Compare Cable TV and Satellite TV - Which is Really Better?

Brian Stevens

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Cable TV and Satellite TV Comparison

Comparing cable TV to satellite TV is like comparing cassettes to CDs. Cable TV still utilizes outdated analog technology, while satellite TV uses state-of-the-art digital technology. And that's just for starters.

Here's a comparison of cable TV vs. satellite TV:

Cable TV and Satellite TV Fees

Cable TV

Fees for basic cable programming average $30 to $40 dollars per month depending on what company you choose and where you live. In my neck of the woods it would cost me $37.30 per month to get 64 program channels, and if I wanted to get digital channels I'd have to pay an additional $10.95 per month.

Satellite TV

DISH Network prices start at $29.99 for 230 satellite TV channels including 60 Sirius radio channels. DIRECTV prices start at $29.99 for 155 channels including 50 XM satellite radio channels. And both satellite TV providers broadcast all their programming in digital format so you don't have to pay extra for it.

As for price increases, cable fees have gone up 41% since 1998, while satellite TV fees have only gone up only 8%.

Cable TV and Satellite TV Equipment

Cable TV

Cable TV equipment consists of a cable that runs from a main junction box to the cable box that connects to a television. DVR (digital video recorders) cost extra, and basic installation varies from $25 to $75 or more depending on where you live. Where I live installation would cost me $39.95 for one room, and $9.95 for each extra room.

Satellite TV

Satellite TV equipment consists of a satellite TV dish and receivers. DISH Network and DIRECT will give you a free dish and up to four free receivers when you subscribe to their service. Installation is free in up to four rooms of your home.

You also have the option of getting a free DVR so you can record your favorite shows, or a free HD (high definition) receiver so you can watch your shows in high definition.

Cable TV and Satellite TV Quality and Reliability

Cable TV

Cable TV broadcasts some of their programming in digital format and some of their programming in analog format, so picture quality can vary from sharp to fuzzy. Cable TV blackouts average 3% to 5% a year, and in most areas if you have a problem with your service you have to call for help during business hours.

Satellite TV

DISH Network and DIRECTV's blackout rates are less than 1%. And if you do have a problem, both companies have toll-free and online customer service available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

J. D. Power and Associates has ranked DISH Network and DIRECTV number one and number two in customer among all satellite TV and cable TV providers for the last six years. They're also number one and two in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Bottom Line

If you only watch a few shows a week and you can find a cable company that charges less than $20 a month, then cable TV may be your best choice

But if television is your primary form of entertainment, and you're looking for the most programming choices with the best picture quality for the lowest price, then satellite TV is what you want.

Visit for a side-by-side comparison of DIRECTV vs.DISH Network satellite TV . Click on the following link for more information, ordering information, plus the latest special offers from DISH Network satellite TV .

The author, Brian Stevens, is the senior editor for and has written a number of articles that compared cable TV and satellite TV.


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