Our useful guide on how to use TV streaming services

Trisha Ramrathen
Internet Provider Comparisons

It's Saturday night, you're curled up on the couch watching a movie that's keeping you on the edge of your proverbial seat...just as they're about to announce the plot twist you've been waiting for, boom! Ad break.

We know the frustration all too well - having to wait minutes until you can get back into the action. But, have you heard about TV streaming services, and what they have to offer?

HomeLinkd gives you a beginner's guide to streaming services, what you need to know about them, and how you can enhance your viewing pleasure with ad-free, uninterrupted TV shows and movies in your own time.

Everything you need to know about TV streaming services

TV streaming services like Netflix are online platforms that let you watch TV shows and movies without a traditional cable or satellite subscription. With a streaming service, you can watch what you want, when you want, on any internet-connected device. Plus, many include extras like 4K content options and cloud DVR storage space so you can record shows to watch later.

If you’re ready to cut the cord or supplement your current TV package with a streaming platform, HomeLinkd has all the info you need to get started. Below, we break down everything from free services like The Roku Streaming Channel to comprehensive packages from AT&T TV NOW and FuboTV.

Live TV streaming vs. on-demand streaming

On-demand streaming services are what most people think of when they hear the word “streaming.” These platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime Video, offer a library of movies and TV shows to watch whenever you want.

You can generally watch programs on these networks as many times as you want and there are no commercials (unless you’re watching something live). You do have to pay a monthly fee for these services, but they’re much cheaper than cable.

Live TV services are similar to on-demand in that they don’t require a cable subscription. But, as the name implies, they also let you watch TV shows and movies as they air on live TV.

This is a great option for sports fans or anyone who wants to watch their favorite network TV shows without paying for cable.

What you'll need to start streaming

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how streaming works, let’s talk about what you need to get started.

1. A good internet connection

First and foremost, you need a good internet connection if you want to stream content. Most video streaming requires a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps, but we recommend 10 - 20 Mbps for a better streaming experience.

You can check your internet speed with a speed test like this one from Ookla. Follow the link and click "GO", and Ookla will run a test and show you how your internet speed is looking.

2. Streaming devices or a smart TV

To actually watch your favorite shows, you’ll need a streaming device or a smart TV. Most major TV manufacturers now make smart TVs with streaming apps pre-installed, so you should be able to find one that fits your budget and needs.

Don't have a smart TV?

Just use a streaming device! It's is a small media player that connects to your TV and gives it the ability to stream content from the internet. Some popular streaming devices include the Roku Premiere+, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, and the Apple TV 4K. If you already have a gaming console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you may not need an additional streaming device as they can also be used to stream content.

Top 10 streaming services on the market

Now that you know the basics of streaming services, it’s time to choose one. Below, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best services available right now.

1. Netflix - Best overall streaming service

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming platforms on the market and for good reason. The platform offers an impressive selection of TV shows, movies, and original TV shows, all available in 4K HDR. If you’re looking for a comprehensive streaming experience, Netflix is a great place to start.

2. Hulu - Best for live TV

Hulu is a great option for cord-cutters who want to watch live TV without signing up for a expensive cable subscription. The platform offers plans with ads or without ads for a small additional monthly fee. Hulu also has a comprehensive on-demand library, so you can watch shows and movies even if they’re not airing live.

3. Amazon Prime Video - Best for on-demand content

Amazon Prime Video is a great option for anyone who already has an Amazon Prime membership. If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial to get started. Amazon Prime Video has an impressive selection of TV shows, movies, and original programming, all of which are available in 4K HDR. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable services on the market.

4. Disney+ - Best for families

Disney+ is a great option for families who want to watch their favorite Disney movies and shows. The platform offers an impressive selection of content, including many classic and recent Disney releases.

5. HBO Max - Best for HBO fans

HBO Max is a must-have for any fan of HBO programming. The platform offers all of your favorite HBO shows, plus an impressive selection of movies, TV shows, and original programming. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, Westworld, or any other HBO show, HBO Max is a great option.

6. Sling TV - Best budget streaming service

Sling TV is a great option for cord-cutters who want to save money. The platform offers plans that are a bit pricier compared to the others but still worth it. You'll also get the option to customize your channel lineup to ensure you only pay for the channels you want.

7. Philo - Best for cord-cutters

Philo is a great option for cord-cutters who want to save money on their monthly bill. You can enjoy ad-free content on up to three devices.

8. AT&T TV Now - Best for live TV and on-demand content

AT&T TV Now is a great option for anyone who wants the best of both worlds. You can get all of your favorite channels without having to sign up for an expensive cable or satellite subscription. Plus, you can also get access to an impressive on-demand library.

9. YouTube TV - Best for sports fans

YouTube TV is a great option for sports fans who want to watch their favorite sports and teams without having to sign up for an expensive cable or satellite subscription. You can also get unlimited DVR sharing and you can add up to 6 devices on one account! Plus, with YouTube TV, you can get all of your preferred channels, including ESPN, TNT, and NBC Sports Network. If you’re a fan of NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL, YouTube TV is a great option.

10. FuboTV - Another great one for sports fans

FuboTV is a streaming option that's very similar to Sling TV. However, it focuses more on live sports than anything else. If you're a fan of any sport, then FuboTV should be one of your go-to streaming services. FuboTV has NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, college football, and just about everything else you could want to watch. Plus, unlike some other services on this list, FuboTV offers 4K HDR streaming in select markets.

5 Reasons why you should sign up with streaming providers

If you’re not sure whether or not you should sign up for a streaming plan, we’ve put together a list of five reasons why you should.

1. You can save money

One of the biggest reasons to sign up for a streaming option is that you can save money. With it, you don’t have to pay for an expensive cable or satellite subscription. Plus, you can customize your channel lineup to ensure you only pay for the channels you want. This way, you’re only paying for the content that you actually want to watch.

2. Watch what you want, when you want

You can watch what you want, when you want! With a streaming platform, you’re not tied down to a schedule, plus, with most services, you can pause, rewind, and fast-forward content. This way, you can always watch your favorite content on your own time.

3. You can watch on any device

With streaming services, you’re not limited to just watching on your TV - you can watch on your laptop, tablet, phone, or any other device that has an internet connection. So whether you're chilling at home or on-the-move, you can keep up with all your TV shows and movies!

4. You can get a free trial

Most services offer free trials so you can try before you buy. This is a great way to see if it's the right fit for you.

5. You can cancel anytime

If you decide that a streaming option isn’t right for you, most providers allow you to cancel at any time. This way, you’re not locked into a contract. Plus, if you cancel within the first few weeks, you may even be able to get a refund.

Are there free streaming services?

Yes! There are a few free streaming services available, however these services are usually ad-supported. This means that you’ll have to watch ads in order to use the service. Additionally, they usually have a limited selection of channels and content. So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive streaming experience, we recommend signing up for a paid streaming service.

Say farewell to cable TV forever

Cable TV is a thing of the past. With streaming services, you can watch your favorite video content without having to pay for an expensive cable TV package, plus, you can watch on any device, anywhere, and at any time. Are you ready to sign up for one of the best home entertainment services available today? Browse HomeLinkd for some of the best internet connection deals to get started!

Written by:
Trisha Ramrathen
Writer

With a Master’s degree in Media and Communication, Trisha has spent the last decade honing her skills to help make a significant impact in her work. From creative writing to advertising, she has experience in it all – and is always up for the next challenge!

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