Satellite and Cable vs. Streaming TV Services

Compare all your options to find the best TV provider

Streaming services like Hulu and Sling provide video over the internet, which can be either live or on-demand. In cases like Netflix, all of the content is on-demand - there's no live TV like news or sports whatsoever, and most local channels aren’t even an option.


Cable and satellite services, on the other hand, provide live television and video on-demand without internet - in the case of cable, through thousands of miles of cable run primarily underground, and for satellite, through signal that's beamed directly to viewers' homes. There’s no internet required and no bandwidth issues that can lead to buffering.


You may think that it's a choice of one or the other, streaming or cable/satellite, but that isn't true — with DISH Anywhere, viewers can stream thousands of hours of content, including everything on their DVR, to their mobile devices anywhere they have internet connection. Since streaming always requires internet, cable/satellite have a leg up on them with their direct-to-home signal.

TV Programming

Streaming TV services add and drop shows regularly. That means you may sign up for one service to watch reruns of your favorite show on-demand, but then lose it the next month to a different streaming service.

Several TV streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, also produce a lot of their own exclusive programming, forcing customers to sign up for many different services to get all the TV programming they may want. Cable and satellite TV providers like DISH offer hundreds of live TV channels as well as tens of thousands of on-demand movies and shows. You get all of your entertainment in one place.

Internet Required

Streaming services require internet, but you can always watch satellite TV at home without it. That being said, DISH's streaming TV and on-demand content does require internet access and some features are only available with an internet connection, such as the DISH Voice Remote.

Signal Reliability

Satellite TV signal is reliable – only the very worst storms impact it at all, so outages are very rare. Cable is also highly reliable but there are more ways it can go down - construction can cut a cable, or the cable boxes in a home/apartment building can go bad. When cable goes down, it can take a long time to repair, whereas satellite TV usually comes right back once the storm passes.

Streaming services require fast internet connections. Internet through cable is prone to outages just like cable TV. You may be able to use a mobile hotspot or view on your phone with 4G/5G, though some cell phone plans charge for extra data, and you’ll need additional technology to stream that signal to your TV.

Video Quality

Satellite and cable provide signals in 4k and HD. Some TV streaming services have no 4k content. Streaming TV shows using your wireless phone or tablet, will consume a lot of wireless data. DISH has no data limits. Watch all of the TV you want.

DISH Customer Service 24/7

Traditional companies like DISH still provide customer support through 24/7 toll-free phone numbers where customers can talk to actual human beings, as well as chat, but the streaming services notoriously make customer service very difficult. You can typically only email them, and response times can take days.

Watch TV on mobile devices

You can watch live TV and on-demand content through cable/satellite on your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. The same goes for streaming services, though they require some additional technology (a Fire stick or Smart TV, for example) to watch on your TV.


Ok, yes, cable/satellite companies lock you into a 2-year contract because they're leasing you equipment in the form of the dish itself and the receivers. They can't afford to just hand those out for free, so there are costs and contracts. Streaming providers have no equipment so they can afford to let consumers turn on/off their service at any time.


While satellite/cable providers get a bad rap for requiring consumers to purchase channel packages, the truth is that they're often more customizable than streaming services, and the live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live have the exact same kinds of packages as cable/satellite. There's typically a base package of channels with add-ons for additional sports, family, or entertainment channels. It is common for live programming to offer these kinds of packages. 


This would seem to be a category where streaming wins over cable, but that’s only the case if you subscribe to just one streaming service. Most people subscribe to several streaming TV services to get access to different types of content. Once you do that, you’ll likely spend as much or more than you would spend on cable or satellite TV service.

DISH Network is the Best Value in TV

From wide-ranging programming that includes live sports and news to customizability and superior customer support, it's clear that DISH Network offers the best value out of any TV provider. Choose the best base package for your favorite programming and add extras for movies, sports, and kids.