/mo.**190 channels125 hoursView Package
$69.99/mo.**190+ channels125 hoursView Package
$79.99/mo**240+ channels125 hoursView Package
$89.99/mo.**290+ channels125 hoursView Package

Eye IconDISH Review

DISH gets you the most channels for the best price and offers the best DVR on the satellite TV market, but the first year of your contract ends up being a little more expensive than DIRECTV.

Pros

  • No rate hikes on your contract
  • Big packages with cheap price per channel
  • Amazon Alexa integration
  • Massive DVR (up to 18 simultaneous recordings!)

Cons

  • More expensive than DIRECTV for the first year
  • 2-year contract
  • No NFL SUNDAY TICKET
  • Extra $8–$15/mo. DVR cost

Looking for that last push to finally commit to DISH as your TV service of choice? Well, if you want someone to talk you out of it, you’ve probably come to the wrong place. If you want satellite TV, DISH brings you the most bang for your buck.

We’re happy to report that DISH delivers on tons of channels to choose from and is super easy to use. You’ll just need to decide if you dig the channel packages or not.

DISH pricing and packages

Prices

This will probably be the make-or-break section of our DISH review for you. Long story short, DISH channel packages cost less over a two-year contract than DIRECTV’s channel packages. Overall, you’re getting a better price per channel with DISH.

At first glance, it looks like DIRECTV’s channel packages are much cheaper than DISH’s channel packages, but that’s not the case. The tricky thing about DIRECTV is that the second year of your contract nearly doubles your monthly rate, whereas your DISH monthly rate stays consistent. So, the first year of your DISH contract will hurt compared to DIRECTV’s rate, but once that second year hits, you’ll probably be glad you stuck with DISH.

It really depends on if you want more channels and pay a little more, or if you’d rather pay less and get fewer channels.

Now let’s run through each package and give you a look at how the prices stack up against each other.

Packages

Channels*On-demand titlesPrice
America’s Top 1201908,000+$59.99/mo.** See Plans
America’s Top 120 Plus190+8,000+$69.99/mo.** See Plans
America’s Top 200240+8,000+$79.99/mo.** See Plans
America’s Top 250290+8,000+$89.99/mo.** See Plans
*After 3 mos., you will be billed $30/mo. for SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, and DISH Movie Pack™ unless you call to cancel.
**After $5 autopay discount.
***Actual channel count varies by area
All pricing valid as of August 15, 2018.

You’ve got four DISH channel packages to choose from, and really the choice is going to come down to taste.

Are your kids low-key addicted to Sofia the First? You’ll want to opt for America’s Top 200. Are you an NFL fan? Then you’ll want America’s Top 120 Plus (or a larger package) to get the NFL Network.

But if you want all the details, you should check out the complete DISH channel list here. This list will be your best friend while you’re deciding on a DISH TV channel package.

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How to choose a channel package

Our advice? Make a list of all your essential channels, and find the cheapest package that offers all of them.

Let’s say you’re a big NBA fan, for example. You’ll want ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, TNT, and your local sports network for sure. The cheapest channel package that has all of that is America’s Top 200—bada bing, bada boom.

On-demand channels

No matter what DISH channel package you sign up for, you’re going to get tons of on-demand shows. Remember the days when the entire family gathered around the TV to watch LOST every Wednesday evening on CBS? Yeah, those days are over. There are so many on-demand options with DISH that you’ll probably never run out of things to watch.

DISH offers on-demand content similar to the way Netflix offers on-demand content, so you have a lot to scroll through. To give you an idea of what channels offer on-demand shows:

dish on demand channels

In other words, if you miss The Bachelorette when it airs, you can catch a replay with ABC on demand. And rejoice if you’re a fan of Flip or Flop , or any HGTV show really, because there will be on-demand episodes to enjoy for days. DISH serves up more than 8,000 on-demand titles to choose from, so good luck running out of options.

Just be aware that you get on-demand access only to the channels included in your package. For example, you can’t watch Game Of Thrones on demand if you don’t have the HBO add-on with your subscription. Same story with channels like the Hallmark Channel, BBC America, NBA TV, and more.

Channel add-ons*

If you’re scrolling through DISH packages looking for premium channels like the NFL RedZone, HBO, or international channel packages, then you’re in the market for add-ons, friend.

You’ll need a subscription to one of DISH’s channel packages before you get any add-ons. It doesn’t matter which package you subscribe to, so feel free to buy the cheapest one and do all your add-ons.

Here’s a look at all the DISH add-ons:

Sports add-ons

  • Multi-Sports Pack with NFL RedZone
    • $13/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • Comes with over 35 networks, including the NFL Network, MLB Network, BeIn Sports, NBA TV, SEC and Pac-12 Networks, and a lot more. Check out the full list here.
  • MLB Extra Innings
    • $175 per season
    • Watch up to 100 (who even has time for that?) out-of-market MLB games every week.
    • Your subscription also comes with MLB.TV too. Perfect for the MLB fanatic.
  • NBA League Pass
    • $199 per season
    • Watch up to 40 (who has time for that, either?) out-of-market NBA games every week. From one NBA fanatic to another, NBA League Pass will improve your quality of life.
  • NHL Center Ice
    • $155 per season
    • Enjoy up to 40 out-of-market games every week. Let’s say you’re an Anaheim Ducks fan living in New York City—NHL Center Ice was made for you.
  • FOX Soccer Plus
    • $15/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • Covers UEFA Champions League, England’s FA Cup, Scottish Premier League, and comes with plenty of Rugby Union action too.
  • Outdoor Package
    • $4/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • Made for the outdoorsy person obsessed with hunting, fishing, shooting, travel, and adventure in general.
  • Willow Cricket HD
    • $14.99/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • Have you ever wanted Cricket all day, every day? You’re in luck.
  • Racetrack Television Network
    • $50/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • This add-on comes with 80 different live feeds for top horse racing events.

*All packages, programming, features, and functionality and all prices and fees not included in price lock are subject to change without notice.

Premium movie and show channels*

  • SHOWTIME
    • $10/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • SHOWTIME offers up tons of movies and top-notch shows like Homeland, Ray Donovan, and Billions.
  • HBO
    • $18/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • It’s the same price as DIRECTV’s HBO add-on, but it would still be cheaper to just go with HBO NOW.
  • STARZ
    • $10/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • You get tons and tons of movies to enjoy, along with original shows like Power and 
  • DISH Movie Pack
    • $10/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • 15 channels come with this movie pack, including FXM, STARZ Kids & Family, EPIX, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and more favorites.
  • STARZ Encore
    • $6/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • This is basically a slightly cheaper, more movies-focused STARZ channel.
  • EPIX
    • $7/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • It gives you lots of movies for a really nice price.

*All packages, programming, features, and functionality and all prices and fees not included in price lock are subject to change without notice.

Spanish-language channels*

  • Latino Bonus Pack
    • Costs $10/mo. on top of your base subscription
    • Get over 34 channels in Spanish, including ESPN Deportes, History en Español, Telemundo, Discovery en Español, TV Española, and lots more.
  • Colombian Pack
    • Costs $2/mo. on top of top of your base subscription
    • Covers Colombian sports, novelas, news, and more.

*All packages, programming, features, and functionality and all prices and fees not included in price lock are subject to change without notice.

Overall, the add-on prices and packages are pretty standard compared to DIRECTV and other TV services. Don’t worry—you’re not overpaying with any of the DISH add-ons.

Local channels available with DISH

The beauty of opting for a satellite service is that you don’t really need to worry about getting your local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX stations. With a streaming service, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get your local channels in your area. But we’re happy to say that, so far, we’ve had no problem accessing our local channels with DISH.

One thing to be aware of—blackouts are possible. Historically, satellite providers have had negotiations with local channels like ABC and FOX that resulted in temporary blackouts, and yeah, it sucks. Thankfully, blackouts are pretty rare, so you shouldn’t encounter that awfulness very often.

Hopefully, these blackouts are few and far between, but you might want to consider an antenna as a backup. Check out our best antennas guide for antenna recommendations.

DISH equipment and features

Finding the right remote control is sort of (but also not at all) like finding true love—you know when you feel it. If you sign up for DISH, you’re going to spend plenty of time using (and losing) the remote and accompanying hardware, so let’s talk details.

The DISH Network voice remote

dish remote

First of all, the voice controls actually work well. Coming from a devout Apple TV user, it’s nice to see a remote that actually recognizes what you’re saying. All you need to do is push a button, say your piece (“Watch Property Brothers”), and the remote will take care of the rest.

Our favorite feature would have to be the remote locator. We’ve all wasted many minutes looking for the remote (it’s underneath the cushions 90% of the time). Just press a button on your DVR, and the remote will beep and blink. What a relief.

One more thing we want to geek out about—backlit keys. Apparently, remotes are getting closer to sentience because it will know when it’s picked up in the dark, and all the buttons will light up. This is a big deal for us nocturnal TV watchers.

Honestly, we can’t find anything technically wrong with the remote, but it comes down to preference. If you like the look and feel, you shouldn’t run into any problems.

DISH Hopper DVR

Hours (HD)Automatic commercial skippingSimultaneous recordingsPrice
Hopper Duo125Y2$10/mo.
Hopper 3500Y16$15/mo.

You’ve basically got two DVR options for DISH—the Hopper Duo or the Hopper 3 DVR.

If you want our opinion (and why else would you be reading our review?), we think it’s worth the extra cost to opt for the super robust Hopper 3 DVR. The difference between 125 hours and 500 hours is massive—trust us, you can fill up 125 hours of recorded content faster than you think.

You know that problem you have when you want to record 16 things at once, but it’s technologically impossible to do so? Okay, so that probably doesn’t happen to anybody. Yes, the the Hopper 3 overkills a little bit on simultaneous streams, but it’s one less thing to worry about.

Okay, so admittedly you’ll probably never record so many things at once, but if you’ve ever been in a fight with your family about recordings, you’ll know the more simultaneous recordings, the better.

TL;DR version: Compared to DIRECTV’s Genie DVR, which maxes out at 200 hours of cloud DVR storage and has only five simultaneous streams, the Hopper 3 just offers more bang for your buck.

Connecting multiple TVs to your DVR

Extra DevicePrice
Joey$5/mo. (with two-year contract)
4K Joey$5/mo. (with two-year contract)
Wireless Joey$5/mo. (with two-year contract)

Consistent with Hopper’s kangaroo theme, every additional DVR unit you have is called a Joey. Isn’t that cute? It would be a whole lot cuter if each one didn’t cost an extra $5 a month. On the other hand, if you’re at work, you’ve probably made $5 while reading this article.

Accessing all your channels and DVR content from any TV in the house does make things a lot easier. Imagine how hard it would be to secure TV time if you had only one with the satellite hookup. Yikes.

You can mix and match Joey’s as you see fit for your setup. Got a 4K TV you want to connect, order the 4K Joey. Wireless Joeys let you get satellite TV in places without a hardwire internet connection. Yes, this means you can set up a TV outside next to your grill.

Streaming on the go with the DISH Anywhere app

In the sad times before the DISH Anywhere app, you were stuck watching TV only at home. Thankfully, we live in a golden age of TV, and you can watch DISH programming on the go.

The whole system works with the Hopper 2 or Hopper 3 devices. If you’re connected to the internet, you can watch live TV, or you can go in offline mode and download your recorded DVR content. Let’s say you’ve got a big cross-country flight coming up—you can download every episode and movie on your DVR and watch without internet. Just make sure to download everything on your Wi-Fi at home before going out in the world.

We were impressed with the DISH Anywhere App—especially the offline mode. It makes for an excellent companion to go along with your subscription. You can even use the app at home and watch TV on your mobile device, tablet, or laptop if you want to avoid paying for another Joey. DISH is the only satellite TV service (currently) that gets you100% of your channel on the go.

DISH User experience

Out of all the ways to watch TV, satellite is probably the most reliable. You don’t need to rely on a fast internet connection (like a streaming service) or worry about your cable going out. There’s a reason why satellite TV costs more than other options, and that has everything to do with reliability and availability.

The only thing you need to worry about with them are storms rolling in. Your satellite dish needs a clear view to the south, which severe weather can mess with.

So besides the rare storm, the DISH user experience is exceptionally smooth.

DISH interface

If you’re looking for simplicity with your TV service, then you’ll probably love DISH’s guide. It’s one of those “it’s so easy, your grandmother could figure it out” sort of things.

Like with remotes, interface is something you either click with, or you don’t. We’ll run through the main points of the DISH interface, so consider if you like what you see.

Menu

dish interface

Okay, so it’s not the sexiest menu you’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly functional. Every button works exactly like it should, and you can easily navigate from your guide to your DVR to Netflix and more.

Home

dish interface

Here you can find everything in one place, from live sports, shows, and movies to what’s on your DVR and on demand. It saves you time channel flipping and floats the best content to the top. See something you like? Just click on it and start watching.

The Home menu is nothing revolutionary. Most TV services offer something similar, but DISH’s is as smooth as any we’ve seen.

Guide

dish interface

We’re giving our “Easiest Guide Ever” award to DISH. It’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get experience. The guide is set up horizontally (as it should be) and makes channel surfing a breeze. Just scroll until you see something worth watching.

The guide has a great sense of space, making room for a tab on the far right side that gives you details on the show, movie, or sporting event you want to check out. That way you don’t get confused and accidentally start watching the Toby Maguire Spider-Man movies instead of the (newer and better) Tom Holland editions.

dish interface

We liked this feature so much—we needed to talk about it. When you start catching up on a show, the menu gives you this quest log (pardon the video game speech) where you can see how far along you are on catching up. We can’t imagine bingeing without something like this now.

Tools for parents

dish interface

Does your child have a history of pulling fast ones on you and watching something they shouldn’t? Well, now you can vet everything before they watch and get a rundown of all the content in the show or movie. Sorry kids–fun’s over.

Search

dish interface

The search features work exactly as advertised. We typed in every show we could think of,  Press Your Luck on GSN RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV and the new Snoop Dogg game show, The Joker’s Wild. The search function found everything and made it easy to start watching or set recordings.

Overall, DISH’s guides, menus, and interface felt super easy to navigate. Sure, it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world, but what matters is that it works well.

DISH customer service

FYI: According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index for 2018, DISH received a 73 out of 100 rating for customer satisfaction, while DIRECTV received a 70 out of 100.

Props to DISH for this one.

We put DISH customer service to the test to form our own opinion of its quality.

First, we tried out the chat feature on the DISH website. We came in with a simple question—how do we set up a Joey to work with our Hopper DVR? We’re happy to report the feedback was helpful and clear. But near the end of the conversation, the associate was trying real hard to sell us on things. Our advice? Just bounce once your question gets answered.

We tried the same test over the phone and had a better experience. Our questions were answered thoroughly, and instead of selling us something, the associate just asked to take a survey (we didn’t take it).

Overall, our experience was positive, and we’d expect you to experience something similar.

Installation

To answer the question probably wondering about, yes, the installation is totally free.

According to DISH’s website, its installation specialists will even help you mount your TV, set up your wireless network, or install your home theater system.* Who knows—maybe they‘ll even fix your garbage disposal if you ask nicely (we didn’t ask).

When we set up our satellite dish, the specialists arrived about 10 minutes into the 75-minute window we set. They even texted us a reminder the day before.

The installers were polite, friendly, and helpful. We’ve heard horror stories of satellite installers breaking windows and tearing up roofs, but we had no such experience.

*Additional fees apply.

Extra fees

Here’s a checklist of all the fees that go into your monthly DISH bill:

  • $59.99–$89.99/month for the cost of your package
  • $10–$15/month for your Hopper 3 DVR (or $0 for going with the weaker Hopper Duo)
  • $5–$7/month for every Joey
  • $4–$200/month for whatever add-ons you include in your package
  • $10 fee if your payment comes late

Add up all your choices, and you’ll get a good idea of what you’ll pay every month.

Here are some other potential payments you should be aware of:

  • Cancellation fees are harsh. You end up paying a prorated fee on the time remaining in your contract. So, once you’re locked in for the contract, it’s tough to get out.
  • A standard technician visit will cost you $95 without DISH insurance, or $10 with DISH insurance.

Compared to DIRECTV (where your monthly cost doubles after the first year of your contract), DISH is very straight-up with your monthly cost. Just watch out for those unexpected payouts and you should be okay.

Promotions

Promotions come and go all the time with DISH. Check out the DISH deals page to see what promos you can cash in on.

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Stay in the know

Want to stay updated on everything new with DISH and other ways to watch TV? Sign up for the HowtoWatch newsletter, and you can become a master of TV, too.

DISH review summary

All in all, DISH has a lot of good things going for it—the beefiest DVR on the market, lots of channel package variety, a simple interface, and a very cheap price per channel.

Factor in the fact you end up paying a little less than you would for DIRECTV’s channel packages over a two-year contract span, DISH makes a convincing case.

Long story short, if you want the most channels, DISH is the satellite TV provider for you.

DISH review FAQ

What makes DISH different than DIRECTV?

The biggest difference between DISH and DIRECTV is two-fold: the pricing breakdown and the overall aesthetic. With DISH, you’re getting more channels, but you’re paying a little more every month for the first year of your contract. It’s the opposite with DIRECTV.

If you’re curious about the competition, you can check out our DIRECTV review for more details.

Is DISH the same as Sling TV?

DISH owns Sling TV, but they are two completely different services.

Sling is a streaming service, which means it runs on internet power instead of a satellite dish. Sling TV also carries way smaller channel packages with much cheaper prices.

You can read all about Sling TV in our review.

How much is DISH per month?

It depends on what channel package and DVR you choose. Check out our pricing section above .

Can you use DISH credentials to authenticate TV Everywhere apps?

Yes! Your DISH subscription will work with most third-party apps, like WatchESPN, TNT, and FXNOW apps.

But you should know that you can access third-party apps only for channels you have in your package. For example, if you don’t subscribe to HBO with your DISH account, you can’t use the HBO GO app.

Here are the TV Everywhere apps that accept login credentials from DISH:

  • WATCH ABC
  • AMC
  • Bravo Now
  • BTN2GO
  • CNBC TV
  • DisneyNOW (includes Disney Junior and Disney XD)
  • E! Now
  • WATCH ESPN
  • FOX NOW
  • FOX Sports GO
  • Freeform GO
  • FX Now (includes FX, FXX, FXM - Fox Movies)
  • IFC
  • NAT GEO TV
  • NBC
  • NBCSN (includes Golf Channel and the Olympic Channel)
  • NCAA March Madness
  • Oxygen Now
  • Showtime Anytime
  • Sundance TV
  • SYFY
  • Telemundo NOW
  • USA Network
  • WETV

Does DISH offer a DVR?

It absolutely does. In fact, DISH’s Hopper 3 happens to be the most spacious DVR available. You can read all about it on our DVR section above.

How are DISH’s video and audio quality?

Long story short—both are very good.

Choosing a satellite option over a streaming option means you’ll enjoy more consistent video and audio quality, so expect HD (1080p) on most of your channels. DISH also offers support for Dolby Surround Sound speakers, so you can watch your movies as loud as humanly possible.

Can you bundle your internet with DISH?

Yes! DISH has a partnership with Frontier that lets you get both potentially at a discount. Check out the DISH website for more details.

Can I watch TV on multiple devices simultaneously with DISH?

Yes, you can! You’ll need to buy some Joeys to make it work, though.

You can read more about Joeys and how they work in the connecting multiple TVs section above.

Is there a DISH gift card?

We’re sorry to ruin Christmas here, but nope, there are no DISH gift cards. You can find rebates and rewards, however, if you time things right. Check out our DISH’s website  to see the latest deals.

How do I sign up for DISH?

If you want to sign up for DISH, you don’t have to work very hard for it. You can just visit DISH’s website and sign up there.

Have any other questions about DISH?

We know that when you’re shopping for satellite TV, you want to get all your questions answered, especially if you agreed to a two-year contract.

If you’ve got anything on your mind, leave a comment below. We’ll help you out the best we can.

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