How Much Does Cable TV Cost?

At a glance

There’s no place like home—especially when it has all your favorite cable channels at your fingertips. But how much will cable TV cost you?

The major cable TV providers have plans with monthly payments between $44.99 (Spectrum TV Select) and $134.99 (DIRECTV’s PREMIER™ All-Included).*

Many cable companies offer a starter plan for about $60 per month if you want the most well-known cable channels. Mid-level plans are closer to $75 per month, and if you go all out for a premium plan, it will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 per month.

You may run into “basic” channel packages that cost only $20 to $25 per month. We recommend you give these basic plans a wide berth. They offer only local channels, which already freely broadcast in your area. You can pick up local channels with a digital TV antenna, which is a more affordable alternative.

Keep in mind that TV plans vary from cable provider to provider—you’ll run into different price points, channel lineups, add-ons, and equipment.

For example, some TV packages include premium channels like HBO®, but many cable TV providers will charge you between $10 and $20 per month to add premium channels to your plan.

In the end, the cost of your cable TV plan could fall between $50 and $150 per month, depending in part on your tastes and interests.

*These prices are effective as of August 24, 2020, and are intended only to give perspective on the price range of cable TV. The offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

How much does cable TV cost per month?

Starter plans cost around $60 per month, but prices depend on your cable company and the type of package you’re after.

Price ranges for cable TV plans

  • Starter cable plan: $44.99–$74.99/mo.
  • Mid-level cable plan: $69.99–$84.99/mo.
  • Premium cable plan: $79.99–$134.99/mo.

Starter cable plans usually have your television staples—local channels plus ESPN, Disney Channel, and HGTV, to name a few.

Mid-level plans add on more specialized channels like NFL Network, ESPNews, and OWN. If you spring for a premium plan, you’ll be up to your neck in TV channels, possibly including HBO, CINEMAX®, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ®.

Price ranges by TV provider

Cable TV providers and the plans they offer vary by area. But if you want a general idea of what to expect from, say, Comcast Xfinity packages versus Spectrum TV deals, here’s a closer look.

ProviderStarter pricesMid-level pricesPremium prices
CoxNA$69.99/mo.NAView plans
DIRECTV$59.99–$64.99/mo.$69.99–$79.99/mo.$84.99–$134.99/mo.View plans
DIRECTV$59.99–$74.99/mo.$84.99/mo.$94.99/mo.View plans
RCNNA$59.99–$82.12/mo.NAView plans
Spectrum$44.99/mo.$69.99/mo.$89.99/mo.View plans
Xfinity$50.00/mo.$80.00/mo.NAView plans
Verizon Fios$50.00/mo.$70.00/mo.$90.00/mo.View plans
Provider
Cox
DIRECTV
DIRECTV
RCN
Spectrum
Xfinity
Verizon Fios
Starter prices Mid-level prices Premium prices
NA $69.99/mo. NA View plans
$59.99–$64.99/mo. $69.99–$79.99/mo. $84.99–$134.99/mo. View plans
$59.99–$74.99/mo. $84.99/mo. $94.99/mo. View plans
NA $59.99–$82.12/mo. NA View plans
$44.99/mo. $69.99/mo. $89.99/mo. View plans
$50.00/mo. $80.00/mo. NA View plans
$50.00/mo. $70.00/mo. $90.00/mo. View plans

Data as of 08/25/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The chart above is more for a bird’s-eye view than a complete apples-to-apples comparison. Each of the TV providers above has different cable TV deals, contracts, and channel lineups—but we think getting a general pulse on price can be helpful.

How much is basic cable?

Basic cable usually costs between $20 and $25 per month—although we’ve seen prices as high as $40 per month. But no matter what your basic cable costs, you’re paying way too much.

We’ve tried to differentiate in this article between “starter” cable packages and “basic” cable packages because cable companies apply the term “basic”—or sometimes “economy”—to packages that have only local channels and few, if any, true cable TV channels.

The problem with that is your local channels already broadcast for free to your area. You used to be able to pick them up with simple bunny-ear antennas (or even a craftily repurposed wire hanger), but that changed in 20091, when broadcast TV switched to a digital format.

But just because an old wire antenna won’t get you local channels doesn’t mean you need to pay a cable company to help you get them. Digital antennas are a cheaper solution.

Our buddies over at CableTV.com wrote a comparison article of the best antennas. The right TV antenna for you depends on how close you are to broadcasting towers, but it will cost you only between $15.99 and $68.95.

That’s a one-time cost, as opposed to basic cable’s monthly fees. If you want all the local news in your new neighborhood, a digital antenna is the best way to go.

What are the best bundle deals for TV, internet, and phone?

It’s hard to find well-rounded TV lineups, fast internet, and phone service for around $100, but Optimum, Spectrum, Suddenlink, and Xfinity packages all manage it. To keep everyone at home happy, look for deals with over 100 Mbps download speeds and at least a starter channel lineup.

Best TV, internet, and phone bundle deals

PlanPriceChannel countDownload speeds
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone$75.00/mo.220+300 MbpsView plans
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone$85.00/mo.200+400 MbpsView plans
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone$89.97/mo.125+400 MbpsView plans
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone$104.99/mo.140+300 MbpsView plans
Plan
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone
Optimum Core + Optimum 300 + Phone
Price Channel count Download speeds
$75.00/mo. 220+ 300 Mbps View plans
$85.00/mo. 200+ 400 Mbps View plans
$89.97/mo. 125+ 400 Mbps View plans
$104.99/mo. 140+ 300 Mbps View plans

Data as of 08/25/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If you’re on a tight budget after relocating, you can find cheaper plans than these so long as you don’t mind slower internet speeds. But most families will need 100 Mbps internet service to keep up with multiple people streaming TV, placing video calls, or using smart home devices.

How much do premium channels cost?

You can expect to pay between $10 to $20 per month for each premium channel. The cost varies by the channel you want to watch and the provider you order it from.

If you find your cable company’s premium channel prices too high, you can sign up to stream the channel online instead.

Price of online premium channels

Streaming has a few shortcomings—especially if you have slow internet or data caps. Check out our cable TV vs. streaming services article to learn more about how these services differ.

Recommended resources

Sources

1. Federal Communications Commission, “Digital Television,” August 2016. Accessed August 25, 2020.

About Rachel Oaks

Rachel Oaks
Rachel has spent the past two years at CableTV.com writing articles that demystify hidden fees, DVRs, sound systems, and more. She makes door-to-door DISH and DIRECTV salespeople uncomfortable with her in-depth questions—but if that’s what it takes to get you the best TV experience, she’s happy to do it. In addition to writing for CableTV.com, Rachel’s work has been featured on Roku.com, TechGuySmartBuy.com, HowtoWatch.com, and SatelliteInternet.com.