While residents at Broadmoor Court get cable television as part of the many amenities of the assisted living community, seniors probably know you can’t always count on something interesting being on TV when you want to watch it. That’s why setting yourself up with a television streaming package before the winter months set in can be a good idea. That way, you can have access to on-demand entertainment when you’re in the mood for it, whether that’s a snowy Colorado morning or long winter evening.
You need a couple of things to stream television content. First, you need a device capable of streaming video content from the internet. You can do this via a smartphone or tablet with apps, but that can mean watching content on a smaller screen. That’s not ideal for anyone, as it can cause eye fatigue, and it might not be an optimal solution for someone who already has a vision impairment.
Other options include watching on a computer screen or your television. If you want to stream on your television, you need a Smart TV that can connect to the internet and run apps such as Netflix or a television able to accept a connection from a smart device. Various DVD and Blu-ray players offer streaming options, and you can also get relatively inexpensive streaming devices such as a Roku, an Amazon Firestick or a Google Chromecast.
Once you have the hardware to stream television shows, you need content. That typically means signing up for a service or finding free options.
Paid services cost between $5 and $20 a month on average. Paying for the service limits how many commercials you have to watch — many paid services don’t have ads at all.
Free services typically have more ads, as that’s how the service pays for itself. In some cases, the ads are about equal to what you might experience on traditional television. But on lower-quality streaming services, you might end up watching more advertisements than actual content, so you do want to find a service that works for you.
You can choose from dozens of streaming options today, but here’s a rundown of some of the top contenders seniors might want to consider.
Netflix is a top name in streaming. The company started as a mail-order subscription service that let people borrow DVD movies. Today, you can stream hundreds of television shows and movies on Netflix, including traditional favorites as well as Netflix originals.
Some popular content on Netflix now includes:
• Enola Holmes, a movie about the younger sister of Sherlock
• Stranger Things, a dark fantasy/horror series set in the 1980s
• New Girl, a quirky sitcom about odd 30-somethings making a go of life and living together in a loft
• Cobra Kai, a series that picks up on the events of The Karate Kid movie franchise many years later
You can use Netflix with any device, including smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions capable of streaming content. Paying for a plan typically means you don’t need to contend with advertisements or that ads are extremely limited. The cost of Netflix plans ranges from $8.99 to $15.99.
Hulu works a lot like Netflix, though you do get ads before and after some shows even if you pay for a subscription.
Another difference is that Hulu has an arrangement with some television shows and networks. It carries a handful of the most current episodes of shows that are running in the existing season. Typically, the shows appear on Hulu a day or two after they originally air, and you can access around five current shows before they start to roll off the streaming service. This gives seniors an option to watch favorite shows even if they missed them on the original airing.
Hulu also has plenty of other content and original shows too. Plans start at $5.99 a month. You can also choose to bundle Hulu with Disney Plus and ESPN for $12.99 a month.
Speaking of Disney Plus, this might be an option for seniors who love nostalgia or want some access to family-friendly content. You can view many old movies and cartoons on this streaming service, including content featuring old friends such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.
But it’s not all cartoons and old Sunday Night Vault movies. The streaming service also features robust Marvel and Star Wars channels where you can watch movies from these franchises.
HBO’s streaming service was called HBO Now. In Spring 2020, the company announced HBO Max. Either way you go, these services let you stream premium HBO content on demand. You can get some of these services with your existing cable HBO subscription or pay separately for the app.
If you have an Amazon Prime subscription to save on shipping or get other perks, then you already have access to a lot of video content. Log into your Amazon account, click on “Account & Lists” and scroll down to Your Amazon Prime Video. You can click on “free to me” to see what content you can watch for free.