Monthly Archives: August 2016

When you set up a cable, satellite or U-Verse plan you will almost always be asked a very important question. How many TV’s do you have in your home? The reason you are asked this is because renting additional cable boxes is a great upsell for service providers and it is almost disguised as a

Send the kids to the play room to watch their favorite Disney shows.
Send the kids to the play room to watch their favorite Disney shows.

necessity. After all, if you have more than one TV you want to be able to watch your content on it right? The answer is usually yes and in turn, people will pay an extra cost per box adding a potential extra bill to their package. That being said, a number of people who have pay TV services through a cable or satellite services could benefit from a great deal of savings by using streaming set-top boxes in place of additional cable boxes.

One of the “hidden” charges that people regularly pay is an upcharge for an additional TV box. In my area, the cable provider is Time Warner Cable. The company charges 11.75 per cable box including the initial box required to access the service. The cost is the same for any other full cable box used in the household. So do the math 11.75 x (your TV’s) = the cost of box rental.  Sorry for the math but an understanding of what you are really paying for is important in gauging your overall expense.

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TV Everywhere apps from Apple TV can let users get their favs in any room without a full TV box.

So how does streaming help me save money on Cable TV?
For a number of years, the pay TV industry has been developing apps that allow users to access channels via wireless devices from phones, tablets, set-top boxes and even computers. One of the most popular “TV everywhere” options is Watch ESPN. The streaming service, which is available to users with a participating provider, and there are a vast number of them, can access full live streams of any ESPN channel that they receive via the app. This could be a perfect way to get ESPN to a man cave without using another cable box. Another popular sports option is Fox Sports 1.

Roku, a company known for its streaming set-top boxes has an entire category of TV everywhere channels that give users a ton of streaming options for a number of channels. They include live channels like watch ESPN and others along with on-demand content channels like HBO Go, which is

Roku uses a simple grid to organize channels.
Roku uses a simple grid to organize channels.

free for HBO subscribers. Apple TV and Fire TV also have a number of TV Everywhere options and for the most part, the major players like ESPN and HBO are available across all major platforms.

Do these apps have a monthly charge
No there is no extra monthly charge to use a TV everywhere app aside from the price of any given premium service like HBO or Showtime etc. The streaming boxes also do not have monthly charges and can add a number of other services to any existing TV. Acess to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon video and so many other sources, thousands in fact.

TWC app
Time Warner’s App for Roku lets users access their entire lineup of Live TV channels on any TV or tablet.

Provider Apps
Depending on your provider there may be multiple options that allow users to access their full lineup of Pay TV channels via apps. This can include full live TV channels including local affiliate networks. In some cases the apps require a user to be in the vicinity of a receiver or modem from the provider. How that works for you will depend on your provider.

Take your TV with you
If you utilize tablets and phones a number of the TV everywhere apps (the channel specific ones) are available anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Is it more expensive to buy separate equipment or rent the boxes?
No matter how much you pay for a separate set-top box if you will be using a pay TV provider every year it will more than pay off over time. Some options can be had for as little as $50.00. And you will have the monthly satisfaction of watching the bill go down.

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Roku's new rumored designations risk confusing customers going forward.

Which Roku Do I Need? Sellers, journalists and all of those in between get ready to deal with a very confused public. If the reporting of Dave Zats is to be believed and I see no reason not to at least take the info he published seriously, Roku has plans to launch five new models in the future. The multiple units model has served Roku well since the company first began to expand its offerings. But it may be time for Roku to rethink the way it rolls out its products in order to simplify the way it is marketed to the public.  

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Can You Watch Yahoo View On Roku? Yahoo View, the new service from Yahoo that replaced Hulu’s subscription-free viewing option does not have its own app for Roku yet, but the people at PlayOn have come to the rescue. PlayOn, which is a server-based streaming solution has a full Yahoo View app available via its popular private Roku Channel. The PlayOn channel which requires users to sign up for either a yearly or lifetime service as well as download a program to a Windows PC.

Need a new Roku? Click here

What does it cost?
Currently, the cost for PlayOn is $29.99 per year or $49.99 for a lifetime membership.

Is it worth the cost?
If you don’t mind making sure that you have a computer running in the background to access content I think the service is well worth the money. Not only does it provide Roku users with an abundance of viewing options it is compatible with Chromecast, Fire TV, IOS devices and Android devices.  The service can also be accessed directly from a PC via its desktop interface. Even more, PlayOn can also work as a DVR for any content available on any of its numerous channels. It even gives users a way to access cable services without the need to add an extra cable box. Currently, PlayOn offers access to both Time Warner Cable and Xfinity as well as a number of TV Everywhere apps.

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A recent poll by JD Power showed something that a lot of self-professed experts on streaming might find surprising or even unbelievable. When it comes to people’s opinions on streaming cord cutters are the least happy with their experience in streaming and even more, the most enthusiastic streamers are cable customers. The survey showed that a group now being called “Cord Stackers” which is a term for those who have cable and use streaming to add to their TV experience rates their streaming experience higher than “Cord Cutters”, People without cable. Frankly,  the idea that people keep trying to come up with labels for every type of content viewer is getting convoluted but that is an article  for another day.

The survey showed that 83 percent of people who stream content subscribe to a pay TV service. 13 percent of people who use streaming regularly are cord-cutters. For cord cutters, news like that may sound unrealistic but there are plenty of reasons to believe that this might be true.

The information provided by the release from JD Power looked at respondents feelings on a number of well known streaming delivery platforms, though comparing Netflix alongside iTunes is difficult. This is because iTunes is a transactional service where people rent or purchase TV Shows and Movies with an exhaustive catalogue of content and Netflix is a set service with a monthly price that offers viewers unlimited streaming but a more eclectic catalogue that is missing all of the new content that can be found in a transactional service like iTunes based on a number of factors. Basically, iTunes is a media superstore and Netflix is a choose from what is on a massive pile  “Free Market”. When you want to see the latest home-video movie release it’s going to be on iTunes or even Amazon, unless of course what you want to see is a Netflix original series.

An interesting tidbit from the study is that cord cutters appear to appreciate original streaming content more than those who have a bundle of options to choose from. This isn’t a big surprise as those without as many options from TV networks may well be looking for more original content that cannot be found on TNT or many cable networks. While those with 300 channels to choose from have less need to use Netflix or Hulu for new content and may appreciate being able to catch up on content that they picked up on half way through and said “I’d like to see that series from the beginning!” That was 30 Rock for me.

Important Unknowns
Something that cannot be read into from the study is what makes a person a cord cutter in the first place. At some point, it would be fascinating to find out.  Are they cord cutters because of budget constraints? Is it because of some bad service experience with a provider? Do they just think that there is nothing on TV worth paying for? Are they just too busy to take in content? For the “I can’t find anything good in TV crowd, it may be very hard to satisfy them. If they already hated paying for TV shows in a bundled manner, paying a price at all for something they consider subpar or cliched may never add up to a net positive. While those who are enjoying the content they watch may just appreciate getting more of it. There is always a crowd that says “Netflix doesn’t have enough good movies” These are people who want to have their $8.99 or so cake and eat it too. Though, it’s important to note that the most well-received service which included a listing of Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, (Which technically does not exist anymore due to rebranding) iTunes and Vudu was Netflix.

It appears though that the TV industry is beginning  to figure out what is really happening in the modern content marketplace. Streaming is not an option to cable, it is a new delivery system for all content whether it is produced as part of a media conglomerate like Disney’s ESPN and Time Warner’s HBO or whether it is a partnership between Netflix and an independent studio. Learning how to deliver content to the homes and devices of customers is the key no matter what you call the viewers who are “hopefully” paying for it.

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From Press release

One of the fastest growing sectors of video entertainment has made a move to position itself for success both via deals with TV channels and over the top atewaming.

The World Esports Association (WESA) announced its Board of Directors unanimously voted to appoint Ken Hershman as the organization’s new Executive Chairman and Commissioner, effective immediately. Hershman will take the reins from Pietro Fringuelli, who served as Interim Commissioner since the introduction of WESA this past May.

Hershman was also named Chief Executive Officer of the WESA Agency, the media arm of the organization. WESA and the WESA Agency’s global headquarters are located in Zug, Switzerland, while the US headquarters are in New York City.

Hershman spent nearly 30 years in the television sports world, where he helped spearhead some of the industry’s most innovative television programming for both Home Box Office (HBO) and Showtime. During his tenure as president of HBO Sports, Hershman piloted a variety of renowned boxing franchises, as well as award-winning original programming including “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” “Hard Knocks” and “24/7.” Hershman is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law and received a BA degree from George Washington University.

“Now is the perfect time for WESA to introduce a dynamic and seasoned Commissioner and we’re confident Ken is the right leader to take our organization and sport to new heights,” said Ralf Reichert, WESA Board Director and Co-Founder and Managing Director, ESL. “Ken is a true visionary whose expertise in strategy, creative and execution is precisely what WESA needs to move at digital speed to fulfill our vision to build a world-class esports association.”

WESA was founded in May 2016 by eight of the world’s most popular esports teams (Fnatic, Natus Vincere, EnVyUS, Virtus.Pro, Gamers2, Faze, mousesports, Ninjas in Pyjamas) and ESL, the world’s largest esports company, who shared a collective vision to further professionalize the sport by introducing elements of player representation, standardized regulations and revenue sharing for teams. Based on traditional sports association models, WESA also aims to create predictable schedules for fans, players, organizers and broadcasters by engaging all appropriate stakeholders. The ESL Pro League for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will be the first professional esports competition that will be played under WESA regulations.

“On behalf of all the WESA member teams, we’re excited about Ken’s appointment,” said Wouter Sleijffers, CEO of Fnatic. “Ken brings a wealth of experience we see as critical step in our ambition to organize and define standards for this rapidly expanding industry. We look forward to working with Ken, his team and the newly appointed Player Council to building a world-class organization.”

“As an esports player, we’re excited about the appointment of someone of Ken’s experience to help ensure we have an appropriate voice in setting the table for the future of our sport,” said Viktor (Vuggo) Jenedeby, WESA Player Council Chairman. “We look forward to working closely with Ken in the years ahead.”

“Esports isn’t just the future – it’s the present,” said Hershman. “I’m excited about the challenge and confident my experience can help benefit everyone involved in WESA, including players, teams and leagues, as we work to build bridges and balance collective benefits

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September brings a number of highly-anticipated Amazon Original Series and Movie available for Prime members to stream or download on Prime Video at no additional cost to their membership, including:
· Weiner-Dog: Amazon Original Movie by Todd Solondz about a dachshund that passes from oddball owner to oddball owner, whose radically dysfunctional lives are all impacted by the pooch. (9/1/16)
· Crisis in Six Scenes: Amazon Original Series and Woody Allen’s first-ever TV series, takes place in the 1960’s during turbulent times in the United States when a middle class suburban family is visited by a guest who turns their household completely upside down. (9/30/16)
· Transparent S3: Amazon Original Series, multi-Golden Globe and multi-Emmy award-winning comedy that explores family, identity, sex, and love. (9/23/16)
· Fleabag: Amazon Original Series, which is a six-part comedy adapted by Award-winning playwright, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who both writes and stars in the series, as a young woman trying to cope with life in London whilst coming to terms with a recent tragedy. (9/16/16)
· One Mississippi: Amazon Original Series and semi-autobiographical dark comedy that follows Tig Notaro as she returns to her hometown after the sudden death of her mother. (9/9/16)
· The Stinky & Dirty Show: Amazon Original kid’s series based on the “I Stink!” book series by Kate and Jim McMullan, following the adventures and mishaps faced by best friends and unlikely heroes. (9/2/16)
· Creative Galaxy S2: Amazon Original kid’s series that follows the adventures of Arty and his sidekick Epiphany, as they search the galaxy to solve creative problems with art! (9/16/16)

In addition to Amazon Originals, new to Prime Video next month are seasons 1 of CBS’S Braindead and American Gothic, along with season 9 of BBC’s Dr. Who. Additionally, films like the documentary Food, Inc. and the classic drama Apollo 13 join existing titles on Prime Video. As you may know, Amazon announced in July that Prime Video is the exclusive streaming home for a selection of Warner Bros. classics, with new titles to be added each month – September additions include, Any Given Sunday, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Caddyshack, Full Metal Jacket and Interview with a Vampire.

In addition, Amazon Video welcomes a number of titles for purchase this month including films like, X-Men: Apocalypse starring Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender and the kid-friendly Beauty and the Beast. Amazon Video also brings the latest in TV with new episodes airing the day after broadcast of the upcoming Scream Queens season 2, Empire season 3 and The Blacklist season 4.

Lastly, next month through Amazon Channels, Prime Members can watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens on STARZ, along with season 4 of SHOWTIME’S Masters of Sex. On 9/6 catch the premiere of A Season with Florida State Football on SHOWTIME. Amazon Channels now includes more than seventy subscription options for Prime members to choose from including, SHOWTIME, STARZ, Seeso, Acorn TV and many more.

See below for a complete list of September titles available on Prime Video, Amazon Video and Amazon Channels formatted within a grid for your convenience.

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There has been a tremendous amount of complaining concerning NBC’s Olympic streaming this year. To be honest with you I think that a large amount of the complaints have been unwarranted. This set up has given users so much more control over what they watch and when and is laying the groundwork for future events. In my own home, my wife was hooked to the streaming of the gymnastics. The ability to see so much more of the competition was a big treat to her. being able to choose to watch lower rounds and qualifying gives viewers a bit more perspective on what it takes to get to the finals, which in general seems to be the focus of most gymnastics events. In fact from a US viewer’s perspective the ability to see all of the people who did not make it to the late rounds shows the true excellence of what this year’s “Final Five” was all about.

Watching the Olympics has always been a pretty confusing thing to do. Most of the events are tape-delayed no matter where the event takes place. If I remember correctly even the famous Kerri Strug Atlanta Gymnastics final was on tape delay as the event did not take place live in prime time. I find that the primetime coverage of the Olympics focuses on two sports per week, Swimming and Gymnastics in the first week and Track and field during the second week. Want to check out team volleyball instead of Beach Volleyball, sorry it doesn’t move the dial. Ping Pong, yeah right. This is where the streaming has been fantastic.

Sure there have been glitches. I was watching a beach volleyball match two nights ago when the commentary suddenly switched to another language. A few hiccups should be expected on something of this nature. But the level of complaining I have seen such as come commentators calling the streaming of the event a “Dumpster Fire” are way out of line. I frankly don’t care if there are people on Reddit talking trash about the service. News Flash Post a picture of a family having a picnic and someone will say that they hate the family or they wish a bear would kill them. the reporting trend that looks at twitter comments and Reddit comments or facebook and reports on them is an indication just how lazy reporters are in the modern media world. There have been millions of hours streamed this year to a point where NBC may even regret the decision to put tso much content online. But that will change as the online advertising marketplace matures.

So here’s to you NBC for bringing full-fledged streaming to this year’s Olympics. Next the companies should look into the ability to stream the events without requiring cable. That might be a pipe dream at the moment while we all keep an eye on how many people have pay TV 4 years from now. Eventually, the media companies will see those who are not cable subscribers as a marketing opportunity instead of a revenue loss. Congratulations to all the participants and those who helped get them there. Come home safe.

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The DroidBOX Dashboard has a sleek Sporty look with helpful links to its best features.

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is an Android set-top box made for TV’s. The product has a number of interesting features from a built-in VPN from IPVannish. We take a look at the box in this video and go through a number of the features that stood out for us. Take a look.

The DroidBOX T8 Mini is a unique entry in the Android-based TV box world. The product is one of many entries from the British company but has some features that stand out from a number of the other products from DroidBOX and the rest of the Android box field. The box powered by Android 5.1.1 and a Quad core processor has the ability to handle some actual Android TV apps (the “lean back” TV versions), it’s own Aptoide powered custom store and a sharp custom launcher, but its most interesting feature might be the dual-boot capability that allows the user to jump into an Open Elec environment to access a powerful Kodi 16.1 build unencumbered by Android. Take a look at our full review below in our Droidbox T8 Mini Review Full Overview. Want to get one click here.

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The current Chromecast costs $35.00 but does not allow for 4k Video.

Google Casting, which has been around since the launch of the Chromecast has gotten a major facelift. The ability to cast apps from a computer to a Google cast ready device has always been a selling point for the devices but was something that required users to add an app via the Google Chrome app store. But the latest versions of Google Chrome now have Google Cast built into the system for easy streaming and even screen sharing in just a few steps. Here is how it works.

1. First off you must have a current version of the Google Chrome Browser

2. You must have a device capable of performing the task you wish to do (If it is screen mirroring you will need a full Google Cast enabled device like the Chromecast of NVIDIA Shield.)

So let’s look at how this works.

1. We will start off at YouTube.com on a laptop.

Google Chrome Casting Update Youtube

 

2. Choose a video

3 use your cursor to select the 3 horizontal bars in the right-hand corner of your screen

google settings bar

4. Scroll down and you will notice a new command “cast” Click it

Google Chrome Casting Update Youtube Cast option

 

5. Choose between cast Screen, Cast Tab and Cast YouTube

Google Chrome Casting Update Youtube Cast option chooser

 

6. Choose your device from the list and launch the video

Google Chrome Casting Update Youtube Cast option Choose your device

 

From there you are good to go.