While live network and cable television viewing continues to decline in numbers, the popularity of live streaming tv- both as a viewer and as a content creator- continues to explode. But a lot of people who’d love to be the next Minecraft superstar may find it intimidating or cost-prohibitive to get started as a content creator- while many potential viewers simply don’t know how to stream tv, or even where to begin after getting the best TVs available.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Live streaming content online is well on its way to dominating over cable
  • Being a professional livestreamer yourself is easier than ever even on a very limited budget
  • The majority of young viewers watch nearly all their video content online

Thankfully there are more tools available than ever at every budget level for both becoming a creator yourself or simply catching the big game without having to sign up for cable TV.

Streaming TV for Viewers

For people who either want to stop using cable service and still watch their favorite shows as well as anyone who wants access to the huge universe of content provided by services like Netflix and Hulu, understanding how to stream media is a must.

The most popular methods of streaming tv content involve a combination of a streaming device like an Amazon Firestick, Google Chromecast, or Roku, and subscriptions to streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max.

If you’re looking to replace your cable service, you’ll generally have to access that cable service either directly through a streaming device, or via a channel subscription on Youtube Premium, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or several other major content providers.

Insider Tip

The most popular methods of streaming tv content involve a combination of a streaming device like an Amazon Firestick, Google Chromecast, or Roku, and subscriptions to streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max.

Using a Streaming Device

Although availability will vary from device to device and network/cable service, we can use streaming devices like the Roku or Amazon’s Firestick as good general examples of how streaming television content works. In the setup menus for many devices, you can choose to add your cable provider- Comcast, for example, to your Home screen, using the credentials from your cable account. Not all streaming devices will offer this service, however.

Another way to access television content is via apps made by your cable provider or specific networks. TNN, HBO, BET, and ESPN are all examples of networks that offer apps for various streaming devices. Again, however, not every streaming device will have an app available for the specific network you want access to and note that you must either subscribe to that network via the app or have access to it already via a cable provider. Upon opening the app for the first time, you’ll be asked to enter your account information to access its content.

Lastly, you can access some network or cable content by adding channels to a streaming platform. With a Youtube Premium account, for example, you can add access to BBC America’s content, and the monthly subscription charge will be added to your Youtube Premium’s total monthly charge.

Using these methods, you can access television content via your streaming device or a streaming platform without using a cable hookup, and if you want to stop paying for cable altogether but still want access to specific networks, or even pay-per-view content, you can simply add those channels to a streaming platform you already use and only pay for those specific networks.

Remember, not all streaming devices will provide access or apps for all cable providers or specific networks, so if you’re planning on purchasing a device primarily for this purpose, check to see if it will work with your preferred networks or cable provider. Otherwise, you may have to continue using over-the-air tv, which will need you to learn how to rescan tv.

Streaming Your Own Content

While it may seem like a lot of hugely popular live streamers are simply hitting the record button and putting up impromptu content, a lot of planning and organizing goes even into the most barebones gaming streams and tiny desk concerts.

You may not be starting off with a professional soundstage and high-end cameras, but there are definitely going to be a few items you’ll need to start with.

A Content Plan/Concept for Streaming

While gamer streams and sports content are both incredibly popular forms of content for live streaming, creating your own of either isn’t a guarantee of success or of building a solid fan base. While there’s always room for new ideas for both, thinking outside the box here can really help attract viewers. Asking yourself what _isn’t _out there is always a good idea.

Insider Tip

Streaming software or encoders as they are also called transmits your video and audio from your device (laptop, desktop computer, smartphone) to your chosen streaming platform.

Microphone

Depending on the kind of content you’re going to be creating, there are a few different basic options for good quality but reasonably inexpensive microphones. While you don’t have to and at this stage, shouldn’t break the bank, don’t skimp on getting a good-sounding microphone that’s designed to suit your purpose.

  • Lavalier mics are small clip-on mics great for interview-format content, especially on sets that don’t have a lot of space for unobstructed mic placement.
  • USB Mics are made for plug and play functionality and for being sensitive and detailed enough to record speaking voices well even from a few feet away. This is often the best choice for beginners in terms of both ease of use and sound quality, though they do take up some space.
  • Shotgun mics are specially built to pick up targeted audio sources at a distance and are excellent for sports and other content filmed outdoors, where mic placement can be difficult. Most live streamers won’t need this option, and they do tend to be more expensive than other purpose-built mic types.

Streaming Software

Streaming software or encoders as they are also called transmits your video and audio from your device (laptop, desktop computer, smartphone) to your chosen streaming platform. Needless to say, it’s essential for streaming your content. Hardware encoders are available for streamers at any level, software options such as StreamLabs OBS, Xsplit, and Restream Studio are easier to use and free.

Warning

If you’re looking to replace your cable service, you’ll generally have to access that cable service either directly through a streaming device, or via a channel subscription on Youtube Premium, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or several other major content providers.

Good Internet Service

It might seem obvious, but it can’t be overstated how important secure, reliable, and fast internet service is for live streaming. While it’s perfectly possible for conventional internet providers to offer sufficient service if you are willing to spend a little more every month, a fiber optic service will provide much better speed and often more reliability.

Other Accessories

If you’re willing to up your budget a little, some other accessories that can really open up your creative options and increase production quality are purpose-built video lighting, which can greatly improve your image quality and level of professional sheen, a green screen, and obviously, a better camera- though the latter can be a huge investment and many streamers still use their smartphones or built-in or inexpensive web cameras.

Don’t let your budget constraints discourage you, though- none of the above are necessary to create live streaming content at a professional level- at the end of the day your ideas and their execution are much more important. Also, you can check out our article on how to tell if tv fuse blown if you are experiencing problems with your TV.

F.A.Q.

What kind of content is good for streaming on Twitch?

While Twitch was originally conceived as and still primarily functions as a gaming content platform, its “Just Chatting” subcategory of content is used by many for non-gaming-related content.


What is the bare minimum upload speed for streaming content?

Whether it’s for viewing or live streaming your own content, 3Mbps is the bare minimum upload speed you need for reliable streaming of your content in standard HD. For 4k and other high-resolution content, 25Mbps or better is needed.


Can I use my cable service with an internet connection?

Many cable providers offer access to the networks included in their plans via streaming devices like the Firestick, Roku, or Apple TV, though it varies from cable provider and streaming device, so check with both your provider and the streaming device you intend to use is a must.


Will using a VPN affect my internet speed while live streaming?

While using a VPN to mask your IP can sometimes slow down internet speeds slightly, it shouldn’t be enough to interfere with your live streaming, unless your specific platform has rules or restrictions regarding VPNs.


STAT: In 2021, only 42% of audiences have a cable subscription for the purpose of watching live television or other content.

Jed Smith

I'm a musician and recording engineer and live in Queens. I have a cat. Her name is Elsa. I love to write about consumer tech and musical instruments.

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