Advantages & Disadvantages of Satellite TV

By Bill Herrfeldt

Choose between cable and satellite television.
i Satellite dish image by Scrivener from

“It always stops working when it storms.” That was the common lament about satellite television when it first was introduced in 1982, but it has come a long way since then. By the end of 2007, more than 28 percent of households watched satellite television, while cable television stayed flat at about 62 percent. Satellite television has several drawbacks, but they are balanced by the many advantages.


When satellite television was first introduced, an effective signal required that you have a large dish and that it be able to move to pick up the signals from different satellites. Today, the dishes are much smaller so installers can place them on the roof of homes where they get the best signals. Also, dishes are now stationary, which makes them much less costly. In fact, satellite television companies—the two in the U.S. are Dish Network and DirecTV—offer that equipment free-of-charge if you sign up for 12 months.

Better Picture

The picture offered by both providers of satellite television is often superior when compared to cable television because of the way the signal is transmitted to your house. Satellite users receive a signal that is only once removed from the original source. However, cable companies have to string wires all the way to you and the farther you are away from their hubs, the greater the chance you will have a poor picture, particularly if your cable service is provided in analog format rather than digital.

More Choices

Because a satellite can transmit signals from stations around the earth, theoretically you can receive any station with which the satellite company has a contract. For that reason, satellite television providers typically offer a wider selection of channels than most cable companies.

More Channels Equals Higher Cost

Although satellite television providers offer more channels than do cable companies, many channels provided by cable companies are only available on satellite television at an added cost. In the past, local stations were only available to satellite television customers if they paid extra for them, but that is no longer the case.


To date, the only service offered by satellite television providers is their basic product, satellite television. Conversely, cable companies often offer telephone and Internet connections in addition to their basic services. What's more, they often bundle those services at a reduced price.