Basic Cable Packages and Channels Guide

We’ll help you find the best basic cable package for your living room and your budget
streamingservicestv.com/xfinity setup

Price: $35–$49.99/mo. Simultaneous streams: 3 Video: 1080p, 4K

4.3/5
streamingservicestv.com/spectrum

Price: $29–$44.99/mo. Simultaneous streams: 3 Video: 1080p, 4K

4.2/5

Price: $40.99–$58.99/mo. Simultaneous streams: 3 Video: 1080p, 4K

4.3/5
COX PROVIDER

Price: $35-$50/mo. Simultaneous streams: 5 Video: 1080p

4.2/5

Price: $29.99-$42.99/mo. Simultaneous streams: 4 Video: 1080p, 4K

4.6/5

Basic cable packages come in handy for many reasons: they’re inexpensive, have all of your local channels, and are simple. There’s no need to channel jump through filler channels.

We’ve highlighted basic and starter packages from five cable TV companies for you. All of which have a wide availability in the US, because who wants to sift through tons of cable TV providers that might not be in your area?

While an HD antenna is one of the best ways to get local channels, we know a basic cable package can promise you a decent channel lineup. So let’s dive in to see which of these cable TV providers is ideal for your home.

What are the best cable TV providers for basic packages?

A quick comparison of basic-package cable TV providers

Provider Plan Monthly price Channels 
Xfinity TV: Northeast Limited Basic $46.95/mo.* 10+ BOOK NOW
Xfinity TV: Central Basic $20.00/mo.* 10+ BOOK NOW
Xfinity TV: West Extra $49.99/mo.** 140+ BOOK NOW
Spectrum TV Spectrum TV® Select $44.99/mo for 12 mos.† 125+ BOOK NOW
Suddenlink TV Value TV $58.00/mo.†† 225+ BOOK NOW
Cox TV Contour TV Starter $50.00/mo.‡ 75+ BOOK NOW
Sparklight TV Economy Cable $42.00/mo.‡‡ Up to 20 BOOK NOW
What to look for in a basic cable package

The best basic plans from cable TV providers have a decent dollar-to-channel ratio, local channels, top channels in its lineup, and widely available in the country.

Basic packages that work best for consumers:

When looking for a basic cable plan, or any plan, you want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

A basic plan will be low-priced with a decent number of channels, and these channels should include your local channels and some top channels, such as Disney Channel and HGTV.

It also helps a cable TV provider’s case when they’re widely available across the US, has easy to install equipment, and a decent DVR storage to record all of the live shows you might not be home for.

How much is Comcast Xfinity’s basic package?

Xfinity has the most inexpensive bundle on this list

Xfinity has four inexpensive options for you to choose from: two bundles and two TV plans. All of these plans require a 1-year contract besides the $20 Limited Basic plan.

PS: Unfortunately, some of these plans are only available in certain areas.

What’s Xfinity’s Limited Basic package?

We like Comcast’s Xfinity because it’s one of the most widely available cable providers in the US, and the price tag isn’t too bad.

For example, Xfinity has four inexpensive basic and starter packages for your home.

The first option, Xfinity Limited Basic, actually has two inexpensive options. The Limited Basic package comes with 10+ channels, but you have to pair it with internet service.

To get the Limited Basic TV package, you’ll have to bundle with 25 Mbps internet for $35 per month or go big with 100 Mbps download speeds for $50. (But you could get as high as 1200 Mbps for $80 per month if you’d like!)

And even though the Limited Basic package is advertised as “10+ channels,” when we entered our location, the channel lineup actually had close to 140 channels (including 50 music channels and lots of HD (high-definition) channels).

The local broadcast, government, and educational channels Xfinity include in its channel lineup are the following:

Which channels are in Xfinity’s Starter package?

If you want a few more channels and you’re willing to spend a few bucks more, then the Starter package might be for you.

You’ll get 140+ channels, and those channels include the following:

How much is Xfinity TV's basic package?

Provider Plan Monthly price Channels 
Xfinity TV Limited Basic $20.00/mo. 10+ BOOK NOW
Xfinity TV Limited Basic + 25 Mbps Internet $35.00/mo. 10+ BOOK NOW
Xfinity TV Limited Basic + 100 Mbps Internet $50.00/mo. 10+ BOOK NOW
Xfinity TV Extra$49.99/mo. 140+ BOOK NOW

How much is Spectrum’s basic package?

A decent number of channels for a reasonable price is everything

pectrum used to be our fourth choice in basic cable packages, but it’s moved its way up to second recently. Spectrum gives you a complete channel lineup for the price of nosebleed tickets, and you don’t have to worry about signing a contract.

Spectrum is available in 41 states, but it doesn’t even cover 50% of the state for some. Check if it’s available in your area with this availability map.

A decent number of channels for a reasonable price is everything

We named Spectrum as one of the best cheap cable TV options out there. Spectrum doesn’t require a contract, you get a solid number and a great selection of channels, and the price doesn’t break your bank.

That sounds like a recipe for a decent cable TV provider, right?

Spectrum’s basic TV Select plan includes the following channels:

How much is Spectrum's basic package?

PlanPriceTV channel count  
Spectrum TV® Select $44.99/mo for 12 mos.* 125+ BOOK NOW

How much is Suddenlink’s basic package?

Suddenlink offers lots of channels in its entry-level plan

Suddenlink offers an inexpensive bundle at a great price. You’ll get more than 50 channels with internet service of 200 Mbps download speeds so you can work without waiting forever for your screen to refresh.

Check this availability map to see if you’re in one of the 20 states Suddenlink is offered.

Which channels are in Suddenlink’s Basic TV package?

Unfortunately, Suddenlink’s website doesn’t list which 50 channels you’ll get in your lineup with its Basic TV plan, but it does say this:

“50+ Channels: All major networks including local programming.”

So we can almost bet that you’ll at least have your local channels, such as the following:

Which channels are in Suddenlink’s Core TV package?

You might look at this basic package price and think: Woah, that’s a little pricey.

But you get over 200 channels with Core TV, making the dollar-to-channel ratio and value pretty decent.

Core TV includes the following channels:

How much is Suddenlink's basic package?

Provider PlanMonthly price Channels  
Suddenlink Internet 200 and Basic TV $40.00/mo. 200+ BOOK NOW
Suddenlink Core TV $58.00/mo. 50+ BOOK NOW

How much is Cox’s Starter package?

Cox TV allows you to customize your plan

Cox used to be in the second spot on our list here, but they recently doubled the price of their entry-level package (uncalled for, Cox).

But we do like how Cox has recently started giving its customers a customized checkout experience that allows you to bundle TV, internet, home security, and a home phone.

Which channels are in Cox’s TV Starter package?

Cox’s basic plan used to have a $25 price tag that we used to like. Now, for $50 per month, you get more than 75 channels, including local channels and some entertainment channels.

But the price tag might be worth it if you like the idea of bundling all of your services in one: TV, internet, home security, and a landline.

You’ll also have to commit for two years to your bundle. Cox has this thing called a two-year contract that we could honestly do without. But after you see the personalized bundle you’ve created for your home on Cox’s website, the contract might not matter.

Cox’s channel lineup includes the following:

How much is Cox's basic package?

Provider PlanMonthly price Channels  
Cox TV Contour TV Starter $50.00/mo. 75+ BOOK NOW

How much is Sparklight’s basic package?

If local channels are all you’re looking for, Sparklight is at your service

Sparklight doesn’t exactly give you the most bang for your buck, but if you like the idea of minimalism, this is the plan for you.

You’ll get around 20 channels, including local broadcast channels in standard and high definition, along with faith, shopping, and music channels.

Which channels are in Sparklight’s Economy Cable package?

Sparklight’s Economy package has a higher dollar-to-channel ratio than the rest, but you might like the idea of having more than 20 local channels with no fluff to search through.

Or maybe you live in one of the 21 states Sparklight offers coverage, and there isn’t another cheap cable TV option. So, Sparklight has got your back.

(Keep in mind that the local channels differ in each area Sparklight is offered, but to give you a sneak peek, these are the 26 channels that are offered in Idaho.)

The local channels included in the Economy package are the following:

How much is Sparklight’s basic package?

Provider PlanMonthly price Channels  
Sparklight TV Economy$42.00/mo. 20+ BOOK NOW

Recap: Which cable TV provider has the best cable package?

If you’re still unsure which cable TV provider to sign up with, check out our Best TV Providers of 2021 review to compare more options.

Methodology

We compare and rank basic cable packages based on five key factors:

1. Price
2. Channels
3. Availability
4. Contracts
5. Equipment

To decide which basic cable TV packages are best for you, we ranked each on these five factors. Because these plans we’ve highlighted are basic, starter, and entry-level, we weighted price and channels more heavily.

FAQs

With basic cable, you should get all of your local channels, such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. With a great basic cable package, you should also have access to entertainment and lifestyle channels like HSN, The CW, C-SPAN, PBS, and Telemundo.
Cable TV is worth it if you like the traditional TV feel, you want all of your local channels and popular channels, and you like the simplicity of bundling with internet and paying one bill. Cable TV isn’t worth it if you rather stream on your device or smart TV, you only need 30–150 channels (rather than 200–300 channels that cable TV could offer you), and you want on-demand content. We have a list of the best live TV streaming providers if the latter sounds like you.
The average price for a basic cable package is around $40 per month.

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