Despite the growth in streaming and internet TV, broadcast TV is here to stay. Both satellite and cable TV provider shave been staple features of the home since the 1950’s, offering both pros and cons. Which one is the right choice for you?
HomeLinkd defines the differences between the two, as well as the pros and cons — so you can make an informed choice on which satellite or cable TV plan is right for you.
To give you the long and the short of it —no. Cable and satellite TV are not the same. They both have a few similarities regarding installation and the fact they’re both within broadcast TV and not internet, but there are some key differences. Take a look:
TV is received via coaxial cables that have an inner conductor and an outer protective insulator
Cable box and remote
A professional needs to install the box at your home
The technician’s labor cost plus the actual equipment
Average starting price at $44 per month
In areas closest to a cable connection, however, more provider options
A TV signal is received via radio wavelengths from satellites orbiting Earth
Satellite dish and receiver
A professional needs to install the dish onto your roof
The technician’s labor cost plus the actual equipment
Average starting price at $59 per month
Anywhere in the US, however, less provider options
The main difference between satellite and cable is how the TV signal gets to your house. Satellite uses radio frequencies, beaming the signal from a satellite in space directly to your satellite dish. Cable, on the other hand, runs a cable from its main office directly to your home.
The satellite signal is then converted into a TV signal that your TV can understand. The cable signal, too, is converted into a TV signal, but it comes through an amplifier first to boost the strength of the signal before it hits your TV.
Cable also offers more channels than satellite (though satellite has been slowly closing the gap). If you want premium channels like HBO or Showtime, you’ll likely be better off with satellite TV.
Finally, cable is typically more expensive than satellite, though this isn’t always the case. Promotions and discounts are always changing, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best deal.
Over-the-top (OTT) TV services, also known as internet streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, have seen a sharp increase in value and viewing hours.
In 2026, the video streaming industry will be valued at $149 billion, up 18% since 2018. However, this doesn’t mean satellite TV will be disappearing anytime soon.
A major advantage satellite TV has on streaming services is that it has the most widely available coverage, whereas streaming relies on internet connections that are not available everywhere.
In other words, fiber, 4G, and broadband are modern technologies that are still growing, and cannot possibly reach every corner of the US the way satellite can. It’s because of this reason that satellite TV remains a popular and trusted choice for homes across the US.
Xfinity from Comcast is one of the largest and most well-known cable providers in the US. They offer a variety of TV plans with different channel options, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs. With Xfinity, you also have the option to add on premium channels like HBO Max, STARZ, and SHOWTIME.
AT&T U-verse is another large cable television provider that offers a variety of TV plans. One unique feature of AT&T U-verse is their Total Home DVR, which allows you to record and store up to four shows at once. AT&T U-verse also offers a wide selection of international channels, so you can stay connected to your home country no matter where you are.
Spectrum is a newer cable company that offers some of the most competitive prices for TV plans. They also have no contracts, so you can cancel at any time without penalty. Spectrum also offers a variety of bundle options so you can get the best value for your money.
DISH Network is one of the largest satellite providers in the US. They offer a variety of TV plans with different channel options, so you can find the perfect fit for your needs. With DISH Network, you also have the option to add on premium channels like HBO Max, STARZ, and SHOWTIME.
DirectTV is another large satellite service provider that offers a variety of TV plans. One unique feature of DirectTV is their NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows you to watch every out-of-market NFL game each week. DirectTV also offers a wide selection of international channels, so you can stay connected to your home country no matter where you are.
The answer to this question depends on your needs and preferences. If you live in a rural area, satellite TV might be your best option because it has the widest coverage in the US. If you’re looking for the most channels and bundle options, cable TV might be the better choice. And if you want the lowest prices, Spectrum is a great option.
The monthly cost of satellite TV is generally cheaper than cable TV. However, the upfront costs of satellite TV –which include a dish, a satellite receiver and an installation fee –can be much higher than any other TV service.
How many channels does satellite TV have?
Satellite TV offers international channels from Europe, Asia and Africa.
Yes, both satellite and cable TV offers live TV channels and TV packages.
The main difference between basic and premium cable is the number of channels that are included in the package. Basic cable channels typically includes around 30-40 channels, while premium cable can have upwards of 100 channels. Premium cable also gives generally a better TV picture and sound quality as opposed basic cable.
No, satellite television does not require internet service. However, you will need a phone line for the satellite dish to connect to.
Yes, most cable TV providers offer bundle options with their internet services. This can be a great way to save money on your monthly bill.
Some affordable cable TV packages include:
- Comcast XFINITY Starter Double Play: Starts at $49.99/mo. for 12 months with 140+ channels
- AT&T TV U-family: Starts at $35/mo. for 12 months with over 60 channels
- Spectrum TV Select: Starts at $44.99/mo. for 12 months with 125+ channels
- Cox Contour TV: Starts at $64.99/mo. for 12 months with 140+ channels
You will need to purchase a satellite dish kit, which includes the satellite dish, a satellite receiver and an installation fee. The satellite dish will need to be mounted on your roof, and the satellite receiver will need to be connected to your TV.
No matter what type of entertainment connection you’re looking for, there’s a deal that suits your needs, budget and location requirements.
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