As a person who doesn't live in the US, but has consumed a lot of US media, I have over the years seen many references to the differences between "Cable" and "Network" TV.
Now a search has shown that Network TV is transmitted over the air and are free, while Cable arrives by a cable and you have to pay a subscription. This sounds a bit of a strange distinction to me, because while we did have the same concepts here in Ireland even back in the pre-digital days, but they were just different methods of getting the same channels - the cable was just a method of getting the data into your telly. Certainly the people making or scheduling the programmes don't take into account which method they will be delivered.
(OK you got/get more channels from Cable and the reception was a bit better, but again, the extra ones were just UK "airwave" channels anyway and a few of the more popular satellite channels)
Whereas, in the US, it seems there is a fundamental difference in philosophy between "Cable" and "Network". Almost as if certain shows or types of shows are made for one or the other. Or almost like "Cable" is a company in its own right which produces and schedules all its own shows and channels.
e.g. Cable seems more likely to show controversial programmes or adult dramas than Network, for example, whereas Network is more likely to show maybe sitcoms / news type programmes? e.g. Roseanne had an episode where a documentary was to be made about the family and they joked about the differences in the risquéness of the content depending on whether it was to be shown on Cable or Network.
In general, Cable seems to be a lot freer with what it can show. Besides the actual content, there is also the comments on this answer to another question which seems to suggest it has more freedom with the format of the episodes. e.g. Network TV appears much more restricted in the number of episodes per season it must show.
So my question is, could you explain to someone who only understands "Cable" vs "Network" just to be a physical medium of delivery - equivalent of "WiFi" vs "Ethernet" - why the two are so different, and why there is such an apparent difference between the level of freedom enjoyed by each both in content and format.