Best Cable Companies and Satellite TV Providers in Milwaukee, WI
Dec. 13, 2019, 12:13 a.m.
Choosing between cable and satellite television providers is a daunting task. When selecting a provider, customers should consider cost, programming, reliability, customer care and additional services offered by the company. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best cable companies and satellite TV providers in Milwaukee to find the best home entertainment options at affordable rates.
Choosing a cable company or satellite TV provider in Milwaukee
Watching TV is a common leisure-time activity for many Milwaukee residents, and it’s necessary to subscribe to satellite or cable TV service to get the best options for home entertainment. Cable companies and satellite TV providers offer many different options, and you should know what to look for when comparing features. Some important considerations include:
Cost: Most cable companies in Milwaukee offer introductory rates and packages to entice new customers, but it’s crucial to check how long the offers last and what your costs will be when the promotional period ends.
Service bundling: Most providers offer discounts for bundling TV, phone and internet packages. If you use more than one service, ask about putting them together on one contract to lower your monthly costs.
Contract: Some companies in Milwaukee allow month-to-month or short-term subscriptions, but many require long-term contracts. Ask whether the price is locked for the life of the contract and what penalty the company charges for canceling early.
Channel availability: Consider what channels you watch the most and check with each provider to ensure they offer those networks — channel availability varies among satellite and cable TV companies.
Reliability: Milwaukee’s unpredictable weather may affect satellite dish service. Winter snowstorms and summer thunderstorms can affect the signal, as can cloudy days. If you have neighbors with satellite or cable TV service, ask them if reliability is an issue in your neighborhood.
Types of cable and satellite TV
Cable companies and satellite TV providers in Milwaukee offer multiple tiers of service — to avoid spending more than you need, consider your viewing habits. If you mostly watch broadcast channels and local news programs, you don’t necessarily need an expensive package that includes hundreds of channels and premium movie networks.
Basic cable is the cheapest option, although many cable TV providers don’t advertise it. The Federal Communications Commission mandates providers offer a basic cable package that includes local television stations and national broadcast networks like NBC, ABC and CBS. Providers may also include educational and home shopping channels. These packages usually do not include HD picture quality or DVR capabilities.
Premium channel packages cover a wide variety of options. Most providers in Milwaukee start with somewhere between 150 and 200 channels, with more channels available at higher costs. Customers can often add movie channels such as HBO or SHOWTIME a la carte.
Cable vs. satellite TV
The main difference between satellite and cable TV service for customers is how the signal is transmitted to your home. Cable companies use a physical connection that requires you to live within the business’s service area. Satellite TV companies transmit service through a wireless signal that can be received nearly anywhere.
Companies need to install equipment for both satellite and cable service. With cable, a technician installs a receiver in the home and connects it to the cable provider’s network. Satellite service requires mounting a receiver dish on the exterior of your home. The dish must face south, so Milwaukee residents in apartments may not have a suitable location for installation.
Cable TV companies in Milwaukee are more likely to offer month-to-month subscriptions or shorter contracts. Many satellite TV providers require long-term contracts of up to two years. Satellite companies often cost less per channel, however, and have more HD channel options than cable.
Alternatives to cable or satellite TV service
Increasingly, more people are cutting the cord and looking to internet-based providers for cheap cable TV options. Some services, such as DIRECTVNOW, YouTube TV and Sling, offer live programming and channel packages similar to traditional satellite and cable company offerings. Other services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, provide on-demand access to a library of movies and shows.
Internet-based providers do not require installation or equipment from the company, but you must have internet access — which is not included in the cost of the service — and a compatible device to use the company’s app.
How much does cable and satellite TV cost in Milwaukee?
The average satellite or cable TV subscriber pays between $85 and $100 for service each month, but prices vary depending on the number of channels and additional options you choose. Basic cable typically runs between $20 to $30 a month, while premium packages with 200 or more channels and DVR-capable equipment may run up to $120 or more.
For those looking for satellite TV service in Milwaukee, DIRECTV and DISH are available in the area. DISH’s cheapest package costs about $60 per month on a two-year contract but comes with a price-lock guarantee. DIRECTV starts at $45 per month on a two-year contract, but prices are only guaranteed for the first year and may rise dramatically in the second half of the contract.
Companies may charge installation fees of $50 to $200, but many providers waive this fee during promotional offers. Ask about any current deals before committing to a company’s service. You may also pay an equipment rental fee of between $5 and $15 per device each month.
Spectrum TV is an all-digital cable television provider that also offers internet, telephone and wireless telephone services. Spectrum advertises it has more high definition channels than any other company. The provider offers several tiers network packages, and Milwaukee customers like the reliability of Spectrum’s service.
DISH has many options for HD-quality picture and offers services in 1080p and 4k Ultra for no additional cost whenever available. The company also provides satellite broadband internet and owns the Sling streaming service. Milwaukee customers appreciate the company’s price-lock guarantee and selection of channels, but some residents experience weather-related interruptions.
DIRECTV is a satellite TV provider owned by AT&T. The company has six different cable TV packages to choose from and offers a DVR service that can record up to five programs at once. DIRECTV is also the exclusive provider for NFL SUNDAY TICKET. Milwaukee customers appreciate the company’s live sports packages and competitive rates.