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Dish is a popular alternative to cable or digital TV and sports an on-demand content library with thousands of blockbuster movies and TV shows. They also have more flexible plans for customers whose credit isn't good enough to sign up for DirecTV, which is the more “premium” option for HD channel and premium channel variety.

Dish provides a more straightforward service than some competitors, especially in regards to pricing packages. Alternatives like DirecTV might have more sports options, but Dish offers 90% of the same service at a cheaper price.

Overall, I recommend Dish TV for those of us who care more about drama TV than sports, and who want to get a premium TV experience at the cheapest possible cost. It's also a good option for rural areas since you can get it anywhere with a view of the southern sky.


  • Relatively cheap service
  • Mobile access to live and on-demand content
  • Watch and record up to 16 channels at once


  • Customer service is lacking
  • Sensitive to weather conditions
  • Best sports offers cost extra

Dish TV Plan Details in Review

Dish makes it easy with their plan selections by outlining exactly what you’ll get upfront, with a choice of 4 packages: America's Top 120, America's Top 120+, America's Top 200 , and America's Top 250 – that number roughly correlates with the number of channels (the majority in HD) you’ll get with each.

Dish Packages Channels 2-year price
America's Top 120 190 $49.99
America's Top 120+ 190+ $59.99
America's Top 200 240 $69.99
America's Top 250 290 $79.99

Included with Dish TV

  • Hopper 3 DVR, with recording of up to 16 channels simultaneously and 2000 hours of recording space
  • Amazon Echo Dot, to give you hands-free control of your Hopper (limited time, for new customers only)
  • Dish Anywhere, for watching all live, recorded, and On Demand TV on the go from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, for up to 5 devices
  • HBO free for one year (remember to cancel before the year is up to avoid $49.99/month in extra fees)
  • Premium channels (Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, and Dish Movie Pack) free for 3 months (remember to cancel before 3 months is up to $40/month in extra fees)
  • 8000+ On Demand titles
  • 70+ Sirius XM music channels
  • Free installation

America’s Top 120

Dish’s basic satellite TV package.

  • 190 channels, including FOX, Nickelodeon, ESPN, E!, Syfy, TLC, MTV, AMC & more.

America’s Top 120+

For those looking for a basic package with a little more sports thrown in.

  • 190+ channels, including everything in America’s Top 120 & 9 extra sports channels.
  • Multi-sport pack included free until 1/2/18 (usually $13/month) with 35 channels including NFL RedZone, ESPN Goal Line, and more.

America’s Top 200

Find a greater choice of entertainment and sports channels with America’s Top 200.

  • 240 channels, including everything in America’s Top 120+ & Bravo, VICELAND, BET, Univision, Cooking Channel, and more, plus 16 extra sports channels.
  • Multi-sport pack included free until 1/2/18 (usually $13/month) with 35 channels including NFL RedZone, ESPN Goal Line, and more.

America’s Top 250

Movies, sports, and more, it’s all here with Dish’s most comprehensive package.

  • 290 channels, including everything in America’s Top 200 & Nicktoons, Nat Geo Wild, Bloomberg Television, The Movie Channel, Encore, StarzEncore Family, and more, plus 5 extra sports channels.
  • Multi-sport pack included free until 1/2/18 (usually $13/month) with 35 channels including NFL RedZone, ESPN Goal Line, and more.

Which Dish Plan Offers the Best Value?

For those of us who just want a regular type of cable service and don’t care much about sports, a basic America’s Top 120 package will suit you well. For those who do need a sports fix, then you’ll get a lot out of America’s Top 200.

Dish vs DirecTV: What’s the Difference?

Dish offers lower entry-level plan pricing than competitor DirecTV, but has a lower overall channel count. Image via Mike Mozart/Flickr

Comparing DirecTV and Dish is a little bit like comparing McDonald's to Burger King – they’re both very similar places, with similar menus, but some people prefer one to the other. DirecTV and Dish are both satellite TV services, offered by different companies, which can be combined with your internet service.

The channel lineups are fairly similar, however, Dish is comparatively cheaper and you can receive all live and recorded TV on the go, whereas DirecTV may be better for sporting choices.

Channel Offerings

Dish offers a wealth of channels, depending on which package you subscribe to. These are just some of the channels on offer – but not all are available on all packages.

Local Channels

Includes local news and programming; for example: KTLA, FOTV, KCAL, and KWHY in the Los Angeles area.

Family Channels

Find Nickelodeon, Disney, Disney Junior, Cartoon Network, Discovery Family, and others for kids and family viewing on Dish.

Latest and Greatest Channels

Keep up with the latest in TV and entertainment with Viceland, E!, TVLand, FX, Comedy Central, Syfy, and more.

News Channels

Get your news fix daily with Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and more.

Educational Channels

Learn and discover about our world and the people in it with History, Food Network, Discovery, Home and Garden Television, Net Geo Wild, and more.

Music Channels

Because music is life, choose from MTV, MTV Live, Great American Country, Pop2K, The Pulse, Classic Vinyl, Met Opera Radio, Prime Country, HipHop Nation, and more.

Movie Channels

Immerse yourself in a world of movies with Hallmark Channel, StarzEncore Channels, Encore, Movieplex, and more.

There are also channel add-on packages to purchase, including the movie add-on package. This includes Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, and Dish Movie Pack, which they throw in free for the first 3 months.

Sports Options on Dish TV

Dish has a fairly comprehensive sports roster to choose from, especially if you go for America’s Top 200 or America’s Top 250 package. The Multi-Sport pack is included with these two packages until 1/2/18 and includes featured channels like NFL RedZone, ESPN Goal Line, and 20 regional sports channels.

Other sports channels you’ll find include ESPN, Fox Sports, MLB Network, CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Golf, ESPN2, Longhorn Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, Bases Loaded, and more.

DVR and Equipment Options

Image via frankieleon/Flickr

Because Dish is a satellite service, you’ll require a satellite receiver Dish, generally mounted to the roof of your home. The Dish rental itself, as well as professional installation, is included in the cost of your service.

Also included in the cost of your service is Dish’s DVR – the Hopper 3. The Hopper 3 is a pretty neat device. It allows you to:

  • Watch and record up to 16 shows simultaneously
  • Record up to 2000 hours of shows and movies
  • Watch up to 4 channels on the same device
  • Access apps like Netflix
  • Watch recorded, on-demand, and all live TV from anywhere, at any time, via mobile devices

Problems with Dish: Poor Customer Service and Equipment Troubles

Where Dish really stands out is in its mobile offering

The fact that you can watch all your live TV, along with recordings and on-demand titles, from your smartphone or tablet wherever you are, is great news – since I spend so much more time on our devices these days anyway! The competition generally only has select live shows and/or channels available from your mobile.

That said, most TV providers live in the 1 – 2 star range on consumer affairs since happy customers don’t bother to write reviews, so we’d recommend taking it with a grain of salt. The main issues that customers have with Dish are poor and complicated customer service avenues, and equipment troubles. As for the equipment, since you are getting a satellite service bounced down from space, if it’s raining or poor weather, you may receive a patchy or sometimes non-existent service.

The Big Picture: Dish is an Affordable Choice for Budget and On-the-Go Viewers

If watching TV from the lounge room to your commute, to your lunch break, and home in bed is what you’re looking for, then Dish may well be the service for you, with their clever on-the-go technology.

Dish’s DVR is solid in its capabilities, and allows for a large household to watch what they want, when they want it. If you’re looking for sports, keeping the multi-sport pack on is a good idea, and if you’re after more movies then it may be better to add a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime as it works out cheaper than Dish’s entertainment add-on.

However, Dish is not for everyone. If where you live is prone to very bad weather (like, Alaska bad), then a cable or internet TV service may be a better bet, and if you struggle with technology already then you may find it frustrating.

If you’re curious about how DirecTV compares, check out our DirecTV vs Dish comparison, or peruse current promotions in your area at our Dish deals page.