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How do channel lineups compare between digital cable and satellite?
Along with cost of service, a major factor in deciding on a programming provider is what channels are offered. We all have our favorite channels. Since no provider has every channel, we often have to decide based on whether a provider offers those channels. Most cable and satellite providers offer the same major channels as well as your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates.

Cable tends to emphasize local and regional programming. In addition, there are often localized cable-only channels that provide news, sports and local interest programs. Every cable provider has a different lineup - even if they are part of the same company. For example, Comcast in one city would have a different lineup than Comcast in another. Some providers offer a large amount of HDTV, while others offer little or none at all.

Satellite programming for each provider doesn't change from city to city, except for local affiliate regional sports stations. This means DirecTV in Boston will be the same as DirecTV in Dallas. The same holds true for Dish Network.

Where the major differences come in is with sports programming. Some of the Regional Sports Networks (RSN's) are only available via cable. In contrast, DirecTV is the only provider to offer NFL Sunday Ticket, a popular football package.

In the case of channel differences, there are often other channels that are similar. For example, many cable companies offer INHD 1 and 2, while the satellite companies offer HDNET and HDNET movies. Both offer a variety original and second run programming of similar types.

Cable offers quite a bit of interactive features as well as programming on demand, which allows customers to view many shows at any time, like they would with a VCR or DVR. Satellite tends to focus on Pay Per View and movie channels.

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