Which Is Better for Getting You the Channels You Want: Cable, Streaming, or Satellite?

Which Is Better for Getting You the Channels You Want: Cable, Streaming, or Satellite?

2021-11-01 22:54:41

We are firmly in the era of streaming, with over 270 services currently available in the United States. Most streaming services now provide a live TV subscription option, ensuring that you can continue to watch sports and news, as well as anything else, in real-time. Is, however, cutting the cord truly preferable to cable or satellite television?

Is it worthwhile to cut your cable?

You can obtain live TV channels by subscribing to an old-school cable or satellite TV provider or by using a live TV streaming service like fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV, which all present themselves as less expensive alternatives to cable. This is partially correct.

With the exception of a few "thin bundles," most streaming packages are comparable to cable TV. In the long run, though, we still think streaming TV is a better deal than cable TV because price increases aren't as severe with streaming services as they are with cable TV.

The main advantages of cable TV are the larger channel count and potential package discounts, but these discounts are being phased out by more and more internet providers, and the channel count for streaming TV services is still fairly decent.


Live TV streaming services cannot compete with the channel lineups offered by cable TV bundles. While both YouTube TV and fuboTV are missing a few of the top 25 most popular channels, the cable providers are missing just HBO and SHOWTIME, which are premium networks that may be put on for a cost.

AT&T TV, on the other hand, is one of the few streaming services that can compete with cable TV in terms of channel selection. AT&T TV has recently dropped its two-year contract restriction, making it an even more appealing option. Just be prepared to pay prices comparable to cable television.

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Combining cable TV and the internet can help you save even more money.

Most cable companies offer significant discounts if you bundle your subscription with the internet. However, with cable TV, there are sometimes a variety of hidden charges that streaming alternatives do not have.

Even with the additional expenses involved with cable TV, a live TV streaming service will almost always cost more. But keep in mind that this is only for the first year. According to Consumer Reports, advertising rates, as well as "broadcast TV costs" and "regional sports fees," increase by 3-4 percent in year two.

Streaming vs Satellite

DISH and DIRECTV, like the cable TV packages we mentioned earlier, are missing a few of the most popular channels. The only streaming service with a superior total channel roster is AT&T TV, but you'll have to sign a two-year commitment, just like with satellite providers. AT&T TV, on the other hand, offers a 4K streaming device with all of its subscriptions, so you get some extra value for your money.

So, is streaming really better than cable and satellite?

Cable and satellite both provide better bundles than live TV streaming services when it comes to the quality of channels available. There will be more channels overall, as well as more of the ones that viewers say they desire the most. Going with a streaming service won't save you much money either, at least not in the first year, unless you switch to a slim bundle like Philo ($25/mo.).

We ranked each TV provider based on value and channel count, then calculated the average based on TV service type to find which TV service was best overall (streaming vs. cable vs. satellite). The average scores for each cable, satellite, and streaming service we looked at are as follows:




Average value score




Average channel score





While streaming is usually a better deal than satellite, cable TV usually comes with more channels at a lower price.

Having said that, one of the benefits of streaming is that you don't have to pay for channels you'll never view. In the examples above, we used YouTube TV and fuboTV, two streaming providers with extensive channel lineups, but you may save money if you only watch a few channels.

Streaming also has a lot of advantages that cable and satellite don't have. Aside from AT&T TV, you'll never have to subscribe to a live TV streaming service for more than a month at a time. Most come with a lot of DVR storage and the option to stream on many devices at the same time.

While streaming services may not have as many channels as traditional TV providers, there's a good chance you'll have a better overall experience if you compare "is streaming better than cable tv or satellite tv."

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