We loved how much extra sports content ESPN+ served up, but we couldn’t get around pay-per-view fees or regional blackouts. ESPN+ won’t replace our other live streaming services or help us cut the cord, but it makes for a great add-on for fans.
Mediacom offers a decent value in TV, but it’s far from perfect. First, you must bundle it with internet—standalone TV isn’t available. A thin sports selection and lots of fees also hurt. That said, Mediacom internet isn’t bad, so if you’re going with that, it probably makes sense to go with Mediacom TV, too.
ESPN+ has tons of live (and replay) sports to stream, including NFL, UFC, multiple international soccer leagues, the US Open, PGA, X games, NHL, and a multitude of college sports, to name just a few. Some games even come with live stats and analysis when you watch them with the ESPN app. This service even helped us discover the rising Indian sport kabaddi, which is like watching adults on the playground at recess. It’s just delightful.
You’ll also get a metric ton of documentaries like the 30 for 30 and E60 series, which cover everything from Payton Manning’s life story to the history of boxing. There’s even an entire series following the Savannah Bananas, a team putting an entertaining spin on baseball (seriously, check out Banana Ball). An ESPN+ subscription also gives you access to multiple daily articles so you can read about last night’s game even if you missed it.
Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to get around regional sports fees or blackouts to watch your favorite local teams, ESPN+ won’t help you there. You have to share your location to watch certain games. And depending on the rules in your area, there’s a good chance you’ll still need to add your login credentials from a cable TV provider or another live TV streaming service like Fubo or Sling to catch the big game.
Mediacom offers pretty standard fare to its TV customers. It's not wonderful, but it isn't horrible either. Depending on your chosen package, you get 50+, 125+, or 170+ channels, along with internet speeds up to 1 Gbps. The channel selection is good, with popular networks available. Channel selection varies quite a bit based on where you live.
While your exact channel lineup depends on your exact address, Mediacom does a decent job of providing local channels in most of the markets it serves. You can get your standard CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX channels at the lowest package price, and often a handful of other local options like PBS and Antenna TV (but not Telemundo and Estrella). For local news, sports, and network TV in English, Mediacom is a decent option.
We don’t usually recommend Mediacom TV for households that watch a lot of sports. While you can get Fox Sports 1 and TNT plus your local channels for some pro games, the Golf Channel and NFL Networks are available only as add-ons and there’s no MLB coverage available at all. You'll need the third tier for ESPN, TUDN, and most regional sports networks.
Family and education: 3.5/5
It’s possible to get a great selection of family and educational shows from Mediacom TV, but some of the best options aren’t available in any package tier. Instead, for channels like Smithsonian, Science, Nat Geo Wild, and the Cooking Channel, you have to pay extra every month for the “Kids and Variety Digital Pak.” It’s unusual to have to pay extra for family-friendly shows that come standard with most cable TV competitors.
News and politics: 4/5
Mediacom has a lot to offer when it comes to news, but it's not available in the basic package. At the second tier, you get CNN and Fox News, but you have to bump up to the third tier for MSNBC, Newsmax, CNBC, and Fox Business. If you go with the “Sports & Information Digital Pak,” you can also catch Cheddar News, BBC News, Bloomberg, and China Global Television Network.
Entertainment and lifestyle 3.5/5
From blockbuster movies to reality TV and travel shows, Mediacom has a lot of the most popular channels available. The only caveats are that you may have to pay add-on prices for channels like HBO and Reelz, and these prices tend to be more expensive than what you would find with national cable TV competitors. The premium channels are also usually more expensive than going with streaming services from each brand name.
ESPN+ is one of the cheapest streaming apps we reviewed at just $10 per month or $100 per year. You can even bundle it with Hulu and Disney+, which helps you save more than $10 per month—making ESPN+ a sort of free add-on. You could spend just $13 for all three ($20 for commercial-free Hulu), then add an inexpensive live streaming service like fubo or YouTubeTV to cover all your bases.
Unfortunately, ESPN has a history of making it expensive to be a sports fan, and ESPN+ carries on the tradition. Since its launch in 2018, the monthly price has doubled from $5 to $10, and it comes with a ton of hidden costs that many fans don’t see coming. For starters, you won’t get any actual ESPN channels, so you’ll be disappointed if you sign up hoping to get ESPN1, 2, or 3, or other channels like ESPN U, Longhorn, SEC, or ACC. Technically, you can watch these channels from ESPN+, but you’ll still have to log in with credentials from a cable TV or other streaming provider that has these channels. Cord cutters take note: you’ll still have to pay for live TV if you want that.
Speaking of needing more credentials, you won’t get around regional sports fees or blackouts—nor will you get a discount on pay-per-view events, like numbered UFC matches. Although the ESPN+ website touts “unrivaled UFC access,” you’ll still have to cough up a whopping $75 for each pay-per-view Fight Night game on top of your ESPN+ subscription. That’s a jab to the faces of MMA fans if we ever saw one.
If you’re hoping ESPN+ will save you money on sports entertainment, you’re in for a rude awakening—especially since ESPN+ doesn’t have a free trial.
Mediacom offers reasonable value to TV customers. It’s not the most affordable TV provider and doesn’t offer the highest channel count or fastest internet speeds, but it’s also not outrageously expensive. It’s just…reasonable. The average price per channel is a little higher than most, and the company offers about two-thirds of the nation’s top 100 channels, which is a little worse than average.
It’s worth noting that Mediacom does not offer a standalone TV service. That means you have to pay for Mediacom internet if you want Mediacom TV, with plans (which go up after the first year) starting at $69 per month. There’s also a modem fee, a broadcast fee, and a regional sports fee to worry about. In our tests, the average monthly bill was about $50 more than the original quoted price.
In addition to adding exclusive content to the regular ESPN app and browser experience, ESPN+ adds some extra features like joining a fantasy league and live stats and scores for some events. But beyond that, ESPN+ doesn’t have as many features as other live streaming services—and that made it hard to use at times.
Ability to watch: Great
ESPN+ builds on the features of the regular (free) ESPN experience. So if you’ve already had the ESPN app, ESPN+ simply adds another tab for its exclusive content. The browser experience is a similar tacking-on of ESPN+ content. That meant we got all the regular ESPN features we were used to, but it was also frustrating to use compared to dedicated streaming apps.
In some formats (like our Chromecast and Samsung smart TVs), getting properly logged into the ESPN+ experience was confusing, because it wasn’t obvious which experience we were logging into: ESPN+ or regular ol’ ESPN. But after a few false starts, we got it working.
On the app, we liked that some events provided game stats and other graphics before the video when our devices were in portrait mode. It helped longtime fans get a fast glimpse of the game while multitasking, and helped the non-fans among us learn about a new sport.
Ability to record: Bad
ESPN+ lets you download some content to watch offline, but there’s no DVR capability. We were able to download some of the documentary content to watch offline, but no actual events. It was useful for calming our sports cravings on the go, but it wouldn’t satisfy us on an hours-long road trip or flight. But if we missed a live game and ESPN removed the replay, it was just gone.
Ability to find: Fine
Finding shows on ESPN+ is easier in a browser than with the app, but neither is stellar. We logged in to see the familiar ESPN website with an added ESPN+ bar at the top with all our premium content. The tabs helped us find featured content, documentaries, and live and replay events, or we could hit the Browse tab to choose a specific sport or league.
However, the Tools tab left us confused. It took us to an ad for fantasy leagues, then prompted us to sign up for ESPN+... which we clearly already had. It tried to push us into an annual subscription, and when we selected “Skip and get started,” it just took us back to the ESPN+ home screen. We were able to get onto a fantasy league using the Fantasy tab in the top (regular ESPN) navigation bar, which made the Tools tab seem completely pointless.
On the app, it got tough to find the events and shows we wanted. There’s no Live/Replay section to find currently or recently playing events. To find the kabaddi game we were looking for (a sport which is rarely in the Featured section), we had to dig around in the Browse tab for the correct league (Pro Vivo Kabaddi) to find it. There’s also no “Continue watching” section (though the browser version has it), so we had a hard time picking up where we left off. And switching between the app and the browser was annoying because ESPN+ didn’t remember our progress across platforms. It started up back at the beginning, and we’d spend several minutes trying to find our place again. Ugh.
Finally, there are no parental controls with ESPN+. While this streaming service was specific enough to quiet some of our concerns—we knew we wouldn’t log our kids in to watch cartoons and come back to find them watching a horror flick—we wanted more control over screen time and the kinds of sports content they watch. The lack of parental controls made us wary of sharing login credentials, which meant more active monitoring on our part.
Ability to share: Fine
ESPN+ doesn’t seem to be designed for sharing. It doesn’t have multiple user profiles and many events prompt you to input your location before they’ll play. The good news? ESPN+ says you get up to three simultaneous streams—but we were able to get five going at once without anyone getting kicked off. Looks like ESPN accidentally left some hidden value on the table, and we’ll take what we can get.
The everyday experience with Mediacom TV is about average compared to other TV services we review. We like the familiarity of the TiVo system, just wish it cost less every month.
Ability to watch: Great
Watching shows and games on Mediacom TV is a pretty standard experience. You can channel surf, record to DVR, and catch a lot of shows and games in HD. It’s easy to see what’s coming up next without leaving your current show, and we like how the set-top box learns what you like and changes its suggestions at different times of day. You can even use your login on different platforms with the Mediacom TV Everywhere service or watch from your mobile phone on Mediacom’s Xtream mobile app.
Ability to record: Great
Remember TiVo? Well, it lives on with Mediacom as the provider’s DVR of choice. Mediacom subscribers get a TiVo DVR box that can record up to 150 hours of HD content (or 1,000 hours of standard definition), which should be plenty for most users.
We particularly like bonus features like QuickMode, which lets you speed up live TV by 30%. It means you can easily get caught up if you start a show or game late. Monthly DVR access fees are pricey and you can’t upgrade your DVR, but once you get the DVR set up and start using it, we think you’ll be pleased with the experience.
Ability to find: Great
From the TV guide on your screen to your Xtream remote, Mediacom makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. We particularly like the voice remote, which lets you ask for a specific show, genre, or channel. It even works with your DVR library and separate streaming apps (but a few extra steps may be required). Parental controls are pretty standard and seem to work well. We only wish the mobile app were more highly rated.
The ESPN+ website is overall very usable, but we’d like to see clearer pricing right away. You have to click the tiny print for terms or scroll down to the bottom and open an accordion to find out how much a subscription costs. If you miss these clues, you’ll have to give ESPN+ your email address before you know how much the service even costs.
Getting help is easy—at least, after you scroll to the bottom of the ESPN+ website homepage again. There, you’ll find step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting tips, videos, and contact options—including a live chat option. There’s even an entire section for troubleshooting UFC PPV events—though our biggest takeaway here was to purchase an event on the app at least 30 minutes before the event, or it may not go through the Apple Store or Google Play before the event starts.
Generally, people seem to like ESPN+ customer service representatives. However, many users seem to have trouble canceling their subscriptions, especially if they purchased it through a third party like Apple or Verizon. Some went as far as freezing or canceling a credit card to make the monthly fees stop, but most customers were able to cancel in a few minutes if they used live chat to talk to a representative. As for us, we purchased our subscription through a browser directly on the ESPN+ website and could easily cancel the same way.
Installation of your new Mediacom service will cost at least $35, and there’s no option to self-install. This fee can sometimes be waived with certain promotions, and we highly recommend hunting one down or discussing it with your sales rep. There’s also a $10 activation fee that’ll show up on your first bill.
The first TiVo DVR is included in your monthly price, but you'll have to pay at least $15 per month to use it. Additional boxes cost about $9 per month. Finally, since you have to bundle with internet, you’ll be on the hook for a $14 modem fee each month, plus broadcast and sports surcharges. There’s also a standard $10 monthly fee for an eero Wi-Fi router system, but you might be able to get it free with certain promotions.
There are also contracts to worry about, and they can be for 12, 24, or 36 months. Depending on how many months left in your contract, you could be charged up to $240 if you quit early.
The upsides are that Mediacom is available where a lot of other providers aren’t, and customer service scores are about average among cable TV providers.