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Satellite TV vs. Cable TV -- Which is Best? 

The move is on. Last year millions of Americans switched from cable TV to satellite TV.

Why? When you compare satellite TV to cable TV you'll discover the main reasons are cost, picture quality, program choices, and customer satisfaction.

Let's check out the differences ...

Here's an overview of the different types of satellite tv systems

Cable vs. Satellite TV Fees

  • Cable TV fees across the country average $39.99 per month. In our area the cost for cable TV is $37.30 a month for 64 channels, plus $10.95 a month to add digital channels. Installation in one room is $39.95, plus $9.95 for each additional room.

  • Satellite TV fees from Dish Network are $31.99 per month for 60 channels, while DirecTV charges $41.99 per month for 115 channels. Both satellite TV providers currently offer free satellite TV equipment and free installation in up to four rooms.

  • More on Sat TV vs Cable here and here

Cable vs. Satellite TV Programming

Cable vs. Satellite TV Equipment

  • With cable you only need cable boxes that connect the incoming cable line to your televisions. There is usually no charge or rental fees for cable boxes, however, If you want a digital video recorder, you'll have to pay an extra fee.

  • With satellite TV you need a satellite TV dish and TV receivers. Both Dish Network and DirecTV offer that equipment, plus installation, for free. Dish Network will give you a DVR (digital video recording) receiver or an HDTV receiver at no charge, while DirecTV charges $49.99 for DVR receivers and $299 for HDTV receivers.

Cable and Satellite TV Reliability and Customer Satisfaction

  • Cable TV outages average 3% to 5% per year. J.D. Powers and Associates ranks cable companies as good to poor in customer satisfaction.

  • Satellite TV outages average about 1%. J.D. Power and Associates has ranked the two satellite TV providers -- Dish Network and DirecTV -- higher in customer satisfaction than any of the cable TV companies for the last five years

The Bottom Line

  • If you only watch a couple of shows a week, and you live in an area where you can't get over-the-air TV and cable TV costs less than $20 per month, then cable may be your best option.

  • If, on the other hand, you want the biggest variety of shows, movies, sports, and news for the least amount of money ... you want to watch your all your shows in digital video and sound ... and you want the option of watching them in HD format and recording them on a DVR receiver, then satellite TV is what you're looking for.


Brian Stevens is a professional freelance writer and webmaster who has written extensively on cable TV and satellite TV. Click the following link for more information on satellite TV vs. cable TV.

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