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A Complete Overview of The Largest Cable TV Companies and Their Packages (USA)

The US is teeming with companies providing cable television. Hence, choosing a provider that offers programming right for your family's entertainment needs and selecting a monthly subscription suitable for your budget have never been easier. But have these been really ever easy? Cable companies across the country have been battling head-to-head promising packages filled with programming and channels in a variety of genres. In addition, cable TV technology has never been extremely dynamic. When signing up, you also would have to take into consideration the programming package, the cost of the subscription, terms of the contract, and the availability of customer service and technical support. So, have you decided yet?  

To help you decide, here is a rundown of the top three cable TV service companies in the country based on their total number of subscriptions. 


1) Comcast Cable TV

Founded in 1963 by Ralph Roberts, with the help of his colleagues Dan Aaron and Julian Brodsky, Comcast started offering a single-system cable programming via the purchase of American Cable Systems, which at that time only had 1200 subscribers. The company has recently built a partnership with NBC Universal, strengthening its influence in the media and the entertainment industry. Today, it is known to have driven innovations not only in the cable TV industry, but also in film, telecommunications, and broadband technology.

Comcast has four main cable TV only packages. These are Digital Economy, Digital Starter, Digital Preferred, and Digital Premier. 

comcast cable

Digital Economy 

  • Has more than 45 channels including Discovery Channel, CNN, and A&E

  • Costs $29.95 per month for the first twelve months and $34.95 to $39.95 per month, thereafter, depending on your service area


Digital Starter 

  • More than 140 channels including MTV, Nickelodeon, Discovery, CNN, and ESPN

  • $49.99 per month for the first twelve months and $67.95 to 69.95 per month, thereafter, depending on your service area 


Digital Preferred

  • Lineup of more than 220 channels including NFL Network, MLB Network, NBA TV, and Encore

  • $59.99 per month for the first twelve months and $85.90 to $87.90 per month, thereafter, depending on your service area


Digital Premier

  • More than 260 channels including Starz, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and Encore

  • $69.99 per month for the first twelve months and 121.55 to 138.90 per month, thereafter, depending on your service area  


For both Digital Starter and Digital Preferred, you can add HBO for an additional $5 per month for six months. Afterwards, unless cancelled, the add-on channel would cost $15 to $21.95. Take note that all packages come with a broadcast TV and regional sports charges of $5 and $3, respectively.  

There are also Latino programming packages available and each one costs as low as $19.99 per month to as much as $59.99 per month for the first year of subscription. If you are only interested in local TV programming, you can just subscribe to its Limited Basic package. With more than 10 channels, the Limited Basic package is only $15.95 a month.

Currently, Comcast is using its X1 on XFinity platform, referring to its technology as the operating system of your cable TV. It also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, equivalent to a month's subscription and the installation fee, which may cost up to $500.  


2) Time Warner Cable

time warner cable

Although it is not entirely clear when it was founded, Timer Warner Cable (TWC) recognizes the foundation of American Television and Communications (ATC) as the root of what it is today.  Between 1989 and 1992, what was known as Warner Cable in the 1970s merged with ATC to become Time Warner Cable. Although the company separated from Time Warner, Inc., in 2009, it continued to acquire companies, the most recent of which was DukeNet Communications. It also had merger agreements with corporations Charter Communications Incorporated and Bright House Networks.  With these mergers and acquisitions, TWC’s residential cable TV subscribers now totals around 10.8 million.

TWC has five main digital cable TV plans and packages, not including its Latino package Variety Lite Español. These packages are Starter TV, Standard TV, Preferred TV, Preferred TV with HD-DVR service, and Preferred TV with Whole House service. 

Starter TV

  • Includes more than 20 channels and installation comes with the digital adapter, a device that allows subscribers to watch digital cable TV from their analog televisions.

  • $10 per month for a year and $19.99 per month, thereafter

Standard TV

  • Includes 70 plus channels

  • $39.99 per month for 12 months

Preferred TV

  • Includes more than 200 channels

  • $49.99 a month for 12 months

Preferred TV with HD-DVR Service

  • More than 200 channels and one premium movie channel.  Subscriber can choose HBO, Starz or Showtime.

  • $64.99 per month for a year

  • Subscription includes HD-DVR equipment, allowing subscribers to watch and record both digital and high-definition programs. TWC’s HD-DVR features simultaneous recording of programs, pausing live TV and storing recorded programs of up to 30 hours long.

Preferred TV with Whole with Whole House Service

  • More than 200 channels, including HBO. Customer is also entitled to one more movie channel, either Showtime or Starz.

  • $79.99 per month for 12 months

  • Allows subscribers to start watching a program in one room and move to another room to finish it.  However, you would need to get an Enhanced DVR or an HD Playback box to avail of this service.

All TWC cable TV packages come with TWC TV. This feature allows customers to watch live TV when on the go using a tablet, Smartphone, or a laptop. In addition, Preferred TV package subscribers have access to the Start Over feature. As the feature name suggests, you can restart a show when you want to, even if it is already in progress.  Their top-of-the-line packages also include Primetime on Demand TV and Entertainment on Demand TV. These inclusions enable customers to watch through their DVRs local and cable programs the day after these were shown.  
Keep in mind that there is a service contract for a year. However, you will not be required to sign an agreement after fulfilling the contract, which should give you freedom to change your plan or move on to another cable TV service provider if you need to.

3) Verizon’s Fios TV

verizon fios

Although the company is known as one of the largest telecommunications service providers in the country, it was only in 2005 that it ventured into cable TV service. With the pride of replacing ordinary copper wires with optical fibers to deliver service to its subscribers, Verizon sealed a partnership with Motorola a year after it launched Fios TV, allowing it to compete with older cable TV service providers by offering DVR service to its cable TV subscribers.  From only 9000 customers in Kellar, Texas, Verizon Fios TV now has more than 5.7 million subscribers nationwide. Verizon Fios’ bundled service packages contributed to the increase of subscribers across the country.

Fios TV has five main English cable TV programming packages. These stand-alone plans are Custom TV, Extreme HD, Preferred HD, Ultimate HD, and Fios TV Local. For Spanish programming, it has Fios TV Mundo and Mundo Total.

Custom TV

  • This plan allows customers to choose at least two pre-determined channel packs. These packs are based on their programming genre.  You can select from lifestyle, entertainment, news & info, pop culture, kids, sports, and sports plus packs. If you wish to select more than two packs, a monthly fee of $10 for each additional pack will be charged on top of your plan.

  • This costs $54.99 a month for one year.

  • The two channel packs generally include 20 channels.

Preferred HD

  • Has more than 245 channels, 70 plus HD channels included. Package features Comedy Central, FOX News, MTV, TNT, ESPN, and Syfy.

  • $74.99 per month for one year

Extreme HD

  • Includes 325 plus channels with more than 95 HD channels included. Some of the featured channels in this package are FX, GSN, BBC America, Sundance TV, FYI, and OWN.

  • $79.99 a month for 12 months

Ultimate HD

  • Has more than 435 channels, 140 plus HD channels included. Considered by Verizon Fios TV as its most popular package, Ultimate HD features Showtime, Fusion, Cinemax, Epix, Revolt, MGM HD, and The Movie Channel.

  • $89.99 per month for one year

Fios TV Local

  • Includes local channels ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, and The CW. It also has more than 20 local channels, more than five of which are in high-definition.

  • Only $10 per month for one year

Customers can add premium programming to their existing plans for an additional fee of as low as $19.99 per month.  With Fios TV, customers are promised of equipment that features the ability to store up to 200 hours of entertainment in high definition. Its DVR service can also record up to 12 programs simultaneously. Similar to other DVR equipment offered by other cable TV service providers, set top boxes from Fios TV can also pause and rewind live TV from one room and to allow subscribers to continue watching in another.

Here, There, and Everywhere

If you want to get a cable TV subscription the easiest and fastest way, you might want to check Comcast XFinity.  Among the three discussed, it has the widest and largest market reach. Their service is available across 40 states and it can be bundled with other services.

Pause, Rewind, and Store

When equipment is your primary consideration, Time Warner offers some of the most unique features, at least in the cable TV industry. It can compete with satellite TV service providers with its DVR’s Start Over feature and its ability to re-air a program 72 hours after it was originally shown. It is also the one to beat when it comes to extended service as it automatically includes mobile TV service for its subscribers, and it does not even matter whether you have the most affordable or the most expensive package.

Channels, channels, and more channels

In terms of programming, all three cable TV providers are worth your subscription. However, the winner in this category is Verizon’s Fios TV. This cable TV service provider boasts of its large On Demand library with over 30,000 titles. This is probably because of its upgrade from using copper wires to fiber optic cables to deliver its service.

Special Mention

One of the up and coming digital cable TV service providers in the US is Cablevision Systems Corporation (CSC). CSC has four main English programming plans; these are Optimum Gold, Silver, Preferred, and Value. As the name suggests, Optimum Gold is the most expensive but has the most number of channels. It is a combination of the other three plans.  As a newcomer in the industry, CSC’s Optimum TV has quite a respectable channel listing. Its least expensive package has over 70 channels and most of them are already available in high definition.  While there are fees for additional premium programming and equipment, which are charged on top of your regular package, these are very minimal. DVRs, on the other hand, may cost more depending on their capabilities and features.


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