Streaming services are everywhere these days. So much so that it can be a challenge trying to determine which one is worthy of your money. Perhaps you’ve narrowed down your options and are torn between Spectrum vs AT&T for streaming.
To make your decision easier, I’ve compiled this handy guide that compares the two streaming services to see which one is better suited to your needs — and budget.
My Bottom Line Up Front: If you’re on a tight budget and you just want an affordable option with plenty of channels, Spectrum will serve you well. Plus, it’s more widely available than AT&T, making it the default winner for many people. But if money isn’t a factor and you can get it in your area, AT&T delivers more perks and better technology.
There’s a pretty sizable difference in pricing between Spectrum vs AT&T. I’ll detail their plans in a moment, and I’ll also be taking a look at how their channel lineups compare. With this data in hand, you should have no trouble deciding which bundle is right for you.
The Main Differences between Spectrum and AT&T
Both Spectrum and AT&T offer plenty of things to like. Let’s explore their most notable differences so you can better determine their worth.
- Spectrum is known for its lower-priced plans, whereas AT&T is notably more expensive — even its most basic package.
- AT&T uses fiber-optic technology, whereas Spectrum relies on traditional cable to provide content.
- AT&T offers unlimited DVR storage (for a price), whereas Spectrum caps off at 100 hours.
- You can stream AT&T on multiple devices, including Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire products. Spectrum is limited in this aspect. In total, AT&T can stream on 14 different devices, whereas Spectrum can only stream on 10.
Depending on the channel offerings, you might not be interested in things like fiber-optics or unlimited DVR storage. So let’s move on to each service provider to see what they’re all about in terms of pricing structure, channels, and perks.
Spectrum: Cost and Content
Spectrum’s base Select plan starts at $44.99 a month and gives you over 125 channels. Next up, there’s the Silver plan, which costs $74.99 and brings you over 175 channels.
And lastly, there’s the Gold plan. This one costs $94.99 a month, but you get more than 200 channels in total. What’s more, the Silver and Gold plans both include the NFL Network, SHOWTIME, and HBO Max.
If you’re into movies and football, the latter two plans make the most sense. Although, admittedly, they’re both significantly higher than Spectrum’s base plan.
Moreover, keep in mind that this is cable, so Spectrum’s a bit limited by comparison. Still, each plan includes 50 to 100 hours of DVR storage, and you can stream channels across four TVs.
It’s worth mentioning that Spectrum also offers a plan called Spectrum TV Choice for just $24.99 a month. While this might sound like a dream come true for anyone on a strict budget, I suggest you look elsewhere if you’re in the market for an ultra-affordable package.
For $24.99 a month, you can get streaming services that offer far more content than what Spectrum TV Choice offers.
Since Spectrum is a cable service, there are additional costs to take into consideration. For starters, there’s a Broadcast TV service charge, which will run you an additional $16.45 a month.
It also needs to be installed by a professional, which costs $49.99. You’ll also need a DVR receiver to watch your Spectrum channels, adding another $4.99 per month. Want additional DVR receivers in your house? Be prepared to cough up another $9.99 a month.
Here’s a quick rundown of Spectrum’s monthly charges, not including the one-time professional installation fee of $49.99:
- Broadcast TV service charge: $16.45
- First DVR receiver: $4.99
- Additional DVRs: $9.99
If you don’t need any additional DVR units in your home, you’re looking at a minimum of $21.44 a month in extra charges on your account. That said, I like that you get a lot of channels to work with, and it’s still cheaper than a lot of other cable offers.
Like other streaming services, Spectrum has its own add-on bundles that you can choose from to customize your plan. So if you’re not happy with Spectrum’s traditional packages, you have options to make them more to your liking
Let’s look at what you can choose in each add-on category.
|Channel Add-On||Cost per Month|
Keep in mind that Spectrum’s Silver and Gold plans already come with SHOWTIME, HBO, and Cinemax. That’s a monthly total of $37 just right there that you could be saving. And it’s another reason why Spectrum is such a solid option.
What’s more, the Sports add-on delivers channels that include:
- ESPN SEC Network
- Fox College Sports
- Pac-12 Network
- Tennis Channel
- ESPN Classic
- MLB Network
- NFL Network
- NBC Sports
- CBS Sports
- NBC Golf
Keep in mind that the Sports channels you receive differ based on whether you’re on the Select, Silver, or Gold plan. You still get over 125 channels with the Select plan, over 175 with the Silver plan, and more than 200 with the Gold plan.
AT&T: Cost and Content
Right off the bat, I have to mention that AT&T is decidedly more expensive than Spectrum. To make matters worse, you don’t get as many channels with AT&T as you do with Spectrum.
For example, AT&T’s base Entertainment package costs $69.99 a month and gives you a little over 65 channels. The next plan up is the Choice plan, which costs $84.99 and gives you a little over 90 channels.
And then there’s the Ultimate plan. This one will run you $94.99 a month, but it gives you over 130 channels. And finally, there’s the Premier plan, which costs $139.99 a month and comes with over 140 channels.
Regardless of which plan you go with, you get 20 hours of Cloud DVR storage, and up to 20 people can stream at the same time. If only 20 hours of DVR seems paltry, you can upgrade it to Unlimited for just $10 a month.
Before you get too excited, though, I have to inform you that you can only keep your recordings for 90 days. Once you’ve reached 90 days, anything you have saved on your DVR gets automatically erased, regardless of whether you have Unlimited DVR.
I agree that it’s handy if you’re someone who binges on a bunch of shows in your spare time. But if you don’t have the time to get around to everything you want to see in 90 days, you’re out of luck.
Like Spectrum, AT&T has some additional fees you need to be aware of. For starters, there’s an activation fee of $19.95. I don’t think that’s too unreasonable, especially compared to Spectrum’s $49.99 installation fee.
What I don’t like is the cost of additional receivers — they’re $120. So if you want an additional receiver for your home, you’ll have to fork over $120 to purchase it outright.
Finally, there’s a Regional Sports fee of $8.49 a month. So in total, AT&T’s extra charges are as follows:
- Regional Sports fee: $8.49/mo
- Additional receiver: $120
- Activation fee: $19.95
The silver lining in these fees is that two of them are one-time fees. Aside from local taxes, AT&T charges you just $8.49 a month, as opposed to Spectrum’s $21.44 (at minimum). Spectrum’s monthly fees can be higher if you want additional DVR receivers.
Like Spectrum, you can also subscribe to additional monthly content with AT&T. But where I think AT&T gets the win is in the sports department. I really like its lineup of sports content, even if a lot of it is the same as Spectrum’s.
You can also add popular movie channels, as seen below.
|Channel Add-On||Cost per Month|
Still not sure which streaming service is right for you? Compare the channel lineups below to help you in your decision.
Channel Comparison: Which Service Offers More?
Both streaming services offer a veritable boatload of channels. I think the easiest way to determine which service has the most channels you want is to provide you with a side-by-side comparison.
Keep in mind that Spectrum has more channels right out of the gate, whereas AT&T’s channels depend on the plan you get.
|BBC America||Animal Planet|
|BBC World News||BBC America|
|BET||BBC World News (Ultimate only)|
|Big Ten Network||BET|
|Bloomberg TV||Big Ten Network|
|Boomerang (Gold only)||Bloomberg TV|
|Cartoon Network / Adult Swim||Cartoon Network / Adult Swim|
|CBS Sports Network||CBS Sports Network (Ultimate only)|
|Comedy Central||Comedy Central|
|Cooking Channel||Cooking Channel|
|COZI TV||The CW|
|The CW||Destination America|
|Destination America (Gold only)||Discovery Channel|
|Discovery Channel||Discovery Family (Ultimate only)|
|Discovery Family (Gold only)||Disney Channel|
|Disney Channel||Disney Junior|
|Disney Junior||Disney XD|
|Disney XD||DIY Network (Ultimate only)|
|EPIX® (Gold only)||ESPNEWS|
|ESPNU||FOX Business Network|
|Food Network||FOX News|
|FOX Business Network||FS2 (Ultimate only)|
|FOX Soccer Plus (Gold only)||Fuse|
|Fuse||fyi (Ultimate only)|
|FXM||Golf Channel (Ultimate only)|
|fyi||Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (Ultimate only)|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||IFC|
|HISTORY||Lifetime Movie Network (Ultimate only)|
|Lifetime Movie Network||MTV Classic (Ultimate only)|
|MLB Network||NatGeo WILD (Ultimate only)|
|MSNBC||National Geographic Channel|
|MTV Classic||NBC Sports Network|
|NatGeo WILD||NBC Universo (Ultimate only)|
|National Geographic Channel||NHL Network (Ultimate only)|
|NBA TV||Nick Jr.|
|NBC||Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite|
|NBC Sports Network||Nicktoons|
|NBC Universo||Olympic Channel (Ultimate only)|
|NHL Network (Gold only)||Oxygen|
|Nick Jr.||Paramount Network|
|Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite (Gold only)||PBS|
|Pac 12 Network (Gold only)||SundanceTV|
|Paramount Network (Gold only)||Syfy|
|Pop (Gold only)||TCM|
|Science (Gold only)||TeenNick|
|SEC Network||Tennis Channel|
|STARZ® (Gold only)||Travel Channel|
|TBS||Universal Kids (Ultimate only)|
|Travel Channel||Weather Channel|
|TV Land (Gold only)|
|Universal Kids (Silver only)|
But wait, there’s more. As I mentioned a moment ago, both streaming services offer sports channels. AT&T has the ACC Network, which is a big plus in my book. If you’re into sports at all, there’s a good chance you’re going to love ACC.
It’s another ESPN-owned network, but it offers a ton of football, basketball, and Olympic sports coverage. If you’re an Olympics fan, you can get the coverage you need without having to bump up the Ultimate plan for its exclusive Olympic Channel.
|Big Ten Network||ACC Network|
|CBS Sports Network||Big Ten Network|
|ESPN||CBS Sports Network (Ultimate only)|
|Golf Channel||FS2 (Ultimate only)|
|MLB Network||Golf Channel (Ultimate only)|
|NBA TV||MLB Network|
|NBC Sports Network||NBA TV|
|NFL Network||NBC Sports Network|
|NHL Network (Gold only)||NFL Network (Ultimate only)|
|Outdoor TV (Gold only)||NHL Network (Ultimate only)|
|Pac 12 Network (Gold only)||Olympic Channel (Ultimate only)|
|SEC Network||SEC Network|
|Tennis Channel||Tennis Channel|
I should also note that both Spectrum and AT&T come with the following local channels:
- The CW
You get these regardless of which plan you’re on, too. So you don’t have to spend extra on a larger plan to get your local stations.
Answer: Yes, Spectrum is the more affordable option of the two.
Answer: Need to reduce your monthly expenses? Switching to Spectrum certainly won’t hurt. If you’re coming from AT&T, follow these steps:
• Sign up for the Spectrum plan of your choice.
• Cancel your AT&T service and get your final bill.
• If there’s an early termination fee, Spectrum will cover up to $500.
Simply fill out the Contract Buyout Form after you get your final AT&T bill.
Answer: There are no contracts with Spectrum. That means you can cancel at any time without fear of early termination fees. While we’re on the subject, AT&T also ditched its yearly contract option, allowing all customers to pay on a monthly basis.
So there you have it. I like both services, but at the end of the day, I think Spectrum makes the most financial sense. It’s affordable, more widely available, and you get a ton of channels. What more could you want?
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