How To Choose A TV Streaming Service That's Right For You
The streaming industry is booming. It has been for some time, making the days of watching cable TV a thing of the past. What used to only be a few players in the on-demand space, has now evolved into a lucrative enterprise that has most entertainment and TV providers eager for a larger share of the market. So, it’s no surprise that figuring out how to choose a TV streaming service isn’t as easy as it used to be.
We access streaming services for so many different reasons. Whether it’s to watch the hottest new show, catch up on old ones, or uncover hidden gems, reasons for choosing a TV streaming service are personal and run the gamut. You’ve got plenty of options to choose from whether you’re gearing up for the next season of The Bachelor, looking for another docuseries about cats, or watching Modern Family for the nth time.
Determining the best streaming service for your family is hardly straightforward, and signing up for all of them can be a bit costly. So it’s a good idea to plan this out. There’s no better time than now to learn how to choose a TV streaming service. Make the switch to a future-proof service with this 7-step cord cutter’s guide to streaming tv services.
How to choose the best streaming service?
Step 1: Identify your budget
Step 2: Discover the available streaming services
Step 3: Consider your family’s viewing preferences
Step 4: Confirm your internet can support your selected streaming services
Step 5: Pick subscription add-ons or bundles
Step 6: Find out how many screens are allowed
Step 7: Check the compatibility with various streaming devices
1. Identify your budget
Price is a key decision driver when choosing a streaming service. If you skimp out on some premiums, you might get less than what you bargained for. 84% of people identify it as the most important factor when selecting a service, and half of this number would cancel the service if the value didn’t justify the price.
According to a JustWatch.com survey, the average streaming consumer spends $40 a month for a combined assortment of streaming service options. And although some are willing to spend more than that to satiate their larger streaming appetites, most consumers tap out around $60, with only a small fraction agreeing to pay upwards of $100 per month.
When you’re working with a budget, you’ve got to consider which platforms you can afford. While you can get a decent streaming service at $9.99/mo, it won’t exactly let you enjoy ultra-HD content and the best bundles.
Special services, such as live streaming, are another possible tradeoff if you want to cut down your streaming costs. Live TV is an entirely different category and usually has higher prices. This feature gives you access to various national broadcast channels, local news, and sports - depending on your location.
2. Discover the available streaming services
A streaming service is typically classified as live programming, marketed for niche audiences, or marketed to a general audience. They differ from one another because of the types of content that they provide. When trying to figure out the right service for you, ask yourself these questions first:
- Do you and other people in the household like watching different live TV shows at the exact same time? If so, then you’ll need gigabit-speed internet service to help cover those heavy bandwidth needs. Fidium Fiber can help with that.
- Do you save movies or shows and watch them on your downtime? Then you’ll want reliable download speeds that can handle saving this much content like it’s no big deal. Good thing we’ve got that covered too.
- Do you want a live TV service with purchasable add-ons or a one-size-fits-all plan? Then you’ll want a network speed that’s one of the fastest and with minimal downtime as possible – most important for those live TV programs. And Fidium’s TV streaming service partners are the best in the business.
It’s important to note that while these services function as video-on-demand, not all services are similar. For example, some streaming packages use their platform for live TV, adding streams for a small add-on price.
Other platforms have larger catalogs, with deals spread throughout the year and new content constantly coming and going. Fiber internet plans, such as Fidium, offer super-fast gigabit internet speeds so that you have more speed to handle all your shows. You can stream an entire show for the whole family and still have bandwidth for your guests, too.
3. Consider your family’s viewing preferences
Don’t just consider “which streaming service is best for me;” you need to find out about your partner’s and children’s watching habits to get a clear picture of their viewing needs as well.
Everybody’s tastes are different. For instance, Peppa Pig probably doesn’t appeal to your teenage daughter as much as your youngest. And while Game of Thrones likely won’t be suitable for the whole family, there’s bound to be someone in your household who wants to see if John Snow defeats the White Walkers.
After collecting all the information necessary, you can check the channels offered by various streaming services. This also helps you realize which streaming service option is best for you: live TV or non-live TV. Live TV streaming services have a wide range of live channels to choose from (as low as 30, to as many as 100 or more), with a few providing DVR and on-demand content.
With the right streaming service, you can access and enjoy shows and movies that you like whenever you please.
4. Confirm your internet can support your selected streaming services
In addition to the types of streaming services available, an important part of knowing how to choose a TV streaming service is figuring out if your current internet plan can support your streaming and non-streaming activities.
If you like shared and original programming services for more general TV use, a 250 Mbps fiber internet plan should be suitable for you. These services offer offline and saving options for all of their content, from shows to movies. Additionally, this speed is enough to watch HD content in a snap.
If you want to have all-in-one services that can offer multiple functions like live TV, ultra-HD content (4k and onwards), we highly recommend going with a fiber internet plan, at least 1 Gig. Gig speeds also make sure everyone in the house can still use the internet easily, even for non-streaming purposes.
Generally, 1 Gig can net you a great experience for up to 2-3 people with simultaneous use.
5. Pick subscription add-ons or bundles
A subscription add-on is something added to your initial subscription, such as premium channels, networks, or extra DVR storage. Some streaming services offer an introductory offer to incentivize you through the door, but they often lack all the necessary features that you might need.
Because of this, it’s best to select bundles and add-ons that everyone in your household values most - from exclusive content to live programming, to sports, to documentaries, and so on. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.
Fidium Fiber offers streaming TV service through our streaming partners who supercharge your viewing experience. Our partners like DIRECTV STREAM, fuboTV and Philo all give you the control you need through their native apps.
And the best part: with Fidium’s Fiber internet, you won’t have to worry about these bundles overloading your network.
6. Find out how many screens are allowed
Although you don’t need to purchase a separate device for each TV in your home, most streaming TV services do have limitations—in the form of how many devices can stream at the same time.
There is usually a limit of two or three screens with live TV streaming services. However, you can sometimes find a provider that offers various options ranging from single-user to unlimited devices. Make sure you find this out before committing to a streaming TV service; that way you won’t be caught off guard.
7. Check the compatibility with various streaming devices
Most people think streaming live TV is better than cable because you don’t have to pay extra for a satellite dish or cable box to view your favorite shows.
However, not all TVs are streaming service-friendly. So for those without a smart TV or whose smart TV lacks streaming capabilities, the following streaming devices might come in handy:
- Google’s Chromecast lets you stream any content from your smartphone or tablet to your TV. It can accommodate various apps and platforms. If you want to take things up a notch, there’s also Chromecast Ultra available for 4K streaming.
- Amazon Fire TV stick is an ideal choice for streaming a wide array of channels. You can control it using Alexa, and it is compatible with some smart home devices.
- Apple TV has got to be the priciest on the list since it provides thousands of channels and apps as well as other cool perks, such as using AirPlay, a nifty feature that connects your Apple device to your TV and uses Siri as a remote.
- Roku Streaming Stick gives you access to tons of apps and channels, but that’s not its most unique selling point. Portability and a voice control remote make it a favorite amongst cord-cutters everywhere.
You can use any of these four streaming devices as a workaround if you aren’t ready to buy a smart TV yet. All you need to do is plug it directly into the TV’s HDMI/USB port. Also, you’ll want to make sure your smartphone can download the app to accompany the streaming device, and that your computer has internet browsing support.
Now that you know how to choose a TV streaming service, there are a few more details to sift through. Below you will find everything you need to complete your streaming experience.
What’s the difference between video on demand and live TV?
Video on demand is ready-made media that’s been pre-recorded and is available for watching. Live TV on the other hand, refers to a show that is broadcasted live to the public. Video on demand services usually offer their catalog at the click of a button, whereas live TV is on a broadcast schedule.
Do I need fast internet service for streaming?
Yes. Fast internet gets the job done when watching videos in standard definition because even though the FCC says all you need is an upload speed of at least 3 Mbps and a download speed of at least 25 Mbps, in actuality that’s rarely the case for a seamless experience. At those speeds, there’s a good chance your connection will be compromised.
The last thing you want is your child bursting in tears because Frozen froze around the part Elsa was about to belt out “Let it Go”.
Faster, high-speed gigabit internet means a smoother viewing experience. Fiber-optic internet may just be the secret ingredient to take your streaming experience to levels you never thought possible.
Which type of streaming resolution should I go for?
There are three types of streaming resolutions: SD, HD and 4K. SD, or Standard Definition, is a thing of the past and televisions are no longer produced in SD. So you’ll either watch streaming content in HD or 4K, with HD being the new norm.
On the high end of the spectrum is 4K, a cut above the rest. 4K boasts of almost 4,000 pixels across the screen’s horizontal display; however, you need to make sure you have a screen that can support 4K resolution and also a high-speed internet service that can carry that extra bandwidth.
All things considered, you’ll need to level up your internet service to enjoy both HD and 4K. Fiber internet is your best bet. It’s the most stable connection and at a price point that is worth the value.
I already own a smart TV. Should I still buy a streaming device?
Short answer: Yes. Although it’s no longer a prerequisite, having a streaming device on top of owning a smart TV lets you access more services with the help of the handy device.
Smart TVs usually have pre-installed streaming apps, but you can’t download anything else in most cases. Streaming devices house streaming apps better, allowing you to seamlessly cruise from one service to another.
What is required for streaming TV?
You’ll need a smart TV, a streaming device, a reliable internet service, and of course, a streaming service. In some cases, you’ll do fine with just a smart TV or just a streaming device, but it’s best to combine both.
Having a reliable high-speed internet service cannot be stressed enough. Thankfully, Fidium Fiber’s 1 Gig can easily give you that frustration-free streaming experience you’ve always wanted.
What are some value-added benefits and features to look out for?
As mentioned earlier, competition in the streaming service industry is fierce. For this reason, providers often throw in something extra to sweeten the deal and attract more customers, such as:
- Extra bundles and deals: Regular packages come with add-ons (such as exclusive access to live sports and additional shows), but others offer foreign-language bundles, free trials, and discounts lasting months in a row.
- User profiles: Having the ability to create a profile for each family member is, surprisingly, a huge advantage. It’s a way to safeguard children from non-kid-friendly shows, and more importantly protects your own viewing queue. Sharing your streaming service with other people under a single profile can hijack that next episode you were looking forward to watching. Setting up different user profiles makes sure you can easily jump back into Grey’s Anatomy after a long day.
- DVR: When it comes time to finally cut your cable service, you win a lot. But make sure you add DVR to your TV streaming service, so you can still save shows to your heart’s content. And, you’ll want to make sure you have enough space to save the shows you want on the cloud. Of course, you can upgrade your cloud storage capacity, but this will incur another fee.
Understanding how to choose a streaming service that’s best for your family may take a little work to reach a decision, but we think you’ll be happy with the results. There’s just too much good content out there to pass up. If you realize your home internet service can no longer support your streaming TV viewing needs, check to see if Fidium Fiber is in your area. We know you’ll be happy you did.