Cable TV is one of the most common ways in which Americans get to watch shows from their living rooms. Recent progress in the form of DVRs, pay-per-view, and digital cable has made it even more popular among viewers all around the country.
Cable television brings television programming to subscribers through radio signals carried over cables. It is different from other popular options like satellite television, for instance, which uses communications satellites to send signals to an outdoor antenna in the subscriber’s home.
Cable TV vs. Satellite TV
When it comes to picking one of the two, many potential subscribers still do not understand the differences between them. Cable TV is more resistant to fluctuating and inclement weather, but it costs more than satellite TV. It is also better suited to renters, as well as people who prefer not to step into extended legal commitments. Satellite TV can be interrupted by bad weather, but you pay much less for it on a monthly basis. Cable TV can only be availed in regions where one or more cable TV providers have the necessary infrastructure laid out, while satellite TV is available in any place where you can face your dish south, towards a clear sky.
An expert technician is needed to install cable TV in any home. In case subscriber wants something more than basic cable, a cable box and remote will have to be rented from whichever of the cable TV providers they signed up with. If the essential cable line is already in place, such as if you are already getting internet service from the same company, then you have the option of installing the TV setup yourself.
Satellite TV works based on the positioning of a satellite dish on the outside of your home, with the added requirement that this dish face south. This may not be possible of you are in an apartment where the south side has a shared wall. If all favorable criteria align, setting this up yourself is still a big job, not to mention a long one as well. If and when you terminate services, this dish would usually need to be returned to the company. Some providers are known to waive or lower installation fees, particularly when the customer signs a long-standing contract.
Cable TV is well-known for delivering decent reception at all times, except when the whole system crashes, or the cable lines get cut along their way to your residence. This is one benefit which most cable TV providers tout when marketing their plans and packages.
Satellite TV only has clear reception as long as no physical object comes in between the southern sky and the satellite dish. A tree, wires, building, or even heavy rain can constitute a block substantial enough to disrupt service. There may be times when simply moving the dish to another spot, or realigning it, fixes the issue. The more securely mounted it is, and the better the exposure it enjoys to the southern sky, the better your reception has a chance of being.
Packages offered by cable TV providers vary widely in price, but at the basic level, it comes to around $30 a month. Satellite gives up to 200 channels, which compared to cable is a premium option at much the same price.
Cable TV service is only delivered to homes that fall within the respective provider’s limited coverage area. That usually leaves out plenty of rural areas. Satellite, on the other hand, can be availed anywhere, provided the dish is facing the southern sky directly. This only becomes a problem when your living space does not afford such placement, or if there is an object blocking clear view.
Cable and satellite basically offer the same set of channels, with basic satellite lining up alongside premium cable in that respect. The latter bit makes satellite a smarter choice for people particular about the number of channels they get to watch. Cable does serve up some local programming which you could not get with satellite, including public access stations. However, satellite brings feeds from the east and west costs, as well as alternate programming broadcast on channels such as Fox Sports and ESPN. On top of that, you also get several international channels that are not included in cable.
Cable TV service is not completely devoid of international programming, and includes channels in Chinese, Portuguese and Korean, although these are all based in the US. Satellite, meanwhile, lets users watch free international channels which the dish is able to pick up. The international programming choices cover most of the world, with the opportunity to customize based on what the subscriber wants. This is the main reason why so many first-generation immigrant households choose to go with satellite TV in their homes.
Cable TV providers usually bundle phone and internet services along with their TV subscriptions. Satellite companies too have started to do the same. The bundles are typically cheaper when you choose cable, with the added attraction of having to pay much less than the sum of what all or both services cost.
Most cable TV providers have monthly contracts in place, where you have the option to cancel whenever you want, or upgrade. Satellite providers usually place contract requirements where the subscriber has to stick on for at least a year or pay early termination charges. That said, there are a few pay-as-you-go you could pick.
Streaming to Devices
Some cable TV providers provide a feature to their service that allows streaming programming to other devices like laptops, iPads, Kindle Fire, etc.
Choosing the Right Cable Provider for you
It should not be too hard to pick a cable TV package these days, but the sheer range of options makes it just that. Some providers confuse customers with complicated information on their websites. Others unexpectedly bundle services, making them unwise to avail singly. At other times, promotions expire right before a person manages to sign up for an offer package. Many consumers find this frustrating. However, doing the following things makes it possible to pick well among the cable TV providers servicing your area, as well as select a package that satisfies your entertainment needs.
Learn about your Options
Figure out which cable TV providers service your neighborhood. All this takes is a google search with your pincode, and you would get a list of companies to start with. After narrowing down the options, investigate a bit. Ask around from friends and family, focusing on the experience they remember having with various cable TV providers. Ask specific questions which you need answers to: does service crash, and how often? How long typically before it is brought back up? Would they recommend the service to you?
Also check other platforms for opinions of past customers, as well as the ACSI’s telecommunications report. The latter is an annual survey which rates the biggest TV providers on the basis of how happy their subscribers are. For instance, the 2016 report ranked AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS the highest in this respect, and Spectrum the lowest.
Decide on the Channels you Absolutely Need
Nielsen reports that the average American adult subscribes to about 205 channels, and watches around 20 percent of that figure. They pay for a big number of channels they never watch, which is a definite waste of money. When setting out to pick a package, make a list of the channels you consider must-haves. Then, make a list of the ones you would very much like to get. After that, check which cable TV providers are offering a good part of both lists, or at least the first one.
Be sincere when deciding what you will probably watch over the long term, and think hard about the wisdom in dishing out extra for single channels you are not sure you need.
Compare the Different Bundles
13% of Americans do not use the internet, but you probably fall in the other category. Bundling different services lets a subscriber ultimately pay less for each, and this can stack up to as much as $1,000 in two years. However, it makes things more complicated, requiring you to first figure out a few things, such as the speed and type of broadband you can get, for instance. Not every bundle is good for you, so dissect the ones that attract your attention, and see if you stand to land a bargain.
Enquire about Deals
Most cable TV providers make it a point to treat new customers far better than existing ones, often knocking outrageous amounts off the monthly bill for the first twelve months, if not longer. These promotions can be great for you, so find out who is offering what, and compare the deals. Make sure to read the terms and conditions as well. If you do sign up on a promotion, find out when it ends, and set an alert so that you can anticipate the higher bill before it arrives. Afterwards, you can re-evaluate the wisdom in sticking with the provider, as opposed to switching.
Quibble over pricing may seem distasteful, but pretty soon it reveals itself as a sound way to make sure you get the best deal out of your cable provider. Your costs can be trimmed considerably, or attractive extra services added on, as long as you are willing to look for a potential bargain. To this end, find out what others are offering, and try and get your own service to match or even beat that.