Our take on DISH
2-year price guarantee
ESPN, History, AMC, and more
No HBO or NFL SUNDAY TICKET
DISH® satellite TV delivers a wide variety of entertainment, a best-in-class DVR, free installation and HD, a voice remote, and . . . (drumroll) a price guarantee for two years (which is pretty sweet, if you ask us).
But, before you sign up, bear in mind that you’ll be under contract for two years, you’ll miss a lot of Sunday football games, and you’ll need space for a satellite dish on your home or apartment.
DISH plans and pricing
|Package||Channels||Price (locked for 2 years*)*||Highlights†|
|America’s Top 120||190||$59.99/mo.||USA Network, ESPN, HGTV, MSNBC, CMT, Disney Channel, E!|
|America’s Top 120+||190+||$69.99/mo.||All America’s Top 120 plus college and regional sports|
|America’s Top 200||240+||$79.99/mo.||All America’s Top 120+ plus BBC America, Discovery Family|
|America’s Top 250||290+||$89.99/mo.||All America’s Top 200 plus 17 movie channels, beIN Sports|
*Data current as of 8/16/2019. Price for 24 months with a 2-year agreement and eAutoPay.
Price includes Hopper Duo for qualifying customers.
Additional fees required for multiple TVs.
If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, we recommend America’s Top 120, which gives you 190 channels to choose from for $59.99 per month. Sports fans will want to bump up to America’s Top 120+ for the college and regional sports, although this isn’t a complete sports package. DISH doesn’t offer NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which could be a turnoff for diehard football fans. So if sports are the main reason you’re considering DISH, we recommend you take a look at DIRECTV or a streaming TV service like PlayStation Vue or Fubo TV.
DISH’s top two plans (America’s Top 200 and America’s Top 250) give you the widest variety of channels, including more movie networks, kids channels, and sports. If your household includes a broad range of entertainment tastes, you’ll like these options.
DISH internet bundling
Are you wondering if DISH offers internet? DISH ended their satellite internet service (dishNET), which means they no longer offer internet and TV bundles.
If you’re looking for satellite internet service, we recommend Viasat or HughesNet to complement your TV programming. Viasat and HughesNet are widely available even in remote areas of the US (just make sure you have room to install two satellite dishes).
To get DISH as a new customer, you’ll sign a two-year contract for service, which is consistent with most other TV providers. If you cancel service while still under your initial 24-month contract, you will be required to pay an early termination fee of $20 per month for each month remaining on your contract. (Ouch!)
Thinking of moving?
No worries. DISH offers flexibility for snowbirds, travelers, and people who move frequently. If you move, you can easily transfer your service to your new address by contacting customer service. If you’ll be traveling for awhile, you can also put your service on hold for a few months without it affecting your contract.
Like you’ll find with other TV providers, DISH does charge additional fees that you’ll want to plan for. Installation is free, but equipment rental costs can add up if you have a lot of TVs.
- Activation fee: None
- Installation fee: None
- Cancellation fee: $5–$15 ea.
When you sign up, you can get a discounted rate by signing up for eBill and AutoPay.
DISH TV price lock
DISH offers a two-year price lock throughout your entire contract. On the other hand, DISH’s main competitor, DIRECTV, offers a low introductory price for the first year but raises them in the second year of your contract, more than doubling prices for some packages.
For example, the DIRECTV CHOICE plan (with 185+ channels) jumps from $45 a month for the first year to $105 a month for the second year. When you spread the cost of satellite TV service over a two-year contract, choosing DISH can save you $420.24 over DIRECTV brand satellite service.
DISH vs. DIRECTV prices
|DISH* America’s Top 120 (190 channels)||DIRECTV** CHOICE (185+ channels)*|
|Price for yr. 1||$59.99/mo.||$45.00/mo.|
|Price for yr. 2||$59.99/mo.||$110.00/mo.|
|Total cost for entire 2 yrs.||$1,439.76||$1,860.00|
*Data current as of 8/16/2019.Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Price for 24 months with a 2-year contract and eBill and AutoPay.
The DISH channel lineup includes up to 290+ channels, depending on the package you select. That’s more options than the channel lineup from Xfinity by Comcast (up to 240) and less than DIRECTV (up to 330). All of these providers offer you a ton of choices, any way you look at it. DISH has about every channel you can think of except for HBO, which is a surprising omission. DISH also doesn’t include NFL SUNDAY TICKET, but it does bring you the most in college sports. Here’s the scoop on the different channel packages.
Our favorite plan is America’s Top 120, thanks to its wide range of entertainment options and low price.
Channel count: 190
Channel highlights: ESPN, CMT, Disney Channel, E!, HISTORY, USA Network, Nickelodeon, HGTV, Discovery Channel, AMC, Animal Planet, and Almavision
Best for: Family entertainment on a budget
America’s Top 120 is a classic TV package with mainstream hits. It offers the best value per channel of any of the packages by not including higher-priced sports channels (although you will get ESPN). This plan gives you all the major networks, kids channels, and more.
America’s Top 120+
Channel count: 190+
Channel highlights: All channels in America’s Top 120 plus NFL Network, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and Pac-12 Network
Best for: Sports and family entertainment
America’s Top 120+ is perfect for budget-minded people who want sports coverage along with all the channels in America’s Top 120. This package gives you college and regional sports with ESPN, FOX Sports 2, Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Big Ten Network, and more, plus access to over 100 top channels and major network entertainment.
America’s Top 200
Channel count: 240+
Channel highlights: MLB Network, NBA Network, NHL Network, Golf Channel, A&E, Hallmark, Bravo, Disney XD, BBC America, DIY Network, and SundanceTV
Best for: Channel variety
America’s Top 200+ is the most popular DISH package, thanks to its robust sports lineup that includes MLB Network, NBA TV, and Golf Network. It goes beyond the basics with extra channels for the whole family that you won’t find in budget packages, like Bravo, SundanceTV, Disney XD, Hallmark Channel, DIY Network, and more.
America’s Top 250
Channel count: 290+
Channel highlights: Includes everything in previous plans plus 17 additional movie channels and extras like Bloomberg TV, Great American Country, and Smithsonian Channel
Best for: The ultimate entertainment package
Got both movie lovers and sports fans at your place? America’s Top 250 pleases everybody with an action packed lineup of sports, news, drama, reality TV, comedy, documentaries, and more. This package has the most robust movie channel lineup, including Turner Classic Movies, STARZ ENCORE, and THE MOVIE CHANNEL™.
Channel count: 30+
Channel highlights: Euronews, BBC America, France 24, and TVB Pearl
Perfect for the global connoisseur, the International Basic plan brings you a wide range of international channels and news coverage from around the world at an affordable price.
Packages/paquetes: Clásico, Plus, Dos, Max
Channel highlights: Telemundo, Univision, ESPN Deportes, History en Español, Pasiones, plus top English channels like CNN, Disney HD, and E!
DishLATINO packages deliver the most popular Spanish-language and English-language entertainment channels, including sports, movies, children’s shows, and more. Pick your package and cozy up on the couch to enjoy all your favorite shows.
If you’re wondering about whether a specific channel is listed in a package, check out the DISH channel guide for more info.
Premium add-on channels
You can customize your TV experience with add-on channel packages, which you will have to pay for per channel in most cases. If you’re interested in a specific channel or language, you can create a customized channel lineup.
Select from over 270 international channel add-ons in 28 languages, or select from special interest channels like SHOWTIME®, DOGTV, or Playboy TV. You can also add sports packages, like MLB Network for $178 per season.
DISH installation and equipment
DISH is available for installation in every ZIP code in the US. Most locations enjoy next-day installation. So if you’ve just moved to a new place, you won’t even have time to put away the boxes before your favorite shows start playing.
All DISH Network packages come with free installation for up to six TVs, which is a $199 value. Sounds great, right? Who doesn’t like free stuff? Just remember, for each additional TV you connect, you’ll be paying extra equipment rental each month. Gulp.
DISH installation process
When you sign up, you’ll give DISH your email and phone number and set an installation appointment. DISH will give you a 75-minute installation window and a reminder the day of the appointment. You can track your DISH technician’s location so you know the minute they arrive at your front door.
When your technician arrives, the credit card holder will need to be at home and let them in while they install the equipment. Your technician will assess the best place to mount the satellite dish and perform the installation. Then they’ll set up the DISH receivers and remote controllers you’ve ordered with your service.
If you rent your home or apartment or belong to a homeowners association, you may need to fill out a landlord permission form prior to having your technician install the satellite dish
You’ll get a DVR/receiver with your installation package. DISH DVRs are called Hoppers®, and they get our vote as the best performing and highest storage DVRs available anywhere.
There are two Hopper sizes to choose from, based on how many TVs you want to have connected in your home.
Hopper 3 Whole-Home HD DVR features
|Storage||Simultaneous channels||Simultaneous recording||Max # of TVs|
|2 TB (up to 500 hrs. of HD)||Up to 4 channels on 1 screen||Up to 16 shows||Up to 6 (with 5 Joeys)|
Hopper Duo DVR features
|Storage||Simultaneous channels||Simultaneous recording||Max # of TVs|
|125 hrs. of HD recording||Up to 2 channels on 1 screen||Up to 2 shows||Up to 2 (with a Joey)|
Both the Hopper and Hopper 3 are integrated with Amazon Alexa and offer Voice Control and Remote Finder. The Hopper 3 has a massive amount of storage capacity (perhaps too much for some folks), plus it enables you to automatically skip commercials with AutoHop.
With the Hopper, it’s easy to program and record your shows and watch them on your own time. You can even program your Hopper remotely from your phone with the DISH app. Just remember, with up to 500 hours of HD programming at your disposal, you may forget you recorded a show (or two).
Your DISH installation technician can connect your Hopper to the internet to give you access to advanced features like the voice remote and any of your online streaming accounts, such as Netflix, Pandora, or Sling TV.
DISH equipment fees
DISH offers free installation on up to six TVs per household, although each additional TV requires the monthly rental of a mini receiver (Joey). If you have more than two TVs, you’ll need a Hopper 3 rather than the Hopper Duo, which also incurs an additional fee. These extra rental costs can add up quickly and pack a punch if you’re on a tight budget. Our advice is to connect just one or two TVs and use the DISH TV app to watch free on other devices if you’re in other rooms.
- No additional cost for your first Hopper Duo DVR
- $5/mo. to upgrade to the Hopper 3 DVR
- $15/mo. for an extra Hopper
- $5–$10/mo. for each additional Joey (to connect multiple TVs)
- No setup fee for up to 6 TVs
DISH TV app
With the DISH Anywhere mobile app, you can enjoy DISH TV on any internet-connected device. Watch while you’re on your lunch break, waiting in line, on vacation, or during the long train ride home.
The app lets you watch live cable TV, recorded content on your DVR, or on-demand titles. It can also schedule your DVR recordings remotely and look up TV listings.
If you’re traveling somewhere without an internet connection or you want to watch offline to save data, download content to your device beforehand.
Award-winning customer satisfaction
DISH TV is the top-rated satellite TV service in the nation, as rated by J.D. Power. So if you’re ever troubleshooting a problem with your DISH, you will deal with customer service, and you’ll appreciate the fact that they’re helpful and efficient. (Hopefully they will be great for you too.)
Our verdict: DISH is a crowd pleaser.
With such a wide variety of entertainment options, we found that DISH has something binge-worthy for everyone. Our favorite features of DISH are the 2-year price lock and the top-rated DVR. If you’re trying to decide between satellite TV providers, DISH comes out on top as the most affordably priced (thanks to the 2-year price lock).
However, given the lack of HBO on DISH, we think that Succession or Westworld fans might prefer DIRECTV. If HBO isn’t a top station at your house, and you like college sports more than the NFL, DISH will fit your tastes to a tee.
- 2-year price lock
- Nationwide availability
- Intuitive DVR with lots of storage
- Free installation
- Limited sports (no NFL SUNDAY TICKET)
- No TV/internet bundle options
- No HBO
We recommend DISH satellite TV to people who want a wide variety of entertainment options for an affordable price. And if you want to go beyond the basics, there are loads of extra channels you can pile on. In fact, it has all the premium channels you could hope for—except for HBO.
Ready to watch? Take a look at DISH TV’s channel packages to find the best package for you.
*Data current as of 8/17/19. Pricing and availability vary by location.