TV Answer Man, I like to watch Netflix and Hulu but sometimes the picture stops and I get a  wheel spinning in the middle of the screen. This might last for a minute or sometimes more before the picture comes back. Is there anything I can do to fix this? — Sherri, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Sherri, the ‘spinning wheel’ is an occasional occurrence when watching any live streaming service, such as Netflix, Sling TV, YouTube TV, HBO Max and Hulu. You will be watching a movie or TV show when suddenly the picture will freeze and a small spinning wheel will appear in the middle of the screen.

The cause of the spinning wheel? The Internet, Sherri. It’s not exactly an ideal infrastructure for delivering live video. If the speed of your home Internet network dips below the minimum requirement needed for a consistent picture, it can cause picture buffering (aka the dreaded spinning wheel). And if the streaming service has a temporary delay on one of its servers, that can cause it.

Fortunately, live streaming services have improved their delivery systems in recent years so it’s less noticeable than it used to be. (Home Internet services have also increased their speeds and efficiencies.) But it’s still a problem.

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If your streaming picture is consistently marred by the spinning wheel, you can try these four ways to fix the issue:

1. Change the channel or show.
Then, go back to your original channel or show. This will sometimes allow your original channel or show to ‘catch up’ with the data (programming) that’s being delivered to your home.

2. Reset your home WiFi network.
You can do this by unplugging your modem and plugging it back in. Your Internet service may be operating erratically, causing the dips in picture quality. The reset can put it back on course.

3. Upgrade your Internet plan.
Every streaming service has a minimum speed requirement to watch it. For example, some streamers will say your home Internet service must consistently be at 25 Mbps or you will encounter buffering (yes, the dreaded spinning wheel). However, to be safe, I advise you get a plan with speed at least at 50 Mbps instead of one with 25 Mbps. That way, if your signal dips, you will still be above the required limit.

4. Delete and reinstall the app.
The live streaming app sometimes can get corrupted, creating a host of problems. A simple reinstall could eliminate the spinning wheel and ensure a more reliable stream.

Sherri, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann