The Cost of Cable Worldwide

If you live in the US and currently have or have ever had a cable TV subscription, you likely know that this service can be expensive. In fact, cable TV is one of the most expensive monthly bills Americans pay

Part of this is that it’s a premium service. A cable TV subscription gives you access to hundreds if not thousands of channels, as well as other services, such as video On Demand and the ability to record live events. 

However, another reason why cable TV is so expensive is that prices have been rising steadily over the past few decades. In fact, the price of a monthly cable subscription has been steadily outpacing inflation for the better part of the past twenty years. 

Knowing this, we started wondering: is cable TV as expensive in other parts of the world? What do people pay for cable TV in Europe? What about Asia? And what do they get for their money?

Our Methodology

While this is certainly an interesting question, as we started digging into it, we realized it wasn’t going to be an easy one to answer. 


Mainly because cable TV in the United States is fairly unique as compared to what’s available in other countries. 

The main differences are how cable operates. Mainly, in most places around the world, television is treated as a utility. Free or low-cost options are more robust than they are in the US, and so few people pay for cable the way Americans do. 

In fact, in many places around the world, the market for cable TV is fairly exclusive to expatriates/immigrants. People who move to another country, and who have the means, will pay extra to access channels in their language or from their home country.

Nevertheless, we didn’t want to let these differences prevent us from finding out the answer, so here’s what we did: 

Step One: Cable in the US

We will begin with a comprehensive analysis of the cost of cable TV in the US. Because there are so many different options for cable consumers in the US, we thought it was important to look at the various ones to get an idea of how much people are paying for cable. The focus of this analysis is: is cable more expensive? Or do Americans just choose to pay more?

Step Two: Cable in Countries Around the World

Next, we will analyze cable TV prices around the world. As we said, the situation in the US is different, and data on this subject is hard to come by. So, we picked a smattering of countries from around the world, used random addresses from major cities, and then found what deals were available. To get a good snapshot of what prices are from around the world, we looked into subscription costs in the following countries: 

  • United Kingdom
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • France
  • Russia
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Africa

Step Three: PPP Conversion

Lastly, we will do a Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) conversion. For those who don’t know, PPP is a metric used to try and level off different prices in different countries. 

It takes into account the difference in incomes to give a more accurate picture of the costs outside the US. This is because prices in other countries often seem much lower than in the US, but because of disparities in income, they are more expensive. 

For example, $20 a month for a subscription in Colombia might seem cheap, but when we account for PPP, that $20 is actually the equivalent of 57.40 USD. You figure this out by taking the price in local currency (in this case Colombian Pesos, and $20 is equal to 77,614 Pesos) and dividing it by the PPP conversion factor, a number determined by economists at the World Bank. For Colombia, that is 1,352. 

This helps us get a better idea of how the cost of cable fits into the lives of people around the world, and it makes it much easier to answer our key question (Is cable in the US more expensive?) much more accurately. 

Sample Size

This grouping of countries is by no means an exhaustive list, but in the absence of a truly reliable database, we think looking at this collection gives us a good snapshot. We have countries from all over the world with a range of national incomes. 

By analyzing the situation in these countries, we feel confident we can answer our question and get a better understanding of the cost of cable worldwide.

Okay! Let’s get started!

The Cost of Cable Worldwide: At a Glance

Before we dive into the specifics of what cable costs in countries around the world, here’s a snapshot of what we found: 

The Cost of Cable in the US

The first part of this analysis is to take a look at the cost of cable in the United States. On average, Americans spend about $116 per month on their cable/internet bills. But let’s dig into these numbers a bit more. 

Part of the reason it’s important to do this is that there are so many options in the US that aren’t available in other countries. So, to accurately compare prices around the world, we need to break down the different plans available in the United States.

The easiest way to do this is to look at prices from the three major cable companies in the US: Xfinity, AT&T, and Spectrum. 

Together, these three companies make up roughly two-thirds of the market in the US, but they all offer widely different plans. 

Here’s a breakdown of what they provide to customers: 


Part of the Comcast family, Xfinity is the largest cable provider in the US. This is what they charge for their various cable plans: 


The next largest cable TV provider in the US, AT&T, also has several different options available. As of 2021, they no longer offer their traditional cable TV plans and instead offer it through DirecTV Stream. Here’s a summary of the different plans: 

AT&T’s most basic plan is considerably more expensive than Xfinity’s, but you get way more channels (65+ as compared to 10). However, as you get up the price scale, things even out. Although Xfinity’s most expensive plan, which costs the same as AT&T Premier, gives you double the channels. Will you ever watch those? Who knows. But at least you have them.


The third-largest cable TV provider in the United States is Spectrum, which is a brand in the Charter family. Here are the three plans they offer: 

 Spectrum’s cheapest plan – TV Select – probably offers the most value as compared to the plans from the other major competitors. And its most expensive plan is cheaper than all the others. 

However, these prices are promotional. After 12 months, they go up by about $15 each, which makes the cost comparable to the others on the list. 

Bundles, Taxes, and Fees

At first glance, it seems like the plans offered by most cable providers are cheaper than the average amount Americans pay, which we stated earlier to be around $119. Why is that? 

There are a few reasons. 

First, the prices listed above do not include taxes, which will bring up the cost of the plan by between 4 percent and 10 percent depending on where you live. 

These prices also don’t include fees. Each provider charges something different. For example, Xfinity usually tacks on an extra $15 for a “broadcast fee” and often another $15 for a “regional sports fee.” That would bring up the cost of their Digital Preferred plan to around $120.

Another reason why people often end up paying more than the prices listed above is that most of us bundle our cable plans with Internet. This gives access to both services for less. 

To give you an idea, Xfinity offers a cable/internet bundle that includes a 200 Mbps internet plan and their Extra cable TV plan for $110.99 per month. If you signed up today, you would get a lower, promotional price, but this expires after a year or two and goes up to $110.99 per month price. 

But this does not include taxes and fees, so the actual price is going to be considerably higher. 

In the end, there is too much variety in the US market to lock in on one plan to use as the measure. Therefore, as we compare the price of cable in the United States to those in other countries, we will continue to use the national average, which is $119 per month.

The Cost of Cable Worldwide

Now that we have a clearer idea of how much cable TV costs in the United States, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the rest of the world. We’ll start in Europe

United Kingdom

The cable TV market in the UK looks more like that of the US than it does in any other country in the world. Here’s a snapshot of some of the plans you can get: 

  • BT Fiber 2 & Entertainment – This plan gives you around 136 channels as well as 67 Mbps broadband internet connection for around £41.99 per month. 
  • Now Broadband Super – You can get fewer channels (around 20) and a 67 Mbps internet connection for just £27.99.

Unless you know the Pounds Sterling to USD conversion factor (1 USD is equal to about 1.35 USD) off the top of your head, these numbers probably don’t mean too much. 

In USD, the BT plan costs about $56 per month and the Now Broadband plan is roughly $37.

Considering both of these plans also include an internet connection, it looks like cable TV is much cheaper in the UK than it is in the United States. To make sure, let’s convert to USD using PPP. 

When we do this, the BT plan costs the equivalent of $59 and the Now Broadband plan costs $39. 

Because standards of living are similar in both countries, the difference here is negligible. 

The verdict? 

Cable TV in the UK costs about half of what it costs in the US. Now, you can spend more money. But these plans represent an average option and suggest you can spend less and get more cable in the UK as compared to the US.


Moving south to the Iberian peninsula, here’s a snapshot of what cable costs in Spain: 

  • For €55 a month you can get Orange TV play, which includes more than 50 channels, high-speed internet, and a mobile phone plan. In USD, that comes to $63 per month
  • For €35, you can get Rakuten TV, which has fewer channels (around 35), high-speed internet, and mobile phone service. In USD, that means paying $40 per month. 

Clearly, cable TV is much cheaper in Spain than it is in the United States. 

Yes, these plans offer fewer channels. But how many of those 125+ channels do you really watch? These plans trim the fat and give you only what you need, and they also include other needed services at one low price. 

To double-check that it is cheaper, let’s do the PPP conversion. 

Using a PPP conversion factor of 0.618, the Orange TV plan costs the equivalent of $88. The Rakuten TV plan is equal to $56. 

This is a much bigger jump than what we saw in the United Kingdom. But $88 per month for TV, internet, and phone service is a tremendous value that is virtually unheard of in the United States. 

The verdict?

Like the United Kingdom, cable TV is much, much cheaper in Spain than it is in the United States. 


Traveling back north again, let’s take a look at what cable TV costs in Europe’s largest economy: 

  • Basic cable – Everyone in Germany can get TV for “free.” Though it’s not really free since you have to pay a €17 per month broadcast fee that applies to both radio and TV. 
  • Cable + HD – If you want to expand beyond this and get 50+ channels, the average cost is just €12.90, or €15.90 for HD. Yes, you read that right. This would be in addition to the monthly broadcast fee of €17/month.

We don’t even really have to do a PPP conversion to conclude that cable TV is significantly cheaper in Germany than it is in the United States. But just for fun, if we do, the “free” plan comes out to just $24, and cable, including the fee, comes out to $47 per month.


Why is Cable So Much Cheaper in Europe?

When you look at these numbers, it’s kind of shocking to see just how much more expensive cable TV is in the United States as compared to these three countries in Europe. But why?

There are a few reasons, mainly:

  • More government intervention – Most European countries operate as social democracies. They have much higher income taxes and then use these taxes to fund a number of public goods. In these countries, the government subsidizes these utilities to make them more affordable for the average person. In the US, this type of approach is labeled communism and dies in the legislature before it even has a chance. Also, in Europe, companies are under much stricter regulations. They are often forced to deal with price controls that keep costs low for consumers. Again, this is simply not what happens in the US.
  • More modest options – The other reason why cable is cheaper is that Europeans generally watch less TV. It’s very uncommon for someone to pay for hundreds of channels because the free or cheap options give them all they need. If we were to dig into premium packages, we would probably see that prices are more comparable. But since this is not the norm, and in the US it is, it’s better to compare what people actually buy, which is why cable ends up being so much cheaper across the pond.


Clearly, cable TV costs much less in Europe than it does in the United States, but does that trend continue in other countries around the world. Let’s take a look, starting with Mexico

South of the Border, you can get an internet/cable TV bundle that includes 120 channels for between 649 and 850 Pesos/month. 

One US dollar is equal to about 20 pesos, so this means this plan costs between $32 and $42. When we account for PPP, that translates to $75-$95. 

This shrinks the difference considerably and makes it much less dramatic than what we saw in Europe. But cable TV is still cheaper in the US than it is in Mexico.

Here’s a look at some other countries from around the world: 

The US Has the Highest Cable Prices in the World

Although we weren’t able to collect data from all the countries around the world, based on the information we could find, we can conclude that the US has the most expensive cable TV in the world.

This is not totally shocking. Many services, such as broadband internet and mobile broadband, are more expensive in the US than they are elsewhere. And US TV culture is different. Cable has been around since the 1950s, and Americans, in general, watch more TV than other countries. 

However, a favorable regulatory climate for businesses, as well as relatively high incomes in the US, translate to high prices that just keep going up.

Due to these high prices, many people are ditching cable and switching to streaming-only. But if you sign up for something like YouTube TV, have one other streaming service, and also pay for internet, you’re still going to spend more than $100 per month to watch TV. 

In conclusion, the cost of living in the United States is one of the highest in the world. This is reflected in many things, but when we look at the cost of cable worldwide, we can see just how much more Americans have to pay than people living in pretty much any other country.

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