It used to be that, when arriving in a new house in an unfamiliar city, the first questions someone would ask was, “Who is my TV service provider?” It’s different now.
Getting TV service–that is, the kind of TV service you want–takes quite a few choices involving providers, delivery technologies, number and types of channels, whether or not to bundle TV service with other options, and a lot more.
We’ll help you out. Well, that is, we’ll help you out as long as everything hasn’t changed since we last checked. So read on!
Your First Decision: TV Service Provider
What is a TV service provider in today’s multifaceted multimedia environment? The various types of providers include:
- Traditional cable
- Fiber optic “cable”
- Direct-to-home satellite (DTH)
- Broadcast antenna
- Internet streaming
- Some combination of or a variation on the above
With all the video delivery technologies and the many companies involved, it can be hard to tell where one technology ends and the next begins. For example, some “cable providers” actually originated as phone companies using fiber optic cable.
Cable companies today usually deliver their programming through a combination of old-fashioned coaxial cable and fiber optic cable. The two types of cable look nearly identical from the outside but are configured very differently inside.
The programming offered by cable, fiber optic, and DTH providers is extremely similar among the three.
So we’ll just call the whole mix “broadband” since that’s what they call themselves.
To identify your local options in broadband TV service providers, it’s best to check one or both of two websites:
Both will give you names and information on local providers.
Broadband Alternative: Streaming
Many people would just as soon “pull the plug” on cable and its sister technologies altogether and put their hard-earned resources toward what they consider better quality programming: which is usually available from Internet Streaming services.
Streaming services include Hulu, Netflix, Amazon.com, various broadcast and cable television networks, and a variety of others. These can be viewed on computers or mobile devices or they can be viewed on a television using a special adapter.
Some of the services that provide streaming adapters include Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and others–which are in various stages of merging and or sharing programming, either with each other or with other entities. It’s all rather confusing.
Broadband Alternative: Broadcast Television
This can be delivered by either a bare-bones cable subscription (the tier of service marketers never mention) or a digital broadcast antenna (often accompanied by a large rooftop antenna).
This option is sometimes used in combination with streaming services since local broadcast channels still have a good following.
By the way, click here if you live in Australia and need a digital TV antenna installation.
Your Second Decision: Services
There are two levels of choices you’ll need to make regarding services: programming tiers and bundled service packages.
Just how much TV do you want? You can have pretty much all you want, provided you have the money to pay for it. If you don’t have the money, though, you need to pick the service levels you want. These are also known as packages or tiers.
Bundled Service Packages
Besides just programming packages, there are also “bundled” service packages available that offer you one monthly rate for one or more service in addition to your television service. These can include:
- Internet telephone (landline or mobile)
- Digital video recorder (DVR)
- Internet connectivity–at various speeds and with or without Wi-Fi
- Smart home technologies
Your Final Decision: Just Read a Book Instead?
Just kidding. But you can that you’re facing a lot of decisions here–all to get a local TV service provider. Didn’t it use to be that you just plugged in your television and turned it on?
OK, it wasn’t quite that simple. It was a lot simpler than it is today, though.
One of the many types of TV service out there will meet your needs, at least for a while. And as soon as you’re ready for something new, there will be a lot of new options to choose from.
So contact your TV service provider of choice now and get things started so you can actually enjoy some TV!