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The beginners guide to streaming in 2020

Streaming in 2020 is the way to go for great content at affordable prices.

hbo on a television
Image: KnowTechie

You may not have ever needed streaming before. Now that you’re home for an extended period during the pandemic, you suddenly find yourself wanting a wider selection of TV, movies, documentaries, and docuseries to choose from. From checking your internet speed to picking a service, here’s an easy guide for beginners to get you streaming new series and exciting films in no time. 

Do You Need High-Speed Internet to Stream?

Your speed needs depend on the quality of streaming you want. If you don’t have a high-definition TV, you can’t play HD or 4K TV shows or movies. Your only option would be standard definition, which only requires 2Mbps. For high-definition streaming, it’s recommended you have at least 5Mbps. If you have the latest technology, HDR or 4K, you won’t be able to stream with anything less than 25Mbps. 

Remember that these are only the bare minimum required to stream uninterrupted. If you have another person using your internet service, the available bandwidth (speed) will decrease by each user. Also, some services have different speed requirements for live vs. on-demand streaming. For example, Hulu recommends users have 8Mbps available for live TV viewing. 

Choose Your Streaming Device

If you’re watching on your Apple or Android-based phone, you can add the app for most services. Additionally, for tablets and other devices, most consumers can stream through its web browser or an app. Viewers with a gaming system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation, can add an app to watch through these platforms. 

Another option is to purchase a streaming device. You have a few options, including Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick, Nvidia Shield TV, Apple TV, and Comcast Xfinity internet customers can get Xfinity Flex, which is a free streaming box with limited apps. 

Pick a Service

With so many options, the hardest part might be deciding where to stream. The list of streaming services seems to grow daily. The top options include

If you have several household members that will be streaming, pay attention to how many simultaneous streams you can have at one time. For example, depending on your subscription, Netflix varies from one to four. Additionally, Disney Plus allows four total and only offers one plan. 

Try These Free Options

It’s understandable if you’re not looking for another bill during these unpredictable times. Although you won’t get as many options and the quality might be lower, there are a variety of free services for streaming. Some channels are 100% free, while many platforms offer free and paid content. Some of the most popular include

  • Crackle
  • VUDU (Free, paid, and rental options)
  • Pluto TV
  • The Roku Channel

Streaming in 2020 is the way to go for great content at affordable prices. To find out what’s streaming on your favorite platform, sign up for your free account with On TV Tonight.  

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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