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Find the Best Cable Companies and Satellite TV Providers

Use our guide to research the best satellite and cable TV provider for you. There are several factors when deciding between cable and satellite TV, such as the reliability, cost and types of programs you prefer to watch. We break down all the vital information and help you choose a company that provides the services you want most.

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by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

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Mediacom Cable Read 4,661 Reviews

Mediacom has been serving small town America since 1996 offering 200+ HD channels, internet, in-home WiFi & innovative technology like TiVo®. You can get TV, internet & phone service bundled together, on 1 bill from 1 provider.

Optimum Read 1,323 Reviews

Optimum offers cable television services through Cablevision as well as Internet services. It began as a local Long Island company with 1,500 customers and now offers local news channels in that area and throughout America.

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Suddenlink Read 967 Reviews

Provides internet, cable and mobile services to consumers in areas where major internet providers may not reach. No annual contracts. Serves the South, Midwest, and Western U.S. regions. Prices start at $35 a month.

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Xfinity Cable TV Read 5,760 Reviews

Offers a wide variety of services, including cable television, Internet, smart home and home protection. Customers can purchase bundled services or select only services as they require.

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Frontier Communications Read 4,918 Reviews

Offers standalone internet and bundled phone, TV and Internet plans. No limits or data caps. Internet and TV bundles start at $54.99 a month. High-speed internet and fiber optic options. Serves 29 states.

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DIRECTV Read 17,529 Reviews

Provides a seamless satellite TV experience for consumers. Offers six different programming plans. Has hundreds of channels to choose from. Stream your favorite channels using high-speed internet.

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Cox Cable Read 1,359 Reviews

Cox is one of the largest cable companies in the United States. It considers itself an ethical company and offers a code of ethics on its website so that customers can understand the values it is founded on and carries out.

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DISH Network Read 6,434 Reviews

DISH Network is one of the largest satellite television providers in the world. It began offering television service to remote locations in the 1980s using just one dish, and has grown into an international Fortune 250 company.

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RCN Read 242 Reviews

RCN offers digital programming for homeowners as well as a wide range of business networking services. Its home entertainment services include video on demand, as well as Internet, video streaming and digital television services.

Altice Read 491 Reviews

Founded in 1973, Cablevision offers advanced digital television among their line-up of services to residents and businesses of the greater New York area. Cablevision also has news channels formatted for New York viewers.

How to choose a cable provider

1. Check channel availability

Cable TV providers offer a large selection of channels and programs for customers; however, these companies must make arrangements with individual broadcast networks to gain access and curate deliverable content for their subscribers. Some channels may not be provided in your area or can be “blacked out” because of a pricing dispute. As you shop, make sure the company you are considering can provide you with the content you want. Along with availability, you should also discuss

  • Standard channel packages: Different service providers contract with different networks and customers should make sure to get a package that covers the standard television channels they enjoy, including the traditional network channels.
  • On-Demand availability: Most paid television service providers include on-demand content as part of their package. Customers can choose to pay extra and gain access to a variety of television shows and movies when they want to enjoy the entertainment.
  • Sports: If you are a sports fan, make sure you have the option to watch your favorite team or league in your area. Many cable and satellite providers offer devoted stations as an extra option so you won’t miss a single game.
  • Movie exclusives:After movies leave the theater, and before they hit DVD release, they may show up on a provider's pay-per-view option. Customers should check out the title selection on these streaming rentals to find exclusive access to popular new movies.

2. Make sure they are reliable

Local weather, satellite placement and the number of customers using a provider's internet or cable feed can have an impact on reliability. Blank TV channels and slow connections can shape the reputation of a company's reliability.

  • Weather interference: Both cable and satellite television services can falter during bad weather, although it is more common with satellite providers.
  • Equipment failure: Some providers routinely use refurbished equipment, which can cause more frequent service outages.
  • High-quality service: Some cable and satellite providers provide high-quality service and equipment that will not falter, regardless of the weather or how many people use the provider feed.

3. Study the company’s contract terms

The majority of cable and satellite TV providers offer customers packaged deal pricing on a contract basis. Generally, rates are locked in for two or more years, although companies may include an increase in cost after six or 12 months. Customers should ensure they do research about their contract and what it entails before locking in service with one company.

  • No-contract service: Some service providers don't make customers sign a contract, but service pricing is subject to change when the company decides to alter prices.
  • Standard contract service: TV contracts typically run for at least a year, although some offer multi-year contracts with pricing guarantees.
  • Equipment costs: In addition to contracts that lock in television pricing and plan time length, contacts may also including information about the cost or price of other related equipment and services, like installation costs or equipment rental fees.

4. Look into additional services

Many cable and satellite TV providers also offer extra services; for instance, they may offer television and music channels in addition to the basic package.

  • Foreign language channels: The major players in the premium television space may offer content in a variety of different languages, especially Spanish.
  • Music stations: Most satellite and cable providers have a multitude of music-only channels, where you can select a melodic ambiance to a party or play in the background while unwinding at the end of the day.
  • Live recording services (DVR): In addition to on-demand services, most premium TV providers also offer equipment that allows subscribers to record shows for later playback.

5. Ask for package deals

Cable and satellite TV companies often package these related services together in bundles. Consumers can save by subscribing to TV and internet through the same company, for instance.

  • TV plus internet: This is the most common package deal since premium television services often depend on a broadband internet connection to deliver channels.
  • TV plus telephone: Some companies offer a package of television and internet service together, which provides users with a home phone line and cable television.
  • TV plus telephone plus internet: Combining all three telecommunications services through one provider could net viewers a discount.

How much is cable per month?

Cable and satellite TV providers provide a range of services and packages, and thus, the cost of television for customers can vary. On average, expect to pay $85 a month for cable and $100 a month for satellite services. Many companies are known for providing budget services, while others offer premium content at a higher price. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of your service plan.

  • Look for locked-in pricing: Some providers offer a price guarantee that lets new subscribers lock in their price for the duration of an extended contract.
  • Ask about pricing tiers: Most providers have levels of service that include different channels based on price, and customers have the ability to choose the tier that best suits their budget and watching needs.

Cable and satellite FAQ

Can I get satellite TV for free?
Yes, you can receive broadcast channels by purchasing and setting up the correct receiving equipment to get “free-to-air” satellite TV. You won’t get access to the same variety of channels found on subscription-based services like DirecTV and Dish Network, however.
What kind of cable is used for satellite TV?
A coaxial cable is used to connect the dish to the receiver, and an HDMI cable is used to connect the receiver to the TV. The major satellite TV providers in the U.S. offer free standard installation, and the company’s technicians provide these cables and other materials necessary to complete setup.
Is satellite TV going away?
Satellite TV’s future, like cable’s, is uncertain as more households are projected to “cut the cord,” or cancel multichannel subscription TV services in favor of internet-based media such as Netflix and YouTube TV. But neither of the major satellite TV providers has announced plans to end service, and both are currently offering two-year packages.
Does satellite TV have internet?
Satellite TV does not include regular internet service for other devices in your home. However, providers can help you bundle satellite TV with high-speed internet from the same provider or a third party. By hooking up your receiver to the internet, you get access to apps and can record programming from anywhere.
Can you get satellite TV without a contract?
Yes, you can get satellite TV that’s pay-as-you-go and cancelable at any time. Dish Network Flex TV and Orby TV are contract-free satellite TV solutions that don’t require credit checks.
How does a TV satellite work?
Satellite TV works by broadcasting signals from satellites orbiting Earth to a user’s satellite dish, which transmits the signals to a receiver in the user’s home. The receiver processes the signals and sends them to the user’s TV.

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    Cable and satellite TV provider reviews

    DIRECTV

    With more than 39 million customers, DIRECTV is one of the largest providers of paid TV services. The company is headquartered in El Segundo, California, and it provides programming to customers through satellite transmissions.

    Read 17529 Reviews
    Mediacom Cable

    Mediacom specializes in bringing the same high level of digital services that residents of major metropolitan areas enjoy to small towns and cities across the United States. They currently serve over 1,500 communities in 22 states.

    Read More
    Xfinity Cable TV

    Comcast Corporation operates two major media companies: Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. The company has grown into the largest residential paid TV service provider in America, and it provides a choice of cable packages and services for customers with a range of tastes and interests.

    Read 5760 Reviews
    DISH Network

    Founded in 1980, DISH Network now provides paid TV to almost 14 million subscribers. The company, headquartered in Meridian, Colorado, is the second-largest satellite TV provider in the United States.

    Read More
    Optimum

    Founded in 1973 under the name Cablevision Systems Corporation, Optimum continues to serve millions of customers in the New York area. The company offers television, Internet and cable services.

    Read 1323 Reviews
    Cox Cable

    Founded in 1962, Cox Cable serves more than 6.2 million residential customers each year. As the first cable company to offer business-centric products, it also offers businesses paid TV, telephone and Internet services.

    Read 1359 Reviews
    Cable ONE

    Serving 730,000 customers in 19 states, Cable ONE has grown to be the 10th largest cable television provider in the United States. The company was founded in 1986.

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    Broadstripe Cable

    Broadstripe Cable was founded in 1998 and bought by Anne Arundel Broadband in 2012. The company offers telecommunications services to residential and business customers in Maryland.

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    Compare Top TV Providers

    WOW! Internet Cable and Phone Read 303 Reviews

    Founded in 1996, WOW! is a digital cable provider operating in the Southeast and Midwest United States. By using customer feedback, WOW! offers a smaller lineup of channels that most customers will actually watch.

    MetroNet Read 69 Reviews

    MetroNet is a provider of fiber optic communication services headquartered in Evansville, Ind. They bring high-speed internet and other fiber services to communities across the state with online and local stores.

    Cable ONE Read 234 Reviews

    Cable ONE is one of the oldest cable companies in the United States, offering its services since 1986. Today, it serves customers in 19 states from its Arizona corporate headquarters and sends out monthly customer service surveys.

    Broadstripe Cable Read 84 Reviews

    Broadstripe is a smaller cable service that provides local service to consumers in Anne Arundel County in Maryland. Services include cable television, Internet and phone for both residential and business customers.

    AT&T TV Read Reviews

    Offers TV streaming service. Two-year contracts. Prices start at $49.99 and go up to $134.99 a month. Packages designed for basic needs, sports followers and movie fans. Voice assistant remote and simple DIY setup.

    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.