Tags Posts tagged with "Television"


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Netflix is the standard bearer for streaming.
Netflix is the standard bearer for streaming.

Netflix is the quintessential streaming app and was the very first streaming application that Roku ever supported. With over 50 million customers its quite likely that you already have a Netflix account. What does Netflix offer? A gigantic library of movies, TV shows, documentaries and a growing list of special presentations like concerts and comedy specials. Netflix is more of a streaming network than an app with over a dozen original shows from the gritty like House of Cards, Jessica Jones and Daredevil to the Emmy-winning comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a great way to check out the shows that everyone at work has been telling you to see like The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time or even long time favorites. Best yet if you have a 4k TV and a Roku 4 Netflix is one of the only places to find content for it.

Amazon Video
Amazon VideoAmazon’s video service is a feature included in conjuction with Amazon’s prime service. If you have been considering Amazon Prime for the shipping, Kindle reader perks and and special offers it is a no brainer. Amazon has exclusive streaming deals with CBS that makes it the home of summer hits like Under The Dome and offers a large number of TV Shows and movies from multiple studios. A perk of Amazon’s service is that the content is broken down by network so if you have a favorite TV neighborhood it can be found easily. Amazon has some well regarded originals too including breakout alternative history thriller The Man In The High Castle and the Emmy-winning Transparent. On the movie side of the spectrum Amazon offers the Epics movie catalogue which features big titles from Lions Gate and other studios.

Hulu is a great service for those who don’t have a DVR and or cable television. The service offers

Hulu has always had ads and has grown quickly in the first half of 2015.
Hulu has always had ads and has grown quickly in the first half of 2015.

next day replay of content from Fox, NBC, ABC, CW, the majority of viacom based networks including Comedy Central, the entire library of South Park, the Epics Movie Catalogue, The Criterion Collection (art and Indie films) BCC content and a large slate of originals. There are also tons of television shows from throughout the TV landscapes organized by network and studio. Users can pay as little as $7.99 for the commercial supported version of the channel or kick it up a notch for the commercial free version. Hulu customers also have the option to add current and archived content from Showtime. Overall it’s a great value.

NBC LogoNBC has its own freestanding app on Roku where users can catch up on NBC shows and specials. Users who have a participating cable provider can access even more content. The app will allow users to access a great deal of content for free though including original movies and series without the need to provide a Cable password.

CBS NewsCBSN is a 24 hour Internet based news network. It provides a daily rundown of breaking news much like CNN, Fox News and others. The service is free no strings attached. With CBSN you will not be caught off guard when someone asks you about the tornado in Texas or even the latest pop culture buzz.

PBS LogoPBS is one of the most complete apps on Roku. Any of PBS’s programs can be found via the app and users can sign in with their local PBS station to open regional based programming. For fans of hits like Downton Abbey, Sherlock and what ever makes its way through the BBC pipeline next PBS is a treasure. There are also a number of PBS favorites from yesteryear including the Joy Of Painting.

YouTube picYouTube is the most heavily used streaming service in the country. If you don’t know what YouTube is now you can probably ask the person next to you and get an earful about cute babies, Kittens and more but the app overall can become a go to for people from all walks of life. From clips uploaded from all over the world to great original programming from professional production companies it is easy spend an entire night on one short form feature after another. It is also one of the most popular places in the world to find music. Link your own YouTube account and see your favorite subscriptions and saved videos.

Watch ESPN

ESPN will son be available outside of a traditional pay TV package.

Watch ESPN is the app of apps for sports fans. Like its mobile app the Watch ESPN app for Roku provides access to ESPN’s family of networks provided that your TV provider participates in the program. A great bonus offered by Watch ESPN is ESPN 3, an internet based option that gives viewers access to extra contests from major sports conferences including live football and BAsketball, Baseball and non revenue sports. Many ISP’s especially DSL providers allow users to access ESPN 3 content without a cable subscription.

PandoraYou might be surprised at just how much you use this free music service. Pandora has a gigantic selection of music available on request. Users can set up their own stations based on specific performers and genres. Want easy listening? Search for adult contemporary or look for James Taylor and the system will populate Taylor, Paul Simon and simmilar artist. Type John Williams and listen to Star Wars, The ET score, and other works from Williams, Hans Zimmer and more. It’s one of my personal favorites when I am writing.

Vudu PicNope this is not a cult channel. It is an on demand movie and television service and one of the best places to find 4K content online. Roku 4 users with 4K TV’s should take a look at this channel early. It is free to add and with a free account users can purchase digital blockbuster films and even access their own digital content through Ultra Violet. The service offers multiple viewing options for content including SD, HD and 4K.

Ryan Michael Downey

One of the easiest ways to watch American TV stations online is a service called USTV Now. The service, which is available via its home page as well as through apps for XBMC and a private channel

US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online
US TV Now Provides US TV Channels Online

for Roku allows users to watch an American based cable package overseas. Viewers using the service via a browser can access the basic networks; CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, Fox and PBS for free. Apple TV users can access the service via mirroring and a compatible laptop or IOS device.

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Personalize an account and unlock the services potential

As most people in the modern world know Google’s Youtube is available on computers, game systems, DMR’s like Roku and Apple TV and hand held devices. How many times have you done a quick search on a subject and discovered a YouTube video on the subject or even better a collection of videos on that subject?  Whether it is home improvement, cooking, technical assistance or a niche like professional wrestling or a long cancelled television show that cannot be found anywhere else, when we find these jewels it is important to be able to find them again. A little organization can go a long way. Creating a personal YouTube account, playlists, utilizing favorites and subscribing to channels will allow you to categorize your videos in a way that will help you find them when you want to see them again. It will also allow you to build a video resource tailored to your favorite subjects and interests.

Make It Personal
The first step for getting the most out of YouTube is setting up a personal profile. This is done with a quick visit to YouTube’s website. In the upper right hand corner will be red button “Create an Account”. Next follow the simple instructions including creation of a password you can remember and you are set with your own YouTube ID. If you already have a Gmail address or Google Plus acct you can use the same credentials to create the account. Once you have done this any video that you save in your profile can be accessed on any connected device like a mobile video library. Probably the most helpful thing about having a profile is that YouTube like Netflix and Hulu looks at what you are watching and makes recommendations for other similar content. These suggestions are emailed to which ever account you use to set things up. You also receive notifications whenever a station that you have subscribed to has a new video.

Customize Your Video Experience
Once you have your profile set up search for the kinds of things you enjoy. YouTube has multiple user created channels that offer rich content. No matter what it is that interests you it can be found on YouTube. There are videos on everything from home improvement and cooking, full length movies, documentaries and television series to niche subjects like pro wrestling, alternative history and conspiracy theories.  When you subscribe to the channels where your videos are found all of the content will be right at your fingertips for future reference.

How do you Subscribe to channels?
After you search for a video and click on its corresponding thumbnail. Under the video will be a button that says subscribe.  Before you subscribe to the channel you can easily browse the library of the provider by clicking on the name of the provider listed. From there the videos can be explored and evaluated. Once you click subscribe, the videos from that provider will always be available when you are signed in to your account.

Create Playlists
Another way that you can customize your YouTube experience is by creating playlists. Think of it like a book shelf. While you may have dozens of books you may well have them set up by author, or subject matter so that you can find your copy of something quickly without having to look the whole shelf over. Playlists are helpful because once you have a long listing of subscribed channels you are going to find specific videos that you are going to want to access without searching through the channel’s library.  This is also helpful because an individual YouTube channel may not be set up in a subject specific way. This way you do not have to remember that say a documentary about WW2 is listed under a channel called “Big J”. Instead it can be listed under your own chosen subject heading in a play list.

Think about your Categories
It is helpful to consider why you are making the playlist. Is this a list of favorite music videos, something subject matter related or so on. Having multiple playlists is very helpful when viewing YouTube via a streaming device on your television. It will feel like a more authentic television experience this way. The playlists work as almost an on demand queue.  If you own a Smart TV, a DMR, a game system or any device that will allow YouTube to be viewed on a television set up a profile and build a fully interactive customizable channel.

How to Create a Playlist
When browsing videos from a general search or even videos from a subscribed channel on a computer look under the video screen to the tabs beginning with about. The other tabs include “Share” and “Add To”.  Add To will bring up the option to add the video to the favorites list or watch later. Neither of these choices have a general category option or a play list. If you do not have a playlist created for the video you can create one by typing a title in to the box displaying the phrase “Enter new playlist name”. In the case of a mobile app for instance YouTube for iPad and mobile devices the process works slightly differently. Underneath the video will be a plus sign (+). When a user clicks this symbol they are prompted to either choose a playlist to add the video to or create a playlist for the video. Using this method you can create an entire viewing lineup of on demand programming that can then be accessed anywhere you can access the Internet. Because of the way YouTube populates related videos you can build a substantial play list in no time.

Favorites and Watch Later
If you do not have an extensive collection of videos simply adding a few things to your YouTube Favorites may do the trick for you. The disadvantage of this method over the playlist method is that over time you may well have one long random and hard to cycle through list.

Article Originally Published September 2013

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Media centers are great tools for organizing audio video and picture collections in one place. But if

Plex can add value to any streaming line up
Plex channel menu example. Click for larger image.

you are looking to do more than view content that you already own, Plex can add to the multimedia experience. Users can access a large group of content channels ranging from full length TV shows to niche channels. What would a media center be without content channels? Well it would be kind of like Windows Media Center. The channels are designed and maintained by the larger development community of Plex users.

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March Madness may take on a new meaning if Roku and Apple have anything to do with it. Rumors already point to a possible update of Apple TV in March and According to the technology blog Zats not funny Roku may be about to launch a direct answer to the Chromecast. The site reports that Roku will be releasing a new version of the Roku streaming stick in March that eschews the MHL port in favor of powering the device via USB, like Google’s Chromecast. While the current streaming stick and the Chromecast  look very similar they could not be more different. The streaming stick only works on TV’s that are equipped with MHL ports which can both transfer the audio and video signals as well as power the device without the need for an external power source. Once equipped on a compatible TV the streaming stick opens the entire Roku lineup of channels minus YouTube which is still currently only available on the Roku 3. The Chromecast on the other hand is a simple device that utilizes a normal HDMI port and allows users to send select audio and video apps from smart phones and tablets to a TV as well as mirror chrome tabs from a computer.

Ryan Michael Downey

Are you a current Netflix customer. If you have been considering starting a Netflix streaming only account you may want to get it in place before the pricing plan changes. GigaOm’s Janko Roetgers

Once you add a profile you can begin to customize it.
Once you add a profile you can begin to customize it.

 is reporting that the service which recently announced  a subscriber base of 44 million people is exploring a pricing structure for new members that would include different prices based on the number of access points one uses.

This may be a way for Netflix to curb the sharing of accounts among multiple users . The existence of these sorts of arrangement has been acknowledged by HBO CEO Richard Plepler. According to an article by Buzz Feed’s Mathew Lynley, Phleper thinks that people who access HBO through other means especially while they are young will become paying customers later in life.

Whether it is an attempt stop such a practice or an attempt to increase revenue going forward Netlfix, in a rare case of customer loyalty, says that current Netflix members will be allowed to keep their plan in place.  Netflix may have already tipped their hand on pricing as the company has recently rolled out a family pricing structure that charges 11.99 for use of four devices at the same time as well as a less expensive plan for 6.99 that only streams in standard definition.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Verizon has won a lawsuit against the FCC which will end what has been called net neutrality laws.

Could the Verizon win increase the cost of using HBO Go?
Could the Verizon win increase the cost of using HBO Go?

Until now the Federal Communications Commission has been able to set rules that prevent Internet providers like Verizon, Time Warner Cable and AT&T from having favored users or allowing a given company more bandwidth (speed and access) than another. This allowed small web based video and audio providers to have equal footing against giants in the industry like Netflix and YouTube.

The Core Argument
At the center of the ruling is a short statement on CNN summing up the court’s position on government regulation of the Internet.
“The government is tasked with overseeing crucial utilities like telephone service and electricity, but that the Internet isn’t considered to be one of those utilities under current law.”
It appears that going forward the FCC will have to prove that the Internet is a crucial utility. As Internet usage has become essential for business, education, communication between medical institutions and the avenue for major growing businesses like Netflix, Microsoft through Xbox live and Sony’s new game streaming network a case may be made successfully that stifling broadband Internet usage has the potential to affect too many businesses and services. If a link can be drawn between the cable industries interest in restricting the use of Netflix and other Video Providers it may even grow in to an anti-trust issue.

Verizon’s Reaction
Verizon released a statement regarding the suit saying among other things, “the court found that the FCC could not impose last century’s common carriage requirements on the Internet, and struck down rules that limited the ability of broadband providers to offer new and innovative services to their customers

Does “innovative services” mean pricier Internet access?  Will the ruling lead to higher prices for those who have embraced streaming services like Netflix. YouTube and Hulu Plus?

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Janko Roettgers of the tech news site GigaOm is reporting that Playboy.tv is developing an Android app with the intention of being available on the Google Play store and provide the capability to be

Google may not want Playboy in its app store but it might not be able to stop it.
Google may not want Playboy in its app store but it might not be able to stop it.

utilized by the Google Chromecast. In the article Roettgers mentions Google will likely have a terms of service agreement that prevents explicit content from being available via the Chromecast.

This issue may present a challenge for Google going forward as pornography while objectionable to some is not illegal especially if there is an age verification mechanism. Google certainly would be under no obligation

Aereo, the web based service  that provides users with crystal clear local and network channels along with 20 hours of DVR service will be heading to the Raleigh Durham media market in the near future. On the company’s home page there is a message inviting residents to provide an email address in order to pre-register for the service. According to Aereo, those who pre-register will get access to the service before the rest of the public has access along with a free month. Aereo has proven to be a popular option for those looking to cut ties with cable but maintain a dependable source for network television stations like CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC. The service provides viewing for those networks as well as the CW, ION, Qubo and any other channel in a given media market provided that the channel is available via a digital antenna. The service provides the content via remote miniature antennas that collect the free signals from the broadcast towers like a home antenna and then send a digital signal to the homes of subscribers using the Internet. The antennas are not located at the home of the user so there is no set up or maintenance on the part of the customer.

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Ryan Michael Downey

Users who prefer the iPad’s Netflix interface to the Netflix interface on Roku can now have their cake and eat it too. The Netflix app is now updated to interface with the Roku 3s DIAL integration. Once a selection begins on the Lilyhammer Pic IOS device the now familiar DIAL box will appear in the bottom right side of the screen. Once the Roku is selected the television show or movie will begin to play on the Roku.

Just for Kids
While the Roku app had numerous features found on other Netflix apps it has excluded the popular just for kids feature which populates only child friendly programming. This problem is solved with the DIAL option as the feature is included in the mobile app. That is if you feel comfortable letting the younger members of the family handle an easily damaged tablet. If so they are sure to enjoy the new functionality.

What Will Happen Going Forward
As of right now YouTube and Netflix are the only DIAL supported apps associated with the Roku 3. Both apps already have official channels on the device but the protocol provides Roku with a way to offer far more content than ever before as adoption of DIAL becomes more common. Apps can only be featured on DIAL based receivers like the Google Chromecast and Roku 3 if the apps chose to integrate themselves with the protocol. With two popular streaming devices now working with the “AirPLay Like” alternative we could see an expansion of apps and websites capable of supporting it. This could mean that Roku users begin to access IOS apps on their TV screens without having to wait for an official channel to be developed. Currently Roku has over 1200 channels in its channel store and many more private channels.

Editorial Note
The Streaming Advisor can not confirm Netflix DIAL integration on Android based products.