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How to stream TV
The beginner's guide to streaming TV in Australia.
Maybe you’re looking into cutting the cord, watching the latest episode of Severance, or you simply want to save money. What’s the solution?
Switching to streaming is a good start. The days when your options boiled down to Netflix or Stan are well behind us, but even with more services than ever, streaming TV is just as easy as it's ever been.
We’ll help you find the best internet service, best streaming device, and best streaming service with our guide. And if you’re already happy with your NBN provider and TV setup, you can skip right to the part where we show you how to stream.
What do I need to start streaming?
1. Great internet speed
If you don’t already have fixed-line internet in your home or you’re looking for a better provider, we recommend going with a provider with fast enough NBN plans to support your streaming. Most streaming services require at least 3 to 25Mbps minimum for a reliable stream. NBN50 plans will be more than enough for smaller households but for larger families, you will want at least NBN100 to support multiple streams at once. We recommend going with a provider like Spintel or Superloop, both offer fantastic deals (and speeds) on NBN100. Take a look at the table below for more popular NBN100 plans.
Recommended internet plans for streaming
Most streaming services have a recommended minimum download speed for smooth streaming. And remember, these recommended download speeds are per device.
For example, both Disney+ and Netflix recommend at least 5Mbps for HD (High-Definition) streaming. Those recommended speeds are the minimum but each streaming service will take advantage of more bandwidth if it's available, particularly if you're streaming in 4K (Ultra High Definition). If there's two devices streaming at once, there will be twice as much bandwidth taken up by streaming. Something to consider when choosing your internet plan.
There are also data usage considerations. These won't be an issue on fixed-line internet, as most plans offer unlimited data these days anyway but if you're using your mobile data to stream, you might want to consider one of these unlimited mobile data plans.
2. A streaming device or smart TV
If you already have a 4K TV, chances are it already has smart TV features built in. That will let you stream with some, but not necessarily all, streaming services.
If you want a device that supports almost everything, there are affordable options like the Chromecast with Google TV and more expensive options like the Apple TV 4K. Those are just two of the most popular streaming devices currently available in Australia.
- Apple TV: Apple TV devices are compatible with Netflix, Disney+, Binge, Stan, Paramount+, Apple TV+ and so much more. New apps released almost always make their way to Apple TV as a priority.
- Google Chromecast: Google Chromecast is also compatible with almost every streaming service available, with the added benefit of streaming Google Movies purchases and rentals for Android users. It used to be that you needed to cast from your phone to your Chromecast device but Google's latest, the Chromecast with Google TV, has an in-built operating system (and included remote) so you don't need any extra hardware.
- Amazon Fire TV: Amazon's Fire TV Stick might not be the most popular streaming device but the range definitely has its fans. That's mostly down to the value on offer. For example, the Fire TV Stick Max offers high-performance 4K streaming for only $99.
Here in Australia, Sony, Samsung and LG lead the premium smart TV market, whereas brands like Hisense, FFaclon and Kogan offer more affordable alternatives. Check out our top picks for smart TVs off every budget and if you're committed to investing in UHD (Ultra High Definition) you should also check out our guide to the best 4K TVs in Australia.
How do I start streaming?
Now, here’s the step-by-step process of streaming TV in your home. Just three quick steps, and you’ll be watching all the movies and TV shows your heart desires.
1. Connect your smart TV or streaming device
First thing’s first: set up your smart TV or streaming device. (Duh, right?)
If you chose the streaming device route, switch your TV to the correct HDMI input for your device after you’ve plugged your device in. Then follow the instructions on your screen to get you to the homepage where all of your applications live.
Don't worry if you don't see your favorite streaming service on your screen. Some devices require you to go to their "Store" or "Channels" app to download the streaming apps you'd like on your home screen.
2. Connect to the internet
While you’re setting up your device or smart TV, you might have already been asked to connect to your internet. If not, do so now under Settings. Then click on an app to make sure you’ve successfully connected.
If you notice your internet is a little slow, check out our guide on how to speed up your internet connection.
3. Download, sign up, and sign in to streaming apps
Smart TVs usually have all of the popular apps on the homepage. Devices, such as Apple TV, allow you to customize your layout so you must go into the Apple Store and download the apps you want.
Then launch the streaming apps and sign up or sign in.
Once you’ve done so, you can start watching Bridgerton while you cook, put on Encanto for the kiddos, or watch The Blind Side with the family on Saturday night.
Streaming on your smartphone
If you’re wanting to stream on your iPhone or Android smartphone, we recommend an unlimited data plan so you can stream as much as you’d like without worries.
It’s also the future. No one wants to be stuck on a one-hour train ride without being able to watch Star Trek: Picard.
Our picks for the best unlimited data mobile phone plans include plans from Vodafone, Felix, Telstra and Optus.
Compare unlimited data mobile plans
Recommended streaming services
Here in Australia, there we mostly have on-demand streaming options but there are a few digital catch-up services for live TV too, like ABCiview, 7Plus, 10Play and SBS On-Demand.
Check out our recommendations for the best streaming services in Australia for a full breakdown. We recommend Amazon Prime Video for most because it offers TV shows, movies, music and all the shopping benefits of Amazon Prime for $6.99 per month. You can also sign up for other streaming services within Prime Video using the Prime Video Channels feature.
A quick comparison of streaming services in Australia
Max. Video Resolution
# of streams
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||4K||3||30-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10.99 - $19.99||4K||4||No deals available|
|View Plans|| ||$7.99||4K||6||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$11.99||4K||4||Save over 15% with annual subscription|
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||HD||1||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||HD||1||7-day free tiral|
|View Plans|| ||$8.99||HD||3||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$8.99||HD||5||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10 - $18||HD||4||2-week free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10 - $19||4K||4||30-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$25 - $104||HD||2||10-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$25 - $35||HD||3||2-week free trial|
Streaming with a VPN
You can find more recommendations for user-friendly services in our best VPNs for Australia round-up but in the meantime, here's a shortlist of VPNs that we've successfully used to stream HBO Max in Australia.
Number of VPN servers
|5||Helpful user video guides|
|5||Incredibly fast downloads|