Cheapest Cable TV Providers 2021
If you’re looking for a cheap cable TV provider so you don’t miss out on Family Feud while also saving money, you’re in the right place.
The five inexpensive cable TV providers on our list are all reliable companies, and you might find yourself wanting to stick with them for a few years. They range from $25-$50 per month with 20-140 channels. Not bad.
There’s one downside to some of the cheap cable TV providers: their availability can be limited. But we found the best cable TV deals and we’ll help you find the right one for your home.
|Service||Plan||Price||TV channel count||Details|
|Spectrum TV||Spectrum TV® Select||$44.99/mo for 12 mos.*||125+||View Plans|
|Xfinity TV - West||Extra||$49.99†||140+||View Plans|
|Cox TV||Contour TV Starter||$50‡||75+||View Plans|
|Sparklight TV||Economy Cable||$42||Up to 20||View Plans|
What to look for in an inexpensive cable TV provider
When looking for a cheap cable TV provider, you might need to keep your standards at bay. But you shouldn’t have to compromise too much.
A good, cheap cable TV package should still have a decent dollar-to-channel ratio, and the amount you’d like to pay per month will most likely determine how many channels you get.
Cheap cable TV providers that work best for consumers:
- Offers at least one inexpensive package
- A fair price for the number of channels you receive
- At least has local channels
- Includes channels for the family
- Still a reliable service despite the price
Our top five recommended cable TV providers have at least one affordable plan. They’re the cheapest plans in the industry from reliable cable TV companies.
With these plans, you’ll get a sufficient number of channels for the price tag. All of the plans have local channels.
If you’re willing to spend $50 per month, this is where you’ll find popular channels for the family, such as ESPN, HGTV, and Disney Channel.
Want to read more?
Spectrum TV is the best no-contract option
You can’t go wrong with no contracts and a solid number of family and sports channels
Spectrum and Xfinity TV have the best dollar-to-channel ratio on this list, but you can’t beat the no-contract option.
What we like about Spectrum TV
- Spectrum doesn’t have a contract
- You’ll get a solid number of channels in your lineup
No contract? No way?
One of the best things a cable TV provider can give us is a no-contract option. Let’s be real, we don’t like feeling stuck. We want to feel free to cancel if we don’t like the service.
Keep in mind, Spectrum may increase the price on you after a year. Spectrum guarantees the advertised pricing for one year but doesn’t specify how much your monthly bill will be during year two.
But hey, this might be where the no-contract thing comes in handy. If it becomes too pricey for you, feel free to cancel. But maybe you’ll like the reliability of Spectrum and decide to just stick with them.
A solid channel lineup everyone in the family will love
Whether you want the top channels for your family or for sports-watching parties at your house, you’ll find it with Spectrum. Spectrum offers the following channels:
- Animal Planet
- Cartoon Network
- Discovery Channel
- Disney Channel
- Food Network
- Fox News
- Hallmark Channel
- Investigation Discovery
What we don’t like about Spectrum TV
- We’re disappointed in Spectrum’s DVR
- Spectrum’s DVR storage is minimal
Spectrum’s DVR storage is one of the lowest in the industry
We’ll just spit it out–Spectrum’s DVR only holds 35 HD/80 SD hours and can only record two shows at once.
This is subpar when you realize Xfinity’s DVR holds 60 HD/300 SD hours and Cox TV’s holds 250-1,000 SD hours.
If you have a small family, Spectrum TV’s DVR might slide. But if you have four or more family members who like to record TV shows and movies often, you might find yourselves in a sticky situation.
Why? Because you’ll run out of storage space quickly, you can only record two shows or movies and once, and the family won’t be happy.
But, according to Spectrum, there is an enhanced DVR that is available. It can record 150 hours and record six shows at once. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find this option at checkout, so we suggest calling to order.
Xfinity TV has the best value
Get over 140 channels that you and the family will love for the price of one nice, fancy meal
You’ll score the most channels for $50 with Xfinity’s Extra plan, but it will require you to sign a 1-year contract. Although, you might find that a 1-year commitment might be worth it.
What we like about Xfinity TV
- Xfinity offers the highest channel count for $50
- The X1 DVR is one of the best DVRs in the industry
Many channels for an abundance of entertainment
Xfinity gives you more than 140 channels for sports, lifestyle, kids, and news. There’s something to watch for the history-storytelling Dad and the Elena of Avalor-loving sister.
Some of the channels in the Extra lineup are the following:
- Animal Planet
- BBC America
- Cartoon Network
- Disney Channel
- Food Network
- Fox News
- Hallmark Channel
The X1 DVR will support your family’s recordings needs
When you order one set-top box with DVR service for your home, you’ll get 60 HD or 300 SD hours of storage.
When you order two, you’ll get 120 HD or 600 SD hours of DVR storage. Now that’s a lot of storage space.
You can store 25 movies and 57 TV episodes. The best part about that: you can save those movies and TV shows as if you own them.
Record The Longest Yard and watch it today, next month, or two years from now because they’ll save on your DVR.
And another bonus is you and the roommates will be able to record six TV shows or movies at once.
What we don’t like about Xfinity TV
- You’ll have to sign a 1-year contract
- Fees can make your monthly bill higher than you’d like
A 1-year contract is required for the Extra plan
To get this awesome deal of 140 channels for $50, you’ll have to sign a 1-year contract.
If you don’t like the idea of being tied down, Xfinity has the option to get 140 channels without the contract. Xfinity’s Digital Starter plan is $71 per month, and despite the $21 increase, we still recommend this option.
If Spectrum TV isn’t available in your area, Xfinity’s Digital Starter plan at $71 is a close second for the best no-contract option.
Xfinity has many pesky fees we could do without
Most cable TV companies charge fees, but unfortunately, Xfinity charges the most.
Luckily all of the fees are optional, but we highly recommend them if you want access to local channels, regional sports channels, and DVR service.
Allow us to give you a heads up on which monthly fees you might want to pay for to create a service perfect for you:
- First set-top box: $5.00/mo.
- Additional TV box: $9.95/mo.
- HD technology fee: $10.00/mo.
- DVR fee: $5.00-$15.00/mo.
- Broadcast fee: Up to $19.45/mo.
- Regional sports fee: Up to $14.45/mo.
Cox is best for basic TV channels
Whether you’re a fan of sports, telenovelas, or local news, Cox has something for everyone in the house to watch
Cox TV allows you to create a personalized bundle with TV, internet, landline, and home security. No other cable TV provider offers the simplicity of four services on one bill.
What we like about Cox TV
- Cox’s starter plan includes basic, popular channels
- There are many DVR options for the family
Enjoy more than 75 basic cable TV channels
Cox’s TV Starter plan has basic local broadcast, government, education, and shopping channels. It does also include lots of Music Choice channels.
We like the variety, especially if you would like a little more than just the local channels. (But if you’re looking for a lineup with only local channels, jump down to Buckeye and Sparklight.)
Cox’s Contour TV Starter plan includes the following channels:
- PBS Kids
- True Crime Network
Choose the DVR storage space that best fits your family
Cox TV gives you the option to record 250 or 1,000 hours with your DVR.
This is perfect for the family of three who will record only a few TV shows here and there, and for the family of seven who could use the entire 1,000 hours of space.
We’ll break down the three DVR option Cox offers here:
- Essential DVR: $10.00/mo. (250 hours of DVR storage space, record two shows at once)
- Preferred DVR: $20.00/mo. (250 hours of DVR storage space, record six shows at once)
- Ultimate DVR: $30.00/mo. (1,000 hours of DVR storage space, record 24 shows at once)
What we don’t like about Cox TV
- You must sign a 2-year contract
- Cox TV has limited availability in the US
Get out of here with that contract, Cox
Hopefully, you fell in love with that channel lineup and DVR combo because you’ll need to commit for two years. But it might honestly be worth it if you want to bundle TV, internet, landline, and home security.
If you happen not to like Cox’s services, you can get out of your plan for free if you cancel your service within 30 days of your sign-up date. But if you wait until after that 30-day window to cancel, you’ll be charged an early termination fee (ETF) of up to $240.
Cox might or might not be available in your state
Buckeye Broadband TV offers the best price
Stay updated on the international news or the local weather with the cheapest TV provider
Buckeye gives you local channels for a fair price, but unfortunately, it’s only available to select cities on the East Coast.
What we like about Buckeye TV
- 30 plus local channels with no contract
Affordable cable TV and no contract required
For the price of a t-shirt, you’ll get more than 30 local channels to choose from when you wind down after work. And to make things sweeter, you don’t have to worry about signing a contract.
Buckeye’s Local 30+ includes the following channels:
- C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, C-SPAN 3
- HSN, HSN2
- QVC, QVC 2, QVC3
- The CW
This lineup is perfect for local sports, world news, shopping, and a little Latin programming.
Every location will have different channels available, so we recommend checking out Buckeye’s lineup in your area to make sure it has the channels you want.
What we don’t like about Buckeye TV
- Buckeye has very limited availability
Only available in a small area of the country
Buckeye TV is only available in select cities on the East Coast.
This cable TV provider is a great option for those who may be living in Ohio or Michigan and like to stay updated on the latest news.
Buckeye only serves 18 cities, with most of those being in Ohio. Other random cities on the East Coast that Buckeye caters to include Oil City, PA and Parkville, MO.
Use our ZIP finder at the top to see if Buckeye is offered in your area. We hope it expands someday soon.
Sparklight TV is best for local channels
Sparklight is pricier for fewer channels, but it’s more widely available than Buckeye
|Sparklight TV's Economy Cable||$42.00/mo.||20+||View Economy Cable Plan|
If you want a simple TV plan with your local channels, Sparklight might be up your alley. You’ll get at least 20 local channels for your morning news and nighttime entertainment.
What we like about Sparklight TV
- No contract for 20 local channels
Cable TV with no contract is music to our ears
It’s always a bonus when you don’t have to be tied down to a contract with your TV provider, especially when you have no idea if you two will have a great relationship.
Although Sparklight TV only offers 20 local channels, they offer some of the top local channels.
Keep in mind, every location isn’t created equal. When we checked the Idaho Falls channel lineup, 26 channels were available. Diamondhead, Mississippi had 34.
If you want to know exactly which channels you’ll get straight to your TV, check out the full channel lineup. And don’t forget to use our ZIP finder at the top to see if you live in one of the 21 states Sparklight is offered.
Sparklight TV offers the following local channels:
- Daystar Television Network
- PBS Learn
- The CW
- True Crime Network
What we don’t like about Sparklight TV
- It’ll cost about $2 per channel
The price can be hard to justify if you have other affordable cable TV providers in your area.
You’re paying about $2 per channel with Sparklight, which is one of the priciest dollar-to-channel ratios in the industry. We like to see nothing higher than $1.50 per channel.
But if it’s one of your only choices, enjoy staying up to date on local, national, and international news with Sparklight TV.
Recap: Which is the best inexpensive cable TV provider?
- Spectrum: Spectrum gives you more than 125 channels for $45 per month without a contract. This is a great combination for a cheap TV provider, and it provides you with a channel variety everyone in the family will enjoy.
- Xfinity: You’ll get the most channels with Xfinity’s Extra plan at 140, and you’ll only have to pay $5 more than Spectrum’s TV(r) Select. It’s our second option, though, because you’re required to sign a 1-year contract for this pricing. But we think a 1-year commitment is doable if you like the provider.
- Cox: Cox’s Contour TV Starter nets you 75 channels for $50. This isn’t as great of a deal as with Spectrum or Xfinity, but Cox allows you to fully customize your package. We like the simplicity of bundling TV, internet, landline, and home security with one cable company.
- Buckeye: If you’re in one of the lucky cities Buckeye is available, you’ll get to enjoy local channels for a fair price. For $25, you’ll get more than 30 channels to watch your local news stations, some national sporting events, and MasterChef.
- Sparklight: This cable TV provider is certainly one of the cheapest, but its dollar-to-channel ratio is still a bit high. But this TV provider is best for those who just want a few channels to stay up to date on the news or to watch their favorite network TV shows.
We compare and rank cable TV providers based on five key factors:
- Number of overall channels
- Channel variety for the family
- DVR storage space
For a cable TV provider to be named “one of the cheapest,” it’s got to have a sufficient number of channels (especially local) for a fair price.
Dollar-to-channel ratio is a huge factor we take into consideration. Who doesn’t want to get the best bang for their buck?
Channel variety is also important so everyone in the family has something to watch. We have to think of the parents who love The Price is Right or The Kelly Clarkson Show. And of course, the kids will want to watch Arthur or Teen Titans Go! before school.
All that won’t matter if it’s not available to you in your area, so availability across the US ranks cable TV providers higher on our list.
And we’ll save you from family feuds by making sure those cable TV providers have enough DVR storage space.
What is the best and cheapest cable service?
The best and cheapest cable services are Spectrum TV and Xfinity TV.
They’re the best because they’re reliable companies, widely available, and offer a great number of channels for a fair price.
Spectrum’s TV(r) Select package gives you 125+ channels for $45 per month.
Xfinity’s Extra package gives you 140+ channels for $50 per month.
How can I get basic cable for free?
The best way to get basic cable for free is to set up an HD antenna.
They’re a one-time buy of about $20-$80 and you could get as many as 70 channels with great reception.
Is streaming cheaper than cable?
Yes and no.
The problem with cable TV is it’s not available everywhere whereas live TV streaming is offered in most of the US.