Monthly Archives: February 2017

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Ryan Downey
Editor

While it might be hard for people who pay close attention to the streaming world there are millions of Americans who could not tell a Roku from a paper weight. This is not an attack on Roku by any means, it is just the truth. Go to any general big box store and you will be able to find some small section of streaming devices but they have a much smaller presence as far as shelf space and signage than most products. But within the population of those who have embraced streaming there are new numbers that suggest Roku is the leader of the streaming world, at least when it comes to streaming from an attached device to a television. 

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By Ryan Downey
Editor

The Ares Wizard is a collection of Kodi builds from developers all over the world and serves almost as a store front for multiple configurations. If you downloaded the program in the past and are having trouble either accessing it or updating it is likely because as has happened in the past, the URL has changed.

This means that whichever URL you may have entered into the file manager will no longer work.

New Ares Project URL
http://repo.ares-project.com/magic

  1. Navigate to the system Menu and select File Manager
Navigate to system

 

 

 

2. Under File Manager select New Source

3. Enter the new URL http://repo.ares-project.com/magic

4. Save it as Ares Project

5. Go bad to system and select Addons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Select install From Zip

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Select Ares Project

 

 

 

 

8. Select repository.aresproject.zip

After you select the Zip File the Ares Wizard will update itself.  If this is a first-time installation use the following steps.

  1. press back or escape to return to the addons screen and select Install from repository.
  2. Click on Ares Project
  3. choose  Program add-ons
  4. Click on Ares Wizard
  5. Ares Will be added to your system’s programs.

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App lets users access their entire channel lineup

The Spectrum app for Time Warner and Charter customers adds a great tool for subscribers who own Rokus. The features allow users to replace cable boxes with a Roku and save money on rental fees. Unlike the Comcast Xfinity app there is not a fee associated with the free app. The app gives users the ability to watch all of their live channels, access on-demand content and even simplify their searching and content discovery.

 

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Ryan Downey
The Streaming Advisor

CW Seed, the offshoot of the main CW network is beginning to carve its own niche besides being the home of a number of former WB and UPN shows. CW Seed is becoming a home for DC animated content. This started on the streaming only option with the introduction of the Vixen series based on DC’s animal powered hero.

CW Seed recently announced that an animated version of the show Constantine will be available on the app. But that is not it for the DC animated fare. There are now three DC animated movies available on CW Seed. At the time of this writing, the selection features Justice League Doom, Justice League Crisis on Two Earths and justice League The New Frontier. Seed is also the home of other DC properties including the one and only season of Birds of Prey and the single season of the Constantine live action series.

In general, the CW seed is becoming a great little place for Sci-fi and action fans in general. Their library is growing with original content and archive material. The free ad-supported app is available for a number of platforms. See more info here.

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Sports fans, prepare to be disappointed. Let me restate that. Fans of the NFL, major college football and basketball prepare to be disappointed. Why? Because the supposed stand alone ESPN streaming channel that continues to garner headlines won’t satisfy your needs. Just understand this ahead of time so you don’t make the mistake of signing up for it and being disappointed. Yes there are millions of people who very much wish that there was a way to pay for ESPN and its family of networks and only that for a low price, but if that is going to happen it won’t be soon. Disney/ESPN may be trying to revamp their TV outreach by partnering with content providers to offer channels on cable substitutes like Sling TV but the idea that ESPN will offer NFL football games or the College football playoff on a stand alone channel is a pipe dream.

When ESPN talks about the rumored offering the language is extremely vague. In an article from Variety ESPN president John Skipper made it pretty clear that the new service, when it happens, will not be a primary source of sports content. “As WatchESPN continues to grow and add value to the multichannel video subscription, this new service will be an outstanding complement,”.

Complement is a pretty key term. Where people get excited is that in a further statement the executive indicated that if things basically fall apart they want to be in position to react. Notice that the whole first part of the statement focusses on the current pay model.

“Our primary priority as a company is to work on making sure that the (pay-TV) package is healthy because it creates value for our company,” he said. But “if the business model that is supporting these great media properties starts to fray in any significant way, we have the ability to pivot quickly and put out a direct-to-consumer product to potentially replace it or supplant it… It’s our hope that doesn’t happen, but this certainly puts us in a great position should it happen.”

ESPN does not want to go in this direction. They make far too much from the current setup and would struggle to reel in the kind of profits they receive from cable providers. Why? Because a television provider that does not offer ESPN becomes irrelevant to  a number Americans so when ESPN demands a pound of flesh for carrying it the provider gets out the knife. But there are less sports fans in the world then people might think when they pass the huge arenas and such. The ratings prove this. While NFL football definitely carries a large audience ratings for baseball games and college basketball, much less hockey barely compare. The thing is that whether somebody is a sports fan or not they pay for ESPN with their cable bill just like ESPN fans pay to support Fox News and CNN, Smithsonian or Comedy Central whether they watch those channels or not.  So if the network tried to market itself only to sports fans with the hope that they alone could support the billion dollar contracts that the NBA and NCAA get from the network it would not be able to pull it off. Not for say 5 dollars per subscriber. Why?

ESPN does not make it because of original content
HBO Now recently passed 2 million subscribers. That was quite an accomplishment and shows that the offering has real legs. But the thing is that HBO has built its reputation on original programming now so more than ever. With tentpole shows like Game of Thrones and West World, a huge library of original movies and shows along with hollywood hits, the network can roll with it. Plus HBO is still offered on cable packages. But people don’t subscribe to ESPN because of Baseball Tonight and PTI. They have ESPN in order to watch live sports and choose to watch related shows when the live sports are not on. Netflix has many millions mores subscribers than HBO Now. It too offers a metric ton of original content and thousands of other titles through a multitude of contracts. But the scale of Netflix’s deals pale in comparison to the kind of bucks behind sports contracts.

Here is what ESPN will eventually offer
When ESPN eventually offers a live TV streaming option that it not attached to a regular cable styled package it will be a niche service. It will include sports that the majority of American sports fans don’t watch. Think Olympic sports. Handball and curling, table tennis. I could imagine Cricket may be featured. If it can be found on ESPN 3 and is not part of a major recognized sports brand it may be available on a streaming offering but it will not resemble in any way what viewers get on the actual ESPN family of networks.

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By Ryan Downey
The Streaming Advisor

Hulu has its sights set on the live TV streaming market The service is set to launch a new service sometime in 2017 and it hopes to avoid major glitches as it rolls out publicly. 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch says that Hulu is very, very focused on avoiding the kinds of problems faced by other services like Sling TV and DirecTV. Can it?

Right now there are three major live TV streaming services PlayStation Vue, Sling TV and DirecTV Now.  None of the services has managed to work without highly publicized problems. The biggest issues usually involve the highest profile events. Sling TV had issues with the Final Four during its first foray into streaming. HBO Go, an on-demand service, has suffered problems during the debut of Game Of Thrones and most recently Fox, which streamed the 2017 Super Bowl, suffered a signal loss on its English language stream via Fox Sports 1. DirecTV Now has experienced a slew of complaints over its performance on just basic streaming. What do all of these services have in common? They are all giants in the field. Sling TVis owned by Dish Network, DirecTV Now by AT&T, HBO Now is obvious to the point of not needing to be named. Yet they have had their share of problems. The moral of the story is that it is hard to do live streaming without any hiccups.

Hulu has an advantage over the rest of the field. It didn’t go first or even 5th. This means that it has the chance to learn from the mistakes that others have made. Will it? Most of the time when the high-profile events have trouble it is because the network can not handle the multiple concurrent streams. Some of the problems that people run into on the services is more of an operator error such as too little bandwidth in a household, a slow internet connection or a device that is not powerful enough to the stream. Hulu can not avoid having users who don’t understand how fast their Internet is but what it can do is make sure that its network can handle the traffic.

Do not launch before a major event
I’ve always said that the best way to avoid conflict is to avoid it. So that is one thing that Hulu should do. Don’t try to make a big splash during the NCAA tournament, championship week or another highly anticipated event. Don’t launch before a major TV debut, a highly watched political event like what could be a humdinger a State of the Union etc. Start at a quiet time when people are on summer vacations and not watching much.

Roll out slowly
HBO Now had the right idea when it launched exclusively on Apple devices. Despite its high demand HBO Now was only available on Mac products, IOS and the generation 3 Apple TV, which at the time had fallen far out of the top-tier of streaming devices behind multiple Roku products, Amazon Fire TV. This changed as demand for the box picked up after the launch of the service. but by keeping its roll out tight. The app is now on all of the major platforms but by starting small it gave itself a chance to walk before it ran.

Don’t Do it In House
I have 3 words for you Hulu, MLB Advanced Media. This company has become the jewel of high-level streaming. They have been behind the MLBTV, one of the more successful live streaming operations for years as well as the WWE Network. Hulu’s people may think they have it down because of years of work building its on-demand service but it should go with the best on this.

If Hulu is able to deliver a live TV service without major or even minor problems and combine it with its legacy on-demand service, it may well have a chance to make a major impact. The public wants a fully reliable streaming option and even the slightest issues can be blown up because of social media and the way reporting on social media can shape a story.

 

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Cord cutters are always looking for ways to see their favorite TV shows for free or as little as possible. Searches for free TV though often lead people to sites that deliver content that the owners of the site do not have the right to distribute. But there are places that do it right. One website that has recently come on the scene is TV Meltdown www.tvmeltdown.com. The website is able to help users find a variety of cable and broadcast favorites by linking the shows themselves to the official network websites. TV meltdown is not so much a service as it is an intersection on the

There are a number of episodes of kids shows to be found on TV Meltdown.

highway of TV streaming.

The site, which is mobile and desktop friendly allows users to zero in on their preferred content by using a cross sectional menu Drama, Comedy, Action Crime, Sci Fi, Spooky, Kids and Family, Reality and News & Information. Click a category and a selection of shows that meet that categoty swirl into place. In many cases shows share a designation. The Flash for instance shows up both as Action and Sci Fi. Its clean interface helps new users get comfortable with the setup quickly.

The site began as a personal tool for the creator to find his favorite shows after he cut the cord. The idea was to help him find what he wanted to watch on a laptop, which can then be projected on to a TV via Widi or a chromecast. When users on a computer launch a show the site gives users a choice to view on the associated network website. In most cases mobile users will be prompted to watch the content via apps for the network.

Because the website links to official websites the content is limited to what a network makes avaiable. That means that users can’t simply jump onto the website and watch every episode of their favorite unless the network shares it. Are there adds? Yes. There are no adds on the TV Meltdown site itself but the networks run add via their websites. And keep in mind that a lot of network websites have content locked bhind a pay wall in the case of cable networks as well as an authintication wall even for broadcast networks.

This is not a site with every TV show and movie ever aired. Nobody can legitimately promise that, but it is a tool that can prove helpful as people transition away from expensive pay services.

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Josette Downey
Associate Editor

Sling TV Turned two years old this week and heralded the date with new announcements of a free preview of Sling Orange along with the chance to check out HBO and STARZ for free later this month. Sling TV has changed the marketplace for those looking to slice their selections into smaller sizes and save money with options to become as bulky as needed.

For $20 dollars you can have access to thirty channels. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking you have no need of another random cooking channel or home shopping network. But that is not what this package is. For just $20 you get channels like ESPN, CNN, and the Disney channel. For five dollars more you get 40 channels which include Nick Jr, Comedy Central and Fox News. There is also a 40 dollars package that includes Sling TV’s complete line up.

Considering that the average (non-intro level) cable package is $99.00 (Just for TV services) a month that is quite a bargain. In truth $99.00 is on the low end as there are markets where a standard cable package costs close to or more than $200.00.  But how does performance stack up? I personally love Sling TV for the news and movies.

Watching Movies With Sling TV

But how does performance stack up? I personally love Sling TV for the news and optional movie packages.  We have a package that includes the Hollywood Extra addon and HBO premium channel. The Hollywood extra costs $5 That package alone features 4 ePix channels, TCM and three others. We also have HBO. While HBO is not a part of the initial package, it can be added for $15.00 which is similar to a cable package add-on. This totals out at $40.00. With this package we have access to recent releases like Batman Vs Superman and older movies like the full Indiana Jones series. This came in handy during the nasty winter months.

In my personal opinion Sling TV is a much better deal than cable in terms of pricing but there is also something else that makes Sling TV worth it. It’s almost hassle free. Cable companies or notorious for bad service and being hard to work with. Now, a Roku or Amazon stick can replace the cable box. No more waiting in long lines to return defective boxes that never work or waiting for a cable guy to show up and hook up your cable. You can do it on your time, at your convenience. And if you move, you just pack up your set top box, and move it with you, reinstalling it once you arrive. You don’t have to worry about who the cable company in your area is or wait for them to set up your service.  To me this is the biggest benefit of Sling TV.

So coupled with the low pricing and ease of use, Sling TV is worth it for anyone wishing to cut the cord.

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The Nvidia Shield may be the most powerful streaming box on the market but like any product, it has some drawbacks. Its greatest drawback is that its apps are all lined up from right to left on the home screen which is ok when you only have a few, but can be cumbersome when you have 40. Using an app right out of the Shield’s Google Play Store you can change this. The app, called TV Launcher 3 has been available for Android devices for some time and its port to the Android TV platform is polished and easy to use. Take a look at how it works.

Access Side Loaded Apps on The Nvidia Shield Home Screen