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Spectrum vs. DISH

After research and testing both Spectrum and DISH TV services, our TV experts say DISH is superior.

Cheapest

Spectrum

Price: $59.99/mo. for 12 mos.*

Channels: 125+

DVR: Varies

Editor's choice

DISH

Price: $79.99–$109.99/mo.

Channels: 190–290+

DVR: 500 hrs.

Date as of post date. Offers and availablilty may vary and are subject to change.
* for 12 mos.

Spectrum TV® offers cable TV, internet, and home phone service to various regions in the US. DISH covers 99% of the US with satellite TV service, and bundles with Frontier internet and phone services in some areas. Each provider has its individual charms, which we’ll explain in this article. But for now, if you want a quick and easy recommendation:

If TV is your top priority and you’re not interested in bundling, DISH is a great pick. If you just want a stellar channel lineup for a great price—and the freedom to leave whenever you want—go with Spectrum.

Spectrum vs. DISH pros and cons

Spectrum

No contract
Bundles with high-speed internet
Lower channel counts
Confusing DVR
Limited availability

DISH

3-year price guarantee
DISH Hopper 3 DVR
Best provider for families/excellent parental controls
Wide availability
DVR fees
2-year contract

Compare Spectrum and DISH head-to-head

Price Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
Spectrum TV $59.99/mo. for 12 mos. 125+ Varies Unlimited View plans
DISH $79.99–$109.99/mo. for 36 mos. 190–290+ 500 hrs. 16 View plans

Date as of post date. Offers and availablilty may vary and are subject to change.

Spectrum TV® has fewer channels than many other providers, but still includes nearly all of the most popular channels, and they’re all in HD for no extra cost. And, even better, Spectrum also offers high-speed internet and home phone service, has no contracts. and, if you’re switching providers, Spectrum will pay up to $500 to get you out of your contract. Unfortunately, Spectrum’s service area is limited and its DVR options are confusing.

DISH has far wider availability (you can get it almost anywhere), more channels, and the powerful Hopper 3 DVR. But the packages are more expensive, with fewer included premiums than Spectrum, and you’ll have to sign a two-year contract. Fortunately, DISH guarantees your price won’t change for three years, and it’s ultimately a solid value.

Find out if you can get Spectrum or DISH TV service in your area

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Spectrum and DISH deals and promotions

Both Spectrum and DISH offer plenty of deals for new customers. Check out our Spectrum deals and DISH deals pages for the latest deals, or head over to our monthly updated TV deals page for the best deals from all TV providers.

Packages and pricing

Spectrum packages and pricing

Price Channels DVR Popular channels Details
Spectrum TV Select From $59.99/mo. for 12 mos. 125+ Varies AMC, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, and more View plan

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

Spectrum’s prices are a bit lower than DISH’s, although it comes with a lower channel count. But there’s no contract to sign, and therefore no early termination fee to worry about if you decide to jump ship.

If you’re worried about the slim look of Spectrum’s TV Select plan, don’t worry—you can bulk that baby up with à la carte premium channels and entertainment or sports packages at a reasonable price. We like the customizability this option offers.

View Spectrum TV plans

DISH packages and pricing

Package Price Channel count DVR Popular channels Details
Flex Pack $57.99/mo.* 50+ 500 hrs. AMC, CNN, and more View plan
America's Top 120 $79.99/mo. 190 500 hrs. Disney Channel, ESPN, and more View plan
America's Top 120+ $94.99/mo. 190+ 500 hrs. NFL Network, Pac-12 Network, and more View plan
America's Top 200
Best package
$99.99/mo. 240+ 500 hrs. Disney Junior, Hallmark Channel, and more View plan
America's Top 250 $109.99/mo. 290+ 500 hrs. Nicktoons, STARZ® ENCORE, and more View plan
America’s Everything Pack $137.99/mo. 290+ (incl. premiums) 500 hrs. SHOWTIME, FLIX, STARZ, and THE MOVIE CHANNEL View plan

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas. See full disclaimer regarding pricing and features for more information.
* Flex Pack and America’s Everything Pack are for existing customers only.

DISH offers packages at very reasonable prices. Even the top-tier package, America’s Top 250™, costs you only $109.99 per month and gets you 290+ channels.

As for the best deal, we like America’s Top 200™, which offers 240+ channels for $99.99 per month. It strikes the best balance between affordability and channel count.

DISH does better than Spectrum in the channel selection department, with over 290 to choose from. There aren’t any major channels missing from the DISH channel lineup either, which is great. DISH also offers plenty of premium channels and packages to choose from, including HBO Max™ and SHOWTIME®. For the most part, we’d say you get your money’s worth with DISH.

View DISH plans

Equipment

Spectrum TV DVR

  • DVR type: cloud
  • Storage: Varies (based on the number of programs, not hours)
  • Simultaneous Recordings: Unlimited
  • Price: $4.99–$9.99 per month
  • Additional Features: Manage DVR recordings and watch anywhere with mobile apps

DISH Hopper 3

  • DVR type: physical
  • Storage: 500 hours (HD)
  • Simultaneous Recordings: 16
  • Price: $10.00 per month
  • Additional Features: Built-in Netflix app, 4K Ultra HD support, Amazon Alexa compatibility

Check out our review of the DISH Hopper 3 for a complete overview of this awesome DVR.

Heads up here—Spectrum’s DVR is really bare-bones. It might get the job done if you’re a light user, but anyone who watches more than a few hours of TV a week is probably going to get frustrated with it.

Fortunately, you can bring your own DVR to use with Spectrum service. We recommend the TiVo DVR, but there are others out there. Check out our list of the best DVRs on the market for some ideas.

Mobile Viewing Apps

Mobile apps are an important part of the TV experience these days, and DISH really takes that to heart. While both apps get the job done, and Spectrum’s offering includes a handy remote-control feature, the DISH mobile app provides a nicer experience for the user. (Just look at the difference in ratings!) The interface is clean and the essential features are all there. If mobile viewing is important to you, you may want to give DISH a good look.

Final take

Choose Spectrum for the affordable packages with free premium channels and HD, the freedom of no-contract plans, and bundles with TV, internet, and home phone service.

Choose DISH for wide availability, affordable TV-only packages with a three-year price guarantee, and a great DVR.

Compare available TV packages in your area:

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Spectrum vs. DISH FAQ

Does Spectrum use a satellite dish?

No, Spectrum is a cable TV service and doesn’t require the use of a satellite dish.

Is Spectrum a satellite or cable TV provider?

Spectrum is a cable TV service that reaches your house via an actual coaxial cable that runs from your wall to your TV or Spectrum receiver (cable box), as well as your modem.

Is DISH cheaper than cable?

DISH offers packages that are comparable to cable TV packages. The DISH options tend to be a little heavier on the channel count, so if you prefer a satellite dish adorning your residence, you could get a little more bang for your buck.

How much is Spectrum TV and internet service?

Spectrum offers different TV and internet (and TV, internet, and phone) bundles starting from $109.98 a month.

Is Spectrum better than DISH Network?

There are pros and cons to the services offered by both providers. In the end, it comes down to choosing the one that best meets your needs. If you’re looking for a short-term commitment, Spectrum—unlike DISH—doesn’t require a service contract. It also allows you to bundle your TV with the internet or phone.

DISH, on the other hand, is a TV fan’s dream, offering packages that feature more than 290 channels.

Methodology

Our TV experts routinely research and test TV providers like Spectrum and DISH, logging hunders of hours along the way. We compare each service based on plans, pricing, equipment, features, and functionality, then pass our findings on to our readers to help inform their search for TV service. For more on how we do things, see our How We Rank page.

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