Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Leaving Traditional Cable for Streaming Channels on a Roku or Other Device

More people are cutting their cable contracts out and moving to streaming solutions to provide their television entertainment.  There are many reasons for this change, one is often the cost of cable, another is the lack of customization and flexibility for the subscriber.  In this instance, cable represents any traditional source of television access, such as Comcast, AT&T U-Verse, Dish or Time-Warner cable to name a few.  With traditional cable, customers are often forced to purchase large packs of channels to have access to only a few desired channels.

Oftentimes people feel they are overpaying since no one can watch the hundreds of channels available.  As a result, people are beginning to move towards smaller subscriptions via streaming devices where they can choose quality channels even if there are less of them.  Different devices are available to move to a streaming only solution, some examples are:
  • Apple TV - offers channels to stream directly through their interface
  • Google Chromecast - broadcasts shows from compatible connected devices like Android and iOS on a much more limited basis without any direct channels offered
  • Roku - offers channels to stream directly through their interface

Each of the devices listed above work differently and provide different features, but the core process is the same.  It is important to note that many smart televisions can stream channels, however, they are usually updated less frequently and provide fewer options.  To move away from traditional cable to streaming television, follow the steps below.  NOTE:  To connect one of these devices to a television, the television must have an HDMI port available.  For more information, learn about HDMI and what its ports look like.  

Purchase a device
  • First look into the available devices to determine which one will work best for your situation and needs.
  • Once a device has been purchased, connect it to the television using an HDMI port. 
  • Run through the setup process.
  • If necessary, use a computer or smart phone to create an account with the device manufacturer so the device can be registered and customized.
  • Register the device with the manufacturer.  As part of the setup process, use the special code provided and register the device by entering it into the website also provided.  Go to the specified website, type in the access code, and enter your manufacturer credentials when prompted to register the device with your account.
Add the desired channels
  • Browse through the manufacturer's website and add any desired channels to your account, which will add them to any of your registered devices.
  • Once all channels have been added, the device will update automatically to include any new channels.


  • To remove a channel from every registered device, log into the manufacturer's account and remove the channel from the account.  Most devices also allow a channel to be deleted directly from a device which can be easier for a single device.  For example, to delete a channel directly from a Roku:
    • Browse to the channel to delete
    • Click the * button on the remote
    • Scroll to "Remove channel" and press the "Ok" button


Create subscriptions with channel providers
Many of the channels that can be added to a device require subscriptions to access their shows.  Some examples of channels that require a subscription or active traditional subscription, like cable, are:
  • HBO NOW
  • Sling TV
  • CBS All Access
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • SHOWTIME
  • Amazon Video
For these channels to operate normally, an account must be set up with the channel provider.  Each channel provider has different trial periods and monthly costs associated with them, so check these closely before signing up for a subscription.  NOTE:  It does not cost anything to add a channel to the streaming device because the channel will prompt you to log in with credentials linked to a subscription account before granting access to its content.  In other words, if the HBO channel is added to an Apple TV without an active HBO subscription, the HBO channel will not give access to its shows or movies nor will you be charged for the channel.
  • In a web browser, search for the desired channel, for example, SHOWTIME.
  • Use the channel provider's website to create an account with a valid subscription.
  • Make sure to memorize the credentials used to create the subscription.
Not all channels available on streaming devices require a paid subscription to access their content.  Some channels provide full seasons of shows at no cost, while others provide a more limited selection for free.  Additionally, many channels can be activated with a traditional cable or television plan.  This means an active television plan can be used to activate channels on a streaming device simply by entering the television credentials into what would otherwise be a subscription channel without paying the fees twice.

Log into the subscription channel on the streaming device
  • Go to the television the streaming device is connected to.
  • Browse to the subscription channel the account was created with and open it.  
  • When prompted, click the Sign In option if a subscription account was created ahead of time.  NOTE:  An account can be created directly from the streaming device but it is usually easier to create the account from a computer.


  • The next screen will provide an access code along with a website to visit to enter the code.


  • Visit the website displayed from a computer or mobile device to activate the channel subscription with the streaming device.
  • Once at the website, enter the code displayed by the subscription channel.


  • At the next screen, sign in using the channel credentials created when signing up for the channel subscription.



  • Once the account is successfully logged into, the device will be registered.


  • The streaming device automatically updates and provides access to the content available for that subscription channel.


  • Repeat this process for multiple streaming devices and subscription channels as necessary.

Moving to an a la carte version of television channels is becoming easier as more television networks are providing full access to their shows with a simple monthly subscription.  Removing traditional television services to stream television channels is a simple process that can save a substantial amount of money each month depending upon your unique needs.  Channel subscriptions have varying monthly costs so it is wise to check these out before making the switch.

As always, having choices is best!

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