Cable vs. Satellite TV: Read This Comparison Before Deciding

More often than not, people have to choose between cable and satellite, purely because one of these might not be available in their area. However, if you’re one of those lucky ones who happen to be on the lookout for a great comparison of both of these types of services — you’ll finally get some answers right here.

Unfortunately, the fact that you can choose between cable and satellite doesn’t make your life any easier. In the end, having both of these services is not an option, so you’ll have to decide soon! But how? Are there really so many differences as most people say? Or are cable and satellite television somewhat similar and both fantastic options?

Let’s first create a clear distinction between the two before going in-depth with the comparison. For starters, when it comes to cable, you get a lot more flexibility than with satellite television. Getting cable TV also means less equipment, easier installation (purely because there’s not much to set up) and a plethora of packages to choose from.

In contrast, one of the most incredible advantages of satellite TV is that it’s the best option if the countryside is your home of choice. What’s more, if you cannot live without your sports games or are a tech enthusiast, it might be able to offer you a lot more than cable.

In the end, the choice will depend on your needs and what you expect from your TV service. So, without further ado, let’s break down these two into categories and see who the real winner is. From prices to often underestimated customer support, by the end of this comparison, you’ll know exactly which TV service to opt for.

Satellite Is the True Winner if You Need High Definition

Now, back in the day, you probably didn’t have as many options or channels as you have today. However, now, things are a lot different. And, if you’re not watching TV in HD — can you genuinely say you’ve spent your money well?

Getting a fantastic TV on a huge sale won’t matter much if all you can watch are some fuzzy movies where you don’t even know who the main star is. After all, television programming can only be enjoyed if the picture is crystal-clear — and you definitely want that if you love your TV shows.

So, who wins this round, satellite or cable? As it turns out, cable television offers fantastic local HD programming, which is enough for some people. However, for true TV fanatics, getting to choose from a variety of national HD channels is a deal of a lifetime. So, if you think that’s what you need in your life, you ought to find a good satellite TV service provider.

Still, bear in mind that some channels you adore might not be available. For example, Showtime and HBO are usually a part of a more expensive service bundle. Sometimes, they’re even offered as add-ons for which you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. In general, though, most HD channels come with the basic packages. If you need more, check with your provider of choice if they can offer you something else.

Cable Won’t Mess Up Your Aesthetics

Unfortunately, one of the most significant drawbacks of satellite TV service is that awful dish you’ll have to install on your house. Though you cannot see it from the inside, whenever you drive up to your garage, it will look ugly and as if your home is still stuck in the ’50s. Additionally, since it’s always outside and you cannot really protect it from the elements, you can bet it will get damaged at some point, either because of snowfall or because of kids playing catch outside.

In contrast, cable TV is the ultimate solution if you care about aesthetics. In order to work, it needs wiring inside your home. These wires have to go from a wireless router to the set-top box you’ll have next to your TV set. What’s more, it needs a wired connection, which should conveniently go from a neighborhood trunk line right up to a small exterior box in your home, which is its connection point.

Thus, even with all those wires, you’ll hardly notice anything strange when you get cable. There won’t be any unsightly pieces of equipment you’ll have to live with for as long as you need TV service. Overall, the exterior and the interior of your home will be preserved.

Which TV Service Has the Best Paid Content?

Fortunately, you won’t go wrong if you pick either of these TV services if you’re after exclusive paid content.

Given that both satellite and cable offer plenty of channels, there’s no way you’ll ever get bored. What’s more, premium channels are also available with both services, albeit for just a limited time period. If you need some of them, you can go for a premium package, which would obviously cost more. But in any case, no matter if you choose cable or satellite, there’s a good chance you’ll get to tweak your package. That way, you’ll certainly get to make it perfect so that it caters to all your needs.

So, why does this category have to end in a tie, you may ask? Well, it goes without saying that competition is fierce out there. So, both types of providers have to deliver results under a tremendous amount of pressure. They need to compete and provide prompt updates — otherwise, they might lose subscribers!

It’s good to know you won’t make a mistake with either one. Chances are, you’ll get thousands of shows and movies to choose from — which might be the toughest decision overall!

What About Channels? Does Cable Win This Round or Will Satellite Triumph?

Unfortunately, you cannot really pick a winner here either. Most people would say satellite TV is a dream come true for those who prefer watching the national news and rooting for their favorite sports team. Still, that doesn’t mean a satellite provider would definitely offer more channels than a cable one. Also, cable providers are, in general, a great choice if you prefer watching the local news.

Why isn’t there a winner here? Well, it’s quite simple, really. Channel selection doesn’t depend on whether you’re using satellite or cable. It is the sole responsibility of the provider you choose. For instance, two of some of the best satellite providers right now, DISH and DIRECTV, seem similar in some aspects, but DIRECTV has a much better selection. Meanwhile, over in the cable TV universe, Time Warner Cable cannot even compare to AT&T’s U-verse, which has a channel selection that could please pretty much anyone.

So, what can you do when there are good channels everywhere? You ought to make a list of your favorite ones, of course. Think about which shows you love and channels you cannot live without, and then seek out a package that includes all of them.

In the end, it’s not that hard. It’s always better than finding out you’ll never get to see the finale of a show you’ve been raving about for months because you signed a contract you’d need to pay a fortune to get out of!

You’ll Find Slightly Better Customer Support with a Cable Provider

The American Customer Satisfaction Index is the ultimate means to an end if you are still on the fence while choosing a subscription-based television company. The ASCI rates companies according to the customer support they provide, giving you a way to recognize the duds immediately.

However, most pay television companies have bad ratings, with subscribers giving them anywhere from 51% to 71% in most cases. Therefore, whether you choose cable or satellite, don’t expect anyone to wait on your hand and foot. Those with solid customer support in the realm of satellite TV are DISH and DIRECTV. Meanwhile, if you opt for cable but want a provider that sort of respects you, Verizon Fios and AT&T U-verse are some of the top choices.

Still, this too will depend on each provider. What’s more, each customer has a different experience and idea of what excellent customer support is. Thus, some cable providers, such as Cox, rank higher than those mentioned above. According to most users, Cox really knows how to please customers!

Final Showdown: Which TV Service Will Cost You a Pretty Penny?

You’ve gone through all the technical aspects you ought to consider when choosing between satellite and cable television. However, there’s something everyone has to take into account — which service is affordable and won’t break the bank?

Since many providers now offer confusing pricing plans and bundles that come with a daunting number of features, figuring out which TV service is the best for you isn’t as easy as it might look.

For starters, when it comes to cable TV, there are many packages you don’t have to commit to for a longer period of time. The lack of commitment will cost you, as these are often more expensive and will make you pay more on a monthly basis. Nevertheless, for those who are afraid of contracts that list out-of-this-world cancellation fees, these might be a good option. In any case, they’re slightly better than getting a satellite package you’ll have to live with for at least a year (usually two years).

However, if you take a look at the channel-per-dollar ratio, satellite providers are winning the game. Additionally, if the weather is just ideal outside, the HD reception is a bit better than with cable TV.

Finally, although both TV services have different pricing options and tiers you can choose from, in general, satellite TV is cheaper than cable if you opt for the most basic package there is. That means the least number of channels, no HD and no premium channels, like STARZ and HBO. If that’s what you’re going for, then check out DISH. With the basic package, you’ll get a good variety of channels for about $59.99 per month.

Need more information? Let’s see which are the cheapest packages you can opt for and how many channels you’ll get with each one.


For just $49.99 per month, you’ll get 155+ channels with the Select All-Included plan. However, you will devote two years to this provider, and that price is valid only for the first 12 months. After that, there’s an increase that might make a few customers angry. Also, DIRECTV requires autopay and paperless bill.

Cox TV

With Cox TV’s TV Starter, you’ll have to pay $25 per month, which is a pretty sweet deal. However, that price is valid for the first year (12 months) only, and you get 75+ channels.

Xfinity TV

In comparison to Cox TV, Xfinity TV is a much pricer option. Still, you’ll get 140+ channels with the Digital Starter plan for $49.99 per month. Also, you’ll have to sign a 1-year agreement, so at least you’ll be able to get out of it sooner if it doesn’t work out. As a downside, though, the price is valid for only 12 months.


As said, DISH TV might be the best of both worlds. It offers good value for money, and you’ll get to enjoy a variety of channels. With America’s Top 120 plan, you’ll get a whopping number of channels — 190, to be exact. Nevertheless, you’ll have to pay $59.99 per month, and you also have to sign a 2-year agreement and use eAutoPay. On the bright side, the price will stay steady for 24 months!

Spectrum TV

With Spectrum TV, you can pay anywhere from $44.99 to $104.99, depending on the package, and get about 200 channels. However, those prices are only valid for the first 12 months of service. Expect to see a price increase after the first year is up.

*Remember to check the prices, as well as the terms and conditions. The providers may have changed them recently.

So, What’s the Verdict?

If you live in the countryside, getting cable will be quite tricky, so satellite is the better option. Also, if sports are in your blood or if you love technology, you’ll love satellite TV.

Of course, having a dish mess up the aesthetics of your home’s exterior is not ideal. But, if you prefer signal quality and various news and national sports channel options, satellite TV is a real winner. The only two things that might make you enjoy it less are the weather, which you obviously cannot control, and the fact you’ll have to commit to it for at least a year.

On the other hand, with cable television, you won’t have much equipment to install nor will you have to limit yourself to just a few features. Additionally, cable providers offer many exquisite packages and don’t require their customers to sign long-term contracts. If you’re scared of getting stuck with lousy satellite service for two years, then cable TV is your best bet.

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