Monthly Archives: July 2015

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In a tersely worded blogpost on the Sling Television website Sling CEO, Roger Lynch decried Comcast for blocking ads promoting Sling TV. Sling TV’s first major ad campaign is built on the idea that the standard cable and pay TV  model bullies its customers into packages they don’t want and takes pleasure in the process. In his post Lynch used pretty strong language to describe legacy TV companies.

“Here’s the irony. The refusal to air our campaign endorses the ads’ central truth: there are traditional pay-TV players that just don’t get it,” said Lynch. “Comcast has a demonstrated history of shutting down ideas it doesn’t like or understand, predictably to its benefit and at the expense of consumers.

The provocative take on its competition has apperantly caused NBC owned affiliates to prevent the ads from running. Lynch even points out that other major networks like CBS and ABC have not acted to block the ads. Is this because both have vested interests outside of the traditional bundle? Disney is afterall a Sling partner and CBS is pushing its own streaming service. Is Comcast concerned that the ads are going to work too well? The ads feature representatives from “Old TV” explaining that contracts are iron clad and making fun of the customers on the other end. Another clip shows a man being held down and force fed grass to represent paying for channels that he does not want. Comcast and other Cable operators have routinely brushed off services like Sling and Netflix saying that their services are more popular than ever while at the same time working to package services that blurred the lines between traditional cable and more nimble streaming solutions. It may well be that the new ads called out the cable industry a little too effectively for Comcast’s comfort.

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Today’s show is brought to you by App Shortcuts, a simple launcher for Fire TV. App Shortcuts lets you launch apps and control your Fire TV right from your phone or tablet. For more information visit http://www.quiverapps.com/cordcutting/

Featuring
The Streaming Advisor
Luke from CordCuttersNews.com
Elias from AFTVNews.com

Where can you listen?

itunes here Subscribe to the RSS feed here

ESPN Stand Alone WIll Happen Here

ESPN Stand Alone Service Here

Razer Confirms Acquisition of Ouya for Software, Accounts, but not Hardware Here

Project Free TV Is Dead Here

Tips:
Ryan: Code Red launch for Android See article here
Luke: Roku Channels See article here
Elias: Hidden Fire TV Resolution settings see article here
Fire TV Serial Numbers for rooting see article here
Resetting Fire TV with remote see article here

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The ARNU Box (Formerly Armada) Mach Q Pure Linux is a compact Linux set-top box from the same team that launched the Mach 8 Pure Linux box last year. With a new name and website to boot the ARNU Box team is out to show the world why you should take a good look at a pure Linux build over the more typical Android boxes that are marketed for use with Kodi.

The Mach Q can display apps and media in beautiful arrangements.
The Mach Q can display apps and media in beautiful arrangements.

Performance
The Mach Q is considered an entry level product but it still packs a big punch. With a quad core A5 processor running on Linux the box can deliver a lot of power in a small package. We tested a number of Kodi apps including 1080 video clips and music apps and found that they loaded quickly and smoothly. Navigation through the menus was crisp and precise. We utilized the devices ethernet connection and tested a few of the company’s cloudwords and were very impressed with the speed at which the program downloaded and installed the software. It’s wireless performance was on par with other devices on the market. We always recommend a wired connection for streaming.

First set top box with Isengard
The Mach Q is the first set top box on the market with Kodi 15.0 Isengard available immediately after the build became the standard. With a number of new features Isengard improves on the popular media center platform and with the box’s Linux backbone it really sings. We just wonder how long Isengard will last as the flagship of Kodi. If you have a device without Isengard a quick OTA update will fix that.

Features

4 active cores
The ARNU Box Mach Q has four active cores dedicated to Kodi. This means it will have maximum power when streaming, accessing your personal movie collection or pushing out music from your playlist. How a box actually utilizes its hardware is very important and this one gets the most out of its components that it can.

Cloud Word Installer

Typing USA in the Cloudword Installer set up populer US add-ons.
Typing USA in the Cloudword Installer set up populer US add-ons.

Cloudword Installer is a signature feature for Kodi builds from ARNU Box. Cloudword Installer is a configuration tool exclusive to the Kodi build on boxes from the company that allows you to add addons quickly including large groups of them. Instead of adding a repository and going through multiple steps to install your favorite addons one by one typing in something simple like USA instantly adds dozens of the most popular US based apps from sports and news to entertainment. There are official cloudwords for a number of configurations as well as individual apps as well as unofficial cloudwords like the popular 123c produced by Kodi enthusiasts. ARNU Box does not endorse them but they can be found on forums. Our video demo at the bottom of the story shows Cloudword Installer in action.

Kodi Blue Skin
For those of us who have been using Kodi or XBMC for years navigating the program is old hat. But for new users it can be quite confusing. The ARNU Box Mach Q employs the company’s simple Kodi skin that has been nicknamed the Blue Skin, due to its blue toned look. It is a very clean skin with intuitive menus based on the Quarts skin popular with IOS/Apple TV fans. In some ways it is like things went full circle considering how popular XBMC was on Apple TV.

OTA Updates
Nothing is more annoying then when a company announces a firmware update that requires users to

The Blue Skin is easy to navigate especially for new users.
The Blue Skin is easy to navigate especially for new users.

download it from a website,  or even worse a forum, save it on their computer, put it on an SD card, plug the SD card into a set-top box and then shove a tooth pic in the audio port to launch into a developer screen where you then have 3 or more steps to go through until your device is updated . If you have not done this before and think it sounds pointlessly complicated you are not alone. It is anti intuitive and awkward. This device has a different approach. users can update to the latest firmware right from programs and be up and running in minutes. The OTA updates come directly from the box and quickly get you up to speed.

Set Up Wizard
The Pure Linux products from ARNU Box come installed with a helpful set up wizard that walked me through the process of choosing a network, adding cloudwords and even prompted me to set up music and movie libraries for Kodi. This feature was a lot like something you see on products like the Roku family of products. New users will appreciate the exploratory nature of the guide. It is easy to navigate and available at the push of a button.

Help Videos
The Mach Q has step-by-step help videos that teach users how to do all of the major functions that the device is capable of. Importing media, creating cloudwords/backups, etc. Complete with video and captions the help feature is actually one of my favorite aspects of these product and something often overlooked by most developers.

What Comes with it?

Mapped Remote
How many times have you ordered an Android box that comes with some super basic remote with not much moreARNU Box Remote than some directional buttons and an “OK” maybe a number keypad. That is far from the case with this box. The ARNU Box remote which actually rolled out with the Mach 8 Pure Linux, is designed for users to get the most out of their Kodi experience. With buttons that access all of the key video playback, settings, screen size, and more navigating the already basic skin is very easy. At first glance the remote may look intimidating but no big surprise, there is a video that explains how to get the most from it if you need any help. In the end if you choose to you can just use the directional buttons and center button till you get used to the functions.

Detailed Manual
ARNU Box comes with a well organized easy to follow manual that explains all of the key features and operations of the box. This is a major departure from so many other products I have had a chance to work with. Detailed instructions backed up with clear pictures give tips and step-by-step instructions on important things like setting up Wi-Fi or changing settings. There is also a diagram of the remote to help you learn its functions. Most products don’t provide more than a small hard to read leaflet or something obviously translated into English.

Specs


Processor:
 Quad-Core Cortex A5 Processor
GPU: Octo Core Mali-450 GPU
Memory: 1GB DDR3
Flash Memory: 8GB
Ethernet: 10/100
USB: USB 2.0 – Two Ports
Card Slot: SD/SDHC/MMC
Video Output: HDMI 1.4b (Up to 1080p)
Audio Output: HDMI 1.4b, Optical SPDIF

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We were lucky enough to get a chance to do an ARNU Box Mach Q demo. In this video we demonstrate the Cloudword Launcher and give you a look at it’s speedy slick interface. The ARNU Box MAch Q is an entry level device with a quad core processor. Lots of power. Check it out here.

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HBO is the name for premium as far as most viewers go.

HBO is on its way to changing the TV landscape. The popularity of its programming and the demand for its HBO Now App is beginning to give people a cable free option that did not exist even a year ago. When HBO Now launched it was available exclusively through Apple devices but it is now available on Android tablets and phones, as well as Amazon Fire tablets though not Android TV or Fire TV yet. HBO has said that people are not leaving cable in favor of Broadband Internet and their service but I am starting to wonder if HBO Go and a combination of other streaming services have not influenced some of the at least 3 million pay TV cancellations we have seen in the past year.

Should Legacy TV Companies be worried yet?

The fact that ESPN is looking at their viewership numbers and adjusting their budgets (if that is in fact why they canned the notoriously difficult to work with Keith Olbermann) should be a very bad sign for that industry. Seeing ESPN talk of eventually offering its service separately from a pay TV package is like watching ice caps melt as a judgement of the planet’s temperature. The fact that it is happening begs for the issue to be examined. When we wrote that ESPN and HBO were key to cable and cord cutters we did not know yet that any of the developments of the past year were so close on the horizon. This fall may be a very exciting one for cord cutters and a rough one for the pay TV industry.

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The Weather Channel has been in the headlines for all of the wrong reasons over the past year. It has been dropped from major providers and has seen losses of over 11 million viewers as a result. It is important to note the major difference between the word subscriber and viewer. HBO has subscribers, people who choose to add the channel and pay a premium charge for it. TNT has viewers. Customers who purchase basic cable packages receive TNT as part of the bundle and then choose to watch or avoid it. The Weather Channel is not a premium network so it has not lost subscribers. But it has lost television viewers. It should not be a surprise to see a network like the Weather Channel go through touch times in the digital age. When it first launched most people did not have access to weather 24-7 via apps and websites. The market has moved on via other innovations. 

Will The Weather Channel Leave TV?
There are problems closing in on TWC from opposite sides. Cable companies trying to save money on licensing costs driven by highly saught after content and loss of cable subscribers across the board over the last few years causing the channel to loose out on viewers because they have walked away from cable and pay TV in general. In an interview with The Wrap Weather Channel CEO David Kenny thinks that the traditional model is on its way out as the dominant media platform.

“The old cable model is sort of like the DVD model of Netflix,”

The Weather Channel app for IOS is the number 2 most popular app on its market. With multiple OTT box options and the preponderance of smart and connected devices the network could well find a new niche for itself long before a number of traditional cable networks do. While it is believed that a number of current cable channels would not be able to exist without the cable bundle a nimble company with a proven audience has a chance.

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What would the headlines about Joe Dirt 2 See film here had the movie failed at the box office? “Throw some dirt on David Spade’s career”? Studios often make the mistake of releasing a sequel that nobody asked for (Highlander 2) and the results can be embarrassing. Sometimes the issue is that a movie’s audience has outgrown its humor, or a star’s appeal has long since passed. Either way Sony Pictures may have found a way to resurrect older franchises and make money without investing too much into distribution. The answer is to not distribute it.

For years small studios and even major ones have had direct to video films and often sequels to iconic movies. Some examples are Lion King 2 1/2 an almost Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead retelling of the Lion King, or The Little Mermaid 2. Movies like that met the needs of audiences that just could not take happily ever after as the end. This sort of film making is not reserved for Disney or animated fare. Though in many cases live action movies may not be able to bring in original stars the American Pie Series for instance may have had 3 major theatrical movies but there were a number of direct to video sequels. Starship Troopers had a few followups also.

The rise of streaming as a medium promises to provide a new platform for such fare going forward. Joe Dirt was a movie begging to be released on the format and due to the cult appeal of the character and a dedicated fanbase for star David Spade, the film has been the most successful venture for Crackle yet. Streaming also allowed the controversial “The Interview” to be available to mas audiences when distribution of the feature became the center of terrorist threats. More films makers may well take this direction as streaming based TV shows prove to be successful and the viewers will win out big time.

Could the Sports Leader be coming to a streamer near you?

Achording to Mathew Belvidere of CNBC ESPN, one of the most sought after cable channels available, will be available A La Carte. In An article posted today quoted Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger as saying

“If we end up seeing more erosion in the so-called multi-channel [cable and satellite TV] bundle, quality will win out,”
Whether this erosion takes place over the next five years as the CNBC story suggests or whether the timeline is a lot faster the mere fact that it is being discussed as a real possibility in the future is considerably more than significant. Until recently ESPN execs have been saying that there are no plans to introduce a bundle free option.  Right now the closest thing anybody has to a bundle free option for ESPN is through Sling TV. Sling TV though is really a system of easier to deal with non contract bundles than it is a la carte TV. You still can’t very well just order ESPN. At this point ESPN is available via Sling’s introductory price of $20.00. That includes a number of other major content offering such as TNT, AMC and 19 more. This is significant because it is the first sign that ESPN is willing to look past standard practices, but not exactly what people are clamoring for.
ESPN better be making back up plans
Why is there a five year bubble floating around the proverbial back yard waiting to burst when it comes to ESPN A la Carte? The dirty little not so secret about ESPN is that it is funded in great part by people who could care less about the service it offers. Not to say that this makes it any different than other basic cable channel, but what it means is that as viewers who do not value sports drop cable and satellite service, which is very much on the rise, then it means ESPN loses part of their revenue stream. As media companies lose subscribers they up the prices on services in order to make up for the subscriber losses. That in turn leads to more customers feeling the squeeze and dropping pay TV services. It should be a frighting scenario to look at not just for ESPN but other basic cable channels as well. ESPN unlike HBO has always been available without a premium price. So while HBO has been able to start offering an OTT service for $15.00, which is what people paid with cable packages, ESPN would have to create a new paradigm.
Expect a Disney Bundle
ESPN is not a network unto itself. Because ESPN is owned by Disney I would expect to see the network and the rest of the ESPN family; ESPN2 ESPNU, ESPN News, The SEC Network, ESPN Classic to be packaged with other properties such as ABC, multiple Disney Channel options and who knows what else Disney will purchase going forward, as a mini-bundle for what it considers a reasonable price. In fact I really think this is more likely how linear TV will work across the board going forward, but that is another story.

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Available August 1:
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein (1999)
Asylum (2005)
Back in Time (Cong Gon Na Nian) (2014)
Beneath the Helmet (2014)
Breakup Buddies (Xin Hau Lu Fang) (2014)
Bride and Prejudice (2004)
Casting By (2012)
The Code: Season One
Dancing on the Edge: Season One
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Season Two
Dear Frankie (2004)
Dogs on the Inside (2014)
Electric Slide (2014)
Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Flex is Kings (2013)
The Golden Era (Huang Jin Shi Dai) (2014)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
The Living (2014)
Lost and Love (Shi Gu) (2015)
Masha and the Bear: Season One
The Mind of a Chef: Season three
November Rule (2015)
Odd Squad: Season One
Outcast (2014)
Pants on Fire (2014)
Reading Rainbow: Volume One
Russell Brand: End the Drugs War (2014)
Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery (2012)
Somewhere Only We Know (You Yi Ge Di Fang Zhi You Wo Men Zhi Dao) (2015)
Sorority Row (2009)
Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (2008)
Utopia: Season One
Vexed: Seasons One-Two
War (2007)
Wing Commander (1999)

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ARNU Box, Formally Armada first on the market with Kodi 15.0

ARNU Box, the company formerly known as Armada (name change due to a trademark issue) has announced plans to release a new set-top box for Kodi fans that will be the first model powered by Kodi Isengard. The new box, the Mach 10 features the Cloudword Installer as well as a number of other strong features including an Amlogic s812 Quad core Cortex A9 processor, Octo-core Mali-450MP GPU, 16GB of NAND FLASH and 2GB DDR3 SDRAM. The added flash memory is a step up from the company’s last model the Mach 8 Pure Linux  which will also receive the Isengard 15.0 update with it’s next batch. The company plans to update it’s Mach 8 Android with Isengard in the near future as well as release an Android powered version of the Mach 10. There are even plans to roll out a new entry level model they are tentatively calling the Mach Q which will feature a Amlogic 805 Quad core processor and 8 gigs of Flash Memory.

The newest stable build of Kodi brings a lot of strong features that home media fans will enjoy and according to a member of the development team who spoke with The Streaming Advisor the company’s new Pure Linux Mach 8 box fully boots now in 32 seconds.

To read the press release click here
ARNU Box Teaser video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HFK8pIVX3s&feature=youtu.be