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The first thing you’ll need to stream TV is a fast and reliable internet connection. Your cable/internet bill should list the speed of your internet. Make sure it is at least 25 Mbps.
I always recommend that people start on the lower side of internet speed, you really don’t need as much as you think you will! It’s always easier to go up in speed than to go down.
There are only 2 internet companies that I am aware of in your area: Comcast and AT&T. I prefer Comcast internet over AT&T but I’ve heard lots of reports saying the opposite. So I think there is no best answer, only who is going to give you the lowest price!
Here are the prices from a recent search I did:
Comcast: 25 Mbps – $30 per month for 12 months
AT&T: 100 Mbps – $50 per month for 12 months
Streaming Devices or Streaming Players
You will need one Streaming Device for each TV. You said that you have one Amazon Fire TV and one Roku that isn’t hooked up. You also said that one of your TVs is hooked up to a laptop right now.
For the sake of simplicity, if you would like to hook your second TV up to an Amazon Fire Stick, they are relatively inexpensive on Amazon right now. You can buy a new one for about $40.
The next choice is what streaming service (or services) you want to subscribe to. There will be a live TV guide (like cable). You can watch TV live (as it airs) or On Demand or if you like to record shows, you can use the DVR.
This is the most complicated part, but also the easiest to change. Most streaming services have a one week free trial. After that, they are billed monthly. So even if you end up not liking a certain service, you can change it after a month (just make sure to cancel before that month is up to avoid being charged for another month!).
WGN is not available for streaming. You will need an antenna to get it (more on that later).
PBS is not typically included with streaming services. However, you can download their app separately and watch shows on there. They do offer local Chicago programming. Some of their shows are available for free, or you can choose to pay $5/month or $60/year for PBS Passport for access to more shows.
Based on the channels and shows you watch, my recommendation for you is:
YouTube TV is an app that you can download onto your Amazon Fire Stick. Subscription costs $50 per month. It has many major channels, local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX) and lots of sports. This is the streaming service that my family uses and we love it.
Previously, YouTubeTV was not available on Amazon Fire Sticks, they have recently come to an agreement and it is now available.
To sign up, go to tv.youtube.com they are currently running a special with a 3 week free trial (usually it’s just 1 week). This would be a great time to test it out and see if you like it!
The homepage for YouTubeTV also lists all of the channels they offer.
Pros and Cons
- Lots of channels
- Local channels
- DVR (they refer to it as your “Library”)
- Cost wise – low side of average
- The app can be hard to navigate, not intuitive
- No channel numbers – there is a TV grid that shows what’s on but you have to scroll up and down, you can’t jump to a channel using its number
Here is a list of other apps for you to download on to your Amazon Fire Stick, if you have not already done so.
- Prime Video
- As an Amazon Prime member, there are many TV shows and movies available to you at no additional cost. These are tagged with a Prime logo on the app. Some shows and movies do require purchase.
- Prime music
- Also included with Amazon Prime is a music streaming service.
- PBS offers some of its shows free on this app. There is also an option to pay $5/month or $60/year for more content.
The only way to watch WGN without cable is with an antenna. There are currently no streaming services that offer WGN. Using an indoor HD antenna is very easy! It mounts inside your home on a wall or window and plugs directly into your TV. If you are able to put it on a south facing wall, that may give you the best reception.
You do need an antenna for each TV that you want to use to watch WGN. We only have one on our main TV, as we only use it for watch Cubs games and the WGN news.
You cannot record to your DVR from the antenna.
I recommend the ClearStream Eclipse Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna
The beauty of streaming is that you can ease into it. If you want to try out streaming services before cancelling your cable, go ahead!
Honestly, actually cancelling cable is the hardest part in all of this. You can go about cancelling your cable in one of two ways:
Call and ask to cancel the cable portion of your account. They will want to give you the run around. Of course they want you to keep cable! One tactic that Comcast used on me was to offer me their lowest cable package of $20/month. It was “basically free” because otherwise they’d make my internet bill higher. However, with that $20, came $20 in fees! Just be very aware of what they are offering you.
The second option you have is to completely cancel your account. You can either go with a different company (for example, switch from Comcast to AT&T).
Whichever route you end up going, I find that going to the physical store to return equipment (like cable boxes) is much easier. It is hard to find the time in our busy lives to run an errand like that, but their representatives are easier to talk to in person. Also, they will give you a receipt for returned equipment. I have heard horror stories of people needing to pay to replace equipment they returned by mail because their cable company “never received it” (then again, many people have also done it successfully).
- Make sure speed is at least 25 Mbps
- Streaming Devices
- TV 1 – Amazon Fire Stick
- TV 2 – buy new Amazon Fire Stick (if desired)
- Streaming Service – YouTubeTV
- Other Apps –
- Prime Video
- Prime Music
- PBS – optional, sign up for PBS Passport
- Antenna – ClearStream Eclipse Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna