First, the basics: you have iteither installed on your or on a device connected to your TV. The most common are – like a Roku, or – or game consoles, such as a or . Once you have the app and device, you have a Netflix subscription and a .
Ready to get started? Here’s everything you need to know.
Get started with Netflix on a TV
Netflix plans start at $ 9 per month, a price that allows you to watch one screen at a time (TV, phone, or whatever), with the downside of offering relatively low video quality (standard definition or SD). For people who want to watch on a big screen, it’s worth switching to Netflix’s most popular plan ($ 14 per month), which lets you stream in high definition or HD to two screens at the same time. If you have oneor if you want to watch on up to four screens at once, you want the $ 18 plan.
Next, you also need a way to directly connect the internet to the device that will be streaming Netflix (more on this below). Depending on the device, you may need a wired Ethernet connection or, more often, Wi-Fi. To connect that device to wifi, make sure you know your wifi name and password. Netflix recommends a minimum connection speed of 1.5 Mbps and most broadband services can reliably achieve this, but if you’re not sure try visiting SpeedTest to measure your speed.
Netflix’s recommended speeds
Standard definition (SD)
High definition (HD)
4K / Ultra HD (UHD)
Devices you can use to watch Netflix
Once you have an account and internet connection, you need a device to watch Netflix on. Just like on your phone, there is a Netflix app for TVs and other devices, including media streamers and video game consoles. The app is free, but you must of course install it on the device first. Note that all options below assume that Netflix is onboard your TV or that you have a modern TV with an HDMI port.
If you have an older, analog TV without HDMI, these options will unfortunately not work for you.called the Roku Express Plus, but has been discontinued. If you really don’t want to buy a new TV to get Netflix, you might be able to find one second-hand.
Smart TV: If you’ve made a flat screen TV in the past 10 years, you can probably already watch Netflix on it. Modern TVs integrate streaming services such as Netflix into an interface known as ‘smart TV’. While some TVs have a dedicated Netflix button on the remote, most compatible models have a smart TV button that allows you to access the available streaming apps. The app may be older, slower, and not as slick as the modern version, but if you want to access Netflix now, it should still work.
Streaming device or game console: While some TVs have Netflix apps built in, many people watch Netflix on TV with a separate device connected to their TV. If you are not using the TV’s built-in smart platform, make sure that the TV has a. Almost every device of the Netflix devices we will mention below uses HDMI connections.
Likewise, your Blu-ray player or game console may have a Netflix app. If you have a relatively recent console – from theor PlayStation 3 and above – you can access Netflix on it. For example, the PlayStation 3 currently offers the most up-to-date version of the app, including browser sign-up.
Mobile device: Phones and tablets can also control Netflix on a TV, although the process can be a bit more complicated than either of the two methods above. If you want to use your phone to control Netflix, you can do a feature called, or for Apple users , to stream video to your device. With recent TVs from Sony and Vizio, users can navigate the Netflix app on their phone and then press the Cast button (below) to stream to the TV. Apple users can use the AirPlay icon (a TV with an arrow below it) in a similar way for Roku devices, Apple TV, and . You can then control the action with the phone or TV remote control. For example, if your TV doesn’t have a Chromecast on board, you can get a , which is connected to a free HDMI port.
Sign in to Netflix
Once you’ve set up your device, open the Netflix app and you’ll be presented with a login screen. Recently, Netflix added the ability to log in with a separate device, even on older streamers like the PS3. No more typing long usernames and passwords with a remote control, just click Log in from the Internet at the bottom right of the screen. The device gives you the choice of a QR symbol or a code that you want to type into an already connected device (such as your phone). However, if your TV or streamer does not have this capability and you need to manually enter your Netflix login (username and password), confirm the credentials on a computer or phone before trying it on your TV.
Need a streaming device? Start here
While your current smart TV, game console, or Blu-ray player with Netflix is the cheapest option, it may not be the best for you. For example, if you have an older device, the Netflix app may be slow or unreliable. You’ll also miss interface improvements or new features, such as the ability to run interactive shows like theor (although it is not guaranteed). Or maybe you’d rather use a real remote instead of your console’s controller.
The best way to access an up-to-date Netflix is through a new streaming device. Prices start at $ 30 with the. Simply connect one of these devices to a free HDMI port on your current TV and follow the on-screen instructions. Many streamers come with Netflix by default, but every device (except Chromecast) also has a streaming channel list or App Store to download the app for free.
Sarah Tew / CNET
Most TVs these days are 4K models, and our favorite steamer for 4K TVs is this Roku stick. It combines Roku’s simple interface with the improved picture quality of 4K and HDR – both of which are available on Netflix if you get the most expensive plan.
Read our Roku Streaming Stick Plus review.
If you don’t have a 4K TV and just want the cheapest option, our pick is the standard Fire TV Stick. In addition to streaming Netflix and a ton of other apps, thanks to Alexa, it has a remote control with built-in voice search.
Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite review.
The Apple TV 4K is the Rolls Royce of streaming devices, with a luxurious look and all fixins. It supports Dolby Vision HDR for higher quality images on certain Netflix shows. It also allows iPhone users to stream from the Netflix app using the AirPlay button. Please note that a new version is coming with an updated remote control.
Read our Apple TV 4K review.
For a more comprehensive list of media players, go to.
Another option: upgrade to a smart TV
If you are going to buy a new TV, chances are that it has an up-to-date smart TV system. Our favorite is Roku TV. It is easy to use and offers the widest selection of streaming services available. And it is cheaper and more easily available than a new oneor , with prices starting at around $ 150.
Check out our list of the best TVs – they’re all smart TVs with Netflix built-in.
Have fun streaming!