How to Be a Streaming Power User
Do you want access to more content? Do you want something different than what’s on offer at the major streaming services? Do you know that there are TV shows and movies you can stream for free? Check out these tips and become a streaming power user.
Enter a Streaming Alliance
If you were to pay for every streaming service you want, you might end up paying more for streaming than you would for a cable package. So, what’s the alternative to shelling out for Disney+, Amazon, Netflix, and a handful of others? A streaming alliance.
Basically, you buy a family plan for one streaming service. Other members of your family do the same with another streaming service. Then you all share passwords and plans.
The key to making this work is reciprocity. If you’re paying for Disney+ and your brother’s family is just mooching, it can lead to bad feelings. But if he picks up Netflix and gives your family a profile on his account, then there are no more bad feelings and you both get access to all that content.
And if you’re worried about a crackdown on password sharing, don’t be. Stories of a crackdown are overblown—you just need to make sure to keep it reasonable. An alliance of three or four households is probably fine. But if the passwords start getting shared with your kid’s BFF, your mother-in-law’s sewing circle, your college roommate—well, you might end up locked out of your account.
Calculate Your Internet Speed Needs
Here’s an easy rule of thumb. You need a minimum of 5Mbps to watch a regular HD TV show. You need at least 25Mbps to watch an Ultra-HD show. Add up what each user in your household is streaming and there’s your minimum speed. You’re watching Bridgerton on Ultra-HD while your spouse streams a cooking show over YouTube, your teenager Skypes with their friends, and your toddler leaves Blippi running on the tablet as background noise for a playdough sculpture session? You have 25+5+5+5, so you need a minimum bandwidth of 40Mbps—emphasis on minimum. Round up if you expect to be streaming during peak hours, if your family members like using multiple screens at once, or if someone in the household is a heavy user. Once you do the math, that 30Mbps plan for a family of four that streams everything won’t cut it.
Don’t Forget Free Services
Free streaming doesn’t begin and end with YouTube. Sites like Tubi, Much, CTV, BNN, APTN, the Family Channel, Global, OLN, Slice, HGTV, and the Food Network stream shows for free. Basically, if it used to be on your cable, chances are it exists as a website that has free, on-demand, ad-supported content. Keep in mind too that the CBC has CBC Gem, which has an ad-supported free service.
Also, worth noting: many people don’t realize that their library card comes with access to streaming services like Hoopla or Kanopy. Is there an art, classic, or foreign film you have in mind but can’t find anywhere? Check your local library’s website.
Don’t Neglect Smaller Services
When people think of streaming, they frequently think of heavyweights like Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon. Consider:
- BritBox, for all things British.
- Quello, for concerts and live events.
- The Criterion Channel, for classic movies.
- Tubi, for MGM, Paramount, and Lionsgate movies.
- Sundance Now, for independent movies.
- Shudder, for horror movies.
- CuriosityStream, for documentaries.
- Spuul, for Bollywood movies.
- Crunchyroll, for anime and other animation.
Easily Check Where Content Is Available
It can be a pain to figure out where your favourite movies and TV shows are. Fortunately, there’s a search site called JustWatch that does it for you. Want to catch the new TV show Rutherford Falls? It’s streaming on Global and illico. Just make sure you have it set to Canada since obviously, your results will be different elsewhere.