Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Watching everything, but cheaper

For some time I've been promoting the idea of hopping around with streaming services in order to save money.

Many "news" stories have taken the approach over the past couple of years saying that in order to watch everything you want, streaming is actually more expensive. And the data they give is quite compelling.

They list how much it costs each month to subscribe to the various services.

I recently ran down a list of 11 top subscription services:

  • Netflix ($15/month; $10, $15, or $20 depending on tier)
  • HBO Max ($15/month; there is a $10/month package)
  • Disney+ ($8/month)
  • Paramount+ ($10/month)
  • Discovery+ ($5/month)
  • Apple TV+ ($5/month)
  • Hulu ($7/month)
  • Prime Video ($9/month; $12/month package includes shipping benefits)
  • Peacock TV ($5/month; there is a free tier that has about half content, and a $10 ad-free tier)
  • AMC+ ($7/month)
  • Starz ($9/month)

That totals to about $95/month. But I watch those services for around $10-15/month. How? I don't subscribe to all services every month. This month, for instance, Starz is ending. I'll pick it back up later this year, or early next year, whenever it has something that's of interest to me or family members. I'm subscribing to AMC+ and will catch up on Better Call Saul, then drop it for a period of time. Netflix may follow, or HBO Max. Perhaps Disney+ will have something. Or maybe Hulu will have a bunch of episodes built up and I can binge them.

I'll figure something out, but I won't subscribe to them all. Or to more than one. (There is a caveat I'll go over in a little bit.) Maybe two cheap ones.

And I'm not the only one suggesting this method of doing things. Ryan Downey over at The Streaming Advisor suggests something similar.

The thing that’s great about streaming is that there are no contracts. Maybe you took a step back and realized that maybe you were not actually watching a lot of your services very much. But when you thought about what you enjoy you realized you wish you had been. Are there tons of shows you meant to watch on HBO Max that you never got around to? Have you been meaning to catch up on The Handmaids Tale? Pick a month get one major service at a time and jump in eyes wide open and fully embrace the content of one thing. When you wrap up the month do the same with something else. That way you really enjoy what is out there fully and spend $10.00 on one service instead of 45 on six. Any service with at least a couple of series you enjoy probably has 80 hours of entertainment whether it’s Paramount with all the Star Trek stuff, Netflix with the Comedy specials and original series, and so on. But a deep dive will give you an appreciation for what you are spending on.

He has a few other tips and suggestions, and they can save you some change -- or some big bucks -- if you modify your streaming habits just a bit. Yes, it's work. But you're getting paid for it with the money you save. It's a way I keep the costs down in my Streaming Life, and a way you can as well.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Return to cable? It is to laugh

You ever read something and then wonder for a moment if the person is serious, or just writing clever satire? If so, you understand what I went through recently.

I saw an article on Kim Komando's Website that offered suggestions on when it might be time for a cord cutter to return to cable.

Albert Khoury actually wrote the article, and he was serious about it. Now, perhaps you're wondering if you should return to cable. Well, let's look at what was written, and I'll give you my thoughts on this.

Your combined streaming services are more expensive than your old cable bill

If you're paying more for streaming than you are for cable, you might be doing something wrong. First, do you really need a live streaming service? Don't just say "of course" because you don't. Well, probably don't. I certainly don't. Rather than pay $70 for the ability to watch Hulu+Live TV tonight, I'll pay $7 and watch the show on Hulu tomorrow, at a time of my choosing.

And, when it comes to a bunch of streaming services, well, we've covered before that. You can subscribe to a single service per month. If your streaming bill is higher than cable, rethink how you're doing things. The Streaming Advisor has a good article on that.

You only watch shows on network TV or cable channels anyway

I watch some network TV. I have this thing called an antenna, and there's no monthly bill for it. Of course, not everyone can do that, but more can than realize it. But if you watch that content live, there are streaming services that carry most things.

While we're talking about it, remember that time the cable channels changed and you stopped getting that one channel? Sure you do. Yeah, that one. So, cable doesn't always have everything either. Unless you want to pay for an even bigger package. And you only watch it because you got used to it. I found out real quick that I could easily get used to something else, and you know what? I like it better.

You won’t be subjected to price hikes between contracts

Yes, the article actually mentioned price hikes. Because cable prices never go up. You always paid the same amount for cable all the time. Didn't you? No. Huh. Imagine that. It's like someone wanted to write a disingenuous article.

Some streaming services might come included with a cable subscription

Did they really write "stop streaming so you can stream?" And the example given was along the line of if you subscribe to HBO, you'll be able to stream it too. Sure, pay $200 for cable and get HBO Max included. Or don't pay for cable, and get HBO Max for $15.

Some sports are ONLY included in cable/satellite packages

Okay this is actually valid. But if you're in such a situation, you probably didn't cut the cord anyway. Or if you did, you found out quickly that your team has a TV package straight out of last century.

Regional sports are part of DirecTV Stream. And Bally Sports is launching a standalone streaming service this summer. So, yeah, this one doesn't hold water either.

I get it. Kim Kommando appears as a guest on a lot of cable channels. So, I suppose "America's Digital Goddess" is throwing them a bone. Or maybe she agrees with Albert Khoury. Either way, I'm not giving up my Streaming Life. Well, under one condition. But I don't think that Hell will freeze over any time soon.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Linux goes slowly

s a side effect of my building both a streaming device from a Raspberry Pi, as well as building a Plex server from a Raspberry Pi, I got reacquainted with Linux. I haven't done anything with Linux in years, but did tinker around a few years back.

I haven't progressed much on this, even though it's something I want to do. The reason is that I'm working a project at work that involves a Linux server, and that is totally unrelated to what I'm looking to do at home. In fact, working on the Linux server project at work is what helped me decide to proceed with a home project as well. However, as I'm playing catchup on Linux, I don't want to have my work goals and home goals to interfere with each other.

If I was researching an issue for work, and ran across something that I could apply at home but not at work, I don't want to take work time away from work. Yes, overall, I would increase my Linux knowledge, but I want to ensure that it's targeted where it needs to go.

What's actually holding me up is locating a full-time Linux laptop. I have a desktop I could use for that, and the KVM switch would make it easy to hop from Windows to Linux. I don't want to dual boot either my MacBook or my Surface, but rather, I want a standalone Linux desktop. And I have a computer set aside for that. I'm refurbishing an older retired MacBook Pro, but it needs some work. Replacing the keyboard, the hard drive (it's older, so an SSD will be in), and battery is slow going, mostly because I'm taking my time, trying to do one thing at a time. Plus, MacBooks are notorious for being difficult to work on. And it is. They keyboard is slow. My eyes aren't as good as they once were, and the inside of a MacBook Pro is for the young.

Still, the project is proceeding, and I'm trying to do it as cheaply as I can. The expense of an SSD is not what I want to do, but I want to keep the old drive intact in case the whole project is a bust. I'll at least have an older but working MacBook Pro running Mac OS, if I keep the old hard drive.

I did install Ubuntu Linux on an old Dell laptop, but the graphics on the device is really inferior, and the device is heavy. It was an older, cheaper Dell Inspiron 15, but it works. But I want the MacBook converted, as the superior trackpad will make using it a whole lot easier.

This doesn't really impact my Streaming Life, but my Streaming Life did lead me to this. So, I'll see where this journey takes me. As, as frustrations arise, at least I'll be able to take a steaming break and get my mind of the silliness. By watching different silliness.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Bally Sports still on target for June

I've been a Braves fan for years. The way I, and many other Braves fans my age, were able to follow the Braves was on radio. But the Braves ended up on TV with WTBS (later just TBS) and that eventually became the primary way I followed.

Over the last few years, though, it's been harder to follow the Braves on TV. Cutting the cord certainly put a crimp in it, and the Braves going from a single TV source (WTBS) to multiple (regional sports networks) made it more and more difficult.

With MLB TV being around for a couple of decades, you'd think it would be easy enough to watch them on a streaming device. You'd think wrong.

Blackout rules mean I cannot watch the Braves live. And unless I want to pay the big bucks for a streaming package with regional sports -- I don't -- then I'm not able to watch them streaming. At least, most of the time.

When they show up on Peacock, or one of the broadcast networks such as Fox, I'm able to watch the games. Otherwise, unless I subscribe to a large expensive streaming service, I'm out of luck. And like I said, I'm not going to pay that kind of money.

However, there is hope on the horizon. Bally Sports, who owns a bunch of regional networks, is launching its own service and app next month. And Bally is negotiating contracts with teams to begin streaming their games. The catch is, if you're in market, you can watch the games. For example, if they carried the Braves, since I'm in market -- the reason I can't use MLB TV to follow them -- I would be able to watch on Bally Sports.

Here's the catch. They have contracts with five teams so far, and none of those five are the Braves. But, for fans of the Tigers, Royals, Marlins, Rays, and Brewers, you're in luck. You'll be able to watch in-market games for those teams.

If you don't live in those markets, you won't be able to get those teams. But you could get MLB TV, so there is, and has been, a way for fans in that situation.

My situation won't be changing next month. No Braves. Yet. But, I'm holding out hope that the service launch is successful, and that they'll expand to cover my Braves. I'd like to finally get their games into my Streaming Life.