Complete Guide To Watch TV Online While Saving Money

Have you been paying ₹ 600 – ₹ 700 every month on a DTH subscription to only watch a few shows and movies? Especially when most shows are available online and for a fraction of the price or even for free!

Almost all Indian TV channels are now streaming their shows online and anyone with a smartphone, good wifi connection and a streaming dongle or Smart TV can get all their shows on TV for free.

The requirements for free online TV are the following :

  1. Good internet connection
  2. Video streaming dongle or Smart TV
  3. Streaming apps

1. Good Internet Connection

For a good video streaming experience, the primary requirement is a fast and stable internet connection available through a Wifi router.

This can be either through a Wifi broadband connection (Airtel, Hathway, ACT) or a 4G mobile internet router (Jio, Airtel MiFI).

The first important factor when it comes to the internet connection is speed. Services like Netflix recommend minimum 1.5Mbps speed for streaming of video content. And For HD quality this goes up to 5 Mbps.

These are average speeds of some broadband networks in India in 2018:

  • Airtel – 6.64Mbps
  • ACT – 20.34Mbps
  • Hathaway – 19.94 Mbps

These are the speeds of some 4G mobile internet networks in India in 2020 – 2021:

  • Jio – 23.1Mbps
  • Airtel – 6.3 Mbps
  • Vodafone – 10 Mbps
  • Idea – 8.7 Mbps

As you can see above, almost every broadband or 4G network can give you the recommended speed for HD quality streaming. Please note that the speeds will vary from city to city.

The second important factor after speed is stability. Even if you have a fast internet connection, if you regularly have disconnections or drops then you will find it difficult to use any of the video streaming services.

Hence, it’s essential to use a good quality broadband router or a dedicated 4G hotspot device like a Jio portable router in case you are using 4G (instead of using portable wifi hotspot of your smartphone).

2. Smart TV or Video-Streaming Dongle

In case you already have a Smart TV which lets you install apps on it or cast content from your smartphone skip to Step 3.

If not, then you can easily convert your existing LCD/LED TV to a smart TV with a video streaming dongle.

A dongle is a device which acts as a setup box and connects your TV to the WiFI network.

The most popular streaming dongles in the market are the following :

Amazon Fire Stick

Amazon Firestick

Firestick is an Amazon product that starts at around ₹2,499 and is generally pre-loaded with a lot of streaming apps like Hotstar, TVF, AltBalaji (find a complete list of apps here).

The best feature about Firestick is the ability to install apps. This means that you can install almost any streaming app into the Firestick device and watch the content on TV.

Firestick also comes with a voice-enabled remote which makes it much easier to switch between content and different streaming apps.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using Firestick. There are a number of free resources available as well.

Buy Amazon Firestick here.

 

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

Priced at around ₹ 3,499, then Google Chromecast works seamlessly as an extension to your Android phone screen by helping you mirror your screen or ‘cast’ any photo or video through your smartphone apps. Both Firestick and Chromecast are quite capable of streaming video content to your TV. The main difference lies in the fact that you can install apps on Firestick but you cannot do the same in Chromecast.

You will have to install the streaming apps that you want to use on your smartphone and then ‘cast’ the video to your Chromecast. 

This can be slightly cumbersome after a while if you have limited phone space or do not like installing too many apps on your phone. Buying a Chromecast is recommended if you use Youtube a lot. 

Buy Chromecast on Tata CLIQ here.

3. Streaming Apps

Here is the list of streaming apps (both free & paid) which you can use for streaming content in India –

YouTube

The king of all streaming apps. You can find all sorts of content here – Web series, Vlogs, Old Serials, Movies (some paid and some free).

  • Subscription Cost – Plans start at ₹139 per month
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Select devices only
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes (based on subscription)
  • Original Content – Yes

 Disney + HotStar

You can find all the popular Star Network content available here for free viewing. About 70% of the content on this app is free. Only a few movies and international series (like Game of Thrones) are available as premium/paid content.

  • Subscription Cost – Various subscription plans starting at ₹ 399 per year
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon Prime Video has a decent mix of Indian and International movies and serials with a few exclusive series created for only the Prime Video audience. 

  • Subscription Cost – Free with Amazon Prime Subscription (₹ 999 per year or ₹ 129 per month otherwise)
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Depends on the version
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Netflix

Netflix is the definitive app if you love watching international content. Netflix is also the only app on this list which provides multi-user support (upto 4 profiles). 

  • Subscription Cost – From ₹ 199 month 
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Sony LIV

Sony LIV gives you access to all Sony Network Content from channels like Sony, Colors, SAB TV. Just like Hotstar, most of the content is free, but if you want to stream live channels in HD or watch a popular movie, you might have to take the premium subscription.

  • Subscription Cost – Starts at ₹299 per month
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Eros Now

If you are an Indian movie buff (Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood etc.) then this is the app for you. Eros Now has the largest library of Indian movies across multiple languages – Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, etc.

  • Subscription Cost – From ₹ 49 per month
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – Yes
  • Downloadable content – Yes
  • Original Content – Yes

Jio TV

If you have a JIO connection then you can use Jio TV on your phone to get live streaming of almost all Indian TV channels for free (550+ Channels)

Keep in mind that you will need an active Jio Mobile Connection for the app to work.

  • Subscription Cost – Free for Jio mobile network users
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – Yes (with Android APK)
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – No
  • Downloadable content – No
  • Original Content – No

Airtel TV

Airtel TV is similar to Jio TV but for Airtel Mobile Postpaid & V-Fiber Broadband plan. It fetches content from libraries of Eros Now, Sony LIV and HOOQ and has a fair amount of live streaming and catalogued content though nowhere close to Jio’s content library.

  • Subscription Cost – Free for Airtel Postpaid mobile users
  • Compatibility with Amazon Fire Stick – No
  • Compatibility with Chromecast – No
  • Downloadable content – No
  • Original Content – No

Once you get used to the flexibility of watching online TV you can easily save more than 50% of your monthly DTH/cable cost per month. You will save thousands per year and at the same time get total control of your entertainment. 

Did I miss any app or any other way of watching TV?

Soumitra Sengupta


Soumitra is a digital marketer who loves experimenting with money, fitness and tech hacks.

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