If you’re stressed out about choosing a cable provider, then I’m glad you’re here — I wrote this post to explain Comcast Xfinity and cable in general in “normal person language.”
The cable TV industry in the US doesn’t offer much choice, which is part of why “cord cutting” is so popular. Regardless, for most of us, cable TV still offers the best variety of premium sports, drama, and on-demand content. (Even if the price trends higher than Netflix.)
- No Contract Needed
- Affordable Prices
- Excellent On-Demand Content Variety
- Ideal if you get a double play package
- Mixed customer service ratings
- Add-on and equipment fees
- Data caps
Xfinity basic stats
- Offers Service in: California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas, Maryland, Washington, New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Tennessee, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, Connecticut, New Mexico, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Alabama, Delaware, South Carolina, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Vermont, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Idaho
- Major Cities Covered: Houston, TX, Chicago, IL, Miami, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Minneapolis, MN, San Jose, CA, Denver, CO, Atlanta, GA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Jacksonville, FL, Fort Lauderdale, FL, Sacramento, CA, Saint Paul, MN, Memphis, TN, Pittsburgh, PA, Detroit, MI, Albuquerque, NM and Baltimore, MD
- Residential Pricing: $29.99+ (See Latest Deals)
- Business Pricing: $69.95+
- Setup Service: (800) 934-6489
Who Should Use Xfinity Internet and TV?
For those of you who don’t have time to read the plan details and statistics below, here’s the takeaway: Xfinity is best for people who need fast internet for 1–5 people, and want to bundle in basic digital TV for a cheap price.
Xfinity has three big “pros”: a wide variety of packages, flexible month-to-month plans (AKA no contract), and frequent promotional deals for new customers. Comcast Xfinity TV also takes a lead on other TV services due to its competitive costs and video-on-demand services. Xfinity Double Play (TV+ Internet) bundles offer a great value because Comcast internet has strong download thanks to their mixed fiber/coaxial network.
My personal calls to Comcast lead me to believe that they’re improving somewhat when it comes to customer service. That said, they don’t provide the same local, friendly service you get from some smaller Internet companies.
On the flip side, Xfinity also comes with a handful of miscellaneous fees. For example, Comcast charges ~$10/ per month per unit in DVR and TV box equipment leasing, while its competitors like DirecTV and Dish offer at least four equipment boxes (including tech support) for free.
Unless you catch them during a promotion, you’ll have to pay around $50 in installation fees for Xfinity cable, while DirecTV doesn’t charge you any installation fee when you sign a 2-year agreement. (That said, virtually every house is already hooked up for Xfinity, so you can likely self-install for free.)
Xfinity promotional pricing and miscellaneous fees
Be aware that the pricing displayed for Xfinity publicly is the “promotional” pricing. The final pricing on most plans doesn’t start until you’ve had a chance to try out the service at a reduced rate for 12 months.
Pro Tip: Read the fine print
Devil’s advocate here: these problems aren’t all Comcast’s fault. In my experience, most people don’t read the contracts or “user agreements” they sign. They just sign, and then get mad when they find out the details later. Always read the fine print!
To give you an example, if you order Xfinity cable right now in their Eastern service area, you’ll be charged $59.99 a month (for the first 12 months) for a basic Internet and TV bundle. This package includes over 220 digital channels (includes almost all the famous channels like ESPN, Ecore, NFL Network, CNN, BBC). You will also get access to on-demand film and TV via Xfinity-on-Demand, internet, and a subscription HBO.
This is a great deal for the first twelve months, but the final pricing is almost twice as much. This sort of deal is still good for many customers, but it often leads to frustration among customers who don’t realize that the price they sign up for isn’t final.
You can negotiate with Comcast to keep billing you at the promotional price, but in that case, you will often get fewer channels. My advice: read the fine print, and consider the “average” cost when you’re comparing pricing to other providers.
Xfinity’s plans: an opinionated rundown
Note that if you want to avoid a contract, you will have to pay roughly $10 per month extra for the Xfinity cable TV service. But given that you get to avoid early termination fees and the nuisances that come along with a contract, I’d say paying $10 extra isn’t a total waste, especially if you are a renter or student.
Popular package alert: Digital Economy
Digital Economy package costs around $29.95 per month, with a “final cost” of around $50 in most Xfinity regions. The package includes over 100 channels. It’s the go-to option for news enthusiasts. There is no sports channel or DVR service in this package. Post-promotion cost is around $50 per month, but keep in mind this varies depending on your location.
Digital Starter (Post-Promo Cost: $70 per month)
Digital Starter is, in my opinion, the most viable option among the Comcast Xfinity packages. The bundle costs $49.99 per month for the 12 months with no term agreement. You will get over 140 channels, including well-known sports, news and entertainment channels (NFL Network, MLB Network NBA TV, CSN, NBC, ESPN, CBS, Fox, PBS, AMC, C-SPAN, RT). After 12 months, you will be billed at about $70 per month for this package unless you negotiate with the company to retain the promotional rates. (It’s worth the phone call!)
Digital Preferred Package (Post-Promo Cost: $110 per month)
Digital Preferred package sets you back $59.99 a month for the first 12 months. There is not much difference between Digital Starter and Digital Preferred when it comes to channel offerings, except that the latter includes more channels in sports and entertainment category.
This package includes all the premium channels like Starz, HBO, Star Max, XOD, ShowTime, Cinemax, TMX and more. The package costs $69.99 per month for the first 12 months.
A Rough Comparison of Xfinity Channel Offerings with Major Competitors
Comcast Xfinity cable TV offers slightly fewer channels than some of the common alternatives (although these are mostly niche or cultural channels most users won’t notice missing). For instance, Verizon FiOS provides over 400 channels, while, DIRECTV offers more than 200 HD channels. The most expensive of the Xfinity TV packages offers around 260 channels and not more than 100 HD channels.
Xfinity’s additional fees are slightly higher than other TV services. For example, its DVR fee is $19.95 a month, and additional receivers (for adding multiple TVs) are $9.95 a month each. DirecTV takes a clear lead over Comcast Xfinity because of its excellent value for money when setting up a full-featured home theater or TV den. You can get over 245 channels with 200+ hours of HD DVR for close to $44.99 a month. DirecTV also provides three-four extra TV boxes for free, so you could set them up in different rooms of your house. DirecTV’s Genie DVR crushes almost all DVR services available in the market.
As an alternative, Dish’s DVR, the Hopper 3, is a top-notch option for movie enthusiasts. It gives you 500 hours of HD content storage capacity (compared to only 60 HD hours on Xfinity’s basic DVR, and a head-scratching 50 HD hours on their most advanced system, the X1).  Overkill for most of us, but a nice-to-have for large families or film buffs.
Xfinity Cable TV DVR
Comcast Xfinity Cable TV is a bit of a tag-along when it comes to DVR performance. Comcast’s basic DVR services cost an extra $19.95 a month, and the maximum recording time for HD in the basic package is only 45 hours, with 80GB of storage. Compared to the 200+ hours in basic DVR packages offered by DirecTV and DISH, this isn’t so thrilling.
In Xfinity HD DVR, you will get 500 GB of storage but only 60 hours of HD recording time. You can increase your DVR storage capacity by getting an external hard drive. Keep in mind that the hard drive must be compatible with the DVR box. Given the price and offerings, Xfinity DVR services aren’t worth it. However, I’d highly recommend considering X1 DVR services which have a lot of value for money.
Xfinity Cable vs Xfinity X1 vs Xfinity Stream
Xfinity X1 is an advanced version of Xfinity regular cable TV. It’s a perfect blend of Internet content, live TV, apps, DVR and on-demand programming. Some astounding features of X1 include 500 GB of storage capacity, Netflix integration, over 160,000 titles on-demand, voice control, and mobile app. You need to at least have a Comcast internet Double Play Package in order to get Xfinity X1.
Xfinity Stream is a streaming video cable service using which you can stream live TV, movies and TV shows on your PC, mobile, and tablets. Xfinity Stream also supports cloud-based DVR. You need to have an Xfinity connection to access Xfinity Stream service. The service currently has limited availability, mostly in urban areas, but coverage is growing quickly.
Xfinity offers a strong value for sports fans
Xfinity Digital Preferred and Premier are your main options if you want sports programming. Overall, Xfinity makes sense for sports fans who want to bundle their TV and Internet into one “double play” plan for a cheaper price.
If you’re willing to pay extra, DirecTV is my favorite satellite provider thanks to their exclusive access to NFL Sunday Ticket. Watching Pay Per View events like MMA fight nights is also easy on DirecTV. However, casual sports fans who just catch a game here and there will be happier with the lower price tag of Xfinity.
One of the strongest points of Xfinity cable TV is its on-demand services, which give you access to over 100,000 TV movies and shows. Most of the Comcast competitors including DirecTV, Verizon, and DISH offer a very limited number of channels on their on-demand programming features.
On top of that, their X1 entertainment system integrates smoothly with third-party streaming services like Netflix. This has been a nice change to see, as it suggests that Xfinity wants to join in the cord-cutting game and provide more options for budget and mobile customers.
Comcast Xfinity becomes an attractive choice if you get a double play bundle. For example, you can add an internet connection with a download speed of 25 Mbps in the Digital Starter package for an extra $10. Similarly, you can get the famous Comcast Blast internet service which gives a download speed of a whopping 50 Mbps and over 140+ TV channels for $79 per month (promo price).
XFINITY from Comcast Availability
Comcast is available in about 40 states in the US. The only providers with more coverage are satellite TV options like DirecTV (nationwide availability) and Dish — however, these don’t offer Internet or phone like Xfinity does.
The Big Picture
To sum it all up, Xfinity cable TV is a good option if you are looking for a no-contract cable TV service at affordable prices, and want to have tons of exciting on-demand content at your disposal. If you are ready to get your internet and TV from the same provider, Xfinity is likely to be the fastest, cheapest, and most flexible option.