Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Good news, bad news for Hulu+Live TV?

Fans of the NFL got some good news recently from Hulu+Live TV. NFL Network is now part of Hulu+Live TV.

With a subscription to Hulu + Live TV, you can follow your favorite NFL pro football teams throughout the 2020 season, record their games, and access the live TV broadcasts aired on NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NFL Network — through all of your Live TV supported mobile and TV-connected devices.

This does seem good news to Hulu+Live TV subscribers, with the service adding something that's already on competing services. As of this writing, NFL Network is already on Fubo ($65/month), Vidgo ($55/month), and Sling TV ($35/month).

So, what's the bad news?

Well, to be honest, there might not be any bad news. But, I do worry about something. Here's my concern.

Stuff is going to go up in price. That's how things go. Some services take longer for price increases, and some have smaller price increases. Hulu+Live TV has gone from $40/month in 2017 to $65/month today.

Of course, they've added more content, meaning that while you're paying more you're getting more. On the other hand, when you get more, you pay more. Even if what you get isn't what you want.

There's no price increase announced, but keep in mind, the addition of more channels eventually led to a higher subscription cost. I consider this just one part of the justification of the next price increase.

Am I complaining about the glass being half empty? Maybe. I'm just keeping in mind that this is how things go. More costs more. Maybe not at first, but it will.

Is Hulu+Live TV worth it? Well, yeah. This adding doesn't come with a price increase. Yet. So, this week, you're getting more than you got last week for the same amount. That's good. But will this lead to a price increase down the road? I think so.

I'm not intending to trash Hulu+Live TV, so don't take it that way. Just keep in mind that it will come. Enjoy your Streaming Life while the price is the same.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Tablo vs Air TV (again)

Yes, I covered Tablo vs Air TV before. The outcome of that was that I like both Air TV and Tablo. They are both good devices and both work well.

I manage a couple of household locations and set up Air TV at one and Tablo at another. I then switched out the Air TV device and replaced it with Tablo because I like the interface better. So, what to do with the old Air TV device? I finally figured out what to do with it. I use it.

I got to thinking about it recently. Perhaps you'll recall that I had an issue with Tablo recently and had to reboot and re-add the device to the network. That's been bothering me. Plus, not having Air TV running any longer means that I can't keep with with changes or improvements (not all change is good) to the service.

So, what to do? Well, why not run both? I only have the one antenna, but a splitter will take care of that little issue. And that's what I did.

I now have both Air TV and Tablo devices connected to my antenna. I re-scanned to ensure that I still get a good signal, and I do. Both devices pick up the same channels. I limited both to the same 26 channels, as other six channels don't have a signal I'm comfortable with.

So, splitting the signal didn't adversely impact the channels I can receive by either device, and now I'm running both devices.

Tablo is still my preferred app, because I like the interface better. But, with football season approaching, and the likelihood that I'll subscribe to Sling TV for the college football season, I'll be using the Sling TV app anyway. With Air TV integrating into Sling TV's menu and guide, I will be able to switch from ESPN or SEC Network to CBS or Fox over the air from within the same app.

Yeah, maybe this is overkill. But, on the upside, I'll be able to keep abreast of changes to either app or service. If I can find something that helps others out and makes their Streaming Life better, it's a good thing.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

My problem with Roku Pay

Roku offers the ability to subscribe to services or otherwise make purchased directly through your Roku device. Here's how it works, briefly.

When you set up your Roku device, you need a Roku account. If you don't already have one, the on-screen setup will walk you through it. One of the things it wants you to do is to add a credit card to your account. 

Now, be aware that you don't really need to add a credit card to your account. If you want to set up a Roku account without a credit card, there's a special link for that: https://my.roku.com/signup/nocc

So, why does Roku want you to add a credit card to your account? You know as well as I know that they want to make it easy for you to buy stuff. Impulse buying can be stunted by having to enter credit card information. If it's already there, clicking "buy" or "subscribe" happens quickly before you change your mind.

Sure, they're gonna say it's for your convenience. And there's truth to that. The reality is that, just like any store where there's items next to the cash register, it's for impulse buying. You see an app or a movie or a subscription service and you think, "Hey, why not?" You click the items, and you don't even need to enter any information. It's already to charge you for the purchase or rental.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing. In fact, I do agree with the whole "convenience" things from the customer standpoint. It is convenient to have a single way of paying for stuff and everything right there in one place.

To me the drawback isn't the ease in impulse buying. If you don't like impulse buying, don't impulse buy. No, the drawback is the limitation of how you can use the content.

If you subscribe to a service -- Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, anything -- via Roku Pay, you are limited to using the content on Roku. And not just on Roku, but on Roku tied to your account. Why is that a problem? Let's play Suppose.

Suppose you have a Roku on your main device, and another Roku (or more than one) on other devices for kids, or other family members.  Say there's a teenager with her own Roku account. Or a TV in a room the younger children use to watch TV.

On your device, you have your list of apps you like. But you may want a different group of apps on the teen's Roku, or on the younger kids' Roku. The way to do that is to have separate Roku accounts for the other devices. If they're all on your Roku account, they'll all have the same apps. If that's okay, then it's okay. But if it's important to have different apps, then that means different Roku accounts.

Suppose you buy something on your Roku account -- say a Netflix subscription -- you can't grant usage to the teen with a different Roku account. You'd need a separate Netflix subscription. The way around that is to subscribe to Netflix directly and use the login on all the devices you want in your household. That means NOT using Roku Pay.

Suppose you have a Fire TV device in another room. Say, a TV that came with Fire TV built in. You can use that TV as is, but if you subscribe to Netflix (or anything) through Roku Pay, you can't watch on that TV unless you add a Roku to that TV. Because it only works on your Roku devices.

Suppose you subscribe to Hulu through Roku Pay and then want to use a mobile device to watch Hulu. Too bad. It's only works on your Roku devices.

Subscribing through Roku Pay has its advantages, but there are disadvantages you don't think about until you get in that position. Then, it's too late. Well, it's never too late, but you then need to cancel and subscribe separately to each service.

I'm a fan and supporter of Roku. But I won't subscribe to anything through Roku Pay, except under extraordinary circumstances. I'm love Roku, but I'm not in love with Roku. I have room for other streaming ways in my Streaming Life.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Frndly gets friendlier

I've posted before about how much I like the Frndly.TV service. It's the only live streaming service I keep year round. It's not expensive -- as cheap as $6/month; $5/month if you pay by the year -- and there's always something to watch. While I constantly question others' "need" for a live streaming service, I actually do use this one year round. Yes, I'm a bit of a hypocrite and no I don't care.

Frndly.TV had 19 channels at the time. Now they have 20:

  • Hallmark Channel
  • Hallmark Drama
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • BabyFirst TV
  • BYU TV
  • CuriosityStream
  • Dove Channel
  • FETV
  • Game Show Network
  • getTV
  • INSP
  • Local Now
  • Outdoor Channel
  • PixL
  • QVC
  • Recipe TV
  • Sportsman Channel
  • The Weather Channel
  • UPtv
  • World Fishing Network

The newest is FETV. I wasn't familiar with Family Entertainment TV, but now I am. Well, a little. Their shows include:

  • The Addams Family
  • Barney Miller
  • Bat Masterson
  • Bewitched
  • Designing Women
  • Father Knows Best
  • Hart to Hart
  • Hazel
  • I Dream of Jeannie
  • Lassie
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Matlock
  • Maude
  • The Monkees
  • One Day at a Time
  • The Partridge Family
  • The Patty Duke Show
  • Perry Mason
  • The Saint
  • Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
  • T.J. Hooker
  • Tombstone Territory

Sure, you can find many of those on other channels, particularly over the air channels such as Antenna TV, MeTV, RetroTV, and the like. So, if it doesn't bring much value to you, then this isn't much use. However, it is nice to see more channels and more shows available to watch.

Frndly.TV is a part of my Streaming Life that I do enjoy. Maybe it will be a part of yours, too.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Testing The Roku Channel

When I posted recently that I would be testing The Roku Channel, I thought my next post about it would be several days later where I told you about the experience. Allen Saunders said "Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans." Here's what happened.

Part of the reason for this is my testing of The Roku Channel is going to be a little more involved than I originally thought. Here's what's complicating things.

You may recall that I don't like subscribing through Roku Pay for anything. Or you may not. I have mentioned it a time or two, but I haven't dedicated a post to just talking about that. I'll do that soon. But, briefly, here's my issue with Roku Pay.

If you subscribe to something using Roku Pay, you are limited to using it on devices tied to your Roku account. That may not seem like a problem, until you want to watch something on a device that's not your Roku streamer. You know, like your phone or tablet? Yes, Roku has some workarounds for that, but I don't care for them. I'll tell more in a detailed post in the future, but keep in mind for now that I don't like using Roku Pay.

Why did I bring that up? You'll see in a minute.

When I began testing of The Roku Channel, I decided I'd do some lengthy in-depth testing. That's not to say I haven't been doing serious in-depth testing of other things; I have. But The Roku Channel is different. Those other things I've tested have been first-use tests. That is, things I hadn't used before. Or, if I had and was revisiting, I had an open mind about. Being honest with myself -- and with you -- I don't have an open mind about The Roku Channel.

The Roku Channel has been on my Roku devices for quite some time. I've used it every now and then, but I've always thought, "Meh. I can get all of this through other apps I already use and like." It brought nothing to the table.

So, when I actually sat and began my deep focus on The Roku Channel (which I'm occasionally gonna call "TRC"), I glanced through it and realized that if I were to truly test The Roku Channel, I would need to look at all aspects of the experience, including subscribing to services and watching them through TRC.

This is going to be more complicated than I thought. I was making other plans, then this hit me. So, this will take a while. And, I think this is going to be a lot bigger than I thought. I may end up posting more about this as I test TRC.

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans." This was true when Saunders wrote that in 1957, it was true when John Lennon paraphrased it in a song in 1980, and it is true of my Streaming Life today as well.