With a service area spanning 42 states, chances are pretty high that you’ll see Charter Spectrum’s TV service in your region. And with no contracts, grabbing cable TV from them is a pretty appealing prospect at first glance.
Spectrum’s cable packages number just 3 – Select, Silver, and Gold. That makes things straightforward, and at the highest tier you’ll get over 200 channels.
But is Spectrum’s cable TV service worth it? How is Spectrum’s whole house DVR? Do they have more than one DVR model? What about extra add-ons, extra costs, and price-per-channel? Find out by reading on.
Spectrum Packages + Pricing
That’s right, Spectrum has no contracts, which is great if you’ve been burned on cancellation fees before.
That said, Spectrum looks higher by-the-channel initially – you get more channels with DIRECTV SELECT (155+) for just $35/month, 185+ channels with DIRECTV CHOICE for $45/month, and so on – yet you may actually wind up with a lower bill each month.
Because DIRECTV requires a 2-year contract with a massive price hike in the middle; and Xfinity, while advertising 1-, 2-, and no-contract options, has price hikes built into each variation.
Plus, those contracts also mean ETFs – which come out to $10-$20 per month remaining of your contract. Not so with Spectrum.
Another thing that may justify the higher price for Spectrum is quality – and by that, we mean premiums.
Spectrum includes HBO and SHOWTIME starting at the middle-tier Silver package – something no other provider can say the same for. Usually, those aren’t included until the top 1-2 tiers.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay some extra fees on top of the higher price-per-channel with Spectrum. The DVR is what hits you most:
- $6.99/month per receiver
- $12.99/month for service on a single DVR, or
- $19.99/month for service on 2-4 DVRs
Plus you’ve got the (admittedly 1-time) installation fee of $49.99. You also need to grab an HD box, regardless of whether you also do the DVR – for another $7/month. And extra add-on packs? Anywhere from $5.99-$15 a month each.
Spectrum Bundles + Deals
|Sample Bundle||Price||View bundles|
|TV Select + Internet||$89.98/mo.||View bundles|
|Internet + Voice||$59.98/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Select (TV, Internet, Voice)||$99.97/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Silver (TV, Internet, Voice)||$119.97/mo.||View bundles|
|Triple Play Gold (TV, Internet, Voice)||$139.97/mo.||View bundles|
At least Spectrum has some decent bundles and specials. A Triple Play option can save you about $20 bucks a month, and if you’re stuck in another TV provider’s contract Spectrum will buy it out for up to $500. Nice.
Double-play bundles aren’t as great, with the “TV Select + Internet” failing to save you anything – it just gives you 1 bill for the 2 services.
But we’ve said it in other reviews, and we’ll say it again – Xfinity is the king of the bundle game. Spectrum can’t hold a candle to those savings.
Spectrum Channel Lineup
|Package||Sample Channels||View channels|
|Spectrum Select||ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, PBS Kids, A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, BET, BTN, BTN Extras 1 + 2, Bloomberg TV, Bravo, C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2 + 3, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Daystar, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel E!, ESPN, ESPN2, EVINE, EWTN, Educational Access, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, FOX Sports 1, FS, FX, FX MOvie Channel, FXX, Food Network, RSN, Freeform, Government Access, HGTV, HISTORY, HLN, HSN, HSN2, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, IFC, INSP, ION TV, Investigation Discovery, Jewelry TV, Lifetime, Liquidation Channel, MTV, MotorTrend, Music Choice(s), NBC Sports Network, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, OXygen, Paramount Network, POP, QVC, QVC2, SEC Network, SYFY, Shopping channels, SonLife, Spectrum Sports Extra, SundanceTV, TBN, TBS, TLC, TNT, TV Land, TV One, The Weather Channel, Travel Channel, USA NEtwork, Upliftv, VH1, The CW, WEtv, Laff, MeTV, Azteca, Telemundo||View channels|
All the previous channels, plus:
ASPiRE TV, AXS TV, BBC America, BBC World news, BYUtv, Baby First TV, CBS Sports Network, Cheddar Business, Cleo, Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Educational Access, El Rey network, FM, FOX Deportes, FOX Sports 2, RSNs, Fuse, Fusion, GAC, GSN, Golf Channel, HBO x7 (HBO, HBO 2, Comedy, Family, Latino, Signature, Zone), Heroes & Icons, LMN, Lifetime Real Women, MLB Network, NBA TV, NBC Universo, NFL Network, Nat Geo Wild, Newsmax TV, Newsy, Nick Jr., OWN, Olympic Channel, REVOLT, RFD-TV, Reelz, SHO x5(SHO 2, SHO Beyond, Extreme, Next, Women), Showtime x3 (Showtime, Family Zone, Showcase), Smithsonian Channel, TCM, TUDN, Tennis Channel, The Impact network, UP, USA Network, UniMas, Universal Kids, Univision, Viceland, fyi, i24, msnbc, truTV
All the previous channels, plus:
American Heroes Channel, BET HER, BET Jams, BET Soul, BeIN Sports, BeIN Sports Espanol, Boomerang, CNBC World, Crime & Investigation, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life Channel, ESPN Classic, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Goal Line/Bases Loaded, FCS Atlantic, FCS Central, FCS Pacific, FLIX - E, FOX Soccer Plus, HDNet Movies, IndiePlex, LOGO, MLB Strike Zone, MTV Life, MTV2, Mav TV, Military History, Movie Plex, NFL Redzone, NHL Network, Nick Music, Nicktoons, Outdoor Channel, Ovation, PAC-12 x7 (Arizona, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Mountain, Network, Oregon, Washington), RetroPlex, Science Channel, STARZ x5 (Starz, Cinema, Edge, Kids & Family, in Black), STARZ/ENCORE x7 (StarzEncore, Action, Black, Classic, Family, Suspense, Westerns), TMC XTRA, TVG, The Cowboy Channel, Tr3s, Willow TV,
But first things first – Spectrum’s specific channels vary depending on your location. The ones in the table above are from my zip code – hop over to this link and click “View channel lineup” to put your address in and find out for yourself.
Building on that, there’s a cool thing about this - you may actually get more channels than are advertised. For example, when I typed in my address, I got 154 channels for TV Select, 231 for Silver, and 293 for Gold - way higher than advertised in every case (125+, 175+, and 200+, respectively).
Suddenly the price-per-channel just got a lot better.
Regarding what’s actually included in the packages, you get plenty of locals (dependent on area), and the basic sports, movie, and entertainment channels that you’d expect.
Move into the Silver package and you see those premiums we mentioned – HBO and SHOWTIME – plus more sports, like:
- and ESPN DEPORTES; as well as
- NFL Network,
- MLB Network,
- and NBA TV.
Finally, you reach Gold status and you get more movie channels, sports extras (NFL Redzone!), and more premiums (STARZ, StarzEncore).
Premiums + HD
Although many premiums are included in the Silver and Gold packages, you can still grab them as add-ons. The rates are nothing special - in line with DIRECTV, DISH, and Xfinity.
But Spectrum has a lot of HD channels – they boast that they have the most of any TV provider. Between their regular packages and the On Demand titles, they claim 1,500 HD options – that’s huge.
So if you love HD – perfect.
Sports channels and packages are really nothing special – DIRECTV and fuboTV give you similar, although DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET, too – and fuboTV is the place for sports.
- NFL Network
- NBA TV
- MLB Network
- NHL Network
- Golf Channel
- FOX Soccer Plus
- ESPN Goal Line
- Tennis Channel
- Pay-Per-View Events
- Univision Deportes
Spectrum’s On Demand library is extensive – there are as many as 140,000 titles at present, from nearly every TV channel they offer in their regular packages, plus premiums.
For international channel junkies, Spectrum offers a wide variety there, too:
- South Asian
Spectrum Equipment + Features
|Motorola DVR||2||100 hours SD; 21 hrs HD||$12.99/mo. + $6.99/mo.|
If you came here looking for a cable TV service with a great DVR – well, Spectrum does not provide.
Spectrum’s DVR is a very basic one, and it’s not even Spectrum-branded. You’ll get either a Motorola or Cisco/Scientific Atlantic receiver when you add it to your order – and there’s no choosing which one, either.
You’ll get around 100 hours of SD recording storage, or 21 hours HD. DISH’s Hopper 3 – best in the biz – gives you an immense 2,000 SD and 500 HD. Plus, the Hopper 3 can record up to 16 shows simultaneously, while Spectrum’s Motorola can only handle 2 at a time.
And as if Spectrum’s DVR needed more going against it, it’s also poorly-priced for what you get: $6.99/month for each receiver, plus $12.99/month for service for just 1 receiver, or $19.99/month for 2-4.
That’s a grand total of at least $20 for 1 DVR, and $34 for just 2 receivers.
In contrast, the Hopper 3 costs just a flat $15/month, and if you want DVR capability on more than 1 TV, the mini-DVR “Joeys” are just $5 bucks apiece to add.
Spectrum cable box
You’ll need a cable box for every TV you hook up – unless you use an app-related workaround (more on that in the Q&A section). That’ll run you $6.99 a month for each receiver.
Spectrum TV app
Spectrum’s TV app isn’t bad, though. You can watch more than 170 live TV channels on it alongside On Demand content. And that’s at home – when you leave the house, you can pull from 60 networks to watch shows on the go.
It’s free, you can browse channels, schedule DVR recordings, and use it on just about any portable device.
Spectrum Customer Service
In the TV provider industry customer service is never spotless: Spectrum is no exception. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Spectrum hangs out below average.
But while DISH and DIRECTV – alongside cable TV providers Optimum and Cox – rank higher, Spectrum at least isn’t at the bottom.
Perhaps to soften this and their extra fees, Spectrum also offers a service arrival guarantee: if the technician doesn’t show up within the designated window, you’ll get $20 credit toward your next month’s bill.
Incidentally, you can contact support by phone (1-800-892-4357) or check out their support center online.
So how does Spectrum turn out for you? Worth those extra DVR fees? Sadly, probably not.
Spectrum TV is really for those who are looking for a traditional cable TV experience, but aren’t tech-hungry or looking for more than the basics. Prices are higher, but you don’t have to deal with any contract ETFs, and you may wind up with (potentially a lot) more channels for your money than advertised.
But if you want a better DVR, or you’re looking for lower channel counts or lower starting prices, than Spectrum isn’t for you. Check out DISH Network (for the DVR), Xfinity for cable, or DIRECTV for sports.
Is Spectrum dropping any channels?
In January 2019, Spectrum was forced to drop many channels across the U.S. due to a Tribune (broadcaster) dispute. But, they were able to figure things out and restore programming.
At time of writing, Spectrum is not dropping any channels.
Do I need a cable box for every TV with Spectrum?
Yes and no. To watch Spectrum TV the traditional way: yes, you will need a cable box for every TV you have.
But if you have a SmartTV or a Roku device, you can simply register your Spectrum account online and setup the Spectrum app on each TV. This will require you to be using Wi-Fi, however and if you have problems with your app – that means no TV for you.