One of the first questions you have, when you move, is "How can I find cable TV providers in my area?" Even in the midst of everything you need to get done, you probably don't want to miss out on your favorite shows and sports events.
Another reason you may ask "What are the TV options in my area?" is if you're unsatisfied with your current service. This may happen if your TV company raises your rates, or you have a bad customer service experience.
In fact, the ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) reports that on average, just 65% of consumers were satisfied with their local cable companies in 2016. The percentage was lower for some companies than for others, but overall the highest satisfaction rating was only 70%. That honor went to Verizon FiOS TV.
If you're thinking about switching services, I'll be using this guide as a way to help you solve the problem: "How do I find cable services in my area?"
Key Considerations When Looking for Cable Providers in Your Area
Pay television can be surprisingly complicated. Not long ago, you could get cheap cable TV, complete with a couple dozen channels, for less than $20 a month, and if you really wanted to splurge you subscribed to HBO.
Now you've got a multitude of options to choose from, from cheap cable with just local channels up to broadband internet and TV bundles (such as a double or triple play bundle) that come with hundreds of viewing choices.
What Do I Need to Know?
So how do you figure out exactly which of the many cable TV plans is right for your household and your budget? You may be tempted to just sign up for the first good deal you see online, simply to get it out of the way and get your TV service up and running so you can sit down and watch TV without a second thought.
Before you do that, you can save yourself some money and hassle by taking the following into consideration.
- Doing a truly honest inventory of which channels you can live without can reduce the pain of paying your cable bill each month. Did you know that you don't need anything more than basic cable in order to subscribe to pay channels like Starz and per-per-view events? The FCC requires cable companies to allow you to buy these premium channels without having to subscribe to higher tiers of service. So if your must-see show is on, say, HBO, maybe you can forego a fancier, more expensive plan and simply buy the channel on top of basic cable. Furthermore, expect various service charges to infect your bill. For example, you may pay a service charge for HD programming with your service provider. Also, you may face standard installation fees and activation fees. However, there are some providers that waive both standard installation and activation fees. With all this being said, these particular service charges may be subject to change.
- Having your heart set on a cable company that doesn't provide internet service doesn't mean that you can't take advantage of money-saving double or triple play bundles. Some providers partner with each other in order to offer combined TV and internet service packages.
- "How do I find cable near me?" shouldn't be the only question you're asking. You should also ask yourself if you can pass the credit check. Yes, most major cable providers ask you for a credit check. As US News & World Report warns, this could be a hard inquiry (the kind that can impact your credit). They must ask your permission first but be forewarned, if you don't consent you could end up paying a deposit.
- Find out if there is a trial service with a money-back guarantee. If you're unhappy with the cable and internet provider, you might have to pay a hefty fee to cancel to service. However, some services offer a money-back guarantee after a set amount of time, but these features may be subject to change.
- Discover what type of parental controls are with the service. If you have children or are living with children, you should have parental controls set in place to prevent children from encountering explicit content. Find out what type of parental controls are offered by the service provider.
As you can see, shopping for cable providers in your area means educating yourself on all of the options and factors involved. Information is power, and in this case, power can mean long-term satisfaction with your television service. To learn more about cheap cable TV, check out our handy guide on the subject.
What Internet Packages Are Available with the Service Provider?
As mentioned earlier, you can bundle broadband internet services with TV. A cable TV provider also typically serves as a cable internet provider. You can often choose from a wide selection of cable internet packages, depending on the cable TV and cable internet provider. Depending on your area, you may be able to adopt a high speed internet connection. However, if you're lucky and happen to live in a more urban or suburban area, you may have access to a fiber optic high speed internet connection.
If you live in a more rural area, however, you will only be able to access very few internet types. For example, you may only have DSL internet, dial-up internet, and satellite internet. If that is the case and if you're not too worried about affordability, you should opt for satellite internet, which may feature speeds of up to 25Mbps depending on the satellite dish service.
Related: We have a guide that delves deep into how you can get internet access from a rural location.
Just remember, a cable TV provider can double up as an internet service provider, granting you top-tier internet access. Some internet service providers will include a myriad of features in their internet packages. One such example is Comcast XFINITY Internet. Comcast XFINITY allows users to take advantage of its Comcast XFINITY hotspot. Just what is the purpose for a Comcast XFINITY hotspot? Why you can use said hotspot, or public internet access, in any area where this hotspot is available, as long as you have your Comcast XFINITY credentials, so you won't have to consume your mobile device's data or turn your mobile device into a wireless internet hotspot.
How to Find Cable Providers in Your Area
You could use a number of approaches when faced with the challenge of "How to find cable TV providers near me?" You could spend hours surfing the internet, going through the process of entering your information into each provider's website to see if they service your area. It would be much more effective, however, if you could narrow the search down to the best cable providers in your area before diving into the shopping phase.
Read More: We also touch upon the best cable TV providers here.
Search for Provider Availability by ZIP Code
We make it easy for you to determine which local cable companies you'll have to choose from. Use our handy ZIP code checker to get valuable information that will help you in your search. You'll get the names of cable companies in your area, along with a snapshot of what they offer. Searching for cable providers by ZIP code is a great way to save time and effort so you can get right down to researching the details of each plan.
Once you've gotten a clear picture of which cable companies operate in your location, you can then:
- Visit each provider's website and enter your address to see the packages available to you.
- Compare pricing between providers.
- Get contact information for each TV company so you can negotiate individually for the best rate.
You wouldn't make a large purchase like an appliance without doing a considerable amount of research first. When you consider that the average American spends about $1200 per year on cable TV service, according to data reported by Fortune, it only makes sense to gather as much information as possible before committing to a cable plan.
Which Providers Offer Service in Your Area?
After you enter your ZIP code into our checker tool, the next question on your mind may very well be "Why are there only one or two cable TV providers in my area?" Numbers published by Forbes tell the story. One cable company enjoys nearly 40% of the cable television market share. Most of the remainder of the pay TV customer base is served by just a handful of cable providers.
You'll find that in the majority of cities, cable companies effectively carve out their own territories. This means that you may end up with just one choice when it comes time to look into "Which cable providers in my area serve my address?" If this happens to be the case in your location, there may be other options aside from cable, which I'll go into later.
For now, let's look at the likely candidates you'll encounter, based upon service areas:
- Comcast XFINITY TV: Comcast operates in 41 states. You may see this company in your list of options if you live in the eastern states, the Midwest, the south, the southwest, or along the western coast. The only areas Comcast digital TV packages are not offered are in the northern Great Plains, Oklahoma, and Nevada. Check out Comcast XFINITY TV's channel lineup here. You can also purchase affordable broadband internet service packages, like Performance Internet, with Comcast XFINITY. Performance Internet grants you with speeds of up to 25Mpbs, though you may receive less if you tend to use it as a wireless internet service.
- AT&T U-Verse TV: U-Verse and its TV packages are available in 21 states including the Midwest, south to Texas to the west and Florida to the east, as well as California and Nevada. You can check out AT&T U-Verse's channel lineup here. You can also bundle U-Verse high speed internet with U-Verse TV. Do be aware that U-Verse high speed internet is now called AT&T internet.
- Charter Cable TV: Charter operates in 28 states, and now also runs Time Warner Cable TV and Bright House Networks. In fact, Charter Cable TV and Time Warner Cable TV services are both being marketed now under the Spectrum brand. Charter is spread across the U.S., with notable gaps throughout the middle part of the Midwest, some western and southwestern states like Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Idaho, as well as Florida and some states along the eastern seaboard. We offer guides for the entire Charter channel lineup, as well as the Time Warner Cable channel lineup.
- Optimum TV: Optimum TV packages are found in only four states - Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York - but the digital TV service offers plenty of services for the customer.
It's worth noting that Time Warner Cable is expected to become Charter at some point, although there is no word yet on exact timing. Also, as I pointed out earlier, companies tend not to compete even within the same city, so you may not be able to choose among all cable providers which operate in your state.
Advice for Getting the Best Deal
By this point, you've answered your original question, "Who are the cable providers in my area?" Now you'll need to know the secrets to getting the best cable deals. There's no reason to pay more than you have to, and with these tips, you won't.
If you're taking advantage of an introductory offer with limited time pricing, set a reminder in your calendar for one month before the offer expires. This way you have plenty of notice to call your provider and negotiate a new deal with them.
- Know what you want - and stick to it. Are you looking for the basic cable channels, like your local television networks? Or do you specifically want a certain channel, such as a regional sports network so you can keep up with your home team? Regardless of your goal in subscribing to cable television, you will need to stick to the plan in order to keep your bill where you want it. The customer service representative's job is to try to sell you the highest tier they possibly can, so you'll likely need to be firm when ordering.
- Have competitors' rates on-hand. Know what new customers are paying for service with other companies so that you can use that as a negotiating point.
- Utilize all contact options. Find out what the first phone rep is willing to give you. Then call back and speak to someone else. Next, hit up the live chat feature and push a little to see how much of a bargain they're willing to offer. Just be sure to get it all in writing once you do get a verbal offer for a satisfactory rate.
- Know when special pricing ends. If you're taking advantage of an introductory offer with limited time pricing, set a reminder in your calendar for one month before the offer expires. This way you have plenty of notice to call your provider and negotiate a new deal with them. Failure to do so could result in your bill going up by as much as double when your offer expires.
It's all too easy to accept whatever is offered and sign on the dotted line before even trying to get the best cable prices. I know---I've been there before! But the little bit of time and effort you put into the above steps may just save you a bundle over the course of a year and even longer.
Alternatives to Cable TV
What if you're not crazy about the idea of subscribing to cable television, or you live in a remote area without access to that type of provider? Your next question, then, is naturally "Are there any alternatives to cable providers in my area?" The answer to that question is: most likely.
There are two alternatives to cable TV, one that is available virtually everywhere, and one that is mainly available in large metropolitan areas.
Satellite TV, especially when it's with these top-tier satellite TV providers, is a great choice if you're located in a rural area, and even if you aren't. There are two major satellite dish providers in the U.S., each with its own benefits.
- Dish TV: Dish Network offers a range of packages made up of the most popular channels. Prices range from $40 for more than 67 channels to $75 per month for the full suite of 290+ channels. One of the best things about Dish Network and its TV packages are their innovative custom option called Flex Pack. This plan allows you to choose from different sets of channels, rather than paying a fixed amount for a predetermined lineup. Check out Dish TV's channel guide here.
- DIRECTV: This satellite provider was purchased by AT&T in 2015. Their package prices tend to be higher than Dish Network, but you do have a choice of six different packages as opposed to Dish's four. Football fans will find this choice a no-brainer as DIRECTV is the only one of the two companies which offer NFL Sunday Ticket. Check out the full DIRECTV channel lineup here.
Related: Dish vs DIRECTV--who wins? We compare both satellite TV providers.
Fiber optic technology provides a clarity of TV picture that even high definition can't. The big downside is that it's not available everywhere yet. Fiber has been used for years to bring pay television to your neighborhood, however, companies are still working on expanding that infrastructure up to the doorstep on a large-scale basis.
- Google Fiber: Google began delivering fiber optic services in its first test market in 2011. The fiber TV plan is available on its own or in a bundle with Google Fiber high-speed internet, and currently, serves eight markets around the country. You get around 200 channels, plus optional packages like sports and movies (for an additional fee).
- Verizon FiOS TV: Verizon's FiOS fiber television service is available in a number of states along the eastern seaboard and in Oregon and California. The company shook up the pay TV industry in 2015 by launching its custom build-your-own package, which allows customers to choose themed channel packs, similar to Dish's Flex Pack. You can see what channels they offer through our channel guide to Verizon FiOS. You can also bundle FiOS TV with FiOS high-speed internet.
Industry experts believe fiber optics is the wave of the future when it comes to TV service. If that theory bears fruit, your question in a few years may not be "How do I find cable providers in my area?" but rather "How do I find fiber providers in my area?" Time will tell.
Numerous Services Allow You to Watch TV Online
If you want a more affordable way to watch TV, you can always rely on internet TV, or TV that you can view with the internet. There are various services that allow for streaming video, but you can always opt for live TV streaming services too. Streaming video services include Amazon Video, Netflix, and Hulu, whereas live TV streaming services include Sling TV, DirecTV NOW, and PlayStation Vue.
However, cable TV providers and networks are beginning to combat this not only with lower prices but also live streaming availability of networks. For instance, NBC Live streaming is currently available on the internet. However, to experience NBC Live streaming, you will need input your provider credentials.
Whether it's time to switch cable providers or find out who's available in your new location, we can help you with our convenient and easy ZIP code checker tool. Once you've discovered what kind of options area available in your area, you can use the above tips to make sure your experience goes as smoothly as possible.
And if you're looking to bundle your services with the internet, don't forget to check out the best internet providers. Bundling is a great way to save money on all of your services, including cable.