Best Cable TV Providers of 2021

The best TV experience starts with picking the right cable TV provider for you
Best Cable Service of 2021

Monthly price:
$49.99$59.99
Available channels:
220
Best No-Contract Option

Monthly price:
$44.99$94.99
Available channels:
200
Best Channel Lineups

Monthly price:
$65$105
Available channels:
425
Best for Families

Monthly price:
$29$94
Available channels:
420
Best for Customization

Monthly price:
$50$130
Available channels:
250

There are a lot of different ways to watch live television these days, but cable TV might be the most reliable. So we found the best cable TV providers to ensure your Sunday Night Football game, local news, and The Bachelorette season finale won’t get interrupted.

To some of you, comparing cable TV providers might be like comparing Coca-Cola to Pepsi. If you’re not ready to cut the cord and want to find the top cable TV services, let us help you make the decision of which provider is best for you.

What are the best cable TV providers?
Monthly priceAvailable channelsLearn more
$49.99$59.99*220View Plans
$44.99$94.99200View Plans
$65$105425View Plans
$29$94420View Plans
$50$130250View Plans
Data effective 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
* For the first 12 months. Some packages require a 1-year contract.
For the first 12 months.
w/Auto Pay + taxes. Equipment charges may apply.

Enter in your ZIP code to compare TV prices in your area.

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Should I bundle with cable internet?
All of these cable providers offer bundles that get you both TV and decent internet speeds. You’ll likely save money by getting everything on the same network, and who doesn’t like the simplicity of one bill?

What to look for in a cable TV provider

The best cable TV providers have a decent dollar-to-channel ratio, most of the popular channels in its entry-level package, and sufficient DVR storage space.

TV providers that work best for consumers:

  • Fair pricing
  • A channel lineup with most of the popular channels
  • No-contract options
  • Easy to install equipment
  • Ample DVR storage space

A solid cable TV provider starts with a dollar-to-channel ratio that can challenge the best in the business.

And the channel lineup must have most of the popular channels, even in its entry-level package, to be a strong competitor. A cable provider will also want no-contract options for those who don’t want to be tied down or move a lot.

And lastly, you’ll want an easy-to-install set-top box that has a sufficient amount of storage for you and the family to record everything you’d like.

Want to read more?

Xfinity is the best cable TV provider of 2021

Xfinity TV logo
  • Best value
  • No-contract options
  • You get a great DVR in the X1
  • Big list of fees

At first glance, Xfinity’s basic package is not one of the cheapest compared to Cox and Spectrum. But, it does give you the most bang for your buck.

Xfinity TV’s Extra plan gives you more than 140 channels, including every one of the most popular 25 cable TV networks (ESPN, AMC, The CW, USA, TNT, Discovery, etc.) except Univision.

Xfinity also offers TV plans without a contract (Digital Starter and Preferred), which a unique opportunity. If you do choose a no-contract Xfinity service, it adds on about $20–$30 per month, but it’s worth it if you don’t yet know you want to commit (we’re looking at you, young folks), or if you already know you’re moving out soon.

Xfinity also delivers some pretty great DVR equipment, like a voice-controlled remote and a cable box. Just say “Jack Ryan” or “Manifest” and the remote will grant your wish.

The Xfinity X1 DVR is one of the best in the cable TV industry, if not the best. It has Netflix and Prime Video integration, can record up to six shows at once, and can hold about 150 hours of HD and 300 SD recordings. Your family will be able to record The Price is Right, That ‘70s Show, and The Herd with Colin Cowherd all at once.

We don’t like additional fees, and Xfinity has quite a few. There’s a broadcast TV fee, a regional sports fee, and more additional fees (read the fine print). We’d rather have the fees included in the monthly service price, but almost all TV services do this, so we can’t fault Xfinity, just know what you’re walking into.

How much are Xfinity TV's plans?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Extra$49.99^140+View Plans
Preferred Plus$59.99^220+View Plans
Data effective 10/04/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

Spectrum is the best no-contract option

Spectrum logo
  • No contracts at all
  • Excellent pricing
  • Equipment varies
  • Limited availability

The best thing about Spectrum cable is that you don’t have to enter into a multi-year contract when you sign up. You’re a free agent—able to move on to a different TV service whenever you see fit. And if Spectrum increases the price on you after a year, you may want to.

Considering you don’t have to have a contract, the prices for Spectrum are not too bad overall. No one wants to be tied down when you may have other options in the future.

Sure, you could save a few bucks and maybe even get a few extra channels with a cable company like Cox, but you’d be stuck in a contract. And in case you didn’t know, ending contracts early is always an ugly process that ends up costing you too much money. But we have some tips on how to avoid TV cancellation fees.

Spectrum’s DVR storage is not sufficient. Spectrum’s DVR only holds 35 HD hours or 80 SD hours.

Compare that to Xfinity, where you can record up to six programs at once and get 150 hours of HD or 300 hours of SD storage.

According to Spectrum, a DVR that records 150 hours and can record six shows at once (instead of two shows) is available. But we were uncertain as to why we couldn’t find this option at checkout. We’d suggest calling this cable TV provider and asking to get this enhanced DVR if you know 35 HD hours is too little for your family.

Spectrum TV is available in more than 41 states, so it’s very possible either Xfinity or Spectrum will be available in your area.

How much are Spectrum's cable TV packages?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Spectrum TV® Select$44.99/mo for 12 mos.125+View Plans
Spectrum TV® Silver$74.99/mo for 12 mos.175+View Plans
Spectrum TV® Gold$94.99/mo for 12 mos.200+View Plans
Data effective 11/04/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months.

Verizon Fios has the best channel lineups

Verizon logo
  • Up to 425+ channels for less than $100
  • Fast and reliable fiber-optic network
  • No contracts
  • Very limited availability

Verizon Fios has six different plans to choose from, all without a contract. Fios is also a fiber-optic network. This means that your service will be fast, reliable, and filled with tons of live TV channels.

In fact, Fios offers more channels than any other cable TV provider. Optimum TV is close, but for $35 more (no, thanks, Optimum).

We really like Verizon Fios TV, and it could be higher on our list, but it lacks one key component: wide availability.

Fios is only available in a few eastern states, like Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Check if Verizon Fios TV is available in your state, or use the little zip finder near the top of this page.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can get this excellent cable TV service, we’ll give you a little breakdown for each plan you could choose:

  • Fios TV Test Drive: Fios lets you “Test Drive” the plan that gives you 425+ channels for 60 days for less than $60 per month.
  • Your Fios TV: This is the only Fios package that is customizable. You get to personalize your TV plan by picking five of your favorite channels from about 200 (including NFL Network, The Hallmark Channel, and The CW). Then, Fios will recommend a channel lineup based on your favorites.
  • More Fios TV: This plan will give you 300 channels for $76. Now let’s compare that to other TV providers. Xfinity gives you 220 channels for as low as $60 per month but will increase to about $90 afterward. Spectrum TV gives you 200 channels for $95 per month.
  • The Most Fios TV: There is no other cable TV provider that can net you more than 425 channels. And for less than $100? This is why we hope you live in one of the areas Verizon Fios TV is offered.
How much are Verizon Fios' cable TV packages?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Fios TV Test Drive$65.00/mo.°425+View Plans
Your Fios TV$65.00/mo.°125+View Plans
More Fios TV$85.00/mo.°300+View Plans
The Most Fios TV$105.00/mo.°425+View Plans
Data effective 08/26/21. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
° Per month + taxes.

Optimum is the best cable provider for the family

Optimum internet and TV logo
  • You can record 15 shows at once
  • Exclusive New York programming
  • Very limited availability

You’ll avoid family fights when your spouse wants to record The Tokyo Olympics, your kiddo wants to record Love Island, and you want to record Monday Night Football. No more “house divided” when you can record 15 shows at once.

Just be aware that the DVR maxes out at 75 hours of HD storage. So yes, you can record everything at once, but that doesn’t mean you have room for it all. But it’s still sufficient storage space for most.

Optimum is based out of NYC, so it hooks all the Big Apple residents up with HD sports channels for every New York sports team. (Seriously, all nine of them.) Sadly, though, we can’t guarantee the Giants will magically get better with your Optimum TV cable subscription.

Optimum is only available in three states and random cities.

Sorry if we got your hopes up about this cable TV provider. Optimum’s service area covers only New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and random cities in the US. Check out this availability map to see if you’re one of the chosen ones.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in beautiful New England, though, you could do much worse than Optimum cable, especially if you’re a sports fan.

How much are Optimum's cable TV packages?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Core TV$59**220+View Plans
Select TV$74**340+View Plans
Premier TV$94**420+View Plans
Data effective 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
** Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.

Cox allows you to customize your service

Cox TV logo
  • Customization options
  • Decent DVR storage space
  • 2-year contract

Cox TV caters to movie buffs, sports fans, families, and reality show addicts. You and your family will find a package you love with three TV channel lineups to choose from.

The packages include local channels for news junkies, sports programming for fanatics, and Spanish-speaking channels for telenovela addicts. SHOWTIME, HBO, and CINEMAX round out the selection for movie aficionados.

Cox’s Record 6 DVR costs $19.99 a month, the same as Xfinity X1 DVR. But Cox’s DVR stores 340 HD or 1,000 SD hours, whereas X1 stores less than one-third of that. Cox’s DVR can also record six shows at once.

Although Cox TV has an inexpensive option for people who only want a few live TV channels, Cox’s Contour TV Starter package will give you half the channels than other cable service providers entry-level packages. Xfinity’s entry package gives you 140+ channels for the same price as Cox’s plan with 75+ channels.

But Cox might be the only TV provider in your area, and it’s still a reliable option (it did make our top 5). We recommend you check your availability, since Cox TV is available only in 19 states.

Unfortunately, there’s also a 2-year contract (*eye-roll*).

One of the downsides to cable TV is contracts, and Cox TV has one (unlike Spectrum).  The one upside is, if you choose to cancel your service within 30 days of your sign-up date, you get out of your plan for free. If you wait until after that 30-day window, you’ll be charged a $240 fee to cancel.

How much are Cox TV's packages?
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Contour TV Starter$50††75+View Plans
Contour TV Preferred$90††140+View Plans
Contour TV Ultimate$130††250+View Plans
Data effective 10/28/20. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
†† 1 Year Term Agreement

Recap: Which is the best cable TV provider?

  • Xfinity TV: Xfinity is the best cable TV provider of 2021 because it’s the most widely available across the US, it has a no-contract option, and Xfinity has a solid DVR in the X1. You can save $20–$30 per month when you sign the 1-year contract, so you’ll only be paying $50 per month for 140+ channels with the Extra plan or $60 per month for 220+ channels with the Preferred Plus package.
  • Spectrum TV: Spectrum is the best no-contract option with its fair pricing. Its entry-level plan made itself to our favorite cheapest TV packages list. We like the TV® Select for $45 per month and 125+ channels, and you can cancel whenever you’d like. If you want more channels, you won’t have to break the bank when you upgrade to Spectrum’s TV® Silver for $75 per month and 175+ channels or TV Gold for $95 and 200+ channels.
  • Verizon Fios TVWith Verizon Fios TV, you’ll get the most channels you can possibly get with a cable TV provider. We’re just crossing our fingers that you live in one of the nine states that it’s offered. Get a personalized channel lineup for $56 per month with Your Fios TV, 300+ channels for $76, and a whopping 425+ for $96 per month.
  • Optimum TV: Optimum is best for the family because its set-top box allows you to record 15 shows at once. But this TV provider is also for the East Coast folks like Verizon Fios TV. Optimum’s plans start high, but some plans are worth the price because you’ll get loads of live TV channels. If Fios isn’t available to you, we think Optimum’s Value TV and Select TV packages are worth the price.
  • Cox TV: Cox is best for those who like the simplicity of one bill to combine their service with TV, internet, landline, and home security. We’re not a huge fan of the high pricing combined with the low channel count (as compared to the other cable TV providers on this list). However, it is the only cable TV service that offers customizable bundling.

If you’re still unsure which TV provider to sign up with, check out our Best TV Providers of 2021 review to compare more options.

Methodology

We compare and rank TV providers based on five key factors:

  1. Price
  2. Channels
  3. Availability
  4. Contracts
  5. Equipment

To decide which cable TV providers are best for you, we ranked each on these five important factors. We also consider reliability, customer service, and bill simplicity.

We don’t always get to take these companies for a test drive, but we do loads of research to give you the best recommendations possible. We got your back when it comes to getting the most out of your money (because who doesn’t want to save money for holiday decorations or festivities?).