Made up of brands Wave, RCN, Grande, and enTouch, Astound offers internet-based entertainment that uses TiVo, Sling TV, and the Google Play store. Fabulous first-year pricing includes internet, but if you want premium perks or a provider you can grow old with, swipe left on this one.
Optimum offers exceptional value. You get tons of channels, a solid DVR, and a good selection of sports and premium channels for a very reasonable price. Despite some additional fees, Optimum is an excellent choice.
Although Astound doesn’t have the massive channel counts that some providers have, the channels it does have will scratch just about any itch. However, if you want Spanish-language channels or comprehensive sports coverage, it might not be the provider for you.
Astound has most of the channels you need to stay up-to-date on local events, including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS, Comet, and The CW. But you won’t find Cozi or any Spanish-language local channels.
Unlike many competitors, Astound’s lowest-tier plan (Basic) includes Fox Sports. Its mid-level plan (Signature) is pretty standard and includes sports like ESPN 1 and 2, Fox Sports, TNT, TBS, and USA. You’ll also get NBA TV and Motor Trend, which are less common. But you’ll miss out on the Golf Channel, and because Astound doesn’t provide Spanish-language channels, its international soccer coverage isn’t ideal.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Astound has solid family-friendly channels, especially ones with educational content like Animal Planet, History Channel, Discovery, and National Geographic. But you won’t get Nat Geo Wild, the Science Channel, or the Smithsonian Channel. You’ll get some decent cartoons with Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, but your littlest ones will miss out on Nick Jr. and Disney Junior.
News and politics: 3/5
Astound provides plenty of coverage for most people. You’ll get lots of local news of course, along with national channels like CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, HLN, and C-SPAN. You’ll even get a bit of international perspective with BBC America. But you won’t get Newsmax, The Weather Channel, or any Spanish-language news.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3.5/5
Astound has a wide variety of entertainment channels. Exercise your funny bone with both Comedy Central and Laff, or watch a serious cowboy movie on INSP. Learn some home improvement skills with HGTV and TLC, or leave home behind while watching the Travel Channel. Create culinary masterpieces with the Food Network and Cooking channels, or fill up on celebrity gossip with E!. You’ll also get all three Hallmark channels, Bravo, Paramount, and IFC.
Optimum offers a great selection of channels, and pricing at each of its tiers is reasonable. If you’re part of a big family with diverse TV tastes, Optimum is easy to recommend.
Optimum offers a fantastic selection of local channels in each of its four package tiers. You get access to the four basic broadcast channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX) plus Univision and Telemundo. That means local news and sports, big national games like the Super Bowl, and primetime favorites.
Not only does Optimum offer a ton of great channels for sports, you can get most of it at either the Basic TV or Core TV packages. In addition to wrestling on USA Network and all that ESPN has to offer, you get TNT, Fox Sports 1, MLB Network, and NBA TV. NFL Network is available on the highest tier, and you can get NFL RedZone as an add-on. Sports aficionados should opt for at least the Select TV plan to get the best selection.
If Optimum's offerings aren't quite right, you're in luck! A lot of games and matches are now available via streaming or over the air. Find out how to watch the MLB, how to watch pro football, and how to watch the NHL.
Family and education: 5/5
Optimum TV truly offers something for everyone, and that includes all kinds of shows for kids and channels focused on education. You can get PBS, Disney, and Nickelodeon at the Core TV price. If you bump up to the next tier, you can get History, Discovery, NationL Geographic, Travel, Animal Planet, and more. There’s no Family Entertainment TV (FETV) or Me TV, but we aren’t too mad about it.
News and politics: 5/5
Optimum TV keeps hitting homers when it comes to news. You get a selection of US political news from both sides of the aisle plus international news, Spanish-language news, business news, and even sports news.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 4.5/5
When it comes to watching great movies, reality TV, and home improvement shows, Optimum TV has you covered. At the highest tier, you get a selection of premium channels including Reelz, HBO, and SHOWTIME, plus both Hallmark and Lifetime. A number of the top 100 channels in the US are missing, including Game Show Network, Grit, INSP and Ion Mystery, but all the most popular content is easy to find. (1)
Astound’s base plans are pretty standard compared to competitors, and initial costs are low. However, if you start adding custom channels, costs quickly add up. Plus, after a year-long honeymoon with great introductory rates, Astound turns up the heat and quickly drains your bank account. Although Astound leans on Sling TV to deliver its live TV channels, it offers a better experience and more channels than just Sling alone.
Astound sells its TV and internet plans together. First, you’ll pick your internet plan, then you can add a TV plan. Whichever TV plan you choose, you’ll stream all your shows over your Astound internet connection, so getting the right internet plan is critical. If you’re a small household that doesn’t stream a ton of HD content, a 110 Mbps internet plan could be plenty. But if you want to take full advantage of Astound’s 4k streaming capabilities, we recommend at least the 400 Mbps plan.
Optimum TV offers excellent value, whether you live in an area that gets only cable internet or one wired for fiber-to-the-home. Internet-based TV packages are available for as little as $35 per month (for basic TV), while the higher-tier plans offer high channel counts for the price. There are as many as 420+ channels available—one of the highest channel counts of any provider.
The internet service is also a fantastic value, offering faster speeds for the money than many competitors. It’s worth noting that an internet plan is required, though, at a minimum price of $40 per month. There’s also a few hidden fees, but they’re lower than what we’ve seen from other cable providers.
There's a 2-year price lock on most plans, which is great! Prices go up in the third year of TV service, though, and the company doesn't say by how much. We've heard customers complain about price hikes in the range of $85–$115, though, and that's just for TV. Since you also need internet, your price could balloon by $200 per month by year three.
You may be able to save on your bill by calling in and threatening to switch to a competitor, so we recommend it!
Astound has put together a great list of equipment and features that allow you to easily find and watch or record your shows with relative ease. That said, we'd love to see more DVR storage included in Astound plans.
Ability to watch: Great
Getting your first TV set up with a Stream 4k box is free, and additional boxes cost just a few dollars per month. You'll also need an Astound Wi-Fi router, but you'll need that for your Astound internet service anyway. Astound uses the Sling app to deliver your streaming experience. The interface can be confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it's a decent experience.
Ability to record: Good
If you ever want to leave your couch (like, say, to run out and get more popcorn), you can use the Astound TV+ app to watch shows in line at the quickie mart, tap into a respectable 125 included hours of Cloud DVR storage, or schedule a future recording. Register up to 12 devices, and watch on up to five at a time.
Ability to find: Great
Astound leans on TiVo’s Stream 4k device to combine the capabilities of a DVR, live TV (via Sling), and streaming services (via Android apps). If that sounds like a lot of stuff to try to sort through while your popcorn gets cold, you can use the voice button on the remote to tell your TiVo what you’re looking for—or ask it to give you a few curated options.
Optimum TV is a nice option for channel surfing, watching on-demand, and catching episodes or games you might have missed (whether on a TV set or on your phone or laptop). However, its costly DVR storage may not be worth the money.
Ability to watch: Great
Whether you go with the Optimum cable box, buy an Apple TV from the company, or use your own Apple TV, we think you’ll enjoy watching Optimum TV. Optimum gives you Wi-Fi equipment and the first set-top box for free, but you'll be charged an additional $10 per month for each additional TV box. However, it’s easy to get out of those fees using the sweet Optimum TV mobile app, so that’s what we recommend for most households.
Ability to record: Good
Optimum’s Cloud DVR system offers up to 150 hours of storage for your favorite shows and movies, and you can record up to 15 shows at the same time—perfect for large families or households with lots of roommates. The system comes with all the modern features we expect from a DVR: voice control, an Apple TV app, support for streaming services, and more.
You can also access your DVR and on-demand content from your iPhone, iPad, or Android device with the provider’s app. Our only gripe is that the DVR storage is costly—more than $20 per month for the full 150 hours, in addition to the fee for renting the box. You'll also be charged a DVR service fee for every set-top box you rent, but you can skip the DVR altogether if you want and there’s no charge.
Ability to find: Great
Optimum TV offers thousands of shows and hundreds of channels, and they’re pretty easy to find using the app, the company’s cable box, or an Apple TV. Both the cable box and Apple TV have voice search functionality, and you can enter in credentials for other streaming services like Netflix on either. With the cable box, you can even pause and restart live TV.
Most customers report an overall positive experience, but Astound’s large price hikes are understandably unpopular. The good news is, you won’t have to sign a contract, so if increasing prices are getting you down, you can jump ship anytime.
Astound has a free self-setup option and often runs promotions for free professional installation (otherwise around $80). If your house already has working coax outlets, you’ll probably get off scot-free with no installation costs.
Most Optimum TV customers are happy with the service and self-installation is free if you order online. If you need a pro to come help (and you order online), the charge is $60. If you call in to order, self-install is free, the standard installation costs about $100, and premium installation costs about $150.