How Much Should I Be Paying for Cable TV?
We analyzed 381 TV packages and bundles from 15 top TV providers to give you a measuring stick for comparing pay-TV packages.
The average cable TV plan costs around $79. How do we know? Our TV experts looked at 381 different TV plans and bundles from 15 top cable providers in the US, comparing them on price, channel counts, and download speeds to inform your buying decisions. Keep reading for more details.
How much is cable per month?
Monthly cable prices will depend on whether you’re looking for standalone TV plans or bundles. In the table below, we break down average pricing, channel counts, and internet speeds for 52 standalone TV plans, 143 standalone internet plans, 114 TV and internet bundles, and 72 TV, internet, and phone bundles.
|TV only||Internet only||TV + internet bundles||TV + internet + phone bundles|
|Avg. channel count||205||N/A||182||201|
|Avg. download speed||N/A||Up to 500 Mbps||Up to 500 Mbps||Up to 600 Mbps|
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Our calculations are based on data from 15 cable, satellite, and fiber TV providers throughout the United States, and the data can vary greatly by region. So consider these figures a starting point. You can also give your TV service search an extra boost by entering your zip code below to find providers in your area.
How much should I pay for standalone cable TV plans?
We compared 52 different standalone TV service plans and found that the average package costs $78.58 a month for 205 channels. That comes to $0.38 per channel.
But keep in mind we used introductory rates to get that figure—and these prices are generally good for only 12 months. After that period, you should expect a hefty price increase. For example, DIRECTV’s second-year price hike increases the prices by 30%–38% (or $25–$62 a month).
If you find a package that’s cheaper than $78.58 a month and has more than 205 channels, you’ve found a good one. But don’t forget to mind the hidden fees.
To start shopping for a cable TV provider, see our Best TV Providers guide.
How much should I pay for cable internet plans?
For standalone internet plans, you can expect to pay around $59.38 a month for up to 500 Mbps download speeds (based on 143 internet plans). But those figures combine the three most common internet types: cable, DSL, and fiber optic.
If you’re an average internet user, a 500 Mbps cable (or DSL) connection is more than enough. You could probably even drop down to 300 Mbps and still be sitting pretty—while also saving money.
But fiber optic internet is the fastest and most reliable internet connection. It’s what you want if you have a large household with a lot of devices on the same network, and they’re being used for streaming, online gaming, and working at home.
Fiber internet also has symmetrical upload speeds, meaning you can upload data as fast as you download it. That’s especially nice if you’re working at home and doing a lot of video calls.
How much should I pay for cable TV bundles?
Bundle discounts are increasingly rare—but we looked at 114 TV and internet bundles and found that the average bundle costs $129.05 a month ($0.71 per channel) for around 182 channels and 500 Mbps download speeds.
Triple-play bundles with TV, internet, and a home phone line with unlimited calling (service areas vary) tend to add an extra $5–$20 onto the price of a TV and internet double-play bundle. That makes the average price for a triple-play bundle $144.95 a month (based on 72 bundles).
The absolute best triple-play bundle deal we’ve found is from Optimum. Check out our Optimum bundles guide for more information.
What about when the introductory price expires?
To protect yourself from price hikes after your introductory price ends, you can do one of two things:
- Find a cable provider that doesn’t have contracts. Then you’re free to switch providers whenever you want.
- Call your provider at the end of the promotional period and try to negotiate a lower monthly payment.
We’ve determined how much you should pay for cable TV plans and bundles, so you’re ready to start shopping. As a recap:
- Standalone TV plans: $78.58 a month is a good price for around 205 channels.
- Standalone internet plans: $59.38 a month is a good price for around 500 Mbps.
- Double-play bundles: A TV-and-internet bundle should cost $129.05 a month for about 182 channels and 500 Mbps.
- Triple-play bundles: A TV, internet, and phone bundle should cost $144.95 a month for around 201 channels and 600 Mbps.
Now just enter your zip code below to find TV and internet providers in your area. Good luck!
To answer your questions about cable TV pricing, our TV experts looked at 381 TV plans and bundles. We then crunched the numbers on pricing, channel counts, and download speeds to find averages in each category and offered recommendations based on our analysis of the findings. For more on our process, see our How We Rank page.