Dish Network PackagesDish Network packages have provides a range of premium, standard, ethnic and local programming since 1995.
Like its primary competitor, DirecTV, Dish Network started as a satellite equipment company, and moved to providing television services on its equipment. However, its movement into the market was far more sudden. In 1995, they launched the first of their fleet, Echostar I, officially entering the satellite television market. Their fleet now includes fifteen different satellites, from I to XV.
One of the biggest problems that the Dish Network has had in terms of customer relations is that they largely sell their network through authorized dealers, rather than doing it themselves. This has led to problems where the authorized dealers allegedly may not follow rules of disclosure or even allegedly telemarketing laws. In 2009, the FTC charged Dish Network with multiple Do Not Call violations, as documented here. The Dish Network has tried to prevent these problems, but they do not have complete control over their authorized dealers. As a result, be aware of with whom you are actually dealing when subscribing to the Dish Network. The parent company has a decent track record itself, but some of its authorized dealers have been allegedly less scrupulous.
As with any satellite company, the Dish Network requires you to have equipment. The dish itself is provided by the Dish Network, and will be installed by them. You can own your own dish, but since a dish is included in every package and is not an extra expense, there is really no reason to purchase your own.
When it comes to receivers, they don’t really encourage you to purchase, and all that they have on their site is the monthly fee for each device. The sale prices are not on their website. In fact, I contacted their customer service, and they didn’t even have the prices for their devices on hand (though they did provide specific prices when asked).
The fees are fairly standard, but they can add up if you are not careful. Your first receiver is a part of your monthly package, and after that, each additional receiver costs $6 per month for a standard receiver or $7 per month for a high definition receiver. DVR receivers cost $7 additional each, including on your first receiver. For example, if you were to get two high-definition, DVR receivers, the cost would be $21 per month: $7 to upgrade the first one to DVR and $14 ($7 HD + $7 DVR) for the second one.
If you don’t want to pay this fee, you have a couple of options. One is simply to purchase the receivers from the Dish Network directly. Their top receiver, currently the 722k, costs about $400. Unfortunately, I cannot give more specific pricing, since the prices are undocumented, so the Dish Network can change the prices at any time. While this may sound like a lot of money, remember that you will be able to recoup much of your cost by selling your receiver on eBay when you are finished with it.
The other option is to purchase a receiver from eBay, which will allow you to save 50% or more. However, there are some important cautions. First, you’ll want to make sure that your receiver isn’t obsolete. For this, ask for the model number (which will be a number x22, sometimes with a “k” following like “722k”). In addition, collect the smart card number, which starts with “S00” and the serial number, which starts with “R00”. The reason you need this is that, if someone tries to sell a receiver when they haven’t paid their bill, you’ll need to pay their bill or you won’t be able to use the receiver. eBay itself has put up a guide for purchasing receivers on their site here.
Channel Package Options
Like their competitor, DirecTV, the Dish Network provides a completely tiered system of pricing. In other words, each tier includes more channels than the last tier, but you have no choice about choosing part of the tier. Cable companies have been moving away from this sort of system, but satellite receivers are more limited, so they have continued to use the tier system. As a result, you won’t be able to purchase the top sports channels without purchasing premium television channels like HBO and vice versa. If you are someone who “wants it all”, this isn’t a problem, but if you are an avid sports fan who doesn’t really want HBO, this can be a problem.
The packages are the following:
- Dish America: Dish America is their most basic package. It includes 60 channels, including all of the networks. Some of the channels are high definition, and high definition is included in the package. The price is $24.99 per month for the first year and $34.99 per month thereafter.
- America’s Top 120: This includes many of the standard channels that are not broadcast, as well as some additional sports channels. The price is $29.99 per month for the first year and $44.99 per month thereafter. It can be upgraded to HD for a one-time fee of $99 with a 24-month contract.
- America’s Top 120 Plus: This is basically the Top 120, but includes your own regional sports channels. So, for instance, if you are in Saint Louis, you’ll be able to access Saint Louis sports games that aren’t covered by networks. The price is $34.99 per month for the first year and $49.99 per month thereafter. It can be upgraded to HD for a one-time fee of $99 with a 24-month contract.
- America’s Top 250: This package includes a number of premium channels that don’t have commercials, such as movie channels and additional channels like Bravo. The large number of additional channels are almost entirely movie channels, however, but that provides a lot of options. The price is $49.99 per month for the first year and $69.99 per month thereafter. It can be upgraded to HD for a one-time fee of $99 with a 24-month contract.
- America’s Everything Pak: This is the premium channel pack that includes such expensive channels that are covered entirely by cable fees such as HBO. It only has about fifty more channels than the Top 250 pack, but they are they expensive ones. The price is $84.99 for the first year and $104.99 per month thereafter. It can be upgraded to HD for a one-time fee of $99 with a 24-month contract.
- Dish America Silver: This package includes high definition, and was a part of an earlier rollout by Dish Television of high definition before they decided to make high definition versions of their other packages. It is a mid-range package, offering a similar range of channels to the America’s top 120 package. It costs $39.99 per month for the first year and $49.99 per month thereafter.
- Dish America Gold: This package is similar to the America’s Top 250 package, but has high definition included. It costs $49.99 per month for the first year and $59.99 per month thereafter. Despite its name, it is not their premium package, which would be America’s Everything Pak upgraded to high definition.
Depending on what you use your television set for, one or more of these packages will likely meet your approximate level of needs.