How Does Free Cable TV Streaming Work?


Quick Answer

Free cable TV streaming works through the Internet rather than a cable connection and is viewed directly on a computer or on a television through a streaming device such as Roku. Some cable channels require a subscription to enable streaming, while others provide free streaming of some or all programs.

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Full Answer

Streaming requires a good broadband Internet connection. Netflix and other streaming video services suggest downstream speeds of 5 Mbps, but higher speeds may be required to stream video on multiple devices or to prevent buffering delays. Several devices are available for streaming, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast. Prices of these devices range from $35 to $99, as of 2015.

Roku provides many cable channels with free programs, including PBS, History, Lifetime, ESPN and CBS News, among others. Subscribing to Hulu Plus enables access to hundreds of television programs for a monthly charge of $7.99. Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions provide access to additional television shows, movies and other content.

Programs previously available only through cable providers are now available as separate streaming subscriptions. For example, HBO is available for streaming without a cable subscription through Apple TV as HBO Now, with a monthly cost of $15.

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