Getting the Most Bang for your TV Buck

When considering a TV service, the battle that has been going for many years now is “Do I go with cable or satellite?” Well, there are a multitude of factors to consider when making this decision.



Where you live can have a heavy impact on which you choose. Why? Because cable only provides service if you are close enough to a provider. This rules out many rural and secluded areas. Satellite, on the other hand, offers service to these remote locations; however, where you live will determine your options for satellite TV. There is only one company that offers nationwide satellite service. The difference is clear when you compare one to the other. Just look at Directv availability versus that of a popular cable company.

Service Plan

Another thing you will want to look at is your financial stability. Generally, cable companies allow a month-to-month arrangement, while satellite providers typically require a contract in one year increments. If you work a steady job, and not a commission of freelance job, you may opt for the contract. Month-to-month payments are a great way for young people who are working low-wage jobs, similar to the way no contract, or pre-paid, phones are great for them. However, having a contract with a satellite TV service will reflect well on your credit report, provided you make all payments on time.



The service plans mentioned above effect this area greatly. Generally, with anything you can think of, month-to-month payment plans, or pre-paid plans, cost noticeably more than contract plans. Economic research has shown that cable, due to its non-contract nature, can cost anywhere from $5 to $35 more per month than satellite, for the same channels and definition service. Nowadays, DVR boxes are a commonly offered product for either of these options. However, with satellite service, you have the option to rent the box or purchase the box, but you will have the purchase amount spread into payments in your bill. You, typically, have to buy the box you want outright from cable companies. This leaves you with this unusable box should you ever change providers.

Professional or DIY?

With cable, you have to have an expert come professionally install and set up cable lines for that provider’s service. They normally charge for parts, labor, and time. This can add up to quite a bit, and your appointment may be a couple weeks out. On the other side of the token, most of the time you have the option to install a satellite dish yourself. This is truly a pain, and can be time consuming. However, It will save you a lot of money in the long run. This part of your decision depends on your time and money resources.

Available Options


In terms of “bang for your buck”, satellite will be the way to go. While both satellite and cable offer mostly the same channels, channels like HBO come with standard or mid-grade satellite services. In contrast, this channel is only offered on the most premium of cable services; especially if you get the other “premium” channels as well. Also, satellite offers more options when it comes to “time related channels”, such as east coast and west coast channels. Generally, this is a common desire for those who have varying work schedules. If you forget to schedule a recording that comes on when you are supposed to be home, but you work an hour late, you will have the other channel to watch it on. This is more of a convenience issue than anything else.

Now you have a good amount of information to go on for your decision. Don’t forget to check out bundle options with things like home phone service and internet service. Also, be sure to check out any promotional packages going on at the time of sign up. Analyze them carefully. Some providers will try to get you with “3 months of free premium”, but won’t tell you that if you don’t call and cancel it after 3 months your bill will go up by $50.


Thanks so much to for the images!


About Jess

Jess hails from Sunny Australia and is the youngest of the frugal ladies. She loves shopping for a bargain, reading, watching movies and spends most of her life on the beach

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