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Provider Face-Off: Time Warner Cable vs DIRECTV and DISH

Note: Time Warner was acquired by Spectrum cable (this page is now outdated). Click here to visit its new comparison page.
Time Warner vs DIRECTV vs DISH
Time Warner Cable
Comparison Score: 87/100
Customer Rating: (3.9/5)
Comparison Score: 92/100
Customer Rating:
Comparison Score: 90/100
Customer Rating:
Best Price
$39.99/mo for 12 months

Standard TV (70+ chnls, promo pricing).
24-month contract required.
A good general-interest plan, especially if cable is your only option (most cities only support 1-2 cable providers).

Best Price
$29.99/mo for 24 months

Flex Pack (50+ chnls, regular pricing).
24-month contract required.
The rock-bottom price in the TV industry. This is the go-to plan for cable refugees who want to minimize their entertainment budget.

Best Price
$50/mo for 24 months

SELECT Plan (145 chnls, promo pricing).
24-month contract required.
Their second most popular plan with a solid mix of channel categories, it conveniently includes ALL HD and DVR fees.

Max # channels
200+ channels

Preferred TV ($49.99/mo)
Across ALL cable programming, this is one of the more popular plans going.

Max # channels
320+ channels

America's Eveything Pak ($114.99/mo)
All channels are digital, with the majority available in HD.

Max # channels
315+ channels

Premier Plan ($125/mo)
All channels are digital quality, with most in full-time HD.

Whole-home DVR
Multi-Room Service

The system requires at least 2 receivers, with at least 1 Whole House HD-DVR box subscribed to the Multi-Room service. The Multi-Room Service ties the boxes together to allow you to use all the receivers wirelessly.

Whole-home DVR
Hopper with Joey

Simultaneously record and playback on up to 7 different DVRs. Hard drive space: 2 TB. Learn more.

Whole-home DVR
Genie DVR

Simultaneously record and playback on up to 5 different TVs (there's ONLY one box). Hard drive space: 1 TB. Learn more.

Package Extras
"Look Back", Caller ID on TV

With Look Back, you can automatically watch any network Primetime show up to 3 days after it aired. Caller ID on TV lets you check out who's calling while you watch TV.

Package Extras
DISH Movie Pack

A solid set of 15 movie channels (EPIX, FXM, etc), watch from home or seamlessly stream on your device while on the go. A $10/mo value, it's free for the first 3 months.

Package Extras

With the NFL SUNDAY TICKET, free w/ Choice plan and up, no one throws in better extras. CINEMAplus gives you access to a ton of free programs and movies.

TV, Internet & Phone Bundle
Triple Pack Select: $89.99/mo

TV: 200+ channels
Internet: 3 Mbps download (22 Mbps less than Comcast @ about this price)
Phone: unlimited US, Canada & Puerto Rico calling (transfer your current phone # or get a new one)

TV, Internet & Phone Bundle
no phone bundles

DISH's infrastructure doesn't support traditional (landline) or VoIP phone service.

TV, Internet & Phone Bundle
DIRECTV TV / Phone / Internet Bundles

DIRECTV partners with AT&T, Verizon, Windstream and others to offer high-speed Internet and home phone service (final specs/price vary per provider).

TV & Internet Bundle
Double Pack Turbo: $89.99/mo

TV: 200+ channels
Internet: 20 Mbps download (no cap; same as Comcast)

TV & Internet Bundle
DISH Bundle: $75.99/mo

TV: 145+ channels
Internet: 10 Mbps download (no cap)

TV & Internet Bundle
DIRECTV Bundle: $80/mo

TV: 140+ channels
Internet: ~6 Mbps download (no cap)

Customer Service

For being the 2nd largest cable provider, TWC does a serviceable job at customer relations. Hold times are typically under 5 min (expect to wait longer on weekends) and call centers are typically US-based.

Customer Service
Above Average

For the most part, DISH does a good to excellent job with customer issues. At times, you DO have to escalate the problem to get it resolved (at least quickly) but you almost never leave frustrated.

Customer Service
Above Average

One of the best in the industry. The only thing that continues to bother me is they still outsource outside of business hours (nights and weekends).


If you're leaning towards satellite TV, get a more thorough breakdown here.
Stack up the Specials
Compare the current satellite promotions and lock in the best plan available.
Channel Lineups
Find out which packages include your favorite channels in this interactive, side-by-side table.
Verizon FiOS vs Satellite
If fiber optic service is an option in your area, learn more about what Verizon FiOS has to offer.
Cable versus Satellite
Get a more general overview of how cable's features and options compare to satellite TV.
RV & Mobile
If you'll be on the move, use this guide to reliably stay connected at every turn.

More about Time Warner Cable

Founded in 1989 when Time's cable company and Warner Communications merged, TWC has risen the ranks to be the 2nd largest cable provider in the US (behind Comcast). As of 2010, they had over 23 million cable subscribers (standard and digital). As with most cable companies, it's all about territory. They don't service every metropolitan city or, even, large county -- before you order, you'll need to check your zip code for availability.

Sports deals -- since its inception, TWC has tried to make major headway into the sporting world. From winning the naming rights to stadiums (NBA's Charlotte Bobcats and Time Warner Cable Arena) to becoming the exclusive TV home of the Los Angeles Lakers (starting in 2102), they're certainly not slowing to associate their brand with major sporting teams. With deep pockets and an aggressive growth strategy, don't expect Time Warner Cable to lose their place in the market anytime soon.

Triple Pack Bundles

Nowadays, every cable provider heavily pushes their bundles. It's MUCH easier and cost-effective for them to add a service once you have their cable running through your home. If you pick the right time to bundle up (during a big promo), it can be cost-effective, just make sure you read the fine print and you figure out when the standard rates kick in. As with most elective home services, there IS always room for some negotiation at sign-up, so don't be afraid to haggle a bit. As a reference, here are the base rates for their bundles:

  1. Triple Pack Select - 200+ channels, download speeds of up to 10 Mbps, unlimited nationwide calling: $99.99/mo.
  2. Triple Pack with Extreme - 200+ channels, download speeds of up to 30 Mbps, unlimited nationwide calling: $119.99/mo.
  3. El Paquetazo Triple Play - 150+ channels (about a third Spanish-only), download speeds of up to 10 Mbps, unlimited nationwide calling: $89.99/mo.

Have something to share?

If you've dealt with Time Warner Cable or you'd like to suggest an important feature not covered above, please feel free to get in touch.

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