Prevent your internet from buffering while your team is in the red zone.
How to Prepare Your Internet for Streaming Live Football
There’s no question that streaming is becoming king for watching live sports.
Yes, cable and satellite have their issues, but the biggest issue with streaming live sports is buffering and lag during the most crucial moments of a sporting event.
It’s important to get your internet functioning properly for the game so you can just sit back and relax—or yell at your team through the TV—during the game. And we can’t express enough how important it is to have a fast and reliable internet connection for an enjoyable sports streaming experience.
We’ll go through a step-by-step guide to ensure your internet is ready for streaming live football games and how to troubleshoot your internet connection if it's giving you trouble during the game.
Understanding your internet needs for live sports streaming
You'll need specific download speeds for different streaming qualities and a stable and fast connection to avoid buffering issues.
Speeds needed for different picture qualities
There are three common streaming qualities: SD, HD (or 1080p), and 4K.
SD picture quality gives you low, standard quality, but if you need to save money, you’ll only need about 1Mbps to stream.
For HD (high definition), you’ll need 2.5–5Mbps and at least 20Mbps for streaming in 4K.
The higher your download speed, the clearer your picture will be and the less likely the football game will freeze. So don’t go too cheap.
What causes buffering when livestreaming and how to prevent it
Buffering occurs when your internet connection is slow or overloaded.
There are a few ways to stop your stream from buffering while you’re watching the Dallas Cowboys game:
- Reduce your video quality (switch to HD from 4K, for example).
- Disconnect devices that are currently using your internet.
- Upgrade your internet plan.
- Pause the game for a few moments for the stream to catch up.
Step-by-step guide: Preparing your internet for live sports streaming
We have eight steps to help prepare your internet before tonight's big NFL game. No one wants their stream to lag or buffer during the fourth quarter of a tight game.
1. Check your current internet plan
First, let's determine your current internet speed. You need to know your true speeds because although you signed up for a 100Mbps plan with your internet provider, unfortunately, it doesn't always mean you get those speeds.
It’s common with most internet providers, and that’s why they advertise as “up to 100Mbps.” They under-deliver like 2022 Alvin Kamara.
So, test your speed with our broadband internet speed test
Now that you know, refer to our speed requirements above for specific picture qualities. Does your current internet plan meet HD or 4K streaming requirements ? If not, step number two might be for you.
2. Upgrade to a higher-speed plan
If your internet speed doesn't reach HD or 4K streaming requirements (scroll back up a little to see those numbers), get a faster internet speed plan to watch the game in vivid picture.
Our favorite fast internet providers are Xfinity Internet, Google Fiber, Verizon Fios Home Internet, Cox Internet, and Spectrum Internet.
They offer speeds from 30–8,000Mbps. And if you need help figuring out the best internet speed for you and your family, we have a guide for that too.
Download speed range
|Xfinity Internet||$25-$80*||200-1200 Mbps||View Plans|
|Google Fiber||$70-$150†||1000-8000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||$49.99-$89.99‡||300-2300 Mbps||View Plans|
|Cox Internet||$30–$149.99^||100-2000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet®||$19.99-$89.99||30-1000 Mbps°||View Plans|
3. Prioritize wired connections
Let’s say your high-speed internet plan is still buffering because of the crowded network. This is when you might consider an ethernet cable.
We recommend using wired ethernet connections for a solid signal, especially if you're streaming the game on devices like smart TVs and gaming consoles.
And it’s a simple setup. Just connect one end of the cable to the LAN port of your modem and the other to your streaming device. Then you have yourself a foolproof hardwired connection.
4. Optimize Wi-Fi for wireless devices
If you’re streaming on your smartphone or tablet, placing your router in a central location of your home could help your Wi-Fi connection.
But if you’re on the top floor while your router is in the basement, a Wi-Fi extender can help the wireless signal expand its coverage. Or you can put the Wi-Fi extender near your patio to stream the Green Bay Packers game in the sun.
5. Reduce network congestion
While streaming the game, you can offload your internet connection by disconnecting devices from the Wi-Fi.
You won’t be asking your Alexa questions or using your indoor home security cameras while you’re home watching the game. And we recommend refraining from bandwidth-intensive activities during the game, like uploading a YouTube video.
So, consider removing Wi-Fi-guzzling devices from your internet so your live stream of the game is smooth.
6. Use quality of service (QoS) settings
If you don’t want to disconnect and reconnect all your devices to stream the Pittsburgh Steelers game seamlessly, the QoS setting is another option.
When you enable the QoS setting on your network router, the technology will prioritize streaming traffic. This helps your internet prioritize high-performance activities, like streaming the football game in 4K, gaming, and videoconferencing.
The QoS setting will tell your router how to use your bandwidth to ensure a smooth streaming experience even with multiple devices connected.
7. Update firmware and software
If you haven’t updated the firmware on your router recently, put that on your to-do list. Updating your firmware will help your router perform and communicate properly with your devices.
8. Monitor and manage data usage
After reaching your data cap, you must endure slow internet speeds.
You can monitor your data usage (and avoid unexpected charges) through your account with your internet service provider.
If you keep reaching your data cap before the month ends, consider an unlimited data plan.
Download speed range
|AT&T Fiber||Unlimited||$55-$250**||300-5000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Google Fiber||Unlimited||$70-$150†||1000-8000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet®||Unlimited||$19.99-$89.99||30-1000 Mbps°||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||Unlimited||$50-$75††||100-940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Astound Broadband Powered by Grande||Unlimited||$25-$60‡‡||300-1500 Mbps||View Plans|
Troubleshooting: Common issues and solutions
We have four solutions to troubleshoot your internet connection during your college football or NFL game.
1. Buffering and lag
If you’re experiencing buffering and lag, it could be because of one of these reasons:
- Your network is crowded (high-traffic).
- Your internet speeds aren’t fast enough.
- You’ve reached your data cap.
Test your internet speeds here to find out what speeds you’re working with.
To mitigate buffering and lag, consider disconnecting devices using your Wi-Fi that you won't use during game time.
If you want enough bandwidth to support all of your devices at home at once, upgrading to a higher-speed internet connection might be your next step—with a plan that gives you unlimited data.
2. Slow load times
If you’re experiencing slow load times, here are a few ways to speed up your connection:
3. Inconsistent video quality
If your video quality is clear one moment and fuzzy another, you might not have the bandwidth to support the quality you’re streaming in.
You'll only need about 1Mbps for SD picture quality to stream. HD requires 2.5–5Mbps and you’ll need at least 20 Mbps for streaming in 4K.
Test your internet speed here to see if that’s the problem.
Recap: How can I prepare my internet for live sports streaming?
There are eight steps to preparing your internet for live sports streaming:
- Use our broadband internet speed test to find out if you have the bandwidth to stream the football game in your current internet plan. You’ll need 1Mbps for SD streaming, 2.5–5Mbps for HD, and 20Mbps for 4K.
- Upgrade to higher speeds if your current ISP plan isn’t up to par. You can check out our favorite fastest internet providers, and we have a guide to help you determine the best internet speed for your household.
- An ethernet cable might be the next best option if your high-speed internet is still buffering because of an overcrowded network. Nothing beats a hardwired connection.
- If you’re streaming on wireless devices, like smartphones and tablets, a Wi-Fi extender can expand the Wi-Fi coverage to upstairs and other far-from-the-router areas.
- Reducing your network congestion can help you save money by not needing to upgrade your internet plan. To do this, you’ll want to disconnect all of your devices connected to the Wi-Fi network that you won’t use during the football game, and then you can reconnect them afterward.
- If disconnecting and reconnecting sounds like a nuisance, enabling the QoS setting on your router is another option. By doing this, your internet will prioritize bandwidth-intensive activities, like streaming the Dallas Cowboys game.
- Ensure your router firmware, streaming apps, and streaming device are up to date.
- If you have an internet plan with data caps, monitor your data usage through your internet service provider account. Once you reach your data cap, your internet network can run slow. If this is your situation, you might consider an unlimited data plan.
You can prevent your live stream from slowing down by disconnecting devices from the Wi-Fi, using an ethernet cable or Wi-Fi extender, upgrading to a higher-speed internet plan, and enabling the QoS setting on your router.
The best live TV streaming service is fuboTV because it has the best dollar-to-channel ratio, a great variety of channels, 50 sports channels, lots of channel add-ons, and a vast DVR storage. YouTube TV is one of the best, but it offers 100 channels, while fuboTV has 260+.