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Here we are in 2021 where 4K resolution is the preferred way to watch your movies or TV shows.
So, of course, you’re looking for the best 4K TV service to watch Jumanji or John Wick in the highest definition possible.
There are more options now more than ever before, and we'll help you decide which one you should get.
What do I need to stream in 4K?
Before we get into the best TV services for 4K, we should mention that you will need a 4K TV (hopefully that's obvious, but if not, no judgment). We have some awesome suggestions in our best budget 4K TVs piece.
And with each service, you will need a subscription and the provider’s set-top box.
With DIRECTV, you’ll need a Genie DVR. With DISH, you’ll need a Hopper 3 set-top box. And you’ll need an X1 TV box with Xfinity.
Which is the best TV service for 4K?
Luckily, choosing the best TV service for 4K won’t be a difficult one as there are only three options.
We know you can’t wait to watch action movies on your beautiful 4K TV because it delivers greater picture detail, smoother movements on your screen, and four times as many pixels as 1080p HD.
So let’s not wait any longer.
DIRECTV 4K TV content and channel offerings
It makes sense to call DIRECTV the best TV service for 4K because it was the first provider to offer 4K resolution. It does more with 4K than any other TV service.
DIRECTV has two dedicated 4K Ultra HD channels (which play 4K programming 24/7) and one 4K channel that plays in 4K for half of the day. Dedicated 4K channels are something no other TV service offers.
- Channel 104 (24/7): nature documentaries, travel, original series, and Saturday night concert series
- Channel 105 (24/7): pay-per-view movies and live sports events
- Channel 106 (part-time): reserved for special live events
- Channel 107 and 108: Pay Per View movies
- Channel 1104: 4K On Demand
So if you want to show off your new 4K TV at your next sports-watching party, switch it to channel 105.
DIRECTV also lists its upcoming 4K program guide online, something we couldn’t find with DISH or Xfinity. So if you want to watch a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls NBA game in 4K, you’ll know what time you need to sit your butt on the couch or when to set the recording.
You can watch other sports on channel 105, such as MLB, NFL, college football, college basketball, English Premier League Soccer, and the Masters Golf Tournament.
If you want more details on DIRECTV other than its HD channels, check out our full review.
DISH 4K TV content and channel offerings
DISH has been a little slow with jumping on the 4K wagon, unlike its competitor DIRECTV.
DISH doesn’t have specific 4K channels like DIRECTV, but DISH does support 4K with on-demand movies, shows, and events.
This satellite TV provider also has the Netflix app integrated into the Hopper 3 (DISH’s DVR that has a 500-hour storage space and allows you to record 16 things at once).
Since 4K is still in its infancy, you’ll begin to see more live programming and on-demand content in Ultra HD with DISH as networks begin releasing more 4K sports, shows, and movies.
Check out more information about DISH’s packages prices and channels in our full review.
Xfinity 4K TV content and channel offerings
Xfinity X1 customers get an X1 TV box and a voice remote, making it possible for them to watch the highest video output resolution possible, including 4K. So not all channels or specific movies and shows will show in 4K, but Xfinity makes it easy to find out.
Just take your X1 voice remote, say “4K,” and you’ll be taken to the landing page that displays all 4K viewing options.
Or, if you’re watching the Sunday football game and want to find out if you can watch your Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 4K, you can say “device settings” and select Video Display. An icon will pop up if the game is 4K capable.
And if you’re currently watching House Hunters in HD but it’s available in 4K, a pop-up on the top right corner of your screen will alert you.
You’ll have access to 4K content through the Netflix and Amazon Prime Video apps if you have a subscription with these streaming providers.
What internet speed do I need to watch 4K?
In short, the answer is at least 25 Mbps. This will be the minimum speed you’ll want for a smooth 4K picture on your TV or for 4K streaming.
The long answer: it depends on which provider or streaming service you choose to watch a 4K movie or TV show.
Allow us to share the knowledge of our internet expert, Catherine McNally.
If you choose to sign up with one of the satellite providers, DIRECTV or DISH, we recommend pairing with AT&T Internet. It’s an easy choice if you get DIRECTV because you can easily add AT&T Internet to your package. If you get DISH, it’s still a great option because you can get up to 100 Mbps for $50 per month.
(The higher download speeds are recommended if you have a family who will be using the internet to watch TV, stream, work on their laptop, and jump on social media.)
If Xfinity Cable TV is perfect for you and your family, then you’re in luck. Throw on Xfinity Internet to your package so you only have to worry about one bill. And another bonus: Xfinity's promotional prices are a great deal compared to other internet providers.
And if you’re impatient (like most of us), AT&T Fiber also offers speeds that zoom through the internet.
|Xfinity Internet||$24.99–$80^||50–1200 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$55–$180°||300–5000 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Internet||$55°||75–100 Mbps||View Plans|
Recommended download speeds for specific streaming services
You, your kids, or your roommates likely have a streaming service subscription or two.
These are the recommended minimum internet speeds for 4K streaming on the most popular streaming service:
- Netflix: 25 Mbps
- Amazon Prime Video: 20 Mbps
- Hulu: 13 Mbps
- YouTube: 20 Mbps
But keep in mind, if you and your spouse are both streaming Netflix in the house on different devices, then you both are using 50 Mbps of your internet connection. This is why we recommend higher download speed internet packages for families.
Although there are only three TV services that offer decent 4K perks, your options are pretty solid. Here’s why these services might be excellent for you:
- DIRECTV: DIRECTV has two 4K Ultra HD channels (which play 4K programming 24/7) and one 4K channel with 4K programming for half of the day. Dedicated 4K channels are something no other TV service offers.
- DISH: Since 4K is still young, networks today are releasing a limited amount of 4K programming. When they do, DISH will deliver the 4K resolution on your TV, whether it be on-demand movies, shows, and events.
- Xfinity: Xfinity lets you watch the highest video output resolution possible, including 4K. Since not all channels, or specific movies and shows, are shown in 4K, Xfinity makes it easy to find which ones are in 4K with its easy-to-use voice remote.