Making Sense of Streaming
The Internet keeps disrupting legacy media and services. It rendered paper magazines and newspapers obsolete, then the physical distribution of video games, then going to a bricks and mortar location to do your banking. In the wake of COVID-19, we’re even rethinking fundamental ways of doing things like work and education.
Consumers are set to spend more than 800 hours using mobile internet devices in 2020, stealing share from television, which nevertheless remains the world’s favourite medium globally, according to research from advertising agency Zenith. And despite the decline, it still accounts for a third of all media consumption in 2021.
In the US alone, from 2017 to 2020, 20.1m more people terminated their cable packages. In Canada, the trend is less severe but still on the upward trajectory.
The question is, should you join the cord-cutters? Find out if it is worthwhile to cut your cable cord and what you need to make the transition from cable to streaming.
Currently, there are three ways you can enjoy TV content:
- Via antenna — regardless if the signal is digital or analogue, broadcast TV is the most basic and oldest distribution of TV content, ever since CBC introduced its TV program in Canada, in 1952. This is the cheapest method, as it only requires an antenna/DTV receiver, but it also has the poorest content selection. Thankfully, Canada is one of the few rare nations in the world that doesn’t require you to pay a TV license, as a form of tax for owning a television set.
- Via cable/satellie. Cable is delivered via radio frequency signals transmitted through coaxial cables or light pulses through fiber-optic cables, whereas satellite television delivers programming via communications satellites and is received by an outdoor antenna called a satellite dish.
- Via the Internet — this system can go either through cable (phone lines) or 3G/4G/5G networks. Although both Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and Over-the-top (OTT) content providers stream via the Internet, IPTV is a more structured digital TV service using its own private CDN — content delivery network. On the other hand, OTTs, such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney Plus, etc., are simply app-enabled content with a paywall, similar to many newspapers and magazines you can find on the Internet.
In essence, an IPTV is a hybrid between cable TV and OTT.
No doubt, broadcast TV, with its signal-picking from antenna or satellite dish, is still the dominant form of consuming content. However, both broadcast TV and cable TV are on their way out. Extrapolating from trends from the last five years, by 2030, cable TV penetration will fall below 60% of US households. So what are our southern neighbors switching to?
In just ten years, the chance of people having a cable TV in their home will decline to 50/50. Moreover, the largest internet streaming video service—Netflix—has already managed to amass more subscribers/viewers than either cable or satellite TV combined. The momentum has indeed shifted away from the cord!
There are numerous reasons why this is the case, so make sure you understand all of the factors at play before you cut your cable cord.
Cutting the cord: Cable vs. Streaming
To figure out if you should cut your cable cord, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel as if you are paying too much for a monthly cable subscription? Keep in mind that, with streaming TV services, you can go as low as under $20 per month.
- Do you feel you are getting too many cable box channels, of which you only watch a fraction?
- Do you crave content that is not available with cable TV bundles?
- Do you want a greater degree of customizability for your content bundle?
- Do you already have a smart TV or a smartphone?
- Do you want to retain the free broadcast TV channels, but still access streaming content?
If you answered most of those questions in the positive, then you are fully ready to make a move from cable TV to streaming video, which we call IPTV for short.
Of course, Canada’s best streaming services are here to make certain that you need not worry about cable again! Right now, there’s enough competition in streaming on-demand content (from the likes of Netflix, Crave and Amazon Prime Video) that it feels like you’ve got no real excuse not to cut ties with cable TV. Wondering which Canadian streaming service is right for you? We’ve got your back!
2. What is IPTV
If you’re not a part of the media industry, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of internet protocol television (IPTV). But you’ve probably been using it for years. And it’s likely that you’re going to be using it even more in the future. IPTV is growing quickly, with new providers and services popping up alongside traditional TV providers with more IPTV offerings. Of course, as with any new technology, some of them operate in a bit of a legal grey area. That said, IPTV is legal as long as it obeys the rules of principles infringement laws. In this sense, asking whether IPTV is legal is very much like asking whether downloading data off of the internet is okay. Wondering if IPTV is legal in Canada? We’ve got the answer!
But what is IPTV? What does IPTV stand for? How does it work? And how can you use it to improve your TV-watching experience? In the case of IPTIV, internet bandwidth is used to deliver programming. This means that the same network infrastructure that allows you to read this article is also being used to deliver bits of data in the form of movies, TV shows, sporting events, news segments, etc.
In other words, IPTV/OTT is just one of many types of content on the Internet, without requiring a separate signalling infrastructure, as is the case with broadcast television. If you have broadband internet, you already have the capacity to enjoy IPTV/OTT content.
IPTV/OTT has several advantages over broadcast/cable TV:
- It allows you to stream to your device at the highest quality as your internet bandwidth allows it. When people transition from broadcast/cable TV to IPTV, they are shocked at the video quality disparity. This is because the former signal doesn’t adapt to match the resolution of your TV (HD, Full HD, or 4k):
- Broadcast and cable TV: 720p (1280×720p, also called HD) as the minimum, 1080i (1920x1080p, also called Full HD) as the maximum. However, the latest ATSC 3.0 is slowly but drastically upgrading broadcasting capacity all the way up to 4k capability. Nonetheless, even this standard would harness IP.
- Blu-ray, DVD, gaming consoles: Full HD as the minimum, 4k (3840x2160p) as the maximum.
- IPTV/OTT: whatever your internet bandwidth can handle, and the source material allows. However, even the average broadband bandwidth of 25Mbps allows for 4k streaming. With an optic-fibre internet, your internet speed will facilitate multiple 4k streams simultaneously
- With IPTV/OTT, it is much more likely you will find the content you want to actually watch at a much lower monthly cost.
- IPTV/OTT allows you to watch on-demand content, unlike with a broadcast/cable TV programme, which is pre-scheduled. This means you no longer have to worry about your DVR catching missed content! However, some streaming options do offer cloud storage to mimic DVR functionality: AT&T TV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, Philo, and Fubo TV.
Therefore, to truly enjoy the benefits of IPTV, you’ll want to make sure you have the TV hardware to take advantage of your streaming bandwidth. These days, it’s most likely 4k resolution. Otherwise, you would have to deal with upscaling with all its artifacting and loss of detail.
It is quite often the case that people buy a 4k TV, seeing its mesmerizing clarity in the store’s showroom, only to be massively disappointed when viewing it at home because they are unable to supply it with similar 4k content!
3. How to Stream IPTV/OTT
If you already have a smartphone, a Wi-Fi router, and a TV with Wi-Fi capability (most likely smart TV), you are already set up for IPTV/OTT streaming.
For example, if you have both Samsung smart TV and some of their smartphones, you can use screen mirroring to cast the streaming content from your phone to the TV, just as you can cast any content on your phone/tablet (which you can also use as a remote).
Likewise, if you have a PC, you can wirelessly connect it to your TV if it has built-in Miracast or Chromecast. If it doesn’t but has Wi-Fi capability, you need to buy a standalone device such as Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, or Roku, to plug into your PC and then stream IPTV/OTT to your TV.
If none of those options exist, simply buy yourself an Android TV Box.
4. Set-Top Boxes
Plenty of hardware options exist for streaming Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon and the rest. Some of the best streaming media devices on the market today are offerings from Amazon, Roku, Google and Apple. TV streaming devices tend to have more apps, simpler remotes, better search and more frequent updates than the smarts built into your set.
If you’re looking for the best streaming device to go with that new 4K HDR TV, or if your current media streaming device is getting a little chances are you’ll be more than happy with an Amazon Fire, Roku, Chromecast or an Apple TV
Android TV boxes are becoming increasingly popular for their easy to set up IPTV/OTT systems. Like the streaming devices above, these cheap mini-computers have the hardware necessary to serve as your entertainment hub, alongside their integrated Wi-Fi. Moreover, even if your TV doesn’t have Wi-Fi capability, you can plug your Android TV Box to your TV with an HDMI cable.
There are many Android TV Boxes on the market, but we highly recommend you opt for Nvidia Shield TV Box due to its outstanding performance and 4k capability. Afterwards, it’s a simple matter of downloading and installing an IPTV app into your TV Box. Some of the best ones are TiviMate, IPTV Extreme, or XCIPTV.
Then, the last step only consists of finding and subscribing to the right live TV streaming services for you, such as Toronto IPTV. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from streaming any previously mentioned OTT service from your Android TV Box, smart TV, or smartphone/tablet.
Lastly, if these extra boxes represent too much expense or space on your shelf (despite their diminutive size), and you already have a gaming console, you are in luck! You can use both Xbox One or PlayStation 4 as your streaming device when you download a streaming app from their respected online stores.
5. All aboutSmart TVs
Without a smart TV, all you would need is a PC to connect to your TV via HDMI cable, and there you go! You are ready to enjoy streaming services. Regardless if it’s a desktop or a laptop, you would then just use your computer as a remote.
However, since this is a WiFi-oriented site, we do encourage you to go after a more elegant solution. Outside Android TV Boxes, smart TVs are one of those niftier solutions. Analogue to smartphones, smart TV means that it has an integrated media hub and Wi-Fi. And just like with smartphones, you would simply have to download an app, either for IPTV or an OTT, to get started.
As you can see, there are plenty of cheap to zero-cost options to cut your traditional cable cord right away and start enjoying streaming services. Most likely, since you are reading this on the Internet, you already have everything it takes to get started. Priced considerably below your standard cable TV bundle, Canadian streaming services are engaged in a fierce drive towards gaining customers and securing brand loyalty. As with other products and services, this will only benefit the end-user—you! Find the right package for you!