Tags Posts tagged with "HBO"


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HBO is the name for premium as far as most viewers go.

HBO is on its way to changing the TV landscape. The popularity of its programming and the demand for its HBO Now App is beginning to give people a cable free option that did not exist even a year ago. When HBO Now launched it was available exclusively through Apple devices but it is now available on Android tablets and phones, as well as Amazon Fire tablets though not Android TV or Fire TV yet. HBO has said that people are not leaving cable in favor of Broadband Internet and their service but I am starting to wonder if HBO Go and a combination of other streaming services have not influenced some of the at least 3 million pay TV cancellations we have seen in the past year.

Should Legacy TV Companies be worried yet?

The fact that ESPN is looking at their viewership numbers and adjusting their budgets (if that is in fact why they canned the notoriously difficult to work with Keith Olbermann) should be a very bad sign for that industry. Seeing ESPN talk of eventually offering its service separately from a pay TV package is like watching ice caps melt as a judgement of the planet’s temperature. The fact that it is happening begs for the issue to be examined. When we wrote that ESPN and HBO were key to cable and cord cutters we did not know yet that any of the developments of the past year were so close on the horizon. This fall may be a very exciting one for cord cutters and a rough one for the pay TV industry.

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Service no longer ignoring cord cuttters

People all over the Internet on message boards, and Facebook forums constantly ask the question “Can I get HBO Go without a Cable service”? You will be able to before too much longer. IGN is reporting that HBO will offer an Internet based service absent the need for a pay TV package. Richard Plepler, chairman and CEO of HBO pointed out (like Showtime execs did months earlier) that there are 10 million people with broadband Internet but no pay TV service and 80 million Americans overall without HBO saying that those potential customers are a large and untapped opportunity.

When will HBO Without Cable be available?

Plepler said that the service will launch in September of 2015 and be available to those without pay TV services. The company will work with current partners, we assume TWC, Comcast and so-on but also look for new ones. This is great news to not only consumers but to companies with emerging services like AT&T U-Verse, Google Fiber and Dish, who is putting together an Internet based TV service that already includes the ESPN family of networks. HBO without cable or some pay service has been something that many people have wanted for years. In fact there is a stunning number of people who have held on to yearly bill over 1,000 just to hold on the the one channel. The Streaming Advisor monitor the story closely. 



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        Ryan Michael DowneyAmazon Black

Apple LogoThe Apple TV and Fire TV are two very similar devices. Both are set top boxes that retail at $99.00, both showcase their own proprietary media services both offer a strong collection of third party services, both allow mirroring in limited circumstances. Unlike our comparison between the Roku 3 and The Fire tv which can be seen here.Most important to note is both companies compete against each other in other sectors including tablets, ebook sales and MP3 sales. With unconfirmed rumors of an Amazon phone in the works the release of the Fire TV seems as much about opening another front in a war against the maker of the iPhone and iPad as much as it is a chance to showcase its product.

While there are a lot of people calling the Fire TV a “Roku Killer” it appears that Amazon has the the the Cupertino company, which controls 48 percent of the set top market in its sites much more than Roku. Today we take a look at how the two set top box offerings match up head to head.

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The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

Ryan Michael Downey

Google is reporting that it has sold millions of $35.00 Chromecast dongles since it debuted in the summer. This is a tremendous accomplishment for the company and the product itself. Considering its limited applications its yet unconfirmed success points to the possibility that Google may have hit the sweet spot with consumers. Initially offering access to Netflix along Google properties YouTube and Google Play as well as access to mirror Chrome browser tabs the company has seen more major services adopt its protocol as it has gained attention. Recently Roku seemed to acknowledged the threat from Google when it announced its new HDMI streaming stick with at $50.00.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Direct TV customers can now access the popular HBO-GO streaming service on a Roku as well as through  apps for tablets and smart phones along with set top devices  and computers. HBO-Go offers a large library of HBO’s

HBO-Go Adds great value for Direct TV.
HBO-Go Adds great value for Direct TV.

original movies, series and documentaries along with a large selection major studio releases and old favorites on a rotating basis. The movies are broken down based on genre. HBO-Go is one of Roku’s most watched channels putting in in the same conversation as along with other streaming titans like Plex, Netflix  and YouTube .

In order for Direct TV customers to access HBO-Go they must be able to authenticate (provide a valid Direct TV user name) and have an existing subscription to HBO.

The Google Chromecast has been a top seller since its debut.

The Google Chromecast offers a great value for its $35.00 price tag. It is simple to operate and provides access to the most popular Chromecast picweb based video services Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus and HBO-Go. While there was tremendous hype surrounding the product during the summer of 2013 there has been very little news since.  Roku owned the fall and winter so far. It stepped in to the spotlight rolling out new models, YouTube (for Roku 3) and debuted TV sets with the Roku interface. There are also plans to add YouTube to the new current Roku LT, 1 and 2. A $50.00 Roku LT with YouTube could be a real problem for Google. Why has this been an uneven year for the Chromecast so far? Today we look at what Google has done right and what it has done wrong.

What It Has Done Right

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Ryan Michael Downey

A year ago it was quite easy to differentiate between the third generation Apple TV and the Roku line of products. Both offered users a way to watch Internet content on TV but there were notable differences between the approach of the competitors.

Its flagship product The Roku XS featured, like other Roku models do now, about 1000 channels/apps including Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Crackle, Amazon Instant Video and Pandora as a well  as a

The Roku 3 is one of four current models.
The Roku 3 is one of four current models.

motion controller that  allowed users to play the original version of Angry Birds which came pre-loaded as well as other casual games.The system had a carousel style menu a channel store and numerous options for HD Playback. Every review of the item touted a strong lineup of channels but also pointed out without fail that the Roku did not offer a channel for YouTube.

Apple TV
Apple TV at the time had a selection of 14-16 Apps including industry leading apps like Netflix and YouTube along with lesser known fair such as Vimeo along with iTunes Radio stations, iTunes

Applications like ATV Flash boost demand for old models.
Applications like ATV Flash boost demand for old models.

Podcasts, the ability to rent and buy movies and television shows from the iTunes Store along with its ability to mirror compatible IOS devices through its AirPlay and mirroring capabilities. Notable apps lacking Apple TV support included Cackle, Hulu Plus, HBO Go and Pandora.

Both devices also offered live sports by providing access to the Internet offerings from the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball. Neither set top box featured an ESPN app  

One Year Later Things have Changed

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Netflix is the king of video channels. The app is on nearly every video steaming platform and was the first channel available on Roku. The app features thousands of movies, TV shows and documentaries. For less than $8.00 a month Netflix adds a days of entertainment and power/binge watching

Hulu Plus
Hulu Plus has the largest collection of legal first run TV Show content on the net and this app brings the service to Roku. Hulu Plus also offers an extensive collection of movies from multiple studios. Important note, while Hulu has a free Internet based service available via computers Hulu Plus is the only version available for Roku users without using a separate server. For an article on how to add access to the free version of Hulu click here.

Amazon Instant Video
Amazon Instant video is a strong entry for Roku owners especially those who are Amazon Prime members. Prime membership which costs $79.00 offers numerous perks for members including free shipping, use of the Amazon E-Book lending library and in the case of connected device users access to thousands of movies, TV Shows and documentaries. The channel also offers on demand viewing options for access to more first run content.

Plex is a channel that utilizes a separate server that must be downloaded on to a computer in order to run in concert with the Roku channel. The Plex channel offers a separate menu of audio and visual apps in that some cases mirrors channels from the official Roku channel store. Other stations available for Plex cannot be found anywhere else. Plex is also one of few channels that will allow users to play their own digital content on the streaming box. 

Watch ESPN
Watch ESPN is the official app from the most well-known sports network in the United States. In order to utilize the channel you must have access to an ESPN account through a participating provider. The channel features live feeds from all of ESPN’s channels but in order to view them the user must have access via subscription. Also included is ESPN 3 the Internet based service from ESPN which features major college football and basketball along with a selection of international sports from Olympic style sports to soccer, international basketball, and others.  A great addition that can make any Roku connected TV in to an outright sports hub.

Roku users can use Flixter to see movie trailers from upcoming movies as well as movies no longer in the theater. For years people have said that the previews were their favorite part of the movie theater experience along with popcorn of course. Flixter brings that experience to your home theater.

The official Roku Channel from The Public Broadcasting System features  full length feature programming from TV shows airing on PBS and a large collection of classic PBS shows such as The Woodwright. Current programming is not available long term but the app is a great way to catch up on all of the top shows within a week or two of their air date. Don’t wait too long though to tune in for Downton Abbey or you will be stuck waiting till it is available on Amazon further down the line. The channel can also be linked to the local PBS station for a given area in order to access programming tailored for a given region.

HBO-Go is a digital offering from the Time Warner owned movie and television network that brings a huge library of its original television from Arliss to Oz as well as its original movies from throughout the years along with a large rotation of feature films from HBO’s studio partners. In order to access HBO-Go, users must have access to a cable subscription password.  

Crackle is a free service owned by Sony Pictures that provides access to many well-known feature films, TV shows and original content. The selections are broken down by category and easy to search. Like a number of major free services the features are add supported.

Snag Films
If mainstream films and television shows begin to feel too predictable or stayed Snag Films may be just the solution. This free channel is graced by a large collection of independent and art house movies. It is a great alternative to the many louder Hollywood style movies available on other services.

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Roku has a number of free Spanish language channels.

In a recent article on Streaming media Roku GM Steve Shannon, Shannon said that despite its reputation as a cord cutting tool, Roku reduces subscriber drop off.  This is due to how having a Roku can enhance the cable experience. This should not be a big surprise considering Roku has apps such as the TWC app that essentially turns a Roku in to a cable box for any TV in the home. The Watch ESPN app expands the content subscribers can enjoy from America’s most popular sports network tenfold, and HBO Go makes finding content on HBO easier and provides a portal to HBO’s original content in a Netflix like fashion.

Roku streaming leading to cable retention is a very good development for streaming fans with and without cable. While there have been experiments in some markets with metered Internet usage which could cause Internet access to be prohibitively expensive for cord cutters and those choosing to use pay TV services which represent the majority of American households, if data shows that streaming increases retention the pay TV industry may reconsider such ideas. Otherwise they risk losing a tool for holding on to the customers they desperately want to keep.

Ryan Michael Downey
In a highly anticipated move the Google Chromecast has added HBO Go to its list of officially supported apps. HBO-Go, which is an Internet based service from Time Warner owned HBO, provides on demand viewing of its library of original shows and movies along withimage a large selection of feature films and documentaries. The films change frequently to reflect what is in the TV stations rotation. Until now Chromecast  users could only access HBO Go via a laptop using its Google Chrome tab mirroring abilities. The service is only available to those who possess the ability to authenticate a cable subscription. Besides cable access smart phone or tablet users will have to have the HBO Go App installed. This brings the number of officially supported app for the device to six. The device also supports Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Pandora and Google Play movies, TV and music. The Chromecast has been adding support for the most popular internet services slowly but surely as it builds partnerships with media companies who must first Integrate DIAL support.