Best Cable TV Providers of 2020

The best TV experience starts with picking the right cable TV provider for you.
Best Cable TV Provider of 2020
Monthly price:
$49.99$104.99
Available channels:
260
Best for Customization
Monthly price:
$25$69.99
Available channels:
140
Best No-Contract Option
Monthly price:
$44.99$89.99
Available channels:
200
Best for Families
Monthly price:
$64.95$104.95
Available channels:
420

There are a lot of different ways to watch live television these days, but cable TV might be the most reliable. We’ve all been stuck waiting for a stream to buffer or for a satellite dish to stop being so finicky. So we found the best cable TV providers to ensure your Sunday Night Football game, local news, and This Is Us 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 provider, let us help you make that decision with our research.

Quick comparison—best cable TV providers
ProviderMonthly priceAvailable channelsLearn more
Xfinity TV$49.99$104.99*260View Plans
Spectrum TV$44.99$89.99200View Plans
Cox TV$25$69.99140View Plans
Optimum Cable TV$64.95$104.95420View Plans
Data effective 11/19/18. 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.

These are the factors we looked at to determine the best cable TV providers:

  • Price
  • Contract
  • Fees
  • Channels
  • DVR
  • Availability

Speaking of availability, let’s see which cable providers you can get in your area.

Find the best TV providers 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 may save some bucks by getting everything on the same network.

Xfinity: Best cable TV provider of 2020

Xfinity has some of the best cable TV deals around.

Xfinity cable TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Digital Starter$70.99140+View Plan
Digital Preferred$89.49220+View Plan
Digital Premier$104.99260+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months.
For the first 12 months with a 1-year agreement.

What we like

  • Fair pricing and no-contract options
  • Solid DVR

Save that money

Xfinity TV costs less than your average cable service provider in that Xfinity’s Digital Starter TV plan is cheaper than Cox’s, Spectrum’s, and Optimum’s basic packages.

The Digital Starter TV plan also includes every channel of the top 25 cable TV networks (ESPN, AMC, The CW, USA, TNT, Discovery, etc.) except Univision. If you’re a cable TV devotee, you won’t have to worry about missing out on the most popular channels and shows: Xfinity’s got your back.

Xfinity also offers TV plans without a contract, which is a super neat option. If you do choose a no-contract Xfinity service, it adds on about $10 a month, but it’s worth it if you can’t commit (we’re looking at you, young folks), or if you already know you’re moving out soon.

Deals

Money-saving bonus

There are currently special deals depending on your location, such as $34.99/mo. for Internet Plus Instant TV or $49.99/mo. to add on Performance Pro Internet.

Solid DVR equipment

Xfinity delivers some pretty great DVR equipment, like a cool voice-controlled remote and a cable box. Just say “Jack Ryan” or “Riverdale” and your remote will grant your wish. If that doesn’t get you excited about DVR equipment, we don’t know what will.

The Xfinity X1 DVR isn’t our first choice for DVR, but it comes close. It has Netflix and Prime Video integration, and can record up to six shows at once, and can hold about 60 hours of HD and 300 SD recordings. Don’t worry: your family will be able to record The Price is Right, That ‘70s Show, and The Herd with Colin Cowherd all at once.

Easy add-on options at checkout

Xfinity conveniently gives you options to customize your plan with premium channels and entertainment packages at checkout. Here’s options you can add:

Add-on premium channels and packages
Channel or packagePrice
Sports Entertainment Package$9.99/mo.
HBO$15/mo.
SHOWTIME$12/mo.
STARZ$12/mo.
CINEMAX$12/mo.
EPIX$5.99/mo.
Xfinity Latino$9.99/mo.
Deportes$5/mo.
TMC (The Movie Channel)$12/mo.

What we don’t like

  • Extra fees

No one likes extra fees

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 that fine print). We’d rather have the fees included in the monthly service price, but almost all TV providers do this, so we can’t fault Xfinity too much.

Xfinity summary

  • Good: Xfinity has the best cable TV deals and a solid DVR for a great price.
  • Bad: Extra fees, but almost all TV providers have them one way or another.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of Xfinity.

Cox: Best pricing

Cox TV’s package is costly, but you’ll find a customized channel package you and your family will enjoy.

Cox TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
TV Starter$2575+View Plan
Contour TV$69.99140+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months.

What we like

  • Some channel customization options
  • DVR has decent storage space

Channel customization

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

The “paks” include sports programming for sports fanatics, Spanish-speaking channels for telenovela addicts, and SHOWTIME, HBO, and CINEMAX for movie aficionados.

DVR has decent storage space

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 only stores less than one-third of that. Cox’s DVR can also (you guessed it) record six shows at once.

What we don’t like

  • Contour TV package is pricey
  • 2-year contract

The price adds up

Although Cox TV has an inexpensive option for people who only want a few channels, Cox’s Contour TV package costs more than other comparable cable service providers. Cox gives you 140+ channels but for $10 to $20 more than you’d pay with Xfinity for similar, if not better, packages.

It’s also recommended to check your availability, since Cox TV is available only in 19 states.

2-year contract (*eye-roll*)

One of the downsides to cable TV is contracts, and Cox TV has one (unlike Spectrum). 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.

Cox summary

  • Good: Cox lets you customize your cable TV experience.
  • Bad: Cox’s Contour package price and availability is a little questionable.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of Cox TV.

Spectrum: Best no-contract option

No contract? No problem. Spectrum’s biggest selling point is a nice plus.

Spectrum cable TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
TV Select$44.99^125+View Plan
TV Silver$69.99^175+View Plan
TV Gold$89.99^200+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
^ For the first 12 months when bundled

What we like

  • No contracts
  • Decent pricing

No-contract option

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—free 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.

Reasonable pricing for no-contract cable

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.

What we don’t like

  • Equipment varies based on your location
  • Limited availability

Spectrum’s equipment varies depending on where you live

Our customer service representative said the equipment varies depending on where you live. So you could get a DVR that has 21-hour storage or possibly 150-hour storage. But the one thing that does seem consistent is the DVR box can only record two things at once.

Compare that to Xfinity, where you can record up to six things at once and get 60 hours of HD storage.

Available in random areas

Before you get too excited about the no-contract option and reasonable pricing, check to see if Spectrum is available where you live. This provider is only available in less than 25% of the US.

Spectrum summary

  • Good: Spectrum doesn’t bother with any kind of contract.
  • Bad: You don’t know what equipment you’ll have until you sign up.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of Spectrum TV.

Optimum: Best cable for the family

Optimum’s no-contract TV service is a great option . . . if you live in one of four states.

Optimum cable TV packages
PlanPriceTV channel countDetails
Optimum Core TV$64.95220+View Plan
Optimum Select TV$74.95340+View Plan
Optimum Premier TV$104.95420+View Plan
Data effective 11/19/18. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
For the first 12 months.

What we like about Optimum

  • Record 15 shows at once
  • Exclusive New York programming

End family conflict

You’ll avoid family fights when your spouse wants to record Criminal Minds, your daughter wants to record Botched, 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.

New York sports channels

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.

What we don’t like

  • Limited availability
  • Extra fees

Only available in four states

Sorry if we got your hopes up about this cable TV provider: Optimum’s service area covers only New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. 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.

Extra fees

In a big surprise to nobody, this cable TV company adds extra fees to your bill. Most cable TV providers do, so as a general rule of thumb, add an extra $15–$30 to what you think you’ll pay, and you’ll be closer to the final bill.

Optimum summary

  • Good: Simultaneous recordings and sports coverage is a win.
  • Bad: Great option. If you live in one of the four states it’s available.
  • Full review: Check out our full review of Optimum TV.

Recap: Which is the best cable TV provider?

We looked at lots of cable TV providers to highlight some of the best for you. We considered pricing, fees, contracts, and more to determine which cable TV provider deserves to be in your home. Overall, we can say this about each:

  • Xfinity: Best cable TV provider of 2020
  • Cox: Best for your budget
  • Spectrum: Best no-contract option
  • Optimum: Best for the family

What do you think?

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