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What is Cable TV?

There are so many different types of TV subscriptions nowadays that it can be hard to keep up with all the terminology. However, when we talk about Cable TV, we are referring to any provider that uses cable technology to provide TV service. Cable TV uses coaxial cables or, sometimes, fiber optic cables, to send radio frequency signals to your cable box at home that then processes the TV signals from the coaxial or fiber optic cables and allows you to watch all of your favorite shows and movies on your TV.

TV providers can offer TV subscriptions through three different types of TV technology, including cable TV, satellite TV and IPTV (Internet Protocol Television). While cable TV uses coaxial or fiber-optic cables to send radio frequency signals to your cable box, Satellite TV operates through radio waves that an antenna on the exterior of your house receives and IPTV provides TV over the internet through a privately-managed network.

If you want information on more than just cable TV providers, you can consult Allconnect’s TV Provider page.

The best cable TV providers of 2020

Looking for the best TV deal in your area? First, determine which cable TV providers offer service at your home, then choose a package with the channels and features you want. The TV provider that has what you need for the best value is the one for you. 

We did the research so you can compare affordable cable companies, bundles, availability and more.

  • Cox – Best for cable TV bundle discounts
  • Mediacom – Best for genre-specific add-ons
  • Spectrum – Best for no-contract cable TV
  • Xfinity – Best for cheap cable TV packages

Compare top cable TV providers

Cable TV advantages and disadvantages

If you’re weighing cable TV against other types of home TV service, such as satellite or IPTV, you might want to examine the pros and cons of cable TV to see if it may be a better choice over other TV options in your area.

Things we like

  • Convenience: Cable companies make it easy to combine TV, internet and home phone services into one package. Not only is bundling convenient, but it can also save you money. 
  • Availability: There’s a good chance cable TV is available in your area. Cable companies cover over 89% of the nation.
  • Package selection: Most cable providers offer three or more different TV package options. You can pick the plan that includes the local channels and popular networks you need, and customize your channel lineup with add-on packages for sports, movies and more.
  • Reliability: Cable lines typically deliver a strong, reliable connection for TV and internet services. Cable service is also not as susceptible as satellites to service interruptions during bad weather.

Things to consider

  • Equipment: With Cable TV, you need to rent or buy equipment, such as a cable box, in order to access channels and record shows.  
  • Cost: Cable TV tends to be more expensive than satellite and IPTV services. Equipment fees and other hidden fees can easily push the price of cable TV service above $100/mo.
  • Pressure to bundle: Some cable TV providers only make certain equipment or special offers available with TV and internet bundles. Others may not even offer standalone TV service, requiring you to get their internet if you want TV service with them.

Cable TV availability and service areas

Since cable TV operates entirely through wires, cable distribution lines must be installed above customers’ homes on their local utility poles or below customers’ homes on underground utility lines. Since the cable lines must be installed over or below your home, which cable TV provider is available in your area is not only determined by your ZIP code but sometimes even by your specific address.

  • Cox – Available in 19 states. Primary service areas include the Southwest, central U.S. and the Northeast.
  • Mediacom – Available in 22 states. Primary service areas include the Midwest, central U.S. and the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Optimum – Available in four states. Primary service areas include the Northeast and greater NYC area.
  • Spectrum – Available in 46 states. Primary service areas include the South, Midwest and West Coast.
  • Suddenlink – Available in 19 states. Primary service areas include the Ark-La-Tex region, most of West Virginia, eastern North Carolina and parts of Arizona, California, Idaho and Nevada.
  • Xfinity – Available in 40 states. Primary service areas include the Northwest, Great Lakes area and eastern U.S.

Available cable TV providers for your address will depend on where you live. Click “Find TV providers” below to see cable TV providers in your area. You can shop and compare plans from available providers, all in one place for free.

Cable TV pricing and additional fees 

Expect to pay more for cable than the listed starting price. Along with taxes and broadcast fees, equipment rentals and add-on packages can add to your monthly cable bill.

  • Package pricing: $20-$125/mo. – The rate you pay for a set lineup of channels will vary, but starting prices for cable TV packages can range from $20-$125/mo. depending on the provider.
  • Taxes and broadcast/regional sports fees: Varies – These are unavoidable and will vary by location. Broadcast and regional sports fees are costs the provider has to pay to air certain content, which are passed down to the customer and can add $10-$20/mo.
  • Add-on packages: $10-$20/mo. each – If you want premium channels, extra sports networks or international channels, you can add individual packages for $10-$20 extra per month, each.
  • TV boxes and DVR: $5-$15/mo. per device – Some providers include one TV box with their service, but most will charge you $5 or more a month per device. The cost typically goes up for more advanced equipment that comes with DVR capability.

Cable TV package deals

Check for special offers, like Spectrum’s contract buyout offer, good for up to $500 to help you out of your contract with another provider. Be sure to read the fine print, however, as Spectrum’s buyout offer is only available when you sign up for select TV and internet bundles.

Bundling TV and internet together is a great way to potentially save on your cable bill. Along with saving you money on your monthly bill and possibly installation costs, bundling cable TV and internet could qualify you for extra equipment and package options.

Other common cable TV deals to lookout for are:

  • Free equipment
  • Free gift cards
  • Free installation
  • Free subscriptions to other services

Call to learn more about cable TV deals in your area. Our cable experts will let you know about available plans plus potential bundle savings and special offers for your home.

Call now: (877) 201-6901

Cable TV FAQs

Who has the cheapest cable TV plan?

Cox Contour offers the cheapest TV package at $25/mo. for 75+ channels.

The main reason only certain TV providers are available in your area is to help keep costs low. With all the expenses that come with providing cable TV and internet service, attempting to offer new services where another cable provider is already established would not be cost-effective.

Quite often, yes. Most cable TV providers offer price discounts and other incentives, such as equipment upgrades, when you bundle TV and internet together. Call our cable TV and internet experts to hear about special offers from cable TV providers in your area.

Yes. One of the best ways to access the major Networks, such as FOX, NBC, ABC, PBS and your local channel, is through installing an HDTV antenna. You can also stream shows for free on many of these major Networks’ websites or by going to However, you will probably not be able to stream these shows live like you would be with an HDTV antenna.

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David Anders

Written by:

David Anders

Senior Writer, Broadband Content

David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV content. His work has been referenced by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. As a Senior Writer, David is motivate… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

Read bio