Articles

How to Optimize Your Streaming Experience

Feb 08, 2019

In 2017, there was a big shift in the way Americans consumed their shows and movies. It was the first year that the percentage of households subscribing to streaming services (55 percent) surpassed those for cable and satellite packages, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Digital Media Trends survey.

Why? According to Deloitte, the main reasons were:

  • Streaming services allow you to watch content when you want
  • You value that some streaming services allow you to watch content without commercials
  • Streaming services allow you to watch content wherever you want
  • You value the quality of the original content offered
  • Streaming services allow you to watch content on multiple devices

In fact, we now have more than 200 options when it comes to subscription video on demand, and American households are subscribing to an average of three on-demand streaming services, the survey says. (Maybe even the three largest: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video?

With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine yourself tuning into your favorite show or re-run on one service, your significant other watching something else on another service and your kids catching the latest episode of a third program on yet another service. And, if you’re all doing so during those peak Internet hours — Internet usage is heavier during the evening hours — you may start suffering from a bandwidth breakdown.

What exactly does that mean? Your bandwidth, or Internet speeds, will likely start slowing down to a crawl, and your video quality will deteriorate. At least one of you will be wondering why the streaming service you’re using just keeps on buffering — at the most crucial part of the episode, of course.

You may be surprised to learn that the biggest culprit for bandwidth consumption are those very streaming services you’ve come to love. It’s especially the case if, similar to the example above, your household runs various streams on multiple devices at the same time.

So what can you do to alleviate a strained bandwidth and minimize constant buffering? Check out these tips from our Kinetic by Windstream team on how you can optimize your video streaming experience.

1. Check speed requirements

If you are using a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu, check their

Internet speed requirements for streaming. Some content providers require certain speeds for the best streaming experience. If you aren’t meeting those requirements, enter your name and address here to see if you qualify for faster speeds with your Kinetic Internet.

2. Adjust your settings

You can adjust the video-quality settings on services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. Adjusting this setting to a lower video quality or choosing the best or auto setting for your connection speed may help prevent the videos from freezing up or from constant buffering during play.

3. Wired or wireless

When watching a video or television show online, a direct connection from the device to the modem should provide you the best connection and the best viewing experience. Sometimes it’s not possible to be wired. If you're wireless, try and get closer to the modem/router. When the signal travels through several rooms/walls, the signal may be slower and cause buffering.

4. Change your router channel

Most of the newer routers are a dual-band model, allowing you to choose which channel the device uses. The channels run on 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz frequency bands, and the former is the most commonly used, making the Internet connections more prone to bottlenecks. The higher frequency band gives users a faster Internet speed but has a much more limited range, meaning you’ll want to position whatever device on which you’re watching closer to your router.

Not sure if your router is a dual-band model? If the router broadcasts two networks, you’ll find different names for each of them when searching for Wi-Fi availability. Most of the names, though, will have, for example, 5, 5G or 5GHz included, so it’ll be a bit easier to spot. If you’re finding only one network name, you may still have a dual-band model. You’ll just have to check in other areas. On Kinetic by Windstream equipment, you can find your wireless network name and the password associated with it on the back of the router next to SSID. On other equipment, you can refer to the router’s manual or manufacturer’s website to see whether it is dual band and how to change the channel.

5. Turn off competing devices

If you're on a network sharing an Internet connection, disconnect all devices from the network while they are not in use. This will also include smart technology, those constantly connected devices that you’ve acquired to simplify your life. Additional computers and mobile devices can slow down a video stream considerably. Remember that connected devices don’t always need to be actively in use to eat up your bandwidth!

Between streaming your favorite shows with your Kinetic Internet or watching gamers live, streaming has become a daily part of our digital home life, leaving you all the more frustrated when you get poor video quality.

But, the next time you do face that constant buffering, try these five suggestions. If you feel like you're still not getting the streaming experience you should be, visit our high-speed Internet support page or contact us and we'll see what we can do to help!

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