Streaming Basics: Part 1

I asked readers what they were most interested in learning about. The number one response was streaming. Streaming is when you watching programming via your Internet connection as opposed to over-the-air or through a channel programming package via a cable or satellite provider.

You can watch streaming programming on a TV, a PC or Mac, a smartphone, or a tablet.

To watch these services on your television you either need a Smart TV or some type of streaming device. That could be a game console like a PlayStation or Xbox, but it is often a streaming box or streaming stick. Examples of a streaming device include Roku, Amazon Fire Sticks, or Apple TV.


These devices require a high-speed wireless Internet connection. Some boxes can be plugged directly into a modem, but that means you’ll be limited to having a device right there by the modem. Devices range in cost from around $30 for a basic streaming stick to $130 for something like AppleTV.

Streaming sticks plug into an HDMI port on your TV.  Streaming boxes plug into an HDMI port with a cable. Streaming sticks are smallish, roughly double the size of a USB flash drive. Most boxes are quite small, roughly around  4″ by 4″.


Basically, these devices turn your TV into a tablet that’s capable of running apps (which is short for application and means the same thing as a program in this situation.) In most cases an Android tablet, unless you are using Apple TV.  Instead of a touchscreen, you control the stick or box with a remote or with an app on your tablet or smartphone.


An example of an app that runs on a streaming box is Netflix. You can open Netflix and select from their library of programming to watch. You can watch any program you like at any time. There’s no schedule as to when things air as with traditional TV. These shows are not stored on a hard drive on your device. You are streaming them from a cloud server.  Viewers are able to pause where they like and then come back later to pick up where they left off.


Some services, such as Netflix, have an individual monthly subscription fee.  Others like PlutoTV or basic YouTube are free to download and to watch. You can have subscriptions to multiple services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. You won’t receive one consolidated bill for all of your services like with cable and satellite. You’ll need to pay for each subscription service separately.

You aren’t limited to watching Netflix programming on your TV. You can also download the app to watch on your phone, tablet, or PC. In fact, you don’t actually need a TV at all for the service. The same is true for most other streaming apps.

One thought on “Streaming Basics: Part 1

  1. Thank you so much for explaining this Streaming – and in a way that I can understand. I was going to write to you, asking about this!

    Now that I have your attention, I wonder if you can help me with a recent problem I’m having with Chrome. I started getting pop-ups on the lower right-hand corner of the monitor. They’re extremely annoying because they cover my email page! I have the big curved monitor but prefer to keep my email opened up on the right-hand side of the screen. I went to Google, asking about this pop-up problem, they told me how to go into Chrome’s Settings and remove this intrusion. At the bottom of each pop-up is written: “Google Chrome .” . I did find that extension in my settings, thought I had deleted it. But the pop-ups are still popping up! I even did a Restart after deleting, thinking that would fix it for good. But it didn’t.
    Can you help me with this unwelcomed problem? I wish I could send you a picture of one of these pop-ups, but can’t do it here on this note.

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