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How to Stream TV
Maybe you’re looking into cutting the cord, watching the latest episode of This Is Us, or wanting to save money. What’s the solution?
Allow us to take you through the steps of something you might want to know more about: how to stream TV.
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 internet 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?
You’re going to need the right internet provider and a streaming device that fits within your budget and has all of the streaming applications you need.
Great internet speed
If you don’t already have internet in your home or you’re looking for a better provider, we recommend Xfinity internet. It has download speeds of 50–1,200 Mbps, and most streaming services require 3–25 Mbps.
Recommended internet providers for streaming
|Xfinity Internet||$19.99–$80*||75–1200 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon Fios Home Internet||$49.99–$119.99†||300–2048 Mbps||View Plans|
|AT&T Fiber||$55–$180‡||300–5000 Mbps||View Plans|
Most streaming services have a recommended minimum download speed for smooth streaming. And remember, these recommended download speeds are per device.
For example, Hulu + Live TV requires 8 Mbps to stream in HD. And if you and your spouse both want to stream on your own device, that means you’ll both be taking up 16 Mbps at once.
You can find more info on recommended Mbps for streaming services like Netflix and HBO Max as well as streaming a 4K movie in our best internet for streaming article.
A streaming device or smart TV
If you already have a great 4K TV, you might want to go the streaming device route. Chances are, though, that your 4K TV already has a smart TV built in, but possibly not all the streaming apps you need.
But if you want a device that has everything, like a Roku Express 4K+, it might be worth the investment. Just plug it into your existing television.
- Apple TV: An Apple TV has Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, iTunes, HBO Max, YouTube, Disney+, Sling, and more. And when a new app comes out, it will be available in the app store for you to download to the homepage of your Apple TV device.
- Roku Streaming Stick: This device works with Alexa and has apps such as Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, STARZ, SHOWTIME, NBC, ESPN, Disney NOW, and HGTV.
- Amazon Fire TV: Even though it’s one of the least expensive options, the Fire TV has most of the apps you’ll need. Watch Disney+, Prime Video, HBO, Netflix, Sling, Hulu, and more.
- Xbox One: Get two in one with this game console. Play your favorite video games and also stream Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and more.
- Insignia 4K TV: Insignias have Alexa built in and apps such as Disney+, Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, and STARZ.
- Sony 4K TV: Sonys work with Alexa, give you a great HD picture, and have Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO.
- TCL 4K TV: TCLs have a built-in Roku TV and come with over 500,000 movies and TV episodes.
- Samsung 4K TV: Samsungs have Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, as well as applications such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, check out our best 4K TVs under $400.
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 device route, switch your TV to the correct 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 best unlimited data cell phone plans include Visible Wireless (best value), Xfinity Mobile (best bundle), Mint Mobile (best price), and T-Mobile (best performance).
Best unlimited plans comparison
Recommended streaming services
There are two streaming service options: live TV or on-demand.
Live TV streaming services will give you somewhere between 30–150+ live channels, and some services have on-demand content and a DVR, as well.
We recommend YouTube TV because it’s perfect for most families. You get a wide variety of channels, such as news, kids, sports, and lifestyle. With YouTube TV, you’ll also get an unlimited DVR space so no one in the family is fighting for storage space.
And to top it all off, YouTube has a decent price tag, making it one of the best valued streaming services.
A quick comparison of live TV streaming services
On-demand streaming services are typically cheaper and just give you content that you can stream whenever you'd like. But you could get two to three on-demand streaming services for the price of one live TV streaming service.
We recommend all of them, honestly.
Netflix is the king of streaming services with its mass amount of content and original content. Disney+ has all of the Disney movies you and your family could ever dream of. Hulu gives you access to recently-aired new TV episodes the following day. HBO Max is home to new Warner Bros. movies. And Amazon Prime Video has lots of TV shows and movies, along with movies you can rent, all in one place.