Cable TV vs Satellite

(Mods: I was conflicted whether to put this here or in CS; if you think I’ve chosen poorly, feel free to move it).

My in-laws are finally getting ready to move into the 21st century, with some sort of paid television programming. They haven’t decided between satellite and cable.

So, what do you have? Have you ever had the other option? What are the pros and cons of the one(s) you’ve had experience with? What about internet?

We have cable, and have never had satellite. Every so often, a satellite package will come along that will make us think, hmmm, maybe we should switch. But our internet is tied up with our cable, so we’d have to change it all. Inertia is stong, y’know.

I have satellite because I live in a rural area. The run from the cable company equipment to the house was 300’, and their service was crummy. The problem with satellite is “rain fade”. When dense clouds come between the satellite and the dish, the signal may be cut off. The DVR will record from both receivers at the same time, which is pretty cool.

We have cable now after having satellite for years. Our satellite would go out during bad weather. Even during heavy clouds, sometimes. It gets very irritating when you’re in the middle of watching something and it goes out. When it happens all the time it get to be more than just irritating. It was going out too much for us, so we switched.

And when they say you need a clear view of the southwest sky, they mean it. If we had kept satellite we would have needed to remove a largish tree (or trim it back so much it would look ridiculous) in the near future, so hello cable!

We also have cable internet.

We’ve had both, and we prefer satellite, but only because it’s the best deal around here. There’s one cable company that serves our town, and they offer maybe 15 channels.

It’s true that heavy rain can disrupt satellite service, but it’s rare for us. I can’t remember the last time we lost a signal. DirecTV has good customer service, and we can do everything on-line if we want to.

I love having the DVR but I think cable offers On Demand, and I’m not sure if any of the satellite companies have that.

We have WildBlue Satellite and I think it is way better then Direct (Hughes ) … YMMV

Only get kicked if the storms are so big that I would unplug anyway no matter what I was on , even dial-up. A string of storms to the S/W that align with the dish will get us as will heavy snow.

We now have DISH HD TV and that gets TV through the weather better but it still is not as good about holding as WildBlue for the computer.

WildBlue is an ISP, not a TV system.

If you’re in an area where it rains a lot, that’d be a consideration to choose cable over satellite, but around here, it’s not too rainy.

You also need to look at the reliability of the cable provider. Here in the San Francisco area, cable is generally unreliable. Just last night we were at the neighbor’s house, and their cable would drop out for a moment or two every 45 minutes or so. I’d be raising hell, but they’re used to it, even though in one evening, I saw cable go bad more than I’ve seen our satellite service misbehave in a year.

Cable rates also seem to go up every few months, but satellite rates seem to stay the same for longer times, and tend to be cheaper than a similar cable service package.

I had satellite for a long time. I always heard the argument “during rain and snow storms you’ll lose the signal” and thought “yeah, well, how often does that happen.” Often enough it turns out.

With satellite I missed the season 1 and season 2 finale of LOST because of rain storms.
I finally got sick of it and switched to cable this summer.

I watched the Packers/Bears game last night which may be Favres last game ever. It was snowing very heavy last night. If I still had satellite I would have missed it for sure.

The only reason that I have cable over satellite is because I can plug in umpteen televisions (currently 6) into cable for the same exorbitant price. In fact, Time Warner came out and installed a booster for free because we’d split the cable so many times and the picture was getting diminished.

Satellite’s base price is cheaper, but after paying for the additional converters needed for our household, cable is actually more economical.

I wish I could do that with Comcast. I pay $10 for every additional receiver and I got whacked with a $100 deposit for every additional one.

But to the OP, I had satellite in my old house for four years. I only left Dish because I moved to a more wooded area and can’t get a clear line of site. Now that I have had Comcast Cable for five months, I am trying to locate a tree cutting service that can take down a couple of my neighbors trees and make it look like an accident.

I had reception problems maybe 3 or 4 times a year. We had a couple of rain storms and a cuple of heavy wet snowfalls that stuck to the dish can cut off service. I think the satellite companies offer a little better price for slightly better service.

As far as cable I have a lot of friends who love the On-Demand Service. Frankly, I have seen all the movies that I am interested in. The lineup doesn’t change very often either.

I work in CATV.
Get satellite

Our satellite has gone out maybe once in five years from the rain. We got satellite when the cable guy thought it amusing that we expected both of our analog cable feeds to give good pictures. Back then they were only interested in getting us to upgrade to higher priced digital - we got digital satellite for less.

I suppose it depends on the channels you want, though.

Thanks for the input, guys! My in-laws will be here next week, and I’ll let my FIL read this thread. Hopefully, it will help him make a decision.

It seems that cable companies are starting to push one feature that satellite can’t offer: Video On Demand. Ask your cable company if they offer it, what it costs, and what type of programming is available (is it just premium movie channels like HBO, or does it include other channels as well).

We have Charter (cable) and have come to rely on VOD more and more; it’s almost as good as using the DVR (Tivo-like) box, and if your in-laws are frequent renters of movies, they may be able to drop that habit and use VOD to order pay-to-view movies as well.

John Galt, my in-laws don’t watch many movies. They’re more into programming. My MIL particularly is fond of HGTV and Food Network. :slight_smile:

We have no reception problems with the dish. Cable will give you a great deal to start. Then nearly every bill will include changes which may be new stations available and old stations being eliminated. Also a small increase. After a while you find you have gone from a 50 dollar to 110 dollar cable. It has happened several times to us.
This includes the internet hookup. You get a 20 dollar start up for fast cable. After a 6 month period it goes way up. Basic is about 59 a month.
We search for the best deals and wind up changing service about every year and a half. They always avt surprised when we quit them.

I have had Direct tv for about 2 years after having cable for 20 years. I prefer satellite. It is true that the weather can knock out the picture, but it happens about 3-5 times a year for 1 to 10 minutes where I live. When I had cable, it would go out 2 to 4 times a year, but the outage would last for 5 minutes to hours to days. Of course, cable had to send a repair guy out there physically to look at physical cables, switchboxes or whatever.

Back when I had cable (time warner), they seem to have an “I don’t care” attitude towards their current customers- “We are cable, love it or leave it.” In contrast, Direct TV is always trying to impress me and/or retain me with an e-mail letter that has all sorts of free previews and promotions (maybe my local cable is doing that sort of things now, I don’t know). Yeah, I know that they are trying to sell me stuff, but it is still nice to get things free every once in a while. One time when they screwed up my pay per view order, they gave me credit for the movie and then gave me 3 months of their Showtime package. Now that is a way to treat a current customer.

I got satellite about a year ago, and I like it. I got it primarily because the most basic digital package was considerably cheaper than the most basic digital cable package (like $20 a month or so).

One loses reception from time to time, but I have good sight lines, and I have two additional antennas. . .

One is a rooftop antenna that someone probably installed in the 1950’s. That runs directly to my TV. If my satellite box is ever on the fritz, I can just watch that. That’s not high def because it doesn’t run though a HD receiver, just right into the back of the TV.

The other is just a set of rabbit ears. That runs into the satellite box (a HD receiver), and gives me my standard locals, my multi-cast locals, and HD locals.