Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Comcast price hikes

Comcast TV customers will be hit with an increase in costs soon, according to reports. The TV giant is raising the overall cost of cable TV by nearly 4% nationwide. From the reports, it appears the increase won't be uniform, with some places getting hit harder than others.

Additionally, the price increases will impact other lines of business, including Xfinity Internet, although the increase for that isn't clear.

Cable TV appears to be the hardest hit, with the Broadcast Fees going up by various amounts, including over $7 in one market:

In a letter sent last week to the city of Taunton, Massachusetts, Comcast said the Broadcast TV fee would rise from $18.65 a month to $26 a month, effective December 20, 2022. (Comcast says the Broadcast TV fee is based on the cost of providing local stations in your market.)

In addition, Taunton subscribers will see anywhere from $2 a month to $5 a month increase in various video plans, including Choice TV Select and the Digital Preferred Tier plan. Set-top rental prices are also increasing there by $1.50 a month from $8.50 a month to $10 a month. Most Internet plans are also rising from $2 a month to $7 a month.

Despite the increase for Xfinity Internet customers, the price increases will be hardest on cable TV subscribers.

If you are a cable subscriber, this may be a time to look at cutting cable, or at least cutting back. In particular, it may be time to invest in a TV antenna. Don't rush into something like that, however, as in many places, not just any antenna will do. You'll want to do some research first. I'm just asking you to be prepared to look into that.

This isn't the only price increase for TV and Internet, for cable, satellite, or streaming, in the past two years. Comcast says their price increase, on average, isn't as bad as other price increases.

Comcast this evening confirmed to The TV Answer Man that the price increase is nationwide. Here is the statement from a Comcast spokesperson who said the average increase in all markets combined will be 3.8 percent.

"TV networks and other video programmers continue to raise their prices, with broadcast television and sports being the biggest drivers of increases in customers’ bills. We’re continuing to work hard to manage these costs for our customers while investing in our broadband network to provide the best, most reliable Internet service in the country and to give our customers more low-cost choices in video and connectivity so they can find a package that fits their lifestyle and budget. Our national average increase of 3.8% is about half of the most recent rate of inflation."

What he's saying is true, so these increases shouldn't really be a surprise. Although I'm not a cable TV subscriber, the price increase will impact me, as I'm an Xfinity Internet customer.

Once again, trying to watch TV, even as part of your Streaming Life, but especially as part of a traditional cable TV setup, will cost you more. Just like almost every aspect of your life for the past two years.

Monday, November 28, 2022

NBC local on Peacock, update

It was announced earlier this month that local NBC channels were beginning to appear on Peacock. At the time, my local NBC affiliate wasn't available. But that was weeks ago. What about now?

Well, I'm still not getting local NBC. And from what I'm able to tell, many others aren't as well.

It seems that the rollout isn't quite as staggered as I thought. I was expecting that some would get it along and along, as part of a steady rollout, with the last ones having it by end of the month.

Turns out I was overly optimistic about the whole thing. Peacock did roll out NBC affiliate access to some markets, but it was only a few markets that got it. They have been saving up until November 30 for the rest.

The good news is that's only a couple of days away. So, if you haven't received local NBC on Peacock yet, know that in a couple of days you will.

The bad news, for me anyway, is that I upped my subscription after the rollout started, and for the past three weeks, haven't received the channel.

You see, in order to get the local channel, you have to subscribe to Peacock Premium Plus. That's only $10/month, as compared to the $5/month plan for Peacock Premium. Or, for Xfinity Internet customers, $5/month, since those customers get Peacock Premium included with their service.

The Premium Plus plan gets me lots of ad-free on-demand content, but the whole ad-free thing doesn't matter to me. I'm grown, and I'm cheap. I can deal with ads to save some money. So the only reason I upgraded to Premium Plus was for the local NBC affiliate. I don't know if I'll keep it, but I do want to give it a serious look. That serious look won't start until later this week. I may have to resubscribe to the higher tier to give it a proper look, and I don't like that. But, like I said, I'm grown. I'll deal with it.

I'm looking forward to testing out local NBC as part of my Streaming Life. I don't know if I'll keep it, but I certainly am eager to give it a try.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Subscribing one month at a time

I've mentioned before about my way of subscribing to streaming services. It's a very cost-effective way of watching the content I want to watch.

Now, first a few things that I do that you may not do. Or, more accurately, some things you do that I may not do.

First, I don't subscribe to a cable-like service. Examples of what I'm talking about are:

  • Frndly TV
  • Philo
  • Sling TV
  • Vidgo
  • YouTube TV
  • Hulu+Live TV
  • Fubo TV
  • DirecTV Stream

Those run from $7/month (Frndly TV, with lots of family friendly content), to $25/month (Philo, which has no news or sports channels), to $40/month (Sling TV, which is the cheapest with news and sports channels), up to DirecTV Stream (starts at $70/month).

Some people just have to have their cable channels. I don't. So, I'm not paying for those services.

Full disclosure: With me, there are actually two exceptions to this. During college football season, I'll subscribe to a service that has the channels I want. Generally, that's Sling TV for ESPN. This year, when Disney temporarily pulled ESPN from Sling TV, I switched to YouTube TV. But generally, Sling TV (now $40/month after Disney got a price increase for their channels) is my go-to service.

I do generally keep a subscription to Frndly TV. I was dropping it earlier this year as part of a subscription cleanup, but a bargain happened at that time and I did another year for a good price. It ends in the spring.

So, I don't (normally) have a subscription to one of those cable-like services. When I subscribe to something, it's one of the on-demand services. Here are the ones I normally use:

  • AMC+
  • Apple TV+
  • BritBox
  • Discovery+
  • Disney+
  • ESPN+
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • Paramount+
  • Showtime
  • Starz
I would add Peacock to the list, but it's free for me with Xfinity Internet. If I had to pay for it, I would through it into the mix. I could add Paramount+ to that as well, as I'm currently a Walmart+ member, and the $5/month Paramount+ is included. However, I will usually do the $10/month Paramount+ when I do that service.

I'll sometimes subscribe to the Disney Bundle, which has Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+. And sometimes I'll do the Paramount Bundle, which is Paramount+ and Showtime.

I'll subscribe to just one service for a month -- sometimes one of the bundles, meaning two or three services -- and then cancel at the end of the period. The next month, I'll do a different service. Over the year, I cover all of the services at least once, and sometimes more, depending on things. I keep my budget at $15/month, so if a service is less, I can subscribe to more than one service.

So, for a lot less money than most people pay, I can watch all of those services during the year, catching up with a binge weekend or two if necessary.

If you want to watch content from many different services, there are ways to keep the costs down, and still include the content in your Streaming Life.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

HBO Max ad-supported

HBO Max has an ad-supported tier that's 1/3 off the price of the regular service. And, that discounted service is on sale right now. But is it worth it?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: just keep reading.

I subscribe to several streaming services. In fact, I have to check my streaming device menu to see just what all services I have a subscription.

There's Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, Frndly TV, Peacock, Paramount Plus, AMC Plus, Disney Plus, Discovery Plus, Showtime, Apple TV Plus, and Starz.

So, how much do I pay per month for all this? Around $10-$15 each month.

How? Simple. I only subscribe to one at a time. I binge watch all the stuff I want to watch during that month, then the next month I'll subscribe to a different service.

Some of the services are only $5 or so, and I may subscribe to two of those during a month. My goal is to keep it under $15/month. So, most of the time, it's one of those services, but sometimes it's two.

Over a year, I get to watch a lot of stuff from all those services, and I pay a lot less than most people who watch those services.

This month, I'm doing HBO Max. I actually did Netflix this month. Or, more properly, Netflix with ads is the service I chose to do in November. And while we are still in November, I wanted to watch a movie that was on HBO Max, so I actually started it up a few days early. My December service is HBO Max.

Actually, it's HBO Max Ad-supported. Regular HBO Max is $15/month, while the ad-supported version is $10/month. And, right now, they're running a special where it's $2/month for three months. And that price is good for returning customers, not just new customers. I don't know if I'll keep it all three months, but at this price, I can.

So how is it? It's fine. I watched two movies yesterday. One was a classic film, and the other was a new HBO Max exclusive.

I launched Casablanca, which is a great film, and watched it after lunch, while doing laundry. It played without issue. Last night, I watched A Christmas Story Christmas, which I had been wanting to watch. It played fine without issue.

Actually, I didn't get any ads for either movie. Probably a server glitch, but that tells me that if there's an ad server problem, rather than crash your app, the service simply skips the ad and keeps playing the content. So, I got a test I didn't expect, and it passed the test with flying colors.

So, what am I missing by using the ad-supported version of HBO Max? No same day movies -- that is, no online viewing of movies the day it premieres in theaters -- and no downloads of movies.

I don't really care about either one of those, and ads don't bother me, so for me, the $10/month plan is just fine. And the current deal of $2/month for three months is great. If you want HBO Max content, the current special is a great way to add it to your Streaming Life.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Watching college football games this weekend: Week 13

College football season in now in Week 13, the last full regular season week. All regular season games, excepting possible make-ups of postponed games, and the Army-Navy games, will conclude this week. Three games have already been played: two from the MAC on Tuesday, and one SEC game yesterday. All four unbeaten teams are also playing, including the Big Ten East Division being decided between Ohio State and Michigan. Of the other two unbeatens, both are favored with top ranked Georgia playing host to in-state rival Georgia Tech, while Texas Christian hosts Iowa State.

If you want to watch all of the games this season, you need access to most of the networks, which can get expensive. Of course, you might not want to be able to watch all the games.

This weekend, only one game will not be on these networks. Here are the networks carrying games:

  • ABC
  • ACC Network
  • Big 12 (No games this week)
  • Big Ten
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPN U
  • SEC Network
  • ESPN+
  • Fox
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Longhorn Network (No games this week)
  • NBC (No games this week)
  • NFL Network (No games this week)
  • Pac 12 Network
  • Peacock (No games this week)
  • Stadium
  • FloSports
  • Team1Sports

Here is how to watch these networks listed. Note the prices reflect the announced price increases for Sling TV:

ABC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ACC Network

  • Sling Orange, with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $70/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big Ten Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $70/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

CBS

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Paramount+ Premium, $10/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

CBS Sports Network

  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate, $105/month.

ESPN

  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN2

  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN U

  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

ESPN3

ESPN3 is usually included with a service that carries standard ESPN/ESPN2.

  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a standalone sports programming service. It is not the same thing as regular ESPN that you get with cable or one of the live streaming services. Some content from ESPN, ESPN2, or other ESPN networks may be available on ESPN+, but often, it's content that is only available on ESPN+.

  • ESPN+, $7/month.
  • Disney Bundle, $14/month.

Fox

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Fox Sports 1

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $70/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Longhorn Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $70/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.

NBC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

NFL Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $70/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.

Pac 12 Network

  • Sling Blue, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

Peacock TV

Peacock is a standalone streaming service that carries NBCUniversal programming, including much sports from NBC as well as exclusive sports programming. Peacock Premium is $5/month, but is included with Xfinity Internet plans.

SEC Network

  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.
  • Fubo TV Ultimate, $100/month.

Stadium, Mountain West

  • Website, free.
  • Stadium app, free.
  • Plex, free.
  • Roku Channel, free.
  • Sling Free, free.
  • STIRR, free.
  • Tubi, free.
  • Xumo, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Stadium app, free.

FloSports

  • FloSports app, $13/month.

Team1Sports

  • Team1Sports app, free

This list of networks covers all the games airing today. It also covers games next week through Friday, as the early games next week are all on one of these networks.

NOTE: Several networks are not needed this weekend.

To watch all the games, having an antenna won't really matter, as in order to get all the networks carrying games, the services also carry the OTA stations. So, how much to watch them all?

The services necessary will cost $98. That's $78 for Fubo TV Pro + Fubo Extra, along with $7 for ESPN+, and $13 for FloSports.

If you want college football in your Streaming Life, you have options, though it can get expensive depending just how many games you want to watch.

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