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6 / 10  Review Rating

If you love spending your free time watching TV, you’ve probably heard about Dish. They're best known for providing a no-nonsense low-cost alternative to DirecTV. All their plans feature decent prices and above-average DVR equipment (several times more storage than competitors like Charter Spectrum TV, although Spectrum offers better contract-free options).

Dish is also one of the most popular TV providers in the country, offering services to over 13 million TV subscribers.

The most competitive TV plan I've found was the Dish Welcome Pack. However, I will discuss another low-cost option in case you’re not fully satisfied just with that package.

Dish Welcome Pack (Approximately $19.99/month)

This is the most basic TV pack Dish offers. The monthly fee you see is an everyday rate, so there’s no need to worry about future price hikes, as is common with DirecTV or Xfinity.

As for channel variety, the Dish Welcome Pack provides 40+ channels. This includes basics like:

  • TLC
  • RT
  • ICTV
  • Epic
  • Discovery Family
  • The History Channel

Besides those channels, you’ll also get access to local channels. And yes, the total price includes local channels.

Dish Flex Pack (Around $34.99/month for two years)

A bit more pricey than the Welcome Pack, the Flex Pack offers 50+ channels, free HD for life, and free premium channels for the first three months. Another highlight includes the fact that you won’t be paying for channels you won’t be watching or needing.

Channel-wise, here’s what you can look forward to:

  • National Geographic
  • Discovery
  • DIY
  • CMT
  • FX
  • Comedy Central
  • MTV Hits
  • TBS

You can add additional channel packs if you want, but they’ll each cost you $10 extra per month (except the Variety pack which is priced at $6/month). However, do keep in mind that with the Dish Flex Pack, you get the first channel pack for free.

Here are the channel packs you can choose:

  • Locals Pack (examples include MeTV, CBS Affiliates, CBS Affiliates)
  • Regional Action Pack (examples include SEC, Pac-12, Longhorn)
  • National Action Pack (examples include AXS TV, TVG2, ESPN)
  • News Pack (examples include CNBC, BBC World News, Fox News)
  • Kids Pack (examples include Animal Planet, Disney Channel, Boomerang)
  • Variety Pack (examples include BET, Bravo, Lifetime Movies)

One reason many people prefer the Dish Flex Pack over the Welcome Pack, though, is the free Hopper DVR upgrade. Normally, upgrading to a Hopper DVR and up to 3 Joeys (DVR receivers) would cost you a one-time fee of $199.

But if you opt for the Flex Pack (or higher), the fee is waived when the service is activated.

Still, please keep in mind that the Hopper DVR and the Joey receiver feature monthly fees:

  • Hopper DVR – $10/month
  • Joey – $5/month
  • Super Joey – $10/month

If you really want to enjoy being able to record up to 16 shows at once, you’ll have to pay an extra $20/month since you’ll need a Super Joey, which would make the Flex Pack around $54.99/month. If you also add the 3 Joey receivers into the mix too, the total will be in the $69.99/month-range, so do be careful.

In case you really want to take advantage of the Hopper offer and still save money, I recommend just choosing the Hopper 3 and a Joey receiver. The total will be around $49.99/month, so it’s much more manageable, and you’ll still get to enjoy top-notch DVR features.

Which TV Plan Should You Choose?

I would personally recommend choosing the Dish Flex Pack. The price difference between it and the Welcome Pack isn’t too extreme, and this TV plan offers decent channel variety and perks. After all, where else can you gain access to a powerful DVR for such a low monthly price?

Of course, if you’re on an extremely tight budget, the Welcome Pack will always be the better option.

How Does the Dish Welcome Pack Compare with Sling TV?

Sling TV, which is owned by Dish, is also an option for those of you who are looking for budget-friendly TV plans. If you don’t know what Sling TV is, it’s basically an over-the-top Internet TV service.

Due to the service’s wireless features and streaming capabilities, it’s an ideal choice for cord-cutters and those interested in straightforward, hassle-free TV services.

Also, with Sling TV, you can enjoy a Cloud DVR feature (records up to 50 hours) for only $5/month.

That’s not all, though. Sling TV also offers two low-priced plans:

Sling Orange (Around $20/month)

  • Includes channels such as AMC, CNN, ESPN, Lifetime, and A&E.
  • Lets you stream shows, news, sports and more instantly.
  • Can be fully personalized with Extra Channel Packs.

Sling Blue (Approximately $25/month)

  • Includes extra channels such as BET, truTV, and Nat Geo Wild.
  • Offers access to local favorites and regional sports.
  • Includes NBC Regional Sports and Fox Regional Sports where available.
  • Can be fully personalized with Extra Channel Packs.

Dish’s Welcome Pack or Sling Orange?

There’s no real upfront price difference between Sling Orange and Dish’s Welcome Pack. If you’re interested in cord-cutting and improved channel personalization, Sling Orange would be the better option for you.

However, Sling Orange offers fewer initial channels (though the ones the plan offers are quite decent), doesn’t come with local channels included, and will cost you more in the long run if you want to further personalize it. The best-case scenario is you opt for their 4 Extra Deals Pack ($10/month), pay around $30/month, and you’ll get access to channel variety that can actually compete with what the Welcome Pack offers.

If that bothers you, you’re better off with Dish’s Welcome Pack.

And in case you just don’t know which option to choose, I recommend trying out Sling TV first, since it offers a 7-day free trial. If it’s not right for you, you can just switch to Dish’s Welcome Pack instead.

Are Dish’s Low Prices Tied to the Current TV Provider “Price War?”

Image via Dave L/Flicker

After all, to stay afloat in this “price war,” many providers — like Dish — have started offering their customers low-priced cord-cutting alternatives to their regular plans that also feature streaming capabilities (something you’ve already seen with Sling TV).

Product overlapping is another thing I’ve noticed. Basically, that means that cable TV, satellite TV, and other telecom providers have started sharing product deals among themselves in an attempt to take advantage of each other’s share of the market.

Dish is a good example in this case, in fact, since Frontier Communications (read our review) now provide Dish TV deals that give consumers access to Dish’s DVRs.

Of course, that doesn’t mean providers get along well. Another thing I’ve witnessed recently is the severely increased struggle between them, as they do their best to attract run-of-the-mill consumers. Many providers have actually started offering very low-priced deals and bundles, which has created ferocious price competition.

Some TV providers have even started offering smaller packages of channels that are designed to meet a customer’s specific needs. And they do that for really low prices. Dish comes to mind once more, especially when you consider the entry-tier TV plans I just discussed.

Does this mean subscription prices will continue to go down in the long run, or that more and more TV providers will start providing cord-cutting-focused, personalized plans at low costs?

It’s a difficult question to answer, and it might be too early to tell yet, but I think it’s safe to say that I might experience more price reductions in the future. Though, I can’t say for sure how significant they will be.

In case you’d like to share your opinion with us on the subject, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.