Although there are many options when it comes to having hundreds of channels at your fingertips, not all of them are stress-free. Waiting for your laptop and TV card to finally start cooperating may be quite frustrating. Additionally, having satellite television isn’t a bad option, but then you do have to think about cleaning and maintaining your device.
Perhaps the least of all evils is opting for cable TV. But then again, not all providers can offer you conditions that match your needs. For that reason, you should thoroughly research and put in the effort in order to find that one service that’s almost perfect for you.
There’s no such thing as a perfect provider that’s a dream come true for everyone. Even though you can find quality cable TV service, you may not be able to afford it. Therefore, you need to compare the providers and see where their weaknesses lie.
Here, you won’t get a top list of the best providers but a detailed comparison that will point you in the right direction. According to the research, it’s clear which company is:
- The most family-friendly provider
- The best no-contract provider
- The most affordable provider
- The best provider overall
Although there isa best provider overall on the list, you should go through the pros and cons lists first. Your search should be based on finding a provider that satisfies your needs, not the other way around.
Now, one last tip before the comparison starts. Chances are that your new cable provider can save you money if you decide to get an Internet plan as well. Doing so can help you cut some monthly costs, so you should definitely think about it.
The Best One Overall — Xfinity TV
With Xfinity, you’ll be given three different options when it comes to packages.
The most affordable one is called Digital Economy, and it will cost you $39.95 per month for 100+ channels. Digital Starter offers 140+ channels, but it requires you to pay $49.99 each month.
If you don’t have a problem with investing $10 more, you can upgrade to Digital Preferred and its 220+ channels. Finally, there’s also Digital Premier, which will cost you $104.99 a month. If you opt for that plan, the number of channels will be bumped to over 260.
Xfinity TV Pros
- Prices are decent
- No need to sign a contract
- A solid DVR
When it comes to channels, even with the two most affordable packages, Xfinity offers great value for money.
For example, channels like Discovery, ESPN, TNT, USA, and AMC are all included in the Digital Starter. If watching TV shows is how you love to spend much of your free time, you won’t miss out on anything with it. In addition, the price isn’t ridiculous — $50 isn’t too much if you can watch all of the most popular channels.
Now, a small warning is in order. Although you don’t have to sign a contract with Xfinity, there’s still something you should know. The price of all the packages goes up by $10 if you want to stay a free agent. So, if money is a factor, perhaps it’s better to sign a contract.
As far as X1 goes, Xfinity’s DVR, you’ll find it’s a solid device. Although it’s not the best one on the market, X1 is still highly functional. You can record 100 hours of HD content, which is a decent amount of storage space. In addition, you can record six shows at the same time.
What makes things interesting is voice control — you can control your X1 this way too. Besides that, you can connect it to your Netflix account, which is always a great option to have.
Xfinity TV Cons
- Customer service is used for upselling
- Read the fine print — extra fees included
It’s still quite ridiculous that some providers base a part of their earnings on fine print and the fact you might not read it. Well, ridiculous or not, most providers do, and so does Xfinity.
Expect to see a broadcasting fee on your monthly bill. In addition, you’ll have to pay for a regional sports fee. With these two extra expenses, your bill can increase by up to $12. By no means is that a lot — the problem is that Xfinity isn’t really transparent when it comes to additional fees.
The second thing you won’t like about Xfinity is its customer service. The team in question isn’t what you’d call unprofessional — employees seem to know what they are talking about. However, before you get your answer, you will have to hear about the latest promotions and updates first.
The Most Affordable One — Cox TV
Amazingly enough, your cable bill can cost only $25 a month if you decide to go with Cox. TV Starter is the basic channel package you can get at this price — it comes with more than 75 channels.
Unfortunately, the choice isn’t that great — Cox has only two packages on offer. The second one is called Contour TV, which has over 140 channels for you to choose from. You can get it for $69.99 a month.
Cox TV Pros
- Incredibly affordable starter package
- Option to customize your package
- Watch TV on the go with the Cox app
Well, you’ll agree that the price of the starter Cox package is quite surprising. For that reason, Cox is on this list as the most affordable cable provider. Naturally, you shouldn’t expect too much out of TV Starter — most of the channels only offer music.
Even though you won’t be able to enjoy Disney Channel or ESPN, for example, you can still have fun with Fox, ABC, NBC, and PBS. All in all, the choice isn’t that terrible when you consider the price. Perhaps TV Starter was created for people who just like to use their TVs for background noise. In that case, the Cox starter package is a great option.
Contour TV is a completely different story. With the second Cox option, you can create your very own package — it’s customizable. It’s always great when you can personalize your package; in that case, you might actually watch all the channels in it.
In the end, it’s also important to mention the Cox app. Thanks to the app, you can stream content and watch your favorite shows and movies on the go.
Cox TV Cons
- Contour TV is actually expensive
- Having a DVR is pricey as well
- Pay attention to the fees too
As mentioned, fees are obviously a must-have when it comes to today’s cable providers. As such, it’s better to be aware of them from the very beginning. That way, you can have all the numbers and thus find out what the real price is.
Even though Cox is on the list as the most affordable provider, the other package in its offer is not really cheap. Even without customizing it, $69.99 for 140 channels isn’t that great.
Once again, a broadcasting fee and a regional sports fee will be added to your bill. Besides that, you should also know that the customization of Contour TV isn’t free of charge. Your monthly bill will increase depending on the add-ons you choose. Some options are inexpensive — an add-on can cost you as low as $5. However, others can be up to $15.99.
Moreover, Cox will offer you its DVR. Although the device in question is powerful — it can record up to 340 hours — it’s still quite pricey. You will have to pay an extra $19.99 if you want to enjoy Cox’s DVR.
The One With No Contract — Spectrum TV
If you decide to go with Spectrum TV, you’ll have to choose from three packages.
For starters, there’s TV Select — you can get over 125 channels at the price of $44.99 a month. If you decide to go with TV Silver, you’ll pay $84.99 and enjoy over 175 channels. As the best option, Spectrum developed the TV Gold package, which offers over 200 channels for $104.99 a month.
Spectrum TV Pros
- Packages are reasonably priced
- You don’t have to sign a contract
Most providers will try to trick you into signing a contract one way or the other. The greatest thing about Spectrum is that they won’t even try to win you over as a permanent client. If you don’t want to sign with them, you can remain a free agent.
The truth is that Spectrum’s prices will change after the first year, so have that in mind. After 12 months, the prices will go up. However, considering that you’re a free agent, you can choose not to pay more.
As you can see, the packages are reasonably priced. The number of channels matches the price of the package within this company.
Spectrum TV Cons
- Be aware of the hidden fees
- Spectrum offers a weak DVR
Spectrum will surprise you with both one-time fees and monthly ones — your bill will depend on your choices. Therefore, make sure to double-check everything so that you can avoid unexpected expenses.
In case you want to upgrade your equipment and order a DVR from Spectrum, expect two different types of fees. First, Spectrum will charge you a DVR service fee each month — say goodbye to $11.99. Then, you’ll also have to pay for the actual device, which will cost you $7.99 a month.
When you sum it all up, a DVR from Spectrum will add $20 to your bill, which doesn’t sound that bad. However, you won’t be happy with the properties of this DVR. It can hold up to 75 hours of content, which is barely enough to store all the episodes of Game of Thrones.
The Most Family-Friendly One — Optimum TV
Just like Spectrum, Optimum offers three different packages.
For the starter package, Core TV, Optimum will take $64.95 a month in exchange for over 220 channels. The second package, Select TV, will cost you $74.95 — but your channel selection will climb to 340+. Finally, there’s also Premier TV, which has 420+ channels and costs $104.95.
Optimum TV Pros
- You can record 15 shows at once
- Access to New York programming
Since you can record 15 shows at the same time, you won’t have to argue with your family members about priorities. The Optimum DVR allows you to bury the hatchet — at least until you run out of storage. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of storage available — the DVR offers only 75 hours.
Still, if you’re in love with the Big Apple, you’ll enjoy Optimum. You’ll be able to keep track of all of its sports channels, which is great news if you’re a die-hard Knicks fan.
Optimum TV Cons
- Be aware of the extra fees
- It’s not available everywhere
New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut are the only areas that can enjoy Optimum. Therefore, don’t even think about this provider if you don’t live there.
Once again, unexpected fees will appear on your bill, and they can increase it by up to $30. So, it’s best that you get in touch with the customer service and find out what to expect from Optimum.
You should know that prices can change depending on your location or current promotions. Although the difference shouldn’t be huge, it’s best that you contact your local provider to see if there are any changes.
As you can see, all the providers on this list are quite different. Although all companies have hidden fees in common, the rest of their features are not the same. Some are affordable, while others are not available everywhere. Additionally, a company may offer everything you want but leave you dissatisfied with the DVR.
In the end, regardless of your wants, you should be able to find a provider that fits your needs — if you compromise a bit here and there.