What is live TV streaming?
A live TV streaming service is a service that lets you stream TV channels through the internet. In this respect, it does the same thing as your cable or satellite TV provider – but without all those cords poking out the back of your television. Some live TV streaming providers let you choose packages to suit you, e.g. news channels, entertainment channels, or live sports channels. Other providers let you add channels one by one, ensuring you only pay for what you really want to watch. For example, Amazon Channels offers access to 100+ TV channels including HBO, Showtime, CBS All Access, and more.
What Equipment Do You Need to Stream Live TV?
The great thing about streaming is you can do it on a range of compatible devices. To stream live TV to your phone, tablet, or laptop, just subscribe to your favorite streaming service provider and start watching through your provider’s app or a web browser.
To stream live TV through your television, you will need either a smart TV (e.g. Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV), or a streaming device that connects your internet to your TV. Streaming devices include HDMI streaming sticks like Chromecast and Roku, as well as games consoles like PS4 and Xbox.
Internet Speeds for Streaming
Like all good things these days, you can’t get anywhere without the internet. Before choosing a streaming service, ensure you have a broadband connection that meets the needs of the service you choose. Many of these streaming services rely heavily on a strong internet connection.
As a general rule, you’ll need a minimum internet download speed of 7-10 Megabits per second to comfortably stream live TV in standard definition. However, some live TV platforms require download speeds of closer to 15-20 Mbps. If you’re part of a household that streams live TV on multiple devices, or if you want to stream in 4K or ultra HD, then you will need a faster connection. Just to be sure, we recommend aiming for download speeds of 25-30 Mbps.
How Many Screens Do You Need?
When deciding on the right TV streaming service you’ll also need to think about how many different devices you’ll want to use. If you live in a large household, you’ll want to avoid the inevitable arguments over who's watching what and ensure your service can be accessed by more than one device. For instance, Amazon Channels lets you stream live TV on up to three devices without having to create separate profiles for each user, provided you're watching three different titles.
Types of Content
The world of live TV streaming is a world of unlimited possibilities. No matter which TV channels you enjoy viewing, you can find it with one or more of the top streaming platforms. Some of the platforms throw everything into the one package while others let you select channels one by one.
Here are examples of TV channels you can access from the top streaming providers:
Entertainment: Stream live channels like HBO for award-winning TV series, hayu for reality TV, CBS All Access for live CBS programming, and more. Purchase directly from the channel providers or as part of a live TV streaming platform like Amazon Channels.
Family: Stream kids’ channels like Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. Purchase as part of a live TV streaming subscription such as Amazon Channels.
News: Stream live news channels like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and more. Access as part of a live TV subscription such as Hulu or FuboTV.
Sports: Stream live sports channels like ESPN, Fox Sports, NBA TV, MLB TV, NFL Network and more. Purchase directly from the provider (e.g. ESPN+, NBA League Pass) or stream as part of a live TV subscription such as Hulu or FuboTV.
There are two possible pricing structures for live TV. One is the model used by Amazon Channels, where you pay one-by-one for each channel you want. If you already have Amazon Prime, then you can simply add live TV channels with Amazon Channels, e.g. HBO for $14.99 per month, MLB TV for $24.99 per month, or PBS Kids for $4.99.
The other model is used by the likes of Fubo TV and Hulu + Live TV, and more closely resembles cable TV. This starts with a basic package of channels for a set price, plus pricier packages with additional premium channels.
Time to Subscribe
Once you’ve made the decision to subscribe to a live TV streaming service, all that’s left to do is subscribe. Start by checking out the streaming services offering free trials. Get to know the different live streaming providers and shows before committing to a paid subscription. If it’s the flexibility of choosing all your own channels you’re after, then sign up for Amazon Channels. If you’re looking for something like a cable service – but without physical cables – then check out our other recommended services above.