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DISH vs. AT&T TV

After dozens of hours of testing and research, we found that DISH’s robust satellite TV service beats AT&T TV’s complicated streaming product.

Best overall, best for kids

Price: $64.99–$99.99/mo.*
Channels: 190–290+

2-yr. price guarantee
Best DVR
No HBO®
Free HBO Max

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.**†
Channels: 65–140+

Free HBO MaxTM and NBA League Pass offers for new customers
Easy installation
High prices

* for 24. months. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
** for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee.
† for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee. Regional Sports Fee up to $8.49/mo. is extra & applies.

AT&T U-verse is now AT&T TV

AT&T no longer offers AT&T U-verse. Its replacement is AT&T TV, a live TV streaming service. If you’re more interested in cable or satellite TV services than streaming, check out our guide to the Best TV Providers of 2021.

DISH is a satellite TV provider with 190–290+ channels, two-year pricelock, and the best DVR around—the Hopper 3. It’s also our pick for the best overall and best kids’ TV provider.

AT&T TV is a live TV streaming service with 65–140+ channels, cloud DVR, tantalizing deals for new customers, and both contract- and no-contract plans. But its proprietary TV box is unremarkable, especially compared to the DISH Hopper 3.

DISH vs. AT&T TV pros and cons

DISH

2-yr. pricelock
✓ Best DVR
✓ Best kids’ programming and parental controls
✗ DVR fees
✗ No HBO

AT&T TV

Free HBO MaxTM and NBA League Pass offers for new customers
Easy, fast self-installation
High prices
Lower channel counts

Compare DISH and AT&T TV head-to-head

Brand
DISH
AT&T TV
Pricec Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings
$64.99–$99.99/mo.* 190–290+ 500 hrs. 16 View plans
$69.99–$139.99/mo.**† 65–140+ Unlimited ($10.00/mo.)

20 hrs. (included)
3–20 View plans

* for 24. months. New customers only. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
** for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Prices higher in 2nd year.
† for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $8.49/mo. is extra & applies.

DISH has many more channels than AT&T TV, but its prices are high. And they get higher with the $15 monthly fee for the Hopper 3 DVR. But the DISH two-year pricelock means no looming second-year rate hikes.

AT&T TV has fewer channels like every other live TV streaming service, but AT&T can’t seem to quit its old cable tricks. Its two-year contract plans are already costly—even before the second-year price increase—and its no-contract plans come with a stiff fee.

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DISH vs. AT&T TV prices and plans

Speakin’ of fees, both DISH and AT&T TV have them—darn it. Let’s see which of these TV providers gives you the most for your moolah. Fair warning, though: it’s kinda complicated since we’re comparing a satellite TV with streaming TV.

DISH prices and plans

Price Live channels Popular channels
$64.99/mo.* 190 CNN, ESPN, FOX News, Nickelodeon, and more View plans
$79.99/mo.§ 190+ A&E, Discovery, Lifetime, NFL Network, and more View plans
$89.99/mo.¶ 240+ BET, LMN, Nat Geo Channel, Hallmark Channel, and more View plans
$99.99/mo.° 290+ beIN Sports, LOGO, THE MOVIE CHANNELTM, STARZ ENCORE®, and more View plans

* for 24. months. New customers only. Everyday Price $94.99/mo. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
§ for 24. months. New customers only. Everyday Price $99.99/mo. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
¶ for 24. months. New customers only. Everyday Price $109.99/mo. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
° for 24. months. New customers only. Everyday Price $119.99/mo. All offers require 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutopay. Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.

Of its four plans, DISH touts America’s Top 200 ($89.99 a month, 240+ channels) as its best value. Until DISH’s recent rate hikes, we’ve agreed. But when we crunch the numbers using advertised channel counts, America’s Top 200 costs $0.37 per channel, while America’s Top 250 ($99.99 a month, 290+ channels) comes out to $0.34.

Since the 290+ channels in America’s Top 250 include every network DISH carries plus some decent premium channels—EPIX DRIVE-IN, HDNET MOVIES, STARZ ENCORE (five channels), THE MOVIE CHANNEL, MoviePlex, HDNet, and more—we think that Top 250 is the DISH package with the most value.

AT&T TV prices and plans

Price Live channels Popular channels Details
$69.99/mo.† 65+ ESPN, HGTV, Nickelodeon, TNT, and more View plans
$84.99/mo.‡ 90+ Cooking Channel, ESPNU, Game Show Network , and more View plans
$94.99/mo.‡ 130+ LMN, NHL Network, STARZ ENCORE®, and more View plans
$139.99/mo.‡ 140+ CINEMAX®, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more View plans
$64.99/mo.‡ 90+ Cine Latino, FOX Deportes, Nickelodeon, Univision, y más View plans

† for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee.
‡ for 12 mos plus taxes and Regional Sports Fee. Regional Sports Fee up to $8.49/mo. is extra & applies.

AT&T TV is sold like traditional cable/satellite TV, with contracts, too many plans, high prices, second-year price hikes, and other things that live TV streaming services aren’t supposed to have.

To be fair, you can get a no-contract plan with AT&T TV, but it’ll cost an additional $10.00–$20.00 per month. It promises “no big price jump at month 13.” But it’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t say that your payment will never increase—just that it won’t happen at month 13.

AT&T TV does have some good introductory promotions, though: a free year of HBO Max, a free season of NBA League Pass, and three free months of CINEMAX®, SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, and EPIX®. These promos are, in fact, stackable—but they all require choosing AT&T TV’s CHOICETM plan ($84.99 a month for the no-contract version, 90+ channels) or higher.

So, if you’re okay signing up for AT&T TV just to ditch it after four months when your promos expire, do it—but remember to choose a no-contract plan. But we’d suggest trying DIRECTV’s satellite TV service, or a different streamer, to save yourself the hassle.

Alternatives to DISH and AT&T TV

If you don’t like DISH, but you do prefer satellite TV over cable or streaming, you might like DIRECTV. For more info on DISH’s main competitor, read our DIRECTV review and our DISH vs. DIRECTV piece.

If you think you’d enjoy the full cord-cutting experience with a live TV streaming service like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, check out our guide to the Best TV Streaming Services of 2021: Live and On Demand.

DVR

DVR is a must, and the best DVRs are the ones that give you the most storage hours for the longest storage period with playback controls—for the best price. So is it the satellite juggernaut or the hybrid streamer that comes out on top?

DISH Hopper 3 vs. AT&T TV streaming box

DISH Hopper 3
AT&T TV streaming box
Price Box rental fee Storage Simultaneous recordings or streams Video quality
$15/mo. Included 500 hrs. 16 recordings Up to 4K UHD
$0–$10/mo. $5.00/mo. per TV Unlimited ($10.00/mo.)

20 hrs. (included)
3–20 streams Up to 4K UHD

Data as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DISH Hopper 3

DISH Hopper 3 DVR

The DISH Hopper 3 is more DVR than you’ll ever need. It stores 500 hours of HD movies and shows—that’s a lot for almost anyone. Also, you can record up to 16 shows at once and keep them as long as you have DVR space. It’s totally worth the extra $15.00 a month. If that’s too rich for your budget, you can get the Hopper Duo (125 hours, 2 tuners) free with most DISH packages.

AT&T TV streaming box

You don’t need AT&T TV’s streaming box. The AT&T TV app supports other devices* that you probably already have—and its cloud DVR isn’t tied to equipment. AT&T TV plans include 20 hours of cloud DVR, and you can upgrade to unlimited storage ($10.00 per month). You can record unlimited shows at once, but recordings expire after 90 days. But DISH Hopper 3 DVR service, while more expensive, is a better deal.

* Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple/iOS, Google Chromecast, Roku, and select Samsung smart TVs.

Pro tip: We’ve done a full review of the DISH Hopper 3 DVR if you wanna know more about it.

Installation

Standard installation is free with DISH, and you can even track your tech’s progress on the day of your install appointment.

Pro tip: Live TV streaming services are the easiest to install—and you won’t need a tech to help you.

Installing AT&T TV is even easier, and you can do it yourself. With the AT&T TV streaming device, it’s as simple as connecting it to your TV and following prompts on your screen. If you already have a supported device, just download the AT&T TV app and sign in.

Streaming apps

Your couch may not have wheels, but your TV does—kinda. Mobile apps help you take your TV subscription anywhere.

DISH Anywhere home page Apr. 2021

DISH Anywhere app home page on mobile

The DISH Anywhere app lets you stream all your live TV channels, on-demand movies and shows, and DVR recordings on the go. You can also set and manage DVR timers and parental controls with ease. But only one household member can watch DISH Anywhere outside the home. Aside from that, it’s a solid app.

AT&T TV home page

AT&T TV app home page on mobile

The AT&T TV app allows you to do all the same stuff, ‘cause the app is the service. But up to 3 people can watch AT&T TV at the same time while outside your home. And up to 20 (!) people can watch at home—but that doesn’t help it overtake DISH Anywhere. Who needs that many streams in a single household?

Internet bundles

DISH doesn’t offer internet service, but it does partner with internet providers (CenturyLink, Earthlink, Frontier, Verizon, Kinetic by Windstream, ViaSat, and HughesNet) to offer bundles with internet and phone service. Bundle savings, if any, will vary with the internet provider.

AT&T TV bundles with AT&T DSL internet service at speeds up to 100 Mbps and AT&T unlimited nationwide calling.

Winner: Optimum wins this bundle battle on channel counts, price, speed, and wider calling area.

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Final take

Okay, we totally spoiled it early by telling you that DISH is our editorial pick for best overall TV provider. We’re just confirming that’s still the case, and reminding you that it’s also the best TV provider for kids.

But if you’re hungry for HBO in your TV service, AT&T TV gives you that for free for a year. You do you.

Methodology

CableTV.com’s expert’s watched dozens—nay, scores!—of hours of TV on DISH and AT&T TV in order to give you the scoop on each service’s features, reliability, and value. We then compared the services using first-hand experience and nitty-gritty tech specs to help you determine which one is worth your money. For more information on our methodology, see our How We Rank page.

Related articles

If you’d like more information on Optimum, AT&T TV, or other providers in your area, try our other coverage:

DISH vs. AT&T TV FAQ

Which is better: DISH or AT&T TV?

DISH is our pick for the best overall TV provider, not to mention the best TV provider for kids—and in our head-to-head comparison of the two TV services, DISH beat AT&T TV in almost every category.

Are DISH and AT&T TV the same?

DISH and AT&T TV are separate TV services. But AT&T owns DIRECTV, which is DISH’s main competitor in satellite TV, so that might be what you heard.

Does AT&T TV require a satellite dish?

AT&T is a streaming service, so there’s no satellite dish required. You will, however, need a compatible streaming device to use the AT&T TV app. Here are your choices:

  • AT&T TV device
  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Android phones and tablets
  • Apple/iOS phones and tablets
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku devices
  • Samsung smart TVs

If you already have one of the above devices, we recommend using it instead of renting the AT&T box. You’ll save $5–$10 per month that way.

What’s the difference between AT&T TV and AT&T U-verse?

AT&T TV is a streaming service that replaced AT&T U-verse, which AT&T no longer offers. Enter your zip code below to see if AT&T TV is available where you live (psssst—it probably is, since it’s now an internet-based service).

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Does AT&T TV or DISH have NFL SUNDAY TICKET?

Neither AT&T TV nor DISH has NFL SUNDAY TICKET—but DIRECTV does.