Basic Cable Packages and Channels Guide

We’ll help you find the best basic cable package for your living room and wallet

A basic cable package comes in handy for many reasons: they’re inexpensive, have all of your local channels, and are simple. There’s no need to channel jump through filler channels.

Well, we’ve highlighted basic and starter packages from five cable TV companies for you. And they have a wide availability in the US, because who wants to sift through tons of cable TV providers that might not be in your area? Not us.

Even though an HD antenna is one of the best ways to get local channels, we know a basic cable package can promise you a decent channel lineup. So let’s dive in to see which of these cable TV providers is perfect for your home.

A quick comparison of basic-package cable TV providers
ProviderMonthly price*ChannelsDetails
Xfinity TV Limited Basic and Starter$34.99–$49.99/mo.10–140+View Plans
Cox TV Starter$25.00/mo.75+View Plans
Sparklight Economy Cable$40.00/mo.Up to 20View Plans
Suddenlink Core TV$54.99/mo.200+View Plans
Spectrum Spectrum TV® Select$44.99/mo.125+View Plans

*Data effective 6/25/2020. Price and channel inclusion vary according to location.

Let’s see which of these cable providers are offered in your area.

How much is Xfinity TV’s basic package?

Xfinity has three low-priced packages to choose from

How much is Xfinity TV?
ProviderMonthly price*ChannelsDetails
Xfinity’s Limited Basic$34.99–$39.99/mo.10+View Plans
Xfinity’s Starter$49.99/mo.140+View Plans

*Data effective 6/25/2020.

What’s Xfinity’s Limited Basic package?

We like Xfinity because it’s one of the most widely available cable providers in the US, and the price tag isn’t too bad.

For example, Xfinity has three inexpensive basic and starter packages for your home.

The first option, Xfinity Limited Basic, actually has two different options. The Limited Basic package comes with 10+ channels, but you have to pair it with internet.

To get the Limited Basic TV package, you’ll have to bundle with 25 Mbps internet for $34.99 per month or go big with 100 Mbps download speeds for $39.99 per month.

And even though the Limited Basic package is advertised as “10+ channels,” when we entered our location, the channel lineup actually had close to 90 channels. This includes some HD channels too!

The local broadcast, government, and educational channels Xfinity included in its channel lineup are the following:

  • ABC
  • Bulldog Shopping Network
  • CBS
  • CNBC
  • C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2
  • The CW
  • Discovery Channel
  • FETV
  • FOX
  • Galavision
  • HISTORY
  • HSN, HSN 2
  • ION Television
  • MeTV
  • Music Choice (about 50)
  • NBC
  • PBS
  • PBS Kids
  • Shop HQ
  • Stadium
  • TBN
  • Telemundo
  • Travel Channel
  • TV Land
  • UniMás
  • Univision

Which channels are in Xfinity’s Starter package?

If you want a few more channels and you’re willing to spend $10–$15 more, then the Starter package might be for you.

You’ll get 140+ channels, and those channels include the following:

  • BBC America
  • Cartoon Network
  • CBS
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • Comedy Central
  • C-SPAN
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • Food Network
  • Fox News
  • FX
  • Hallmark Channel
  • HGTV
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Lifetime
  • MSNBC
  • NBC Sports Network
  • Nickelodeon
  • PBS
  • TBS
  • Telemundo
  • TNT
  • Universal Kids

Check out our full review if you want to know more about Xfinity’s DVR, fees, and on-demand content.

How much is Cox’s starter package?

If you just want local channels for the price of a t-shirt, Cox is there for you

How much is Cox?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
TV Starter$25*75+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.

Which channels are in Cox’s TV Starter package?

All right, $25 per month for 75+ channels is not a bad deal at all. And you’ll get most, if not all, of your local channels straight to your TV.

But you’ll have to commit for two years. Cox has this thing called a two-year contract that we could honestly do without. But if this is a deal you can get behind, the contract might not matter.

Cox’s channel lineup includes the following:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • Cozi TV
  • The CW
  • C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, C-SPAN 3
  • FOX
  • HSN, HSN 2
  • MeTV
  • Music Choice
  • NBC
  • PBS
  • PBS Kids
  • QVC, QVC2, QVC3
  • TBS
  • TBN
  • Telemundo
  • UniMás
  • Univision

If you want to learn more about Cox, check out our review as we go into detail about the DVR and the fees you can expect.

How much is Suddenlink’s basic package?

Get lots of channels so everyone in the family will have something to watch

How much is Suddenlink?
ProviderMonthly price*ChannelsDetails
Suddenlink’s Core TV and Internet 100$54.99/mo.200+View Plan

*Data effective 6/25/2020.

Which channels are in Suddenlink’s Core TV package?

You might look at this basic package price and think: Woah, that’s a little pricey.

But do you see how many channels you get with your $55?? (Double question marks seemed fitting here)

And Suddenlink’s Core TV package not only gives you more than 200 channels, but you get 100 Mbps internet with it, as well. If you get Core TV by itself, it’s $3 more than the bundle (*shoulder shrug*).

So, get the bundle.

Core TV includes the following channels:

  • ABC
  • BBC America
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • The CW
  • C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • Food Network
  • FOX
  • FX
  • FS1
  • Hallmark Channel
  • HGTV
  • Home Shopping Network
  • MSNBC
  • National Geographic
  • NBC
  • NBC Sports Network
  • Nickelodeon
  • PBS
  • SEC Network
  • Telemundo
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • USA
  • The Weather Channel

Check this availability map to see if you’re in one of the 19 states Suddenlink is offered.

How much is Spectrum’s basic package?

A decent number of channels for a reasonable price is everything

How much is Spectrum?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Spectrum TV® Select$44.99*125+View Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months.

Which channels are in Spectrum’s TV Select package?

We named Spectrum as one of the best cheap cable TV options out there. Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, you get a solid number of channels, and the price doesn’t break your bank.

That sounds like a recipe for a decent cable TV provider, right?

TV Select includes the following channels:

  • ABC
  • BBC America
  • Big Ten Network
  • Cartoon Network
  • CBS
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • The CW
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN, ESPN2
  • Food Network
  • FOX
  • Fox News
  • Golf Channel
  • Hallmark Channel
  • HGTV
  • Lifetime
  • Investigation Discovery
  • MSNBC
  • National Geographic
  • NBC
  • NBC Sports Network
  • TBN
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • The Weather Channel
  • USA

Spectrum is available in 41 states, and for some, it doesn’t even cover 50% of the state. Check if it’s available in your area with this availability map.

And if you want to know more about fees and equipment, take a look at our full review.

How much is Sparklight’s basic package?

If local channels are all you’re asking for, Sparklight at your service

How much is Sparklight?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Economy Cable$40Up to 20View Plan

Which channels are in Sparklight’s Economy Cable package?

This basic package’s dollar to channel ratio is higher than the rest, but you might like the idea of having 20 channels with no fluff to search through.

Or maybe you live in one of the 19 states Sparklight offers coverage, and there isn’t another cheap cable TV option. So, Sparklight has got your back.

The local news, weather, and sports channels included in the Economy Cable package are the following:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • The CW
  • C-SPAN
  • FOX
  • HSN
  • NBC
  • PBS
  • TBN
  • UniMás
  • Univision
  • The Weather Channel

If you’re unsure if Sparklight is your next cable provider, check out our detailed review where we go over more details, like DVR and fees.

Recap: Which cable TV provider has the best basic package?

We sorted through more than a dozen cable TV providers to highlight which had the best basic packages for you. Overall, we can say this about each:

  • Xfinity TV: The Limited Basic package for $34.99–$39.99/month is our favorite option. You could get close to 90 channels and internet is included in that price (we don’t know anyone who doesn’t need internet). And if you want even more channels, the Starter package for $49.99/month will give you more than 140 channels (sign us up).
  • Cox: Cox is the cheapest option at $25/month for more than 75 channels. The TV Starter package will give you all of your major local channels, and we know we can’t live without our local news and favorite TV shows.
  • Suddenlink: We like the dollar to channel ratio on Suddenlink’s Core TV and Internet 100 package. And you’ll want to bundle because it’s $55/month for more than 200 channels and internet with a download speed of 100 Mbps. If you just get the TV service alone, it’s $3 more (why? We wonder the same).
  • Spectrum: We also like the dollar to channel ratio for Spectrum because $45/month for more than 125 channels doesn’t sound too bad. That’s why it made our list of cheapest cable TV providers.
  • Sparklight: If you want only your local channels and nothing else, Sparklight will be perfect for you. Sparklight’s Economy Cable package is $40/month for 20 local channels for news, weather, and sports.

What do you think?

Which cable TV provider do you think is the best? Tell us what you think in the comments.