The bottom line: Cox offers most of your favorite channels and decent On Demand packages, but while they don’t have the same channel count as some of the other providers, their high rates don’t rise dramatically after promotional offers. Cox Contour service allows personal recommendations and the Record 6 DVR provides up to 340 hours of HD storage.
- Widest range of packages
- 2 TB HD-DVR
- Low price increases
- Higher pricing
- Expensive tech support
- Limited channel count
Cox’s pricing falls into the expensive end of the spectrum.
While they offer comparable programming and equipment, you’ll see that Cox’s prices are higher compared to the other reviewed brands, but at least they’re honest in spelling it out for you in the checkout process. Most additional packages add $5-$10 to your monthly bill, and DVR service isn’t cheap. In general, we don’t find that the cost matches up with the service provided.
What’s the real price?
Since you’ll be locked into a two-year contract, you’ll be happy to know that promotional pricing doesn’t increase by much with Cox. Unlike the other providers we reviewed like DIRECTV who saw up to an average 120% price increases beyond the promotional period, Cox’s average price remains steady. However, that doesn’t save it from being costly in comparison.
|Provider||Average % Increase after promo period||Average price over 2 yrs.|
The hidden fees are minimal, with the exception of early termination fees, which we had to specifically search for within the terms and conditions. If you opt out of your cable service before your contract expires, your Early Termination Fees (ETFs) will amount to $240 minus $10 for every month of completed service.
Cox spells out their additional package pricing throughout the checkout process, but remember: with the Contour Ultimate Package, your DVR equipment price is included.
Unless you’re brave or lucky, we’d recommend subscribing to the Cox Service Protection Plan, which costs about $84 annually. A single service call or technician visit starts at $60, so it makes sense that for an extra fee, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can get help any time you need it.
The Service Protection plan covers hassle-free repair and replacement for not only defective wiring, but also normal wear and tear including chewed and frayed wires, wiring updates to faulty fittings, and technician visits at no additional cost.
Cox Communications has something for every budget.
|Packages||1st year pricing||Regular rate|
Package offerings and names vary based on where you live, so while this list is comprehensive, all the packages listed aren’t available to all customers.
Advanced Economy package
A bare bones package designed for those with a strict budget.
This package is the only non-contract option, but with that comes a very limited selection, the lowest of our sites surveyed. While you’ll get all your local channels plus some favorites like Discovery, Comedy Central, and Food Network, you’ll miss some “must haves” with this option. In particular, this package offers no ESPN, MTV, or A&E.
Notable channels: Discovery Channel, USA, Food Network.
Contour TV package
Base package for getting the Contour On Demand service, which acts as an on-screen guide, app, and DVR manager.
With 220 channels, Cox Communications falls in the middle of the crowd in this bracket. You’ll get ESPN, Discovery, A&E, HGTV and their Contour OnDemand Service at a reasonable price, but both DIRECTV and DISH offer more channels for less money.
Notable channels: ESPN HD, History Channel, HGTV.
Contour TV Preferred package
A more complete package with 60 more channels than Contour TV
The Preferred option includes the variety pack, featuring more family-friendly entertainment from stations like Nick Jr., BBC America, and Discovery Family. We’d recommend his option if you were considering adding on any channels to your regular Contour TV, but DISH can offer you 10 more channels for $20 less.
Notable channels: Disney Junior, Nicktoons, Sci Channel.
Contour TV Premier package
The most efficient package (without premium channels).
This package is where Cox Communications fares pretty well, for about $100. Both Verizon FiOS Ultimate HD and AT&T U300 are comparable packages, but this isn’t a bad way to go. It offers the 2nd most channels in the price bracket.
Notable channels: NFL Network, ESPN Classic, FXM.
Contour TV Ultimate package
Get essentially everything—for a price.
The Ultimate package is the most expensive of all services we reviewed, but you’ve got to take into consideration that you’re getting all Cox’s additional packages, the major four premium channels and a killer Record 6 DVR. If money is not an issue and you’re not able to get Verizon FiOS, then this is the way to go.
Notable channels: HBO HD, Universal Channel, Velocity by Discovery.
Cox covers a wide range of popular channels for a reasonable price.
While Cox might not boast the same high channel counts as DISH or DIRECTV, Cox’s channel selection tends to be right in line with our favorites. Although the Contour TV Ultimate package does have 380+ channels, it is still the most expensive package; compared to Verizon’s much cheaper FiOS Ultimate package with 435+ channels, you’re better off choosing Cox’s mid and mid-high packages.
Cox includes their music and other radio-type channels in their counts, most of the big providers do. They feature about 100 different stations on nearly every package, which we see as filler to bolster the channel numbers.
Cox accounts for special viewing with the big four premium channels (HBO, Starz, Showtime and Cinemax), comprehensive Latino packages, and supplemental Sports TV packs that include programming like ESPN Classic and Pac-12 college sports. If you’re a fan of major league sports, we recommend adding NFL RedZone, NBA League Pass, or NHL Center Ice.
Cox has plenty of HD programming to choose from, but we couldn’t find a solid answer as to how many HD channels were exactly involved in each package, it seemed to mirror their SD channels. Cox offers up HD versions of their SD channels for free.
While you won’t be charged an additional HD fee for every package or channel, you will have to pay installation and equipment fees. You won’t have to pay more for each sports, movie, or other packages’ HD versions, which we saw in other providers.
Equipment and features
Cox DVRs have decent storage, multiple recording sources, and on-par pricing.
|Equipment||Storage capacity||Recording hours|
|Record 6 HD-DVR Receiver||2 TB||340 HD/1000 SD|
|Record 2 HD-DVR||500 GB||120 HD/230 SD|
Selecting a Cox Contour DVR
Record 6 HD-DVR with Contour
The Record 6 HD-DVR allows you to record up to 6 HD TV shows or movies without restriction, which works for most families. In addition to usual DVR features, the Record 6 includes the Contour service, which provides program recommendations based on what you watch and rate. Potentially, you could record a recommended show while still watching your favorite one live, then catch up afterward. While this isn’t the most impressive HD-DVR in our line-up, it is substantial with 2 TB of storage and allows offline play for recorded shows downloaded to your devices, you just need a Wi-Fi connection.
Contour Record 2 / Standard HD-DVR
Their standard HD-DVR captures up to two shows at once and offers less storage at 300 GB. The fee for the Record 6 is $10/month more, so if you don’t plan on using your DVR for more than catching a show or two while you’re out, the regular option should suffice.
If you already have your own equipment, such as TiVo, you can buy a Cable Card for $3 that will allow the service to “talk” with your device and avoid leasing an additional DVR from Cox. However, this option leaves you without the Contour service, so we don’t recommend it.
Contour TV keeps you watching between your big screen, tablets, and other devices. You can pull up a show on your iPad while everyone’s finishing up their show and then push it to your main television so you don’t miss a beat.
With the Contour App you can organize your stored library for up to seven users (one less than the service allows, it seems), set your DVR records, and search and browse TV listings upcoming within a seven-day time frame. While the app is nice, some features like watching live channels, video on demand, and parental controls are only available if you have Cox essential internet, which seems like an odd caveat.
When it comes to quality, Cox lacks in the service department.
As with our other reviewed providers, online chat support seems to be mediocre at best, and confusing at its (more often) worst. If you’re getting online support, make sure to stay glued to the chat window, which times-out very quickly if you’re not active, even if you haven’t heard back from the agent yet.
The agents we chatted with contradicted themselves and didn’t present the information in an easy to understand way. We recommend getting on the phone with customer service to ensure you’re getting the most accurate information.
Knowing exactly what you’re getting is always a challenge with TV providers; however, it’s unfortunate that on different pages within the company’s own website you get different numbers entirely. The Economy package lists both 40+ and 155+ channels, which is a pretty vast difference. If you’re not sure about a price and need a guarantee, make sure to take a screenshot for reference should the need arise.
Direct pricing and minimal price increases offset low channel counts.
When comparing their TV service to the other big brands, Cox has candid pricing with minimal increases after promotional periods, and comparable programming. Cox’s Contour DVR options are above par, but not necessarily the greatest. If you live in one of the 19 states where Cox offers service, it’s a reasonable option.
Cox excels around the $100 mark with their Contour TV Premier package. Unless you need premium channels like HBO and Starz, this seems to be the best bang for the buck. If you’re concerned about channel count, you’ll get more with other brands, but Cox does a good job of keeping up for the most part.