The old fashioned way of watching TV has found itself a new competitor: pay TV and internet streaming has become a strong player in the market with its choices, good prices and option to cut the cable once and for all. The thought of ditching the old fashioned cable bill for the cheaper internet TV is tempting for many. Why pay more when you can watch anything on demand online?
There's no answer to which streaming services are best. Usually you will find that each service offers a slightly different variety of content, so the only thing you need to do is to figure out what kind of TV you are likely to watch the most, and what you can compromise on.
Cable cutting however does need a bit of research and planning. You could just go for the first and the best offer, but chances are that you won’t get exactly what you are looking for that way. Researching your options can be worth it, so you find a bundle that suits you. Here is a guide on how to find the best pay TV online offers.
Getting the terms straight: Subscription television vs. streaming
No Pay TV Australia Guide would be complete without explaining two important terms.
- Subscription television is also called Pay TV. It’s a service where TV is broadcast directly over the air to customers who have paid for that service and have a special receiver for it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be broadcast over the internet – although a lot of it is. Some services also provide it through satellite dishes.
- Streaming refers specifically to services broadcast over the internet.
You need good internet for online streaming TV
Depending on how many people will be streaming at the same time, you need a good downstream speed. You can get away with 25 Mbps for Netflix if you know you are only going to stream one movie at the time. Unfortunately, for most people this is unrealistic. For families where several people will be streaming TV online at the same time, you probably need a faster downstream speed than that. Also, if you want to downstream loads of 4K Ultra HD content, maybe consider even faster speed yet.
You should also check your speed around peak times. Sometimes, it can take a huge plunge at dinner time or in the weekends – so if you experience this problem, you should contact your provider to fix it.
Do you need to cut the cord completely?
Maybe not. There are still some advantages to cable TV such as the huge number of channels and shows including sports channels that you won’t find a lot of on internet TV alone. It’s also much more stable in for example bad weather when your internet connection might suffer. Cable TV is more expensive than streaming TV online, but it also does have more choice. However if you are looking to save money, online streaming TV might offer you enough variety for your needs and be a lot cheaper. You can also opt for a satellite subscription TV option, where choice and stability will be better, and the price usually higher as well.
Use comparison sites in moderation
You can use comparison sites to find the internet TV offers that would serve your purposes the best. It’s a good way to get an overview of the market, but it won’t give all the information you might need. It doesn’t take into account services such as a la carte download of new movies as well as indoor antennas, just to mention two examples.
- A la carte download allows you to purchase shows or movies soon after their release. It can be a good idea to look for these services specifically when comparing offers rather than relying completely on comparison sites, if that is important to you when streaming TV online.
- An indoor/HD antenna is a cheap device that gives you the option of streaming TV online You won’t be able to record and watch on demand later, but it’s a great option for shows that you want to watch live over the internet. Usually indoor antennas aren’t taken into account by comparison sites, but could be worth looking into if you like streaming live TV. Different antennas offer different range and channels, so research beforehand and choose according to what you want to receive.
Do you need a streaming device for online streaming TV?
Just as there are many different streaming services, streaming devices can also be a jungle to choose from. First ask yourself if you need a streaming device: Usually it’s only necessary if you don’t have a smart TV. You only need one or the other, so if you have a streaming device, you won’t need a smart TV and the other way around. An advantage of higher end smart TVs is that it is likely to support 4K movie streaming services.
If you have agreed with yourself that you do need a streaming device, here are your two main options:
- Set-Top Boxes: These little, elegant devices are attached to your TVs HDMI port and provide some solid hardware that allows you to watch 4K content. So far, the only other way to watch 4K content is on a smart TV.
- Streaming Sticks: There is a wide variety of streaming sticks that connect directly to your TVs HDMI port. Some are small, individual devices while others need your phone or computer to function. The term streaming stick is broad, and it also covers dongles that show content from your phone or your computer on a TV. These come in many different qualities, so make sure to read the reviews in order to find the one that provides adequate quality for your needs.
Choose your streaming service
There are more than a few streaming services now a days
Forget what you know about providers. A quick search will reveal a wide variety of streaming service and pay TV providers, so you don’t need to just stick with one or two options anymore.
How do you know which one is best?
There isn’t any final answer to which streaming services are best. Usually you will find that each service offers a slightly different variety of content, so the only thing you need to do is to figure out what kind of TV you are likely to watch the most, and what you can compromise on. Do you want movies, news, reality or TV shows? Some services will have many movies but not a lot of live options, while others will allow you to stream talk shows, news or sport. Usually, you will have to compromise on some things. Because the streaming services are sometimes faced with restrictions from cable TV or digital rights issues, you can’t always stream the news on the actual day, and some movies won’t be available, either. Unfortunately, it also means that some movies and shows will be available for a specific period of time after which they disappear and can’t be streamed anymore.
You should also beware of very cheap or even free services. Services like these may not have a very big variety, and some even come with commercials that you can’t skip. You will have to decide for yourself if those annoyances are worth a lower price. If you are on a budget, it could be a good way to save money and still enjoy some decent entertainment. Others prefer to skip the commercials and opt for a more expensive choice, if they have a few more dollars to spare a month.
See if your preferred service has a free trial. Sometimes you have to search for it explicitly, other times it will be advertised openly on the provider’s website. It’s a good way to check if you like the variety, interface and features.
What kind of TV service should you choose?
Pay TV online and streaming does hold some benefits over traditional cable TV. If you feel it’s time to cut the cable, we have given you a few things to think about when choosing your next step. First of all, you can ask yourself if you would like to cut the cord completely or maybe combine a cheap cable option with more online variety. You can use comparison sites for a quick overview of the market, but it’s not always a good idea to rely on them entirely. They might not give the full picture, especially when it comes to a la carte downloads and indoor antennas.
You should also consider the speed of your internet connection as well as what hardware you need. A higher end smart TV will be sufficient for most Internet TV. The alternative is other kinds of streaming hardware such as Set-Top Boxes or Streaming Sticks.
If your internet connection isn’t the greatest, or if you miss the variety of cable TV, you could also go for a satellite subscription. It will be pricier but usually also have more to choose from, especially if you are into sports or other shows that will be hard to find online.
So what kind of TV service fits your need?