The three primary choices for television services are Satellite (such as Dish Network or DirecTV), Cable, or an over the air signal. More recently we have seen similar offerings for availability of television over fiber (such as Verizon's FIOS), and high speed networking lines (as in AT&T's U-verse offering). Most people that are interested in home entertainment choose either sattelite, cable, fios, or U-verse since the selection of channels for off the air reception is more limited. This article discusses your options and provides a table (near the end of the article) summarizing your choices.
If you have a digital TV receiver (including all HD TV receivers), you will find that there are additional sub-channels from over-the-air reception, providing some additional programming, without getting cable or Satellite, but there are still many channels that are available only through Cable or Satellite. If you have an older analog television, it is possible to get a Digital Television (DTV) Converter that will allow reception of digital television signals. Such a converter boxes are required for older televsions to receive over the air broadcasts (i.e. from an antenna) since most stations stoped broadcasting the analog signals on June 12, 2009.
Between satellite and cable, satellite is likely to be a little bit less expensive, often even when you pay the extra $5 or so to get local channels. The services provided are comparable, both in terms of selection of channels, programming packages, and the availability of pay per view movies and events. The two main satellite systems are the DirecTV system and the Dish Network system, which provide comparable channel lineups. If you have high speed internet form your cable company, however, they will often offer a discount to those with both cable and high speed Internet, and this could make the cable option less expensive.
If you choose to go with satellite TV, Fios or U-Vers, by committing to one or two years of service, most companies offer specials that provide you with free equipment (in some cases, it must be returned when you discontinue service), often for up to four rooms, as well as low cost recievers with built in digital video recorders. Such offers are available for Dish Network from several providers. It makes little sense not to take advantage of such an offer, but be sure to read the full terms of any offer to make sure that you will meet the terms, as the offers have penalties for early termination of service. Also, don't get more receivers than you need just because they are free, since you need to activate all of the receivers you get, and DirecTV and other satellite providers charge a fee (usually $5) per month for each additional receiver activated.
If you don't watch much television and want to view only a couple of shows without subscribing to cable or satellite TV, you might consider watching those shows online. Online content is becomming better integrated with traditional television through new products for Internet television.
|$57||Free HD/DVR for 3 months||$10||200||Included||$15 discount when combined w/standard internet. $8.50 extra per month for 2nd and higher TVs.|
|Dish||Dish Network||$35||$25/mo off for 6 months||$5||100||HD $10 more||I pay $50 for this package with HD and a two room Receiver/DVR|
|DirecTV||DirecTV||$53||$23/mo off for 12 months||$5||150/200||HD $15 more||$15 gets you HD Channels, and increases your package to 200 channels|
|FiOS||Verizon||$54||One Month Free||$16||295||14 for $4/mo equipment||Fiber to the home
|U-verse||AT&T||$44||Up to $200 back||$15||120||yes||$14/mo off if you also get phone and high speed internet
|over the air||-||$0||-||-||8-15||6||Up front costs of Antenna, Digital TV, or Converter Box|