DISH Network vs Time Warner Cable

Two of the big players that compete head to head for your business are DISH and Time Warner cable.  More that 25 million subscribers get video service from these two companies in 2013.   If you live in an area where these providers compete for your dollar, its a good idea to compare DISH Network against Time Warner cable before signing up with either one.

With people looking for the most bang for their buck, cable and satellite TV companies are being checked out by potential customers to see exactly how much they are charging.   Additionally these companies often want you to sign a contract, in return giving you a lower rate.  Which should you choose if price is your number one consideration?

It depends on what you want from your satellite or cable provider. Many cable companies are offering triple play bundles of service, where you not only get your cable TV, but also your high speed internet service and home phone line. Time Warner cable, or TWC, is no different than Comcast or Cox cable in this regard, as they of course would rather make money off of their subscribers with three different services rather than one. If you want all of these services, you can usually get a good deal on a Time Warner triple play bundle.

On the other hand, many do not want a home phone because they use cell phones. Or they don’t have a computer so they don’t  need internet service. They are just looking for a high quality cable TV service at an affordable price. If this is the situation you are in, then DISH Network service is probably the better choice for you.

Now if you are just comparing DISH and Time Warner when it comes to price alone, you probably won’t find a big difference.   Lets take a brief look at what each company offers so you can make the right decision when before committing for the long term.

With DISH Network, pricing is fairly straightforward, and it is easy to figure out the package rates no matter where you live. They offer the America’s Top 120, the Top 200, the Americas Top 250, and the America’s everything package. As you can probably figure, the number listed with each DISH Network package corresponds to the approximate number of channels in the package. If you are mainly interested in movies, then the America’s Everything is the way to go, with about three dozen commercial free premium movie networks included.

DISH pricing starts at $49.99 for the Top 120 and moves all the way up to $119.99 for the America’s Everything package.  Right now, the current DISH Network offer gives new subscribers a $25 discount for the first year of service, or the option of a free iPad with their new promotion.  While these packages do include your local channels, they do not include premiums or pay per view movies.  Another extra is the award winning Hopper DVR, which is another $10 per month up and above the base package price.

Now with Time Warner cable, the price can vary a bit from area to area.  Time Warner cable reaches across the country and is in several areas including New York, Ohio, California and Texas.  Major cites served by TWC include Los Angeles, San Diego, Cleveland, San Antonio and Austin.  In each area served by Time Warner, the company has to obtain a cable franchise and set rates with the approval of local authorities.  So while the price differences are minor, you won’t find them uniform in the different areas.

To give you an idea of the rates charged by Time Warner, we pulled up some of the pricing in the North Carolina area served by TWC.   Here you will get Digital cable including remote control, around 200 channels including HD and Free on Demand for $49.99 a month.  This is a 12 month promotional rate, then you will pay full price.  Local channels are included, but HD DVR service is not, that will cost you another $21.94 per month.  Time Warner does offer high definition at no additional charge, provided you have compatible equipment.

Several add on bundles are available as well.  The Time Warner Spanish package is called Nuestra Tele, which can be added for $24.95 a month, or $34.95 a month if you want Spanish HBO programming.  The Family Choice offer gives subscribers a package of 15 family themed channels for an additional $12.99 a month.  If you are looking for Spanish channels, a better way to go would be the DishLATINO  package on satellite.

Premiums are going to be about the same with either company.  Usually these run about $16 for HBO and Cinemax, though DISH does offer free premiums for three months, and Time Warner has a deal where you can get both for $10 a month for the first six months.

Additional receivers are another consideration when comparing what these television provider have to offer.  Each additional Time Warner cable Box will cost $8.99 per month, so keep that in mind when counting up all of your television sets.  An alternative is using the CableCard option for $2.50 a month.

DISH can network their “Joey” receivers to your Hopper DVR, and the cost is around $6 for each additional room.  The nice thing with this is that you will be able to access your DVR content throughout the home, and can even view it remotely on mobile devices with several new DISH apps that don’t cost a thing.

Now pricing isn’t everything when comparing TWC to DISH Network, so lets look at a few additional considerations.  Finding your favorite channel is a high priority when you are looking at selecting a cable or satellite TV company.   Time Warner and DISH carry all of the regular cable television channels you are used to including CNN, Fox News, ESPN, and Discovery.

The providers are finally now on equal footing when it comes to NFL coverage, as Time Warner finally reached an agreement last year to carry the NFL Network and the  RedZone channel.  The NFL and Time Warner cable had been battling for years over carriage of the network over the cable system, meaning millions of subscribers could not see some live games.    Neither company has access to the NFL Sunday Ticket package, which is locked up with Direct TV through at least the 2014 season.

Other out of market packages are fairly even as well.  Both carry the NBA League Pass and the NHL Center Ice packages which usually run about $200 per season.  DISH Network does not carry the MLB Extra Innings or the MLB channel, while TWC does, so an edge goes to the cable company if you are a sports fan.

Now when it comes to high definition, both Time Warner HD and DISH Network have been working hard to roll out as many  channels as possible.  DISH had the initial edge, and they still may be best as it all depends on your local Time Warner franchise and if they have done network upgrades.   Call your local Time Warner office to find out exactly how many HD channels are in your area and also consult this helpful AVS HD chart to see what HD channels are in your area.

One area where Time Warner beats DISH Network is in the on-demand programming available.  Similar to other cable companies like Comcast and Cox, Time Warner has upgraded their cable TV network so that there are nearly 15,000 on demand programs available at any given time.  Now many of these are just short clips, and who can really watch 15,000 shows?  But it is a feature that becomes fairly addictive in that there is always something on, and you can watch episodes of your favorite shows that you may have missed in the past.  DISH does offer pay per view movie on demand, but not much more than that.  The alternative is to record your favorite content on the Hopper so you can watch it at your convenience.

Speaking of DVR devices, which is better -the DISH Hopper or the Time Warner DVR?  When it comes to capacity, the Hopper wins hands down.  The current model will hold up to 500 hours of HD content, or up to 200 hours of standard definition programming on a 2 TB hard drive.  The current TWC Whole home DVRs are 500 GB, so you are looking at 4x the storage capacity with DISH.  Additionally the Hopper DVR has won high praise from the industry, as it was a finalist for the Best of CES 2012.

A final consideration when comparing Time Warner against DISH Network is the other services available with cable TV that aren’t with satellite.  Bundles include your choice of digital cable TV, digital phone, and broadband internet.   Usually the best Time Warner deals come into play when you are a new customer signing up for all three services.  Depending on the level of service you want, you can get all three services for around $100 per month for the first year.  Be sure to confirm with Time Warner what the price is after the deal is over so you know what to expect as far as regular pricing goes.



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