What is Cable TV?
Cable television is a system that delivers TV programming from a service provider to a home using coaxial or fiber-optic cables. Data is transmitted through a series of these cables via voice and video signals and then unscrambled so you can watch shows on your television set.
It was invented in the late 1940s as a better way to receive signals compared to the previous over-the-air method used. This technology made TV service far more accessible to rural and suburban households. To help you decide if cable TV service is right for you, we gathered information about the top cable providers in the U.S. below.
Top Cable Providers
125+ channels starting at $49.99/mo.
65+ channels starting at $59.99/mo.
220+ channels starting at $74.99/mo.
75+ channels starting at $25.00/mo.
How Cable TV Providers Stack Up
65 – 140+
10 – 260+
0 – 6
Is Cable TV Right for Me?
Since cable TV mainly runs on pre-existing coaxial infrastructures, it’s readily available in most parts of the U.S. Depending on where you live and what providers are available near you, cable TV can cost as little as $25.00/mo for 75+ channels. Yet, it’s not a service for everyone.
Cable TV typically costs more than satellite TV, though, it makes up for it with a wide range of TV channels and exciting features. Coupled with a digital video recorder (DVR), cable TV comes with added perks like video recording, cloud storage, and TV on-the-go. It’s great for families with children, TV bingers, and sports fans that want to watch their favorite teams live. To save even more, providers offer bundle deals where you can combine cable TV service with internet and/or phone for a whole-home entertainment experience. Now, you can have it all.
Choosing a Cable TV Channel Lineup
You can purchase cable TV service as a standalone plan or bundled with phone or internet to save money. Once you decide on the services you want, you’ll need to select your channel lineup. A TV channel lineup is a list of set channels or networks that come with a specific TV package.
Cable providers negotiate with television networks to decide what channels they can carry and on what programming tier they will be available. Providers name their channel lineups differently, but they all generally follow a certain tier structure such as Basic, Expanded, and Premier. We break down the differences of each below.
Basic TV Channel Lineup
- Up to 20+ local channels
- ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, Telemundo
- Starter cable TV plans
Expanded TV Channel Lineup
- Up to 160+ local + regional channels
- Disney, MTV, HGTV, Animal Planet
- Video OnDemand, Video Recording
Premier TV Channel Lineup
- Up to 400+ local, regional, and national channels
- ESPN, National Geographic, Fox Sports, Hallmark
- Video OnDemand, Live Sports
Cable TV FAQs
This sales tactic is a key way for TV companies to maintain their customer base amid increasing competition between internet and TV companies. You can expect to save anywhere from $10-40 a month if you bundle your services.
To keep up with these digital trends, TV providers, program networks, and big brands are beginning to offer similar streaming services. NBCUniversal recently launched Peacock to compete with the likes of HBO Max, and household names have invested billions into new platforms such as Apple TV+ and Disney+.