Of course the answers is a resounding, "it depends." Both have a high quality of picture and deliver on a number of options. However, here are a few tips that should help in making a decision between satellite or cable.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is how many TV sets do you have in the house? If your answer is three or more, than you may want to go with cable because of cost. Cable can run through out the entire house and you can connect as many TV sets as you want for no additional cost. Satellite requires one receiver for each TV set and you pay an additional fee for extra receivers. Satellite has a starting cost around $30 per month, which includes local channels. Each additional receiver will carry a charge, plus a monthly fee of around $5. Cable has a higher starting cost of around $45 per month, therefore if you only need one extra receiver, satellite is the better option.
Another thing to consider is "pay per view." Each satellite receiver gives you the ability to buy movies and sporting events, but cable requires a set-top box to give you this ability to purchase special events. Of course the set-top box comes with an additional fee! So if you buy cable and only get one set-top box, you only have the ability to watch the standard channels on the rest of the TV sets through out the house. If you are like me and want to keep track of your favorite football team, than you need the "pay per view" option!
A third thing to consider is high speed internet access. If you go with cable they usually give you a discount for high speed internet. Both cable television and internet run around $80, which is quite expensive. Most people that go with satellite end up getting DSL for high speed internet. The combination of satellite and DSL is around $60, which is less expensive than the cable options. Keep in mind that cable internet is a little faster that the basic DSL option. DSL is still much faster than standard dialup.
One final thing to consider when choosing between cable or satellite is signal interruptions. Sometimes in severe weather the satellite reception can get brief signal interruptions that result in a garbled picture. The good thing about satellite interruptions is they only last for a few seconds in brief intervals. If the cable goes out it is usually because of a broken line in the network that can take several hours fix. So decide how you will react when watching your favorite show or sporting event; do you want a brief interval of static, or a smaller chance, but still possible, of missing the whole show?
If you are wondering what choice I made, it is satellite with just one receiver. I also hooked up a wireless audio video sender to the television in the basement in front of the exercise equipment. This way I get the cheaper satellite option with out paying for the extra receiver. I pay less than $30 a month. My parents have TV sets in every room in the house, so of course they took the cable option!