There is no doubt about the fact that technology has changed the way people watch TV nowadays. According to a Leichtman Research Group study, around three-quarters of the American households prefer to subscribe to an OTT service. OTT stands for over-the-top. It is a system of delivering television programming above and beyond the traditional cable box distribution, and through the open channels of the internet. In other words, people have the freedom to choose a website or app like Netflix or Hulu, sign up and start watching their favorite Hollywood movies right away, instead of adhering to a strict broadcast schedule. This mode of watching TV is also called video streaming.
Video streaming is becoming a go-to option for hundreds of individuals out there, who are stuck at home due to the coronavirus situation in their state. It is one of the best means of keeping the mind engaged and the panic of the epidemic at bay. Not only that, but it also offers a salve to the distressed families and an opportunity of spending some quality time together. There is, however, one catch. With multiple people in a household trying to stream content in their own rooms and on their separate devices, the quality of TV streaming faces an immeasurable drop.
What is the Reason Behind Poor Streaming Quality?
Video streaming essentially depends upon the internet connection to work well. If the connection is strong and fast, then services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and others run smoothly too. On the other hand, if the connection is overly-shared and feeble, then the videos buffer continuously and the images pixelate excessively on the TV screen. This is the main reason why video streaming quality suffers when too many people latch on at the same time.
What is the Prescribed Speed You Need for Netflix, Hulu & Others?
Some of the major streaming giants out there understand the importance of a good internet connection and recommend speeds for an ideal experience. Here are the speed suggestions for the top streaming services:
Netflix – Requires 3 Mbps internet speed for streaming in Standard Definition, 5 Mbps for High Definition and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD or 4K quality.
Hulu – Requires 3 Mbps internet speed for streaming any title from the HD library, 8 Mbps for live TV and 16 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD content.
Amazon Prime Video – Requires 3 Mbps internet speed for SD quality, 5 Mbps for HD quality and 25 Mbps for Ultra HD or 4K quality streaming.
Disney+ – Requires 1.5 Mbps internet speed for library titles, 5 Mbps for HD content, 8 Mbps for Live streaming and 25 Mbps for 4K.
YouTube TV – Requires 3 Mbps+ speed for streaming in SD quality, 7 Mbps+ for one HD video and 13 Mbps+ for streaming multiple HD videos.
Sling TV – Requires 5 Mbps internet speed for a single video stream and 25 Mbps for multiple ones.
FuboTV – Requires at least 20 Mbps internet speed to avoid buffering.
Overall, you may see that a reliable and consistent broadband speed of at least 25 Mbps is needed to enjoy TV streaming in its full potential.
How Can You Improve the TV Streaming Experience?
There are many steps that you can take to boost the quality of your video, whether you are streaming series from Netflix or movies from Hulu on your Fire TV, Apple TV or Smart TV. These tips can work across multiple devices and platforms. By implementing these, you will no longer have to wait for your brother in the other room to finish streaming his live football game to start watching your own shows. Give them a read.
Upgrade Your Internet
As we’ve already mentioned before, video streaming requires a healthy dose of internet speed to bring the best of entertainment from around the world to your TV. So, your primary focus should be on upgrading your internet. To do that, you first need to check how much speed you are already receiving and through what kind of connection.
- Upgrade Your Connection: Different connections have different internet capabilities. DSL offers copper-based internet speeds up to 35 Mbps. Cable provides up to 400 Mbps internet speeds. Fiber Optic dispenses the fastest speeds available in the market, i.e. up to 1000 Mbps. So, settle for an internet connection that suits your streaming requirements and budget. If you believe that your current connection is under-delivering, change it.
- Upgrade Your Plan: Different providers have different internet plans. Some promise speeds starting from 15 Mbps, while others go for the high-end mark of 1 Gig. Some put a monthly limit on data usage in their packages, while others such as Charter offer unlimited data in its Spectrum internet deals. So, evaluate the internet plan you’ve already subscribed to, and if you’re unsatisfied by the speed bracket, then ask for more bandwidth or change your provider.
Once you pick a connection and a complementing speed, your internet should be more than powerful to support a buffer-less TV streaming.
Upgrade Your Router
A router is responsible for distributing internet signals among the data-hungry devices in a house. Because it transmits data wirelessly, it often faces interference of one sort or another. Consequently, due to weak Wi-Fi signals, your video streaming quality suffers. So, what can you do about it? Upgrade the wireless mechanism, of course.
- Restart: Turning the router off and on has a magical effect in relieving Wi-Fi speeds. Any device that is over-worked, under-performs. So, boost your router’s performance by restarting it from time to time.
- Reposition: Your router’s placement matters. If there are hurdles in the way, such as electronic devices, cupboards or walls, then a router’s signals get blocked. So, place the device in an open area to optimize its signal flow.
- Extend: You can empower the router by connecting it with a Wi-Fi extender or booster. This device will double the range of signals and make sure that they reach every single corner of the house.
- Replace: Chances are that your internet service provider offers a specialized router as part of the plan. If not, then you can get your hands on the latest varieties such as D-Link AC1750 or Mesh systems to replace the bad one that you have. Try to pick one with a dual-frequency range, and stream on 5GHz when the 2.4GHz is over-crowded.
By upgrading your router, you can experience a 20% boost in internet speed and TV streaming quality.
Upgrade Your Streaming Hardware
Your internet is set, and still, you’re receiving a pixelated picture? Then, you need to upgrade your streaming hardware. Hardware includes streaming devices like Roku, Google Chromecast, Xbox, and Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc. Check to see if you’ve acquired their latest versions which support the video quality you’re trying to stream. If devices are not your preference, then you can just as easily get a smart TV with HDR and built-in streaming apps. Nowadays, you can purchase a 55” smart display with 4K capability and Voice Assistant for under $500. By upgrading your hardware, you can improve the streaming quality.
Additional tips for enhancing your streaming experience with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and other services are:
- Consider a physical Ethernet connection instead of a wireless one to ensure signal consistency when streaming Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc.
- Eliminate network ‘distractions’ by temporarily pausing background apps, halting downloads and disabling the internet in other devices, so your video streaming can get all the juice.
- Update the firmware on your devices regularly, to remove bugs and welcome new features of video streaming on TV.
- Avoid TV streaming during peak hours.
Watching TV on the internet is all the rage these days, and this post shows you how you can improve the video streaming experience with the help of a few tried-and-tested tips. Keep them in mind the next time you are streaming ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix, and you will never complain about sub-par video quality again.
Author Bio: Robert George is a Digital Marketer at Local Cable Deals who loves to play with Data and Analytics. I do and love establishing businesses online through digital marketing.