DISH Network TurboHD service made its debut on August 1st, generating quite a splash with television advertising touting the availability of the only 100% HD service. Is Turbo HD all it claims to be? More importantly, is it worth it when comparing prices with either DIRECTV or other DISH Network packages?
After reviewing the packages and pricing for Turbo HD, it looks more like marketing fluff than a viable alternative to programming and packages already available in the market today. DISH Networkhas fallen behind DirecTV’s lead in a big way over the past year, and obviously they feel TurboHD was a necessary step to help them get back in the HD game.
So what exactly is wrong with the whole TurboHD setup? First off, if a customer actually selects the HD only package, either Bronze, Silver, or Gold, they don’t get many channels to work with.
TurboHD Bronze contains 24 HD channels, six HD PPV channels, and 14 HD VOD channels.For $24.99 per month, that is probably all you should expect.Add locals for $5 and you may get them in HD if DISH Network has them in your area.
TurboHD Silver has 32 HD channels, the six pay-per-views, and again the 14 HD Video-on-demand channels.This package also includes regional sports networks where available, so you may get 2-3 channels there.Cost on this is $32.99 or $37.99 with locals added.
TurboHD Gold includes 40 HD channels, six PPV, 14 HD VOD and regional sports networks, all for $39.99 per month, or $44.99 with locals.Here are the 40 National HD channels in the Gold package, fewer channels are in the Bronze and Silver packages of course:
Discovery Channel HD
Sci Fi Channel HD
TBS in HD
Animal Planet HD
History Channel HD
Big Ten Network HD
ESPN 2 HD
Lifetime Movie Network HD
Food Network HD
National Geographic HD
CBS College Sports
Golf Channel/Versus HD
NFL Network HD
Hallmark Movie Channel
Science Channel HD
Finally, DISH Network offers the Turbo HD Platinum package.This stand alone package adds the following 7 channels on to any TurboHD package for $10 a month.
HD Net Movies
World Fishing Network
So how does this compare with traditional packages, either with DISH Network, DirecTV, or even cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or Cox communications?
As far as content goes, it doesn’t.Even with the Gold package, you are looking at a total of only 50 channels of programming once you toss out the PPV and HD VOD channels, which shouldn’t be counted in the first place.
Why only 50 channels, even when DISH Network is now claiming over 100 HD channels? None of these packages include premium movie channels, such as HBO, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax. Then add all of the regional sports networks (RSN) that are not available nationwide, but are still claimed by DISH Network as HD channels, and you will finally get close the the 100 HD channels they claim to have.
DISH Network also continues to insist on charging an extra $10 for all of the available HD content that it carries.
These channels are the better channels available on cable TV, but they certainly don’t cover nearly enough of the pay television universe.
Now of course you don’t have to subscribe to just the TurboHD package.Any of these tiers can be added to DISH Network’s existing programming packages: America’s Top 100, America’s Top 200, America’s Top 250, or the America’s Everything package.
What this results in, however, is an almost unlimited number of combinations regarding standard packages, HD packages, and DVR additions. I fear for the DISH Network customer service representative, manning the phones and trying to explain all of the standard packages, along with the multitude of Turbo HD offerings available in addition.
Overall, I understand why DISH Network is promoting the heck out of Turbo HD, it is an attempt to level the playing field with DirecTV. The problem with their HD only packages is that ordering and understanding satellite TV may take longer than you ever thought possible.