Monthly Archives: December 2015

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2015 may well go down as the year streaming became mainstream. Netflix, Amazon and Hulu continued to expand, The WWE Network broke 1 million viewers, set top boxes and smart TV’s flew off the shelves and Nielsen began to give weight to streamed content in its total viewership equation. What developments stood out for us at The Streaming Advisor? Read our Streaming Superlatives 2015.

Service of the Year
There were a number of major launches in 2015. This included Showtime’s foray into the over the top delivery, and the launch of CBS All Access. If this were actually like the Emmys those other services would be fellow nominees. But the outright champ of the great rise of streaming is HBO Now. HBO Now finally answered the call for a way to watch HBO without paying for a full cable programming bundle. In less than a year HBO Now has become a top app in the streaming world offering viewers the entire HBO catalogue on-demand.

Biggest Letdown
One of the most talked about devices at the 2015 CES was the Razer Forge console. Promising to bring Android gaming to the living room, trumpeting the new Android TV platform and the promise of PC to console gaming the product was seen as a step towards high end PC gaming on the biggest screen in the home instead of a computer monitor. The device got off to a painfully slow start and was marred by major deficiencies such as a lack of support for Netflix, an Android only app used for setup of the device and a lack of truly innovative titles available in the game arena. The company has since announced that PC to console gaming will not launch. Razer has since acquired the Ouya catalogue and launched a game service around its ecosystem called Cortex. It is yet to be seen whether this will matter in the long run.

Best Buzz
The Nvidia Shield Android TV console. The Shield console is one of the most hyped products on the market and for good reason. It was the first set top box to offer full 4K streaming, came ready out of the box with its gaming service ready to go, offered PC to console streaming and a game remote complete with a private listening option. Starting at $199.00 even without a TV remote the box was pricy but developed a following in the Android community where it became the flagship for the Android TV platform due to its immense power and 3Gigs of RAM. The device is a great addition to PC gaming homes but is still saddled with Android TV, which has yet to truly take form as an ecosystem. The device also supports Google Cast like its much cheaper counterpart the Google Chromecast. Will it continue to capture the imagination of the streaming public going forward? Time will tell.

Most Anticipated Launch
While all of the major parties in streaming updated their devices including Roku, the Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast the most rumored and hotly anticipated announcement came from Apple. The new Apple TV launched with its own app store, to go along with an improved processor, continued support for AirPlay and a new remote featuring a touch pad used for both TV control and gaming. Critical response has been mixed since the device hit the shelves but Apple reps have told the Streaming Advisor that sales have been strong for the device as it has been paired as an accessory for new iPhones and iPads. 

Most Disruptive Technology
Sling Television was first shown to the public at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas. offering 20 channels for 20 dollars at launch including ESPN the service ushered in the era of the “Skinny Bundle”. Sling Television known by many as Sling TV also got in on the HBO game by offering the service to its customers as an add-on to its basic package essentially offering HBO and ESPN along with a collection of popular cable channels for $35.00. Has Sling TV killed the cable industry? Not hardly, but what it has done is force the hand of companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast to begin to offer their own smaller packages in response. There are now cable company packages for Internet heavy users that offer HBO and more. While there is regular wrangling as to how many subscribers Sling TV actually has there can be no doubt that the service shifted the conversation.

Best Acquisition
This should really be title best acquisitions. In one year Hulu went from being on the verge of sale to the highest bidder to being a new hub for hollywood hits and original series. This was the year that Hulu had to have in order to remain relevant. The service has existed in some form for over 5 years starting off as a primarily computer based service. The property which is owned by News Corp, Comcast and Disney signed a deal with Epics in the wake of Netflix declining to extend it contact bringing a large number of recognizable titles to a service once known for B movies and indie films to bolster its already robust selection of currently airing and past TV shows. The service also partnered with Showtime to offer its customers access to all of Showtime’s programming for an extra $7.99. With a high profile original mini series on the way and the growth of delayed viewing Hulu could be on its way to a big 2016.

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We have been writing about the games that ISP’s play with data caps and the FCC is apperantly interested in how they work. Stating that they are not looking to penalize Comcast, AT&T, and T-Mobile, the FCC wants to know the nature of data cap exemptions that allow certain services not to count against data plans while others do. The most egregious examples of this practice is Comcasts favoring of its own services. While the FCC claims it is not looking to levy some sort of decision on this matter I have to wonder how such practices are not an anti-trust violation. 

As services like Sling TV, HBO Now, Netflix and Hulu continue to grow in popularity companies with competing services who choose limit their ability to reach customers are sure to get more scrutiny. The truth is this. The Internet is a resource for public consumption and communication. It will eventually be fully recognized that way. And that day is coming sooner than later.

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We were able to load Kodi on to our current gen Apple TV last night. It took some trial and error but we took notes step by step so that we could share how to do it with you. In the end we are now running Kodi natively on the Apple TV and are proud to share this video with you today. To see our full step by step guide click here

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How do you Install Kodi on an Apple TV 4? It can be done without any any jailbreaking or funky hacking. In order to install Kodi on the new Apple TV you must download a number of free applications and follow the instructions step by step. In the end you will install Kodi on the new Apple TV without any need to hack you Apple TV or download a new operating system to the device.

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Netflix is the standard bearer for streaming.
Netflix is the standard bearer for streaming.

Netflix
Netflix is the quintessential streaming app and was the very first streaming application that Roku ever supported. With over 50 million customers its quite likely that you already have a Netflix account. What does Netflix offer? A gigantic library of movies, TV shows, documentaries and a growing list of special presentations like concerts and comedy specials. Netflix is more of a streaming network than an app with over a dozen original shows from the gritty like House of Cards, Jessica Jones and Daredevil to the Emmy-winning comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a great way to check out the shows that everyone at work has been telling you to see like The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time or even long time favorites. Best yet if you have a 4k TV and a Roku 4 Netflix is one of the only places to find content for it.

Amazon Video
Amazon VideoAmazon’s video service is a feature included in conjuction with Amazon’s prime service. If you have been considering Amazon Prime for the shipping, Kindle reader perks and and special offers it is a no brainer. Amazon has exclusive streaming deals with CBS that makes it the home of summer hits like Under The Dome and offers a large number of TV Shows and movies from multiple studios. A perk of Amazon’s service is that the content is broken down by network so if you have a favorite TV neighborhood it can be found easily. Amazon has some well regarded originals too including breakout alternative history thriller The Man In The High Castle and the Emmy-winning Transparent. On the movie side of the spectrum Amazon offers the Epics movie catalogue which features big titles from Lions Gate and other studios.

Hulu
Hulu is a great service for those who don’t have a DVR and or cable television. The service offers

Hulu has always had ads and has grown quickly in the first half of 2015.
Hulu has always had ads and has grown quickly in the first half of 2015.

next day replay of content from Fox, NBC, ABC, CW, the majority of viacom based networks including Comedy Central, the entire library of South Park, the Epics Movie Catalogue, The Criterion Collection (art and Indie films) BCC content and a large slate of originals. There are also tons of television shows from throughout the TV landscapes organized by network and studio. Users can pay as little as $7.99 for the commercial supported version of the channel or kick it up a notch for the commercial free version. Hulu customers also have the option to add current and archived content from Showtime. Overall it’s a great value.

NBC
NBC LogoNBC has its own freestanding app on Roku where users can catch up on NBC shows and specials. Users who have a participating cable provider can access even more content. The app will allow users to access a great deal of content for free though including original movies and series without the need to provide a Cable password.

CBSN
CBS NewsCBSN is a 24 hour Internet based news network. It provides a daily rundown of breaking news much like CNN, Fox News and others. The service is free no strings attached. With CBSN you will not be caught off guard when someone asks you about the tornado in Texas or even the latest pop culture buzz.

PBS
PBS LogoPBS is one of the most complete apps on Roku. Any of PBS’s programs can be found via the app and users can sign in with their local PBS station to open regional based programming. For fans of hits like Downton Abbey, Sherlock and what ever makes its way through the BBC pipeline next PBS is a treasure. There are also a number of PBS favorites from yesteryear including the Joy Of Painting.

YouTube
YouTube picYouTube is the most heavily used streaming service in the country. If you don’t know what YouTube is now you can probably ask the person next to you and get an earful about cute babies, Kittens and more but the app overall can become a go to for people from all walks of life. From clips uploaded from all over the world to great original programming from professional production companies it is easy spend an entire night on one short form feature after another. It is also one of the most popular places in the world to find music. Link your own YouTube account and see your favorite subscriptions and saved videos.

Watch ESPN

ESPN will son be available outside of a traditional pay TV package.

Watch ESPN is the app of apps for sports fans. Like its mobile app the Watch ESPN app for Roku provides access to ESPN’s family of networks provided that your TV provider participates in the program. A great bonus offered by Watch ESPN is ESPN 3, an internet based option that gives viewers access to extra contests from major sports conferences including live football and BAsketball, Baseball and non revenue sports. Many ISP’s especially DSL providers allow users to access ESPN 3 content without a cable subscription.

Pandora
PandoraYou might be surprised at just how much you use this free music service. Pandora has a gigantic selection of music available on request. Users can set up their own stations based on specific performers and genres. Want easy listening? Search for adult contemporary or look for James Taylor and the system will populate Taylor, Paul Simon and simmilar artist. Type John Williams and listen to Star Wars, The ET score, and other works from Williams, Hans Zimmer and more. It’s one of my personal favorites when I am writing.

VUDU
Vudu PicNope this is not a cult channel. It is an on demand movie and television service and one of the best places to find 4K content online. Roku 4 users with 4K TV’s should take a look at this channel early. It is free to add and with a free account users can purchase digital blockbuster films and even access their own digital content through Ultra Violet. The service offers multiple viewing options for content including SD, HD and 4K.

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The Streaming Advisor would like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas. Frequent readers may well have noticed we slowed down on publishing this week as family time and vacations took precedence. We will be back in full force after the holiday fun. Be patient with relatives who just got their new devices and call you for help, enjoy the time off and check us out on the other side. We have a lot coming up in the next few weeks including CES, great new cord cutting content and more. So to our readers and supporters Be safe have fun and Stream On!

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2 Fast 2 Furious
Along Came Polly
American Girl: Grace Stirs up Success
Angry Birds Toons: Season 1
Bring It On: Fight to the Finish
Bring It On: In It to Win It
Catwoman
The Celebrity Plastic Surgeons of Beverly Hills: Season 1
Forensic Files: Collection 2
Friday Night Tykes: Season 1-2
The Good Road
House of Wax
How to Change the World
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Intolerable Cruelty
Journey to Le Mans
Loins of Punjab
Meet the Fockers
Meet the Parents
Nanny McPhee
Piku
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie
Pride and Prejudice
The Rundown
Shout Gladi Gladi
Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball
Something New
Stephen Fry Live: More Fool Me
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle: Season 3
Swordfish
The Tale of Despereaux
Under Arrest: Season 1: “Put Some Clothes On”
We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Wedding Date
The Whole Ten Yards
30 for 30: Four Falls of Buffalo
I’ll Have What Phil’s Having: Season 1
Blunt Force Trauma
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10
New Girl: Season 4
Adult World
Dragons: Race to the Edge: Season 2
Tom Segura: Mostly Stories
Dos Hermanos
El Hombre de al Lado
Esperando La Carroza
The Marziano Family
Rosario Tijeras
Un Oso Rojo
Littlest Pet Shop: Season 4
The Ladykillers
Parks and Recreation: Season 7
The Testimony
Degrassi: The Next Class: Season 1
The Last Five Years
Moonwalkers
Occupied
The Overnight
Sirens: Season 2
Hyde Park on Hudson
Z Nation: Season 2
Curve
Drone
When Calls the Heart: Season 2
Sharknado 3
From Dusk Till Dawn: Season 2
Turbo Kid
Frozen Planet
Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice
Frozen Planet: The Epic Journey
The Making of Frozen Planet
Ever After High: Dragon Games
Words and Pictures

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Original Programming explosion
What started with shows like Netflix’s House of Cards and Amazon’s Alpha House has grown to include multiple series on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Hulu and even Yahoo. Great shows don’t die anymore, they move onto friendlier platforms. Community on Yahoo, The Mindy Project on Hulu. Disney started rolling out its Marvell programming on Netflix with Dare Devil and Jessica Jones and Amazon’s Transparent burst on to the scene to become an Emmy winner. Stephen King joins the fray soon. This was a Big year for streaming based shows and it is only the beginning.

Sling Television
SLing Television was first demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics show and it was quite apparent that it was a game changer. The service was the first to push what has come to be called the skinny bundle, a select group of pay channels as opposed to the bulky 200 plus networks one typically finds on a normal cable package. In its wake other media companies have adjusted including Time Warner and Comcast as Sling Television has set a market price and expectation. The service can be found on multiple streaming platforms with a major exception being Apple TV.

All of the Big Players Updated
Apple TV added an App store, which has grown to well over 2000 apps in a mere few months, Roku introduced a new model with multiple 4K options and Fire TV rolled out an interactive voice commanded Alexa based machine. Even the Chromecast got an updated look and a performance boost. Hopefully for streaming enthusiasts (and streaming advisors) the pace will slow down a bit so we can get a lay of the land before the next round of rumors and rollouts begins.

Higher High Speed Internet Expansion
It seems like a lifetime ago when I first heard the clicks and crackles and however you might choose to describe the sound of an old 56k modem connecting to the internet. I’m sure anyone who remembers is making the sound right now. But it only seems like yesterday that we were marveling at speeds of 10 Mbps. Now cable companies are offering 50 Mbps connections standard and Fiber networks promise 1 gigabit connections. We might not have flying hoverboards but information can fly. The innovation is allowing users to deliver higher end content with less buffering including 4k content as well as high end gaming. Eventually connections will get so fast that we won’t be able to tell the difference when it improves but that day has not come yet.

HBO Now
Possibly the most significant thing to happen to streaming was the introduction of HBO Now. First of all it was the first time anybody could sign up and receive HBO without also being a cable subscriber. For years there have been people who had cable or other pay television services to access HBO now users can get it with an App. The service is available on multiple streaming platforms and offers on demand programming from across HBO’s current and past programing library.

 

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We just got the Quantume Byte Windows Mini PC. Take a quick olook at our unboxing video to see what comes along with the device and hear our recommendations for it. The Quantum Byte is a quad core Mini PC that you can easily hook up to a TV via HDMI and stream or run Windows programs.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may see the Internet as the next big NFL branding opportunity and Yahoo, the first non-TV related platform to host a game, may be the beneficiary. Pro Football Talk reported that Goodell is looking into bringing Thursday Night Football onto the platform to allow fans to stream the games live. The web based viewing option would be the first time the Thursday Night Football game was available for free online on a weekly basis. NBC Sports streams its Sunday Night matchup via NBC Sports Extra but other networks decline to allow fans to access regular season content for free online. Luckily for fans CBS has been streaming the NFL Playoffs for free for the last two years and even Fox has allowed the Superbowl to be streamed for free without pay TV authentication. So while the idea of free NFL NFL streaming is not new the significance of a weekly NFL game on Thursday being available can not be overlooked.

NFL Following Old Blueprint
If you think streaming Thursday Night Football on Yahoo is an odd pairing then you don’t understand how the NFL became the institution it is today. Did you know that when the NFL started broadcasting on Sunday afternoons that it was because nobody else put high profile programming in that slot? That time was just filled with old movies and filler. The NFL claimed Sunday afternoons from nobody and since then nobody has ever been able to make a dent from 1pm-7pm. The NFL owns a day. It later claimed Monday nights in much the same fashion. It took college football decades to make it onto a non Saturday broadcast time (with the exception of major bowl games) and that was only due to ESPN. I believe that one day the NBA, and Major League Baseball will be trying everything they can to find their way onto a major website so that their content can be available for the masses. Yahoo too is treading down a familiar path. While people may look at the website/search engine as past its prime having been surpassed as a search engine by Google the company is very much in the same position as Fox was when it grabbed the NFC broadcast rights from CBS in the 1990’s. At the time Fox was home to the Simpsons and Beverly Hills 90210 and not much else. Overnight it became the home of John Maddon and even revolutionized sports broadcasting by integrating what at the time was nicknamed the “Fox Box” the upper left hand corner score keeper that is now the industry standard. Being the home of the NFL could completely transform Yahoo.

NFL Future Proofing
The Internet will one day be the medium for all TV whether it is delivered by companies like Comcast or Google. In time the term cable company will not even exist. Within the next five years I would expect to see companies like Time Warner Cable simply refer to themselves as communications companies and drop Cable from their name faster than Kentucky (formally fried) Chicken did with its KFC rebranding. If Thursday Night Streaming works out for Yahoo do you think CBS will sit idly by and let a major revenue stream slip right through its fingers? Fox might as the company has stubbornly ignored the cord cutting and free streaming trend sticking instead with full authentication. Either way you can bet the NFL is going to factor streaming into future TV negotiations and I believe it will favor networks that put its product on the most screens possible over those that put up walls. By the time the rest of the sports industry and television industry catches up the NFL will be the king of Internet sports streaming and fans will be the winners.