Cutting the Cable: A Guide to Streaming TV

BY Jennifer Wilkins

Every day, more and more Americans are “cutting the cable,” choosing to stream their TV content rather than using traditional cable services. In fact, most of us stream to some degree already. Perhaps you have DISH TV, but you also use Netflix. You’re already streaming, and most likely you have everything you need to cut that cord completely.

Streaming usually involves a little more work than traditional TV. You probably won’t be able to find all the shows you want from one platform. Traditional TV may be convenient, but depending on how much you pay for it versus how much you actually use it, keeping it might not be the best financial choice for you. There are so many services to compare; CNET has done some of the legwork for you.

If you’re thinking of cutting the cable, here are some tips to help you find the right options for you and your family.

Step One: How do you TV?  

Consider your TV-watching habits. Do you like to channel surf? If so, you may prefer a live TV option. If you’re more of a popcorn-and-movie-night type of person, then an on-demand service may be best. Never miss a game? Try a niche service that focuses on specific interests, like ESPN+.

Some of the more popular on-demand streaming services include NetflixAmazon Prime, and the new kid on the block, Disney+. These all require a monthly or yearly membership fee, and the available content is different for each. For instance, Amazon Prime does not give you access to everything in their video library. However, it does give you the option to rent or buy movies. Disney+ only offers access to shows and movies owned by the Disney franchise, though you may be shocked by how large of a library that actually is! 

Live-streaming TV services like Sling TVYouTube TV, and Hulu let you watch most, if not all, of your favorite TV shows, and for far less money than cable. You can watch local sports and news, as well as purchase your favorite add-ons like Starz, Showtime or HBO. In place of a cable box, you use an app on your smart TV, streaming device (Roku, Amazon Fire, AppleTV), or game console.

There’s no reason you can’t use a combination of any of these services, too, and many households do. With streaming, you have the ability to pick and choose only that content you really want to watch and pay for, and not a bundle of channels you’ll never use. Almost all of the streaming services out there offer a free trial. We suggest you take advantage of those first to see what fits your needs.

Step Two: Which device works best? 

Now you need a device to stream all these apps to your TV. There really isn’t a “best” option here—it’s simply what fits your preference. The most popular streaming devices are RokuFire TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV. All are great options for different reasons.

The Roku comes with a remote and is one of the most affordable and easy-to-use devices, especially for those accustomed to a cable box. Alternately, Google Chromecast uses no remote, no on-screen interface, and no app stores to navigate. You just connect your Chromecast to your home network and stream whatever you’re watching on your smartphone or tablet.

Remember antennas? Over the air, or OTA is still an option. Local, popular TV shows are still free over the air; an antenna is a great way to watch sports or your favorite show without paying for anything else. Sling TV even sells an antenna, and you don’t need to be a subscriber to get it. You do, however, need line of sight to the broadcast towers, so with our heavy tree lines and terrain that can be problematic.

If you’re in the market for a new TV this Christmas, consider a smart TV. A smart TV will give you access to shows, movies, and music without the need to connect a TV antenna or smart device. Some smart TVs even enable web browsing and gaming. It’s similar to cable in that all of your options are in one place, which is pretty convenient.

Step Three: How much internet do you need? 

To get the most from cord-cutting, you need a great internet connection with plenty of bandwidth, especially if you have multiple internet users in the home. We recommend at least 25 Mbps for streaming clear, HD-quality video content with no lag or buffering. You can get by with less for standard definition video, but you’re likely to experience lag. And nothing interrupts a climatic, heart-wrenching scene like the video buffering!

You can check your internet speed here with our speed test. We recommend checking your speed over both a wireless and wired connection.

Ready to cut that cord? Call (360) 321-1122 first, or visit the Customer Experience Center in Freeland to speak to one of our Customer Service reps. Check out our fiber and high speed internet packages to see what options are available in your area. We are working diligently to expand and improve our fiber-optic network across South Whidbey to provide you the best service possible.

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