How Does Streaming TV Work?

Updated: Dec 1, 2023 10:01 PM
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Streaming TV is video content sent over the internet rather than through cables or satellite dishes.

Content is broken into smaller data packets and sent to your device. The stored data remains in the buffer for uninterrupted playback.

Then, it’s viewed on internet-capable devices like TVs, tablets, or phones, provided the internet connection is good.

Most providers offer on-demand content like Netflix, while some provide live TV streaming similar to traditional cable or satellite viewing.

How Does Streaming TV Work: Equipment Needed

Streaming device compatibility

You’ll need a streaming device, such as:

  • Smart TVs
  • Streaming devices (Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon)
  • Video game consoles (PS5, Xbox One)
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital Media players
  • Smartphones

Just about any device with a good internet connection can stream content.

On-Demand Services: How Does Streaming Work?

On-demand streaming services are the many digital services that provide on-demand content. This includes:

Streaming ServiceAverage Price Per Month
Apple TV+$9.99
Paramount+$5.99 – $11.99
Netflix$9.99 – $19.99
Hulu$6.99 – $12.99
Peacock$4.99 – $9.99
Amazon Prime Video$8.99 – $14.99
Streaming Services And Their Monthly Average Cost

Of course, there are many more out there, with new on-demand services popping up more frequently now.

Live Streaming TV

Designed to replicate traditional live TV, live streaming is the same viewing experience, but with different channels to select from.

Plus, users also have the opportunity to use cloud-based DVRs to record live TV at their discretion. Popular live TV services include:

Streaming ServiceAverage Price Per Month
Streaming serviceAverage price per month
Philo TV$25.00
Sling TV$40.00 – $55.00
YouTube TV$73.00
DirecTV Stream$75.00
Hulu + Live TV$77.00
Average Live TV Streaming Monthly Prices

Why A Good Internet Connection Matters

Streaming TV process
Streaming TV process

A good internet connection is pivotal for streaming TV as it ensures a smooth, buffer-free viewing experience.

The faster the internet, the quicker the data packets are transmitted to your device, allowing for high-definition streaming.

Avg. Internet DL SpeedWorks Best forBest Number of Wi-Fi Users
0–5 Mbps– Music streaming on one device1–2 people
5–40 Mbps– Streaming video (single device)
– Video conferencing
3–4 people
40–100 Mbps– Streaming HD video (few devices)5–7 people
100–500 Mbps– Streaming video in UHD on multiple screens8–10 people
500–1,000+ Mbps– Streaming music and ultra high-quality video on numerous devices simultaneouslyMore than 10 people
Internet Down Mbps Speeds & Streaming Capabilities

As the modern viewer moves towards a more on-demand, convenient viewing model, having a reliable internet connection becomes indispensable to fully enjoy the vast world of streaming TV.


How Does Streaming TV Affect Traditional Cable and Satellite TV Providers?

The number of cord-cutters is expected to reach 55.1 million by 2022. This is a significant shift in the way people watch TV, and it is having a major impact on the traditional cable and satellite TV industry.

What are the Data Usage Implications of Streaming TV?

Streaming TV uses a lot of data, and the amount increases with better video quality. For example, Netflix uses around 1 GB of data each hour for regular quality video. For high definition (HD), it can use up to 3 GB per hour. If you watch in Ultra HD, it can use as much as 7 GB in an hour.

How Do Streaming Services Adapt to Different Internet Speeds?

Streaming services use adaptive bitrate streaming technology, which automatically adjusts the video quality based on the user’s internet speed. This ensures a buffer-free experience even with fluctuating internet speeds.

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