Monthly Archives: July 2016

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The latest earnings report from CBS shows that CBS All Access and Showtime have 2 million subscribers between the two online offerings. The apparent demand for network shows delivered over the Internet has proven strong for CBS as it has expanded its live TV streaming offering to more of the country over the past year. Showtime which launched last summer see here has an innovative offering that includes 2 live feeds and deals with Hulu to offer the service as part of a stepped-up service plan. Try out a free week of CBS All Access here

star Trek Discovery
CBS hopes that renewed interest in the Star Trek franchise fueled by the JJ Abrams movie reboot will spur more subscribers to CBS all Access.

New Shows a major part of the strategy
While CBS has proven to be a popular destination for TV viewers anchored by shows like The Big Bang Theory, Elementary and The Good Wife, the digital offering hopes to gain viewers with the highly anticipated new Star Trek series, set to debut in 2017. With the current star Trek Movie, Star Trek Beyond, raking it in at the box office anticipation for the show should be at fever pitch by the time it launches. The show could have the same sort of effect for the direct to consumer offering as major live events such as Wrestlemania have had for the WWE Network which has also seen great growth in the past year. A Good Wife spinoff is also said to be in the works.

CBS’s forward thinking strategy of courting cord cutters has yet to be copied by other networks as its competition has instead worked with cable companies to offer “TV Everywhere” apps which require authentication. Many cord cutters want to be able to see their local news and syndicated programming with a dependable signal. This is not always a possibility for viewers because of things like geography, topography and even distance to transmitters. CBS may well win the battle forcord cutters before any of the other networks realize the fight is on.

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Netflix has raised prices for nearly all of its users as the grandfathered in prices that longtime users have enjoyed finally catch up with the newer users. Predictably some people are having a fit over the price jump. Check Twitter and Reddit. I don’t post quotes from social media because I honestly think it’s lazy unverifiable journalism, but that’s just me.

Ask yourself this question. Do you use Netflix? If the answer is yes answer this. Is it your account? The password sharing that has become so popular for those seeking HBO without paying for it kind of started with Netflix. And in the process, Netflix has grown to be a very popular service. At last check, it was still the most popular one. As Netflix has faced pressure to increase profits and subscribers it has been looking outside of the US, but has faced problems growing is brand overseas in the same way it has in the US. If you can’t grow your way out of a problem you have to raise your way out of it. And that is what has happened. But just what if Netflix made everyone who watches the service pay for it?

How could they do it?

I’m not totally certain that they could to honest with you, unless they only allowed for people to have one stream at a time, which would likely upset customers again. Because it is a mobile app as well as a TV-based app there is no way to know whether people are accessing it for themselves or not. There are no hard numbers on how many people even do this, but finding a way to limit it would either encourage people to sign up for their own accounts or stop accessing their services.

What do you think?

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FX Show, the People VS OJ Simpson is coming to Netflix. The show, which is a dramatisation of the murder investigation and eventual exoneration of OJ Simpson launched this year on the Fox network amid renewed interest in the case due to its recent 20 year anniversary. Andocumentaryentery about the same topic aired to rave reviews this summer. Despite the current curfuffle surrounding Netflix and its subscriber numbers the online streaming network continues to add both original content and highly sought after cable and network TV Shows.

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PlayOn will no longer be locked down to users within their own network thanks to PlayOn Cloud. The new service will allow users to set recordings up and stream them without the need to use a PC and server to access them. The PlayOn cloud-based service, which will have apps for IOS and Android will also allow users to download recorded content as an MP4 for Internet-free playback. All transcoding for the videos will be taken care of in the cloud (where the files will be available for 30 days) instead of relying on a computer server. The ability to download files and watch them on the go has become a major selling point for a number of devices and services including Amazon’s video service in conjunction with the Fire TV as well a new push by Netflix.

Will cloud-based services be limited to PlayOn subscribers?
No. Once the service is out of beta testing anyone who signs up for an account with the cloud service will be able to access the cloud-based services. In fact because it is a separate service from the computer server-based offering a user’s subscription does not apply to the cloud service at all.

Recording the digital programming will cost users only .99. And according to Skip Sullivan, who is worked at the center of the project. that the recordings will not be limited by size. “It will be 99 cents whether you are recording Modern Family or Gandi, ” said Sullivan who said the app will look very similar to the PC app.

Will cloud-based services be limited to PlayOn subscribers?

Anyone who signs up for an account with the cloud service will be able to access the cloud-based services. But as a bonus to those who are already subscribers current users will be able to purchase credits at half the normal cost.

New Features for Roku users

While not expected to be available at launch Roku users will have the added bonus of being able to access cloud recordings via PlayOn’s private Roku channel. The PlayOn cloud-based service will be available as a separate channel option within the app all allow users to access their cloud-based recordings without the need to access a computer server. PlayOn is also working to develop an app for the fourth generation Apple TV.

What is the difference between PlayOn’s Cloud service and the regular subscription service
First of all the PlayOn cloud service will operate as a separate app from the one used to access. The ability to access the cloud-based services available to anybody as opposed to subscribers. Another difference is that the new PlayOn app will not have web channels. Users will be able to schedule recordings on the go using the app.

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The Tablo Is a different take on the DVR.
The Tablo app is an official Kodi app found in video add-ons.
The Tablo app is an official Kodi app found in video add-ons.

If you have been wondering how to use a Tablo on Kodi Tablo we have good news. Tablo which recently launched an Apple TV app to rave reviews recently launched a very nice app for Kodi. The app for Kodi is an official app from Tablo that is found in the default repository that comes preloaded with every Kodi download. See our video demo at the bottom of the story.

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Ok political junkies it’s time to do it all over again. The Democratic National convention

CBS News
CBSN is a free 24-hour digital news channel for a number of devices including Roku. The network will be covering the event extensively and will feature commentary by political experts and live speeches throughout the day, especially during the major prime time speeches.

CBS All Access
CBS All Access is the network’s answer to Hulu. It features on-demand programming and archived material dating back decades. It also features the ability to access live feeds of a user’s local CBS channel in participating markets. To find out if your market allows for Live Streaming check out the website here.

Sling TV
Sling TV features a vast array of cable channels for $20.00 per month, including CNN and offers a free preview for new users.

PlayStation Vue
PlayStation Vue starts at 30.00 with a bundle that offers CNN and Fox News. and MSNBC. Learn more here

SFN
SFN or Southern Fibernet Now is a fledgling service based out of Atlanta. The company has a private Roku channel. Its initial offering includes Fox News, CNN and C-Span. C-Span is a nice option for anyone looking to see the speeches with as little bias from either side as possible. The “Popular” tier for SFN costs 34.00. Learn more here

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Are the XBMC foundations attacks on YouTubers and others hypocritical?

Amid the constant controversy surrounding the free open source media center known as Kodi, The group behind the program, The XBMC foundation has regularly maintained that it is not responsible for sharing copyrighted material such as movie and TV shows without permission. Through statements on its official blog see an example here Kodi essentially denies any culpability for users accessing copyrighted content illegally.

Kodi’s PR defense
Kodi attempts to defend accusations of piracy. In a blog post by  Nathan Betzen on Feb 14 2016, Betzen addressed the issue of users and illegal content saying it was up to the user as to what is accessed using the software. I call this the DVD defense because it is like saying DVD players are not meant for piracy but could be used for it. 

“Team Kodi maintains an officially neutral stance on what users do with their own software. Kodi is open source software, and as long as the GPL is followed, you are welcome to do with it as you like. So while we don’t love this use of Kodi, as long as you know what illegal and potentially dangerous things you are getting yourself into and accept the fact that the Team will not be providing you with any support, then you are welcome to do what you like.”- Nathan Betzen Feb 14, 2016. see the whole blog post here. 

Kodi has also fought back with posts from independent writers (Which Kodi heavily promoted on their own social media for maximum distribution) parroting its viewpoint. In an article by Engadget Senior HD editor Richard Lawler here, Lawler explains the fight between Kodi and YouTubers who promote third party addons heavily sourcing the same Kodi blog. In this excerpt from the story that appeared 2/14/16 Lawler sums up the controversy surrounding Kodi succinctly.
“One look around YouTube reveals setups touting “The Beast,” “Genesis” and others that promise access to current movies, cable TV and more without the issue of actually paying for any of them.

Kodi’s Official addons do allow users to access copyrighted content without paying for it

Kodi says that their media center is meant to provide users access to legally digitized copies of a user’s own legitimately purchased media library be it Hollywood, blockbusters, music or personal movies and pictures. For the record, Kodi does perform this function beautifully.

Betzen’s claims that Kodi has a hands-off approach when it comes to how users interact with Kodi as far as third party addons that provide access to copyrighted material is fair enough. After all, I can use my Toshiba Satelite computer to access any number of things thatToshiba does not have anything to do with including torrents, pornography and more. But given such a stance on Kodi’s official blog then we should certainly expect that Kodi’s official addons would not provide access to copyrighted material without up front logins and legitimate portals to the content right? Well, my friends, this is not the case at the moment.

Included with any install of the media center available on Kodi’s official website here users have access to a large number of what the foundation would refer to as legit addons that do not violate any copyright laws. But the fact is that Kodi’s official addon repository contains access to a number of addons based on the US and international TV stations that provide direct access to programming which in any other case would require an authentication from a cable provider in order to access the information.

Want evidence of this, we got it.

The NBC Sports Extra add-on for Kodi contains a live section seen in the picture bellow
Kodi Stealing 4

When users click the Golf Channel Live link they are immediately connected to a live stream of the Golf Channel. See the screen shot bellow and note the Kodi Media center UI at the bottom of the screen.

Kodi Stealing Golf Channel

Now here is what happens if you try to access the same info via the NBC Sports website by clicking the Watch Live arrow in the center of the screen.

Kodi Stealing Golf NBC

Users are asked to sign in with a cable provider. This is because the Golf Channel is part of a TV everywhere option meant for those who are paying for participating cable services. See pic bellow and note the NBC logo. Try this yourself here on the website http://www.golfchannel.com/

Kodi Stealing 5

SyFy Content Without Authentification 

Another example is the SyFy App, also available on Kodi’s official collection of addons.

We opened the SyFy app and chose to look at 12 Monkeys,  chose episode 12 of the current season.

Kodi Stealing Syfy Kodi App 1

Here we choose to select 12 Monkees.

kodi Stealing SyFy Kodi App 2

We choose episode 7 of 12 Monkeys Meltdown”.

Kodi Stealing SyFy 3 episode 7

Just like the NBC Sports Golf channel, 12 Monkees episode 7 was available, no login required. Again note the Kodi UI.

Kodi Stealing SyFy Meltdown

Again when we went to the SyFy channel website in order to test the same episode and see if it is available for free viewing, take a look at what happens.

Kodi Stealing 7 Syfy Website

We were again prompted to enter a cable login.

Kodi Stealing 8 Syfy Login

Is Kodi truly working to prevent its software from being used for Piracy? No
Both of these networks have apps for other platforms. The Roku App for SyFy also requires a cable log in to access full slates of programming. These two blatant examples show that Kodi does, in fact, deliver copyrighted content to users even when accessing official add-ons. They are not simply scraping content from a website and providing access to content available for free. They are somehow instead skirting the basic rules in place for using the content in the first place. If Kodi feels they are being unfairly targeted by companies like Amazon or that their reputation has been tarnished by unofficial addons like 1 Channel, the XBMC foundation had better give an explanation of that evidence. I feel that there is undeniable evidence that Kodi can be used to steal cable content and movies and that the XBMC foundation knows it. Those are after all their add-ons. So are pirates and hackers ruining the reputation of Kodi? Or are they expanding on it? For the record, I reached out numerous times to two representatives from The XBMC foundation for a period of over a month before choosing to publish this story. My contacts never returned my phone calls, text messages or skype messages.

Why are the creators of Kodi called the XBMC Foundation?

On a side note, if you are wondering why I keep referring to the XBMC foundation versus say vs say the Kodi Foundation or Corporation it is because the official name of the group of developers who started Kodi is the XBMC foundation. The term XBMC was a shortened version of the software’s original name The Xbox Media Center which was developed as a modification for the Xbox. Kodi was actually called XBMC for years before it put forth a name change meant to empower Kodi to be able to control how its software was referred to and marketed.

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Sling TV’s Newest offering is the Sling Orange and Blue combined package. The $40.00 package gives users the ability to access its original core channels which include the major offerings from Turner networks and Disney along with offerings from Fox like FX, Fox on-demand content, Fox Sports and the new content from Viacom which recently came under the Sling TV banner.

Is Sling Orange and Blue a good deal?
Sling Orange and Blue offers users a large selection of the most popular cable channels in the country, including major producers of original programming like TNT, AMC, USA and SyFy and comedy central. It’s sports channels include ESPN, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2 and NBC Sports. That is more than a small gathering of channels for the cost. With its newest agreements the lineup even offers a host of channels well know for reality shows, a staple of cable TV these days. For a full lineup of the channels see the companies website here.

What do you need to watch Sling TV?
Unlike a cable package, Sling TV does not come with a box that has to be hooked up and activated.

Sling TV's newest set top box option is the fourth generation Apple TV.
Sling TV’s newest set top box option is the fourth generation Apple TV.

Sling TV is accessible via apps for a host of Internet-connected devices. For those looking to sit in their living room and watch Sling TV users can get a deal on an Apple TV, Roku 2, or Fire TV. All they have to do from there is add the Sling TV channel to their device and sign up. Sling TV is also totally mobile with apps for IOS and Android along with apps MAC and Windows computers, the Xbox One and even the Channel Master DVR.

Truth in Advertising
Cable companies often advertise their TV services in a bundled format that includes TV, Internet and a seldom used phone service for $99.00 per month. This is always based on whether a customer is new to the service and does not reflect the cost of the service once the first year is over. After that, the prices race up for both Internet and especially the TV service. But what people get from this

The Food Network is included with Sling Orange and Blue.
The Food Network is included with Sling Orange and Blue.

combined offering is a no contract package for only $10.00 more than the temporary contractually obligated price. The advertised prices never include an upcharge for things like local TV, and modem rental which is essentially a hidden part of every cable bill. Even those who choose something like Sling TV will have to provide Internet service from one provider or another and it may well be the local cable company. It certainly is where I live because it is the only legitimate option. But what is important about services like Sling Orange and Blue is that user have a set price without the games. And in the end users decide that the service is not for them they can drop it without a hassle.

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Watch USTV Now on a Chromecast or NVIDIA Shield set-top box and any Google Cast-enabled device for that matter with ease.  Does USTV Now have an Android App for Chromecast? No, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cast it? Streaming and cord-cutting is all about finding workable solutions to problems and this case is no different. You may not be aware of this but there are some websites that can launch to a chromecast the same way an Android or IOS app can. This means that users with a laptop and the Google Cast extension for their Chrome browser can send their video straight to a device without using the clumsy still beta mirroring feature.

If you are not familiar with USTV Now, it is a service meant for US citizens who live outside of the US intended to allow them to watch US-based TV channels live. The service includes a cable like package for a monthly fee and full access to major broadcast networks free.

How do you Watch USTV Now on a Chromecast

1. To begin with, you have to have an account with USTV Now, which you can get by signing up through its website here .

2. If you have an account, sign in or sign up. It is free to sign up for a USTV Now account.

USTV  Now Sign Up

3. launch the TV Guide.

USTV Now TV Guide

4. Select a program you want to watch.USTV Now Choose Show

5. Hover over the player with your cursor and select Chromecast.

 

6. Launch the video to your Google Cast device.

USTV Now Cast launch