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Spectrum vs AT&T for Streaming

Latest posts by Justin Stewart (see all)

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.

streaming service

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

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.

Spectrum Add-Ons

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
Sports Select $44.99
Sports Silver $74.99
Sports Gold $94.99
HBO $15
Cinemax $11
SHOWTIME $11
Starz $11
Epix $6

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.

spectrum channels

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
  • ESPNEWS
  • NBC Golf
  • ESPNU
  • ESPN2
  • TUDN
  • ESPN
  • FS1
  • FS2

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

at&t

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.

AT&T Add-Ons

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
HBO $15
Cinemax $11
SHOWTIME $11
Starz $11
Epix $6

Still not sure which streaming service is right for you? Compare the channel lineups below to help you in your decision.

at&t add ons

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.

Spectrum AT&T
A&E A&E
ABC ABC
AMC ACC Network
Animal Planet AMC
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
Bravo Boomerang
C-SPAN Bravo
Cartoon Network / Adult Swim Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
CBS CBS
CBS Sports Network CBS Sports Network (Ultimate only)
CINEMAX® Cheddar News
CMT CMT
CNBC CNBC
CNN CNN
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)
DIY Network E!
E! ESPN
El Rey ESPN2
EPIX® (Gold only) ESPNEWS
ESPN ESPNU
ESPN2 Food Network
ESPNEWS FOX
ESPNU FOX Business Network
Food Network FOX News
FOX FS1
FOX Business Network FS2 (Ultimate only)
FOX News Freeform
FOX Soccer Plus (Gold only) Fuse
FS1 FX
FS2 FXM
Freeform FXX
Fuse fyi (Ultimate only)
FX Galavision
FXM Golf Channel (Ultimate only)
FXX Hallmark Channel
fyi Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (Ultimate only)
Galavision HGTV
Golf Channel HISTORY
Hallmark Channel HLN
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries IFC
HBO® Investigation Discovery
HGTV Lifetime
HISTORY Lifetime Movie Network (Ultimate only)
HLN MLB Network
IFC MOTOR TREND
Investigation Discovery MSNBC
ION MTV
Lifetime MTV2
Lifetime Movie Network MTV Classic (Ultimate only)
MLB Network NatGeo WILD (Ultimate only)
MSNBC National Geographic Channel
MTV NBA TV
MTV2 NBC
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)
NFL Network OWN
NHL Network (Gold only) Oxygen
Nick Jr. Paramount Network
Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite (Gold only) PBS
Nicktoons Pop
OWN Science
Oxygen SEC Network
Pac 12 Network (Gold only) SundanceTV
Paramount Network (Gold only) Syfy
PBS TBS
Pop (Gold only) TCM
Science (Gold only) TeenNick
SEC Network Tennis Channel
SHOWTIME® TLC
Smithsonian Channel TNT
STARZ® (Gold only) Travel Channel
SundanceTV TruTV
Syfy TV Land
TBS Universal Kids (Ultimate only)
TCM Univision
TeenNick USA Network
Tennis Channel VH1
TLC VICE
TNT WE TV
Travel Channel Weather Channel
TruTV  
TV Land (Gold only)  
Universal Kids (Silver only)  
Univision  
USA Network  
VH1  
VICE  
WE TV  
Weather Channel  

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.

acc network

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.

Spectrum AT&T
Big Ten Network ACC Network
CBS Sports Network Big Ten Network
ESPN CBS Sports Network (Ultimate only)
ESPN2 ESPN
ESPNEWS ESPN2
ESPNU ESPNEWS
FS1 ESPNU
FS2 FS1
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:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • FOX
  • NBC
  • The CW
  • PBS

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.

FAQ

Question: Is Spectrum cheaper than AT&T?

Answer: Yes, Spectrum is the more affordable option of the two.

Question: How do I switch from AT&T to Spectrum?

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.

Question: Does Spectrum lock you into a contract?

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.

In Closing

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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