Commentary

Hulu is a much-maligned service. I have never quite understood the animosity that some have held against the service for using commercials to subsidize the extensive programming it supports. While a lot of cord cutters heavily tout Netflix, which is great, or Amazon Instant which comes along with a number of totally unrelated perks Hulu is by far the least expensive and easiest way to access current season programming available. As far as I’m concerned Hulu is great for cord cutters.

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As if the writing of this article it is 2/15/2016. But Hulu is looking back to 11/22/63. The series, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name tells the story of a man trying to prevent the assassination from taking place. The debut could very well mark an important moment for Hulu, which up to this point has labored as distant third in subscribers and awareness compared to Netflix and Amazon Video, which dominate the market for on-demand video. 11.22.63 is only available to Hulu subscribers and is not available via the services free computer-based product.

Could 11/22/63 be Hulu’s House of Cards
Hulu has rolled out a number of original series over time even picking up The Mindy Project after it was cancelled by Fox but for all of its efforts on shows like “The Awesomes”, Quick Draw, and Battleground, Hulu has failed to get the recognition that Netflix and Amazon have enjoyed which includes multiple Emmy nominations including a 5 wins for Amazon’s Transparent in 2015. The thing that a lof of people forget though is that both Amazon and Netflix have produced a number of shows that have not received the same level of critical or popular attention. While House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black have been breakout runaway hits for Netflix they are only two of 11 dramas available on the streaming Network. Amazon has had a number of one season shows that were heavily promoted and simply never gained a large enough audience to be brought back for a second season. This is why 11.22.1963 is so key for Hulu. If it turns into a breakout hit it will elevate the perception of Hulu’s original programming to a new level.

No binging at the start
Hulu is breaking from the norm in the streaming world choosing to release the new series which is broken up into 8 parts over time instead of dumping the series out in its entirety. There is a perception that we have lost something in the form of the “water cooler” conversation. The weekly buildup of excitement that accompanies a traditional series. Debates over “Who shot JR?, “Will anyone you like survive Game of Thrones?”or  “Who is Zoom?” on the Flash are part of the traditional television experience that is lost when a series is fully available to be viewed as quickly as can be done. Ongoing series spawn forums, facebook groups and other buzz maintaining tools that allow a show to be part of the conversation for a more controlled time.

The final verdict will not be known for months but Hulu has got to hope to produce buzz for its offering which still counts 9 million subscribers. The show will not put Hulu on the Map, it’s already there. But it could replace a small dot with a big star if 11.22.63 becomes a raging success.

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We hope at some point that consumers will learn that just because there are multiple headlines about something it doesn’t make it a fact. For the last 5 days or so there have been a ton of misleading clickbait headlines about Hulu, the streaming service that many cord cutters use to watch current television shows a day or less after they air is in talks with Time Warner. If the talks are successful Time Warner will own 25% of the company. The concern that has

Americans use Hulu to catch up on their favorite TV shows.
Americans use Hulu to catch up on their favorite TV shows.

been repeatedly and inaccurately repeated again and again is “HULU IS GOING TO DROP NEXT DAY VIEWING”. It’s been plastered all over social media and within TV forums and is sneaking its way into mainstream headlines. The reason people are saying this besides what a juicy false headline it makes is that the word is that Time Warner wants Hulu to stop airing content the day after it airs. Truth be told it actually becomes available once it airs in Hawaii, not 24 hours after the air date. Time Warner may well prefer such a change because of the obvious threat that Hulu poses the cable industry in general due to its ability to deliver HD quality programming from current seasons of many hit shows in season.

But here’s the thing
Hulu has not sold anything to Time Warner. There have been reports of ongoing talks between Hulu which is owned by Disney, Comcast and Fox since November. It is certainly a possibility that Time Warner will, in fact, purchase a 25% stake in the company but it is also possible that it will not happen at all. Has everyone forgotten about the unstoppable merger between Comcast and Time Warner? It did not happen. It is also quite possible that Hulu understands that a major part of its business is customers who use the service instead of cable. That the appeal of catch-up television in season is why it has the 9 million subscribers it currently counts. If Hulu substantially changes its offerings it could severely damage its brand and completely alienate its audience. While there are reports  that

Hulu become a true cable alternative.
Hulu become a true cable alternative.

next day viewing only accounts for 25% of Hulu’s business I honestly have a tough time believing that the majority of Hulu’s customers did not sign up for the service for that specific reason.

Why do we say this?
A majority of its offerings outside of next day viewing are available on other services and always have been. Hulu recently signed a deal with EPIX to give it access to a number of movie titles previously available on Netflix and Amazon Video. Netflix decided not to partner with EPIX and Hulu added it. Amazon still has the EPIX catalog available. Does Seinfeld make that much of a difference. Yes it was a big hit show in the 90’s but does Hulu think that the power of reruns of such a series and the availability of the Criterion Collection are the backbone of its business? I mean yes we all know that small art films are very popular with the majority of the American public so we can only assume that is what 9 million people signed up to access right? Raise your hand if you have watched 20 movies from that collection in the past year. Not to say that there are not people who adore it but the majority of the movies available are the type of film that you see nominated for an Oscar and say “I’ve never heard of that”.  Hulu knows what its bread and butter is, just watch their commercials. Hulu promotes their next day service as though the shows are exclusively on Hulu. During the fall Hulu ran commercials as though it were the primary network home of everything on TV. And its last big announcement was that its new commercial free tier would let customers watch the latest TV shows without commercials.

Is this a test?
I wonder if Hulu allowed word of the proposal from Time Warner to get out to the public to prove a point or at least guage how its audience will react? Leaks are not always uncovering things, they can be a part of PR or market research in disguise. Companies do this from time to time. If there is a groundswell of outrage ala Netflix’s Flixter plan Hulu may drop the conversation faster than the Flash.

Yes It could happen
This is not to say that Hulu could not sell to Time Warner. It may well obliterate its entire business model in favor of something akin to making Hulu available only to cable subscribers like a the current on-demand options available on TWC and other services. But it has not done this yet. So this is an appeal to the legitimate media. Report on it when you know something is actually happening and stop trying to scare up clicks with false headlines. If Hulu decides to become a branch of on-demand cable and bank on Seinfeld or black and white films with subtitles instead of building on the growing wave of cord-cutting and nimbly coast to the future while leveraging its legacy properties until they are no longer viable that is up to Hulu. But the next generation of tv viewers is not going to be a generation of big bundle cable viewers. All the evidence points the other way. And if Hulu makes the wrong moves for a short term gain going forward it opens itself to failure in the long run.

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The vast majority of articles that appear on The Streaming Advisor are either breaking news, how-to stories or reviews this is not one of those. It is an outright warning. You should be wary the movie site Flixhanger. The movie streaming site is typically found by accident or even listed amongst the infotainment articles on Yahoo’s home page. The article we found on Yahoo is an advertorial, a big commercial designed to look like a news article. In the case of Flixhanger, its headline reads “Millions of Americans Are Cancelling Netflix Because Of This Number 1 Site”. The advertorial touts a free sign up for new members. All you have to do is provide a credit card. The site is even set up to entice you to sign up with a special message that the site is only taking new members from “_________”. In my case once it said North Carolina and another time just The United States. Pretty exclusive group there huh?

But it’s free, right?
So the site that touts “Free Movies”, “Free TV Shows” and awarded the “#1 Video site” (by who?) actually costs $49.95 per month. You will not see this unless you pay attention to a short statement on the signup page. The following statement is directly from Flixhanger.com:

“By clicking “Continue” you are subscribing to a Premium Membership and will not be charged if you cancel anytime before your free trial ends on Sunday, 7 of February, 2016. After your trial period ends, your membership to FlixHangar.com automatically rebills at $49.95 per month until cancelled. Once accepting the Premium Membership, you will be given the possibility to upgrade your membership.”

I suppose that the movies are free once you have a membership but by that definition, a new car is free once you pay for it over a few years.

Bill Hub
Notice this page missing any mention of Flixhangar?

They can not be contacted
Even more of an issue is that it is impossible to get the company on the phone. The payment page provides a 24-7 phone number for customer service. We called and it connected with Bill-Hub. We could not talk to an actual person. We tried each choice that we were prompted on 1. Technical, 2. Cancellations 3. Payment 4. Any other queries. Each of the prompts has exactly the same result. We were told that “All of the agents were busy at the moment” and to avoid waiting on hold we could provide a laundry list of info” Afterwards instead of allowing the call to be put on hold the phone call abruptly ends. The call also disconnects if one does not choose one of the 4 prompts immediately.

Where does the content come from?
We googled the phrase “comes to a deal with Flix Hanger”. I mean with all those movies there must have been an agreement announced somewhere along the lines right? If there was it was secret from Google. Try the same thing with Hulu or Netflix. You will get a number of results. A google search of the topic Flix Hanger Scam returns a number of results also warning to be wary based on a number of other issues from the location of the company to its fluctuating site ranking.

Should I Sign Up For Flixhangar? Should I try it out to see for myself?
Nobody should willingly hand their credit card information or any other identifiable information over to an organization that can not be contacted in person. Don’t do it and if you do try it don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Before you take your next plane trip make sure your tablet, cell phone or laptop makes it on to the airliner with you. Why? Because thanks to satellite based Wi-Fi jets are becoming Internet friendly. The trend has been accelerating for the last few years after airlines began rolling out the feature as limited pilot (pun intended) programs. My recent journey to Las Vegas with Southwest Airlines is a perfect example of how well this works out. Southwest Airlines provides Wi-Fi access in flight for an 8 dollar fee which allows travelers to access their email, facebook and other chat programs while in the air. This means you can talk with your loved ones from thousands of miles away instantly as you fly over the Great Lakes or the Rocky Mountains.

Great For Kids
Did someone say Shhhhhhh? People of a certain age remember the miracle that was the first Nintendo Gameboy. Car trips were transformed from never-ending sojourns complemented by coloring books, and word searches to journies through the mushroom kingdom and Hyrule or even whichever land Tetris takes place in “Video game Russia” via a little green and grey screen. Hey you can laugh all you want millennials. As powerful and beautiful as they are most people play puzzle games like candy crush on their fancy superphones. Now travellers have the option of full on-demand movies (for a minimal cost) Live TV, music on-demand TV shows or even e-books. With a pair of noise cancelling earbuds or even better high-end headphones you need not notice the wheezing man behind you or the whiny kid three seats over. Not that listening to music or an audio book is something unique to today but the option to access a wide variety without having to remember to pack it is.

My Experience
I am in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show and was blessed with a direct flight from Raleigh. As soon as we hit the air I registered my iPad and updated my Facebook status to let friends and family know I was up up and away. I connected with my wife (on Facebook) snapped some pictures of the city from the air for my daughter and uploaded them. Soon after I finally watched Jurassic World, which I never had to time do on land, while sipping on my complimentary beverage. After the movie I caught up with some business contacts on Skype set up a ride from the airport and finished off the flight watching Sunday Night Football on NBC. There was no buffering during the entire flight. Considering that it is hard to find a Coke for less than 5 dollars at an airport $8.00 for all of that access really feels like a bargain. When I compare that to trying to read a book or sleep which rarely works out for me I have to say that my flight was more relaxing than the entire Christmas season.

So before you pack the family for that Spring Break trip or summer vacation be sure to charge those devices, bring along headphones for the group and use them. You will be so much happier that you did this when you realize that nobody is asking you how much longer the flight will be or if they can have another drink. You will get where you are going in a much better mood and everyone will have spent time quietly enjoying something to their own tastes.

Stream On My Friends

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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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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.

 

2 of 3 Set top boxes sporting the platform have failed to sell

The Nexus Player utilizes the Android TV interface.

The Android TV platform is failing as a set-top solution. Set-top boxes built on the format are falling like flies. The Razor Forge has disappeared from the Google Play Store and the Google Nexus Player dropped in price this year from $99.00 to $60.00 and even down to as low as $25.00 before essentially disappearing from store shelves over a month ago. It is not available for purchase on the Google Play Store nor  is it available at Best Buy, Walmart or Target anywhere in my city, Raleigh NC. I did find one at a few locations within 20 miles. The one place where I could find it for sale was on Asus’s site. Asus makes the Nexus player. Razer claims that it is “doubling down” with its purchase of the right to Ouya’s  gaming library, but I don’t think that pushing the assets of one failed product will save another failed product. And the fact that it November 19th and yet still not on shelves or available to purchase is not promising either. Is the grand plan to release a new console after the buying season?

Why do we think it is failing?
With evidence like this the only conclusion I can come up with is that these devices never captured the imagination of the public. Despite an attractive interface and later improvements that expanded the selection in the app store, the ability to add Kodi natively, a number of features that help Android TV devices sideload and expanded support for voice search, the rollout of the two devices was clumsy as is usually the case for Android based products. We contend and have since the site launched two years ago that the reason for this is that Android is not a corporation that makes products as much as it is a platform that device makers develop around. This means that there is never a unified company strategy as to what a product will support and so on. Roku, Apple and Amazon on the other hand are the only companies with a say in how the products that sport their logos operate. The failure of these two products will only further the perception of Android TV/Google TV as a poor set-top box format. Based on our experience this perception is unfair but the entire idea of Android TV was just as much a rebranding effort to make people forget failed products like the Logitech Revue and Nexus Q as it was a rollout of a new interface. It did not work.

What is the future of Android TV
The format will almost certainly remain in place on Smart TV’s. It’s television partners Sony, Philips and (coming soon) Sharp will all integrate the system into multiple TV’s and Android enthusiast will tout the numbers of devices running the platform in homes as though people are going out of their way to purchase them. Have you ever heard someone say that they bought a smart TV because of the specific smart TV platform it supported? “I got this LG TV because of the distinctive smart TV platform it employs!” No! People buy TV’s for picture quality and price value, speakers Video and audio capabilities and sometimes when they want to really impress everyone the sheer expense of the thing. On top of that sales people rarely seem to know what is going on with these products relying on an index card’s level of understanding. How do I know this? Because I go to stores and act like I have never heard of a smart TV or streaming before to see how they explain them. “What makes this Google TV Thing better than this other one”? I love it when someone tells me something I know is patently untrue. Even when I was at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas the reps at booths promoting the Android TV platform could not answer simple questions about the product like “how do you add apps” or “What is available” etc. Android TV is actually a nice TV platform but unfortunately without an understanding of what makes it worth it on the showroom consumers are not going to be attracted to it. The majority of the time I run across smart TVs at big box stores they are not connected to the internet at all. So without that, all a user can see is that it has Netflix and some other apps which makes it sound like any other smart TV operating system. The most likely reason that someone would buy an Android TV powered set was that the 4K video of strawberries being glazed with honey and the helicopter shots of the grand canyon looked better on the Android TV powered sets then they did on the others that had been adjusted to look dim.

What About The Nvidia Shield?
Yes I know there is the Nvidia Shield. It is the only device available on the Google Play store now. By all accounts the game console and computer super accessory is a wonderful product. It gained a lot of fame for being the first to offer Netflix in 4K but with the rollout of the New Fire TV and the Roku 4 that feature is not at all unique anymore. The Shield has no space on the shelves of any retailer and when it all comes down to it is much more of a niche product than Android TV enthusiasts want to admit. It is the ultimate TV accessory for PC gamers who use custom Gaming PC’s with compatible graphics cards. It offers access to a paid gaming platform and of course also supports Android gaming. I imagine would also include emulators. And because of this it is and should be a popular item amongst the crowd that fits its niche. But like a Steam computer console it does not meet a demand that the majority of the public is desperate to have fulfilled. And at a price point starting at $200.00 if bought from Nvidia, it is too highly priced for consumers who have never heard of the company before as opposed to brands like Apple, Amazon and Roku. And I’m sorry but I have bad news for Nvidia Shield enthusiasts. The cracks are starting to show. Amazon is now selling the entry model for $175.00. It even includes a remote, which until now used to be a separate purchase. Why is it getting cheaper? Is it really on sale or is it not selling at original price anymore?

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Too expensive for what it offers

Just two weeks ago Google introduced a $35.00 dongle that allows users to turn any speaker into a music system provided they also have a compatible mobile device and access to a music streaming service of which there are a number of free options. Apparently the good folks at Electric Jukebox feel that people will be willing to pay almost $200.00 more for a device that accesses millions of songs without the need for a mobile device or access to some kind of hard to use service like Pandora.

When was the last time you heard someone say something along the lines of “You know what I really hate? Tune In Radio. I would pay hundreds for the ability to listen to music without ads especially if it had a playlist from the guy who played the The Cheshire Cat in the 2010 Alice in Wonder Land Game or the most famous former spouse of a disgraced cyclist in the world.”

I bet it’s never. Sorry Electric Jukebox you have no future. Not with this business model. And it’s not because of a lack of effort. But The concept that it is built on, which is that people should listen to music together and that they should do so (based on the animations on their website) on a couch or in the case of an old cowboy and his wife on a wooden bench in the middle of a stable (the perfect place to plug in a TV BTW), is completely absurd. The company’s release and website are full of quotes from C list celebrities and company execs decrying modern music consumption through phones or ipods as though it were the downfall of society and also the first time in human history that people ever did anything besides gather around their giant radio to listen to the Shaddow. I’m afraid that iPods replaced walkmans and portable CD players which if I recall also had headphones.

What is the difference between the Electric Jukebox and A Roku with Pandora?
Besides the price, which would be about 180.00 more than a Roku Streaming Stick, it does not require that users have a streaming music service or in an obvious attempt to poke the Chromecast bear pointing out that there is no smart phone or computer required.

What is required?
An HD TV
$230.00 (plus tax until the end of 12 months)

Key Features
Comes in 3 colors black, red/pink and blue

A voice search activated control wand with basic playback buttons on it.

A USB charger No need to plug in while you use it

1 year of its premium music service (afterwards users can pay as little as $60.00 a year)

Are we being too rough on the device without using it?
Maybe, but I don’t think so. It is rare to see something that is 3 times more expensive than the devices it competes against succeed. At least in the streaming game. Remember the $299.00 Samsung HomeSync otherwise known as the device that revolutionized home entertainment and picture sharing (by nobody). If you are a streaming fan you may well remember the Logitech Revue which also launched at $299.00 and was meant to compete against earlier incarnations of the Roku and Apple TV.  The HomeSync was even anointed by some as a possible “Roku Killer”. Neither gained any traction. But to be fair the Electric Jukebox does provide a year of premium music for “free” so it is really only $169.00. I can’t be absolutely certain that this device will not be a big hit. Maybe the idea of paying for the right to listen to more music than you could ever imagine on demand at “CD” quality is going to be a major draw. But it has all the hallmarks of a ” Failed streaming devices of 2015 list” Oh and by the way. I’m pretty sure that the original jukebox was was operated by electricity too. You know why they call electric razors “electric razors”. It’s because there were non electric razors before the electric one debuted. What’s next? I hope it’s the a car powered by coal!

So what do the New Apple TV, the Rebel Flag and the New Chromecast have in common? You will not be able to buy any of those items on Amazon.com. Bloomberg reports that the company sent a letter to its third party distributors explaining the the “Everything” store was going to be taking the Apple TV and Chromecast out of its rotation because they do not support the Amazon Instant Video app in order to “avoid customer confusion”.  This is a stunning move by the company which has sold the items since they first became available. The Google Chromecast was the top selling media streamer on the site for months (currently No 2) before being supplanted by the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The generation 3 Apple TV has been a top 5 item since the debut of HBO Now. The company also openly endorsed Roku, The Sony PlayStation and Xbox (Which do offer Amazon Instant) as well as its own Fire TV set-top box. There has been no specific statement as to whether this includes Android TV based streamers like the Google Nexus Player, Nvidia Shield, and the many Android based set-top boxes and dongles sold on the website.

Is this unprecedented?
No. While Amazon is not known for refusing to sell items that compete with its own products there has been backlash against Amazon by big box retailers across the country over the past few years and stores have declined to stock Fire Tablets and other items from Amazon because they provided options that directly compete with the sales of consumer electronics and books. But this is the first time Amazon has outright refused to sell another product for purely competitive reasons. Retailers also have exclusive contracts with various brands from flatware to thread. It is the blatant admission that items that would likely be top sellers will not be sold purely as a reaction to the exclusion of their service that is stunning. Will Amazon ban the sales of smart TV’s or Blue-ray players that do not offer the Instant video app in the future?

Streaming Wars
As set-top boxes have grown in popularity it has become obvious that companies that offer competing services refused to offer similar services on their own branded devices. In its earliest incarnations Apple TV did not even offer Netflix in favor instead of its on demand purchases from the iTunes store. It also only offered Hulu Plus and HBO Go long after Roku, which was it’s main competitor at the time. As Google based products started to roll off the shelves people began to notice that the devices favored Google Play and did not Amazon Instant or iTunes. It was always fairly obvious why this was the case even without official statements as to why the exclusions existed in the first place. Luckily for consumers there are a number of other outlets to purchase the Apple TV and Chromecast.