The Verdict | Customer Ratings | Install & Setup | Channels | Reliability | Monthly Bill | Tech Support | Equipment | Internet

The customer satisfaction ratings listed below come from our survey 2017’s Best TV Providers in Customer Satisfaction. To give you an up-to-date view on how customers feel about their providers, we’ve polled thousands of internet users about their experience with their ISP, then tallied the results to give you an overall rating alongside details on channels, customer service, billing, and more.

At a Glance

Type of Service

Fiber

Type of Service

Cable

Channel Count

340+ channels

Channel Count

380+ channels

Price

$70–$125 per month

Price

$64.99

Equipment Fees

$9.99 per month

Equipment Fees

$8.50 per month

Installation Fee

None

Installation Fee

$75

Contract

1 Year

Contract

1 Year

Customer Satisfaction

2.66/5

Customer Satisfaction

3.39/5

Type of Service

Fiber

Channel Count

340+ channels

Price

$70–$125 per month

Equipment Fees

$9.99 per month

Installation Fee

None

Contract

1 Year

Customer Satisfaction

2.66/5

Type of Service

Cable

Channel Count

380+ channels

Price

$64.99

Equipment Fees

$8.50 per month

Installation Fee

$75

Contract

1 Year

Customer Satisfaction

3.39/5

Data effective 07/17/2017. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.

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

The Verdict

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

CenturyLink Prism offers more channel selection in its basic packages, and while its 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 pick up the television signal from anywhere in your home, even the backyard. It also has find-it-fast navigation and a multi-view that displays up to four channels at once.

With lower installation fees and premium packages that come at a cheaper cost than Cox, CenturyLink Prism 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 its 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.

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

Cox has a strong channel lineup with over 380 channels and a robust menu of Latino and sports programming. Couple those viewing options with a DVR that has superior storage and the capacity to record up to six shows at once, and Cox has a lot to tempt TV fans. However, to access the most Cox channels, you’ll have to pay for add-on “paks” which can be little pricey if you want everything.

Additionally, once the promotional period expires, customers indicate steep price increases that leave them frustrated, but this is typical in an industry that uses promotions to entice customers. Despite the eventual price hike, Cox has improved its reputation over the last year with more customer satisfaction in channel selection, signal reliability, and installation and setup.

Find and compare CenturyLink Prism and Cox Contour plans and pricing in your area:

Cable vs. Fiber

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 offers superior speeds and a more efficient delivery than cable, but it comes at a higher price. Your choice will depend on which type of service works best for your household.

CenturyLink Prism

Overall Customer Rating

2.66 Stars (2.66 / 5)

Advantages

  • No-contract options available
  • Lower-cost premium packages
  • Fiber-optic network
  • No installation fee
  • Better channel selection in basic packages
  • Wireless set-top box and on-the-go options
  • Multi-view with 4 shows at once
  • Faster internet speeds available

Disadvantages

  • Some reliability concerns
  • DVR with less storage, recording just 5 shows at once
  • Higher-cost basic package
  • Some customer service concerns

Cox Contour

Overall Customer Rating

3.39 Stars (3.39 / 5)

Advantages

  • No-contract option available
  • Widely available and reliable service
  • Lots of Latino programming
  • Affordable and attractive promotions
  • Superior equipment and storage
  • More channels 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 ($20)

Installation & Setup

CenturyLink Prism

2.79 Stars (2.79 / 5)

While CenturyLink offers free installation, keep in mind that it’s only for the first four TVs—every one after that is $40. Additionally, CenturyLink came in dead last for customer satisfaction in 2017. Some of the low score may be due to an alleged 2016 initiative to cut employee benefits, but the company recently resolved the issue with union workers, which may lead to more qualified and engaged installation technicians in the future.

Cox Contour

3.53 Stars (3.53 / 5)

Cox’s professional installation fee is $75, but you can snag a self-installation kit for just $20. The kit’s detailed instructions may be what boosted Cox to fourth place in installation satisfaction this year. You can pick one up in a Cox Solutions Store or have it sent to your home in one or two days.

CenturyLink Prism Installation Fee: None

Cox Contour Installation Fee: $75

Channels

CenturyLink Prism

2.72 Stars (2.72 / 5)

You can get 340 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. However, it hasn’t been a good year for CenturyLink, so the low score in channel satisfaction may be due in part to general customer dissatisfaction with the company.

Cox Contour

3.48 Stars (3.48 / 5)

Cox has a solid channel offering with lots of HD options. Especially handy on smaller TV packages, you can customize your viewing with “paks,” a variety of add-on options including sports, movie, and Latino programming.

CenturyLink Prism Channels: 340+

Cox Contour Channels: 380+

Reliability

CenturyLink Prism

2.76 Stars (2.76 / 5)

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

Cox Contour

3.85 Stars (3.85 / 5)

Cox scored second in reliability, just behind Verizon Fios, a fiber television service—not bad for a cable provider! You may notice channels loading more slowly if you’re channel surfing during the busiest part of the day, but otherwise signal reliability should be dependable.

CenturyLink Prism Type of Service: Fiber

Cox Contour Type of Service: Cable

Monthly Bill

CenturyLink Prism

2.35 Stars (2.35 / 5)

The Prism Premium package is a good deal for the number of channels you get. But watch out for add-on costs, especially if you’re planning on outfitting your whole home. The first set-top box is free, but every one after that is $9.99 per month.

Cox Contour

2.55 Stars (2.55 / 5)

Cox’s packages run more expensive than CenturyLink’s, but not by much. Again, you can save money by going for a smaller package and utilizing “pak” offerings for channels you love.

CenturyLink Prism Price: $70–$125 per month

Cox Contour Price: $31.99–$144.99 per month

Tech Support & Customer Service

CenturyLink Prism

2.66 Stars (2.66 / 5)

CenturyLink’s struggles with customer service are still likely resulting from 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.

Cox Contour

3.50 Stars (3.50 / 5)

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

Equipment

centurylink prism whole home dvr
  • Storage up to 113 HD/284 SD hours
  • Pause and play from any room
  • Find-it-fast navigation
  • Multi-view for 4 shows at once
  • Warp-speed channel changes
  • App center

Read our review: The CenturyLink Prism Whole Home DVR

Cox Record 6 DVR Image
  • Storage up to 300 hours HD, 1,000 SD
  • Ability to record up to 6 shows at once
  • Ability to watch in any room
  • Voice remote
  • Kids Zone customized guide

Read our review: The Record 6 HD-DVR

Internet Service

CenturyLink Prism

3.72 Stars (3.72 / 5)

  • 1G available in some areas
  • Fiber-optic network
  • 2-year price guarantee
  • Norton Security Suite
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • 24/7 technical support

Cox Contour

3.40 Stars (3.40 / 5)

  • Reliable speeds up to 300 Mbps
  • Access to over 400,000 Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Webmail, cloud storage, security suite, and more

More About the Providers

CenturyLink

CenturyLink is the third-largest telecommunications company in the United States, offering a residential TV service called Prism® TV in thirty-seven states. Prism TV is delivered via a fiber-optic network, which optimizes data packets and promises a clearer picture without lag.

Cox

Cox Communications is the third-largest cable company in the US, serving roughly six 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.

Find and compare cable and internet providers in your area: