Just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable for an entertainment buff to go without some kind of paid TV service, like a cable or satellite package. However, as technology advances and streaming services become cheaper and more feature-loaded, many people are leaving behind traditional cable packages in favor of some combination of streaming media players, antenna TV and streaming video services like Netflix, YouTube and Hulu. If you are thinking about making the switch, here are some factors to consider:
There are several benefits to building a digital content package instead of purchasing a cable TV package. Here are a few:
If you pay for a one-size-fits-all cable package just to watch a few of your favorite shows, you might cut your overall cost by switching to digital alternatives that include the entertainment you want. Many popular TV shows are now available on streaming services that cost less than traditional cable or satellite packages.
Get programming you won't find anywhere else
With a streaming service, you can often get programs that aren't otherwise available in your area. For example, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and HBO Now all offer popular shows that are exclusive to their respective services. YouTube allows you to watch an enormous amount of free, user-created content, including home movies, viral videos, made-for-YouTube shows and more.
Watch your favorite TV shows on your own schedule
Several streaming services allow you to watch recent episodes of TV shows at your leisure. This means you don't have to watch your favorite shows on a TV network's schedule, and binge watching to catch up on the shows everyone's talking about is easier than ever.
For example, HBO Now lets you watch full seasons of HBO shows, including the most recent episodes. Hulu lets you watch a selection of new TV episodes alongside previous seasons.
Rent movies from the comfort of your home
Many services, including M-GO and Amazon Instant Video, allow you to rent premium content without having to run out to a store, movie theater or rental outlet. This is similar to the movies-on-demand service that is available with many cable TV packages. Other services, like Netflix and Hulu, allow you to pay a monthly fee to get access to a selection of movies and TV shows that you can watch at any time. Avoid lines and late fees while watching movies at home on your own schedule.
Watch TV on connected devices
Your entertainment is no longer tethered to your TV. You can now stream movies, TV shows and more on a smartphone, tablet or computer, even when you aren't at home. Many cable service providers now offer streaming services with their cable packages, but those can sometimes come with monthly fees on top of the cost of the cable package itself.
Another option is Sling TV, a service that allows you to stream live TV programming to a connected device. Catch your favorite shows as they air, even when you aren't at home.
Streaming Media Players
In order to stream movies and shows to your TV, you'll need a streaming device. This could be a dedicated streaming media player, like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast or Roku, or a multi-function device like a smart TV, smart Blu-ray player or gaming console. Available apps and services vary by device.
Some streaming apps and services are free, while others require a subscription or rental fee. Deciding which channels and apps meet your entertainment needs will help you choose a streaming device that supports the content you want to watch. Check out the chart below to compare the top services and apps available on some of the most popular streaming media players.
Streaming video requires a lot of data, so a fast, reliable Internet connection is an important component of any streaming media package. Streaming video in Full HD requires 5 Mbps download speed per device, and streaming video in 4K resolution requires 25 Mbps per device. And that's on top of the speed needed for other devices using the Internet. To prevent lag and buffering, make sure your Internet service offers enough bandwidth to handle the type of streaming you'd like to do.
Don't have high-speed broadband Internet?
To get a smooth streaming experience, you'll want to make sure your home network is able to handle the load. If your modem or router is outdated, you might not be getting the full benefit of the Internet speed you are paying for. Plus, if you're streaming over a wireless Internet connection, you might have "dead zones" in your home where your network can't reach. By upgrading your modem or router, or by adding Wi-Fi extenders to your network, you could see an increase in the speed, reliability and range of your connection.
HDTV antennas give you access to network television and local broadcast channels in crisp, clear high-definition. Channels will vary by location, but there's no subscription fee to access the channels that are available near you. This makes HDTV antennas a great option if you're looking to cut your TV budget substantially.
Enjoy the benefits of an HDTV antenna on its own, or pair one with a streaming device to broaden your entertainment options.
Over-the-Air Digital Video Recorders (DVR)
If you connect an over-the-air digital video recorder (DVR) to your HDTV antenna, you can record local broadcast TV so you can watch it later. This allows you to catch up on shows you might otherwise miss, and you can easily pause or rewind your shows and skip over the commercials. Some over-the-air DVRs even let you stream recorded content to a tablet, laptop or other connected device.
Shop Online or In Store
Find a wide variety of cable and satellite TV alternatives on BestBuy.com. Your local Best Buy store also has a selection of streaming media players, HDTV antennas and more. Plus, our friendly Blue Shirts are there to answer questions and help you choose the entertainment options that fit your lifestyle.