At a Glance
Type of Service
$64.99 per month
Contour HD Receiver included; DVR up to $19.99 per month
Type of Service
$35.00–$110.00 per month
DVR included in package price
$35.00 activation fee
Data effective 07/15/2017. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
Should you choose Cox Contour or DISH as your TV service provider?
Cox’s Contour TV service offers several advantages: it’s contract-free, it’s got a great channel selection, and its internet speeds are quite good. The trade-off is higher prices, lower customer service rankings, and more limited availability. In the end, we’d recommend Cox for anyone looking to bundle both TV and internet. It would also make a good choice for someone who just can’t stand the idea of locking in with one company for two years.
DISH offers a great TV service that is available to nearly everyone in the country. On top of that, the company gets top marks for customer service, and the prices are hard to beat. Unfortunately, you’ll have to be willing to commit to a two-year contract, and the lack of DISH-provided internet service means that bundling can become complicated. We’d recommend DISH for folks who want the best deal and value loyal customer service over freedom from a contract.
Find and compare Cox Contour and DISH plans and pricing in your area:
Cable vs. Satellite
As you read through this comparison, keep in mind that the providers are using two very different technologies to deliver signals to your home. Cox uses standard coaxial cables, like most providers do. DISH, on the other hand, is a satellite service provider, so its signals are literally beamed from space to your home.
Each approach has its pros and cons, but neither is necessarily better than the other. Cable is faster and more reliable in theory, but in regular use, you won’t notice much difference. Reliability really only becomes a concern with satellite during very heavy precipitation, and the speed issue of satellite is mainly one you would see when comparing internet services. Since DISH doesn’t offer satellite internet anymore, that’s a moot point.
In our opinion, the service should be chosen based on the features it offers, rather than how it delivers those features to you. That said, be aware that satellite service does have the potential for weather interference, but unless you live in a storm-ridden area, it’s not likely to cause you much trouble.
Overall Customer Rating
(3.39 / 5)
- Simple self-installation
- Excellent online support
- Greater channel selection
- No contract required
- Voice remote
- High package prices
- Lower customer satisfaction ratings
- Limited availability
Installation & Setup
Cox Contour(3.53 / 5)
Cox scores reasonably well for installation and setup, but the fee certainly drags the experience down. At $75, it’s one of the larger installation fees you’ll find, and that’s just the starting price. That said, if you prefer to handle things yourself or want to save a little money, the self-installation instructions are clear and simple enough that nearly anyone should be able to follow them successfully.
DISH(3.72 / 5)
In our customer satisfaction survey, DISH comes in second (behind Verizon). Part of the reason is probably because the installation is free, which is a major plus. There is no self-installation kit with DISH, but that’s forgivable in this case since installation involves mounting a satellite dish.
Cox Contour Installation Fee: $75
DISH Installation Fee: None
Cox Contour(3.48 / 5)
While Cox offers a significantly larger channel selection than DISH, the company scores quite a bit lower in satisfaction, proving that channel count isn’t always the most important thing. That said, with over 380 channels to pick from, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something to watch. There is also a large on-demand library if you’re looking for something specific.
(3.56 / 5)
While DISH’s total channel count is lower than many competitors, it consistently scores very high in customer satisfaction in this category. DISH has easy-to-understand package tiers as well as a flexible option that’s appropriately named the FLEX PACK. This package lets you start with basic channels and add only the additional ones you want to build a customized package that’s just right for you.
Cox Contour(3.88 / 5)
Cox actually rose big time in this category this year, from ninth place to second. As a result, we called the provider out as our most improved for signal reliability. Cox actually ranked above fiber companies like AT&T in this category, despite using old-school coaxial cables to deliver signals. Overall, customers can expect a solid, steady signal from Cox, with only very heavy congestion at peak times causing potential issues.
DISH(3.66 / 5)
DISH actually dropped a spot this year in reliability, from seventh to eighth—right in the middle of the pack. Satellite signals are less reliable than cable by nature, but in day-to-day use, we doubt you’ll notice a difference. It’s mostly only during bad weather that satellite can be susceptible to interference.
Cox Contour Type of Service: Cable
DISH Type of Service: Satellite
Cox Contour(2.55 / 5)
TV providers have developed a reputation for charging too much and loading bills down with unnecessary fees, and Cox lives up to that rep, with big installation and equipment fees and comparatively high monthly prices. It’s not all bad news, though. Because there is no contract with Cox, you don’t have to worry about early termination fees if you decide to change providers. This is a big benefit and might be worth paying more for some people.
DISH(3.10 / 5)
DISH offers very competitive pricing. In fact, DISH is the competition—the company has ranked number one in customer satisfaction for billing and pricing for the last three years. Not only are the package prices low but there is also no installation fee; the equipment fees are low; and the price is guaranteed for two years, which is probably the only upside of being locked in to a contract.
Cox Contour Price: $64.99 per month
DISH Price: $49.99–$79.99 per month
Tech Support & Customer Service
Cox Contour(3.50 / 5)
Cox provides a solid support site with a variety of guides and how-to articles. It ties for fourth place in our rankings in customer service. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), on the other hand, ranks it ninth.
DISH(3.59 / 5)
DISH is generally known for great customer service. The company took first place in our customer service category this year, while the ACSI ranks it fourth. DISH provides customers with 24/7 live support via phone, email, or the web—perfect for those late-night emergencies when you can’t sleep and the TV isn’t working.
Like many cable TV providers, Cox also offers internet service, either separately or as a bundle with TV and phone. Cox’s internet is pretty average for cable service—speeds range from 5 Mbps to 300 Mbps, depending on what packages are available in your area. While 5 Mbps isn’t anything to write home about, 300 Mbps is quite fast and is definitely more than enough for the majority of families.
The company is also rolling out a Gigabit service called Gigablast in select markets. There doesn’t appear to be any published map of coverage areas, but there is a tool to check availability via your address.
Pricing for internet-only plans ranges from $29.99 to $79.99 per month. Bundle pricing runs from $89.99 to $129.99.
DISH does not offer satellite internet service. Instead, the company partners with various internet and phone providers to provide bundle options. The specific partners available will depend on where you live. One of the major partners, Frontier, has internet speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 500 Mbps and prices ranging from $40 per month all the way up to a whopping $294.99 per month.
Like Cox, DISH offers a simple address tool to check bundle availability.
More About the Providers
Cox Communications is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises that provides TV, internet, telephone, and home automation services to over six million customers across America. It is currently the third-largest cable provider in the country.
DISH was founded in 1980 under the EchoStar name and has gone on to become one of the top providers of satellite TV in America. DISH is available nearly everywhere in the country and currently serves almost fourteen million customers.
*Pricing and speeds are current as of writing. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.