At a Glance

Type of Service

Fiber

Type of Service

Satellite

Channel Count

350+ channels

Channel Count

290+ channels

Price

$69.99–$124.99 per month

Price

$49.99–$79.99 per month

Equipment Fees

First box included; additional boxes $9.99 per month

Equipment Fees

$10 per month

Installation Fee

None

Installation Fee

None

Contract

1 year

Contract

2 years

Customer Satisfaction

2.66/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.53/5

Type of Service

Fiber

Channel Count

350+ channels

Price

$69.99–$124.99 per month

Equipment Fees

First box included; additional boxes $9.99 per month

Installation Fee

None

Contract

1 year

Customer Satisfaction

2.66/5

Type of Service

Satellite

Channel Count

290+ channels

Price

$49.99–$79.99 per month

Equipment Fees

$10 per month

Installation Fee

None

Contract

2 years

Customer Satisfaction

3.53/5

Data effective 10/29/2017. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

Is CenturyLink Prism or DISH the best TV provider for you?

 

The Verdict

Choose CenturyLink for greater channel selection and valuable bundle options.

CenturyLink offers more channels than DISH, which will appeal to the channel surfers out there. We also think CenturyLink has better bundle options, mostly because it provides its own internet service (DISH does not). However, the customer service and reliability issues CenturyLink has had over the last year put a damper on things. Still, if you’re looking to bundle, CenturyLink is a good choice.

Choose DISH for excellent customer service and wide availability.

DISH scores well across the board, and when you add in the great customer service and nationwide availability, you get a service that’s easy to recommend. The main problem with DISH is in the internet department. The company partners with local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide bundles, but it’s just not as streamlined as other providers. For hardcore TV lovers, though, DISH makes a great choice.

Compare available TV providers in your area:

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

To see customer satisfaction scores for all major television providers, check out our 2017’s Best TV Providers in Customer Satisfaction survey. We’ll reference this survey and its results throughout this review since it represents the real-world experience customers like you are having every day.

CenturyLink 

Overall Customer Rating

2.66 Stars (2.66 / 5)

Advantages

  • Large channel selection
  • Fast fiber network
  • Short-term contracts

Disadvantages

  • Limited availability of fiber network
  • Poor customer service ratings
  • Some concerns about reliability

DISH

Overall Customer Rating

3.53 Stars (3.53 / 5)

Advantages

  • Above-average customer service scores
  • Wide availability
  • Powerful DVR

Disadvantages

  • Vulnerable to weather interference
  • Requires two-year contract
  • Low channel count

Installation & Setup

CenturyLink Prism

2.79 Stars (2.79 / 5)

CenturyLink’s installation process is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, there is no fee for professional installation and the company provides a detailed checklist to help you get ready for your appointment. On the other hand, CenturyLink has developed a reputation for missed service appointments, which explains that score. Overall, the process should be smooth—just as long as the tech shows up.

DISH

3.72 Stars (3.72 / 5)

In sharp contrast to CenturyLink, DISH provides one of the best installation experiences in the business. The company consistently ranks at or near the top for satisfaction in this area. And, like CenturyLink, there is no installation fee.

CenturyLink Installation Fee: None

DISH Installation Fee: None

Channels

CenturyLink Prism

2.72 Stars (2.72 / 5)

CenturyLink offers a solid selection of channels, with over 350 to choose from. All the standards are covered, plus premium channels like HBO® and Cinemax®. There are also dedicated sports packages available, giving access to premium add-ons like NFL RedZone, MLB Strike Zone, and other favorites.

DISH

3.56 Stars (3.56 / 5)

DISH’s channel count is relatively low compared to the competition, but it still manages to score very high in customer satisfaction. There are plenty of sports channels available, plus HBO and other premium channels. DISH’s packages are clearly organized, and it’s easy to see what one offers over the other, though the names can be a little misleading—America’s Top 120™ actually has 190+ channels, for example.

CenturyLink Channels: 350+

DISH Channels: Up to 290+

Reliability

CenturyLink Prism

2.76 Stars (2.76 / 5)

We’ll just come out and say it: CenturyLink has some reliability issues. Fiber networks should, in theory, be more reliable than other network types like cable or satellite. CenturyLink doesn’t seem to live up to this in practice, though. Now, to be fair, the entire industry seems to have had trouble with signal reliability this year with major drops in satisfaction compared to 2016. CenturyLink brought up the rear both years, though. If you go with CenturyLink, just know that signal issues may be part of the package.

DISH

3.66 Stars (3.66 / 5)

DISH sits at about the middle of the pack in terms of reliability, which is kind of expected since it’s a satellite network. Satellite signals are much more susceptible to weather-related interference than other types of transmission methods. DISH does advertise 99% signal reliability, and generally that’s what you can expect, but interference is still a possibility, albeit remote.

CenturyLink Type of Service: Fiber

DISH Type of Service: Satellite

Monthly Bill

CenturyLink Prism

2.35 Stars (2.35 / 5)

CenturyLink’s prices are somewhat high for what you get, which may contribute to the low score. In terms of packages, we like Prism Preferred, which gets you 320+ channels for $89.99 per month. One nice thing about CenturyLink is that your first DVR box is included—most providers tack that on as a separate $10 to $15 fee.

DISH

3.10 Stars (3.10 / 5)

DISH is one of only two providers (the other was RCN) to score over three in this category, and if you take a look at the chart, it wasn’t even a close race. DISH just smoked the competition, thanks to its combination of reasonable prices and two-year price guarantees (the one bonus of a service agreement). We like the America’s Top 250™ package, with 290+ channels for $79.99.

CenturyLink Price: $69.99–$124.99 per month

DISH Price: $49.99–$79.99 per month

Tech Support & Customer Service

CenturyLink Prism

2.66 Stars (2.66 / 5)

It’s been a rough year for CenturyLink in terms of customer service. Those installation issues mentioned above probably contributed to the poor scores. CenturyLink has also been struggling to support its rapid fiber expansion, so we’re hopeful that things will slow down enough for the company to finally catch up and work out the kinks.

DISH

3.59 Stars (3.59 / 5)

DISH also does very well in the customer service department, taking first place in our survey and fourth in the industry benchmark from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). In the ACSI ranking, DISH scored 67 points, beating the industry average of 64. Our only real complaint is that the support site is a little dated. We still found everything we needed, though.

Equipment

CenturyLink Whole Home DVR

Simultaneous Recordings: 4
Storage: 91 hours of HD
Price: First box included; additional boxes run $9.99 per month
Approximate Dimensions: 9.8″ x  6.1″ x 1.6″
# of TVs per DVR: Each TV requires its own box
Additional Features: Watch up to four shows at once on the same television; App Center with news, info, and entertainment apps; personalized recommendations

Check out our full review of the Centurylink Prism Whole Home DVR

Simultaneous Recordings: 16
Storage: 500 hours of HD
Price: $10 per month
Approximate Dimensions: 16″ x 11.5″ x 2″
# of TVs per DVR: 7
Additional Features: 4K support, built-in Netflix support

Check out our review of the DISH Hopper 3

Mobile Apps

CenturyLink Prism TV

CenturyLink Prism TV App

Google Play Rating: 2.20 Stars (2.20 / 5)

Apple Store Rating1.30 Stars (1.30 / 5)

Channel Guide: Yes
Stream Live TV: Yes
Manage DVR: Yes
Remote Control Function: Yes
Additional Features: Easy sharing features, parental controls, search function for channel guide

DISH Anywhere

DISH Anywhere App

Google Play Rating: 4.10 Stars (4.10 / 5)

Apple Store Rating3.30 Stars (3.30 / 5)

Channel Guide: Yes
Stream Live TV: Yes
Manage DVR: Yes
Remote Control Function: No
Additional Features: Get updated scores and game info for sports teams; transfer DVR recordings to phone and watch offline

Internet Service

CenturyLink Internet

CenturyLink offers both DSL and fiber internet options, depending on the location. The basic service, High-Speed Internet, can reach up to 80 Mbps for $55.00 per month. That’s not bad, though the speeds you’ll get depend heavily on location. The CenturyLink 1 Gig is what’s really exciting though. Starting at $85.00 per month, you’ll get speeds up to 1 Gig. And, of course, great monthly prices are available when you bundle TV, internet, and phone.

DISH Internet

DISH doesn’t offer its own internet service anymore. Instead, the company partners with various local ISPs to provide bundles to customers that want their TV and internet from the same provider. DISH has also started partnering with HughesNet to provide satellite internet to customers who don’t have access to cable or DSL options. Pricing and availability of services varies depending on where you live, so be sure to enter your zip code in our handy tool below to see what’s available in your neck of the woods.

More About the Providers

CenturyLink

CenturyLink is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the US. It provides TV, internet, and phone service to nearly sixty million people in thirty-six states, with the largest coverage in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado.

DISH

DISH is one of the largest satellite providers in the US. DISH service is available almost everywhere in the country, and the company currently claims nearly fourteen million customers.

Check out available TV packages in your area: