Thursday, April 18, 2024

Why is Fubo trying to stop the new Disney/Fox/Warner sports service?

It's not been a story that has dominated the news, but there is an important story regarding sports streaming that you may know about.

Disney, Fox, and Warner-Discovery have announced plans to launch a new sports streaming service that will finally give streamers who want sports, well sports, and allow non-sports fans to skip it altogether.

The bad news is that Fubo is suing to stop it.

The question may be on your mind: Why is Fudo doing this?

Well, Luke Bouma of Cord Cutters News took a look at it recently, and says Fubo claims the companies stopped Fubo from doing the very same thing:

In the lawsuit, Fubo, the live streaming service, alleges that the trio of media giants stole from their playbook in a new attempt to thwart Fubo's business. On of the big complaints Fubo has is that they have wanted to launch a similar service but have been unable to because Disney, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery forces them to offer a bundle of channels including non-sports channels.

This need to offer the Disney Channel to get ESPN, for example, is according to Fubo unfair if these companies decide to offer a sports-only service, which is something Fubo has been asking to do but has been unable to.

"The underlying motives and implication of this joint venture also command our scrutiny. Every consumer in America should be concerned about the intent behind this joint venture and its impact on fair market competition," Fubo said in an earlier statement.

Disney is arguing in their case to the judge that these new streaming services will bring more options than ever to Americans in terms of how to watch these channels. The fact that they own the content and want to offer a bundle of sports-only channels should be allowed.

Live sports content is in high demand and the competition between streaming platforms to provide it is heating up. Fubo and other streamers would be dwarfed by the powerful union of Disney, FOX, and Warner Bros. Discovery.

This is a story with the potential for a huge impact. My Streaming Life would love a stand-alone sports service. However, if Fubo wins, this could slow that. But, based on what I know, which admittedly isn't much, I think Fubo is in the right. If so, a Fubo win may slow it, but the fault would be Disney's.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Which streaming platform?

If you're looking for a streaming device for the first time, you have four major platforms from which to choose:

  • Roku
  • Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Google/Android TV

These are the platforms that drive streaming boxes and sticks. All but Apple TV also drive some smart TVs. The top two of the minor platforms are strong contenders as well:

  • WebOS (LG TVs)
  • Tizen (Samsung TVs)

The functionality and ease of the four major make them better options than the two top minor platforms.

There are other platforms as well, but they really don't make an impact. Vizio, for instance, used a system they called "SmartCast" but it's not a good system. Whether or not they'll change to something else now that Walmart bought Vizio isn't know. If they're smart, they'll convert to a version of Android TV or the full Google TV interface. Yes, that would mean that Google would get the TV usage information as well as Walmart, but most Vizio users would hook up a Roku or Fire TV (or Chromecast) to the TV anyway, at least if they want an easy streaming experience). Dropping development of SmartCast would save money.

So, if you buy a TV with a built-in smart TV system, you don't really need to do anything other than use it. However, unless it's one of the four major platforms, you are missing out on the ease and simplicity of those platforms.

Samsung and LG are okay, but if it's something else, look seriously into one of the Big Four. But which one?

Really, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. All four are good. They're better than WebOS or Tizen, in my opinion, and they give you something the others don't: a consistent system across the house.

Now sure, if all your TVs are LG or all are Samsung, then yes, you have a consistent system. But if any is something else, you have a mixed system. And that can be confusing at times. Even if you have a consistent system, the remotes are sometimes different.

The good news is that if you buy a Roku TV, for example, then add another TV to a guest room, it doesn't have to be a Roku. You can get any TV and put in the guest room, then add a Roku to it. Then you have consistency.

Same applies if you buy a TV with Fire TV built in. You can add a Fire TV device to any other TV, even a Roku TV. Same with Android/Google TV. This is true for any of the major platforms. You can always convert a TV with a different platform to a consistent platform across the household, if you want.

My Streaming Life has used all the major platforms, and the larger minor platforms. They all have their ups and downs, but what is best is a personal decision. The good news is that whichever of the major platforms you choose, you can have that on all TVs in the house.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

New Roku TV remote

This is my fourth Roku post in just over a week, and the third to focus on Roku our of my last four posts overall. Yeah, Roku is making the news.

Today it's good news, well kinda, for Roku TV users that lose their remotes. Roku has finally released a Roku TV remote that you can buy directly from Roku (or from Walmart, Best Buy, or other retailers) and it's $10.

Now, you have been able to buy a remote from Roku that worked with Roku TV devices for some time. The catch was it was a Roku Voice Remote. All Roku TVs support the Roku Voice Remote, but they run $20 or more. Sometimes, only the $30 version is in stock at a local retailer.

Now, Roku has finally released an infrared remote for $10. I still think the Voice Remote is the way to go, but some people would rather spend less and are fine with an IR remote. After all, most Roku TVs, especially the cheaper models, come with IR remotes.

If you are interested, here's a link to the Roku TV Infrared Remote (Amazon affiliate link).

My Streaming Life has used Roku TV devices, but I've always used the Voice Remote, since it's not line of sight IR. However, if line of sight IR is satisfactory, you can save a few bucks going that way. Roku has needed something like this for a long time. It's good to see them finally make this available.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Protecting your Roku account

Recently, Roku announced that 576,000 user accounts were compromised. Roku has taken a public relations hit, but it really wasn't their fault.

What happened was that users had the same password on their Roku account that they used on other accounts. One (or more) of those other (non-Roku) accounts was compromised, and then hackers used the same credentials on Roku accounts, and were successful.

Again, it wasn't Roku's fault, but sloppy security by 576,000 users, but Roku has caught some flak for it. And now Roku has offered suggestions for helping secure accounts, and it's good advice:

We are committed to maintaining the privacy and security of your Roku account. We also believe in empowering our users with information and tools to help safeguard their accounts:

Create a strong, unique password for your Roku account. This makes it harder for someone to gain unauthorized access to your account. Use a mix of at least eight characters, including numbers, symbols, and lowercase and upper-case letters. Find more tips here: How to create a strong and secure password for your Roku account.

Remain vigilant. Please be alert to any suspicious communications appearing to come from Roku, such as requests to update your payment details, share your username or password, or click on suspicious links. When in doubt over the authenticity of a communication, contact Roku Customer Support.

Stay informed. In addition to blog posts and Support pages on Roku, be sure to check your email for communications from Roku and periodically log in to your Roku account to review your account charges.

Additional recommendations can be found here: How to keep your Roku account secure.

These suggestions are good for not just Roku accounts, but for any online account. My Streaming Life uses several online accounts, and each has unique, secure passwords. Yours should too.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Keeping safe with Microsoft Windows 10 will cost you

Windows 10 support ends next year. Only, Microsoft will allow you to pay for extended support if you want to keep Windows 10. And now the price has been announced:

[YouTube]

I think it's terrible that Microsoft will charge for Windows 10 support. The fact they will do it for a fee means they can do it. And people paid for a Windows license, and support, already. It's a bad thing Microsoft is doing.

Rather than pay for Windows 10 support, I would suggest that users move to a more secure operating system, such as Linux or ChromeOS (which is a version of Linux, but with a very friendly interface). That will extend the life of a computer for free.

My Streaming Life doesn't depend on Windows 10, so I'm lucky. Not everyone is. ChromeOS, or another version of Linux, is a great choice for many people.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Another month, another Roku breach

Let me start by saying that I don't really blame Roku for this, but it is a big deal and Roku accounts are impacted. There are two reasons for the breach, and neither is Roku's fault.

The first reason for the breach is truly awful people. Hackers are stealing information and using stolen information to steal more stuff. That's reason one.

Reason two is people making bad decisions. People re-use the same passwords on different services, which is a really bad idea. Yes, it's hard to keep up with different passwords for different things, but suck it up and do the right thing. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Anyway, a lot of people use the same password for everything, and when one of those things gets compromised, the hackers have the passwords to a bunch of other stuff as well. And one of those things is Roku -- for many people that is.

So, what happened is that people got their credentials hacked through some insecure service, and the hackers used the credentials to log into Roku and make purchases through Roku pay, or other credit cards on file.

This happened last month, and now it's happened again, only this time, instead of 15-thousand accounts, over 576-thousand -- over half a million -- accounts were impacted:

Earlier this year, Roku's security monitoring systems detected an increase in unusual account activity. After a thorough investigation, we determined that unauthorized actors had accessed about 15,000 Roku user accounts using login credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords) stolen from another source unrelated to Roku through a method known as "credential stuffing."

Credential stuffing is a type of automated cyberattack where fraudsters use stolen usernames and passwords from one platform and attempt to log in to accounts on other platforms. This method exploits the practice of individuals reusing the same login credentials across multiple services. We concluded at the time that no data security compromise occurred within our systems, and that Roku was not the source of the account credentials used in these attacks.

After concluding our investigation of this first incident, we notified affected customers in early March and continued to monitor account activity closely to protect our customers and their personal information. Through this monitoring we identified a second incident, which impacted approximately 576,000 additional accounts.

There is no indication that Roku was the source of the account credentials used in these attacks or that Roku's systems were compromised in either incident. Rather, it is likely that login credentials used in these attacks were taken from another source, like another online account, where the affected users may have used the same credentials. ...

This is why it's important to have different passwords for different services. Yes, it's hard. So is having stuff stolen. You have a choice as to which pain you want.

My Streaming Life isn't impacted by this, because I use different passwords for everything. I learned the hard way. Take the word of someone who knows: be smarter than the thieves when it comes to your online security.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Frndly TV is adding some local channels, just not the ones you might think

Frndly TV is one of the best bargains when it comes to vMVPD (streaming cable) services. For under $10/month, you get 40 live channels. The price is so low because Frndly TV doesn't carry news, sports, or local channels.

Well, until now, they didn't carry local channels. They're about to carry some. But there's a catch.

The first catch is that only six markets are affected. The next catch is that none of the local channels are the major networks.

A release on the Frndly TV Website says six markets will get limited local channels later this month:

With the debut of a broadcast station in six individual markets (one station per DMA), this will mark the first time in its history that Frndly TV is rolling out local programming. The local broadcast stations are expected to debut on the Frndly TV lineup in each market by April 30.

"As cord cutting continues to accelerate across the country," said Michael McKenna, Frndly TV co-founder and Chief Programming Officer, "we at Frndly TV are proud to be able to help support the local broadcast industry, and in particular, the important public service of delivering local news, by bringing back homes and viewers into the television ecosystem. We hope to continue to add a local station in more markets across the country in the near future."

The six local broadcast stations (five independents and one CW affiliated station) and markets are:

  • KDCO, Channel 3, Denver, CO DMA (Scripps - Independent)
  • WMYD, Channel 20, Detroit, MI DMA (Scripps - CW Affiliate)
  • WACY, Channel 32, Green Bay, WI DMA (Scripps - Independent)
  • KMCI, Channel 38, Kansas City, MO DMA (Scripps - Independent)
  • WFMZ, Channel 69, Philadelphia, PA DMA (Marantha Broadcasting Co. - Independent)
  • WHDT, Channel 9, West Palm Beach, FL DMA (Scripps - Independent)

‍Continued McKenna: "This is a significant milestone for Frndly TV. As we built out Frndly TV and added more national channels, the one thing missing was providing our customers with the local programming they want and care about – especially local news and popular syndicated content. With the addition of these local stations in each market, we are delivering to our customers news and entertainment they want at a price they can afford."

You'll first notice that none of the stations are major network stations. There are no ABC, CBS, Fox, or NBC stations. Only one is a CW affiliate. Next, all are owned by Scripps.

Scripps owns eight independent stations and four CW stations. Five of the independent stations and one CW station are part of the deal. Scripps also owns several stations with major network affiliations, as well as several minor network stations (Bounce, Grit, Ion, etc.). The company owns 62 overall.

There seems to be no fear that prices will rise soon, leaving Frndly TV as a great bargain. The local channels in those six markets is a bonus for those markets.

My Streaming Life has included Frndly TV since the service launched. It's a great bargain, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not impacted by this change, but I'm happy for those that are.