The best TV experience starts with picking the right cable TV provider for you. And we're here to help.
Best Cable TV Providers of 2023
There are a lot of different ways to watch live television these days, but cable television might be the most reliable. So we found the best cable TV providers to ensure your Sunday Night Football game, local news, and your episode of The Price Is Right won’t get interrupted.
To some of you, comparing cable TV services might be like comparing Coca-Cola to Pepsi. If you’re not ready to cut the cord and want to find the top cable provider, let us guide you in finding the best provider for you.
What to look for in a cable TV provider
The best cable TV services 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
- Offers most of the popular live TV channels
- No contract options or a solid deal with a contract
- Few fees (no more than three)
- 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. But if they require their customers to sign a contract, it better be for an excellent deal.
And lastly, you'll want an easy-to-install set-top box that has a sufficient amount of DVR storage for you and the family to record everything you'd like.
If you're interested in bundling with internet, we have a list of the best cable and internet bundles. Who doesn't like the simplicity of one bill?
Xfinity is the best cable TV provider of 2023
Xfinity's TV packages are some of the cheapest in the TV industry.
Xfinity TV's Popular TV plan gives you more than 125 channels, including every one of the most popular 25 cable TV networks (ESPN, AMC, The CW, USA, TNT, Discovery, etc.) except Univision.
We also named it the best cable television option for watching NBA games so you won't have to miss one Golden State Warriors game. And it's one of few TV services that offers the NFL RedZone Channel as an add-on.
Xfinity also delivers some pretty great DVR equipment, like a voice-controlled remote and a cable box. Just say “Frozen” or “Billions,” 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 Amazon Prime Video integration, can record up to six shows at once, and can hold 20, 150, or 300 hours of HD content (you can make the choice at checkout). Your family will be able to record Sesame Street, 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, regional sports, DVR service, and TV box fee. 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.
And we do like how Xfinity doesn't require you to sign a contract.
Check out our Xfinity TV Review for the prices of the fees so you know what you're walking into.
TV channel count
|Choice TV||$20/mo.°||10+||View Plans|
|Popular TV||$50/mo.**||125+||View Plans|
|Ultimate TV||$68.5/mo.**||185+||View Plans|
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?
Spectrum is the best 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—able to move on to a different TV service whenever you see fit.
And since Spectrum increases the price on you after a year to $77 per month, you may want to if it doesn't fit your budget.
Considering you don’t have to sign a contract, the price for Spectrum is not too bad overall. No one wants to be tied down when you may have other options in the future.
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.
TV channel count
|Spectrum TV® Select Signature||$59.99/mo. for 12 mos.††||150+||View Plans|
Verizon Fios has the best channel lineups
Verizon Fios has four 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 comes close, and it's $5 less. Just double-check to see if it's available in your area.)
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 fiber TV provider, 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 $75 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 over 225 channels for $99. Now let’s compare that to our top TV provider: Xfinity gives you 185 channels for as low as $60 per month but will increase to about $90 afterward.
- The Most Fios TV: There is no other cable television provider that can net you more than 425 channels. And for $119? If you want loads of channels, this is the package to get. This is why we hope you live in one of the areas where Verizon Fios TV is offered.
Optimum is the best cable provider for the family
You’ll avoid family fights when your spouse wants to record the Utah Jazz game, your teenager wants to record The Bachelor, and you want to record the Los Angeles Dodgers double-header. 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 you might have to watch and delete your recording ASAP.
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 interested in bundling, Optimum offers free installation on its internet service when you order online and discounted internet prices during December.
If you are, we're jealous. No other cable TV service offers over 200 channels for only $75 per month!
Cox allows you to customize your service
Cox TV caters to movie buffs, sports fans, families, and reality show addicts. You and your family will find a package you love with four TV channel lineups to choose from.
After you choose the right TV plan for you, you can then select the best internet, home security, and landline plan for your home. This process includes many steps as Cox looks to give you the ultimate customized service you'll be happy with.
Cox’s Record 6 DVR costs $20 a month, and it stores 250 HD or 1,000 SD hours. Xfinity's X1 DVR stores less than one-third of that ($7.50/month). Both DVRs can 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 provider's entry-level packages. Xfinity’s entry package gives you 125+ 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.
Also, there's a 2-year contract (*eye-roll*).
One of the downsides to cable television 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.
Recap: Which is the best cable TV provider?
- Xfinity TV: Xfinity is the best cable TV provider because of its wide availability across the US, its plans have great dollar-to-channel ratios, and Xfinity has a solid DVR in the X1. Xfinity's local-channel plan (Choice TV) is only $20 per month, The entry-level plan, Popular TV, comes in at a low cost of $50/month for 125+ channels or upgrade for $20 more for 185+ channels with Ultimate TV.
- Spectrum TV: Spectrum is the best no-contract option with its fair pricing. Its only plan made itself to our favorite cheapest TV packages list next to Xfinity. You can't go wrong with the TV® Select plan for $60 per month and 150+ channels, and you can cancel whenever you'd like.
- Verizon Fios TV: With Verizon Fios TV, you’ll get the most channels you can possibly get with a 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 $75 per month with Your Fios TV, 225+ channels for $99 for the More Fios TV plan, and a whopping 425+ for $119 per month for The Most Fios TV plan.
- 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 offers the most inexpensive plan on this list at $35 for over 50 channels with the Basic TV plan, but you can also get as many as 420 live TV channels for $125. If Fios isn't available to you, we think Optimum's Basic 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 phone, and home security. We're not a huge fan of the high pricing combined with the low channel count ($56–$139 for 75–250+ channels). However, it is the only cable TV service that offers customizable bundling.
Take a look at the top cable TV and internet bundles to save money on both services.
If you’re still unsure which TV provider to sign up with, check out our Best TV Providers of 2023 review to compare more options.
And if you'd be interested in cutting the cord, we have a list of the best live TV streaming services to do so.
How much is cable TV?
We compared and ranked the best cable TV providers based on five key factors:
To decide which cable TV services 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've got your back when it comes to getting the most out of your money (because who doesn’t want to save money for summer trips and festivities?).