Streaming What You Need To Stream

The second way to cut the cord is streaming the content over the internet. If, for some reason, you can’t get TV signals from an antenna this is really the only option you have. In order to stream, you need three things: an internet connection, a streaming device, and of course something to stream.

Internet : It’s all about the speed!

Here is the dirty little secret about “cord-cutting”. Unless you want to go with just an antenna, you will still need a broadband internet connection. Some people even use the term “cord-shaving” as opposed to “cord-cutting”.

What you don’t need is the fastest available. A general rule of thumb is at least 5 Mbps per device will suffice for streams in HD, 15 Mbps is required for streams in 4K resolution. The FCC considers 10Mbps to 25Mbps reasonable to stream video. Personally, I went from paying over $80 (just for internet!) for 75 Mbps, down to $50 for 24 Mbps. That saves me $360 a year just on internet costs. My grand-kids can still stream PBS Kids on their tablets while the TV is on and the computer streams YouTube with no problem. Honestly, when I first downgraded my internet speed I was pleasantly surprised! It does take longer to download files and web pages take a second, maybe even a few seconds, to load and streams to start, but it is still nothing like the old days of dial-up.

Streaming Devices

Other than internet costs, you will need a streaming device. A streaming device is any device that plugs into a TV, usually an HDMI port, that transfers information from the internet using either a wired or wireless connection to the TV. A lot of people, myself included, use a PC , laptop, or game machine (X-Box or PlayStation) to stream video to a TV. Other than these, there are many other devices that are devoted to streaming from the internet to a TV. The four most popular are: Roku Express, Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast,

Roku Express

Roku has six models of their streaming device that stream over 4,500 channels. At only $29.99 the Roku Express is the most affordable streaming device there is. The TV it connects to must have an HDMI port (all modern TVs have at least one). It comes with an HDMI cable and connects to the internet through Wi-Fi. It streams video in 720p & 1080p resolution and supports Dolby audio. Most Roku models have what they call “point anywhere” remotes. Unfortunately, on this model the remote has to be pointed directly at the device. The remote also doesn’t have a voice search function, but you can download the free Roku app for Android and iOS that includes that feature. The app even lets you “cast” media from your phone to your TV similar to Google’s Chromecast.

Roku supports all the major video services EXCEPT iTunes.


Amazon Fire Stick

The FireTV Stick supports a resolution up to 1080p. It comes with a quad-core processor, built-in wi-fi, has access to over 5,000 channels (Amazon calls them “apps”), voice search on the remote, and 8 GB of internal storage. It plugs directly into the TV HDMI port. While easy and convenient, it could be a problem. The stick itself is pretty wide and could block an adjacent HDMI port.  Amazon includes an HDMI extender if you have this problem.

Some of the major video services it supports are Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, and VUDU. It does NOT support iTunes or Google Play.

Apple TV

Apple TV is a streaming device that has been around for over 10 years. Critics of the previous generation have pointed out the lack of apps or channels. The latest generation, the 5th, has changed that. It still doesn’t have as many apps or channels as Roku or Amazon however. It comes with a voice remote that also includes a touch-pad. The remote can also be used as a motion controller similar to the Wii remote. If you own an iPhone or an iPad, it can stream video and music from them straight to your TV. There are two models of Apple TV. Both are the same except for the amount of storage. It can connect to the Internet using either a wired or wireless connection. What it doesn’t come with is an HDMI cable, so you will have to provide your own. The 5th generation supports 4K resolution. If you don’t own a 4K TV you should probably go with the less expensive 4th generation.

Some of the major video services it supports are Netflix, YouTube, and iTunes. It does NOT support Google Play, or VUDU. It also does NOT support Amazon Video. So if you subscribe to Amazon Prime you will want to choose a different streaming device. There will be support Amazon’s video service by the end of 2017.

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast is a different kind of streaming device. It’s main function is to stream media from an Android or iOS device, PC, or laptop onto your TV. However, it does have apps that will let you stream from services such as Netflix, Hulu, SlingTV, and many others. It plugs into the TV’s HDMI port and connects to the internet using Wi-Fi. There is no remote for the Chromecast. You use your phone, tablet, or PC as a remote. Some of the major video services it supports are Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and VUDU. It does NOT support iTunes or Amazon Video,

Streaming Services

There are two types of streaming: Video On Demand (VOD) and live-streaming. There are literally hundreds of video channels out there. Below are most popular.



Netflix is the most popular video streaming service accounting for 37% of all internet traffic. It was founded in 1997 selling and renting DVD’s by mail. It wasn’t until 2007 that the company started streaming movies online. At the time, only about 1,000 titles and only on a PC. Today, Netflix has a vast library of movies and tv shows. it also has original programming including House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black” and Marvel originals Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Ironfist. A deal with Disney gave them exclusive rights to Disney/Pixar titles within a year of their debut, but Disney recently announced they were pulling their content to start their own streaming service.

Price: $8 a month for SD on a single screen. $10/month Hi-def on up to 2 screens. $12/ mo for 4K UHD on up to 4 screens

Available on: Roku (all models), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, blu-ray, dvd, game consoles.


Behind Netflix, Hulu is the second most watched streaming service. It is joint owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast, and Time-Warner.  It primarily streams tv shows from most of the networks the day after they air. Notice the “most” in the previous sentence. The most notable networks you won’t find on Hulu are CBS and CW. Like Netflix and Amazon, Hulu has recently started streaming original programming, including the critically acclaimed The Handmaiden’s Tale. It has recently just started a Live-TV streaming service (see below). Hulu used to have a free plan, but that has been discontinued.

Price: $8 / month with commercials, $12 / month with no or few commercials

Available on: Roku (all models), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, blu-ray, dvd, game consoles.

Amazon Video

If you’re a frequent Amazon customer, chances are that you are an Amazon Prime member. Amazon Prime Video is awesome! Personally, I get about 90% of my viewing from Amazon and Netflix. But Amazon Video isn’t just Prime Video. There are many shows and TV sreies on Amazon of which aren’t included in their Prime service. Like Netflix, Amazon Video has a vast library of movie and TV shows as well as original series such as Transparent, The Grand Tour, and Mozart In The Jungle. In 2016 they inked a deal with PBS giving them exclusive rights to stream most of the PBS Kids family of shows as well as popular PBS shows like Downton Abbey

Price: 99/year $9/month video only

Available on: Roku (all models), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, blu-ray, dvd, game consoles.


Vudu, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart, is a streaming service where you can buy or rent movies and TV shows. They stream a select few for free (with ads). They also have some good deals on movies. As I write this, the Logan DVD at Walmart is available for $15, while Vudu has it for $10. You can also buy entire seasons of current TV shows and own them the day after they air. There is a limit of 8 devices that can be linked to an account. Vudu is NOT available for Amazon Fire TV, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, or Apple TV. There is an Apple TV app currently in development, but no specific date has been set for its release.

Price: Free to join. Rental and sale prices vary.

Available on: Roku (all models), all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, blu-ray, dvd, game consoles


Crackle, owned by Sony, streams movies, classic TV series, and original content for free.

Price: Free. Registration NOT required

Available on: Roku (all models), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, blu-ray, dvd, game consoles.

Tubi TV

Tubi TV is a free ad-supported movie & TV streaming service. It claims that it has the largest library of free tv and movies on the web.

Price: Free (registration required)

Available on: Roku (all models), Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV stick, all android devices, all ios devices, web, various other devices including smart Tvs, game consoles.


The major advantages of using a live-tv service are that they are less expensive than traditional cable and it is available wherever there is an internet connection. The major drawbacks are that local stations may not be available in your area and, although cheaper than cable, it still doesn’t beat using a good old-fashioned TV antenna to get free over the air broadcasts. There are five major providers of what are called “skinny-bundles”, a mix of local and cable channels provided over the internet for cord-cutters.


SlingTV was the first company to stream live-tv over the internet. They have two set packages to choose from “Sling Orange” and “Sling Blue”. Orange is $20 a month for 30 channels and allows only one stream. Which means that if you have two TV’s you won’t be able to stream content on both at the same time. It would be either one or the other. The Blue package runs $25 a month for over 40 channels and allows up to three streams.

Here is where things might get a little confusing. You might think that Blue would include every channel that Orange has plus a few more. That is NOT the case. While most of the channels in Orange are in Blue, Orange has ESPN and Disney channels which aren’t in Blue. Blue has Fox and NBC channels that aren’t in Orange. You can get both Orange and Blue for $40 a month which allows up to 4 simultaneous streams.

Sling also lets you add extra channels to your Orange or Blue plan. Each group of extras is $5 a month extra except the sports extra which runs $10 / month. There is also a cloud DVR option for $5 / month. Sling provides a 7-day free trial with no annual commitments.

Playstation Vue

Despite the name, you DON’T need a Playstation to subscribe to PS Vue. has four subscription packages ranging in price from $39.99 to $74.99. The $39.99 package includes over 40 channels, including Disney and ESPN. Their Ultra package may cost as much as a cable subscription, but includes over 90 channels, HBO, and Showtime. All plans include a cloud DVR. Your local channels may or may not be included depending on where you live.

Vue supports up to five streams at once and has a seven day free trial.

DirectTV Now

DirectTV Now has four packages ranging from $35/month for over 60 channels to $70/month for over 120 channels. You can add HBO and Cinemax for $5 each or Showtime and Starz for $8/month each. You can watch two streams simultaneously. DirecTV Now does stream local channels but it depends on where you live. Currently, the service doesn’t provide a DVR. There is a cloud DVR in beta that is rumored to have a capacity of 100 hours. Hopefully, this will become available soon.

DirectTV has a seven day free trial and no annual commitments.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV started in just 5 markets but is constantly growing. If you are lucky enough to be able to get it they are definitely worth a try. They have a 30 day free trial and cancelling is super easy. Last summer I had a pre-amp go bad on my antenna. Not having the time to replace it right away, I signed up for the service. For $35 a month you get over 40 channels including (most of) your locals. Sadly, PBS isn’t one of their available channels. But thanks to Netflix, Amazon, and, the kids didn’t miss any of their favorite shows.

YouTube TV provides a “personal” DVR which supports up to six different accounts so every member of the family can have their own cloud-based DVR with unlimited storage. The recordings are available for nine months.

Hulu with Live-TV

Hulu with Live-TV provides over 60 channels for $40/month which includes a subscription to Hulu. Basically, it’s Hulu with live TV. It provides a 50 hour DVR which you can upgrade (for a fee, of course) to 200 hours. Hulu allows streaming to two devices at once. You can upgrade that (again, for a fee) to unlimited screens at home and 3 streams when you’re away. Add-ons include HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.

Hulu with Live TV has a seven day free trial.

CBS All Access

CBS All Access is different from all the other live-TV streaming services. Instead of streaming a bunch of channels, it streams one: CBS. That being said, it is also the least expensive service there is at $6/month.

In addition to their live-TV stream, CBS All Access also the only place to watch the recently debuted Star Trek: Discovery. They also carry a huge backlog of classic TV series. There are over 100 shows available. Most of them, however, are the classic series. Most of the current shows, such as Big Bang Theory, only carry the current season.

You can watch CBS All Access on two devices at the same time. As with the other streaming services, CBS All Access has a free 7 day trial offer so you can decide for yourself whether it is right for you.

Getting Back to Joe

Joe could save some money by getting a slower internet speed, but for this example we’ll say he likes his internet the way it is so no savings there. He also decides to keep his Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. He subscribes to SlingTV’s blue package for $25 a month. It includes AMC, so he can now watch Walking Dead. He also adds in the 4-extras deal for $10 and a cloud DVR for $5. His total for the package is $40 a month. Both SlingTV and Amazon offer HBO as an add-on for $15 a month. Joe decides that instead of paying $180 a year ($15 x 12) to watch one show, he can buy just the season from Amazon. The DVD-quality version is $29 while the HD version is $39. He splurges and gets the HD version (and we’ll round that expense up to $40 to keep the numbers simple).

Let’s see if the numbers add up. Remember, he was paying $100 a month for traditional cable, plus the cost of Netflix and Amazon Prime. He still has Netflix and Amazon Prime, but now his programming costs have gone from $100 per month down to $40 per month. That saves him $60 a month, $720 a year. Actually, since he bought the HD version of Game of Thrones, he saved $680 ($720 – $40). Also, don’t forget to subtract the cost of the streaming device from the first year, in Joe’s case we’ll say he got the more expensive Amazon Fire Stick for $40. The total savings for the first year is down to $640. Still, not bad. Plus, he now owns the season of Game of Thrones so he doesn’t need to buy the season’s DVD!