Cord Cutting

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As with most rumors, there is nothing verifiable about it but the slowness of the tech news cycle made a star of the Hulu skinny bundle story. Keep in mind, there is nobody to quote other than the Wall Street Journal who reported that someone said there was interest on the part of ABC and Fox in offering a skinny bundle featuring the content that they own. the rumored price of $40.00 is equally unverifiable. Let’s just get that clearly established.

Would the Content be worth $40.00?
It depends on exactly what would be included. The idea that Hulu’s major media backers may be looking at offering their own content as part of a live TV package should be a surprise to nobody. CBS has been marketing its own service featuring CBS content on demand and continually expanding the service’s ability to offer live streaming of local CBS feeds depending on the area where a subscriber lives. ABC/Disney and Newscorp/Fox would be following in the footsteps of both their network sibling. The difference between what CBS currently offers and the rumor involving Fox and ABC is the breadth of the offering as well as the price. Fox owns a number of content channels including its anchor broadcast TV network FOX, Fox News Fox Sports 1 Fox, a number of regional sports networks and Fox business. ABC/ Disney includes the entire family of ESPN channels, ABC, ABC Family, the Disney Channel and associated networks and even a 50% share of A&E Networks. There is a lot of content on the table there especially if a bundle could include the A&E properties.

Would Hulu’s On Demand content be included?
Hulu currently is the home to the majority of current on demand content from NBC, ABC and Fox as well as hundreds of other programs from cable networks and other broadcast properties as well. If a subscription to say the commercial free on demand Hulu service were included with all of that live content including multiple ESPN networks, Multiple FOX networks including the highest rated cable news network Fox News, the package could be appealing to those looking to shave back their pay TV bills and add more control over their ability to catch up on programming at their leisure..

Has Sling TV set a Precedent?
Sling Television currently offers two separate packages of programming as a starting skinny bundle. Both feature turner based programming like TNT and TBS as well as various lifestyle channels. Both of them are $20.00. The difference between the two besides the fact that one allows for multiple live streams at the same time is essentially that one package includes ABC/ESPN content and the other Includes Fox content like Fox News, Fox Sports and FX.  Were customers to decide they wanted all of the content what would the price be. It would cost $40.00.

PlayStation Vue Also Follows that Model
PlayStation Vue another cable alternative also features Disney and Fox content as well as other networks as part of an entry-level package. It’s entry level package also costs $40.00. So it appears that through some process the powers behind the linear TV market have decided that the value of the content bundles featuring programming from Fox and ABC along with other filler is worth at least $40.00.

Would Viewers Be Interested?
From my experience cord cutters break down into different categories. There are those who just do not want to pay for anything they watch on TV. They choose to depend on Antennas, other entertainment options and or pirate content. And then there are cost conscious consumers concerned that prices for cable TV have reached too far. Bills over $200.00-$250.00 for existing customers lead people to look for alternatives. These are the customers who are willing to try out Sling TV, Hulu in its current form or those who choose Netflix and putting off series for later.  While some erroneously argue that paying for high-speed Internet and a streaming service or two brings the cost of cord cutting to the same level as paying for cable the math does not support it. So there will be customers who may look at an $80.00 bill for TV service and Internet access as an acceptable alternative to $220.00 or higher cable bills.

Could Hulu confuse its customers?
I think so. The hardest thing to control as a company is how people talk about you. How do you get thick headed bloggers and reporters to understand what a service does and does not do when they are not invested in the actual success of a product. So if the narrative begins to be “Hulu the home of on-demand TV and a Skinny bundle starting at $40.00” people may not understand what it is that the company offers. Maybe they should call the new service “Hulu Pluss”  Wouldn’t that be funny? The truth is that Hulu should consider a totally new branding for the service to avoid alienating possible customers and confusing people the way Amazon has over time by offering on demand titles for rent and for purchase alongside content that is free to video subscribers.

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The HD Home Run from SiliconDust is a very easy to use DVR with multiple models and price points. It has become a favorite for Kodi users because it easily integrates into the media player through an official app. The device can also be accessed via apps for Xbox 360, Myth TV, Windows Computers, PS3&4, Xbox One and Next PVR. I have used a couple of OTA DVR’s and have to say setting this on up was easier than anything I have dealt with in the past. It’s as simple as attaching an antenna to the DVR, downloading an application to your device and scanning for channels. Afterward, the various apps automatically recognize the DVR when it is launched. We took a look at how it works with Kodi using the Mach 10 Pure Linux box from ARNU Box and found it very easy to use and access. See the Video bellow for an unboxing and demonstration.

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Step by step guide to getting your Roku ready to stream

Roku uses a simple grid to organize channels.

If you received a Roku as a gift you now have yourself a great little computer. While this is not a computer in a traditional sense it is, in fact, a computer with Wi-Fi and or Ethernet connections and the ability to access the Internet in order to provide you with content. Unfortunately, Roku does not provide very much set up material to get you started.  Setting it up is relatively easy and can be done in just a few minutes if you have the right equipment and knowledge. Read on to learn how to set this new device up. Enjoy our guide on How To Set Up A Roku. See video at the bottom for further explanation. 

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How to Watch the Dodgers without Time Warner Cable

Can you watch the Dodgers online without Time Warner Cable? Yes. The first pitch of the Major League Baseball season was this weekend but cord cutting fans across the country missed out on seeing their local MLB team play. Why? Because many teams play their games on regional television networks instead of local TV. And despite great online services like MLB.TV  fans can be left in the dark due to blackouts which happen because of agreements between the MLB and local teams/regional networks. This causes a lot of trouble for fans in places like Los Angeles where TWC has the monopoly on the Dodgers through its own Dodgers network. But fans are finding their way around that issue with VPN services. VPN’s allow users to basically disguise their modem’s IP Address in order to make it appear that they are accessing online services from somewhere other than where they live. This means that even users outside of the US could tune into Major League games or access Hulu.  One such service that we are familiar with is IP Vanish . IP Vanish has proven popular with people who use their computers and even Kodi to access baseball games and other content online. By changing a few settings in your router you can actually see pretty much everything you want. This sort of package greatly improves the value of multiple sports packages including NFL Sunday Ticket and more and could prove popular during the Olympics as well when viewers from across the world will want to tune in to see their countrymen play.

For more info on IP Vanish Click here

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If you ever pop into discount stores or keep a sharp eye out at the checkout counter of your local grocery store you may well have run across a brightly colored package advertising thousands of free  TV shows and movies. Could it be what it says it is? The product called Rabbit TV is one of the most misunderstood streaming options available in the

Rabbit TV connects users with multiple network websites.
Rabbit TV connects users with multiple network websites.

consumer market.

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.

CBS All Access is a substantial offering as a streaming service providing access to CBS programming from throughout its daily schedule on-demand as well as a live streaming feed of local stations in over 60% of the US market on mobile and set-top devices. All of that is available along with a large library of past shows for $5.99 (plus tax) per month. But what if you just want to watch  one show. On a recent visit to the Apple store I struck up a conversation with an associate regarding salesNew PlayOn Channels figures for the Apple TV at that location (they appear strong btw). She has an Apple TV but said she wished she could watch Super Girl and that it is not available as part of the CBS app on her phone for AirPlay. She was unaware of Plex and for that matter PlayOn. With both Plex and PlayOn users can watch Super Girl without CBS All Access on Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku without having to resort to pirating or anything else nefarious.

If it’s not pirating how do Plex and PlayOn give me Super Girl? 
Plex Logo WhiteThe reason Plex and PlayOn can access Super Girl is that they connect with CBS’s website. And once the CBS channel is part of your Plex channel lineup on the free Plex media server users cab access the channel on a number of connected devices. PlayOn also accesses content via a web browser Internet Explorer. While users never use the browser actively it is what keeps the server tied to network sites. PlayOn is not free but does have inexpensive lifetime options that include DVR functions. Unlike the CBS apps, CBS’s website does provide free episodes of Super Girl, typically the last 5 that have aired. This works out very well for those who keep up with shows semi-regularly. I mean let’s face it, if you do not watch a show within a month of it airing it must not be that high on your list. Even Hulu’s commercial supported tier has a number of series that only provide the last five episodes.

Can You Watch Super Girl On Kodi?
USTV VOD CroppedYes. There is an app for Kodi called USTV VOD. The app, like Plex and PlayOn, accesses content via the respective websites of networks and provides users with a simple interface to watch them. This is another great way to keep up with favorites via the web without wrestling with yourself about whether it is the right thing to do or not. You also do not have to use another computer system in order to use Kodi, though it does not have official apps for the big three set-top boxes, Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV, nor does it have straight forward casting ability with Chromecast though there is a workaround. Kodi is available via the Fire TV without too much work as well as the Apple TV with a bit of effort.

 

Video on Plex and Plex Home Theater

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If you are in the US and you can’t get to a television to see the Super Bowl you are not without options. You can watch the Super Bowl on CBS’s website. The game will be streamed live at cbs.com without any need to worry about signing in. CBS has long been a friendly partner for viewers during big events like the Super Bowl and NCAA Tournament.

What Time Is The Super Bowl?

The game will air at 6:30 Eastern time. I am not sure if viewers will see the commercials live but CBS does have a link just to see commercials that will be active as of February 7.

Check out the CBS website Here

Fire TV owners may as well make a full investment in the Amazon ecosystem.

We have discussed how the Amazon Fire TV is sort of a great Android media player in stealth mode. The Fire TV may well have a different look than Android media players and the Android TV interface but it is in fact capable of operating apps meant for Android phones and tablets. This is why Fire TV’s loaded with Kodi are popular via third party dealers. In order to load third party apps onto the Fire TV in the past users were required to download special programs to their laptops or understand DOS commands. But as the Amazon ecosystem has evolved it has begun to support a number of programs that help users load numerous programs. One of the most important is ES File Explorer.

What is ES File Explorer?
ES File Explorer has long been a favorite of Android device users because of its ability to access files on cloud based services all in one place. Users can access Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, Yandex, Mega Cloud, Baidu Disk, Amazon’s S3, Box and SugarSync. While most people use programs like that to transfer documents they can easily be use to transfer APK’s. The only problem is where do you find APK’s in the first place. How do you add ES File Explorer to Fire TV? Press the voice search and ask for it. Once ES File Explorer is loaded users can access their respective cloud services and add apps to their favorite cloud service as easily as they add an attachment to an email.

Aptoide
Users can’t download apps to their computers via the Google Play Store. But Aptoide’s mobile site is a perfect place to get them. In fact not only can you download apps to a computer from Aptoide you can download the Aptoide mobile app itself and load it on to the Fire TV via one of the cloud services utilized by ES File Explorer. Once Aptoide is installed onto your Fire TV adding other apps is as simple as asking for them. Once downloaded you can access them right from the apps section of the home page menu. That means that you will have a searchable app store waiting for you whenever you need it.

To download the Aptoid App Click Here
To be taken to Aptoide’s Mobile Store Click Here

How do you use ES File Explorer to access Cloud Services
Good question.
1. First add ES File Explorer via the Fire TV. (just ask for it by name)
2. Use the remote to navigate to the menu item labeled Network and click OK
3. Use the remote to navigate to the option for Cloud and press OK
4. Use the remote to navigate to the bottom of the screen to the horizontal menu. The first choice on the menu should say Exit. Navigate two spots over to the + New symbol
5. Choose your prefered cloud service and sign in to access your apk’s
6. Open your storage folder and select the app you want installed and press ok.
7. Once the app has downloaded you will be taken to a grey screen. Click the yellow Install button on the screen and you will be all set.

Amazon is making sideloaded apps easy to access
Amazon’s home menu allows users to access all of their downloaded apps as well as third party installed apps from the Apps section of its menu. Gone are the days when you had to trick the system into making icons for your favorite third party apps. By accessing the apps menu one can find any app that is on the machine whether you added it from Amazon’s app store or via a USB stick.

Special recommendation
Users may find that a number of Android apps do not perform well when using Amazon’s supplied remote, which of course is designed to navigate its official tv apps. Because of this we would recommend users who want to use the Fire TV in this way to invest in an air mouse, which is a remote control that allows users to use the remote like a mouse with a cursor. You will thank me for this suggestion. Some air mouses also feature full keyboards. A large selection can be found on Amazon’s Website here

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Shout Factory will be bringing 4K content to a streaming device near you. The service will be offering a number of nature films with Blue Ray and 4K quality playback as it expands its offerings past cult and kitsch content. Don’t worry though It is still the home of MST 3K.

In order to see 4K content of course user will have to have a 4K television or monitor. This is a great pickup for anyone who has a Roku 4 which allows for 4K playback.

Shout! Factory plans a strategic launch of these movies in 4K Ultra HD with HDR through physical home entertainment releases in North America, beginning with JOURNEY TO SPACE and HUMPBACK WHALES on 4K Ultra HD™ Discs in late spring/early summer 2016.

New Offerings Coming to Shout Factory
JOURNEY TO SPACE puts into historical context the magnificent contributions made by the Space Shuttle program and its intrepid space pioneers. It uses the most spectacular space footage – including unique views of Earth and operations in space – such as deploying and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. It then goes on to show how the Shuttle launched and assembled the International Space Station (ISS). Together, these programs have taught us how to live, build and conduct science in space. The ISS will continue operating in space until 2024, and the film shows how it is building a foundation for the next giant leaps into space.

The film concludes with a fascinating, realistic scenario of how astronauts will actually get to Mars, live there for long duration, and then return home after a two-and-a-half-year mission.

 

JOURNEY TO SPACE
Co-produced by K2 Films, Inc. and Giant Screen Films. The film is written and directed by Mark Krenzien, produced by Don Kempf, Mark Kresser and Andy Wood, executive produced by Bob Kresser and edited by Dale Beldin.

HUMPBACK WHALES

Narrated by two-time Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor, HUMPBACK WHALES is an extraordinary journey into the mysterious world of one of nature’s most awe-inspiring marine mammals.

Set in the spectacular waters of Alaska, Hawaii and the remote islands of Tonga, this ocean adventure offers audiences an up-close look at how these whales communicate, sing, feed, play and take care of their young.  Captured for the first time with IMAX® 3D cameras, and found in every ocean on earth, humpbacks were nearly driven to extinction 50 years ago, but today are making a slow but remarkable recovery. Join a team of researchers as they unlock the secrets of the humpback and find out why humpbacks are the most acrobatic of all whales, why they sing their haunting songs, and why these intelligent 55-foot, 50-ton animals migrate up to 10,000 miles round-trip every year.

A MacGillivray Freeman film presented by Pacific Life, HUMPBACK WHALES is directed by Greg MacGillivray (The Living Sea, Dolphins, Everest) and produced by Shaun MacGillivray (To The Arctic, Grand Canyon Adventure). Filmed with 15perf / 65mm IMAX® cameras, HUMPBACK WHALES is written and edited by Stephen Judson (Everest, To The Arctic) with a musical score by Steve Wood (Journey to the South Pacific, To The Arctic).  A One World One Ocean production.

FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES
Produced by SK Films, FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES is a unique and memorable cinema experience that follows a tiny creature’s epic story of endurance on one of the most spectacular migrations on earth. On the trail of one of nature’s greatest events, we will witness, as never before, one generation from some 100 million monarch butterflies as they travel across a continent on a perilous journey of 1,000 miles or more … and not to just anywhere, but to a remote forest on a Mexican mountaintop, a destination that was once an impenetrable mystery. The iconic monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature.  Weighing less than a penny, it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent, with pinpoint navigational accuracy, to a secluded place it has never been. Follow the monarchs’ perilous and extraordinary journey and join hundreds of millions of real butterflies in the remote mountain peaks of Mexico. For the first time ever, witness the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, inside a chrysalis, thanks to advanced MRI and micro CT scans. Be captivated by the true and compelling story of an intrepid scientist’s 40-year search to find their secret hideaway, with the help of citizen scientists across North America.

 ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS
Produced by The Stephen Low Company, ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS is the passionate undertaking of award-winning filmmaker Stephen Low, director of more than fifteen projects for the giant screen, including TITANICA, SUPER SPEEDWAY and ULTIMATE WAVE TAHITI. ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS propels audiences on a steam train journey through the breathtaking vistas of the Canadian Rockies and highlights the adventure of building a nearly impossible transcontinental railway in the age of steam.  The film weaves together spectacular IMAX aerial cinematography, archival photographs and maps, and the potent energy and rhythms of a live steam locomotive to immerse audiences in this remarkable story.

 WONDERS OF THE ARCTIC
Narrated by Victor Garber, WONDERS OF THE ARCTIC centers on our ongoing mission to explore and come to terms with the Arctic. Compelling stories are interwoven to create a unifying message about the state of the Arctic today. Underlying all these tales is the crucial role that ice plays in the lives of the people and animals who have adapted to this land of ice and snow. The Inuit and their predecessors adapted and thrived for thousands of years in what is arguably the harshest environment on earth. Today, the Arctic is the focus of intense research. Instead of seeking to conquer the north, scientists working together with the Inuit are searching for answers to some troubling questions about the impacts of human activities on this fragile and largely uninhabited frontier.

THE LAST REEF: CITIES BENEATH THE SEA
From the creators of WILD OCEAN and PULSE, THE LAST REEF, a new immersive movie that takes you on a breathtaking journey to the heart of a coral reef, as you’ve never seen it before. THE LAST REEF: CITIES BENEATH THE SEA is a production of Yes/No Productions, Liquid Pictures and Giant Screen Films.