How Do Cable, Satellite, and IPTV Services Compare?

A Comparison of Digital Television Choices to See How They Stack Up

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Since I like to save a buck, comparing digital television packages offered by cable, ​satellite and ​​Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) providers in my area just makes sense to me.

Even though IPTV isn't offered in my area yet, I need to be aware of it because it is coming.

But, this isn’t just about me. My area is probably a lot like yours. I have access to two cable companies, two satellite companies and will have access to an IPTV provider probably within the next year or two.

In a sense, by reviewing my data you can get a feel for what it’s like in your area. Of course, everyone has their specific needs from a service provider so I don’t expect this to apply to everyone.

Do You Like Your Service Provider?

I like my three-room system, which is configured so one room has ​​high definition (HD) and ​​digital video recording (DVR) service. The second room has HD service and the third room has standard digital service.

Before choosing a provider, think about your needs, as far as the number of cable boxes and DVRs.


DirecTV has several options to choose from when considering digital television and high definition programming. With respect to this study, the best package DirecTV offers for HD and DVR service is their Plus HD-DVR.

Tip: You might have to pay an upgrade lease-fee on some receivers upon subscribing to their service. Though, there are deals in place that could reduce or eliminate the upgrade fee.

Time Warner Cable

Time Warner has a 300 digital cable package. This programming package not only has more than 300 digital channels, 47 are digital music channels. Time Warner service is a little confusing because they itemize their packages to these small groups of channels, especially with digital and HD channels.

Tip: Converter box prices are per room. The best deal on the HD receiver is to bundle it with a HD package or upgrade the digital programming package

Sudden Link

Sudden Link, which bought Cox Communications in some markets, offers digital cable. This service has 200+ channels, including 30+ digital music channels. 

DISH Network

DISH Network’s America’s Top 200 package includes 60 Sirius digital music channels.

Tip: Receiver costs are per room for DISH Network. The end result is that you can get a two-room receiver and pay only one receiver cost or have a receiver in each room.


FiOS TV is Verizon’s alternative to cable and satellite. They currently offer a digital programming package in parts of the USA. This service includes 200 digital channels and 28 high definition channels.

The beauty of FiOS is that Verizon bundles their programming into one package instead of forcing the subscriber to pay extra for HD and DVR service.

Tip: I would get digital and high definition programming, HD service in two rooms, standard digital service in one room and DVR service in one of the rooms with HD. I would have three set-top boxes: one standard, one HD-only and one HD/DVR with the recording service.