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What Channels Are Included in Basic Cable – A User’s Guide

How much TV do you watch on any given day? Be honest. Is it that much? Do you need to be paying more $25 for cable? Unless you must have the NFL package, streaming service, or you are an avid TV watcher who must have a wide range of channels from which to choose, there is a good chance that all you need is basic cable.

So, what channels are included in basic cable, and why should this be your choice?

What Channels Are Included in Basic Cable?

Before we look at the list of channels included in basic cable, we first must examine what basic cable is and what it entails. The term “basic cable” basically refers to the TV plan that is considered the most affordable by any provider.

With this plan, you will get basic local channels (depending on your specific location), national broadcast channels such as ABC, NBC, and so on, as well as FCC mandated channels.

You should know that, despite all the marketing and adamant coxing by sales representatives and customer service agents for cable service, every single cable provider provides a basic cable plan that will include local channels are a very affordable rate (affordable being relative and depending on the provider you choose).

The reason why you don’t hear much about these plans (and why that sales rep tries to steer you away from them) is that cable companies don’t make much from them and would rather advertise more lucrative and better packages.

While all cable companies must offer a basic cable plan, they aren’t compelled by law to tell you about it. That is why you need to ask.

So what channels are included in basic cable tv service?

  • ABC
  • PBS
  • CBS
  • FOX
  • Univision
  • Telemundo
  • Additional public-access and government channels

Note: You will get different channels depending on where you live and the TV provider you choose, but this list is essentially what encompasses basic cable channels.

Your basic package will include anywhere from 30 to 40 TV channels. Apart from the local network channels, you will also almost always get popular channels such as MTV, ESPN, AMC, Discovery, and a few more.

Is Basic Cable Worth It?

You might be wondering if a basic cable system is worth it, considering you seldom hear cable providers advertising it that much. The truth is that, if you are not that much of a TV buff and because most people get their content from streaming outlets such as Netflix anyway, there is a very good argument to be put forth as to why you should consider getting basic cable. Here are some excellent reasons why:

1. It is Very Affordable

Basic cable costs anywhere between $25 to $40 per month. That makes them quite affordable and accessible for a large proportion of the population. Couple that with the fact that you get local channels and a host of other popular channels and you have a very good deal at a very friendly rate.

2. You Can Get Some Free Upgrades

A survey shows that about 60% of Americans have ditched cable TV opting for streaming services instead. You’ve got to figure that cable companies are scrambling like crazy to both keep the customers that they still have and gain more. That means that companies that enjoyed a good market share now have to make a few concessions to keep their customers happy.

As such, you can get some excellent upgrades like an extra phone line, a digital video recorder, or even bump you up to a better package on a trial basis for a few months just by signing up for their basic package.

Note: For the most part, you would have to ask for these upgrades, and the more you push, the higher your chances of getting an unbelievable deal.

3. You Can Supplement Your Viewing with Streaming Services

Netflix, Hulu, Crackle…the list is almost endless nowadays. These are all streaming services that have put such pressure on the TV industry by providing viewers with an entire world of watching options for very affordable prices. Today, what you can’t find on TV, you can certainly find online.

Even major news networks like CNN, NBC, CBS, and so on now have an online platform where you can stream their programs as well as live updates. This goes to show that you don’t necessarily have to spend half your paycheck on a TV package, you can pay for basic cable and supplement your viewing with online streaming services.

4. Original Programming is Getting Better

There was a time when if you wanted the best original content, you had to pay for channels such as HBO. That is no longer the case. From channels with shows like Mad Men, Rescue Me, The Closer, and Nip/Tuck (to mention a few from the past era), these programs are winning awards and this channel lineup is becoming more entertaining by the day. The best part is that many of them can be found on basic cable TV channels.

5. Access to Live Events

There are many live events, like the Grammys, the Oscars, or holiday specials that are reliably found on cable TV. Yes, you can probably stream them online, but why would you want to go through the trouble of trying different platforms only to discover that they have patchy coverage at best? With the right cable provider, you will get a basic cable package that covers most live events and holiday specials for your viewing pleasure at a very affordable rate.

While basic cable might not be as glamorous as most other TV packages, it still serves a good purpose and should be something that you consider when thinking of what to do as far as paying for cable is concerned.

Granted, almost everyone needs broadband internet nowadays, and there is a good chance you can get pretty much everything you can get on basic cable there. Still, there is a simplicity that comes with flipping the channels with one click of the remote as opposed to scrolling through several websites.