With cable every channel is present in the cable at all times, but you are limited to 80-100 channels (analog). Digital cable is an improvement on the number Satellite can deliver more channels becuase of both digital technology and additional orbital locations. With all those extra channels availabe they can't all be present in the cable at the same time. Some switching has to be done in order to access all the channels on your account.
With satellite, depending on the model receiver you have, only half of the channels are present at any given time. This is due to how satellite "channels" are received. The odd numbered chanels are in one polarity, the even in the other. Polarity allows the same frequency to be used twice, there is no interference because each signal on the same frequency arrives at opposite polarity form each other.
Newer receivers downconvert both polarities onto different intermediate frequencles, allowing faster channel changing. But you still have to switch between the various orbital locations. All this takes time. It's amazing how fast I can switch between channels coming off different orbital locations. It used to ba a lot slower before the new "Dish Pro Plus" technology came along.