Cord cutting: explain it like I'm five.
February 28, 2018 9:19 AM   Subscribe

We don't watch much TV, or stream movies. I have basic cable, and $50/month for 30+ home shopping channels and only a few networks is killing me. So I'm looking at the Youtube TV.

We do not have netflix, hulu, apple tv , amzn prime or anything else (and no strong desire to get them) - we don't watch enough to justify buying the services. (I could be talked into netflix, but we're still more a red-box family)

The youtube TV deal at $35/month offers far more channels than we get for less $. That is attractive.

I have a "smart" TV -- a Vizio something or other (non 4k, bought maybe 3 years ago). It has hulu, netflix and other apps on it, but I've never hooked it up to my internet or used the apps. It's only been hooked up to my cable box.

In reading about youtube TV, I think I need a roku stick to connect to my TV to get it to work - is that correct ? (Or an appleTV box, but roku seems simpler/cheaper etc). Is it that simple ? Buy a roku stick, configure it (how?), slap it in the TV's USB port and it works ?

We have a 15 mbs down/3mbs up cable connection - is that sufficient ?

(I also want "least hassle" - my TV time is something like 20 minutes at night. I'm irritated I can't find anything to watch on my local cable, irritated at paying so much, but not irritated enough to pay $100+/month for more channels or spend hours upon hours setting up some streaming solution/home-brew. I'm looking for a "it just works" solution, and this seems like a good fit. If there are other "just works" solutions I'm happy to hear them. All watching is on a physical TV -- no tablets, no phones, not on my computer/laptop, just the TV.)
posted by k5.user to Technology (43 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Netflix streaming is not good for movies anyway, so your redbox-ness still holds. Netflix streaming is for television, which it seems you want. Streaming is... $10/mth? That would be the direction I'd go, if I were you.
posted by Grither at 9:31 AM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is there anything you particularly want to watch or do you just want some options? I am a cord cutter and I spend the money on Netflix because the things i want to watch are there. I was a holdout for a LONG time. The big deal is that it's hard to access network-type TV without paying for something. So, for example, I watched the Olympics via the NBC Sports app and used my sister's cable tv login to be an authorized user. I have a "dumb tv" and an Apple TV because we can use it to stream stuff from our laptops as well as just watch random stuff. It's good if you're already in the apple universe, probably overkill otherwise. So the things you have to know are

- if you are in a major metro area one option for network TV is an HD antenna for live TV. They are cheap and only have one-time costs.
- your speed will be fine for what you want to do. If someone else in the house is streaming something else you might notice lag but unlikely.
- Looking at a current guide for what is available and see if anything tweaks your interest as far as paid services goes. Tom's Guide is a good one. Here's a longer one that outlines more options. Here's a good comparison chart if there's a single channel you were looking at.
posted by jessamyn at 9:33 AM on February 28, 2018 [5 favorites]

I can say that Roku is very simple to install and configure. And as a cord cutter I've been very impressed with Hulu's offerings.
posted by MillyMath at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2018 [9 favorites]

It's not that scary. The most complicated thing is sorting through the various products on offer, which all vary slightly. Once you've picked your poison, yes, you can just buy a compatible Roku stick (some of the older ones aren't compatible with YouTube TV, I think, but I think all the ones you can buy new in store now are), connect it to an HDMI port on your TV, change your TV to that HDMI input, connect the stick to your WiFi just like it was a regular computer, register the stick with Roku (it will walk you through this process when it starts up), and then associate it with your YouTubeTV account (also an option during setup).

A Chromecast device can also handle this, if you prefer.

I'll be honest, the one thing that has really hampered me from using OTT services full-time (besides cheapness) is that I find that my crappy Internet service, which is nominally considerably faster than yours, often can't handle the strain. But this seems to be very idiosyncratic. Since there are no contracts, if you find you can't get good service, you will be out only whatever you pay for the device and that month's service. Frustrating, but not a huge loss.
posted by praemunire at 9:35 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

If your main thing is that you want some solid basic TV watching options without paying extra money for cable, YouTube TV is the way to go. I'm not sure why people are suggesting Netflix, it doesn't sound like it would take care of any of the things you are looking for. Netflix is mostly movies, Netflix-original tv shows, and some tv series that they license from studios. You can't watch sports or the news or anything like that on Netflix. What kind of content are you looking for? What would you want to ideally want to have access to without paying a big premium for cable?
posted by cakelite at 9:40 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use YoutubeTV with a Chromecast to hook it up to my actual television--you stick the chromecast in your TV's hdmi port and also plug it in to USB for power, then use an app on your phone to configure the Chromecast for your wireless network. You also use the YoutubeTV app on your phone to select actual things to watch.

I like about YoutubeTV that it includes local broadcast stations (but I think that might only be true in certain metro areas?), and I like that I can tell it I'm interested in a particular show/sports team/event and it will record it for me so I can watch later (and when you're watching a recording, you can fastforward through commercials). I like that I can share my membership with the people who are in my Google Play family group. The UI for seeing what is scheduled for broadcast in the future is pretty bad. Some networks make certain shows/movies available to stream through the app even if they haven't recently been broadcast. I'm happy with the service.
posted by Vibrissa at 9:49 AM on February 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

It vastly depends on what exactly you want to watch. Can you come back and fill people in on what your 20 minutes of TV a night is spent on? Or what you'd ideally like it to be spent on?
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:55 AM on February 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have both ROku and Chrmoecast, and I would suggest Roku over Chromecast. It is more of a personal preference. Roku comes with a physical remote, and it is easy to browse/start/stop videos.
With Chromecast you need a phone (or a tablet/PC) to control it. When I'm watching something and the phone automatically gets locked due to inactivity, I always have to unlock the phone to even pause the video. Where as with Roku you get the traditional TV experiance with the physical remote.
posted by WizKid at 10:03 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

We recently subscribed to YouTube TV and use it with Roku devices on our two TVs, plus tablets and laptops. My early impressions are very similar to Vibrissa's. Having the local OTA stations was a big deal for me, and YouTube TV has all the major locals here in Boston except for PBS (PBS has its own separate streaming service now, anyway). We've had 100Mbps from Verizon FiOS and experienced very little lag/buffering so far.
posted by briank at 10:08 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lots of votes for YouTubeTV (we're happy with it here, too), and here's another good thing about it: you can cancel anytime, so you aren't out much if it turns out not to be right for you.
posted by notyou at 10:10 AM on February 28, 2018

I have a Roku based on AskMe's recommendation, and it's extremely easy to use. So easy we bought my seventy-something parents one for Christmas, and they love it. I watch YouTube videos on my TV via the basic app all the time that way. To fully enjoy Roku, though, I think it's best to have someone's cable TV login. That opens a lot of network and basic cable apps.

Are you an animal fan? The animal cameras are really fantastic and relaxing when you can watch them on a TV-sized screen.
posted by gladly at 10:10 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's a free trial of YouTube TV. You can watch it in a browser or a tablet to see if it's for you. I've noticed a few things that are blocked -- no Dr. Oz in my market, oh no!

I think the price goes up tomorrow?
posted by sageleaf at 10:11 AM on February 28, 2018

A Roku is a device that attaches to the tv, and receives WiFi, to allow Internet-delivered content to play on your tv. It's well-packaged and easy. I'm a recent convert, got a Roku Express and it's terrific. I have a Google Chromecast that is okay but limited; the Roku is miles better because there is more content available. With just the Roku, I can watch news and some programming from the major networks. There are some free channels with movies and other content, some of it is okay. Roku has their own channel with 1 or 2 movies a month I want to watch.

I had Netflix for a while, then switched to Hulu to watch The Handmaid's Tale, and stayed because I am watching ER. Apparently I didn't watch tv for the last 8 years of the series. I will probably donate to PBS to get more access to their shows with their Passport account. At some point, I'll leave Hulu and go back to Netflix or another streaming service. I figure I can afford PBS and 1 streaming channel at a time. My son has an Amazon Prime student account and I share Hulu with him. I have yet to come close to running out of good content.

At one point my Internet connection was pretty poor and Netflix streamed with little trouble.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I ended up not cord cutting. When i went to cancel my TV package, my internet only price went way up. Just a thought. I have a chromecast and a roku and the separate remote is great, dragging my phone out to do something gets old.
posted by dstopps at 10:14 AM on February 28, 2018

You already have a smart TV so you shouldn't need an external streaming device like Roku or AppleTV. You should be able to download the youtube app directly to your TV through its built in smart device. That's what smart TV means -- a built in streaming device.

Your TV will need an internet connection, either by ethernet cable from your modem or a wifi router.

15 mbs is fine for HD TV.
posted by JackFlash at 10:37 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

the youtube app

Which is not the same thing as YouTube TV. YouTube TV is analogous to Sling, Hulu Live, PlayStation Vue, Dish Network, etc. It provides many (but definitely not all) of the same cable channels and local broadcast stations you get with traditional cable. So you may indeed still need a Roku or Chromecast even with a smart TV, unless you know for sure the YouTube TV service is available on your television.
posted by briank at 10:47 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

It looks like tubeTV is supported directly on Samsung and LG smart TVs. Unknown whether Vizio has an app yet or will have in the future.
posted by JackFlash at 10:53 AM on February 28, 2018

Response by poster: For what we watch : Mostly PBS cooking shows/Create TV (because that's the only interesting thing on at 9:30 that we can find ;) or re-runs of American Ninja Warrior. It was all Olympics for the past 2 weeks. Usually something that can let us chat and zone out for a bit before going to bed.

I admittedly miss ESPN, though no MNF for the past 4 years hasn't really effected me. I miss NBCSN for the hockey games.

I'm sure the kids would love cartoon network as well. They watch a lot of PBS kids currently.

(That's why it's least hassle -- I don't like paying for it, not entirely sure I could quit cable and have nothing, but ... Maybe a HD antenna would be just as good, though it's usually not the network channels we watch, except PBS, but that's also chicken/egg - watch pbs because it's all there is)
posted by k5.user at 10:57 AM on February 28, 2018

I believe Netflix and Hulu both also have free trials of a week or a month or something. So there's that.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:00 AM on February 28, 2018

Unless you're into sports, Sling, Playstation Vue, and DirecTV Now all have better channel lineups than YouTube TV at that price point. Personally, I prefer Vue, but it's mostly down to what channel lineup works best for you.

And personally, I'm very happy to have spent $200 on an NVidia Shield TV rather than buying a cheap Roku or Fire Stick or whatever. It does far more than just streaming video, though app support can sometimes be an issue (though it has most there is still no official DTVN app) Rarely is it a huge problem since it also acts like a Chromecast so anything that plays on your phone can go on the TV and it is getting better as more TV makers end up using Android TV.
posted by wierdo at 11:01 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you donate to your local PBS station, you might be able to use PBS Passport to just stream from there, including PBS Kids.
posted by fings at 11:15 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Reading through your post and then your follow-up comment, I'm coming in to suggest cancelling cable and having nothing for a few weeks and seeing how you feel about that. I really love TV, but I cancelled a year or so ago because it was stressing me out having all those channels I didn't watch - and I haven't even really thought about it since. We do have a digital antenna that picks up all of the networks and PBS, but the only time we've ever used this is for sports. I also have Netflix/Hulu, but mostly use them while I cook or am at the gym. In general. during leisure time, I just watch much less TV that I used to, and do other things instead. It's nice.
posted by something something at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2018 [10 favorites]

I recommend getting a Roku for convenience. I have the Streaming Stick, and it's super easy to use. It takes a little while to set up, but it's great after that. I have a smart tv, but still opted for the Roku because my TV's smart tv interface is atrocious (samsung), and wants to take 30 minutes to update everytime I go into it.

The Roku has a nice search feature where you can enter in the name of a show or movie and it will show you all of the places you can find that show.

Roku is just an easy interface for accessing the streaming service(s) and/or free channels of your choice. I've had friends with Chromecast, and it's just more problematic than the Roku, and with fewer options.
posted by hydra77 at 11:25 AM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

Unless you're into sports, Sling, Playstation Vue, and DirecTV Now all have better channel lineups than YouTube TV at that price point. Personally, I prefer Vue, but it's mostly down to what channel lineup works best for you.

YouTube has just in like the last week or so recently added a bunch of channels (Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comet, HLN, TBS, TCM, TNT, truTV, and Turner Classic Movies). Adding the Turner networks in particular makes it more competitive. But the price is going up to $40/mo. for subscribers after March 13.

It really does depend on what one, personally, watches.
posted by praemunire at 11:26 AM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is the $50 what you're paying for just the cable TV or is that both TV/Internet? How much are you paying for Internet itself right now? Are they from the same provider? (I'm assuming so.) I do want to second the warning that you may be paying more in total for just Internet so you possibly won't be saving any money by cancelling the TV portion of your package. (It was a few years ago, but I ran into that. However, I think they cut my total bill and increased my Internet speed in exchange for keeping the absolute most basic TV package. And you may want to up your Internet speed if you'll be streaming more.)

I would definitely try an antenna and see how that goes for you. Mine is fairly reliable, considering I live in a basement and I have limited options about where and how high I can place it.

I got YouTubeTV for the Olympics and I'm going to hang onto it for a month or two. The unlimited DVR is a major appeal and there's a decent selection of on-demand type programming. I would say the package is fairly sports-heavy and local channels are limited -- where I am (DC area), I only have ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC -- no PBS or CW (this may vary by location, though).

You can get more with Sling TV for the same price (DVR is an add-on expense) but your local channels will be limited there too.

The Roku is extremely easy to set up and use and I really recommend that (I do not have a smart TV though).

Unfortunately, there's not necessarily going to be a perfect solution, but for your situation, I'd recommend trying an antenna & then possibly Sling TV.
posted by darksong at 11:45 AM on February 28, 2018

Just on the math (which obviously varies from place to place), I'm paying $55/mo. for Internet (it was $45/mo. for the first year). Adding on $30 for Sling or even $35 for Youtube doesn't exceed cable costs, especially when you factor in all the garbage BS fees and rental charges they tack on (HD fees! DVR fees! Because We Said So Fees!) that it's pulling teeth even to get them to disclose, plus the inevitable escalations (I think I can get Internet + TV bundled for $90 + ~$20 in misc. BS fees now, but that's this year; it only goes up and up drastically when the "promo price" expires--they are clearly desperate to get you locked in). If you are only using a standard cable package, it doesn't end up as a huge savings; folks who save a lot of money are those who are dropping from packages with a lot of pay TV channels, etc. But honestly I find being free of the garbage hustle that is the cable side of the package is its own reward.
posted by praemunire at 12:06 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Get a halfway decent OTA antenna. Plug your address in here to see how many channels you will get from that alone, for free.

That will almost certainly be enough TV for you. If it isn't, try adding a streaming service. Your TV will have apps for all of the major ones already, so you should not have to buy any sort of device.

If you have Amazon Prime, you are already paying for Prime Video. If not, Hulu and Netflix would be my next choices. If that still does not suffice, then try YouTube TV or Sling TV or one of the other package deals.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:22 PM on February 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

You may need to spend ~1hr getting your smart TVs internet access and apps set up, but probably not even that much time.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:23 PM on February 28, 2018

If you don't live too far from broadcast towers for your area you can install an indoor or rooftop antenna and pick up local broadcasts (like your PBS station). TV Fool is helpful for seeing what sort of antenna you'd need, where to point it, and what channels you're likely to get this way. If you can get away with an indoor antenna lots of people seem happy with stuff from Mohu. Our TV is in the basement so an indoor antenna doesn't always work for us, and so we have an older relative of the Clearstream 2Max from Antennas Direct (bought at our local Best Buy as an open box return so it was discounted). We haven't had any signal problems at all since I installed the rooftop antenna, a slightly better result than we even had with FiOS.

Aside from a brief diversion with Comcast (before they discovered the "mistake" that they weren't charging us enough in fees on our $7 TV add-on) we've had only broadcast channels since 2006, either via antenna or as a free (or nearly free) bundle on whatever internet service we had. We've had a steaming Netflix account for a while, and we had Amazon Prime before it included video streaming, so now we have both. Our LG TV has a Sling app so we signed up for a month of Sling for the Olympics. The streaming part of the service is OK, although periodically it will lose its data sync and drop out of HD. The app on the TV is terrible, though, and I wouldn't keep paying $30/mo for access to it.

If you want to stream TV, the big question is if you want to binge or you want to keep up with current shows. For binging TV shows, Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu are the best options (depending on exclusive deals), with Acorn a possibility if you like British shows. Netflix has the best UI. It remembers where you were in whatever series, and its interface is slightly better than Amazon's (if you finish a season of a show with Netflix, it automatically continues to the next season; Amazon makes you start each season separately). Hulu charges too much money if you want the version without commercials, so I haven't seen its interface in a while, but people do seem to complain about it. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu all have some movies, although Netflix is clearly prioritizing its own original series now. If you're a big movie buff, FilmStruck just added all the content that used to be on Warner Archive, and you can upgrade from the basic plan (or prepay for a year) to add access to content from the Criterion Collection. Or you can just add HBO to many streaming plans and get whatever they're showing.

For current shows, it really depends on what channels you want to watch. Look at, which will allow you to identify channels as must-haves and order all your like-to-haves by priority and see the best/cheapest package for you. But also have a good long look at your cable provider's prices, because as other people have pointed out they may charge you more for standalone internet than they charge you for internet and TV combined. This depends on your provider. With Comcast I found that they wanted to charge $20 in fees on $7 worth of TV service, so we stuck with our antenna and used Comcast for internet only. With FiOS we had a package with internet and local channels, with no box rental, and it cost us $83 after the initial promo expired. We had to cancel that service (in my name) and sign up again (in my wife's name) to get the new gigabit internet service they offered, and I can't make sense of the billing at all. It's $70/mo if you don't also have FiOS TV, and $200/mo if you do.
posted by fedward at 12:25 PM on February 28, 2018 [4 favorites]

Also: due to the vagaries of licensing, movies appear on, and disappear from, streaming services with regularity. Sites like the NYT's Watching do a pretty good job of tracking these changes and recommending content that's new or expiring. Netflix, at least, hides movies from your list when their rights expire, but when they get the rights again the movies reappear on the list. Amazon's streaming is different since they also allow you to rent or purchase movies from the same watchlist. On Amazon the movie never disappears from your list if it's still available for rent or purchase, it just loses the Prime checkmark. This can be annoying, since we'll add something to the watchlist when it's "Included with Prime" and then be hit with a payment barrier when we actually want to watch it (a month or two later). I guess if you prioritize being able to see a specific movie at any time and you don't mind paying to rent it, Amazon would be "better" to you; if you're just surfing for content that won't cost you anything extra, Netflix is "better" for that.
posted by fedward at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2018

Chiming in for Roku. I've owned no less than three Roku devices over the past 8 years; The hardware refreshes often enough that it's worth the upgrade every 3-4 years, and they're cheap enough that the overall cost/year is negligible. And as others have noted, they are dead simple to use. The initial walkthrough after you plug it into your TV is as easy as can be, and you can build your own menu of channels for the services you like to use.

I've been a happy Netflix/Hulu user for some time (I rarely if ever watch TV live anymore) and have become accustomed to adding/quitting additional services to supplement those as the whim strikes me.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2018

If you don't live too far from broadcast towers for your area you can install an indoor or rooftop antenna and pick up local broadcasts (like your PBS station).

Was going to suggest this. If you have good signals around you, these antennas can be quite inexpensive. I cut the cable a year ago and was surprised what a $15 antenna gets me over the air - including the various flavors of PBS. (But I'm in a major city with a pretty straight line between all the broadcast antennas coming from the top of the tallest building downtown.)

I used to have a Chromecast when I was dipping my toe in this world, I never really took to it. I'd say, if you're an Apple/Mac/iPhone person like I am, go with an Apple TV. I enjoy the easier integration with my iTunes music and my iPhone - (for example, when searching for something on the Apple TV, my iPhone becomes a keyboard I can type into.) If you're not heavily into the Apple/Mac world, Apple TV is still a good option, but Roku does pretty much all the same things I think. I would get one of those two.

I haven't looked much into YouTube TV, but it looks a lot like Sling TV which I use and like - in some ways the YouTube one looks better to me in having all the major networks, some channels in the base package that Sling only has in add-ons, and looks like YouTube includes DVR functions (also an extra cost in Sling).

So I would say do it. Get an HDTV antenna, either an AppleTV or a Roku, and the YouTube TV service or something like it.
posted by dnash at 1:27 PM on February 28, 2018

I just set up a Roku device for non-technical older relatives a couple of months ago. I quickly browsed through the available free channels to bookmark some for them and at least some content of all the types you list in your most recent comment was available (except maybe American Ninja Warrior, but I didn't look for that specifically)—i.e., did not require paying a further monthly fee as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime would require.

One note... often you open up one of the free channels and you run into a dialog asking you to go to the channel's web site and create an account and plug the username and password into the Roku, but if you back out and re-open the channel it will then let you watch without doing any of that crap. (I'd assume it periodically prods you to create an account from time to time but that can be skipped the same way.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:48 PM on February 28, 2018

DIRECTV NOW will give you a free AppleTV 4K or FireTV streaming device if you prepay for a few months of service (3 for the Apple, 1 for the Fire). They also had a Roku deal but it might be disappearing soon.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:34 PM on February 28, 2018

We have Netflix and Roku accounts. Netflix and Roku are built into most recent “internet ready” DVD/Blu-ray players or TVs. Anyway, Netflix movie streaming is not great. The selection is poor and apparently shrinking. Streams are often interrupted with the fatal rebuffering error despite my “business class” service with higher speeds. Roku is a bit better.

On my older TV, I use an old MacBook running OSX 10.6.8 hooked to the TV and I can almost always find a free download or stream that I search for. You probably have an older laptop laying around which would be fine. You could even install a Linux-based media/streaming distro like Kodi.

Do it. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there. We often watch foreign feeds of cricket (WI channels) or Premier League ( SkyTV has many on stream).
posted by sudogeek at 2:37 PM on February 28, 2018

What will work best will depend what you like to watch. We mainly watch PBS video and Netflix (shared account with relatives) streamed to our TV from our phones or tablet using a Chromecast connected to our older, non-smart digital tv, and have an over the air antenna that was a hand-me-down from my parents and still works to get a dozen or more channels (including all the PBS ones, Create, etc), which is useful when older relatives visit and want to watch the news or a sports game. When we want to watch a series we don't otherwise have access to, we wait until it comes out on DVD and check them out from the library. Our library also has a video streaming app, but I haven't used it much. All of the streaming works fine on our cheapest-speed-available $20 internet that the cable person warned us wouldn't be fast enough.

If you like to watch PBS, I would take a look at the PBS Video and PBS Kids apps or sites, as well as check if your library has any video streaming apps. They're free, and if you find you don't like them or aren't using them, you can always delete them.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 4:54 PM on February 28, 2018

We got rid of Dish about 14 years ago when I got fed up with paying $40/month for maybe a nickel's worth of TV. We've been pretty satisfied with just Netflix and occasional Redbox since, though a couple years ago we added Amazon Prime to the mix. (Got it for shipping, kept it for videos, especially once we realized that it's discounted for us.) Still a lot cheaper than Dish or any other offering I've seen, and oddly, there's a lot more to watch.
posted by stormyteal at 5:30 PM on February 28, 2018

I've just started trying this as well. I did a trial of YouTube TV (free for a week) and now I'm trying DirectTVNow. You can get a trial for $10 a month for three months (then it's $35 a month). I like it more than YouTube TV.
posted by orsonet at 6:54 PM on February 28, 2018

Philo is a relatively new service - $16/month for 37 channels; $20/month for 46 channels. However, they have no major sports channels. (Those are a substantial part of the cost of normal cable.)

I haven't tried it; it was recommended to me last weekend, and I'm still looking at it. My family gets Netflix, Amz Prime, and daughter has YouTube Red, which has apparently been poor enough that she's not looking for other YouTube paid features. She says there are a few bloggers with content only on YT Red, but otherwise, the hype doesn't match the value. YouTube Red has no direct connection to YouTube TV.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:36 PM on February 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

YouTube TV has a free week trial. Do that to test your speeds and see what you think. Your speeds sound low to me, but maybe that's because mine are unnecessarily high. I liked the free trial and I'm considering subscribing to it. I also have Netflix that I use daily, but it's very different than YouTube TV.
posted by AppleTurnover at 1:32 AM on March 1, 2018

Oh, something I JUST figured out yesterday (DUH)--the cheapest Roku stick currently on the market (the one that costs about $30) can't see 5ghz WiFi (so b/g/n, not ac). Depending on how heavy traffic is in your neighborhood, that may mean a serious hit for streaming performance. You'll need to get the "Streaming Stick," not the "Express," if you think you might need to use the 5ghz band. About $20 more.
posted by praemunire at 8:02 AM on March 1, 2018

I just want to emphasize that if you decide to go with a streaming service you probably do not need to buy any hardware. Your smart TV basically has a Roku built into it already (my smart TV literally uses the Roku software and interface). You just need to connect the TV to your WiFi and download the appropriate apps.

Now, you may decide to buy a Roku or similar, some older smart TVs have pretty bad software/UI and if you get a separate streaming device you won't have to deal with the built-in software much if at all, but you don't need to.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:20 PM on March 1, 2018

Actually, from a quick check, it looks as if not all Vizios may support OTT services like Sling (yet?).
posted by praemunire at 6:41 PM on March 1, 2018

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