Satellite TV and Cable TV: Pros and Cons

Choosing between cable TV and satellite TV isn’t an easy task. Providers of both types of service are aggressive in their marketing strategies, offering bundles with premium stations and extremely low pricing for new customers. Digging deeper beyond the ads reveals that each service has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s start by looking at satellite. In general, satellite users get:

  • Higher quality picture
  • More savings than cable users
  • Better premium package deals

Satellite providers, such as DIRECTV and Dish Network, compete not only with cable providers but also with one another. This leads to pricing that is a virtual steal to the customer. Many providers also toss in freebies as well, such as DVRs are or extra receivers. It’s unquestionable that consumers who go with satellite get a lot for their money.

However, some of that value also comes with some drawbacks. Users of satellite will have to deal with headaches from time to time. These can include:

  • Limited local programming
  • Sometimes unreliable

While it’s true that satellite providers don’t cater to local audiences, the biggest drawback is actually in reliability, the second con listed. Satellite owners need to have a clear view of the sky. If there are trees in a person’s yard that are taller than the house, then satellite may not even be an option. If the trees aren’t normally an obstruction, they may become one in the wind. And during thunderstorms, satellite usually isn’t an option.

Conversely, there’s cable TV. With providers in the market such as Comcast and Time Warner along with dozens of smaller providers, consumers get plenty of choices with cable providers. The service also comes with its own benefits. For instance, cable users get:

  • Consistent reliability
  • Contract-free service
  • On Demand programming

Reliability might be the biggest advantage of choosing cable. Since weather and a view of the sky aren’t necessary, cable is always available except in rare instances of network outages. In addition, users of the service don’t have to sign a contract, unlike with satellite where a one-year commitment is generally required. Finally, services such as Comcast provide extensive On Demand service with newer movies and television programs.

Of course, like anything else, cable has its drawbacks. Depending on a person’s perspective, the cons of cable service may outweigh the pros. Some of the disadvantages that cable users can expect are:

  • Picture quality that is inferior to satellite
  • Poor customer service

While cable providers offer a great deal of channels in HD, the picture is usually heavily compressed and therefore not as clear as what one would get with satellite. In addition, companies like Comcast have received a number of complaints for poor customer service. Customers complain frequently about issues such as techs arriving late or taking too long to resolve minor technical issues.

Again, the decision to go with cable or satellite TV is one that comes down to personal preference. While satellite offers a higher-quality picture and more premium channels than cable providers usually do, it still comes with reliability issues. Even aspects as minor as receiver responsiveness need to be taken into consideration with satellite. On the other hand, satellite users do tend to get more for their money, and anyone who wants the best picture quality at all costs will be interested in satellite. Overall, it comes down to having a better quality service that’s not as reliable or an inferior service that is almost always reliable.


This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find Satellite TV  providers in your area and compare prices on different deals for your mobile broadband needs.

Posted by on Jan 27 2012. Filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry