What Is Streaming TV? [A Quick Guide]

Hello again and welcome to another episode of Amazing Life Improvements brought to you by Tech Jury. Today’s topic is Streaming TV 101.

To all the TV fanatics out there, this is for you! It’s time to realize the (remote) control is in your hands. YOU get to decide what and when to watch.

You’ve got the power!

Own it!

Okay. We already know how to cut the cord. Now it’s time to discover the answers to the following questions:

  • What is streaming TV and how does it work?
  • How to stream TV?
  • What streaming options are there and which are the best?
  • Who wins in the battle between cable TV and stream TV after all?
  • Is streaming the Eighth Wonder of the World?
  • Where did I put my remote control again?? Ah, there it is, nevermind!

Stay tuned for all this and more so that you never feel limited, clueless, or brainwashed by your TV ever again.

Now, mute your TV for a sec and let’s begin, shall we?

What Is Streaming TV?

Streaming TV is also called internet TV. If you’re like most people, you’ve heard this term many times, but you still don’t know how to define it exactly. Don’t worry; here comes a simple explanation.

To begin with, streaming is a way of transmitting or receiving data (usually video or audio) over a computer network. It is a continuous flow that allows for accessing a piece of the data while the rest is still being received. Kinda like listening to a simultaneous interpreter.

This means you can start watching a video while the rest of it is still loading. You don’t need to decompress it or save it first.

Okay. So if you want to stream TV, you need a device that connects to the internet, be it a smart TV or a laptop. More on that later.

Right. Now let’s see

How Does Streaming TV Work?


Just kiddin’.

It’s simple.

Basically, when you connect a TV to the internet (just choose a modern TV, not your grandma’s) and it has the apps necessary to convert video content, that’s when the magic happens. Oh, but you need a subscription to a streaming service too. You’ll see a list of these shortly.

You’ve probably seen the new remotes that come with a big Netflix button for your convenience. That’s what I’m talking about.

So you already know how streaming works. As a video file is being downloaded, the software decompresses it, converting it into a TV video signal.

If your network speed is good, you’ll be able to enjoy uninterrupted streaming in high definition. So take care of that first!

But I see you’re still scratching your head. That’s why I’ll tell you step by step

How to Stream TV

Here is what you need to do to stream TV effortlessly:

  1. Check your internet speed first and make sure it’s good enough (see the criteria here)
  2. Choose a streaming device – it can be a smart TV, a gaming console, or a streaming stick/plug-in, and/or a box
  3. After you’re all set, choose a streaming service (most offer free trials – don’t miss them!) and pick something cool to watch
  4. Make yourself comfortable, grab the popcorn, click Play, and enjoy!

But wait… There are so many streaming TV services out there. It’s kind of confusing. How to choose then?!

Streaming Options

Let’s see what the most popular streaming options are and which will suit you best.

There are several types of streaming. We’ll start with them.

On-demand Streaming

This is the most popular option to replace cable. On-demand video services usually cost about $10 per month and allow you to watch both original and licensed content. They also produce some of TV fans’ favorite award-winning TV shows. The most obvious example is HBO’s Game of Thrones – and we’re still talking about it after it ended.

The most preferred services and their greatest features are the following:

  • Netflix – best library
  • Amazon Prime Video – best perks
  • Hulu – best for Network shows
  • HBO NOW – best for original shows
  • The Criterion Channel – best for classic movies

Those are the best cord-cutting options that more and more people opt for every day. See what these and other streaming TV providers offer, and pick your favorite.

Fun fact:

Did you know that Netflix earned 112 Emmy nominations in 2018?

Incredible! You can read more curious facts like that here and here.

Live TV Streaming

If you want more flexibility, here are the best live TV streaming services and their best features as well. Prices vary between $16 and $50 depending on how much content you want to access.

  • Hulu + Live TV – best channel lineup
  • PlayStation Vue – best for sports
  • fubo TV – most channels / best for soccer
  • YouTube TV – best user experience
  • DIRECTV NOW – best for HBO
  • Pluto TV – best free TV streaming
  • AT&T WatchTV – best skinny bundle
  • Sling TV – sports / best on a budget
  • Disney Plus – best for the younger audience

These are the most popular online TV providers. One or two of these are likely to fit your needs better than most.

Fun fact: 63% of people aged 18-34 watch live streaming content regularly.

Free Streaming

There are several free streaming services as well. They are not all perfect but why not give them a chance? You might be surprised!

Depending on whether you’re more after movies or other TV content, they score differently. Here are the top 11 free internet TV streaming services. First, let’s see their ranking for movies:

  1. Hoopla / Tubi TV
  2. Kanopy / Vudu
  3. Pluto TV / IMDb Freedive / Roku Channel / Sony Crackle
  4. Popcornflix / YouTube Movies
  5. Yahoo View

And here is how they rank for TV – it’s not the same:

  1. Pluto TV / Yahoo View
  2. Hoopla / Tubi TV / IMDb Freedive / Sony Crackle / Roku Channel
  3. Kanopy / Vudu / Popcornflix
  4. YouTube Movies

Check them out and decide for yourself which suits you best.

Finally, let’s see why cable TV is inferior to stream TV.

Cable TV vs. Stream TV

Cable vs streaming. Who will win?

The statistics speak for themselves:

90% of young people prefer accessing TV content online.

Meanwhile, the number of pay-TV subscribers falls each year by 28%.

Still not convinced?

Check out more amazing cord-cutting stats here.

It’s clear – more and more people switch to streaming TV. But why is that? And will cable TV soon become a thing of the past?

Well, not quite.

It’s true that there’s a boom of subscribers to streaming services. They offer flexibility, more freedom, and choice. That said, they’re not for everyone.

If you follow a lot of different channels, TV shows, and sports, it might be as or even more expensive to switch to streaming compared to cable.

Of course, you can try having the best of both worlds – or at least until you see which one you prefer.

You can see all the pros and cons of cord-cutting here and make up your mind.

Wrapping Up

You don’t need to be the biggest movie aficionado to consider switching to streaming TV.

Now that you know what it is, and what its perks are, pick an option from the list we have and give it a try. Most either have a free trial… or they’re simply free.

Nowadays we have access to so many movies, TV shows, and more. It would be a pity not to take advantage. Unfortunately, we can’t see every single thing in our lifetime but that won’t stop us from trying.

Why browse the same channels that rarely offer new content over and over again when you can take control and focus on what you truly desire? Why settle for mediocre content?

Make the most of it!

So what is your experience with cable or streaming TV? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

‘Till next time!


What is streaming TV? / What is streaming TV and how does it work? / How to stream TV?

Streaming TV, also called online TV and internet TV, is a way of watching TV via the internet. There is nothing to download in advance. All you need to stream internet TV is a good internet connection and a subscription to a streaming provider – unless you opt for a free one. And of course, you need a smart TV, a laptop, or some other device you can stream on.

What is live streaming TV?

Live streaming TV is TV you watch online in real time while it’s being recorded and broadcast. Twitch.tv is a popular platform for watching esports live, for example.

How to stream live TV over the internet?

There are many internet TV options. The most popular ones are Hulu + Live TV, PlayStation Vue, fubo TV, YouTube TV,  DIRECTV NOW, Pluto TV, AT&T WatchTV, Sling TV. Simply choose one to subscribe to and enjoy.

Is Youtube TV good?

It depends on what you’re looking for. However, there is something for everyone. It is ranked among the best and has received bonus points for user experience. Try it out yourself and see!

How to go cable free?

Just follow this simple guide and you’ll be cable free in no time! There are several alternatives you can choose from to watch TV without a cable.

Which streaming TV service is the best?

There isn’t one best streaming TV service. It depends on what you like and want to watch, how much money you’re willing to spend, and other related factors. You’ve probably already heard the big names – Netflix, Amazon, HBO… Check out their offers, as well as those of less popular providers, and see what matches your preferences and budget.

What is the best streaming device to replace cable?

It all depends on your likes and willingness to spend money. Nowadays everyone has a smart TV and a laptop, but you haven’t thought about streaming sticks and boxes perhaps? They vary in prices and among the most popular are those by Amazon, Google, Apple, and Roku. Check out this guide for more useful tips.

Can you watch TV online for free?

Of course you can! Here are not five, not ten, but eleven free streaming services to check out: Hoopla, Tubi TV, Kanopy, Vudu, Pluto TV, IMDb Freedive, Roku Channel, Sony Crackle, Popcornflix, YouTube Movies, and Yahoo View. You’re welcome!

What is a la carte TV?

A la carte pay-TV, also called pick-and-pay, is a type of pricing model for pay television services that allows customers to subscribe to individual TV channels. It is the opposite of bundling channels together and making people pay for everything, even if they need only one or two out of the whole package. It is a much desired, but rarely offered pricing model. As there are no prospects of it happening any time soon, people turn to streaming providers instead and say farewell to cable TV.


I am a graduate of the University of Glasgow with MA French and German. A total bookworm and a curious cat, I love writing, traveling, taking photos and learning new things. My interests include but are not limited to languages, literature, technology, cinema, and sports (especially volleyball and table tennis).

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  1. Blank sheet here (visual learner). How do I start streaming on my 2016 Sanyo (Spectrum cable) TV? I have Internet via Spectrum too. What physical hardware is required and how do I get streaming software inside my TV? It’s got computer slots in the back; but, TVs can’t upload. Even after reading your article; I still can’t visualize how to get streaming. Do you have a sort of schematic?

  2. If cable TV gets obsoleted than there are a lot of TV’s out there needing replacing. They are all focused on having channels mapped from cable. Streaming is awkward on a todays standard TV, smart or not. I have to switch to wi-fi carried streaming TV as I moved out in the countryside where there is no broadband cable. I have a TV in virtually every room, 6 to be precise and 5 computers. Being 4 in the household it is a dire constraint only having 5 units registered and 2 streams allowed concurrently. Who in the household wins that fight?
    The combo of streaming TV and TV sets are in their infancy still, not matured to a cohesive product. Why haven’t a mapping of streaming channels to TV preset channels been developed and implemented in TV sets yet, so the experience of handling just a TV with one remote and free choice for each TV in the house as in the good old cable days is possible?

  3. I have uverse and would like to get rid of the tv and start streaming but my wife leaves the tv on from Friday night to Monday morning. I think my internet through uverse is unlimited but wasn’t sure if strictly streaming was a good idea. Any advice or thoughts ?

  4. We have 3 TV’s. do we need separate streaming devices?

    1. Hi Larry,

      Not if your TVs are smart.

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