How Much Should I Be Paying for Cable TV?
Shopping for cable and satellite television can be a nightmare. Every provider advertises different packages with different pricing and different promotional specials. Plus, the packages are always changing. Finding a way to reach a one-to-one comparison can feel almost impossible—until now.
We analyzed over 300 TV packages from nine of the biggest TV providers in the United States to give you a measuring stick for comparing pay-TV packages.
Data valid as of 07/15/2017. Prices and channels subject to change over time
How much should I pay for new, standalone TV service?
We compared a mix of nearly seventy introductory promotional offers from cable, satellite, and fiber TV providers. The average package offers 239+ channels, and the average introductory price is $72.62 per month. That comes to about $0.30 per channel, or 3.29 channels per dollar.
While channel counts, pricing, and package availability vary greatly by region, this will at least give you a starting point for how the introductory packages in your area compare to the national averages.
This average includes packages both with and without contractual agreements. It also doesn’t include any installation, setup, or early termination fees, which you should definitely factor in before making your final decision. You’ll need to consider those factors for each package on an individual basis.
The Bottom Line on Standalone TV
If you find a package in your area for under $0.30 per channel, you’ve found a good deal. If not, you might want to keep looking. Keep in mind that some areas may not have any packages available under the national average, but you can still try to get as close to it as possible.
To see TV packages available in your area, enter your zip code in the box below.
How much should I pay for new, bundled TV service?
Note: The following numbers are based on national averages; not all TV providers offer the same types of bundles.
TV and Internet Bundles
After reviewing almost 100 TV and internet bundled packages, we discovered the average such package includes 275+ channels and has an average introductory price of $107.41 per month.
The average savings of bundling TV and internet versus purchasing the same services individually is $14.93 per month. If you split the savings equally between the internet service and the TV service, you’re saving about $7.50 per month on your TV service by bundling it with your internet service.
The standalone rates on the TV packages available in the internet and TV bundles we analyzed averaged $72.50, which is already $0.12 less than the overall average rate of the TV packages we analyzed in the previous section.
Subtracting the $7.50 bundle savings, the average introductory cost of the TV portion of the bundle comes to $65. As mentioned before, the channel count in a TV and internet bundle averages out to 275+, so the average cost per channel in those bundles is about $0.24, or 4.23 channels per dollar.
The Bottom Line on TV + Internet Bundles
These bundled packages vary greatly, and the addition of internet service only adds to that variation. But if you’re paying less than $107 a month on average, you’re likely getting a good deal.
To see TV and internet bundles available in your area, enter your zip code in the box below.
TV and Phone Bundles
Double-play bundles consisting of just home phone and TV are hard to find. Most TV providers don’t readily offer these bundles. The few we did find resulted in an average savings of only about $1 per month when compared to purchasing home phone and TV separately.
Some providers offer select TV micropackages exclusively in TV and phone bundles. The availability of these 70+ channel packages is the biggest benefit we found to getting a TV and phone bundle. The overall average cost on these bundles is $0.28 per channel, or 3.94 channels per dollar.
*While on average these micropackages were $36.22 less than the next cheapest standalone packages from the same brand, the low channel count means you’re actually paying $0.16 more per channel on the micropackages than on the standalone packages.
The Bottom Line on TV + Phone Bundles
These numbers may make these bundles seem like good deals, but remember they are based on an extremely small sample size with a large degree of variation. Most consumers won’t be able to find these bundles, and those who do may not find this same price per channel available in their specific area.
TV, Internet, and Phone Bundles
Most television providers offer triple-play bundles with TV, internet, and phone service grouped into one package. Our analysis includes over 130 such packages with an average cost of $120.97.
On average, these packages were $26.80 per month cheaper than ordering each service individually. The cable portions of these packages offered an average of 272 channels.
Because it’s hard to tell which portion of the bundle the savings are coming from, we’ll apply the savings equally across all three services. This gives each service an average discount of $8.93 per month.
If you ordered the TV packages in these bundles as standalone packages, on average you would pay $71.98 per month. So, if you subtract the average bundle discount of $8.93 per month from that cost, you see the average cost of the cable portion of the bundle is about $63.05. Put that together with the channel count and the average cost for cable TV within a triple-play bundle is $0.23 per channel or 4.27 channels per dollar.
The Bottom Line on TV, Internet + Phone Bundles
On average, triple-play bundles offer the most channels per dollar. Not only will you get the best deal on TV with a triple play, but you’ll also save on your internet service, which is a modern-day necessity. If you find triple-play bundles in your area starting for under $120.97, that’s probably a good deal.
Find TV, Internet and phone packages in your area:
What about after the introductory price runs out?
The averages expressed in this article are only for introductory prices. Just as prices and channel counts vary by location and provider, so do the terms of the introductory offers. Additionally, those terms also vary in length and in the cost increase once the introductory terms expire.
While this prevents us from making useful recommendations for the future, we can advise you to consider those terms and how they may fit into your budget going forward.
If after seeing these recommendations you think you might be paying too much for your current TV service, we can help you find another provider. We show you a list of TV providers in your area to help you easily compare pricing and packages.