Monday, June 27, 2022

Streaming continues to grow

News that streaming continues to grow really isn't news is it?

Well, yes it is. But it is expected news. Well, it is expected to me. And maybe to you as well.

Likely, you're here reading this because you are a streamer, or thinking about becoming a streamer. So, finding out that others are thinking like you doesn't really shock you, does it? Didn't think so.

So, as I said, streaming is growing. According to Nielsen, in May, streaming growth continues to not only grow, but grow at record-breaking numbers. In fact, for the last three full months, each growth exceeded the previous, which was a record at the time.

While overall TV usage decreased by 2.7% in May compared to April—a drop that follows typical viewing trends for this time of year—streaming was the only viewing category to exhibit any month-over-month growth in May as it continued to narrow the gap on cable's 36.5% share of viewership, and it exceeded broadcast's 24.4% share.

Time spent streaming in May increased by 2% versus April, bolstered by the release of new content at the end of the month: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ and Netflix's Stranger Things. With the release of these programs, Disney+ captured 2.5% of total TV viewing on May 27, and Netflix claimed 9.0% on May 28.

Broadcast and cable viewing both declined in May, as viewing volume fell 3.5% for each category versus April. The drama genre led with the largest share of broadcast viewership for the month, with procedural crime dramas representing about one-third of broadcast viewing.

TV overall is down, but streaming is up. Way up. Which means that non-streaming TV is way down.

I'm not surprised by this trend, as I said. I dropped cable in early 2011, and my part-time streaming became full time streaming at that time.

The cost savings, the selection of content, the ability to watch on my schedule, all that means that my Streaming Life is a happy one. And it's becoming that way for more and more people.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Linux and Privacy

I've been running a non-streaming (mostly) project of installing and operating using a Linux computer. At least one Linux computer. I'm actually planning on running a desktop (what I'm using now) and a laptop (gotta find one I like).

One of the things about Linux is the security. The operating system is very secure. And you might think that would not be the case. After all, Microsoft and Apple keep their operating system code closely guarded, while Linux in all its forms is open source. That is, anyone can look at the operating system code.

The bad side of that is that anyone easily look for ways to exploit the code. No getting some employee to smuggle out any section of code so you can look at it. With Linux, the code is there for anyone to see.

The good side of that is that anyone can easily look for ways to stop others from exploiting it. Right now, if someone finds an exploit in Windows or Mac OS, only a team at Microsoft or Apple, respectively, can work on fixing the exploit. And that's after teams at Microsoft or Apple missed the exploits in the first place.

If someone finds something wrong with Linux, the entire planet could work in resolving it. Even people from Microsoft or from Apple. Think of it as a strength in numbers.

Most of the security breaches from the Linux standpoint have to do with applications that are running under the GNU/Linux OS, and the applications have issues that have not been fixed, often because the user didn't update the applications.

The way you operate a Linux computer is heavy with security as a default way of operating. For example, if you set up a new Windows or Mac computer, by default, the user has full administrator access. And that makes it easier for malware to impact a Windows or Mac computer.

Let me take a quick side trip to dispel the notion that Mac computers cannot get a virus. They can. If someone told you they couldn't, they likely told you that out of ignorance. Now, to be sure, it's much more likely for a Windows computer to be attacked because there are so many Windows computers, and so many users (Windows, Mac, or Linux) that just don't understand which behaviors are dangerous.

Linux, by default, won't let you, the only user on the computer, perform administration functions. Well, not easily. Those have to be executed with a special Super User command, and a password supplied. So, while it can still happen, it takes effort of the user to force themselves into a dangerous situation.

With Windows or Mac, you can do like I do and set up a local Admin account first, then add other accounts that are used for daily use. These daily accounts are not Admin accounts, but regular user accounts. That's how my Windows and Macs are all set up.

So, Linux is security focused. And many Linux users are focused on security as well. All should be. Where there is a difference among users, I think, should actually boil down to privacy. 

Most Windows and Mac computers are not all that great on privacy. Oh, they'll do a decent job of keeping your data out of the hands of others. And "others" is the key word here. Microsoft and Apple will keep you data, as will Google if you use a lot of Google services. So, they promote themselves as privacy gurus, and they are, insofar as it keeps your data from others. But they have a lot of your data, and you might be shocked just how much.

This is where Linux breaks the mold. Most Linux distributions don't gather your data, but some do. Most don't, and that's a good thing.

To me, security and privacy go hand in hand. They're two aspects of the same thing, and that's being able to use a computer without everyone getting their hands on your data or your money.

I'll talk more about GNU/Linux and privacy in the future. Probably on a weekend, when I talk about my side projects that are only slightly connected to my Streaming Life.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Streaming the USFL Playoffs

This weekend, the football playoffs begin.

Say what?

You heard me. It's time for the football playoffs again.

The USFL playoffs are this weekend, with a game today and another tomorrow.

This afternoon, the New Jersey Generals (9-1) play the Philadelphia Stars (6-4) in the Northern Division championship game. The game will be broadcast on Fox at 3:00 pm.

Tomorrow night, the Birmingham Stallions (9-1) play the New Orleans Breakers (6-4) in the Southern Division championship game. NBC will carry the game at 8:00 pm.

There are a few different ways to watch the games if you are a streamer.

Fox

If you have an antenna, you can watch Fox for free. If not, there are streaming services that carry local Fox broadcasts.

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (18 markets only)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

NBC

If you have an antenna, you can watch NBC for free. If not, there are streaming services that carry local NBC broadcasts.

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (11 markets only)
  • Vidgo ($60/month; $159/three months)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If the USFL is something you've been following, or wanting to follow, you can have the spring league playoffs in your Streaming Life.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Free premium channels for Sling TV on weekends

I've said before that I'm not generally a fan of the paid live TV streaming services, or Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD). I prefer the Free Ad Supported Television (FAST) services, but I do have my go-to services for the times when a live TV streaming service (vMVPD).

One is Sling TV, which was the first of the vMVPD services. And, because of its relatively low price, at least compared to other major services, is my go-to in most cases when a vMVPD is called for. Like watching something on ESPN.

Sling TV also has a free tier that can be used standalone FAST service. It can also be used in conjunction with Air TV, so you don't need a paid tier for that. But, you do need a paid tier if you want to take advantage of the latest promotion that Sling TV is offering.

This weekend, and every weekend during the summer, Sling TV is offering free premium channels to paid subscribers. This weekend, it's Showtime. And each weekend, another premium service will be offered for free:

During Freeview Weekends, customers have access to standalone streaming services’ live schedule and on-demand content library. Most Freeview offerings will start Friday and run through Monday. Premium streaming services currently slated in the preview lineup include EPIX, Hallmark Movies Now, Curiosity Stream, Sundance Now, AMC+ and more.

One good thing about this is that if you like the premium service, but don't want to keep Sling TV ongoing, you can do just that.

Following a Freeview Weekend, SLING makes it easy for anyone to continue watching their favorite entertainment by subscribing to the streaming service as a standalone subscription. With nearly 50 standalone streaming services, including SHOWTIME®, EPIX and Starz, available without a base SLING subscription, SLING provides the best à la carte streaming experience on the market.

While I prefer the separate apps for premium subscriptions, I understand the benefit of including it with a package such as Sling TV. And, by the way, if it wasn't clear, you can use the paid premium service with Sling TV Free tier.

This may be a great way for you to check out these premium services and decide if you want to include them in your Streaming Life. As I said, it's not for me, but it just may be something that works for you.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Bally Sports+ to launch today, sort of

Some sports fans have been excited about the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+ streaming service. For some, that happens today.

Bally announced a while back that it would launch a direct to consumer sports network that would offer content from Bally Sports Networks. No dates had been given, with "summer" or "fall" thrown around as launch targets. Until this week.

Earlier in the week, Bally Sports announced that Bally Sports+ would launch in five markets on June 23. Well, according to my calendar, that's today. However, according to my map, I'm not in Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, or Tampa, so I won't get it. At least, not today.

According to Sports Business Journal, it will be about three months before the full launch of the service.

Pay-TV subscribers already have access to streamed games through Sinclair's TV Everywhere apps that are treated as add-ons to pay-TV subscriptions.

Sinclair's executives expect their relationships with subscribers will change once they actually start paying for the streaming service.

"TV Everywhere wasn't a focus," Ripley said. "We didn't make a lot of money off that. Our whole mentality is going to change and say, when the user comes, what does he or she do first? Where do they go? Are they interacting with our gamification features?

"We're talking a three-month ramp from soft to full launch. But we thought it was a smart idea to get some reps under our belt before we go wider."

The service will cost $20/month or $190/year (over 20% discount). If you're in one of the five early launch cities, you will have the first look at the service. For the rest of us, we'll have to wait before we can test drive the service and determine if it's something we want in our Streaming Life.

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