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 3 internet companies that I am aware of in our area: Comcast, AT&T and WOW. WOW isn’t as widely available (it is not available in my area so I have no personal experience with them). 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
WOW: 100 Mbps – $35 per month for 2 years
Eventually, you will want to buy your own modem and router instead of renting from your internet company. But for now, let’s just get you streaming!
Streaming Devices or Streaming Players
You will need a streaming device for each of your TVs. Think of it as your new cable box. But, instead of paying $5-15 per month, per box, there is a one time fee to buy the box. You don’t have to pay a monthly fee!
I highly recommend Roku. I think that they are the easiest to operate and they have an extremely large app library to choose from. Here is what I recommend for you:
Main TV: Roku Ultra
I recommend Roku Ultra for your main TV because it can be plugged directly into your modem. This will give you the fastest and most reliable connection to the internet. It can also be connected wirelessly.
Second TV: Roku Streaming Stick
The Roku Streaming Stick has a lot of the same advantages of the Roku Ultra but it uses a wireless connection to the internet..
If/when you get a third TV, I’d recommend getting another Roku Streaming Stick. If your second or third TVs are 4K, then get the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, as it broadcasts in 4K.
There are other Roku options out there, some of them are cheaper than these, but I really think that these are the best models. We own a Roku Express that we use when we travel, it’s great for vacations but I wouldn’t want to use it on a daily basis.
I made a (low quality) video, showing how you watch TV using a Roku. I know this can be confusing at first but I hope this video makes things a little clearer.
The next choice is what streaming service (or services) you want to subscribe to. In the video above, I showed how YouTube TV works. Most Live TV Streaming Services work in similar ways. There will be a live TV guide (like cable). You can watch TV live (as it airs) or On Demand or on the DVR, if you record it.
Based on the channels and shows that you like to watch, I would recommend Sling TV
You will want to chose the Orange package (not Blue) and add the Lifestyle Extra package (for the Cooking channel). Normally, the Orange package is $25/month and the Lifestyle Extra package is $5/month. But right now they are running a special for 40% off your first month, so the Orange package is only $15 (I believe Lifestyle is still $5).
Sling Orange has a pretty good selection of sports channels. It has ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3. If this doesn’t cover the sports that your son likes to watch, please let me know and I can offer some other options!
Sling TV does not have Nickelodeon. However, you said that you like Nick for watching reruns of shows like Friends. TBS also has reruns of Friends and TBS is included in the Sling Orange package.
Another option is to subscribe to Netflix. It is $13/month, it has Friends as well as tons of other shows. It does have a free 30 day trial. Definitely try it out for 30 days and see if you like it! Be aware that after 30 days, they will automatically charge you for the next month. If you don’t want to keep Netflix, make sure you cancel before the 30 days is up!
Sling TV, unlike a lot of other streaming services, does not have local channels. The good news is that you can get local channels for free with an antenna!
New antennas broadcast in HD and you mount them inside your home, either on the wall or suction cupped to a window. I’m planning on doing a video on watching local channels with an antenna soon. I’m serious when I say it’s really really easy.
The one drawback is that you can’t record off the antenna (without buying extra technology).
I recommend the ClearStream Eclipse Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna
Now that you have all the info, it’s time to cancel your cable! I am assuming that you have home phone, internet and cable through one company. 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.
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.
The second option you have is to completely cancel your account. You can either go with a different company (for example, switch from AT&T to WOW or Comcast). We cancelled our account (in my name) and then signed up for a new account using my husband’s name. We were without internet/TV for about 2 days when we did this.
The best part!
Streaming does have some upfront costs for equipment, but you will be saving in the long run!
That’s saving $167 per month!
- Make sure your internet speed is at least 25 Mbps
- Buy a Roku Ultra and a Roku Streaming Stick
- Sign up for Sling TV
- Orange package
- Lifestyle Extra
- Free 30 day trial of Netflix
- Buy ClearStream Eclipse Indoor Amplified HDTV Antenna
- Call and cancel your cable!
Once you’re feeling comfortable with all of this, we can discuss buying a modem/router, alternate options for home phone (for extra savings) and other free TV apps on Roku.
I know this is all overwhelming! Streaming is definitely a learning curve but after a week or so, you’ll be a pro!