A short list of Cable TV providers for your area can be difficult to put together with all the competition out there in many regions. The mere idea of “Cable TV” as opposed to free public broadcasting has been around since the 1950s, when one company realized there was a need they could fill. We’ve since seen cable adapt and grow over the years, and these days, “free” TV is looking to become a thing of the past.
There is a wide array of TV providers out there these days. I put this piece together to help make your job of putting that short list together a little easier.
The Big Cable TV Providers
Cable TV providers range from local companies who cover only a small area and are often attached to larger companies, to the national giants — Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, and Charter. Which Cable TV company is available to you will depend upon your location, but sometimes you can get lucky enough to live in an area where you get to choose between two or more.
Of course, each company has its pros and cons. For example, Comcast usually has some awesome bundles and deals running, but you’ll only find out about them if you’re a new customer or if you remember to call in when your current promotion ends.
Reviews say that Cox has amazing channels and packages, but can run up an expensive bill very quickly. Meanwhile, there aren’t many of positive customer reviews for Time Warner Cable, but reports do say that their speed and connection reliability is amazing. Charter can also run pretty good on prices and consistency, but word on the street is that they have rather unreliable customer and technical support.
Let’s start with Comcast, who definitely has a lot of different options. For instance, right now they are running a basic cable (45 digital channels) package for about $20 for 12 months. The number of channels that is offered ranges from only 10 to the Premier package of 200 plus channels. (The higher end will run you about $100 a month right now.) Of course, Comcast also offers a bunch of add-ons for your service — such as DVR, streaming online and On Demand — and even offers bundles, if you also wish to get your Home Phone or Internet through them. (Which, for Triple Play, can run you anywhere from $80-$200 a month.)
Then there’s Cox. Their website doesn’t really tell you how many channels you can get at a glance, just titles, price ranges and special features. Their cheapest deal is an economy pack (189+ channels), which costs around $25 for three months and includes parental guides and on-screen program guide. Cox’s highest TV package is the Advanced TV with Contour package. This is about $80 for the first three months and includes 340-plus channels, all your normal perks, plus a 2TB hard drive, which can store thousands of shows for you to watch at a later date. As of right now, though, they do not seem to be running any specials when it comes to bundling.
Time Warner Cable’s basic package offers 20 channels for close to $20 for the first 12 months, while their highest package only offers 200-plus channels for about $80 for 12 months. (Though, to be fair, that does get your entire house DVR service, which is usually charged for each individual room with other companies.) Like Comcast, they also offer bundles, which can range from $80 for basic up to $120 for their turbo pack. (All bundles include TV, Phone and Internet.)
Lastly, there is Charter. Their basic TV package will run you $40 for 12 months and offers 125-plus channels, HD, mobile play, On Demand and up to 780 hours of DVR storage. When trying to find higher packages, their website simply offers you bundles instead. These Charter packages range in price from about $30 for 12 months to $60 for 12 months and include your standard TV, Internet and Phone. This is fine if you want to bundle, but seems like a bit of a hassle if you are only interested in finding a higher Cable TV package.
Each of these companies has something to offer and many of them offer the same things. Most of them come with HD, On Demand and the ability to have a DVR service. All companies offer packages to include premium channels (such as HBO or Showtime) or Hispanic or sports channels, and most of them will now let you watch your cable TV from your smart phone or tablet.
When it comes to picking the right one out of your available Cable TV providers, a lot of it comes down to a matter of opinion and location. Some people have had better experience with one company in one region than someone else living in another area. Before you sign up for any of them, try looking up reviews for the provider in your specific area to see whether or not they make their offers worth it.