You know what you want: great, reliable TV with plenty of choice and flexibility for an affordable price. The hard part is figuring out which provider can deliver on those expectations. That’s where the team at CableTV can help.

Should you choose Cox or CenturyLink as your TV service provider? 

Cox Communications is the third-largest cable company in the U.S., serving roughly 6 million customers across the nation. The company’s cable-based system delivers content via a reliable network of coaxial lines and offers a variety of TV plans, including the new Contour TV. CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United States, offering a residential TV service called Prism® TV in 37 states. Prism TV is delivered via a fiber-optic network, which optimizes data packets and promises a clearer picture without lag.

As we look at side-by-side comparisons of these two popular providers, keep in mind that this is also a comparison of two different types of service. Fiber technology differs from cable in that it offers superior speeds and a more efficient delivery, but it comes at a cost. Your choice will depend on which type of service works well for your household.

 

Customer Satisfaction Comparisons

 

Cable TV From Cox

Overall customer rating

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

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CenturyLink Prism TV

Overall customer rating

3.45 Stars (3.45 / 5)

 

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Installation & Set-Up
3.54 Stars (3.54 / 5)

Cox’s lower ratings in this category are likely due to their installation fee, which totals $50 depending on the service area. Cox does offer self-installation options which are a bit cheaper.

 

Installation & Set-Up
3.64 Stars (3.64 / 5)

CenturyLink has a strong performance in installation and set-up, largely due to low cost installation, prominent self-installation options, and a robust online resource center full of troubleshooting guides.

 

Channel Selection
3.29 Stars (3.29 / 5)

Cox offers lots of channels and HD, but you’re going pay for them, bit by bit with add-on paks. Cox does have superior sports and Latino programming.

 

Channel Selection 
3.59 Stars (3.59 / 5)

You can get 330 channels with CenturyLink, up to 200 of them in HD. Given the lower price tag, CenturyLink’s premium packages and bundles provide a lot of bang for your buck.

TV Signal Reliability 
3.72 Stars (3.72 / 5)

Because Cox is a cable provider, signal reliability is fairly predictable. Like most cable networks, latency only occurs rarely during peak neighborhood usage.

 

TV Signal Reliability 
3.59 Stars (3.59 / 5)

As we discussed previously, this is a problematic area for CenturyLink because of rapid expansion. Outages in service areas they’ve recently taken over have some customers frustrated.

 

Monthly Bill (Pricing)
2.67 Stars (2.67 / 5)

Cox customers aren’t thrilled with their post promo bills and you probably won’t be either. This is when all those add-on paks will really hit your wallet.

Monthly Bill (Pricing) 
2.97 Stars (2.97 / 5)

If you opt for a premium Prism package, you’ll get a fairly good value. Plus CenturyLink has plenty of resources online to help you understand your bill and anticipate your monthly costs.

 

Tech Support & Customer Service
3.60 Stars (3.60 / 5)

Cox is putting in a strong showing in technical support and customer service in comparison to other cable providers, although their ratings are still much lower than leading providers like DIRECTV.

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Technical Support & Customer Service 
3.48 Stars (3.48 / 5)

CenturyLink’s struggles with customer service are still part and parcel of those expanding service areas and some high-profile outages. Hopefully, this rating will see improvement in the coming year as fiber gains more of a foothold across the country.

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Equipment

 

Cox Contour

HD-DVR

  • Store up to 300 hours HD, 1,000 SD
  • Record up to 6 shows at once
  • Watch in any room
  • Voice remote
  • Kids Zone Customized Guide

 

CenturyLink Prism

Whole Home DVR

  • HD Ready
  • Pause and play from any room
  • Wireless set top box
  • Prism on the go
  • Find-it-fast navigation
  • Multi-view 4 shows in one
  • Warp speed channel changes
  • Last Five Feature
  • App Center
  • Stores up to 113 hours HD, 284 SD hours

 

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

 

Cox

Advantages:
  • No contract option available
  • Widely available and reliable
  • Lots of Latino programming
  • Affordable and attractive promotions
  • Superior equipment and storage
  • More challens and HD programming available
  • Voice remote
Disadvantages:
  • Steep price increases after promotional period
  • Limited channel selection in basic packages
  • Confusing billing and hidden fees
  • Higher installation fees ($50)

 

 

CenturyLink

Advantages:
  • No contract options available
  • Lower cost premium packages
  • Fiber-optic network
  • Inexpensive installation fee ($30)
  • Better channel selection in basic packages
  • Wireless set box, on the go options
  • Multi-view with 4 shows at once
  • Faster internet speeds available
Disadvantages:
  • Some reliability concerns
  • DVR has less storage, records 5 shows instead of 6 at once
  • Higher cost basic package
  • Some customer service concerns

 

Internet Options

 

Cox

Cox Internet Service Satisfaction Rating

3.4 Stars (3.4 / 5)

 

  • Reliable speeds up to 200 Mbps
  • Access to over 400,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots
  • Webmail, cloud storage, security suite and more

 

 

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CenturyLink

CenturyLink Internet Service Satisfaction Rating

CenturyLink Fiber 3.88 Stars (3.88 / 5)

CenturyLink DSL 3.58 Stars (3.58 / 5)

 

  • 1 Gig available in some areas, fiber-optic network
  • 2-year pricing guarantee
  • Norton Security Suite
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • 24/7 technical support

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The Verdict

Choose Cox for Latino or sports programming and superior DVR equipment.

At first glance, Cox’s Contour TV looks dazzling. But chip away at that shiny veneer, and you’ll find more than meets the eye. While you can get up to 340 channels with Cox, 230 of them in HD, many of those you’ll have to pay for as add-on paks to your monthly cost. Once the promotional period expires, customers indicate steep price increases that leave them frustrated. While this is typical of how the industry uses promotions to entice customers, Cox’s performance in this area of satisfaction is one of the lowest in the industry. The provider does, however, offer robust menu of Latino and sports programming, coupled with a DVR that has superior storage and the capacity to record up to 6 shows at once.

Choose CenturyLink for better value, faster Internet speeds, and more on-the-go viewing options.

Why should you opt for CenturyLink over Cox? CenturyLink offers more channel selection in its basic packages and while their equipment may not store quite as many hours of programming, you can still get plenty of dynamic features. Prism TV boasts a wireless set top box that enables you to watch anywhere in your home, even the backyard, a multi-view that shows up to four channels at once, and find-it-fast navigation. With lower cost installation fees and premium packages that come in at a cheaper cost than Cox, CenturyLink provides more overall value for its customers. While CenturyLink has struggled recently with some customer service and reliability concerns, most of these are likely related to their rapidly expanding service area. If you’re looking to bundle with Internet service, CenturyLink’s superior fiber optic speeds may be more attractive for your household.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Cox or CenturyLink, please see our in-depth editorial provider reviews. They give a detailed look at each company’s services and history along with areas of concern, summaries of equipment, installation processes, fees, billing issues, package details, and much, much more.

Want to see the complete data and ratings for TV providers? Check out the full run-down from CableTV’s 2016 Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey.

 

Find out  if Cox and CenturyLink are available in your area: