Enjoy Your Favorite Shows on the Road: A Guide to Streaming TV in Your RV

One of the things I was most anxious about before hitting the open road was losing access to my favorite TV shows. After a long day of travel and adventure, there’s nothing better than plopping down on the couch with a snack and bingeing a couple episodes of whatever show I’m into at the moment.

Fortunately, with a little planning and the right equipment, you can totally replicate that cozy evening couch potato experience while traveling in an RV! The technology has advanced so much that you can now stream TV just like you would at home as long as you have a few key things:

A reliable internet connection: This is the most important thing. Without consistent, high-speed internet, streaming video will be frustrating at best and impossible at worst.

A streaming device: Like a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, or Apple TV. This will allow you to access streaming apps and services on your TV.

Membership to streaming platforms: Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. Subscribe to the ones that offer your must-see shows.

Getting Connected: WiFi and Satellite Options for RVers

The first challenge is getting a solid internet connection while traveling in a hunk of metal down the highway. While it’s not always simple, it IS very doable with today’s technology and just a bit of effort. Let’s look at the two main options for getting online while RVing:

Using Campground WiFi

WiFi is available at many campgrounds, but the speed and reliability can vary widely. If available, always ask the campground for the WiFi passcode when you check in.

Then, use a tool like speedtest.net to test the connection speed where you’re parked. If it’s at least 15-25 Mbps, streaming should work decently, though HD quality may buffer.

Keep in mind campground WiFi is shared, so avoid peak usage times like evenings when connectivity may slow. Bring an extra long HDMI cable so you can position your streaming device closer to the source for a stronger signal.

I once made the mistake of attempting to stream the finale of The Bachelor via a crowded campground’s mediocre WiFi. Let’s just say the glitchy viewing experience nearly ruined the entire season for me! Lesson learned.

Using Cellular Data and Mobile Hotspots

If the campground WiFi just won’t cut it, cellular data plans and mobile hotspots can save the day. My current setup is having a hotspot device through my mobile carrier that gets fairly reliable LTE coverage on the road.

I typically get 15-50 Mbps download speeds, which is plenty fast for streaming HD video. Just keep tabs on your data usage so you don’t exceed your plan’s limit! Some things that can help conserve data:

  • Download shows in advance over WiFi when possible
  • Lower video resolution settings
  • Disable auto-play of next episodes
  • Set streaming device to limit data usage

One time I found myself in the middle of nowhere New Mexico with nary a bar of cell service for miles. I had to drive 30 minutes just to get enough signal to send a quick “wish you were here” text to my mom! After that, I upgraded to a hotspot with a better carrier compatible with rural areas.

If your carrier has sparse rural coverage, staying at RV parks with strong WiFi for streaming is wise. And there are some satellite internet options I’ll cover next.

Satellite Internet for RVers

While improving, satellite internet historically got a bad rap for sluggish speeds. Newer services like Starlink promise high-speed, low-latency satellite internet perfect for activities like streaming.

Starlink’s network of low earth orbit satellites beam internet down from the sky, with average download speeds of 50-150 Mbps reported by beta testers. That’s faster than terrestrial cable internet for many!

The startup kit isn’t cheap at around $600 upfront, with a $110 monthly subscription. But for RVers in remote areas, it can be a streaming dream and full-time travelers are signing up in droves.

Just use the Starlink app to determine if your campsite or route has coverage. Then position the compact satellite outside your RV for the best connectivity.

Make sure to securely mount it as weather or driving with it perched precariously could mean an expensive replacement! Hopefully my Starlink arrives before my next trip. Nothing beats binging Netflix from truly off-the-grid locations.

Outfitting Your RV for Streaming

Once you have the internet part handled, it’s time to outfit the RV for streaming TV inside. There are two main aspects – the TV itself and a streaming device.

Upgrading to a Smart RV TV

Many new RVs come equipped with a standard HD TV, but for streaming, a Smart TV is ideal. Smart TVs have built-in WiFi and apps for popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+ and more.

This lets you stream content directly through the TV rather than through a separate device. You can access everything right from the TV interface using the remote.

If your current RV’s TV isn’t a Smart TV, you have a few options:

  • Buy a Smart TV: Invest in a new Smart TV to replace your existing one. Look for a size and resolution that fits your needs. You can find decent RV-ready Smart TVs starting around $200. Make sure it can handle 12-volt power.
  • Use a streaming device: Like Roku or Fire Stick plugged into your non-smart TV. More details on these handy gadgets below!
  • Try casting: If you primarily use apps like YouTube or Netflix, you can cast{: .bold} video from your phone or laptop directly to a non-smart TV.

Replacing our old popup camper’s tube TV with a slick new Smart TV was one of the first upgrades we made. Nothing beats streaming nature documentaries in HD on a rainy day. Take that, blurry old rabbit ears!

Getting a Streaming Device

If upgrading your entire TV isn’t feasible, a plug-in streaming device is an easy solution. Here are some top options compatible with most TVs:

  • Roku – Very popular with a huge app selection. Models start around $25. User-friendly interface and robust platform.
  • Amazon Fire Stick{: .bold} – Access Amazon content easily. Voice control with Alexa built-in. Prices start around $25.
  • Apple TV{: .bold} – Great if you use other Apple devices. Sleek 4K HDR quality with latest model. But more spendy at $149 and up.
  • Chromecast – Cast content from your mobile device. Basic model $29, 4K version $50. Integrates well with Google products and services.

I currently use the Roku Ultra in our RV and love it. Setup took all of 5 minutes – just plug into the HDMI port, connect to WiFi, and start streaming to my heart’s content! The free Roku app also lets me use headphones for quiet viewing when my partner’s sleeping.

Other Handy Accessories

A few other accessories that make streaming easier on the road:

  • Mobile router – Acts as a mini portable WiFi hotspot, allowing you to get online anywhere.
  • Long HDMI cable – Runs from streaming device to TV in case WiFi signal is better elsewhere.
  • Wireless HDMI – Transmits signal between TV and device so cables aren’t needed. More expensive but super convenient.
  • Mobile media server – Link to external storage like a USB drive full of movies.
  • Surge protector with USB ports – Protect gear and keep devices charged.

With the right gear, you can have a comfortable, cable-like streaming setup while on the road. Time to grab some popcorn from your RV kitchen, put your feet up, and queue up that binge session!

Choosing Streaming Services and Apps

Once you have the gear, it’s time to pick which streaming apps and services you want access to. With so many options these days, it can get overwhelming! Here’s a handy breakdown of some top contenders:


Netflix is one of the OG streaming services, with an extensive on-demand library of thousands of shows, movies, and originals. Plans start at $9.99/month for one non-HD stream. You can download select TV shows and movies for offline viewing. Their selection is impressive but constantly changing.

Pro Travel Tip: Always download several titles you want to watch before heading out on an extended trip in case you lose service! Nothing worse than realizing the latest episode of Ozark won’t load halfway to the Grand Canyon.


Hulu has a strong mix of current TV shows, movies, originals, and live options{: .bold}. Plans begin at $6.99/month with ads. You can pay more to eliminate ads, enhance resolution, and add Live TV. Limited ability to download content.

I like using Hulu to keep up with primetime sitcoms and dramas during our RV adventures. Nothing passes time at a laundromat like knocking out a couple episodes of the latest Real Housewives trashy goodness!

Amazon Prime Video

Included with a Prime membership, Prime Video{: .bold} grants access to a decent mix of movies, shows, and original content. You can also rent newer release movies and shows not included free. Downloading for offline playback is available.

We switched to a Fire Stick for our RV so we could easily access all our Prime content. Plus, got to love that free 2-day shipping on essentials when we have a mail forwarding address!


If you have kids (or are just a kid at heart), Disney’s streaming service is a must. For $7.99/month{: .bold} you get Disney classics, Pixar faves, Star Wars movies, Marvel superheroes, National Geographic docs, and more. Create customized profiles so everyone gets their own recommendations.

My niece and nephew love having Disney+ movie nights in our RV when we travel to visit family. I may or may not have shed a tear when they saw The Lion King for the first time. Hakuna matata indeed!


A live streaming service{: .bold} with various channel packages starting at $35/month. Lean and Orange plans have 30+ top cable channels. Customize your lineup with extras like sports, comedy, and lifestyle add-ons from just $6 more per month.

This is a nice option for easily keeping up with live sports, news, and events while on the road. The basic bundles strike a nice balance of entertainment, news, and sports channels. Just enough to stay in the loop!


YouTubeTV is like having a full cable package over live streaming{: .bold}. For $64.99/month, you get over 85+ channels including all the major networks, top cable brands, regional sports, and more all combined into one service.

The unlimited DVR is handy for recording shows and events when you can’t watch live. It’s pricey but close to a true cable replacement. Worth it if you want access to the widest variety of content.


If you want a more free, channel-flipping style experience, check out PlutoTV{: .bold}. This free service lets you casually watch a range of live cable-like stations without needing an account.

It’s nice for having something just on in the background. Picture the experience of flipping through channels at a hotel – it’s kind of like that! A basic but enjoyable free option.

This is just a sampling of some of the top options – with more services popping up all the time, you’re bound to find the perfect lineup for your needs and budget!

Making Your Data Go the Distance

While getting access to streaming content anywhere with an RV is amazing, data caps and overage fees are the ever-present challenge. Here are my tested tips for making the most of your data plan when streaming.

  • Know your limits – Monitor data usage closely each month and downgrade plans if needed. Overage fees can add up quick!
  • Only stream when stopped – Never stream over cellular while actually driving! Save it for when safely parked at your site.
  • Download over WiFi – Watch downloaded content when service is spotty. Some apps let you control download quality.
  • Disable autoplay – Binge responsibly by disabling the “next episode in 5, 4, 3…” auto-play function.
  • Lower video quality – Set the resolution to 720p or even 480p rather than extreme data-burning 4K.
  • Use campground WiFi – When decent, rely on spotty campground WiFi for lighter streaming instead of using phone data.
  • Temporarily suspend subscriptions – Pause services when you’ll be entirely off the grid for a while.
  • Share costs with others – Split membership costs with family and trade login info. My sister uses my HBO password, for example.
  • Use TV antenna – Access free over-the-air channels via antenna when parked for local news, events, and some network shows.

While staying connected will always require attention and effort in the RV lifestyle, with the right gear and services you can enjoy on-demand movies, binge-worthy shows, live events, and more just about anywhere.

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