At a Glance

Spectrum Logo

Type of Service

Cable

Type of Service

Satellite

Channel Count

200+

Channel Count

290+

Price

$64.99–$104.99 per month

Price

$59.99–$89.99 per month

Equipment Fees

$19.98 per month

Equipment Fees

$10.00 per month

Installation Fee

$34.99

Installation Fee

Included in package price

Contract

None

Contract

2 years

Customer Satisfaction

3.47/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.82/5

Data effective 03/14/18. Pricing subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

Looking for Charter, Time Warner Cable, or Bright House Networks? It’s all Spectrum now.

Throughout this review and on several Spectrum websites, you’ll see references to Charter, Time Warner Cable (TWC), and Bright House Networks. That’s because these companies comprise Spectrum now. Charter Communications bought Time Warner and Bright House a few years ago, merged them under one umbrella along with Charter, and rebranded the conglomerate as Spectrum.

They’re still working through the merger process, so you’ll occasionally see references to the old brands, but just know they are all effectively the same company now. So if you’re looking for a Charter vs. DISH or Time Warner vs. DISH comparison, you’re in the right place!

Is Spectrum or DISH the best TV provider for you?

 

The Verdict

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.

Compare available TV packages in your area:

Customer Satisfaction Ratings

To get the lowdown on customer satisfaction scores for all major TV providers, check out our 2018 TV Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Spectrum Logo

Overall Customer Rating

3.47 Stars (3.47 / 5)

Advantages

  • No required contract
  • Simple, affordable bundling options
  • Wide availability
  • Large on-demand library
  • Reliable cable technology

Disadvantages

  • Lack of DVR features
  • Low channel count
  • Still some hiccups around recent merger
  • Lower customer satisfaction scores than the competition
Dish Logo

Overall Customer Rating

3.82 Stars (3.82 / 5)

Advantages

  • Wide availability
  • Outstanding DVR
  • Affordable packages
  • 2-year price guarantee
  • Well-rounded channel lineup

Disadvantages

  • Potential weather-related interference
  • 2-year contract required
  • Requires a satellite receiver mounted to your roof
  • Complicated internet options

Installation & Setup

Spectrum

3.57 Stars (3.57 / 5)

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

4.02 Stars (4.02 / 5)

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

Channels

Spectrum

3.62 Stars (3.62 / 5)

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

3.99 Stars (3.99 / 5)

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 Channels: 200+

DISH Channels: 290+

Reliability

Spectrum

3.74 Stars (3.74 / 5)

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

3.88 Stars (3.88 / 5)

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

Monthly Bill

Spectrum

2.95 Stars (2.95 / 5)

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

3.39 Stars (3.39 / 5)

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

Spectrum

3.45 Stars (3.45 / 5)

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

3.80 Stars (3.80 / 5)

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.

Equipment

Spectrum TV DVR

  • Simultaneous Recordings: 2
  • Storage: 21 hours of HD
  • Price: $11.99 per month
  • Approximate Dimensions: Varies with model
  • Additional Features: Manage DVR recordings and watch anywhere with mobile apps

Check out our full review of the Spectrum TV DVR for more details.

DISH Hopper 3

  • Simultaneous Recordings: 16
  • Storage: 500 hours of HD
  • Price: $10.00 per month
  • Approximate Dimensions: 16″ x 11.5″ x 2″
  • 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.

Internet Service

Spectrum Internet

Spectrum internet is all about the basics. There’s just one package, with speeds up to 60 Mbps for $44.99 per month. For some, the simplicity will be a welcome change from the usual option overload providers give us. But for others, the lack of options may be frustrating.

Bundling is where Spectrum really shines. Since the options across TV and internet are so streamlined, the bundle choices are about as simple as it gets. It’s mostly a question of how many channels you need. The Silver Triple Play is a good bet—175+ channels, 60 Mbps internet, and home phone for $109.97.

DISH Internet

DISH doesn’t offer internet—instead, it partners with other providers to allow bundling internet and phone with its TV service. Right now, those partners are HughesNet and Frontier. HughesNet offers satellite internet, which is available almost anywhere in the US. That makes it a great option for people in more remote areas who might not have other options.

On the other hand, Frontier internet is either DSL or fiber, depending on your area. Frontier offers an affordable option for high-speed internet for customers that need more speed than satellite internet can provide.

Enter your zip code to see the DISH bundles available in your area.

Mobile Viewing Apps

Spectrum TV

Spectrum App Logo

DISH Anywhere

DISH Anywhere App

Manage DVR

Yes

Manage DVR

Yes

Remote-Control Function

Yes

Remote-Control Function

Yes

Additional Features

Optimized tablet apps for iPad and Android; excellent search function

Additional Features

Optimized apps iPad and Android tablets; real-time sports scores

Average Rating

iOS: 1.8/5

Android: 3.4/5

Average Rating

iOS: 3.8/5

Android: 4.1/5

Available For

iOS

Android

Available For

iOS

Android

Spectrum TV

Spectrum App Logo

Manage DVR

Yes

Remote-Control Function

Yes

Additional Features

Optimized tablet apps for iPad and Android; excellent search function

Average Rating

iOS: 1.8/5

Android: 3.4/5

Available For

iOS

Android

DISH Anywhere

DISH Anywhere App

Manage DVR

Yes

Remote-Control Function

Yes

Additional Features

Optimized apps iPad and Android tablets; real-time sports scores

Average Rating

iOS: 3.8/5

Android: 4.1/5

Available For

iOS

Android

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

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

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.

Check out plans and pricing for TV plans in your area: