Top 5 Cable Companies
Currently, there are dozens of cable companies operating within the United States. Of all these providers, 5 top competitors dominate the vast majority of subscriptions (actually, there are 6, with two companies neck and neck competing for the 5th ranking). Here are the top 5 cable companies in terms of subscribers as of the first quarter of 2015 (as ranked by Leichtman Research Group).
- Comcast: Comcast continues to rank as the top cable TV providers due primarily to the wide variety of packages and channels it offers. Comcast offers 5 different packages, from a basic 10-channel plan all the way up to a premier level plan with over 200 channels. Other features of the service include an impressive On Demand library, mobile and Internet viewing, and DVR capability. In addition, the service is available in 40 states across the country.
- Time Warner Cable: Time Warner has long been ranked among the top cable providers due to the fact that it offers some of the most reasonably priced TV packages at every subscription level: low-end, mid-level, and high-end plans. Notably, Time Warner also offers some unique DVR features that enable you to restart a show in progress or watch a previously aired program up to 72 hours after it airs.
- Charter Communications: Charter communications is considered a smaller cable TV provider and is generally available in rural areas, but it offers service without the need for a multiyear contract. Rather Charter cable charges one month ahead on an ongoing basis, so you always know what price you are agreeing to beforehand. Charter offers up to 250 digital channels, 140 HD channels, and thousands of On Demand choices, and can be subscribed to on up to four TVs in the home.
- Cablevision: Cablevision is a relatively smaller cable TV provider that has a good reputation for the many family-friendly features it offers. One benefit offered by this cable company is that it has available a DVR that enables you to record up to four programs at once (most DVRs only allow for dual simultaneous recordings), which is ideal for households with multiple children and/or teens.
- Suddenlink/Mediacom: One of Suddenlink’s benefits is that it offers cable TV at monthly rates with no contract needed and no credit checks necessary. In addition, an online counterpart, Suddenlink2GO, is available, which allows you to view video via a laptop or personal computer. In addition, Suddenlink offers a Spanish language package called Mi Conexion. Stylized as “boundary-free TV,” Mediacom cable TV is popular in that it offers free HD TV, as well as thousands of On Demand titles at no extra charge. Their Prime TV package makes it easy to add premium channels and upgrade your lineup with movie and sports channels.
New Trends in Pay-TV
With the advent of new technologies in recent years, there are more options than ever for pay-TV consumers. From strongly established satellite TV networks to Internet TV and streaming services, here are some great alternatives to traditional cable.
- Satellite TV: Satellite TV has actually been around since the 1990s and offers a viable alternative to traditional cable viewing. Offerings by companies such as DirecTV and Dish Network are preferable to cable by TV viewers for many reasons, including affordability, a better overall picture quality, availability in all markets, and the potential for more channels.
- Internet TV and Streaming Services: Companies like Apple, Dish Network Corp., and Sony Corp. are putting together Internet TV services that open up new opportunities for so-called “cord-cutters” who don’t want to pay for traditional TV service. Instead, people can choose to buy an online TV bundle from one of the aforementioned companies and then combine it with stand-alone streaming offerings from such companies as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon’s Noggin, and CBS. The benefit of this to consumers is that it gives them the option to “cherry-pick” their channels and therefore pay for what they are going to watch (rather than paying for 150 channels in a traditional cable TV package and only really watching 50 of those channels on a regular basis). Whether this translates to significant cost savings for the consumer has yet to be determined.
- Phone Company Offerings: Pay-TV offerings by phone providers like AT&T (U-Verse) and Verizon (FiOS) are becoming more common. These TV packages are typically coupled with phone and Internet services (enabling consumers to take advantage of bundling savings), offer impressive On Demand libraries, and run on fiber optic cables, ensuring a crystal-clear picture all the time.
To make sure you get the best deal possible on your pay-TV service, it’s recommended that you first do a bit of research to see what’s out there and available in your area. Then take a moment to assess your family’s viewing habits to determine what features you might need, what specific channels are must-haves, and what technology you already have at home (particularly if you are looking toward Internet TV and streaming services). This way, you will be able to pinpoint the best possible package available at the lowest cost.