Set-Top TV Streaming - Watch TV The Way You Want

TV Streamers are the highly popular alternative to expensive Cable or Satellite Services
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Set-Top TV Streaming - The Popular Alternative to Cable

According to Variety a total of 22.2 million US adults will have cancelled their cable or satellite service to date . Up 33% on 2016. And the number of those who have never taken out a subscription will have risen by 5.8% to 34.4 million. It’s clear, people are looking for and are using extremely popular alternatives to cable. They are managing to achieve this using set-top streaming devices, such as the hugely popular Amazon Fire TV stick and the Roku Streaming Stick.

Let’s be honest, cable companies do very well amassing substantial profits by grouping a few popular channels along with a large number of fairly uninteresting content. This means customers are cornered into paying large monthly subscriptions to watch just 4 or 5 interesting channels. With limited control over when and where we watched the content, we paid heartily for. Hardly value for money.

However, as cable providers grew from their profits, they also increased consumer broadband speeds. This opened up a new playing field, as bigger broadband speeds allowed bigger and better content to come into your home through your broadband connection. This is where Netflix seized a golden opportunity and introduced us to a new way of watching TV shows and movies.

Consumers could watch content the way they wanted, when they wanted to see it. All without a hefty cable or satellite subscription. Soon, other services joined Netflix and began  offering affordable TV over the Internet. 

Younger audiences were switching over to services such as Netlflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Some without ever joining a cable service. In doing so saving hundreds (possibly thousands) each year on potential cable and satellite bills.

Growing Number of TV Streaming Services Supported by Set Top TV Streamers

Set-Top TV Streaming Device Features


Set-top streaming devices allow you to access on-line TV and Movie services for a fraction of the cost of cable or satellite services. You can a great TV Streamer for under $100


Watch the TV shows and movies you want. Create your own channel line-up by subscribing only to the TV streaming services you want. Your TV streaming device will present you with a tailored viewing experience.


TV streaming devices now come in sizes close to that of a USB drive which means they're extremely portable. Take the TV shows you've subscribed to anywhere you travel. Ideal if you're away on business

Top 5 of the Best Set-Top TV Streaming Devices

# Click for Price Model Brand Portable Design 4K Support


Roku Streaming Stick ROKU Stick


Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote AMAZON Stick


Roku Streaming Stick+ ROKU Stick




Roku Ultra | 4K/HDR/HD ROKU Set Top Box

Set-Top TV Streaming Devices Round-Up

Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick, is the highly popular choice for people looking for a device providing an alternative to cable . It’s well-priced for many pockets and comes with a raft of features which include HD video output, voice control (using Alexa) and a responsive TV navigation system that matches it’s more expensive brother, the Amazon Fire TV.

The beauty of the Amazon Fire Stick is that it is not much bigger than a USB stick which means it’s extremely portable. You can take it anywhere with you e.g. on holiday, business trips or even when stopping over at a friend’s. You can even leave the remote at home and use the slick Smartphone app which brings all the functions of the remote.

What truly sets Amazon Fire TV Stick apart from its competitors is Alexa voice control which allows you to speak in natural language to control your viewing eg saying “skip forward five seconds”, will do just that.

Amazon Fire TV

The bigger brother to the Fire TV Stick, is a great addition to your main TV as a home hub. If you’re looking for excellent response and performance while zipping through your movies and TV shows, the Amazon Fire TV is a serious consideration as a cable alternative.

It has two large feathers in it’s cap, 4K HDR video playback and the impressive Alexa voice control (as with it’s baby brother, the Fire TV Stick).

If you’re serious about 4k and HDR viewing then it’s certainly worth paying the extra for the Amazon Fire TV. It has the power and performance to smoothly handle your Ultra HD content and deliver crystal clear movies and shows on your 4K TV.

Roku Streaming Stick

Roku is one of the pioneers of TV streaming devices and their experience shows in their attention to the excellent usability of their TV screens. They cater to you with a warm hug of beautifully customisable screens allowing you to pick and choose which streaming services you want to appear on your main screen. So you can happily add Netflix, Spotify and Hulu services on your startup screen if they’re your services of choice.  And on that point, Roku devices have the biggest catalog of channels (or apps as they’re called) you can add to your device.

The Roku Streaming Stick is a wonderfully portable device ideal for those on the move (it even has a function that allows you to connect it to hotel WiFi networks (which usually ask for user names and passwords). It performs well and has a great mobile phone app that allows you to not only control your Roku remotely, but also to listen to TV in private by plugging a set of headphones into your mobile phone.

Its a great mid-priced device for those looking for portability and a large catalog of channels to choose from. If you are a looking to explore 4K HDR TV, then there’s also Roku Streaming Stick Plus which, for a little extra in price,  has the same performance as the Streaming Stick but with added 4k features.

Roku Ultra

The Ultra is Roku’s 4k HDR flagship streaming device . Being Roku, it has access to a decent 4k and HDR catalog in addition, it comes with some added touches which include being able to insert a micro USB stick to play stored movies and shows and a remote with a motion sensor (eg for game play ). Naturally it is a great performer with all the benefits of a Roku device.  As with the Streaming Stick, it also comes with a great feature allowing you to plug your headphones directly into the remote, allowing you to watch TV and movies in private without disturbing anyone around you.

Top 5 TV Streaming Services

So you’re considering an alternative to cable TV and joining the growing numbers who’re saving on their monthly bills. Well, having decided on which device works best for your needs, your next step is to select and subscribe to one or more TV and movie streaming services.

The beauty of TV streaming services is that they cost considerably less than a hefty cable subscription and still provide large libraries of TV series and Movies. This is the appeal leading millions to make the switch to TV streaming services and Set-Top devices.


Netflix is the original Cable and Satelite services disruptor and continues to grow from strength to strength. With a raft of highly popular “Netflix Original” shows, and Franchise series’ from Marvel, Netflix is a must-have on your list of streaming services.

Top 5 Best TV Streaming Services

It’s a hotbed of binge-watching favourites, from Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to the highly popular Stranger Things, Walking Dead and the Good Wife. Netflix stands out in its offerings of multiple seasons of the best series across cable channels, excluding HBO (sorry, no Game of Thrones guys).

Netflix won’t supply you with the latest episodes of current series. Instead you’ll find you’re a season behind the latest aired episode. Obviously this will not affect you if you’re watching a series that has already completed.
In operation, Netflix clearly has the viewer in mind. Now with viewer profiles, Netflix lets you and your family members create a profile each. As you open Netflix you’re asked to select your profile before being taken to a welcome screen of movie and TV thumbnails.

Netflix takes note of the shows you watch, it then presents you with several rows of content. The top row usually lists the shows you started but haven’t finished, giving you the opportunity to continue where you left off. In addition Netlix lists recommendations based on your viewing history and shows similar or related to ones you’ve previously watched.

Being able to watch Netflix on several devices you may find you need to switch from your main TV to either a laptop or tablet to continue watching. Netflix lets you pick up exactly where you left off once you open up the service on another device. A great feature saving you the time having to hunt down (and even remember) where you left off.


While Netflix is great for shows and movies, some exclusive to its service, Hulu will provide you with shows the day after airing. It pulls shows from ABC, NBC and Fox networks.

Hulu has a small offering of original shows, but none as impressive as Netflix’s wide and popular catalogue. As a feather in their cap, they do carry the award-winning Handmaids Tale.

Unusual for a paid streaming service, Hulu includes ‘limited ads’ in its bottom tier service. This might not sit well with many given you’re already paying a monthly fee. Hulu offers ad-free streams on their next tier, however, they point out that it’s unable to offer some shows on this tier due to streaming rights.

Hulu also allows you to add HBO, CINEMAX and SHOWTIME shows to your plan at their respective price points (if bought as stand-alone services). Allowing you to combine a number of streaming providers under one service.

You can now watch live TV on Hulu if you select their live TV tier. This tier also includes ad breaks which again you can opt out of by paying extra each month.

Amazon Instant Video

Amazon Instant Video is a great mix of Netflix’s TV binge-watch favorites along with a hearty video-on-demand store.

The king of e-commerce is keen to bring it’s shoppers into its Amazon Prime Eco system which immediately gives them access to a wealth of other services. Including Amazon Instant Video. So if you are an Amazon Prime member, you automatically have access to Amazon’s streaming service. However, you do not need to be a Prime member to subscribe, as it’s available as a standalone service from Amazon.

Top 5 Best TV Streaming Services

Being a heavyweight in the consumer market, Amazon has put a great deal of money into its streaming service. And actively involves its viewers in voting for TV pilots they’d like to see develop into full seasons. They have also struck up a deal with HBO to carry a raft of its older shows.

In terms of add-on services, Amazon beats Hulu hands down in terms of quantity and price. You can grab Showtime, Starz and Comedy Central at a lower cost than that offered by Hulu.


HBO has offered TV streaming of their cable service for some time via HBO Go. However, only cable subscribers could use the streaming service. With the rise in people searching for cable alternatives, HBO has tapped into the market with HBO Now.

HBO Now provides great conent in buckets. Here you can access every episode of your favourite HBO original series both past and present including The Wire, Veep and Oz (yes including Game of Thrones). In addition, HBO Now carries a good mix of movies including favorites that are often hard to find on other streaming services.

HBO has a wealth of entertainment within it’s own arena of original hit TV shows movies, sporting events, documentaries, comedies and more. With that, you’ll also have access to exclusive interviews and other additional content

Unlike Netflix, HBO Now’s service doesn’t allow you to download TV shows for offline viewing. On the positive side, HBO Now airs new shows within hours of bring broadcast live whilst Netflix will leave you a season behind.

HBO Now truly shines in its content, which is key when you’re selecting a cable alternative. Not only that, HBO now represents great value for money .

PlayStation Vue

Unlike the streaming providers previously mentioned, Playstation Vue is the only one in the list offering live TV streaming. So it closely matches your existing cable experience. Therefore, Playstation Vue is a worthy consideration for those taking the first steps in ending their cable contract and opting for a cable alternative.

Top 5 Best TV Streaming Services

If you fear missing cable channels, then PlayStation Vue will ease you into the world of cable cord cutters. Offering you plenty of channels, flexibility to add or remove premium channels as and when you need. In addition, Playstation Vue works across a large number of devices.

Let’s clarify a key point on the PlayStation Vue. You do not need to have a PlayStation console to watch PlayStation Vue. It actually supports and is available for most streaming devices. With that said, PlayStation Vue is the nearest offering to a cable alternative in one package. Offering you live TV at a more realistic and justifiable price than cable. It also includes more channels and a free built-in DVR, not available on its nearest competitor, Sling TV.

Recommended Set-Top Streaming Devices

Free Over The Air HD Television

For those who wish to save even more on TV viewing costs, OTA(Over The Air) TV services give you the freedom to watch HD TV for free using an indoor or outdoor aerial.

The quality of your TV reception depends on how near you are to your local area transmitter and the power of the aerial you’ll use to receive the signal.

Of course the content is limited to the channels provided by the local transmitting service however, OTA services present a cheap alternative should you wish to enjoy free TV.

In order to receive OTA HD TV channels, you’ll need a good quality indoor or outdoor aerial along with a OTA set-top player.

The great thing about OTA set-top players is that there are no on-going costs. Once you purchase your aerial and set-top player, there are no further costs. You’re free to enjoy HD TV channels for as long as you wish avoiding subscription costs associated with TV Streaming and Cable services.



The beauty of Set-Top streaming devices is that they allow you to create your own tailored TV and Movie experience.

You decide which TV service(s) have the ideal channel line-up for you and simply add it to your selection of TV streaming channels on your device. Much like the way you add apps to your mobile phone. You’re free to chop and change your TV streaming channels as and when you like with no lengthy tie-ins as you do with cable.

Set-top streaming devices offer excellent value for money,  flexibility and range of choice lacking in cable TV services. This explains why so many are now ditching cable in favor of one of these devices!

So, hopefully there’s enough information here to help you consider the right Set-Top TV Streaming Device for you and which TV Streaming service or services you’d like to pair it with.