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Optimum is great for tri-state residents looking for short contracts and solid local programming.

Dish is better for daily TV viewers who want more premium channels and sports options at a budget price — albeit with a 2-year contract.

Today I check out the pros and cons of Optimum and Dish – two respected providers offering TV service across much of the glorious US of A. While Dish has much stronger availability, Optimum also offers Internet and phone service… which can make life way easier if you don't want to bother with two bills for entertainment and communication.

Optimum by Cablevision is only available in 3 US states – New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. They’re a cable TV provider, whereas Dish is a nationwide satellite TV provider.

Optimum Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Solid local programming, including sports
  • Some bundles include Showtime & Netflix free

Cons

  • Multiple hidden additional monthly fees
  • Can get expensive for multi TV homes
  • Only available in the tri-state area

Dish Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Available nationwide
  • Excellent DVR for recording TV
  • Reasonable & clear pricing structure

Cons

  • Internet only through secondary providers
  • 2-year contracts

Network Comparison

Dish: Nationwide Coverage

Dish TV currently offers nationwide service, which makes it a popular choice for premium TV for customers outside major metro or suburban areas. The only requirement is that you have a view of the southern sky, and space for installation of the reception device. The equipment usually comes free with your service, since you're signing a 2-year contract in most cases.

Optimum offers a range of internet packages that you can choose from along with your cable TV service, through their own network. Dish doesn’t provide their own service. Depending on where you are in the country, you can choose to package Dish with secondary providers like CenturyLink DSL, Frontier FiOS, and HughesNet satellite. In general, you’re going to hit the highest speeds with fiber optic internet, so if this is a concern, make sure to look for this type of connection.

Optimum vs Dish Internet performance

With Optimum, they organize their internet bundle plans into speed bands – with the choice of 10, 60, 100, 200, 300, or 400Mbps respectively. Remember this is your maximum speed – it will be lower than this in practice. Apparently, the FCC has remarked that speeds outperform Verizon FiOS on certain plans. There’s no cap on their plans.

Since Dish doesn’t have their own service, you’ll need to check speeds in your area with the available bundling providers. For example, HughesNet achieves speeds up to 25Mbps, whereas the CenturyLink network is capable of achieving speeds of up to 1000Mbps in certain locations. Make sure to check carefully with the provider to see what speeds are available in your area and whether the provider caps data.

Optimum also has a range of double and triple play deals with phone and/or internet that sweeten the deal with some additional add-ins, like free Showtime, Netflix, and even an Android tablet on their premium package. What deals you’re offered depends on your residential address.

Dish do offer bundled phone and internet – but again, it’s through secondary providers so it really depends on what is available in your area – you’ll need to contact them for more info.

Optimum vs Dish TV Service and Sports

Channel choice for Optimum ranges from 182+ channels for their Value package, through to 340+ channels for their Gold package – which is quite competitive in the market, especially given the wide range of local channels. Dish offers 190 channels on their base package, America’s Top 120, through to 290+ channels on the top tier America’s Top 250 package. Both providers include all your favorites like ESPN, Nickelodeon, and Fox.

Both Optimum and Dish provide some sporting channels in their base packages (like ESPN and Fox Sports), however, to satisfy that sporting itch you might like to take advantage of their add-on packages.

Optimum gives you a choice of sporting add-ons to choose from, including the Optimum Sports and Entertainment Pack (with NFL Redzone, NBA TV, MLB Network, and more), the Optimum College Sports Pack, NBA League Pass. With Dish currently, all plans (except the lowest-tier plan) come with free NFL Network and Redzone included. There is also a wide selection of sports add-on packages which include NBA League Pass, NHL Center Ice, MLB Extra Innings, and others.

Optimum Multi-Room DVR vs Dish TV Hopper 3 DVR

Optimum requires you to hire their Multi-Room DVR to obtain their programming (or a compatible box purchased elsewhere). Their DVR can record up to 15 shows at any one time and record up to 300 hours of TV in standard definition. You’ll also need a cable box (for each TV). Both the DVR and cable box attract extra monthly rental fees.

Dish has the super functional Hopper 3 DVR, which records up to a whopping 2000 hours of TV, and can record 16 shows at once. The Hopper 3 also has an additional monthly fee – although it works out cheaper than Optimum’s fees and is more capable.

Optimum Key Advantage: Broader Range of Local Channels

Optimum focus on being a very niche service provider in the tri-state area. This means that they have more of a selection of local channels than some of the other bigger companies providing TV services nationwide.

Dish Key Advantage: Good Value for the Number of Channels

With less hidden fees and lower overall fees, Dish provides a healthy amount of channels without your wallet taking a beating.

Optimum vs Dish Equipment and Installation Considerations

If you sign up for Optimum online they will waive the regular $99 installation fee.

Dish offer all customers free installation and satellite hire. When you are requesting a time slot for the technician to come around, they will be there within a 75 minute window – saving you time.

Our Pick: Dish, for Better Overall Value

Unless you’re really keen on local content, then Dish offers better bang for your buck as a TV service provider over Optimum. Their Hopper 3 DVR is one of the best in the TV landscape which is great news for those who like to record shows, too.

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