Spectrum vs. DISH
After research and testing both Spectrum and DISH TV services, our TV experts say DISH is superior.
Price: $59.99/mo. for 12 mos.*
DVR: 500 hrs.
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, although you’ll have to go to a different provider if you want to add an internet plan. 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
✓ No contract
✓ Bundles with high-speed internet
✗ Lower channel counts
✗ Confusing DVR
✗ Limited availability
✓ 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
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.
Packages and pricing
Spectrum packages and pricing
|Spectrum TV Select Signature||From $59.99/mo. for 12 mos.||150+||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 Signature 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.
DISH packages and pricing
|Package||Price||Channel count||DVR||Popular channels||Details|
|Flex Pack||$62.99/mo.*||50+||500 hrs.||AMC, CNN, and more||View plan|
|America's Top 120||$92.99/mo.||190||500 hrs.||Disney Channel, ESPN, and more||View plan|
|America's Top 120+||$97.99/mo.**||190+||500 hrs.||ESPN U, SEC Network, and more||View plan|
America's Top 200
|$107.99/mo.||240+||500 hrs.||Disney Junior, Hallmark Channel, and more||View plan|
|America's Top 250||$117.99/mo.||290+||500 hrs.||Nicktoons, STARZ® ENCORE, and more||View plan|
|America’s Everything Pack||$142.99/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.
** All offers require credit qualification, 2-year commitment with early termination fee and eAutoPay. Prices include Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
DISH offers packages at very reasonable prices. Even the top-tier package, America’s Top 250™, costs you only $117.99 per month and gets you 290+ channels.
As for the best deal, we like America’s Top 200™, which offers 240+ channels for $107.99 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 Max™ and SHOWTIME®. For the most part, we’d say you get your money’s worth with DISH.
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.
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.
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.
*Spectrum TV Select Signature: Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter. Spectrum TV Select Signature promotion price is $59.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr 1. Taxes, fees, and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $23.20/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service and location. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability.
Spectrum vs. DISH FAQ
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.