Comparing Costs of Satellite and Cable TV

Okay, so we don’t need cable or satellite TV, but how many of us can honestly say we’d be sane without it? We are a nation that hungers for quality entertainment. With that in mind, how do we choose the best service provider for our buck?

The first question we must answer is how to choose between cable and satellite. A study was conducted in 2010 by JD Power & Associates comparing the two. What they found was that satellite TV provides greater picture quality, more variety of channels, far far better customer service, and lower prices. From 1998 to 2010 cable TV prices have risen 41% whereas satellite TV has only risen 8%. JD Power & Associates went on to say that cable TV prices are still and will continue to rise even faster than satellite TV in the years to come.

As for picture quality, a common misconception is that in bad weather you are more likely to lose picture with satellite versus cable. The truth is you have an equal chance of losing picture in bad weather regardless of which provider you have. Why is this? Where do you think cable companies acquire their programming? Cable companies get their programming from satellites then send it streaming underground to your house. In other words, weather can knock out your dish just as easily it can knock out the cable company’s dish.

If cable has any benefit over satellite TV it is their internet. Though satellite companies offer internet services, you must have a physical land line in order to use it. Translation, you’ll end up having dial-up. And if you’ve never had cable internet, you will never know the vast advantage it has over dial-up. Cable internet is plainly faster and more reliable than dial-up every time.

But, we’re not discussing internet here; the focus is on television. With that said, we’ve already determined satellite TV is the way to go in terms of price and channel choices. After some research, I found that there are only two nationwide satellite TV providers: Direct TV and Dish Network. There are a multitude of sellers of satellite TV, but what you’re ultimately getting is one of the two previously mentioned providers.

Both Direct TV and Dish Network offer very similar channel packages. So, what’s the difference? On average, Dish Network costs 18% less than Direct TV. This figure excludes specials and promotions. What you must remember about specials and promotions is that they don’t last. When they expire, the true cost of your satellite TV emerges. Now, does Dish Network’s lower cost mean fewer bells and whistles? The answer is, not really. Direct TV does offer more HD channels and a handful more sports channels, but Dish Network provides more overall channels. Both providers offer multi-room hook up. However, Direct TV charges $99 per HD receiver installed; whereas, Dish Network charges nothing for additional receivers.

Other tips to keep your costs down include bundling for starters. Bundling your TV, internet, and phone will reduce your overall cost versus having a different provider for all three. Another cost cut is using a service like Netflix. If you look at basic satellite and compare it to basic plus movie channels, you’ll notice both satellite and cable TV providers significantly jack up their prices when you start adding movie channels to your package. By “significantly” I mean as much as $50 to $60 per month. Netflix is only $8 per month, and allows you to pick just about any movie you want to watch and at any time.

And so, from what we’ve learned thus far, you will save the most money by getting basic Dish Network programming while using a movie provider such as Netflix. As for extras like music channels, sports, and HD channels; Dish Network is still the way to go.