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Best TV Service Providers for 2024: Plans, Prices, and More

In our annual Editor’s Choice Awards, our TV experts tell you which TV providers are the best overall—and which ones are best for families, value, and price.

Editor's choice

DISH Network

Price: $84.99–$114.99/mo.

Channels: 190–290+

DVR storage: Up to 500 hrs.

Contract length: 3 yrs.

DISH Network

Price: $84.99–$114.99/mo.

Channels: 190–290+

DVR storage: Up to 500 hrs.

Contract length: 3 yrs.

Best value

Verizon

Price: $69.00–$129.00/mo.

Channels: 60–425+

DVR storage: 50–200 hrs.

Contract length: N/A

Verizon

Price: $69.00–$129.00/mo.

Channels: 60–425+

DVR storage: 50–200 hrs.

Contract length: N/A

Best for sports

DIRECTV

Price: $69.99–$159.99/mo.**

Channels: 75–150+

DVR storage: 200–450 hrs.

Contract length: 2 yrs.

DIRECTV

Price: $69.99–$159.99/mo.**

Channels: 75–150+

DVR storage: 200–450 hrs.

Contract length: 2 yrs.

Best live TV streaming

YouTube TV

Price: $72.99/mo.

Channels: 100+

DVR storage: Unlimited

Contract length: N/A

YouTube TV

Price: $72.99/mo.

Channels: 100+

DVR storage: Unlimited

Contract length: N/A

Best on-demand streaming

Max

Price: $9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.

Library: 3,500+ titles

Streams: 3

Contract length: N/A

Max

Price: $9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.

Library: 3,500+ titles

Streams: 3

Contract length: N/A

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months
** for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.; AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

If you’re a TV fan like us, we highly recommend DISH Network for its channel count, reliability, industry-leading equipment, parental controls, and transparent pricing.

That said, maybe you’ve already had DISH, and it isn’t right for you. Read on to see why we say DIRECTV is best for sports, Verizon Fios has the best value, YouTube TV is best for live TV streaming, and Max (formerly HBO Max) is best for on-demand streaming.

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2023 Editor’s Choice Awards

  • DISH: Editor’s choice, best for families ($84.99–$114.99/mo.)
  • Verizon Fios: Best value ($69.00–$129.00/mo.)
  • DIRECTV: Best for sports ($69.99–$159.99/mo.)
  • YouTube TV: Best for streaming ($72.99/mo.)
  • Max: Best on-demand streaming ($9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.)

Other top TV providers

Compare the best TV providers head to head

Provider Price Channels Details

Armstrong Cable
$150.90–$185.90/mo. 100+ (245+ more in add-ons) View plan

Read full review


Astound Broadband powered by RCN
$53.37–$179.32/mo. 287–304+

Read full review


Cox
$61.00–$146.00/mo. 75–250+

Read full review


DIRECTV
Best for sports
$69.99–$159.99/mo. 75–150+ View plan

Read full review


DIRECTV STREAM
$69.99–$159.99/mo. 75–150+ View plans


DISH
Editor’s choice, best for families
$84.99–$114.99/mo. 190–290+ View plan

Read full review


fuboTV
$32.99–$99.99/mo. 65–260+ View plans

Read full review

Hulu + Live TV
$76.99–$89.99/mo. 85+ View plan

Read full review


Max
Best on-demand streaming
$9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr. N/A View plan

Read full review


Optimum
$35.00–$125.00/mo. 50–420+ View plan

Read full review


Philo
$25.00/mo. 70+ View plans

Read full review


Sling TV
$40.00–$55.00/mo. 30–45+ View plans

Read full review


Sparklight
$42.00–$121.75/mo. 20–100+ View plan

Read full review


Spectrum
$64.99/mo. 150+ View plan

Read full review


Verizon Fios
Best value
$69.00–$129.00/mo. 60–425+ View plan

Read full review


Xfinity
$20.00–$80.00/mo. 10–185+ View plan

Read full review


Xtream powered by Mediacom
$52.99–$142.99/mo. 170+ View plan

Read full review


YouTube TV
Best live TV streaming
$72.99/mo. 100+ View plan

Read full review

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Editor's Choice

DISH—Editor’s choice and best for families

Service type:
Satellite
Price:
$84.99–$114.99/mo.
Channels:
190–290+
DVR:
500 hrs.
Contract:
3 yrs.

Pros

  • 3-yr. price guarantee
  • Hopper 3 DVR
  • Wide availability
  • Best parental controls

Cons

  • 3 yr. contract
  • DVR rental fee
  • Satellite dish requirement

For the third year running, DISH is our Editor’s Choice pick for best overall TV service—and the best TV provider for families.

DISH doesn’t have the best prices or even the best cost per channel, but it guarantees that your payment won’t increase for three years. This guarantee is huge; no other TV provider—even the ones without contracts—offers such a guarantee.

Our recommended DISH package:

America’s Top 200

Price: $107.99/mo.*

Standout features: 240+ channels, 3-yr. price guarantee.

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

The DISH Hopper 3 ($10/mo.) is consistently the highest-rated DVR in the TV business. It stores 500 HD hours, allows you to record up to 16 programs at once, supports 4K resolution, and includes the DISH Voice Remote. Also, you can have multiroom viewing with the DISH Joey ($7/mo. per TV, wired or wireless).

DISH also has some new equipment and services for 2023. Hopper Plus (free after $25 activation fee) is a new streaming device that supports paid live and on-demand streaming TV apps, plus gaming and lifestyle apps. The new Joey 4 and Wireless Joey 4 (both $7/mo.) add 4K HDR picture quality to the Hopper’s features.

Finally, families will love that DISH has the channels kids want from Disney, Nickelodeon, and local PBS affiliates. And parents will appreciate DISH’s excellent parental controls, created in partnership with Common Sense Media, which enable them to fine-tune the content their kids consume.

Verizon Fios—Best value

Service type:
Cable TV, fiber internet
Price:
$69.00–$129.00/mo.
Channels:
60–425+
DVR:
50–200 hrs.
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contracts
  • Affordable pricing
  • Most total channels
  • Free premium channels (select plans)
  • Value-packed signup deals

Cons

  • Internet connection required
  • Limited availability

Verizon Fios’ streaming TV service is such an excellent deal that it’s a shame it’s available in only the metropolitan areas of nine states.

With 425+ channels, Verizon has more channels than any other provider, and it offers them for less. With The Most Fios TV, you can have all 425+ networks (which include Paramount+ with SHOWTIME®, STARZ®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL®, and MGM+™) for $129.00 a month, which is only $0.30 per channel—no other provider can beat that.

Our recommended Verizon Fios TV package:

The Most Fios TV

Price: $129.00/mo.*

Standout features: 425+ channels (including Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, THE MOVIE CHANNEL, MGM+, and STARZ), pristine picture quality, first set-top box, Basic DVR, and incredible signup deals.

*with Auto Pay + taxes & equip charges.

The value gets even better, though. The Most Fios TV also includes your set-top box plus wireless multiroom DVR service with voice control, a combined value of $24 a month.

And, if you bundle with Verizon Fios’ lightning-fast fiber-optic internet service (speeds up to 940 Mbps), you’ll enjoy consistently pristine picture quality. Bundling Verizon Fios TV with internet service will add $49.99–$89.99/mo. to your TV price, depending on your chosen speed (300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, or 940 Mbps).

So, if you get the fastest plan (Fios Gigabit Connection, $89.99 a month for 1 GB speeds), your total payment would be $218.99 monthly ($0.52 per channel). That’s a lot of bang for your buck—even before you factor in Verizon’s sweet sign-up deals.

For a limited time, with select TV plans, Verizon will give you up to $200 in Verizon gift cards. And if you decide to bundle with Verizon fiber-optic internet service, another limited-time offer locks in your price for ten years. Amazing. But, again, it’s too bad that most of us can’t access the Verizon Fios value.

Editor's Choice Sports

DIRECTV—Best for sports

Service type:
Satellite
Price:
$69.99–$159.99/mo.
Channels:
75–150+
DVR:
Up to 450 hrs.
Contract:
2 yrs.

Pros

  • New 2-yr. price guarantee (goodbye, second-year price hike)
  • Fantastic selection of sports channels and add-ons
  • Genie DVR
  • 3 mos. of free premium channels

Cons

  • 2 yr. contract
  • No more included Genie ($15/mo. fee)
  • Activation fees for service and devices
  • No more NFL SUNDAY TICKET

If you crave sportsball action like oxygen, DIRECTV is the service for you. It has 27 sports channels including FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, NFL Network, NHL Network, NBA TV, and more. But if you want NFL SUNDAY TICKET, you’re outta luck—you’ll now have to go to YouTube TV for those out-of-market games. Fortunately, DIRECTV still offers sweet sports add-ons like FOX Soccer Plus, MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, and NHL Center Ice.

Still, without NFL SUNDAY TICKET—which it used to offer free for a season to new subscribers—DIRECTV had to make some changes to compete with its main rival, DISH. As of November 2023, DIRECTV has new pricing ($69.99–$159.99/mo.) that’s guaranteed not to increase during your two-year contract. Unfortunately, DIRECTV’s pricing remains sky-high. Also, the satellite TV provider now charges a $15-a-month Advanced Receiver Service Fee—a roundabout way of charging a fee for the Genie DVR after years of including it in all DIRECTV plans.

DIRECTV still has a hefty channel count (75–150+), including close to 30 sports channels. And, although the Advanced Receiver Service Fee sucks, the Genie (wired, 200 hours of storage, five simultaneous recordings) and Genie 2 DVR (wireless, 450 hours, five simultaneous recordings, $99 bridge fee at signup) are powerful machines. But we think non-sports fans and families would prefer the more affordable and transparent DISH Network.

Our recommended DIRECTV package:

PREMIER All Included

Price: $159.99/mo.*

Standout features: 340+ channels—including Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, Cinemax, STARZ, and MGM+ (formerly EPIX), 2-yr. price guarantee.

* for 24 months plus taxes and fees w/ 24-mo. agmt.; AutoPay and Paperless Bill req’d. Advanced Receiver Service Fee $15/mo. is extra and applies.

Still, if you have the money, DIRECTV is a reliable service with high customer satisfaction ratings—and the PREMIER All Included package ($159.99 monthly, 340+ channels) has every single channel DIRECTV offers, including Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, Cinemax, STARZ, and MGM+ (formerly EPIX). That’s the package we’d get if we could afford it.

But, if you like sports more than movies, CHOICE All Included ($84.99 a month, 200+ channels) and ULTIMATE All Included ($114.99 per month, 270+ channels) will give you respectable channel lineups for $45.00–$75.00 less each month. Those savings will free up some of your budget for sports add-ons.

Pro tip: NFL SUNDAY TICKET is moving from DIRECTV to YouTube TV in 2023, but you can watch the same out-of-market games on demand (so not live) with the new NFL+ streaming service for only $9.99 a month.

Spectrum—Good value

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$64.99/mo.‡
Channels:
150+
DVR:
Varies
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contracts
  • Contract buyout
  • All channels in free HD
  • Affordable premium channels
  • Free Peacock Premium

Cons

  • Only one plan
  • Confusing DVR options
  • DVR fees

While Verizon Fios gives you the most for your money, Spectrum has one of the cheapest TV package overall.* Spectrum TV Select Signature is $64.99/mo. monthly for 150+ channels, including all 35 of the most-watched channels, according to Variety.

Spectrum TV Select Signature’s low price leaves room for premium channel add-ons. If you add Max ($15.00 a month), Paramount+ with SHOWTIME ($10.00 a month), STARZ & STARZ ENCORE ($9.00 a month), and Sports View ($7.00 a month for 20 sports channels, including NFL Network), you’ll pay only $90.99 a month.

If you love movies and sports, Spectrum TV Select Signature plus those premium add-ons is an excellent deal—that’s a ton of content for under $100. Few other cable and satellite providers can offer that.

Our recommended Spectrum package:

Spectrum TV Select Signature

Price: $64.99/mo.

Standout features: 150+ HD channels.

‡ for 12 mos.

Unfortunately, Spectrum doesn’t include a TV box or DVR service with TV Select Signature. Spectrum’s TV box is $9.99 a month, or, for a limited time, you can rent-to-own an Apple TV 4K for $5.00 a month (a 50% discount over the regular price). DVR service, which records up to 100 shows regardless of length, costs $4.99–$9.99 a month.

But even with those fees, your total payment is only about $119 per month. That’s still a fantastic price for such a quality-rich package.

And, if you’re looking to leave your current provider, Spectrum has one more deal for you: a contract buyout of up to $500. You also won’t have to sign a contract with Spectrum, so you can peace out whenever you’re unhappy.

Editor's Choice

YouTube TV—Editor’s Choice: Best live TV streaming

Service type:
Streaming
Price:
$72.99/mo.
Channels:
100+
DVR:
Unlimited
Streams:
3
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contract
  • 100+ channels
  • Unlimited DVR
  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET add-on

Cons

  • No A&E, Lifetime, or VICE

For the third year running, YouTube TV is our Editor’s Choice for best overall live TV streaming service. It has 100+ channels (second only to DIRECTV STREAM’s 140+ channels), unlimited DVR (with a nine-month storage limit), three simultaneous streams, six user profiles, and numerous channel-pack and premium add-ons. And YouTube TV is now the official home of NFL SUNDAY TICKET (formerly a DIRECTV add-on), with loads of live, out-of-market games for football fans.

You might have noticed that YouTube TV has a high cost per channel ($0.65), but this is good because live TV streaming services have leaner lineups stocked mostly with popular channels.

Our recommended YouTube TV package:

Frontier Fiber 500 + YouTube TV

Price: $107.98/mo.

Standout features: Frontier customers get a $10.00/mo. ($120.00 total) discount when they bundle internet and TV together. You’ll get 100+ channels, unlimited DVR (nine-month storage limit), three simultaneous streams, and six profiles, as well as 500 Mbps fiber internet speeds from Frontier.

But while YouTube TV’s channel lineup has a higher concentration of popular channels, it is missing some popular networks, like A&E, Lifetime, and VICE. If those are must-have channels, check out our guide to the Best Live TV Streaming Services to find a service that has them.

A downside to YouTube TV—to any streaming service, really—is that you need an internet connection to stream TV. So keep that in mind.

If you’re not sure whether you’d prefer streaming TV over cable and satellite TV, you can try YouTube TV free for seven days before deciding to switch. We think you’ll dig it.

Editor's Choice

Max—Editor’s Choice: Best on-demand streaming

Service type:
On-demand streaming TV
Price:
$9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.
Streams:
3
DVR:
N/A
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contract
  • 3,500 + premium movies and shows
  • Ad-supported plans available
  • Some Discovery+ content available now

Cons

  • Missing some Warner Bros. films
  • Fewer first-run films in 2023

Max is one of the most popular on-demand streaming services around thanks to its affordable pricing and its library of top-shelf TV series and films for the whole family.

Even with the recent HBO Max and Discovery+ merger, Max is still a steal at $9.99 per month (with ads) or $15.99 a month (ad-free).

Our recommended Max package:

Max Ad-free

Price: $9.99–$19.99/mo. or $99.99–$199.99/yr.

Standout features: 3,500+ titles, including premium movies and TV series.

We always recommend ad-free plans for the best TV experience. But, if you’re cost-cutting due to inflation, the ad-supported Max plan saves you $5 a month. And the only thing worse than watching ads on Max is not watching Max at all.

Other top cable TV providers

If our top providers are on your nope list or are just not available near you, check out these providers.

Xfinity—Best for on-the-go streaming

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$20.00–$80.00/mo.
Channels:
10–185+
DVR:
150 hrs.
Contract:
12–24 mo. term agreement (no-term plans available)

Pros

  • Wide availability
  • No-term agreement plans available
  • Xfinity Stream app
  • Excellent voice remote

Cons

  • 12 mo. term agreements
  • Up to 33% higher pricing for no-term agreement plans
  • DVR fees

Xfinity has middling cost per channel numbers ($0.40–$0.53) on its TV-only plans and bundles, but the bundles have high internet speeds that might be worth the extra money.

Also, Xfinity has the highly rated X1 TV box ($7.50 a month), which includes a rather measly 20-hour cloud DVR, six simultaneous recordings, the XR15 voice remote, and integrated streaming apps. If you want more DVR storage, you can get 150–300 hours for an extra $10.00–$20.00 monthly.

As a bonus, the Xfinity Stream mobile app lets you stream your live TV channels, on-demand movies and shows, DVR recordings, and more. It’s one of the best mobile streaming experiences we’ve found from a traditional TV provider.

Our recommended Xfinity package:

Superfast Internet + Ultimate TV

Price: $115.00–$120.00/mo.*

Standout features: 185+ channels, 800 Mbps download speeds, 20-hr. cloud DVR included (upgradeable), six simultaneous recordings, and the Xfinity Stream mobile app.

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary regionally and are subject to change.

When you sign up for Xfinity TV service, you can build your own TV and internet bundle. Prices and plan names vary across the provider’s three US regions, but if you choose a TV plan with 185+ channels and a 1,200 Mbps internet plan, you’ll pay $130.00–$150.00 per month.

That’s a decent deal for so much content and internet speed, but with equipment, broadcast TV, and regional sports network (RSN) fees, the monthly payment increases by $53.50.

Finally, Xfinity’s term agreements are only 12 months long. That’s not terrible, and it’s worth it for this price. But, if you’re living somewhere temporarily, Xfinity does have no-term agreement plans for an extra 33% per month (yikes).

Pro tip: On a budget? Cox has an affordable streaming TV alternative to traditional cable TV plans. The Cox Contour Stream Player ($5.00 a month) gathers all your separate streaming TV subscriptions in one spot, along with hundreds of free live TV channels, including some news and sports networks.

Astound Broadband powered by RCN

Service type:
Streaming cable
Price:
$53.37–$179.32/mo.
Channels:
287–304+
DVR:
125–250 hrs.
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contract
  • Affordable pricing
  • Best cost per channel
  • Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, STARZ, and TMC free for 12 mos.
  • Three months free + free installation promo

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Bundle requirement
  • DVR fees

Astound Broadband Powered by RCN has limited service areas: Boston, Chicago, DC, Lehigh Valley (PA), New York (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens). The provider’s internet-and-TV bundles, pricing, and channel counts vary slightly between areas, but they’re all a solid value.

Yup, we said “bundles,” not “plans”—to get Astound’s TV service, you have to bundle it with high-speed internet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Our recommended Astound Broadband powered by RCN package:

Price: $123.41/mo.*

Standout features: 287–305+ channels, up to 940 Mbps download speeds, TiVo receiver/DVR with 125 hours of storage, free premium channels, three months of free service, and free installation

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary regionally and are subject to change.

Astound’s best bundle includes its 1.5 Gig internet plan and top TV package, Basic TV + Preferred TV, for $123.41 per month. And you get Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, STARZ, and TMC free for a year.

You’ll access your Astound Broadband channels via a free TiVo device (extras are $7 a month each) for watching your Astound live TV channels, on-demand titles, and even your subscription-based streaming TV services. The TiVo device also has 125 hours of HD DVR storage (included with your Astound TV plan) that you can upgrade to 250 hours ($9.99 a month).

We think this is a pretty solid bundle deal—if you’re lucky enough to live in Astound Broadband’s service area.

Cox

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$61.00–$146.00/mo.
Channels:
75–250+
DVR:
250–1,000 hrs.
Contract:
12–24 mos.

Pros

  • Cheaper add-on packages
  • Excellent DVR
  • Streaming via Contour Stream Player and Contour TV app
  • Bundles with high-speed internet

Cons

  • Two-year contracts
  • Costly bundles
  • High DVR fees

Cox has four TV-only plans, plus bundles with high-speed internet—and everything is pretty expensive, even the DVR service. With Cox standalone TV plans and bundles, the cost per channel is $0.58–$0.97. Only Sparklight ($1.20–$2.80) costs more.

But Cox’s top-tier TV plan, Contour TV Ultimate ($145.00 a month, $0.58 per channel), is a decent value, with 250+ channels—including CINEMAX, Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, and STARZ—plus your first TV box free and the Record 1 Starter DVR service (250 hours of storage, one simultaneous recording) free for 12 months.

If you want more DVR storage and simultaneous recordings, it’s gonna cost you. Cox has three tiers of DVR service with 250–1,000 hours and 2–24 recordings for $10–$30 per month.

Our recommended Cox package:

Contour TV Ultimate

Price: $145.00/mo.

Standout features: 250+ channels including CINEMAX, Max, NFL Network, MLB Network, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, and STARZ, free Contour TV box, and Record 1 Starter DVR service (250 hrs. one tuner) free for 12 mos.

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

To compare, DISH’s America’s Top 200 plan has 240+ channels, 500 hours of DVR storage, and 16 simultaneous recordings for only $107.99 a month ($0.45 per channel)—and DISH guarantees the price for three years. Cox prices are good only for 12 months. With DISH, you’ll get more bang for your buck—and save some bucks.

If you want the best of everything, Cox’s Contour TV Ultimate (250+ channels) with Ultimate DVR (1,000 hours of storage, 24 recordings), bundled with the Go Super Fast internet plan (1 Gbps download speeds), comes to $282.99 monthly. And you’ll have all the channels, the most storage, and a super-fast internet connection.

Optimum

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$35.00–$125.00/mo.
Channels:
50–420+
DVR:
25–150 hrs.
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contracts/$500 contract buyout
  • 2-yr. price lock
  • High channel counts
  • Premium channels included (select plans)

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • Low customer satisfaction scores

To get Optimum TV service, you must live in Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York (the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, or Westchester). And you have to bundle—no standalone TV plans here.

When you sign up at Optimum.com, you’ll first choose an internet plan. They cost $40.00–$180.00/mo. for 300–940 Mbps download speeds (cable or fiber, depending on your location).

Then you’ll add a TV plan ($35.00–$125.00/mo. for 50–420+ channels). Premier TV has 420+ channels—including Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, and STARZ—for $115 a month. That’s a great value for so many channels, especially with the included premiums.

Our recommended Optimum package:

Optimum 1 Gig + Premier TV

Price: $185.00/mo.*

Standout features: 420+ channels (including Max, Paramount+ with SHOWTIME, and STARZ), 940 Mbps download speeds, free gateway

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.
Wired speeds. Wi-Fi speeds may vary.

We recommend bundling Optimum 1 Gig Internet ($70.00 a month) with Premier TV ($115.00 a month). The total monthly price would be $185.00 monthly.

Also, you get your first Optimum TV box free with Optimum bundles. Or you can rent-to-own an Apple TV 4K ($10 a month for 18 months) instead.

Unless you’re bundling with a 1 Gig internet plan, in which case you’ll receive free Cloud DVR, you will have to pay an extra $8–$20 a month for Optimum’s Cloud DVR service. That’s pretty pricey for 25–150 hours of storage. Alternatively, you could buy your own DVR, which will pay for itself (eventually) and hold more movies and shows.

As an upside, if you’re tired of your current TV provider, Optimum has no contracts and a contract buyout of up to $500. Those are two good reasons to switch to Optimum. Too bad it’s available in only four states.

Armstrong Cable

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$150.90–$185.90/mo.
Channels:
100+
DVR:
50–250 hrs.
Contract:
N/A

Pros

  • No contracts
  • 100+ channels with 245+ more in add-on packs
  • Included modem
  • Free installation

Cons

  • Limited availability
  • High prices
  • Bundling requirement
  • Limited TV choices for new customers

Armstrong Cable is an 80-year-old family business offering high-speed internet, digital HD TV, and telephone service in northeastern US. If you like to “buy local,” you know that means paying higher prices—but usually for better service.

If you’d rather have the best deal, DISH, Spectrum, and Xfinity offer more channels and faster internet for a better price in the same area. You might want to go directly to those providers.

You locally minded customers who want to try Armstrong should know that the provider offers TV only in bundles with internet or phone service for $150.90–$185.90 a month. This pricing is already average-to-high—and includes a $40 promotional discount. Yikes.

Our recommended Armstrong Cable package:

Zoom Extreme + Television Plus

Price: $185.90/mo.

Standout features: 100+ channels, up to 500+ Mbps download speeds

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

Armstrong’s pricing looks even worse when you realize that its main TV plan, Television Plus, has only 100+ channels. Armstrong stashes 245+ more channels in add-on packs ($5.25–$13.25 each monthly).

Your EXP Stream TV box (powered by TiVo) adds $9.95 per month, but it’s not mandatory—you can use your own compatible streaming device. Cloud DVR storage is $6.00–$10.00 monthly for 50–250 hours.

We love supporting mom-and-pop shops, but we’re not sure we’d pay this much for TV and internet service.

Xtream powered by Mediacom

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$52.99–$142.99/mo.
Channels:
50–170+
DVR:
No DVR service
Contract:
12 mos.

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • First XTREAM1 box included
  • Discounted installation

Cons

  • Contract
  • Limited availability
  • Limited channels
  • Bundle requirement
  • No DVR service

Xtream powered by Mediacom offers bundles with TV, internet, and phone service in 22 states. The provider’s channel count is low (170+), but so are its prices: You can get all 170+ live TV channels plus a 1 Gbps internet connection and a free TV Smart Box for only $142.99 monthly. That’s a pretty good deal—unless you want more TV channels. Or DVR service (keep reading).

Our recommended Mediacom package:

Prime Internet 1 Gig + Variety TV

Price: $134.99/mo.

Standout features: 170+ channels, up to 1Gbps download speeds, TiVo Smart Box, discounted installation

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

If more channels are a must, we suggest getting Xtream powered by Mediacom’s 1 Gig internet plan ($54.99 a month), then signing up for DISH’s America’s Top 250 ($114.99 a month, 290+ channels). It’s a solid combo, and at $169.98 monthly, it competes with bundles from Optimum and Astound Broadband—but you won’t enjoy the convenience of a single bill.

If you want DVR service, Xtream includes your first XTREAM1 TV box free and you can choose up to 11 more boxes for $9.99 each. Unfortunately, the provider decided to stop offering TiVo DVR service because of “too many problems,” according to a rep, and that means Xtream has no DVR option at this time.

Sparklight

Service type:
Cable
Price:
$42.00–$121.75/mo.
Channels:
20–100+
DVR:
200 hrs.
Contract:
12 mos.

Pros

  • No annual contracts
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Limited-time discounts when you bundle TV with internet or phone service

Cons

  • Overpriced TV packages
  • Data caps that make Digital Value Pack impractical
  • No Viacom channels

Sparklight (formerly Cable ONE) has modest TV offerings—two packages with 20–100+ channels—accessed through a streaming device (either an Amazon Fire TV Stick provided by Sparklight or your own compatible device).

Unfortunately, Sparklight’s pricing isn’t so modest at $56.00–$120.00 monthly, which is an astonishingly high $1.20–$2.80 per channel. Both packages include a 200-hour cloud DVR, which can cost up to $20.00 a month with other providers, but that doesn’t improve the value much.

Our recommended Sparklight package:

Standard Cable

Price: $120.00/mo.

Standout features: 100+ channels, 200-hour DVR, 6 simultaneous screens (streams)

Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary and are subject to change.

To put Sparklight’s poor value into perspective, the DISH America’s Top 250 has 290+ channels for $117.99 a month ($0.41 per channel) and you can add the Hopper 3 DVR (500 hours and 16 simultaneous recordings) for an extra $10.00 monthly. That comes to $127.99 monthly—and DISH is available almost anywhere.

Sparklight has bundles with internet, TV, and phone service, but the value isn’t much better at $190 a month for 100+ channels and 1,000 Mbps internet speeds. So, if you live in Sparklight’s area, we recommend getting DISH for TV and Sparklight’s Connect Gig Ultra ($70 a month, 1,000 Mbps).

What to look for in a TV provider

What? Really? You wanna do your own legwork after all the sweat we put into this? Just kiddin’—we respect you for doing additional research. Here’s a tip sheet for TV-plan shopping to help you.

Channels: quantity vs. quality

Channel counts are only numbers—don’t rely solely on them. Review each provider’s channel lineups to ensure you get what you want. Here are some to get you started.

Cable and satellite TV provider channel lineups

Contracts vs. no-contract plans

Nobody likes to be stuck with a provider and a payment that they don’t like. Be sure you understand the terms of your contract, from how long your contract lasts to how much you have to pay if you leave before it ends. Or, you can look for providers that don’t require contracts, like Spectrum and Optimum.

Some providers, like Xfinity, offer no-contract plans at a higher monthly fee. Often this fee is high (Xfinity no-contract plans are as much as 33% more than the contract plans). We recommend these only if you’ll be moving soon—or you’re living away from home for an extended period.

Contract buyouts

Some providers will pay to get your business. Optimum, RCN, Spectrum, Suddenlink, and Verizon Fios all pay up to $500 to free you from your current contract. How nice is that?

DVR specs and fees

Ideally, with physical DVRs like the DISH Hopper 3 and DIRECTV Genie, you want tons of storage (200 hours or more) and multiple tuners (at least two, ideally more than five) to allow for simultaneous recordings. The DVR should also run streaming apps and have a voice remote.

Key features of cloud DVR are storage and simultaneous streams. Typically, cloud DVR storage is lower than that of a physical DVR. Expect to see providers offering 25–200 hours. As for streams, three is a good amount.

Monthly fees for physical and cloud DVRs range from $4.99–$30.00, with a median rate of $15.00 a month. You’ll find the best DVR bang for your buck with DISH ($10 a month for up to 500 hours and 16 tuners) and DIRECTV (200–450 hours and five tuners for $15 monthly).

Hidden fees

When you’ve spent all this time picking a plan with a good price and cost per channel, any extra fee feels like a surprise. Your provider should disclose these when you subscribe, but these fine-print details are easy to miss. So be on the lookout.

Here’s a list of fees that you could see on your bill:

  • Broadcast TV charge: TV providers have to pay networks for content, and they pass on the cost to you.
  • Installation charge: These vary with the provider. It’s often worth waiting for free installation offers.
  • Activation fee: Dubious fee charged to “activate” your account.
  • Early termination fee: If you cancel your contract early, your provider may charge a prorated amount based on the time remaining on your contract.
  • Reconnection fee: If you miss a payment and get a cancellation notice, your provider may charge a fee to reconnect your service.
  • HD fee: Some providers charge a fee for HD channels.
  • DVR service fee: Monthly fee for DVR rental and service (some providers separate the rental and service fees).
  • Multiroom/whole-home mini-receiver fee: Additional monthly fee for mini receivers or DVRs used for multiroom/whole-home viewing.
  • Cloud DVR fee: Some providers have cloud DVR instead of, or in addition to, a physical DVR.
  • TV box fee: Some providers have fees for a TV box that’s separate from DVR service fees.
  • Late payment fee: Oh, you know this one. When you miss a payment, even if it’s because you don’t have any money, providers charge this fee as a penalty.
  • Regional sports fee: Similar to broadcast fee, but for regional sports networks.
  • Tax: Sigh . . . taxes. What’re we gonna do?

Mobile app

If you lead a busy life, you’ll want to choose a provider with a reliable mobile app that allows you to make payments, manage your account, contact customer service, or watch TV on the go or offline.

We’ve reviewed some of the best TV provider mobile apps:

Final take

DISH is our Editor’s choice for the best overall TV provider and the best TV provider for families. It has high channel counts, transparent pricing, reliability, the highest-rated DVR, top-notch parental controls, and many children’s channels.

And DIRECTV remains our best-for-sports pick because it has the most sports channels and the best sports add-ons—even now that the provider has lost NFL SUNDAY TICKET.

Despite its limited availability, we’re giving the best value award to Verizon Fios for its channel count, superb picture quality, and inclusions like a free set-top box and Basic DVR plan.

Enter your zip code below to see which of these providers are in your area. Good luck!

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Best TV providers FAQ

What is the best and cheapest TV provider?

We think that DISH is the best TV provider overall because of its high channel count, low cost per channel, Hopper 3 DVR, reliability, and two-year price guarantee. DISH is also our pick for the best TV service for families, thanks to its numerous kids’ channels and fantastic parental controls.

Spectrum is one of the cheapest TV providers. With the Spectrum TV Select Signature package ($64.99/mo. for 12 months), you get 150+ HD channels—including the most popular cable TV channels.

What is the best TV and internet provider?

Optimum, Astound Broadband powered by RCN, and Xfinity offer the best internet-and-TV plan value. Click any of these links to learn more about these providers.

What is the best cable TV provider for the money?

Verizon Fios has the best value for TV-only plans. If you’re looking for internet and TV bundles, check out Optimum, Astound Broadband powered by RCN, and Xfinity for great value.

How do I choose a TV provider?

You can get help choosing a finding the best TV service by reading sites like ours, CableTV.com. We do all of the research for you so that you can find the best cable TV providers fast.

We don’t just point out the best overall TV providers. We also tell you the ones that have the best value, cheapest packages, best kids’ content (and parental controls), and best sports content. That way, you can find quality couch entertainment that’s right for you.

Of course, you can still do your own research. To find cable and satellite TV providers by area, enter your five-digit zip below.

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What are the best cable TV providers near me?

To find cable and satellite TV providers near you, enter your zip code below.

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Methodology

For our annual Editor’s Choice Awards, our TV experts spend thousands of hours comparing top TV providers on plans, pricing, channels, customer satisfaction, features, and more. We award points in each category, then calculate an overall editorial rating. We then recognize these providers in five key categories—Editor’s Choice (best overall), best for families, best for sports, best value, and cheapest—so you can pick a TV provider that fits your needs. For more information on our process, see our How We Rank page.

Disclaimers:

* Spectrum TV® Select Signature: Limited time offer; subject to change; valid to qualified residential customers who have not subscribed to any services within the previous 30 days and who have no outstanding obligation to Charter. Spectrum TV Select Signature promotion price is $64.99/mo; standard rates apply after yr 1. Taxes, fees, and surcharges (broadcast surcharge up to $23.20/mo) extra and subject to change during and after the promotional period; installation/network activation, equipment and additional services are extra. General Terms: TV: TV equipment required; charges may apply. Channel and HD programming availability based on level of service and location. Account credentials may be required to stream some TV content online. Services subject to all applicable service terms and conditions, subject to change. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply. Enter your address to determine availability. /em>

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