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Best TV Providers for Moving
It wouldn’t look great embroidered on a pillow, but it’s true: Your new house just isn’t a home without TV service. Whether it’s cable, satellite, or livestreaming (internet) TV, you’ll want something to watch once you’ve settled in.
We’ve done the research and zeroed in on the three best TV providers in the US. We also answered some burning questions about hooking up with a new TV service.
Xfinity—Best cable TV provider
Xfinity cable TV (and internet) service covers 40 states, so chances are pretty good that it’ll be available in your new neighborhood. It also carries every popular channel you’re probably looking for, as well as a few exclusive perks.
You can also bundle internet service with Xfinity cable for convenience, and Xfinity’s X1 receiver/DVR with voice control is one of the most impressive pieces of TV gear out there.
On the downside, Xfinity is one of the more expensive cable TV providers, and its customer service reputation is the stuff of legend (and not the good kind).
* Requires 1-yr. contract. Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
What sets Xfinity apart?
It’s (almost) everywhere
As we mentioned earlier, Xfinity is available in 40 states; the only comparable US cable TV competitor in coverage is Spectrum. It’s more likely than not that your new home is already wired with coaxial cable for Xfinity TV and internet service.
Xfinity’s wide availability also means it’s probable that you were a customer at your previous home—if you liked it there, why jump in with another provider now? It’s easier to change account addresses than move to a new service. But, if you’re itching to switch (remember what we said about Xfinity’s customer service?), we have more TV recommendations coming up.
It covers all the bases
Xfinity checks all the boxes for what you want in cable TV service: Plenty of channels, loads of DVR space, and hundreds of on-demand options for movies and TV shows. You can also add on premium channels like HBO and SHOWTIME, as well as NFL and NBA sports packages.
Xfinity cable service also includes a free subscription to Peacock, the new NBCUniversal streaming service (since Xfinity and NBCUniversal are both owned by Comcast). Peacock features original content like Brave New World and A.P. Bio, but the real draws are older favorites like The Office and Parks and Recreation, which won’t be available to stream anywhere else in 2021.
Honorable mentions—Cable TV
DIRECTV—Best satellite TV provider
There are only three satellite TV providers in the US: DIRECTV, DISH, and a skinny-bundle upstart, Orby TV. Between them, we prefer DIRECTV because of its strong channel lineups and excellent sports coverage (it’s the only TV provider with NFL SUNDAY TICKET, football fans).
Unlike with cable, regional availability isn’t an issue with satellite TV: if your new home has a clear view of the sky, you can get TV service through a satellite dish on the roof or side of the building. This also means that satellite TV is more susceptible to weather interference—be prepared to brush snow off the dish regularly if you’ve moved to a wintry wonderland.
*Requires 2-yr. contract. Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
What sets DIRECTV apart?
DIRECTV is the go-to TV service for sports bars because of its fat sports-channel lineups, which include NFL SUNDAY TICKET exclusively until 2022.
You can also get over 20 other sports channels through DIRECTV, including ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, NBA TV, MLB Network, NHL Network, CBS Sports Network, and NBC Sports Network. For serious sports fans, DIRECTV is hard to beat.
Channel lineups, add-on channels
DIRECTV’s channel lineups are deceptively large, as they include a lot of audio-only music channels that you’ll probably never use if you prefer to get your tunes from Spotify or Pandora. Still, DIRECTV’s plans carry most every channel you could want, especially ULTIMATE (it’s not just a clever name).
A full range of premium add-on channels are also available through DIRECTV, including HBO and CINEMAX, neither of which you can get through DISH. You can also add-on NBA League Pass and the aforementioned NFL SUNDAY TICKET (which comes free for the first year on most of DIRECTV’s plans).
Honorable mentions—Cable TV
YouTube TV—Best livestreaming TV provider
Livestreaming TV, which is live TV programming delivered over the internet instead of cable lines or satellite signals, is generally cheaper and easier to set up than traditional TV (two fewer things to worry about during a moving frenzy).
Of the handful of livestreaming TV providers currently operating, we like YouTube TV for its wide range of channels, ease of navigation, and unlimited DVR storage—that’s right, unlimited.
YouTube TV carries a healthy lineup of live entertainment, sports, and local channels, and features a killer search function courtesy of Google (YouTube’s owner, of course).
You’ll need a solid, speedy internet connection to use YouTube TV—or any livestreaming TV service—as well as a streaming device like Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV.
YouTube TV’s biggest perk: unlike cable or satellite, you’re not locked into an annual contract; YouTube TV is billed month-to-month.
YouTube TV plan details
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
What sets YouTube TV apart?
Loaded channel lineup
There’s only one YouTube TV plan, and it comes with over 85 channels—including most local broadcasters. Plus, it carries PBS and PBS Kids, which no other livestreaming TV service has. On the entertainment side, there’s AMC, Comedy Central, TNT, TBS, Syfy, HGTV, ID, Food Network, and many more. For sports, there’s ESPN, ESPN2, FS1, FS2, NBA TV, and NBC Sports Network, among others.
Missing from YouTube TV are only A&E, Hallmark, Lifetime, VICE, and a smattering of others. If you absolutely have to have those channels, you could get a secondary subscription to Philo, a $20-a-month skinny streamer and still be paying less overall than a cable or satellite bill.
YouTube TV’s cloud DVR doesn’t give you unlimited storage space forever—after nine months, shows and movies are deleted. Still, that’s a generous amount of space and time for even the most hardcore TV consumer.
Another advantage of YouTube’s cloud DVR over the physical hard-drive DVRs used by cable and satellite: there are no recording conflicts with multiple shows. You can record as many channels simultaneously as you want, whereas cable and satellite DVRs limit you to as few as five. No wonder YouTube TV gives you nine months to catch up on your DVRed shows.
Honorable mentions—Cable TV
The differences between cable, satellite, and livestreaming TV
Who is cable TV service best for?
If you want to have TV service up and running quickly with little new equipment installation and no learning curve, cable TV might be the way to go. Most homes and buildings are already wired with coaxial cables from regional providers; it’s usually just a matter of hooking up a cable box and starting (or restarting) service.
Cable is also good for people who are planning on staying at a residence for a while, as most providers require contracts of one or two years for their service.
Who is satellite TV service best for?
Livestreaming TV can be set up even quicker than cable—all it takes is an internet connection and an app installed on a streaming device (or smart TV). If you don’t want to wait around for a cable or satellite installer to arrive within an arbitrary service window, livestreaming is the DIY way.
Livestreaming TV is also a great choice for those always on the move, because it’s usually billed month-to-month with no binding annual contract, and there’s no provider equipment to return. Students and traveling workers, we’re looking at you.