At a Glance

Type of Service Satellite Cable
Channel Count Up to 290+ 200+
Price $39.99–$79.99/mo. $64.99–99.99/mo.
Equipment Fees $15/mo. $11.75/mo.
Installation Fee No Yes (amount varies)
Contract 2 years None
Customer Satisfaction 3.61/5 3.28/5
Packages View DISH Plans Spectrum Cable Plans

Data effective 3/17/2016. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers are available in all areas.

 


Should you choose DISH or Spectrum Cable as your TV service provider?

 

The Verdict

Get DISH for excellent customer service, great pricing, and one of the best DVR systems in the biz. And, since we’re talking satellite, the service is available nearly everywhere in America. You will have to commit to a two-year contract, but that also comes with a locked-in price, so you won’t have to worry about unexpected bill changes. Although it’s come a long way, satellite still isn’t as fast or reliable as a cable network like Spectrum Cable. But if price and availability are important to you, DISH is a choice you’ll feel good about.

Get Spectrum Cable for a contract-free cable experience, an enormous on-demand library, and flexible package choices to meet any budget. Spectrum Cable is widely available, and cable technology is fast and reliable. The company does have a poor reputation for customer service that, despite efforts at improvement, still haunts it to this day. But if you want a cable service that can meet your budget needs without shackling you to a contract, Spectrum Cable is for you.

 


DISH

Overall Customer Rating

3.61 Stars (3.61 / 5)

 

Spectrum Cable

Overall Customer Rating

3.28 Stars (3.28 / 5)

 

Advantages

  • Wide availability
  • Competitive pricing
  • Free professional installation
  • An excellent DVR system

Advantages

  • Wide availability
  • Affordable lower-tier plans
  • No required contract
  • A large on-demand library

Disadvantages

  • Satellite signals are vulnerable to interference
  • 2-year contract required
  • Low channel count

 

Disadvantages

  • Poor reputation for customer service
  • Expensive and underwhelming DVR system
  • Low channel count

 


Installation & Setup

DISH

3.80 Stars (3.80 / 5)

DISH offers free standard professional installation, which is always a welcome perk. DISH is also known for its overall smooth setup process for new customers, ranking second to only DIRECTV in customer satisfaction. Since you’ll likely need the satellite receiver hooked up to your residence, there is no self-installation option.

Spectrum Cable

3.42 Stars (3.42 / 5)

Spectrum Cable doesn’t fare as well as DISH here. There is a fee involved, but the company’s website keeps things ambiguous by simply stating that the fee varies based on what service has been ordered. Spectrum Cable does offer a self-installation option called the Easy Connect Kit. The online instructions for this kit are thorough and easy to follow, with how-to videos and a step-by-step guide.


Channels

DISH

3.65 Stars (3.65 / 5)

DISH offers TV packages ranging from fifty to over 290 channels. While that’s not as many as some competitors, the lower-tier packages offer more channels than those of many other providers. The packages include popular and local channels, as well as over 8,000 free on-demand titles and seventy Sirius XM Music Channels. DISH also offers a Flex Pack that lets customers build their own channel package, which is something we’re seeing more of from TV providers.

Spectrum Cable

3.27 Stars (3.27 / 5)

Spectrum Cable’s offerings start at 125+ channels and go up to 200+ channels—a much smaller selection than DISH, and likely the reason for its low score in this category. You’ll still get all the expected channels—like ESPN, Discovery, Freeform, and NBC—and Spectrum Cable has one of the larger on-demand libraries, with 30,000 titles to choose from. So if you prefer on-demand to live TV, you might not be bothered by the low channel count.


Reliability

DISH

3.8 Stars (3.8 / 5)

It’s a common misconception that satellite TV is unreliable. While there is a small chance that you could see some interference during heavy rain or snow, DISH’s service is reliable overall. However, simply because of the nature of the technology, a cable or fiber service will generally be more reliable than satellite.

Spectrum Cable

3.71 Stars (3.71 / 5)

Spectrum Cable has had a reputation for poor reliability in the past, but the situation is improving. In fact, in CableTV.com’s 2016 Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey, it is noted as the most-improved provider in this category. Cable networks tend to be fairly reliable in general, so a lot of the issues that have plagued Spectrum Cable were likely due to outdated infrastructure rather than the nature of cable technology.


Monthly Bill

DISH

3.16 Stars (3.16 / 5)

Although no provider scores particularly high when it comes to its monthly bill, DISH comes out on top by a wide margin. Its packages are competitively priced, and the lack of an installation fee is a nice bonus. The packages start at $39.99 per month for the Flex Pack and run up to $79.99 per month for America’s Top 250, which actually nets you 290+ channels rather than the 250 that the name implies.

Spectrum Cable

2.65 Stars (2.65 / 5)

Spectrum Cable is a little less noteworthy in this regard, ranking near the bottom in customer satisfaction for this category. This may have more to do with a lack of transparency about fees than anything else (take the ambiguous installation fee, for example). In terms of actual prices, the top-tier package is TV Gold, which gets you 200+ channels for $99.99. And if you look at the plan from DISH, you’ll see that you actually get about the same in terms of channels and features.


Tech Support & Customer Service

DISH

3.64 Stars (3.64 / 5)

DISH has a good reputation in this area—that free professional installation goes a long way. The company also offers a unique tool called My Tech that keeps you updated on where your service technician is and what time they’re expected to arrive. That’s quite a contrast to the usual window of several hours that most providers give. As far as online support, DISH’s website can be a little tricky to navigate, but once you locate the support pages, they can be quite helpful.

 

Spectrum Cable

3.34 Stars (3.34 / 5)

Spectrum Cable does not have a good reputation in this area. However, the company has acknowledged its poor customer service track record and promised improvements. And, since Time Warner Cable’s recent merger with Charter and Bright House, things are looking up for the newly formed Spectrum Cable. Its support site is easy to find and navigate, and there is plenty of information to solve basic problems without dealing with a representative.

 


Equipment

 

DISH Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR

  • Simultaneous Recording: 12
  • Storage: 500 hours of HD
  • Approximate Dimensions: 2″ x 16″ x 11.5″
  • # of TVs per DVR: Up to 7
  • Additional Features: Allows you to skip commercials on select shows
  • See our review of the DISH Hopper 

Spectrum Cable Enhanced HD-DVR

  • Simultaneous Recording: 6
  • Storage: Up to 150 hours of HD
  • Approximate Dimensions: 2.5″ x 15″ x 11″
  • # of TVs per DVR: Up to 4
  • Additional Features: Pause, rewind, and fast-forward live TV; play recordings on any TVs connected to the network
Data effective 3/17/2016. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers are available in all areas.


Internet Service 

 

dishNET

Although DISH no longer offers dishNET, it does still partner with local ISPs to offer phone service and satellite internet bundled with TV. Because the internet signal is beamed from orbit, there is a certain amount of latency inherent to satellite internet, which might make activities like gaming less than ideal. On the plus side, it is available nearly anywhere, so it can be an attractive option if your area lacks the infrastructure necessary for more reliable internet connections.

View Bundled Plans

 

Spectrum Cable Internet

Spectrum Cable also offers internet service. The exact speeds and plans offered vary with location, but the download speeds generally are 60 Mbps. The company used to offer a 300 Mbps option in select areas, but appears to have gotten rid of that option following its merger with Charter. Internet-only plans start at $44.99 per month and bundles start at $89.97 per month.

View Bundled Plans

 


More About the Providers

 

DISH

DISH Network is a direct-broadcast satellite provider that offers TV and satellite internet services to customers in the United States. The company was founded as EchoStar in 1980 and spun off to become its own entity in 2008. The DISH name has been in use since 1997. DISH provides service to nearly fourteen million customers across the country.

Spectrum Cable

Spectrum Cable (formerly Time Warner Cable) is an American cable TV company. The company was purchased by Charter Communications in 2016. Charter rebranded Time Warner Cable (TWC) as Spectrum Cable, but it continues to operate under its old name in some areas. Prior to the purchase, TWC was the second-largest cable company in America.

 


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