Spectrum vs. DISH
At a Glance
Data effective 03/14/18. Pricing subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
Is Spectrum or DISH the best TV provider for you?
Choose Spectrum for affordable bundles and no contracts.
Spectrum’s strengths really shine when you bundle TV with internet or phone. The TV-only prices are a little high for what you get, but when you add fast internet and phone service for around just $20.00 more per month, the deal gets sweeter. There’s also no service contract, which makes Spectrum great for people looking for a flexible bundle. Spectrum will pay up to $500.00 in early termination fees to get you to switch providers, so if you’re tired of your current provider, check out Spectrum’s plans.
Choose DISH for wide availability, affordable TV-only packages, and a great DVR.
DISH offers a lot of TV for what you pay. Prices are on the market. The other big advantage of DISH is that it’s available basically anywhere in the US—as long as you’ve got a clear view of the sky and a spot to mount a dish, you can get DISH TV service. If TV is your top priority and you’re not interested in bundling, DISH is a great pick.
Installation & Setup
Although Spectrum saw a solid increase in its satisfaction scores from last year, this year it was outpaced by nearly every other provider, which landed it at the bottom of the list. But don’t let the low score scare you too much. Spectrum installation is mostly a smooth process, and the fact that Spectrum offers one of the lowest professional installation fees in the business should help calm your nerves.
DISH provides professional installation at no additional charge, and the company has a reputation for a clean installation process. There’s a guaranteed seventy-five-minute window for service appointments, which is a welcome change from the usual window of several hours. And you’ll be glad to have the help—installing a satellite dish on your roof is something you should not attempt on your own.
Spectrum Installation Fee: $34.99
DISH Installation Fee: Included in package price
When it comes to channels, Spectrum covers the basics and not much else. The channel count of 200 is lower than pretty much any other provider out there these days. The notable omission of Adult Swim from the channel lineup is also likely to be a sticking point for Rick and Morty fans. You can get HBO®, Cinemax®, and other premium channels to make up for it, though. Spectrum also has a large library of on-demand content, if you prefer to watch on your own schedule.
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 lineup either, which is great. DISH also offers plenty of premium channels and packages to choose from, including HBO, Showtime®, and MLB Extra Innings. For the most part, we’d say you get your money’s worth with DISH, and customers seem to agree—the provider took second place in this category.
Spectrum brings up the rear for reliability scores, which is surprising considering it was in fourth place last year. What’s up? Well, the merger that created Spectrum from Charter, Time Warner, and Bright House is still in full swing, which is likely causing the hiccups we’re seeing with Spectrum in terms of customer satisfaction.
DISH advertises 99% signal reliability, which is a pretty tall order for any provider. For the most part, it delivers—though you may see some interference during particularly bad weather. Satellite services in general are more prone to weather interference than other technologies, but DISH holds its own.
Spectrum Type of Service: Cable
DISH Type of Service: Satellite
Spectrum prices are a little higher than DISH, especially considering the lower channel count. On the other hand, there’s no contract to sign, and therefore no early termination fee to worry about if you decide to jump ship. As for packages, we like the TV Silver package, with 175+ channels for $84.99 per month.
And, as we mentioned in the verdict above, Spectrum will buy out your current contract if you want to switch and can’t because of early termination fees. The provider will pay up to $500.00 in fees to get you to jump on board.
DISH offers packages at very reasonable prices. Even the top-tier package, America’s Top 250™, costs you only $89.99 per month and gets you 290+ channels.
As for the best deal, we like America’s Top 200™, which offers 240+ channels for $79.99 per month. It strikes the best balance between affordability and channel count.
Spectrum Price: $64.99–$104.99 per month
DISH Price: $59.99–$89.99 per month
Tech Support & Customer Service
We’ve commented on this before—Spectrum customer support is currently in a tight spot because of the merger. The support itself isn’t necessarily bad, but there are different sites for each of the former providers that now fall under the Spectrum name, since each still uses different equipment. This makes it just that much more difficult to get the support you need when you run into technical difficulties.
DISH has been a top performer in customer service and tech support for years. It’s the home of the Spokeslistener, after all. While it’s fallen in rankings this year, the great service continues—in fact, despite the dip in rank, the company’s score actually went up, indicating customers are happier than ever with DISH tech support. The support site is clean and easy to use, and the live chat will save you many call center–induced headaches.
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
Optimized tablet apps for iPad and Android; excellent search function
Optimized apps iPad and Android tablets; real-time sports scores
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.
More About the Providers
Spectrum is the result of a merger between Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, and Bright House Networks. With the combined subscriber base of these three powerhouses, Spectrum is now one of the largest cable providers in the nation, offering coverage across the US.
DISH is one of the biggest satellite TV providers in the US. Originally founded in 1997, DISH has now grown to serve nearly fourteen million customers, with availability nearly everywhere in the country.
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