While we cannot provide you with a complete list for every cable deal in the industry (this page would scroll on endlessly and update every two days!), we want to provide you with a list of some of the most common packages, deals, etc. We've focused on those that apply across most of the country while also telling you what to look for and consider in a deal.
We would like to note that it is possible that the details of these deals will change over time and that some details or offerings might be different or even unavailable based on where you live. Please look carefully on your end before making any final decision and ask any questions you think necessary. Always, always read the fine print.
Therefore, without any other wait, here is everything you need to know:
The Best Channel Packages
If you want options and more channels than most people could possibly watch, there is a deal for that. Enough providers are operating in enough areas that there is a channel for everything if you're willing to pay. Of course, it's better not to spend too much, and to that end, we found the best channel packages available.
1. DirecTV Ultimate ALL-Included
One of the main reasons people still subscribe to cable services is that cable cannot be beaten when it comes to sports. The DirecTV Ultimate All-Included package is the best when it comes to sports, sports-related content, and getting access to your favorite team. For a reasonable rate of $75 for the first twelve months when you sign up (correct at the time of writing), you can access all the major networks (including NFL Network, NBA TV, MLB Network, and the NHL Network). By signing up, you will even get a year of NFL Sunday Ticket included in the package.
You may need to pay a regional sports fee, and prices will go up after the first year, but even then, the ability to access so many channels may be worth it. And naturally, it will not be just sports you are getting. You will also be getting all the standard channels you can expect in your household. Bundles with other services from AT&T might be an option.
2. Spectrum TV Gold
Spectrum TV Gold is their most premium offering in most locations. It is usually about $90 for the first year, though you should check the details for your area. You will likely get Spectrum TV Gold as part of a Spectrum bundle, and you will want to research the best option.
Notably, Spectrum TV Gold has more premium channels for the price than most competitors, and in terms of cost-effectiveness, it is one of the best value options listed here. As of this writing, the plan has over 200 channels for subscribers, including some premium options such as HBO, STARZ, Showtime, EPIX, and more. The inclusion of these channels alone will make the package worth it to those willing to pay for them separately or extra with another plan.
While the package does have a DVR, the DVR storage is not much to phone home about, only capable of holding a few days of content. You may want a different box if you go with this plan to take your time catching up on your favorite shows.
3. Fios TV
Fios TV, which could actually be one of many plans, stands out for its relatively low cost while offering plenty of different options. Whether you want the basic package you have come to expect from cable, regional sports on top of that, or movie and premium channels as well, there is likely a Fios TV plan that will work for your household.
What makes Fios TV stand out so much is that it is not traditional cable. It operates effectively the same as cable on the user end, but Fios TV uses fiber optic wires to deliver the signal, much like the fiber optic internet some of us have the good fortune of using. Unfortunately, this means it is not as widely available as many plans and is still relatively new and changing.
Fios TV may also be a good option if you do not know what cable plan you want in the first place or want some more time to decide. You can sign up for their "Fios TV Test Drive" package at a lower price for two months and explore what you use, then sign up for a different package later. Rates range from $50 to $90 per month (plus taxes), but you can expect no added fees or surcharges found in other packages.
How you look at these deals will depend on your watching patterns and interests, and we do not doubt that you will find some of these more appealing than others. Further still, we also don't doubt that you may discover channel packages not listed here that would fit your niche interests, which we encourage you to pursue.
The Best Bundles
Whenever you can save money on two or more services you were going to get anyway, it's usually worth it to at least take a look. Since companies that offer multiple services would like you to use as many of them as possible, bundles are prevalent with nearly every cable provider. The best services and packages are even sometimes restricted to bundles. Whatever combination of cable, internet, telephone, and even mobile services you need, there is a bundle for it, and that bundle can make life much more affordable.
While some bundles are regional and there will be regional variations simply based on service availability, there are a few universal or extremely common ones from major providers you should consider.
1. Charter Spectrum Bundles
In some places known as just Spectrum, Charter Spectrum has always had some of the best widely available bundles for consumers, and today it is no different. While not perfect, the internet speeds they offer (cable internet, not fiber) are more than enough to handle most households' needs. At the same time, the number of channels available will be more than enough for most households.
Charter Spectrum bundles are generally filled with premium channels, as mentioned above, and the channel count can range from around 120 to over 200. Internet speeds will vary but will likely be over 100 Mbps, which is enough for most users.
Downsides to working with Charter Spectrum can include the fact that the internet is not as strong as other providers (due to the nature of cable internet), and Charter will not be the cheapest option. Nonetheless, they might be the best or most affordable option in your area, and we think most customers will not be disappointed with their service.
2. RCN Bundles
RCN is not available everywhere and is mostly located in the Northeastern states, but their bundles are worth considering if it is available in your area. RCN plans can be very cheap (you can pay only $70 a month for near-gigabit internet and TV service on top of it) while still providing enough channels to keep many households happy. You can get internet and TV service for $30-$40 a month, with some free perks thrown in. Each plan's exact details will vary, but $30-$40 a month is often worth it for just one of the services offered alone.
However, there is an issue with RCN that you should be aware of; after the introductory rate (usually for a year), prices can get expensive quickly. It might still be worth the price after this starting period, but be extra careful to read the fine print and ask questions where necessary, tedious as it may seem.
3. Xfinity Bundles
Xfinity is perhaps known more for its high-speed internet deals and offerings rather than their cable plans. Nonetheless, you can get quality TV service through Xfinity and get one of the country's best internet plans as a bonus (or perhaps the main course, depending on how you look at it).
You may hesitate to go with an Xfinity bundle due to their cost, and that's a legitimate concern. While Xfinity will probably not be the most expensive option, you run into, especially if you get a moderate bundle or a good deal, it can still be enough to be a strain on a family. That being said, getting premium services piecemeal will still be more expensive, and the convenience of having everything under one umbrella has its own value as well.
Naturally, internet speeds and channel selections will vary based on your bundle's components, location, and other factors. Still, they are usually above average, and you can get more than 220 channels and gigabit internet with the right plan at affordable prices for at least the first 12-24 months. You can expect to pay about $80 a month for basic offerings and up to $160 a month for the higher-end offering.
While we've presented these deals as a numbered list, that does not mean they are necessarily better than each other in all respects. Every household has its own needs. The Xfinity bundle is likely not going to be the cheapest option, nor is an RCN bundle likely the best choice for a family concerned with affordability. Additionally, switching might cause an issue if you are already happy with your internet provider or have a contract.
One last note about bundles: be aware of creeping costs and tacked-on features and services you do not need. Cable and internet companies often try to significantly bump up the price after the first year or two, with many families not paying attention to this being in their agreement. Ignore the introductory rate and instead focus on the long-term costs unless you are only planning on having the service for not much longer than that period.
Online Options and Services
Cable TV does not necessarily mean TV delivered over cable lines anymore. Instead, it could very well mean TV delivered over the internet through fiber-optic wires or something else entirely. Just because OTA TV is not as commonplace today, that does not mean everything is centered on cable, especially in the age of digital content.
Here are some additional options:
1. Basic Cable and Streaming Services
If you want to get a basic cable package, you can probably get something for under $50 per month. There are local providers in many areas that can provide cheap and easy, if limited, access. You might even be able to get away with an OTA setup if you are confident you have space for the equipment. While you will not have the full selection of channels, if you only want the basic channels that most people watch, that will be enough.
What can make this stand out is pairing basic cable with a few streaming services (which can range in price from $5-20) and switching the streaming services as you'd like. The basic cable might be enough for local sports and news (some of the most common reasons to keep cable), and the streaming services can provide more specific and niche content at an affordable price.
Of course, the setup depends on what you have available in your area and your household's interests. If you want a lot of options, then the bundles and packages above are still the best call.
2. Digital Television and Streaming Services
What we are referring to here as "digital television" can be one of several different services, including YouTubeTV, Hulu with Live TV, or Sling TV. However, the general model is that you can stream television programming, no different than cable and network television in its content, to your home via your internet connection. As long as the signal is strong enough, you won't notice much of a difference.
Much like basic cable, it might be best for most households if the subscription is paired with a streaming service or a few other entertainment options, providing some additional variety and on-demand programming. This form of streaming can be the best choice if your household doesn't generally watch specific programs that are hard to come by without a streaming service (remember, you can often rent programs or movies for a couple of dollars for those particular occasions).
These aren't necessarily defined bundles, but a solution that showcases the online world's possibilities. Just because something is not officially listed does not mean it is not the best deal for your home. If you want as much content as possible, then the obvious option is to go with a cable package or bundle of some sort. Otherwise, look through the possibilities.
There are downsides to this option as well, and we do not recommend them to everyone. Depending on your setup, you may find that you could use a lot of data and might run into limits with some internet providers. Others might find that the connection is not good enough. You may also find that the programming is not up to par. As with all things, you should be careful and make an educated decision.
What to Look for from a Deal or Package
What is listed above is only a sampling of what is available, and many more plans may be available on the local level. Here is what you should be weighing and thinking about as you scroll through them:
Short-Term Savings: While some cable deals might focus on introductory rates, rebates, and accompanying offers, you probably know that these things are just to get you in the door. Yet sometimes the savings can be significant, reaching nearly four figures in the best scenarios. In these cases, the short-term savings offset any spike in price later, at least for a while. If you are renting, likely to move, or are ok cutting the cord down the line, short-term gains might be mathematically best for your household.
Long-Term Savings and Price Stability: We mentioned keeping an eye out for price rate hikes earlier, and here we would like to repeat the sentiment. Some cable service providers may be willing to lock you into a price for a long time and guarantee that it will not go up, even after an introductory period. As mentioned, do not let your emotions get mixed up in your choice, do the math.
Available Channels, Features, and Content: Naturally, and perhaps you do not even have to think about this, you want the channels you will like and watch. Some channels are what one would call low-effort and niche, and a thousand of them still would not be worth your time. Additionally, some cable deals may come with access to online content, either on-demand or live-streamed, that mirrors cable broadcasts. This convenience may be worth something to you.
Strength of Bundled Services: Based on the fact that you are reading this article, we are willing to bet that you use the internet, perhaps even more than you watch cable. And with bundles, it is sometimes the case that one service is better than the other. You want a bundle that has excellent service across the board. Do your research and do not accept subpar service in one area just to get a cheap cable package. It is not worth it, and you will feel as though you are throwing your money away.
Negotiability: Many things are negotiable, and depending on your current situation, you might be able to negotiate a better deal than what you see on paper or find online. This can especially be the case if you are willing and able to look at other providers. Cable companies will want to retain you as a customer, and most will be glad to cut you a deal to do so. You may be able to get your personal best cable TV deal without even switching providers.
Cable deals often change over time, so we hope that you will take advantage of the above deals as best you can, whether for short term savings or long-term stability for your various services. There is no one perfect option for every household, as much as we tried to outline the top contenders. Given the regional nature of cable TV, we hope you will look into your area first and foremost to see what is available and keep an open mind about the packages and services.