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The first thing you’ll need to stream TV is a fast and reliable internet connection. Unfortunately, there are only 2 internet providers for Northfield/Winnketa, which are AT&T and Comcast/Xfinity.
There are 3 things that take up the most internet bandwidth: online gaming, video conferencing and 4K Streaming. HD streaming comes in 4th place but much below streaming 4K. We have a 100 mbps plan from Xfinity and our internet speeds are typically 100-125 mbps. It has been fantastic during this time, my husband is typically on Zoom calls, my brother is streaming TV, 2 of my kids are doing E-Learning (a third is maybe also streaming a show/game) and I am on my phone or computer with no issues.
I quickly checked AT&T online and they are only offering a 50 mbps internet only plan. I find this surprising. I think that if you call them, they should have other internet only plans available.
Here are the current rates for new Xfinity customers (for one year):
- 100 mbps – $40/month
- 200 mbps – $50/month
- 300 mbps – $60/month
- 600 mbps – $70/month
- 1gb (1000mbps) – $80/month
Rates typically double after the first year. As a current Comcast customer, they will not want to give you these rates. You can certainly ask. You can also completely cancel all services from Comcast and re-sign up as a “new customer” to get the reduced rate for a year. (I do realize that this is a fair amount of work).
Modems and Routers
Modem: brings the internet into your home, devices need to be plugged into it
Router: connects to the modem with a cord, puts out a WiFi signal
Modem/Router combinations are also available, we use one at our house. When choosing a modem (or a modem/router combo) you need to make sure that it is compatible with your internet service.
The 2 advantages of owning your own modem are: 1) saving money, you’re not paying to rent equipment and 2) having control over the quality of your equipment. If you have AT&T internet, some of my clients and friends have reported that they will upgrade your modem for free every 1-2 years with no monthly fee.
There are many more modems that are compatible with Comcast/Xfinity. For the best/fastest speed, look for 32×8. That’s 32 download and 8 upload. Here are my recommendations:
Modem: Netgear CM700 (compatible with Xfinity)
Router: TP-Link Archer C2300 OR
Google Wifi – this is a higher price point but is great for larger homes or homes with thick walls that might have wifi dead spots. It also has an app with parental controls. A set of 3 covers homes up to 4,500 square feet.
Modem/Router combo: ARRIS SURFboard SBG7600AC2 (this is the newer model of what I use at my house) Compatible with Xfinity
Streaming Devices or Streaming Players
I highly recommend Roku as a streaming device. Even if your TVs are Smart TVs, I still recommend getting a Roku for each TV. Smart TVs work great but they are made by TV companies. They sell you a TV and that is the end of the transaction. Roku is a tech company, they are committed to giving you the best user experience. Their tech is constantly upgraded and they want to keep you happy so you keep using their products. There is no monthly fee for Roku.
Roku allows you to download apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Disney +, etc. All of your streaming subscriptions are in one place and easy to access from the home screen.
I usually recommend Roku over Apple TV because of the price point. Apple TV is great but when you are buying 2-3 of them to cover each TV in your house, it can really add up. That being said, there is no rule saying you have to have the same streaming device on every TV. We have 2 Rokus and an Amazon Fire Stick. If you would like to use your Apple TV on one of your TVs, go for it!
There are lots of different Roku models. Here are the ones I recommend.
Main TV: Roku Ultra – this is the most expensive Roku model. I recommend this one for your main TV, only if it is close enough to your modem to be plugged in with an Ethernet cord. Using an Ethernet cord will give you the fastest and most reliable connection to the internet. Roku Ultra can also connect to the internet via WiFi.
This is the trickiest part of getting rid of cable. It sounds like you don’t need many cable channels, which is great! I’m going to outline a couple options for you.
First, on Roku you will be able to access Prime Video, Disney +, Apple TV+ and Netflix. We also really like YouTube and PBS Kids, which are 2 free apps. For sports, you will want to subscribe to NHL.TV and MLB.TV , they both have apps available on Roku. Much like the packages from Comcast you can subscribe to the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays. If they play the Blackhawks or Cubs/White Sox those games will be blacked out. They should be available for you to watch on a local channel.
Streaming services are billed on a month to month basis (except the sports packages mentioned above are billed differently, you are probably familiar). This means that you can try something for a month or two, cancel and try something else with very little hassle.
Option 1: YouTubeTV – $50/month
YouTubeTV is a streaming service that has 70+ live channels. They have a cloud DVR that allows you to record your favorite shows. This package includes NBC and Bravo. During the Olympics, it also has the Olympics Channel.
Right now, YouTubeTV is offering a 14 day free trial. It is worth checking out!
YouTubeTV allows for 3 concurrent streams. That means that 3 people in your home can be watching YouTubeTV at the same time on different devices. (More about “number of streams“)
This package might be overkill for you. My family subscribes to YouTubeTV but we need it to watch Chicago sports. If you don’t watch much cable and don’t need live news or weather, you may not need all of this.
- Has live channels including NBC and Bravo
- Cloud DVR
- Has more channels than you need (reflected in the monthly cost)
Option 2: Hulu and an antenna – $6-19/month
Hulu could be an excellent option for you. It has a lot of shows from NBC and Bravo, you would have to check to make sure that the shows you like are included. The Hulu package I am recommending does not include live channels (Hulu Live is $55/month and is similar to YouTubeTV). This means that the shows on Hulu are not available at the same time they air on TV. They advertise “last night’s episode available today”. This is true, most episodes are available the morning after they air. Some shows may take 24 hours to appear on Hulu. This slight inconvenience means big cost savings!
Hulu offers several packages:
Hulu with ads (1 month free trial) – $6/month
Hulu with no ads (1 month free trial) – $12/month
Hulu bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ (no free trial) – $13/month
Hulu bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ no ads (no free trial) – $19/month
With the bundled packages, you still access content from each app individually. Hulu also caveats the “No Ads” plans, saying “*The Hulu (No Ads) plans exclude a few shows from our streaming library that will play with an ad before and after the video.“
I am not too familiar with ESPN+, we did a trial back in the fall. It usually has some live sports and other sports programming.
Hulu allows for 2 concurrent streams. That means that 2 people can be watching Hulu at the same time.
With this option, I would also recommend that you buy an antenna. This way you would have access to live TV, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS and NBC, among others. These stations come at no additional cost, besides the one time cost of buying the antenna. More on this in the next section.
- Lower monthly cost
- Includes many shows from NBC and Bravo
- Option for “no ads”
- Shows available 24 hours after they air on live TV
- Live TV on antenna only
This isn’t an old school antenna. New antenna are digital, HD and mounted indoors. You can even paint them to match you walls! Antenna are relatively inexpensive and carry no monthly cost. If you watch WGN, you will need an antenna, as it has no streaming option.
Broadcast TV on an antenna is live with no DVR (although additional equipment does exist to record off an antenna). You need one antenna for each TV. We only have an antenna on our main TV.
If this is something you would be interested in, you can read more about it here.
Ease into it
You don’t have to cancel cable right away. You can buy a Roku, try a free trial of Hulu and see how it goes. Or just jump in and get rid of cable!
I would suggest try the Hulu option to start (especially since they have a 30 day free trial). It might fit your needs really well and you would have the most monthly savings. You can even wait on the antenna to see if you feel like you need it or not.
My kids are about the same age as yours and have adapted really well. We cancelled cable 3 years ago and haven’t looked back! My 3 1/2 year old mastered the Roku when he was 1 1/2 (I’m not sure if I should be horrified or proud of that) it just goes to show that it’s relatively easy.
- Internet 100-200 mbps
- Streaming Devices – one per TV
- Streaming Services
- Option 1: YouTubeTV (14 day free trial) $50/mo
- Option 2: Hulu and antenna $6-19/mo
- Hulu with ads (1 month free trial) – $6/mo
- Hulu with no ads (1 month free trial) – $12/mo
- Hulu with ads bundled with Disney+ and ESPN+ – $13/mo
- Hulu with no ads bundled with Disney+ & ESPN+ – $19/mo
- Other Apps
- Amazon Prime
- PBS Kids