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Streaming In An RV

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We all love to go out and explore new locations when we’re traveling, but every now and then there are days you might want to just stay under the covers and binge watch TV all day. Maybe it’s cold and rainy outside, or maybe you’re tired from the 10 mile hike you took earlier in the day, or maybe you’re just worn out from the latest Xscapers convergence you attended.

Whatever the reason, some days are just made for staying at home and watching TV.

And there are many different methods for watching television in your RV – satellite service, an over-the-air antenna, or if you’re in a campground, maybe even cable hookup.

Another method is streaming, which allows you to view content over an internet connection. You can watch shows and videos on your phone, tablet, and even your TV.

Video Streaming Television and Movies

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Streaming is probably most commonly used for watching video content – movies, television series, even live TV.  There are many different streaming services available, and here’s a list of some of the most common ones:

  • Netflix – In addition to movies, Netflix has a lot of great original content, and also allows you to download for offline viewing.
  • YouTubeTV – One of the best options for watching network television, sports, and news programming.
  • Hulu – A great selection of classic network television programming, as well as movies and more than 60 channels of live TV but limited original content.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Another excellent source of original content, and allows for offline downloads.
  • FuBoTV – Best option for sports fans, focused on live sports but also has movies.

There are several other streaming services, so do your research before deciding which one might be the best for you.

Streaming Is Not Just For Videos!

Streaming isn’t just for watching video programming, though! It can also be used for listening to music (services like Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, etc.) and audio books (such as Audible, or the app Libby, which allows you to check out audio books from your local library).

Challenges To Streaming

If you’re at home with a blazing fast internet connection, streaming is no problem. But if you’re living in an RV, is streaming really an option? There are definitely some things to take into consideration, but yes, even living in an RV you can still have a Netflix bingefest on the days you want to.

Streaming will give you a lot of options as far as providers and content, but it also requires a good internet connection. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to be staying at an RV park with blazing fast and reliable WiFi. (And if you do end up in a park like that, can you please tell the rest of us where it is? But I digress…)

Here are some of the things you’ll need to take into consideration.

Data Speeds

You’ll want to make sure whatever connection you’re using is fast enough for your programming to play smoothly without having to constantly buffer.

Netflix recommends the following recommended minimum speeds for streaming:

  • 0.5 Megabits per second – Minimum required speed
  • 1.5 Megabits per second – Recommended broadband connection speed
  • 3.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for SD quality
  • 5.0 Megabits per second – Recommended for HD quality
  • 25 Megabits per second – Recommended for Ultra HD quality

So, at a minimum, you’re going to want to have speeds of at least 1.5 Megabits per second. Any speeds over that are even better.

How To Test Data Speed

Before attempting a stream anything, it’s a good idea to test the speeds of whatever internet connection you’re currently using. A common and popular speed test is Speedtest.net, but you also may want to consider using Fast.com, which is run by Netflix and tests speed using an actual video file.

Using A Public Internet Connection

Using a data connection in a campground or other public location for streaming isn’t generally recommended. Most campgrounds have weak signals throughout a park and may have many people trying to use the same connection you are. You may already have some WiFi extending gear which can help improve your signal, but generally trying to use campground WiFi to stream is an exercise in futility.

Also, many campgrounds specifically request that you not use their connection for streaming, as it can affect the ability of your fellow campers to use their connections.

More than likely, you’re going to have to rely on your own data connection.

Data Limits

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No matter which streaming service you use, you’re going to suck up lots of data while catching up on that last season of Game of Thrones.

So, if you’re using your own data plan, make sure you know what your data limits are so that you don’t go over them. Some services, like Netflix, allow you slightly downgrade your video quality in order to use less data, but that option isn’t always available.

If you think you’re going to be a heavy streamer, you may want to consider getting an unlimited data plan. But check the fine print any unlimited plan – many of them will have limits on how much of the “unlimited’ data can actually be used at high speed.

More Details for Streaming In An RV

For more details and considerations on streaming, the Mobile Internet Resource Center has some excellent information in their guide at www.mobileinternetinfo.com/tv.

Jen-Nealy-Author-Bio

Author

Jen Nealy

Jen and her husband Deas have been traveling in their RV since 2013, during which time they estimate they have had at least 1000 happy hours. They travel with their dogs Shorty and Jake, and blog at nealysonwheels.com.

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