Cable TV is less likely to be affected by the weather, but is typically more expensive than satellite TV services. Cable may be more suitable for renters and people who do not want to commit to a long-term contract. Satellite TV can be disrupted by bad weather and sometimes requires a long-term contract, but is usually cheaper. Availability for cable and satellite TV services also varies; cable TV is only available in areas that providers serve (which sometimes excludes rural areas or new communities in the suburbs) while satellite TV is available anywhere that a dish can be installed to face south.
In order to install cable TV, a technician must come to your house. If you want anything beyond basic cable, you must also rent a cable box and remote from your cable provider. These must be returned when you cancel your service. If the cable line in is already installed in the home — for example, if the consumer already has Internet service through the same provider — then TV service can often be self-installed by the consumer.
Satellite TV requires the installation of a satellite disk on your roof or the side of your house. This installation is usually more time consuming. The equipment also needs to be returned upon termination of services but some companies make an exception if it is too difficult to reach the antenna.
Installation fee is often waived, especially if the consumer signs up for a long-term contract. Often the fee is negotiable and it is a good idea to ask for it to be waived.
edit Reception of Satellite vs Cable TV
Cable TV rarely loses reception, unless the entire system goes down or the cable lines are severed somewhere along their route into the home. Satellite TV can become fuzzy or unreceivable during bad weather, such as storms.
edit Cost Comparison
The median price for a basic cable package is around $35 per month. Times Warner cable offers 300 channels for $61.50 per month. HD service is $9.95 per month for 16 channels and the receiver, or $8 for the receiver and 12 channels. A standard receiver is $6.99 per month. Sudden Link also offers cable. This costs $65 per month, with over 200 channels, plus $8 per month for 7 HD channels. The boxes cost $5 per month for a standard receiver, $10 per month for a HD receiver, or $15 per month for an HD-DVR receiver.
DISH Network provides satellite TV for $43 per month, with over 200 channels. The HD package costs an extra $20 per month, with between 28 and 32 HD channels. Receivers cost $5 per month. DirecTV offers a Plus HD-DVR package for $70 per month. Each extra receiver costs $5 per month. The cost of the receiver itself is $300, with $100 for an upgrade to HD. This comes with 195+ channels.
Here is a video that compares the cost and services offered by Comcast and DirecTV:
Cable is only available to homes that are in a provider's coverage area. This often excludes rural areas. Satellite TV is available everywhere, as long as the disk is facing south.
edit Available Programming
Cable and satellite often offer the same channels, including HBO and Showtime. Cable often offers local programming not carried by satellite, such as public access stations.
Satellite TV offers both east and west coast feeds and alternate sports programming on channels like ESPN and Fox Sports.
edit International Programming on Cable vs Satellite Packages
Satellite TV allows users to watch any free international channels that can be picked up by the disk. Cable offers some international-focused channels, such as channels in Chinese, Korean and Portuguese, but these channels are all US-based. Satellite TV is usually a better choice for international programming.
edit Bundled Services
Most cable companies offer month-to-month contracts, allowing you to cancel or upgrade at any time. Some satellite companies, on the other hand, use contracts that can last up to one year.
edit Alternative Streaming Options
DirecTV also offers satellite streaming to iPad and other portable devices.