Verizon FiOS vs Satellite TV

If you're on the fence between Verizon FiOS and satellite TV, there's a few key things to consider. First things first, though... for the uninitiated, FiOS is a bundled tv, internet and phone service from Verizon that's delivered over a fiber-optic line (i.e, not via a coax wire like cable). They came on the scene in 2005 and began to heavily expand in 2009-2010. Due to existing provider contracts in some cities and neighborhoods, you may not be able to get FiOS, so make sure you check first. For the rest, here's what to look out for when comparing it to satellite:

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Satellite TV gives you more programming value

FiOS currently has three different plans:
Prime HD - 210 channels (55+ in HD) for $64.99 per month. Its their entry-level plan for a small to single household.
Extreme HD - 290 channels (75+ in HD) for $74.99 per month. This one includes more specialty and news channels, including popular channels such as Biography.
Ultimate HD - 380 channels (110+ in HD) for $89.99 per month. Their largest plan, it includes Cinemax, NFL RedZone and a good deal of mainstream programming.

The single biggest difference compared to satellite TV is price. For about $20 less per month, you'll get the same or more channels than with FiOS (especially higher tier). Also, as new channels go public, distributors usually contract with DIRECTV and/or DISH first, so you'll get first (and/or exclusive) access to the latest programming. For more on satellite plans, view DIRECTV and DISH's packages.

What about Movies?

FiOS provides the following premium movie plans:
HBO - 28 channels (14 HD) for $16.99/mo
SHOWTIME - 32 channels (10 HD) for $11.99/mo
STARZ - 23 channels (5 HD) for $11.99/mo
CINEMAX - 22 channels (10 HD) for $11.99/mo
EPiX - 2 channels (2 HD) for $9.99/mo

Satellite TV offers the same premium packs for roughly the same prices (either a dollar more or less, depending on package). Its major advantage is that both DIRECTV and DISH are give new customers free access to HBO, SHOWTIME and CINEMAX for 3 full months. Do nothing if you want to keep them and they'll renew at the regular prices. Otherwise, simply call up and cancel before three months are up.

With FiOS, only the Ultimate HD plan includes Cinemax and Showtime - the other two don't qualify you for premium movies (the best they do is give you 30-50% off HBO and/or Cinemax).

If you're a sports nut, think twice about FiOS

As far as premium sports channels go, Verizon FiOS has a few popular packages (MLS Direct Kick, MLB Extra Innings, etc), but they don't offer access to NFL SUNDAY TICKET or a host of other regional baseball, soccer and football channels. If you want to maximize your sports experience, DIRECTV has the clear upper edge here (DISH comes in at a close second).

So what's the verdict?

Verizon FiOS, along with AT&T Uverse, are relative newcomers to the TV provider industry. While they've made impressive strides over the past few years, they still don't have the subscriber or infrastructure leverage to compete with satellite TV's prices or programming options. If you already have a cell phone plan with Verizon and qualify for a bundled deal, definitely consider it (click here to visit FiOS' website). Otherwise, you'll probably get much more value out of either DIRECTV or DISH. Check out their current offers and free bonuses for new customers below:

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