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What is Cable TV?
Cable TV is the old standard for television service, after the antenna, bringing TV service to your home through buried cables. But just because it’s been around a long time doesn’t mean cable TV hasn’t evolved. Cable companies know people want to be able to watch live content, on-demand movies and shows and DVR their favorite programs to watch later — all at a reasonable price.
There's also a lot of competition in the TV marketplace, with satellite TV providing hundreds of HD channels to people even in rural areas, and IPTV now offering internet-based live and on-demand TV, often with no contracts to sign.
Overview of Cable TV Companies
|PROVIDER||PRICE RANGE||TV CHANNELS|
Cable TV Provider Details
- Contour TV
Prices subject to change
- Features: Cox has one of the lowest Starter TV packages, starting at $25 for over 10 channels. You can also build out your package to include additional perks, such as Contour TV, which is a cable box that gives you the power to put all your available movies through multiple streaming platforms on a single screen, controlled by voice remote.
- Additional costs: The DVR costs an additional $12.99 to $29.99, and 4K and HD receivers cost $4 to $10 on top of package prices. There is also a broadcast TV surcharge of $13.50, and access to regional sports costs $10.
- Best for: A low-cost starter TV package for the no-frills set.
- Our take: Cox offers a broad range of TV services, offering something for almost everyone. However, basic users need to remember that most additional services will add to the cost of their packages.
- 200 channels
- The Spectrum app
Prices subject to change.
- Features: Spectrum will buy you out of a contract (up to $500) you may have with another provider, and still not lock you into a contract with them. Starting costs are $44.99 for over 200 channels. The Spectrum app will also let users watch on devices. Get the full gamut of services with Spectrum TV on demand, along with live TV offerings.
- Additional costs: HD boxes are required and cost $7.99/mo. each on top of package price. DVR devices cost $4.99/mo. extra for the first device or $9.99/mo. for two. Package prices go up after a year.
- Best for: Spectrum is a great option for those who want a broad range of TV services without the need for a contract.
- Our take: Spectrum has a full suite of cable packages, starting at an affordable $44.99/mo., with additional perks available, such as on-demand and live TV, and an app that lets you bring your shows on the go.
- Voice remote
- Free Peacock Premium app with X1 package
Prices subject to change.
- Features: Xfinity’s X1 device puts all your channels side by side on one screen, eliminating the need to toggle between different inputs or in and out of apps. Users can search and change channels with a voice remote. Xfinity’s Stream app also enables you to take shows you've recorded on your DVR on the go.
- Additional costs: All packages are subject to an additional $14.95 broadcast TV fee. Access to regional sports costs an additional $8.75/mo.
- Best for: A TV lover who wants a premium selection of channels, as well as 4K capability, with all of their entertainment options displayed in the same place.
- Our take: Xfinity offers a low-cost, 10+ channel starter package for an affordable $29.99/mo. Xfinity also offers a term-free agreement and a 30-day money-back guarantee that you’ll love the service. Their Extra internet package gets you over 140 channels for $60, and the Preferred package comes with over 200 channels for $80. You can build your service out with additional packages, like a sports package for $10, HBO for $15 or EPIX for $5.99. When you sign up for X1, you’ll get one streaming app free — Peacock Premium, NBC’s on-demand service, comes with the price of your package at no extra cost.
Pros and Cons of Cable TV Service
- Tons of package options
- Reliable even in bad weather, unlike satellite TV
- Lots of sports and HD options available for those wanting to watch games in high definition
- Displays live TV and streaming options on the same screen to offer a seamless experience
- Cable can be paired with DVR to make sure you never miss your favorite shows
- Most providers require two-year commitments, with a price increase after year one
- Not always available in rural areas
Watch Cable TV on the Go
Most modern cable providers offer the capability to take your TV subscriptions on the go. Using dedicated apps that are associated with your TV package, you can watch programs saved to your DVR, and, in some cases, even live TV on the go. For example, with Xfinity’s Stream app, you can schedule DVR recordings, watch on-demand programming and even watch live TV from your phone. Similarly, Cox’s Contour and the Spectrum app get you access to live or on-demand TV anywhere you go, as long as you have a TV subscription.
Cable TV Frequently Asked Questions
What cable TV providers are in my area? To find which cable companies serve your area, go to DecisionData’s search tool. There, you’ll get a rundown of services available to you.
How can I reduce my cable bill? To reduce your cable bill, consider cutting channel packages you could do without. For instance, HBO can cost as much as $15/mo. In some cases, DVR can be an extra expense on your bill, too. If you can get by with live TV and on-demand offerings, forego the DVR to save some cash. You can also reduce your overall package, scaling down the number of overall channels available to you.
Who has the best cable TV and internet bundle? Which bundle you choose will depend on which provider is available in your area, and what you’re looking for in your TV and internet service. For example, Xfinity’s Blast! Internet plus Extra TV package gets you 200 Mbps internet speeds and over 125 channels for just $80.
Who is the largest cable TV company? Two of the largest cable companies across the U.S. are Comcast (Xfinity) and Spectrum.