How to Get Netflix and Hulu to Play on Your TV

By Carlos Portocarrero on 3 June 2013 (Updated 31 July 2013) 1 comment

"Cutting the cord" was something only doctors and new fathers used to do. But thanks to the explosion of online streaming content services like Hulu and Netflix, more and more people are saying sayonara to their cable bill.

As I learned when I tried to cut the cord myself, the big advantage to paying for cable doesn't have anything to do with paying less or accessing only the shows you want to watch. It's about convenience. With cable, you turn your TV on and all the shows you know and love are a button press away — right there on your big screen. (See also: 8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained)

Once you move into the world of online streaming, people start to get a little worried. The question I've heard most often is: Will I have to watch on my computer screen? What do I need to watch on my TV? Is it going to be complicated?

And I'm here to tell you that no — when it comes to services like Hulu and Netfix, there are so many options that you'll inevitably find one that works with your current setup so you can enjoy your shows where they're meant to be seen: on your TV.

Start With the Official Sites

It might be overwhelming at first, but what you'll want to do first is check out the device lists for both Netflix and Hulu. There are a LOT of TVs, video game systems, and other devices listed that can help you play streaming content on your TV set. Odds are you'll find something you already own on the list. In fact, most people are already watching Netflix streaming content on their PS3s over their actual computers!

If you don't already own a Wii, XBox, Wi-Fi enabled TV or DVD player, or a streaming device like a Roku — then you'll have to buy one. Or, if worse comes to worst, you can always just hook up your laptop or PC to your TV via an HDMI cable and watch your shows that way.

Choose a Device

If you don't own any of the supported devices, then you'll have to make a decision on which one you want to buy.

But if you do want buy a device, first ask yourself if you'll be buying a new TV soon. Most of the new TVs are "smart," which means they'll automatically connect to your Wi-Fi network and be able to stream Netflix and Hulu, plus content from a lot of other services. That way you don't have to have another "thing" in your TV cabinet — the TV can do it automatically.

Luckily, Hulu and Netflix (and especially Netflix) have been at the forefront of this move to online streaming of content, so they've made sure they are compatible with as wide a range of devices as possible.

All you have to do now is login to your account via whichever device you've chosen and — viola — you're ready to go!

Tweak Your Signal

All of this sounds easy enough, right? But there's one more thing you need to double check — how good your Internet connection is going to be wherever your TV and streaming device is in your place.

If you have a device that can connect to an actual hard line (an Ethernet cable), then by all means do that; it'll give you the fastest connection you can get.

If not, you'll need to rely on your Wi-Fi connection, which means the closer your Roku/Wii/TV is to your router, the better the connection will be. And the better your connection, the smoother your streaming experience is going to be.

For tips on improving your Wi-Fi connection, check out Lifehacker's Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks, and Apps. Because let's face it...no one wants to watch a show with a big BUFFERING icon spinning away in the middle of a nail-biting scene.

Once you've got your device connected to your account and have it playing smoothly on your TV, sit back and enjoy watching TV in the post-Cable world!

Have you "cut the cord?" Was the switch to streaming Internet video easier — or more difficult — than you expected?

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Jess

My husband installed an HDMI cable about two-three years ago and we have been cable-free even since. And yes with Hulu and Netflix it is easy to catch plenty of TV. In fact, even with those to limit my choices, I still find myself staring at the tube a little too much while folding laundry. Hmmmmmm, maybe your next post could be how to convince myself to turn it off? :P