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DISH vs. Optimum Television plan comparison


Rebecca Palmer smiles for the camera
Headshot of Dave Schafer
Researched by
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor
Updated 3/3/23

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DISH
Staff rating
4.0
Customer rating
3.9
(49)

  • Plans starting at $56.99
  • 330+ channels
Optimum brand
Staff rating
4.1
Customer rating
3.7
(22)

  • Plans starting at $15.00
  • 420+ channels
DISH
Staff rating
4.0

DISH offers affordable satellite TV with a top-shelf DVR

DISH offers a sweet three-year price guarantee and one of the best DVRs available, but picture quality is unreliable, and you’ll miss out on regional sports networks.


What we like

  • Industry-leading DVR
  • Three-year price guarantee
  • 24/7 technical support
What we dislike

  • No regional sports networks (RSNs)
  • Higher rates for add-ons
  • Hefty early cancellation costs
Optimum brand
Staff rating
4.1

Huge value for internet-based TV

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.


What we like

  • No contracts
  • High channel count
  • Excellent value
What we dislike

  • Some areas can't get fiber internet
  • High fees
  • Second-year price hikes
DISH
Value
3.5
Upfront pricing, but fewer channels and occasional picture problems

DISH stands out in the satellite TV space for its straightforward billing and three-year price guarantee for new customers. The basic package starts at about the same price as DIRECTV’s lowest-tier package, but premium packages cost a lot less. You’ll pay a little less for cable TV compared to DISH in many parts of the country, but things like competition between carriers and available technologies lead to big geographic differences.

DISH has a lot to offer casual viewers, but you won’t have access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET or any 24/7 channels in 4K resolution like you would with DIRECTV. There might be occasional problems with the picture quality for live sports, but those issues are rare for movies and most TV shows. Compared to cable TV, DISH usually offers better picture quality and many more channels.

While DISH is a lot more straightforward than DIRECTV, there are a few fees that can sneak up on you, including a local broadcast fee. You can get out of that fee by finding another way to watch local channels, but be sure to read your bill carefully each month.

Optimum brand
Value
4.5
Optimum TV offers a lot for the money

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-basedTV packages are available for as little as $30 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.

All those channels aren’t just for show, either. The lineup includes all the most popular networks, including CBS, NBC, ESPN, HGTV, Univision, and History. Finally, the internet service is also a fantastic value, offering faster speeds for the money than many competitors.

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!

DISH
Features
4.5
Industry-leading DVR, voice remote, and streaming options away from home

DISH Hopper DVRs are fantastic, and they easily outshine the competition. The Hopper 2 is the standard model and comes with voice control, a Netflix app, and internal Wi-Fi. The Hopper Plus, released in 2022, is an add-on streaming box that lets you add thousands of streaming apps. With DIRECTV’s set top box, you miss out on the apps.

If you upgrade to the Hopper 3 or Hopper Plus with DISH, you’ll pay about $5 more each month. But you get a whole lot for the money. The super-powered DVRs can record up to 16 shows or games at once and save 500 hours of HD recordings. Plus, they're 4K-enabled and beam your DVR content straight to your smartphone or additional set-top boxes around the house so you can watch from anywhere. It also comes with more streaming apps than the basic version, plus built-in Bluetooth so you can watch with earbuds.

The Hopper 3 and Hopper Plus at extraordinarily powerful, but you won’t be able to use all the extra features if you don’t have high-speed internet. If you do, and you want to catch a metric ton of games and shows on your schedule, we think the extra monthly cost is worth it.

Optimum brand
Features
4.0
A solid DVR, but fees for storage

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.

DISH
Equipment and installation
4.0
DISH antenna and DVR installation included for most buyers

DISH covers satellite antenna installation and DVR setup for what it calls “credit-qualified customers,” meaning customers who sign up for a two-year contract. Some competing cable companies charge closer to $100 for installation, so it’s nice to see both top satellite providers—DISH and DIRECTV—cover the initial setup.

Your standard monthly package price with DISH includes rental of one Hopper Duo DVR, but you’ll pay extra to add a wireless Joey receiver for other TVs or to upgrade to the Hopper 3. You will also pay extra for DISH Outdoors, a portable satellite antenna and receiver system you can mount on your truck or RV. If you already have DISH at home, the Outdoors setup doesn’t cost much more, making it a great option for camping or tailgate parties.

If you want to skip the Hoppers and Joeys altogether, you’ll need the Wally receiver and your own hard drive for recording shows. DIY DVR with DISH isn’t worth the hassle for most folks, but it is an option if you're tech-savvy and already own the equipment.

There’s also an option for people who don’t want the contract: Flex TV. You have to buy your DVR outright and pay for the installation out-of-pocket, but you can skip the credit check and pay for TV month to month.

Optimum brand
Equipment and installation
4.0
Premium installation with a premium price

Optimum gives you the first set-top box for free, but you'll be charged an additional $10 per month each if you want to upgrade to an Apple TV or lease additional boxes. The equipment itself is more-or-less on par with other providers and should serve most users just fine.

Installation is a little complicated to explain, although the actual appointment should be simple enough. There are two cost structures for installation: one for customers who order online, and one for those who don’t.

If you order online, standard professional installation is free, or you can pay around $60 for a premium installation service if you want the technician to help set up your devices and walk you through using the service. If you don’t order online, these standard installation costs about $100 and premium installation costs about $150. You can also get an Optimum self-installation kit, which is a nice option if your home is already wired for service.

DISH
Sports and premium channels
4.0
Fewer games and less 4K, but much better prices

DISH can’t compete with DIRECTV’s exclusive access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET and its growing list of options in 4K resolution. There are no regional sports networks, either. But you’ll pay a lot less for DISH (in both English and Spanish) and still get access to a wide variety of pro and college sports. The lowest-tier package includes five different ESPN channels and FOX Sports 1 HD, and you can add the Multi-Sport Pack plus your regional sports channel for about $25 per month. To catch the best pro basketball, hockey, and soccer games, you’ll need to upgrade to the second-tier package.

Where DISH lacks in NFL coverage and 4K sports, it shines in entertainment. A huge list of movies and shows is available at all pricing levels, and you can add even more by going up a tier. You can also add channels like Encore and EPIX for a monthly fee. Other add-ons cost a dollar or two more than they do with the competition, but you’ll still pay less overall. DISH wins points for having a user-friendly, sortable channel guide on its website, making it easy to choose the right package for your needs.

Optimum brand
Sports and premium channels
4.0
A good selection of add-ons

Optimum offers all the expected premium channels, with the exception of EPIX, and prices are about average. Some packages also include premium channels in the price: the Premier package, for example, includes HBO Max, SHOWTIME, and STARZ.

Optimum also offers a Sports Pack, which includes more than 20 popular channels for $15 per month. You get NFL Network, NFL RedZone, NBA TV, the Golf Channel, and more. The higher-tier packages also include a number of channels by default—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.

Endnotes and sources
Endnotes and sources
DISH
3.8
(49)
5 Star
39%
4 Star
29%
3 Star
20%
2 Star
6%
1 Star
6%
R
Richardfrom Putnam County, TN
DISH Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 8/6/2022
We have had no issues with Dish. I personally don't watch TV, It's for my wife who does watch it once in a while.
R
Raymondfrom Fremont, OH
DISH Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 7/14/2022
Dish has a good variety of channels and shows with some good on demand choices. The price is kind of high and ro bad they can't control the system due to weather and is never out long enough for a reduction for disruption of service
R
Ralphfrom Decatur, IL
DISH Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 7/10/2022
Include more sports channels in each package and better service during storms.
P
Paul from Gaines, MI
DISH Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 7/5/2022
its a great service to use and I enjoy it
Optimum
3.6
(22)
5 Star
27%
4 Star
32%
3 Star
27%
2 Star
9%
1 Star
5%
E
Edwardfrom Manalapan , NJ
Optimum Customer for 4+ years
Reviewed on: 8/15/2022
Service is good but we lost channels in the last change of offers
J
Joann from Fairfield , CT
Optimum Customer for 8+ years
Reviewed on: 7/14/2022
Too expensive. Difficult to contact by phone
D
David from Hackensack, NJ
Optimum Customer for Less than a year
Reviewed on: 7/2/2022
My optimum bill is included in the rent.I use it mostly for the wifi. I like to use the Amazon firestick as it offers first run movies.i don't think that there is any way to improve on that.
K
Katfrom Bronx, NY
Optimum Customer for 1+ years
Reviewed on: 6/29/2022
It's just ok
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