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What is live streaming TV?
(and how to get started)

couple watching tv

You can get started streaming live TV by finding the right internet speed, getting a high speed internet connection, connecting a streaming device to your TV, signing up for a streaming service, and optimizing your WiFi for optimal performance.

The number of television options has exploded over the last few years.

There are a lot of choices out there in streaming platforms, devices and setups. You might need help selecting what works well for your household.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on streaming TV, an explanation of the differences between cable TV and live streaming, and some tips on how you can get the best streaming experience for your home.

What is streaming TV?

Streaming TV is content, live or recorded, delivered via the internet and played back in real time. 

Globally, streaming is forecast to grow 21% annually from 2021 to 2028.

Benefits of streaming TV

  • Gives you access to live TV content, including sports and events.
  • Create your own viewing experience, combining streaming services and cable packages in one user interface.
  • The ability to pick an option that includes the local channels you know and love.

Streaming TV options

There are two types of streaming TV: live and on demand.

We explore the differences between them and introduce the most popular providers of each so you can determine what will work best for your household.

Live streaming TV

Live streaming TV allows you to watch the latest show or games in real-time, including local TV, and is subscription-based.

Some of the most popular live streaming TV providers include:

  • Sling TV – Sling TV has 3 different packages, which each offer a different line-up of channels and vary in how many streaming devices are allowed at a time. Local ABC and CBS affiliates are not available on Sling, so viewers may want to use a digital antenna for those channels.
  • Fubu TV Fubu has over 100 channels, 1000 hours of cloud DVR space and allows streaming on Unlimited Screens, but does charge extra for sports channels. Local channels are included.
  • Hulu + Live TVHulu’s Live TV plan gives you access to over 75 channels, unlimited Cloud DVR storage, and streaming on two devices simultaneously.
  • YouTube TV YouTube TV gives subscribers over 100 channels, unlimited cloud DVR storage, and streaming on up to three devices at the same time. It also includes more sports channels and offers PBS as well as local affiliate networks from CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC.

On demand streaming apps

On demand streaming services do not have live TV streaming, only shows and movies that can be watched when you’re ready. The streaming services often offer original content and are subscription-based.

illuminated graph

In 2021, the number of streaming on demand video subscriptions increased 14% over 2020 to 353.2 million. The most popular streaming apps are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and HBO Max.

  • Prime VideoPrime Video has a mix of movies and shows included with your membership, including Amazon Originals like “The Boys” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” It also gives you the option to rent or buy almost any film available on home video for your personal collection and watch them using the app whenever you’d like; a feature most subscription streaming apps don’t offer.
  • HBO MaxHBO Max offers viewers a chance to watch new Warner Brothers movies 45 days after they are released in theaters, as well as collections from Adult Swim, TCM, Sesame Street and more. They also have HBO Original shows like “Succession”.
  • NetflixNetflix has an extensive library of originals, video quality that leads the industry, great app support and a special interface for kids that allows them to have their own accounts without running into any adult programming.
  • HuluHulu has an on-demand library as well as an available live TV service, and the option to subscribe to channels like HBO, Disney Plus and more. They also have original shows such as “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Dopesick” and “Nine Perfect Strangers”.
  • Disney PlusDisney Plus is the go-to for family entertainment, with access to the entertainment giant’s vault of classic movies and shows, as well as Marvel and “Star Wars” titles. They also create original content in those universes, including “The Mandalorian” and “Loki”.

Free streaming apps

While the apps above all have a cost associated with them, there are free streaming apps that can bring you the entertainment you crave without making a dent in your wallet.

  • Crackle–  Supported by ads, Crackle’s focus is on nostalgia programming like “Charlie’s Angels”, “Bewitched” and Zorro, as well as a limited collection of British shows including “Peep Show” and “Fresh Meat”.
  • Pluto TV–  Pluto TV is a subsidiary of Paramount and has a large library of on demand content and hundreds of live channels in both English and Spanish.
  • Plex–  Plex has over 200 live channels for you to choose from and a huge selection of live music channels. You can also enjoy individual series on demand.
  • Crunchyroll–  Crunchyroll is the streaming choice for anime fans around the world, with more than a thousand anime series and movies in its library. It even has a social component: fans can interact in each episode’s comment section.

Live streaming vs. cable TV

There are significant differences in the way live streaming and cable TV provide entertainment:

  • Cable providers use their dedicated networks to broadcast video and have contracts with the content providers. Cable television is usually more reliable and provides more content, but tends to cost more.
  • Streaming providers deliver their video over any internet connection, also known as IPTV, but they don’t have any control over the quality of the internet connection.

The plans they offer usually cost less, but contain fewer channels.

Over the last few years, cable TV has been seeing a loss of customers, while streaming subscriptions continue to grow.

In 2021, only 56% of Americans watched satellite or cable TV while Disney Plus gained 54.5 million customers less than 6 months after launching.

Streaming devices

Streaming devices enable you to store, playback, and watch TV shows and movies across your favorite streaming apps.

Streaming box

The TiVo® experience gives you easy access to the shows you want, the music you love and all your favorite apps with cool features that make watching TV easier than ever.

  • Start over and catchup – Restart a show that aired up to 3 days ago.
  • The TiVo® Voice Remote – Choose what you want to watch with the power of your voice.

*Not available on all channels and availability is dictated by the content provider.

How to stream live TV

To stream live TV you’ll need a fast internet connection for your home, a streaming device including a streaming box, computer, tablet, or phone and a streaming app such as Sling, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV or Fubu TV.

Or make it even easier and get the Astound TV+ app that can be downloaded to your own streaming device!

Step 1: Find the right internet speed

It’s important to match the right speed with the needs of your household.

Otherwise, if you’ve chosen too slow of a speed, you might find yourself encountering a buffering icon rather than the content you’re after.

Conversely, if you get too fast of a speed, you might wind up paying too much for your internet plan.

Find the right speed for your home.

Step 2: Get a high speed internet connection

The more people who are on the internet in your household, the more bandwidth is used.

When Mom’s on a Zoom call for work, Bobby is streaming Paw Patrol on his tablet, and Susie is playing World of Warcraft against her friends online around the globe, your family has a need for high speed internet.

Find out what internet speed you need for your family to do what they love without being slowed down.

Step 3: Connect a streaming device to your TV

To stream live TV, you’ll need a streaming device such as an Amazon Firestick, Google Chromecast or Roku.

Or, if you have a a Smart TV, streaming is already built-in.

Connect the device to your TV following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Sign up for a streaming service

You will then need to sign up for a streaming service.

For live TV, you’ll have to subscribe to a provider such as Sling TV, Fubu, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube.

You can supplement your live streaming service with on demand streaming products like Netflix, Prime Video or Hulu.

Step 5: Optimize your WiFi for optimal performance

It’s important to have a consistent internet connection throughout your home.

Otherwise you may find yourself unable to stream your favorite shows in your bedroom or take a Zoom call on your back patio.

A mesh WiFi system makes it easy to get a strong internet connection throughout your home.

Is your WiFi speed slowing you down? Find out how to optimize your WiFi speed.

Wrapping up

Now that you’re an expert on the benefits and disadvantages of streaming TV versus cable, you can make a decision about which service is best for your family.

If you do decide to go the streaming TV route, you can compare the various services and decide what combination of live and on demand streaming services works best for your household.

Frequently asked questions

High speed internet, a streaming device connected to your television or a Smart TV, and a subscription to a streaming service.

It varies depending on what service you choose. View popular streaming apps.

There are free streaming services such as Crackle, Pluto TV and Plex.

Live streaming TV allows you to watch the latest show or games in real time, including local TV. On demand streaming does not have live TV streaming, only shows and movies that can be watched when you’re ready. Cable TV providers use their dedicated networks to broadcast video and have contracts with the content providers.

An internet plan is required. A subscription-based live streaming TV service is required to stream live TV.

Create the perfect plan

Get the speed, WiFi, and TV that’s just right for you.

Disclaimers

While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this site has been obtained from reliable sources, Astound Broadband is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this site is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. Certain links in this site connect to other websites maintained by third parties over whom Astound Broadband has no control. Astound Broadband makes no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other websites.