Satellite TV Report: Evaluating the DISH Network Packages

A comparison of their leading consumer plans and programming options

Choosing the right programming plan usually comes down to a balance between budget and entertainment needs. If you're interested in DISH, you'll find they offer a wide variety of plans but other than the total number of channels, it's not always an easy comparison. So, which to choose? In this report, we'll profile DISH's most popular packages along with their key features and advantages.

For starters, we like to analyze satellite TV plans based on 3 categories:
1) TrueCost: the actual monthly cost (all fees included) you'll pay during the promotional period and thereafter
2) Channel Value: our subjective, relative score of ALL the channels found in a particular plan
3) Bonus-added: if there's a significant sign-up bonus currently available for a plan, we'll give it a rankings boost

In the table below, we'll cover each of those three categories as well as the pros and cons of DISH's most popular plans (keep in mind price, channels and promos change frequently throughout the year, so check back often for the latest):

DISH Plan Comparison

Category
Flex Pack
America's Top 120+
America's Top 200
America's Top 250
Everything Pak
TrueCost
(promo lasts 1 yr)
not eligible
Promo: $39.99/mo
Regular: $69.99/mo
Promo: $44.99/mo
Regular: $79.99/mo
Promo: $49.99/mo
Regular: $89.99/mo
Promo: $99.99/mo
Regular: $131.99/mo
TrueCost
(2-yr lock plans)
1st yr: $29.99 - $95.99/mo
2nd yr: $29.99 - $95.99/mo
1st yr: $54.99/mo
2nd yr: $54.99/mo
1st yr: $64.99/mo
2nd yr: $64.99/mo
1st yr: $74.99/mo
2nd yr: $74.99/mo
not eligible
Other monthly charges
Receiver fee: First receiver free (including Hopper). 2nd & additional: $7/mo
DVR fee $10/mo.
HD fee: $10/mo.  Current promo: HD Free for Life® (requires enrollment in AutoPay program); Smart Pack doesn't qualify
Local Channels: $10/mo.  Current promo: FREE for Life
Setup/installation: One-time charge: $250  Current promo: FREE installation (up to 6 rooms)
  
No. Channels
"TV only" = no music
Total: 55+
TV only: 51
Total: 190+
TV only: 106
Total: 240+
TV only: 176
Total: 290+
TV only: 209
Total: 330+
TV only: 234
Cost/channel
(all "TV only")
Promo: $0.39 Regular: $0.68
Promo: $0.28 Regular: $0.56
Promo: $0.23 Regular: $0.43
Promo: $0.19 Regular: $0.41
Promo: $0.41 Regular: $0.56
Channel Theme(s)
The Economy Plan
Maximize your savings with this basic mix of family and sports channels.
Featured channels: Boomerang, Cooking, DIY, Fox News & Science
Family Packed
Get about twice the channels vs Smart Pack, including plenty of family favorites...
New channels: A&E, Discovery, History, Lifetime, TNT, TBS, ESPN, etc.
The Most Popular
Includes a ton of additional sports, documentary, news and reality channels.
New channels: Animal Planet, BBC, Bravo, Fox Sports, ID, MLB/NFL Network, TruTV, etc.
Movie Buff
With Chiller, TMC and the 6-channel Encore pack, consider this plan if you're a movie lover.
New channels: Chiller, Encore (6), Fusion, NatGeo Wild, TMC, etc.
The Blockbuster
With 20 premium movie channels included, a great flick is always just a click away.
New channels: Cinemax(5), HBO(7), Showtime(2) & Starz(6)
Channel Value
(relative score)
7.9 /10
8.3 /10
9.2 /10
9.1 /10
8.6 /10
Bonus-added
(special, limited-time offers)
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 6 rooms)
  • Free Hopper DVR Upgrade
  • Free HD for Life
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 6 rooms)
  • Free Hopper DVR Upgrade
  • Free HD for Life
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 6 rooms)
  • Free Hopper DVR Upgrade
  • Free HD for Life
  • Free Regional Sports Networks
  • Free Premium Movies for 3 mths
  • Free Installation (up to 6 rooms)
  • Free Hopper DVR Upgrade
  • Free HD for Life
  • Free Regional Sports Networks
  • Premium Movies Included
  • Free Installation (up to 6 rooms)
  • Free Hopper DVR Upgrade
  • Free HD for Life
  • Free Regional Sports Networks
Overall Score
(sum of all categories; 1-100)
77 %
82 %
95 %
93 %
86 %
Learn more about each plan »
or call 1-855-776-0933 for the best prices in your area
  

Frequently Asked Questions

How/when can I switch plans?
DISH lets you change plans at anytime, for any reason. Simply give them a call and the new plan will usually be active within seconds. There's no fee involved and your new rate will be pro-rated for the remainder of the month.

What other plans are available?
On the English side, the only other plan is America's Top 120+ ($34.99/mo). It's basically the Top 120 plus Fox Sports 2, FXX, Longhorn Network and the SEC Channel. Spanish-wise, there are 5 different plans available, ranging from $29.99 - $39.99/mo (promo pricing). 28 other international packages are also available.

Do I have to pay the HD or DVR fees?
Nope, they're both optional. Currently, HD is free for life with most plans, so there's really no reason to opt out (not to mention the MUCH better picture quality). Regarding the DVR (digital video recording) service, while you can also decline, it's sort of a painful process if you change your mind. In most cases, you'll need a new, DVR-capable receiver shipped to you, then have to activate it on your own. At just $10/month, we almost always recommend the DVR option to our clients - not only will you save a TON of time watching select shows on your time, but it'll help you discover cool new programming (e.g., browse the program guide and record upcoming shows to give 'em a try).

How do DIRECTV's plans compare?
In general, both providers offer similar channels sets, but DIRECTV's packages tend to feature more sports in the lower-level plans (sub $35/mo). Toss in their exclusivity with the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, if you dig your sports, you may want to consider them first.

When do the special offers expire?
Each new promo usually runs for 3-6 months, depending on the season. If spotted on this page, it's still active for the time being :).

How quickly can I get DISH installed?
In most cases, you can usually get a new system installed in as little as 24 hours (depends on your location). The installation process takes 1-3 hours and is free for up to 6 rooms.

Related Reports:

Deciding Between the Satellite Providers - We recently moved and it was high time to reassess our TV services. Here are the steps I took to compare the leading satellite TV providers, including their current DVR services.
Review of DISH's Spanish Plans - Spanish packages have come a LONG way over the years. If you need a few more bilingual options, check out our review of all the DishLATINO plans.



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