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Internet is the first piece of the streaming puzzle. You want reliable and fast internet. In our area, Comcast offers the best internet packages (unfortunately, because I wish we could escape them completely). When I checked in December, AT&T did not offer a stand alone internet package that would be fast enough for streaming.
You’ll need a minimum of 24 Mbps for streaming. Your speed will need to go up from there depending on how many devices you have going at the same time.
If you have 4K TVs, you’ll want to start at 75 Mbps. My house has 100 Mbps. I think we could get away with a cheapest, slower, speed.
I recommend starting on the low end of what you think you’ll need. It will always be easier to go up in speed than to go down. Start with 50-75 Mbps.
I don’t think you guys will need an antenna. An antenna will only get you the live feed of local broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.
You will get these stations through your streaming service (more on that later).
We use our antenna to watch WGN and sports on other local channels. If you want an antenna, I’m more than happy to give you more information. But at this point in the game, I don’t think you need to add one in order to get all the programming you want to watch.
Think of a streaming device as your new cable box. You will need one for each TV. It is what will bring your TV shows to your TV.
However, unlike a cable box, there are no monthly fees for streaming devices. You buy the equipment once, and that’s it!
Roku is my favorite streaming device. Other popular options are Amazon Fire Stick and Apple TV.
Here are my recommendations for Rokus for your house:
Main TV – Roku Ultra
If your main TV is close to the modem for your internet, you can plug the Roku directly into it using an ethernet cord. This will give you the fastest and most reliable connection to the internet (versus a wireless connection). Also, the Roku Ultra comes with a new remote that will control your Roku but also the volume and power on your TV.
Other TVs – Roku Streaming Stick
Roku Streaming Stick is perfect for your other TVs. They will connect to the internet via wireless connection. Our Rokus have never had issues connecting to our home wifi system (unless our internet was out).
There are some other, cheaper versions of Rokus out there but the Roku Streaming Stick has the advanced remote that will also control your TV volume and power. In my opinion, it’s worth the extra ~$15 for this feature!
If you have other 4K TVs, you will want the Roku Streaming Stick Plus instead. It has all the same features as the (regular) Roku Streaming Stick but it is compatible with 4K resolution.
The above links are for Rokus on Amazon. If you’d like to buy straight from the Roku website, they are offering one month free of YouTubeTV with the purchase of a Roku. This offer ends 3/3.
On the Roku website, select “Products” from the top and then “Streaming Players”. That will take you to the list of all their streaming devices.
Here is where things get interesting! Once you get your Roku, you will be able to download a myriad of apps to it.
Here a video I made on how to watch TV with Roku: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL21AVp-wkk
(this is not the best video ever made but it gets the point across)
So there are 2 different types of Streaming Services (as I define them).
- On Demand Streaming Services – this covers apps like Netflix, (regular) Hulu, PBS and Amazon Prime Video. There is no live TV feed. Everything is available On Demand. I also put premium channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz in this category. These are cheaper, ranging from free (Prime Video is included with your Amazon Prime membership) to about $15/month.
- Live TV Streaming Services – Sling TV, YouTubeTV, Hulu Live, DIRECTV Now, Philo, etc. These services give you lots of On Demand content for shows that are on the air. You can also watch Live TV. They all also have DVRs. These are the most expensive streaming services. They start at $16/month, most are $40/month and they get more expensive from there. You will only want to subscribe to one. (There are some exceptions to this, but for you guys, you will only want one).
Based on the shows and channels that you guys like to watch, I suggest you start with Hulu Live. It is $40/month (if you sign up with Ebates, you get $5 cash back). For a full list of their channels, you can check out their website. Here are some of their channel highlights:
- ESPN, CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, Fox Sports
- Golf Channel
- Cartoon Network
- Disney & Disney XD
- TBS, TNT and Tru TV (for college basketball)
- as well as local channels
Hulu Live allows you to watch on 2 “screens” at the same time. So 2 people can watch on 2 separate devices (phone, TV, tablet, computer) at the same time.
If you already subscribe to Hulu (regular) then you can upgrade your account to Hulu Live. You will still have access to the same stuff as regular Hulu, but with the added benefit of live TV.
YouTubeTV with Roku deal. If you buy a Roku from the Roku website, you will get a promo code for one month free of YouTubeTV. I suggest you try it out. YouTubeTV is what we use in our house and I love it. It doesn’t have all the shows and channels that you guys like, but it’s a month of free TV, so why not give it a shot?
If you go for this deal, I highly recommend that you cancel Hulu Live for that month. There’s nothing wrong with having 2 Live TV streaming services going at the same time. But also, no point! If you end up not liking YouTubeTV after a few days, you can always get your Hulu Live subscription back up and running in a matter of minutes (the beauty of streaming!).
PBS, does not stream on any live streaming services. But they do have their own free app. Their app has limited new episodes of each show. They may only keep the newest 2-3 episodes on their app.
There is an option on the PBS app to join their Passport program for $60/year or $5/month. I haven’t tried this, but I have heard that it opens up more options and episodes on their app. It might be worth checking out if you find their selection lacking.
Quick note about apps. You will be able to search for and find LOTS of apps on Roku. Every channel (History, Cartoon Network, etc) has an app. Most of them require a “Cable provider” to log in. You really don’t need these apps. They have On Demand content but you will already get that with Hulu Live.
Internet – Comcast is probably your best bet for stand alone internet service. I would recommend starting with 50-75 Mbps.
Streaming Apps to download –
- Hulu Live (1 week free trial, then $40/month)
- YouTubeTV (only if you get the deal from Roku)
- Amazon Prime Video (if you are Amazon Prime members)
- Any other streaming services you already subscribe to (example: Netflix)
I hope this helps you guys get off to a good start! Feel free to email me with any questions you might have.