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This month’s streaming overview covers considerations for selecting a service.

Since streaming places the viewing power in the hands of the user, channels may be customized. However, before selecting a streaming service, do your research. Know what it is you want so you can best select the service that suits your needs. Use the tools available; the Internet offers comparison tools and consumer reviews offer unfiltered opinions.

Many experts also recommend tracking your television viewing, keeping a TV diary for two weeks, and taking advantage of the free trial period offered by many of the platforms. Tracking your viewing and keeping a TV diary will help you determine what channels you watch. The free trial period will help determine if that service is the right fit for your household.

Things to Consider:

  • Budget
    • How much are you willing to spend?
    • What services are included in the packages offered?
      • Do you have access to premium packages?
    • What is offered – live TV shows, reruns, reboots or original series?
    • What kind of add-on packages are available and their cost?
    • How many screens or devices does the streaming service support?
    • What is the resolution or clarity of the image on the screen?
      • Are you charged more for a higher resolution content?
    • Is the service you are considering reputable?
      • How well do other users rate their service?
      • Are there additional benefits you might realize if you subscribe to their service? For example, you watch videos on XYZ platform. If you subscribe to the streaming service by the same company, could you get commercial free access to their free videos?
    • Channels
      • What are the channels needed in your household?
        • Do you watch sports, cable news, entertainment or local stations?
      • Some streaming services are very specific in the material or genre provided such as a comic-specific channel. If subscribing to these services, make sure the content is not shared with other channels.
    • How much DVR storage is needed?
      • How long do you plan to store the content?
      • How many shows do you plan to record?
      • Some plans include unlimited storage space and features, while others offer limited storage with monthly fees to provide additional storage.
    • How will you stream the content?
      • Some smart televisions support streaming while others require the purchase of a streaming media player.
    • How would the streaming service handle travel?
      • Will the service “travel” with you or would updates be needed?

Typically streaming services do not tie you to long-term contracts. If you are not satisfied with the service, cancel it at the end of the month and try another service. The beauty of streaming services is you are in control and can tailor your programming to your preferences.