Thursday, September 30, 2021

Discovery+: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

Recently, I mentioned that I had cut back even more on my subscriptions, after checking to see what I actually used. I ended up keeping Amazon Prime, but not for the video streaming; rather, for the other benefits.

Oh, and since then, I did subscribe to a live streaming service for the purpose of watching football. That's expired, but I'll start another when this weekend's games kick off.

All the rest? I never watched them, so I dropped them. No use spending money for something I won't watch.

But then, I saw where Discovery+ is running a special. A year of service is $36. That works out to $3/month. For the content they offer, that is one heckuva deal. And I'm tempted. Really tempted.

My willpower is strong. I can resist anything. Well, anything except temptation. And I'm really thinking about that Discovery+ pricing. I may start watching that service just to say I got such a deal.

Seriously, I am thinking about it.

You should too. It's a great price, and Discovery+ content is pretty good content. I'm thinking seriously about returning it to my Streaming Life. You should too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Another look at Xfinity Flex

It's been a while since I got my Xfinity Flex device that I don't ever use. As I said a few months back, it's a good way for someone new to cord cutting to get their feet wet, but for an experienced cord cutter -- and I think I'm an experienced cord cutter -- it's not really useful. Except for the fact that it's free.

There's no app store, so you can't add apps. You get what they give you. If you go back far enough, you'll know that's how Apple TV used to work. With the 2nd generation Apple TV, they gave you a set of apps. You could hide them if you didn't want to see them, and you could rearrange them, but you couldn't add new ones or truly remove any. You got what you got.

Xfinity Flex is operating much like Apple TV did back in 2010. Actually, not even quite that well, since you could at least rearrange apps and hide what you didn't want to see. For example, I don't subscribe to Xfinity TV, so the Xfinity Stream app serves no purpose. Well, no purpose to me; for Xfinity, it's there to try to get me to subscribe to it. Which I won't.

But how well does it work? It works okay. I said that earlier, and I still think that. Xfinity has added a few apps to the device, including Hulu+Live TV, since I last talked about the device. They still don't have YouTube TV, though. They haven't pulled the app, they just never had it. So, the disagreement between NBCUniversal and Google has nothing to do with Google's service not being on the NBCUniversal (Comcast/Xfinity) device. It's never been there.

So, for live streaming services, you can get Sling TV and Hulu+Live TV. You can't get Philo, Vidgo, YouTube TV, Fubo, or DirecTV Stream. Since Sling TV is my go-to live streaming service for football -- most of the time -- it doesn't create an issue for me. But, if you want one of the other services, you're simply out of luck when it comes to the Xfinity Flex device.

Of course, if you're new to cord cutting, moving away from Comcast/Xfinity TV, you don't know much about those other streaming services,  so it doesn't really matter. If you are already familiar with streaming and have your own devices -- Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google/Android TV -- then you don't need and Xfinity Flex device anyway. Unless you want to get Peacock TV Premium for free. But that's another story for another day.

For now, just as before, Xfinity Flex remains in my Streaming Life, but only as a device in a box on a shelf.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Google vs NBCUniversal II

Things are heating up. Shots fired. Shots returned. Google vs NBCUniversal is getting interesting.

News came out recently that Google, who owns YouTube TV, and NBCUniversal, who owns a bunch of TV networks, are approaching end of contract, and they can't come to terms, at least just yet.

If NBCUniversal gets its way, Google will pay more for content on YouTube TV. If Google gets its way, things will remain pretty much the way it is. If neither gets their way, the channels will drop from YouTube TV. But now there's a twist.

Google announced on their YouTube TV blog that if NBCUniversal channels leave the platform, they'll drop the price $10:

... if we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform). You can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.

So, it looks like Google isn't giving in. It also looks like people like me bay be the winner. You see, I'm a Comcast/Xfinity Internet customer. I get Peacock TV included with my Internet service. So, if I decide to subscribe to YouTube TV -- I'm looking at a live streaming service for sports for the next month -- the new lower price of YouTube TV, if that happens, will mean I'll have to consider it.

Except for the Pac-12 Network, YouTube TV carries everything that would let me watch anything airing nationally. Only Fubo Elite, at $80/month, when added to ESPN+, gets me that. If YouTube TV drops to $55/month, that makes the choices threefold:

  • $87 for Fubo Elite and ESPN+, giving me all national channels that carry games.
  • $72 for Sling Orange+Blue with Sports Extra, along with ESPN+, giving me all the channels except CBS Sports Network.
  • $62 for YouTube TV and ESPN+, giving me all the channels except Pac-12 Network.

So it comes down to getting everything, or getting everything but one channel, with two options for which one channel is missing.

Pac-12 Network has three games this weekend, none involving ranked teams. CBS Sports Network has give games, two involving ranked team. So, if I were to choose to miss a network, this weekend, I'd pass on Pac-12 Network, which means the cheapest of the three under consideration. And that's YouTube TV.

But what about later weekends? I don't know. Week 6 has five CBS Sports Network games, but the Pac-12 games for that weekend haven't been determined. Even so, I haven't wanted to watch a game that was carried on Pac-12 this season so far. That could change, of course. I have wanted to watch a game that was on CBS Sports Network, but something in real life interfered and I wasn't able to anyway.

The safe play is Fubo Elite. But that's $80! That's $25 more than a discounted YouTube TV!

I'll probably just do the Sling Orange thing, then add the Sports Extra when there's a game there I want to watch, and add Blue when there's a game there I want to watch. Come kickoff, I'll make a decision about the next five weekends of my Streaming Life.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Google vs NBCUniversal

The big streaming dispute recently has been Roku vs Google regarding the YouTube TV app. The contract for Roku to carry the YouTube TV app ran out and negotiations failed to resolve it, at least so far.

Now, there's another dispute making the news regarding YouTube TV, but not with a streaming platform. Instead, NBCUniversal is threatening to pull its content from YouTube TV. I've not received an email about it -- I'm not currently using YouTube TV -- but Variety (and other news outlets) reported yesterday that NBCUniversal was letting customers know about the possible loss of channels:

NBCU is directing viewers to a newly launched website,, which says that if the companies don’t reach an agreement YouTube TV subscribers might lose NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo, the Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo and USA Network.

Note that I was unable to access the Website in my Google Chrome browser on my computer, but was able to in other browsers. Hmmm...

Will this happen? I have no idea. I wouldn't be surprised. This kind of thing happened with satellite services all the time. Now that streaming has caught on with many people, this simply is happening with streaming platforms.

Who's in the right? I don't know. Probably both. Actually, probably neither.

It doesn't really impact me because as I've said, I'm not using YouTube TV. And it might not impact anybody, because it hasn't happened yet. It's NBCUniversal doing some posturing. Nothing may come of it.

But, if it does happen, will I be impacted? No. I don't normally use a live streaming service except during football season. And, so far this season, I've used Sling TV. And, if I decide to use another service that carries more sports than Sling TV, I'll probably use Fubo, as I mentioned yesterday.

In the future, it may impact me. Not because I'll subscribe to YouTube TV, but if NBCUniversal wins because of this, they'll demand more money from other services that carry their content. And the monthly rates for those services will go up. My go-to service, Sling TV, carries many of those NBCUniversal channels as part of the Blue package. There are 16 channels in Blue that aren't in Orange, and 6 of them are NBCUniversal channels. Others are part of add-on packages.

I subscribe to the Orange package, when I do subscribe, but if the price of Blue goes up, I expect the price of Orange to match it. They may not throw the entire cost of the higher NBCUniversal rates into Blue, but split it up so that the packages remain the same price.

Either way, if NBCUniversal gets more money from YouTube TV, they'll get more money from other other services as well, or the services will lose the channels.

Sling TV isn't impacted as much, because Sling TV doesn't carry local NBC channels. Well, only in a very few markets; generally, they don't carry local channels. The other major services, except Philo, do. Philo doesn't carry the NBCUniversal channels anyway.

So, no immediate impact no matter how this goes. But, if it goes the way NBCUniversal wants, it will impact most of us eventually.

Real life encroaches on my Streaming Life once again.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Sling TV or another service?

Now that college football Week 4, the 5th weekend of football -- don't ask -- is behind us, my subscription to Sling TV is done. Since I want to watch some more football next weekend, I'll need a live streaming service to get  ESPN and the other channels I want.

One of the teams I follow has at least one game on ESPN+, so that $7/month figures into the mix. Another team will play on ESPN, so I need that, which will be at least $35/month. There's the chance I'll want ACC Network, which means another $11/month on top of the $35. 

Some of the teams I follow will appear on CBS. The antenna takes care of that. Some will appear on ABC or Fox broadcasts as well. And, of course, the antenna handles that. So, I'm good with ESPN,  ESPN sports add-ons, and ESPN+ to cover what the antenna doesn't. And that's pretty much it. I can subscribe to Sling TV Orange with Sports Extra for $46, ESPN+ for $7, meaning $53 gets me what the antenna doesn't, and I'm good to go. Except...

I do like college football, and I do follow certain teams. But, I also like to watch other games. For instance, if a team I'm hoping to lose is playing, and I find out they're losing a game, I may switch to that game just to enjoy seeing a hated rival go down. In case you didn't know, college football is like that. You cheer for some teams and against some teams. So, if a team I'm not a fan of is losing, I may want to watch it. And there's the problem.

I may want more than just the regular channels that I'll get with an antenna and Sling TV Orange. If I want Fox Sports 1 to watch a rival lose, I'll have to add Sling Blue to the package (another $15, plus another $4 for the Sports Extra, bringing it to $72. 

If I want Big Ten Network or Pac 12 Network, the Sling Orange+Blue with Sports Extra will do the job as well. So I can subscribe to Sling Orange with Sports Extra, and if necessary, upgrade during the month to Orange+Blue, right? Yes. Except...

If a game I'm after is being carried on CBS Sports Network, I'm out of luck. Sling TV doesn't carry CBS Sports Network. That's not the local CBS affiliate carrying a sporting event. That's an actual sports network called CBS Sports Network. It's the one I never think about because it rarely carries something I want to watch. But, it does sometimes. And I can't get it with Sling TV.

The package that will carry everything I'm after is Fubo ($65/month) along with ESPN+ ($7). Unless I want Pac 12 Network, in which case I'd have to get a larger Fubo package, adding another $15 to the cost.

So, my decision boils down to this:

  1. Subscribe to Sling TV Orange with Sports Extra ($46), along with ESPN+ ($7), for $53. If game of interest show up on other channels, simply add Sling Orange. The difference between the services is prorated, so it won't cost the full amount.
  2. Subscribe to Fubo TV Elite ($80) and ESPN+ ($7) and I'm good no matter what.

I have until a game I care about kicks off.

My Streaming Life shouldn't be so complicated. Part of it is my fault. Part of it is somebody else's fault, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 25, 2021


I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about an app that I don't think I've seen anyone write about. To me, it's one of the most interesting apps, not because of the content necessarily, but because of what the app is. Bear with me, all will become clear.

Comet is the app for the TV network that is carried in several cities. The nearest Comet affiliate to me is WTGS on the sub-channel 28.2. The main channel is the local Fox affiliate, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The Sinclair channels Antenna TV, TBD, and Charge also are carried by WTGS on 28.3, 28.4, and 28.5 respectively. It's possible, even probably, you have a local channel that carries Comet.

If you aren't familiar with Comet, it's a science fiction channel. Think SyFi (formerly Sci-Fi) but no new or original programming. It's like TV Land for sci-fi fans.

Comet stands apart form other non-major networks in that it offers a free live stream via their app. If you have a Roku or Apple TV, you can add the Comet app and watch the live stream of their programming. For free. No subscription. You want to watch Comet, just use the Comet app.

If you don't have Apple TV or Roku, you can launch the STIRR app -- STIRR is owned by Sinclair also -- and watch Comet that way. It's easier to watch via the Comet app.

I'd love for other networks to follow this lead. I would enjoy being able to watch MeTV, Antenna TV,  Laff, Grit, Ion, or any of the other minor networks as easy as launching an app.

Now, if you have an antenna (I do), you don't really need the app to watch Comet. You can simply tune you TV to the local station that carries Comet programming and watch. Or, launch Tablo, Air TV, or (for Fire TV users) Fire TV Recast and watch it that way.

If more networks would do as Comet does, my Streaming Life would be so much easier.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Watching ESPN

Over the years, I've subscribed to most of the major live streaming services at one time or another. Many times it was to just check it out and see what I thought. I usually didn't think much of them. But, other times, it was because they actually had something I wanted to watch. And that was always sports.

Specifically, I wanted ESPN and related networks for college football. The rest of the year, I didn't want a live streaming service, but being from the south, college football is a thing we like. College football isn't a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that.

So, right now, I'm subscribing to Sling TV because their Orange plan carries ESPN, SEC Network, and others that carry the teams I want to watch. I subscribed for one month, meaning that this weekend is the last weekend of football under this subscription. By the time the next weekend slate of games starts, I'll decide whether to subscribe to Sling TV again, or to switch to Fubo, which actually has a better sports channel lineup. Between this weekend's games and next weekend's games, I'll have a few days with no subscription and save a few dollars. After all, why pay for a service during a time I don't need it. I may be able to squeeze five weekends out of the next subscription, since 30 days covers that long. Look at a calendar, if you don't follow me. You'll see what I'm talking about.

When it's time for a game, I fire up Sling TV and watch the game, right? Not always. Let me explain.

In the early days, Sling TV had growing pains. Not the TV show with Kirk Cameron, but issues that came with a new service. Demand would sometimes overwhelm capacity.

For me, that wasn't that big of a problem. You see, I just wanted ESPN. And while my subscription was with Sling TV, I didn't have to launch Sling TV to watch it. I did try, but when things went sideways, I just launched the ESPN app and used Sling TV to authenticate. I've kept that habit.

When it's time for football on TV, I'll usually launch the ESPN app. Most of the games I'm looking for are available within that app anyway. And, it's easier to locate and launch ESPN3 games in the ESPN app than it is in the Sling TV app.

The only advantage Sling TV has is being able to switch from ESPN or SEC Network to CBS. I have Air TV for watching over the air local channels, so my local channels are in Sling TV as a result. I can switch from ESPN to CBS to Fox and so on without leaving the app.

So, it's a tradeoff. Easier to find ESPN3 games in the ESPN app. And, that's the only way to watch games carried on ESPN+ (which isn't the same thing as ESPN, the channel). But Sling TV has most of the ESPN networks games, plus the over the air games within that app.

What will I do this weekend? It depends on where the games are. If I can't find it easily in Sling TV, I'll move to ESPN app, then switch to Sling TV for Air TV content.

I know. Our Streaming Life shouldn't be this complicated. And, really it's not. I'm just making it that way.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Interesting bundle: Paramount+ and Showtime

I saw a story online recently talking about a new bundle from Paramount+ and Showtime. Since both are from related companies this makes sense. Paramount+ is owned by ViacomCBS while Showtime is owned by CBS which is owned by ViacomCBS. Or something.

Anyway, the bundle, similar to the Disney Bundle (Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+), packages the two services, Paramount+ and Showtime, together for a discounted price. And it's a pretty good deal, at least during the initial promotional pricing.

I'm not sure how long this promotional price will last, but right now, you can get the Paramount+ and Showtime bundle for as low as $10/month. They say $9.99, but you and I think of that at $10. The bundle is either $10/month or $13/month. The reason is that Paramount+ has two plans. One is $5/month and the other is $10/month. Both get you a library of Paramount content, but the $10 plan doesn't have commercials, plus a live stream of your CBS local affiliate. Live streaming won't cut out commercials, just the on-demand content. Showtime doesn't have commercials anyway, so there's not complication by having to pick between two versions of Showtime.

So, $10/month gets you the $5 Paramount+ service, plus the $11 Showtime service.

Or, $13/month gets you the $10 Paramount+ service, plus the $11 Showtime service.

Either is a good deal. Now, how long this promotional price will last isn't clear. But it is the price right now. If you've been thinking about subscribing to Paramount+, or if you already subscribe to Showtime, this is really attractive.

For example, if you subscribe to Showtime already, you're paying $11/month. You can add Paramount+ lower plan, and your bill goes down $1/month. Or, add the Paramount+ big plan, and the bill only goes up $2/month. Even if you're happy with Showtime as is, and have no interest in Paramount+, you can still save $1/month by adding Paramount+ and just not watch it.

With CBS streaming football, both college and NFL, if you want to add Paramount+, you can pick up Showtime to go along with it for another $3/month. Paramount+ is $10/month for the plan that includes local CBS live streaming, and the corresponding bundle throws in Showtime for another $3.

Something to think about. And, despite my determination to keep my streaming costs down, it's something I'm thinking about. My Streaming Life may be about to cost me more, but it just might be worth it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Plex server delay

I mentioned the other day that I was upgrading my Plex server. Well, it arrived. Sort of.

The new computer arrived, but the new large hard drive is still to be delivered. My current Plex server has a 10 TB drive, and I'm upgrading to 14 TB, since the current drive is nearly 80% full. No, I didn't have to upgrade just yet, but I will have to eventually, and a new computer is as good a time as any. So, when the new hard drive arrives, I'll complete the setup.

I did start the setup. Downloaded the Windows updates and got it ready to put the new drive in. I'll then transfer the content from the current drive to the new one. I have an adapter that will allow me to connect the old drive to the new computer. I can then simply copy all the files over. When that's done, I'll install Plex server software, and retire the old device.

Or, thinking about it, maybe I'll just access the old drive via the network, and copy it over the network to the new drive.

When the new drive arrives, I'll decide. Either way, this will be a completely clean install, and I'll have a lot of free space -- nearly 6 TB free -- on the new drive.

I've been happy with my old Windows computer running Plex. I think I'm going to like the new one even better. Once everything arrives.

Will this improve my Streaming Life? Probably not. Or not at first. But as I increase my local content library, this will indeed be an improvement.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

New Roku? Hmmm.

I recently speculated about new Roku devices being announced soon, and I doubted I would be interested in one.

Well, now it's official. New Roku devices are out. And they're all sticks.

Okay, not all of them. But two are sticks, and the other is an update to the Walmart exclusive Ultra LT.

Looking at the sticks, they've started adding "4K" to the names of the devices. One is the Streaming Stick 4K and the other is the Streaming Stick 4K+.

The specs look good, as you would expect. But my current sticks work just fine. I wouldn't really gain anything by replacing any of them. So, for me, I won't be upgrading. However, if I do need to replace a device, or add a stick to a TV, I'd definitely get one of these. It's worth getting, it's just not worth getting simply to get.

The Roku Ultra LT? It's been a scaled down Roku Ultra ever since this Walmart exclusive was launched. It's a good device, and I would consider it worth the cost. However, Roku does put the full Ultra model on sale enough that I'll buy it when it's on sale if I need a new Roku device. Well, unless I buy a stick. I kind of let what's on sale drive it.

The Best Buy exclusive Roku Steaming Stick+ Headphone Edition? I'm not seeing a replacement for it, unless you consider the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ as that, since the remote comes with headphones for this new model.

I don't know if Best Buy will continue to carry the Streaming Stick+ but I've seen nothing to indicate it would be discontinued. This is a wait and see thing.

Will other devices be released? No idea. Maybe. But probably not until next year.

I don't think I'll be buying a new one of these, as although I see value in them, I don't see enough value to justify the expense. My Streaming Life is fine as it is.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Don't use Roku Pay

I've posted about this before, but I really do not like Roku Pay.

I'm a fan of Roku devices. Huge fan. But their Roku Pay setup is awful.

Here's the idea: You can use your device to subscribe to content -- such as HBO Max or other services -- without having to go to an external Website on your computer or mobile device and set up an account. It's a convenience. And, if it worked well, that would be wonderful. But here's the thing: it doesn't work well.

Sure, it works for most people that use it. And, sure, it works well for most people that use it. But when it doesn't work, it really causes problems.

As a way of being helpful -- 

-- Roku won't let you remove an app if you have a Roku Pay subscription. Why would you want to remove an app if you have a subscription? Well, sometimes, apps mess up. And sometimes, the way to fix it is to remove the app, reboot the Roku, then reinstall the app.

What do you do if you have a Roku Pay subscription and you have a problem with the app? You have to cancel the subscription, then remove the app, reboot the device, then reinstall the app. What about your subscription? Still canceled. You can use it until the end of the subscription, but it'll stop then. Unless you re-subscribe.

So, yeah, there are workarounds, but it just seems to me to be extra complications. And I don't mean to be mean, but lots of Roku users can't handle complications. Heck, lots of people can't handle complications. I'm not going to go off on some rant about society -- I could, but I won't -- so I'll leave it as I'm seeing this as more complicated than it needs to be.

Perhaps if Roku worked out some kinks and bugs -- and more likely, logic holes that the the tech guys or business designers didn't think about because they don't really use the devices like an average user -- then Roku Pay would be okay. But, as it is, it's not.

If you want to subscribe to a service, I'm going to recommend you subscribe to the service directly. Don't use Roku Pay.

Same thing with subscribing through Amazon. I don't know of a large number of issues with Amazon, but if you use a platform to purchase, you're limiting yourself to that platform.

That means if you subscribe to, say, HBO Max through Roku, you can only use it on Roku, and only on your Roku account. No setting it up when you're visiting the kids or parents -- they need their own subscription anyway, so I'm not too bothered by this -- and no using the subscription on your phone, tablet, computer, or other streaming device that's a different platform. If you have Roku in one room and Fire TV in another, you can't use it on the other platform.

Roku Pay is a good idea poorly executed. I don't use it. It's not worth complicating my Streaming Life. I suggest you not use it either.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Roku and data caps

I'm a Comcast/Xfinity Internet customer, and have had to deal with data caps for years. Comcast had a 1 TB limit for a while. Several months ago, they upped the limit to 1.2 TB, making things a little better.

Now, I've not exceeded my limit but one time, and that was not due to streaming. Well, not really. I had accidentally configured iTunes to download all my movies and didn't realize it, and this happened before I went out of town. So, it sat and downloaded a shipload of movies for a few days, and that put me over my 1 TB (at the time) data cap. But for actual streaming, I've never exceeded the data cap.

I have always ensured that I never turn off the TV with my Roku device streaming. It could continue to stream. Many people don't realize that, and some have a hard time understanding that. If you don't get it, keep this in mind. The TV is simply a viewer and listener for a Roku box. The Roku device is a separate device, and turning one off doesn't impact the other.

Think about connecting a DVD player to your TV. Play a DVD. Then turn off the TV. The DVD keeps playing, right? You just can't see or hear it, but the player keeps playing the DVD. It doesn't pause it. Turn the TV back on, and the DVD is not where you last saw it, because it kept playing. Same thing with a Roku device.

So, I always hit the Home button on my Roku when I was done watching it. And, when Roku introduced the Bandwidth Saver feature, I made sure it was enabled.

Go to Settings > Network > Bandwidth saver > On

That way, if there is no interaction from the remote for four hours, the Roku will put up a message at the bottom of the screen. You can dismiss it, or let it count down and end the stream, returning to the home screen.

There's one other thing you can do to help with data caps. Well, two things, actually. Many services, including some Roku apps, have settings for limiting the bandwidth. It's usually under Settings in the app --- when it's in the app -- and you can sometimes tell it how much bandwidth to use.

Some services also have settings you can access in your Web browser that let you limit bandwidth usage. Some that have profiles, have separate settings for each profile.

The other, which is related in a way, is to use the Roku itself to limit bandwidth usage. There is a "Secret Screen" that lets you set that. Roku doesn't officially support it, so use at your own risk. I'm letting you know about this, but if you choose to use this feature, and it screws something up, it's your fault. Got it? Good.

To access the Bit Rate Override screen, press HOME five times, REWIND three times, and FAST FORWARD two times.

From there, the Manual Selection will let you pick from a list of bandwidth limitations, from 12 Mbps down to 0.3 Mbps.

One other thing to know, apart from you do this at your own risk, is that not all apps will recognize and honor these settings. Some apps automatically use whatever bandwidth gets the stream started, then move up or down (usually up) to provide the best quality it can, ignoring the Roku device settings. For those, you have to go to the service or app to change the settings, as described earlier.

Oh, and one more thing you can try. You can adjust your Roku display settings. Settings > Display type 

From there, pick 1080p TV is your device is a 4K/UHD device and TV. Or, 720p, if you really want to cut back.

Or, do all of the above. That way, you'll have a greater chance of ensuring you don't go over your data caps.

I don't use the Bit Rate Override settings, because my streaming has never been such that I needed it. I have tried it, and it worked for some apps, and not for some apps. I don't use any of these tips, because my streaming habits and data caps haven't caused a problem. But, if they do, I know what to do.

If your data caps worry you, try these things to help limit your Roku data usage, and stay under your limits. You want to enjoy streaming, but you don't want to spend money you don't need to. You want the best bargain you can to make your Streaming Life enjoyable and affordable.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Upgrading Plex server

A few years ago, I moved my local video streaming from iTunes to Plex. iTunes worked well enough. It allowed me to add MP4 files, including those I ripped from DVD, to the library. The problem was it only worked with Apple TV, and I wanted a solution that worked with all my devices. So, I moved my MP4s to Plex, then ripped my iTunes downloads and moved them to Plex. I've not regretted my decision.

However, the computer I used to run iTunes and then Plex is an older Windows device. It's actually a powerful device, but has some age on it. It's nearly eight years old and is beginning to show its age. It has an Intel Core i7 fourth generation processor. I added a second hard drive, and upgraded a couple of times, now with a 10 TB drive. But, I'm ready to upgrade. So, I ordered a new device.

I ordered another Dell, but instead of an Inspiron, I got an XPS, which is a little bit of a step up. I got an i7 processor, but it's an 11th generation processor, so I'm expecting some good things from it.

What will I do with the old computer? I don't know. Maybe I'll set up Plex at one of the other places I manage. Or not. I'll figure it out.

I'm excited about the new computer. New toys are always fun. Will it make my Streaming Life easier? Maybe. Maybe not. But I'll be happy, and isn't that important too?

Friday, September 17, 2021

Hockey Streaming for 2021-2022

If all goes as planned, this will be the first time in the past three seasons that the National Hockey League will play a full schedule. Last season, the NHL scheduled a shorter season of 56 games for the 31 teams in the league. The previous year, the season was stopped after around 70 games were played (some played more, some played less) due to the pandemic. The playoffs were held without fans well after the season was normally over.

This year, the NHL is trying to get back to normal. An 82 game season is scheduled for the 32 teams -- the Seattle Kraken start play this year -- and the league has changed broadcasters. For the last ten years, NBC carried NHL games. Streamers were able to watch the playoffs on Peacock TV. But not this season.

Disney/ESPN and Turner Sports will carry NHL games starting this year as part of a seven-year agreement. ESPN+ will carry several games, as will Hulu. TNT and TBS will also carry games. The networks will alternate Stanley Cup finals, with the Disney side carrying this season, and the Turner side carrying next season's finals, and so on.

This year, that's good news for hockey fans, as streamers have more access to the Disney sports channels that are carrying NHL games. ESPN+ and Hulu are both available as standalone packages, meaning for as low as $7/month, you can watch several NHL games, plus the playoffs. Turner channels, TNT and TBS, don't currently offer standalone packages. Right now, the cheapest streaming package that includes TNT and TBS is Sling TV at $35/month. YouTube TV and Hulu+Live TV are $65/month, and DirecTV Stream is $70/month.

If you really want all of it, your best bet may be Sling TV Blue ($35) and ESPN+ ($7) for $42/month, as it would get you the NHL games on the Disney sports channels, as well as the games on Turner Sports channels.

Perhaps Turner networks will be available to sports fans for a better price in the future. Whether a standalone Turner Sports app -- I like that idea -- or a package that includes TNT and TBS programming, something with streamers in mind would be good. In the meantime, there are at least ways of including NHL games in your Streaming Life.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

I don't pay for Prime Video

I get Amazon Prime Video service, but I don't pay for Amazon Prime Video service.

No, I don't get it free. I do pay for Amazon Prime. But, I don't pay for Amazon Prime to get Prime Video.

I've been an Amazon Prime member (that's what they call it, right?) for years. In fact, since before Prime Video existed. Back then, it was for shipping benefits. We discussed it and said we'd try it for a year and see if it was worth it. It was. So, we kept the Amazon Prime membership

Later, Amazon added the video service known as Prime Video. That was a bonus, as far as we were concerned. And, quite frankly, it still is.

I don't watch a lot of Prime Video. The primary reason is the interface is all jumbled up. There's little organization or order to it. It's like when you go to Walmart and see that big bin of DVDs with some really good stuff and some really bad stuff, but it's all mixed up and you have to look through everything to find anything? Prime Video is like that.

I've watched some of the originals on Prime Video. The Expanse and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel are a couple. And maybe I'll watch more. But it's so messy that I don't like using the interface.

So, I don't use Prime Video a lot, but there is some good stuff there. It's just a mess and I don't feel like dealing with it.

I don't subscribe to Prime Video. I do subscribe to Amazon Prime, and will continue to. I just with the Prime Video interface wasn't such a mess. I'd love to include it in my Streaming Life to a much greater degree.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Changing TV habits

I don't watch TV like I used to. And, yes, as a cord cutter, I'm aware that statement can have many meanings. So, which do I mean? All of them.

Having dropped cable in early 2011, and streaming most everything since them -- watching over the air antenna channels isn't really streaming -- I certainly don't watch TV like I used to. I watch it a totally different way.

But, the other meaning applies, too. I don't watch as many TV shows as I used to. I'm not sure if that's because my personal tastes in TV have changed, or if the stuff they're putting on TV these days just doesn't appeal to me.

I do watch some current shows. I'm awaiting the return of The Orville and Better Call Saul, for instance. And maybe some other shows, but those two are the first to come to mind. I'm hoping Doctor Who gets good again, but I'm starting to lose hope about that. And there are a few other shows I watch. So, I do watch current shows, but I still don't watch as many as I used to.

I still use my Roku regularly though. I find that I watch a lot of YouTube videos. Bad movie reviews -- Dark Corners, Cinematic Excrement, etc. -- are a favorite. There are a lot of other things too, such as science videos, history videos -- I love The History Guy -- and more.

The commercials on YouTube are getting more and more annoying. And, that's someone who normally doesn't mind about commercials saying this. But still, I've enjoyed watching YouTube.

So, I don't watch TV like I used to. But I watch TV like I want to. That's what streaming does for me. I didn't cut the cord for this reason, but rather to save money. I'm saving money, but my viewing habits are changing, and they're changing to suit me. My Streaming Life is good.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sports frustration

In the 10+ years that I've been streaming as my primary method of watching TV, there have been little frustrations along the way. The biggest frustration for me has been accessing sports.

Now, I know, for college football it's not that difficult to watch a game. But, if I want the ability to watch every game that's available, I have to pony up a bit of money each month. I looked it things regarding watching last week's games, and the total to get access was at least $87/month. That seems like a lot.

You see, I don't want access to a bunch of live streaming channels. Hulu is $6/month and gets me the regular TV shows I want. No, not live, but I don't care. A few hours later, just like as if I recorded it with a DVR, gets me what I want. I don't need the channels from a $25/month Philo package, which does not include sports. For me, the content from the free TV services -- Pluto TV, IMDB TV, The Roku Channel, Stirr, Crackle, Tubi, Xumo, among others -- get me what I want. Maybe not the same channels, but the same kind of content. Throw in my over the air antenna, and I can watch what I want.

Except for sports, and that generally means college football.

ESPN does not have a standalone sports service. No, ESPN+ doesn't count, because it's a supplement to ESPN, not a replacement for the service. Standard ESPN content is not included with an ESPN+ subscription.

Then there is CBS Sports Network, and the other conference networks, to deal with, and the cheapest way to get them are through a large live streaming service.

You remember the days when you had cable? Of today, if you still have cable? You have a lot of channels, and you only watch a few. That's me with streaming. If I pay for a live streaming service to get a handful of sports channels, I'm doing the same thing. I don't want or need the rest of those channels, because the free ad-supported or over the air content gets me what I want.

I do so wish there was a way of getting just the sports services I want. The closest is Fubo, which is a live streaming service. I may end up switching from Sling TV to Fubo because of this. But if the sports channels were available standalone, that would make my Streaming Life so much easier.

Monday, September 13, 2021

To get a new streaming device, or not?

Recently, Amazon announced the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max. That's supposed to be an upgrade to the high end stick.

Also recently, there was speculation that Roku was about to release new devices. There has been no official announcement, but the September/October time frame is when Roku normally releases upgraded devices.

I'm waiting to see about Roku, and not relying on speculation when it comes to getting a new Roku device. My gut tells me I won't, but I'm waiting to see what actually happens.

What about the new Amazon device? If I need to get a new Amazon device, I expect I'll get one of those. But just to get one? No. Just like Roku, I need to see a compelling reason to get one.

That doesn't mean I won't get one. I might. I always like to have the latest and greatest device, but I won't just to say I have one. There needs to be something about the device that grabs my attention.

Right now, I'm happy with the devices I have. My current Roku device works great. The Fire TV Stick 4K (not the brand new one, but the one that was the latest before the "Max" version) is good. The Chromecast with Google TV is good. The Apple TV is good. The others? TiVo Stream, Onn Stick and Box, and whatever else I have? They're in the box. And they'll stay there.

I'll keep those top devices ready for use. But I am excited about new devices that are coming out -- yes, only the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is official, and the Roku is just speculation -- so I may be upgrading. I'll make a decision like that ... later. My Streaming Life is good right now, and I'm not looking to make any changes. But I might.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Cutting back even more

The primary reason I cut the cord back in 2011 was to save money. As the years have gone by, there are now more and more options for watching streaming content. And while there are a lot of free options, there are a lot of subscription services that have come along.

I've tried many over the years. The first was Hulu Plus, now simply known as Hulu. I have been an Amazon Prime subscriber for years, before they offered Prime Video, so when that came along, I already had it. Then, Sling TV came along. Then more and more services.

Free trials for extended periods of time for Apple TV+, Disney+, and more added to the list of services. You may have experienced the same thing. You look around one day, and you have more subscriptions than you realized.

So, I recently cut back, mostly because I wasn't watching the content. Oh, and one for a reason I talked about recently.

I've canceled Hulu, since none of the shows I watch are on right now. I'll subscribe later when the shows return.

I've canceled Apple TV+. I had an extended free trial, but that's over now, and there's not enough to keep my attention. I don't watch it, though I did enjoy some shows. I'll probably subscribe later, binge, and then cancel again.

I canceled Netflix years ago. I subscribed again to watch new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, but canceled when I was done. Which was one of the first apps/services where I canceled, and resubscribed temporarily to watch something specific.

I recently dropped Frndly.Tv. I haven't been watching it lately, so I dropped it. It is the one live streaming service I've kept, but if I'm not watching it, I'm wasting money.

I have used Paramount+ during football season in the past. It was known as CBS All Access back then. I subscribed recently to watch some shows, but I finished and canceled. I have an antenna with DVR, so watching college football doesn't require CBS through Paramount+.

I kept Peacock TV, even though I rarely watch it. It's free, since I'm an Xfinity Internet user, but if I wasn't, I would have canceled.

And I canceled Sling TV. Yes, I just recently subscribed, in order to watch college football. But, I'm not sure I picked the right service, as I said the other day. When the subscription ends, I'll decide what service to use for the following 30 days.

The only subscription I currently have are Amazon Prime, which included Prime Video. All the rest have been canceled, with one continuing until the end of the current subscription. I'll probably keep Amazon Prime, for the Prime benefits. The Prime Video library is simply something that is included.

Oh, and I do have PBS Passport. I support PBS, and that allows me to have PBS Passport. I'm keeping that, as I will continue to support PBS.

You may want to consider if you're really using all the apps and services to which you're subscribed. If not, you may want to do as I did and cancel any you aren't really using. You can always resubscribe when enough content you want is available on the app/service, then cancel when you're done.

It's a way to save money, and knowing that helps my enjoy my Streaming Life even more.

Friday, September 10, 2021

NFL season

A few weeks ago, I wrote about watching NFL games this season. But, some stuff has changed. Not much, but one change that impacts about half the country.

Locast shut down. That was a way that many users -- around half the U.S. -- could watch local channels via a streaming device. That's no longer possible. So, what to do?

Let's start by reviewing the ways the games are available.

  • CBS carries AFC games on Sunday afternoon.
  • Fox carries NFC games on Sunday afternoon.
  • NBC carries games on Sunday night.
  • ESPN carries Monday Night games.
  • NFL Network carries some Thursday night games.

There are other services that carry games, but those are generally limited to mobile devices, not standard streaming devices.

CBS, Fox, and NBC are available from local network affiliates. With Locast gone, you have two options:

  1. A TV antenna, which would be the cheapest way over the long run.
  2. A live streaming service that include local channels. Those are
    • Hulu+Live TV
    • YouTube TV
    • Fubo TV
    • DirecTV Stream

CBS is also available as part of Paramount+.

NBC games are available on Peacock TV Premium. That's $5/month, free for Xfinity Internet subscribers.

ESPN requires a live streaming service. That means:

  • Sling TV Orange
  • Hulu+Live TV
  • YouTube TV
  • Fubo TV
  • DirecTV Stream

Note that Sling TV doesn't include live local TV, but the others do. An antenna makes Sling TV more feasible.

So, are you ready for some football? Oh, yeah, college football is already underway.

Are you ready for some pro football? Oh, right. CFL is well underway.

Are you ready for some NFL football? If so, well, the season started last night. Get ready to include that in your Streaming Life, if the NFL is your thing.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sometimes it's okay to keep cable

Yes, I'm a proponent of cutting the cord. Make no mistake about that. But, the reality is that sometimes it may be okay to keep cable.

Can you keep cable and still be a cord cutter? Yes. And no.

If you have cable TV service, you really aren't a cord cutter, are you? No, you're not. But, what if you think about it like going to the barber, or hair salon. Sometimes you get a trim, right? Well, if you cut back on your cable TV package, that's like a trim.

So, no, cutting back on cable TV service isn't cutting the cord, but it is trimming it, which may be what you need to do. Let me give you an example.

I manage more than household when it comes to Internet, TV, and the like. And one in particular is located where it's nearly impossible to put up a TV antenna. This house is located far from the major TV affiliates, so an indoor antenna won't work. So, what are the options in that case?

Well, there's do without local channels. I didn't like that option at this one location.

There's subscribe to a live streaming service. Right now, that means a $65/month service. When I first set up that location for streaming, it was less, but still more than I wanted. I wanted local channels year-round, and certain other channels during certain times of the year (ESPN during the fall). This was a solution, but an expensive one.

Then there's that other option: keeping cable, sort of. This is the one I chose.

The TV provider was Comcast/Xfinity, and I had to ask about a local channels only package. They didn't advertise one, so I had to hunt for it. And, I found it.

The local channels package was pretty cheap, at around $10/month. It was actually more, but having it and Internet service meant qualifying for a two service discount. Figured in, it worked out to $10/month. But, of course, there was a catch. Fees. All kind of silly little fees.

There was a broadcast fee that goes to the local stations, or so it indicated. And, I don't recall all the details, but there were other fees. So, it worked out to more than $10/month, but still less than a live streaming service.

So, if you are in a situation where an antenna isn't feasible, if your ISP is also the local cable company, you may find that getting a locals only TV package will get you what you need, and cheaper than a live streaming service.

It's not ideal, but sometimes a compromise like that is the best option in your Streaming Life.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Hulu price increase

Last night, I got a surprise. I saw that Hulu was increasing their price. "Hmm," I said. Not out loud. And if I had, no one would have heard it. I was by myself when I saw the notice.

I had logged in to Hulu, because I've notice I've not watched Hulu for a bit. Nothing new has aired that I really felt like watching. So, I wondered if I should pause my Hulu subscription and resume it when a show I want starts up again. And when I logged in, I saw the notice.

Am I upset about it? No. I wish the price wasn't going up, but I've been with Hulu for a long time, and I remember when it was more. It actually went down in price a couple of years back, or so. That surprised and delighted me when it happened. And while I'm not all that happy with a new price increase, it's okay, and Hulu is still a good deal.

So, yeah, I'm okay with it. Like I said, I've been a Hulu subscriber for year, and will likely be one for years to come, assuming I don't get hit by a bus or something. Hulu is a great deal, in my mind, and even with the price increase, it'll still be a great deal.

Hulu has been a part of my Streaming Life for years, and will continue to be for years to come.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Did I pick the wrong live streaming service?

Now that football season is underway, I subscribed to Sling TV with the Sports Extra. But now I'm wondering if I did the right thing.

I watched a lot of football this weekend. And, like my calculations showed, Sling TV Orange with Sports Extra, along with ESPN+, got me all the content I wanted to watch. That is to say, everything I tried to watch, I was successful.

Well, not exactly. I accidentally clicked on the wrong game in the ESPN app once when switching between games. One gave me an error, stating I wasn't authorized to watch it. I don't recall which game it was, but it wasn't one I cared to watch, as my clicking on it was an error. So, it's true that everything I wanted to watch, I was able to watch. But will that always be the case? Maybe not.

During my research into a post I wrote about watching the games this past weekend, I concluded that to watch everything, Fubo Elite ($80/month) and ESPN+ ($7/month) would allow someone to watch any nationally broadcast game.

Why didn't I go with that package? Well, looking over the games I thought I'd like to watch, Sling Orange with Sports Extra ($46) and ESPN+ ($7) got me what I wanted for $53. And $53 is less than $87.

So, why am I second-guessing myself? The easy answer is, that's what I do. I always check, double check, then after the fact, check again. This is that part of the process. I'm checking again.

For this past weekend, Sling Orange with Sports Extra and ESPN+ got me every game I tried to watch. But will that be the case for next weekend? I don't know.

I've looked at the schedule for next weekend, and a couple of games that I'm interested in, enough to watch at least part of the game, don't show a network, meaning it either isn't available streaming, or the network hasn't been finalized.

I'm hoping it's the latter, and when it's finalized, I'll be able to watch with the services I've chosen. If not, well, I'll either do without those games this weekend, or I'll subscribe to a different service. Yes, that would mean paying for two services for a period of time. And I don't like the thought of that.

My Streaming Life is complicated, and it's of my own doing.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Local news via streaming

Cutting off cable service meant -- and still means -- losing local channels. And that means no local news. Unless...

If you have a TV antenna, you can watch TV that way. Just hook it up to your TV and watch. It's that simple.

Now, if you have multiple TVs, and want to watch local channels via antenna on more than just one TV, then you have a couple of options. One is to run antenna leads to the TVs you want. Another is to use a networking device that has a TV tuner, such as (for all major platforms) Tablo, Air TV, or (for Fire TV only) Fire TV Recast. Then, you just use your Roku, Apple TV, Google/Android TV, or Fire TV to watch local channels from your antenna.

If a TV antenna isn't possible, or isn't feasible, then you'll want to find a streaming solution. One is a live streaming service such as Hulu+Live TV ($65/month), YouTube TV ($65/month), Fubo ($65), and DirecTV Stream ($70/month), which carry all four major network stations,:ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Vidgo ($55/month) carries local ABC, and Paramount+ ($10/month) carries local CBS.

All of those services get you more than just local TV, so you may find one a better selection than another.

For CBS, you do have the $10/month plan from Paramount+, which skips commercials from on-demand content, as well as getting you a live feed of your local CBS station.

For ABC, Fox, and NBC, you have to subscribe to a more expensive live streaming service. ABC can be viewed with Vidgo ($55/month), while ABC, Fox, and NBC can be viewed with Hulu+Live TV ($65), YouTube TV ($65), Fubo ($65), and DirecTV Stream ($70).

If it's just local news you want, there are some free options that might work for you.

NewsON carries clips from local news stations. It will try to automatically detect your location and present you with options from where it thinks you are. It will let you edit that, so if it gets it wrong, you'll still be okay.

Haystack News is another option for local news clips. I found that it didn't have as many local options for me as NewsON, but it still offered local content. The app also has many news categories apart from local news, if you are interested in that.

Local Now is more focused on local weather, but does have some local news mixed in. Local Now also has some on-demand ad-supported movies and TV, giving it a distinct difference from the other apps mentioned.

And, finally, you may find that your local news station has an app. Search your device for the specific local station, or look at the local station's Website and see if an app is listed there.

If you've been missing local news and weather from your Streaming Life, you have options. Perhaps one will fill the bill for you.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

New Roku? So what?

There has been speculation that Roku is about to introduce new devices to their lineup. Roku has most of their streaming players on sale -- all except the Roku Express and the Streambar Pro -- and it's September.

Roku has traditionally released new devices in September or October. In fact, except for 2014, they've release at least one new device in September or October of each year beginning in 2012. So, with almost their entire lineup on sale from $10 to $30 off, speculation is that new devices will be released.

Do I care? Well, not really. Not yet anyway.

Lately, Roku has updated devices with newer processors and more memory and storage, but nothing has been a big enough of an update to warrant my upgrading my devices.

In the past, I would upgrade, because there was often a noticeable improvement in performance or features. The first time I skipped an upgrade was in 2015, when the Roku 4 was released. I saw early reports of issues with the device, and decided to wait on that one. The issues continued to be reported, and I never got one of those. 

Oh, and while there was no September/October 2014 update, there was a new Stick released in March 2014. I got one of those. I wasn't impressed. That disappointment with the responsiveness of the model 3500 Stick may be part of the reason I waited on the Roku 4. The reviews were the reason I didn't just wait, but never bought one.

But, about this year. I can't speak as to what may be coming down the pike. I don't know. If I was participating in a hardware beta release program, I'd know, but I'd keep my mouth shut. In fact, I wouldn't even be writing this post. Which tell you that I have no knowledge about upcoming devices. I'm as in the dark as anyone.

So, what do I think will happen? I expect all of the items on sale will be impacted. They'll either be dropped entirely or upgraded. That's a shocker, right? In other words, the same thing that happens every year.

Even though I'm a huge fan of Roku, I'm not going to automatically run out and get a new device just because there is a new device. But, I am expecting new devices to be released, and I will be looking at the reviews of them, deciding if I want to replace any of my current lineup.

If I find something intriguing about a new device, then sure, I'll get one. But if not, I'll stick with what I have. After all, my current lineup of devices supports my Streaming Life just fine.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Ad-supported TV

I'm a fan of free TV. Whether that means over the air (OTA) channels you watch via an antenna, or streaming services such as Pluto TV or others, I like the fact that I can watch TV without paying a monthly fee to a cable or satellite service.

This is how I used to watch TV when I was younger. It was how everyone watched TV back then. When I was young, there was no cable TV service, at least, not in my area. There was cable in the U.S. as far back as the late 1940s, but cable didn't really catch on big until the 1970s. That's how Ted Turner made his fame, when he made his Atlanta TV station WTCG (later, WTBS) and his baseball team (the Atlanta Braves) available to cable systems across the country.

Cable became a big deal, and many people switched to cable because of the extra programming available that wasn't available from the local stations via antenna. Of course, you went from watching free TV with commercials to paying for TV and still getting commercials.

I won't go into all the history of cable and changes in TV over the years, but as more and more people are cutting free of cable and satellite services, many are putting antennae up to watch local stations. It only took 50+ years, but some of us are back where we were five decades ago. We're getting TV for free, and still getting commercials.

Streaming services such as Pluto TV (along with many others) offer live streaming television that includes ads. Just like with an antenna.

Many services, including Vudu, Crackle, Plex, IMDB TV, The Roku Channel, and many many more offer on-demand movies and TV with ads.

This is a good thing. Some people hate commercials, and I get that. I have a super power. I can ignore stuff I don't like. But you know what? Some commercials are actually helpful. I may find something advertised that I actually care about. And, if it's something I don't care about, I'm cable of ignoring it. Comes from being an adult.

Watching commercials doesn't bother me. Watching TV for free is something I like. Sure, if I have to pay for a service to watch something specific, I'll do that if I want to watch it bad enough. But most stuff I want to watch, I can find, or find something comparable, on a free TV service. That's why these free TV services are, and will continue to be, part of my Streaming Life.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Locast ruling

I'm not in an area served by Locast. Well, actually, nobody is anymore. But Locast was offering service to around 55% of the people in the United States. The service ran in 35 markets, including the 22 largest in the U.S. But that was before a court ruling earlier this week that effectively shut the system down.

So, I'm not impacted, but maybe you are. And, if you are, what do you do to get local channels? Well, you gotta do the same thing the rest of us do.

I use an antenna. Now, since I'm some distance from the major four network affiliates, I had to spend more than most on a large antenna, and have a decent antenna pole, but not a tower. I may add a tower later, but for now, I'm good. It works.

But what if you're in a situation where an antenna isn't feasible for you? If you're waning live local channels, you gotta subscribe to a service that carries it.

For CBS, you do have the $10/month plan from Paramount+, which skips commercials from on-demand content, as well as getting you a live feed of your local CBS station.

For ABC, Fox, and NBC, you have to subscribe to a more expensive live streaming service. ABC can be viewed with Vidgo ($55/month), while ABC, Fox, and NBC can be viewed with Hulu+Live TV ($65), YouTube TV ($65), Fubo ($65), and DirecTV Stream ($70).

If you're looking for content from the networks but don't need to watch live, then Hulu carries many of the TV episodes from ABC, Fox, and NBC within hours of the live broadcast. CBS shows, as mentioned, can be viewed with Paramount+.

If you go the antenna route, as I did, you can add local channels to all your streaming devices with Tablo or Air TV, as they work with all the major streaming platforms: Roku, Google/Android TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV. You can also use Fire TV Recast if you have Fire TV devices.

The shutdown of Locast doesn't impact me. I was hoping they were staying within the law with their actions, but if the judge's ruling is correct, they weren't. That's a shame. I would like to see a quality legal means of watching live local TV via streaming devices, without having to put up an antenna. Until that day comes, we'll have to make the best of thing with the current options for including local TV in our Streaming Life.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Watching college football, 2nd weekend

I've posted a couple of times recently about watching college football, including my choice for a streaming service to get me the services I want, plus what I'd need to do if I wanted to watch all of the games from last weekend's opening of the season.

As you may know, there are a lot more options for watching football -- insofar as services are concerned -- and it's not all that easy to watch everything you want. But, it is possible. And, since there are a lot more games this weekend, more sports channels are necessary.

Here are the different services you'll need to watch the games this weekend. Note that this is for national broadcasts, not small regional sports networks. Always check your favorite team's Website or other information, regarding where it might air.


The self-proclaimed world wide leader in sports is actually the service/channel that carries the most games. Well, kind of. Many of the big games will be on ESPN during the season. If you're going to watch a lot of college football, you'll need ESPN. I've included ESPN2 in this, but there is only one game on ESPN2 this weekend. Note that all services that include ESPN also include ESPN2. They are essentially a package deal. You get one, you get the other.

ESPN3 is an odd duck. You may have it for no additional cost, or you may have to subscribe to a service to get it. This weekend, there are FBS/1-A, FCS/1-AA, and Division II games (including a game with an NAIA team).

With ESPN & ESPN2, you'll get access to FBS/1-A and FCS/1-AA games this weekend. So, how do you get ESPN & ESPN2? Through one of these live streaming services:

  • Sling Orange ($35)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70)

Getting one of those also gets you ESPN3, but your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may also get you ESPN3 without needing an ESPN subscription. Not all ISPs are that way, but some are. And, since there are so many ISPs, it would be a near impossible task to list them all. Well, I'm not even going to try. To find out if you can get ESPN3 without an ESPN subscription, meaning your ISP get you the service, the way to find out is to try. If you get it, great. If not, you know what you need to do.


ESPNU carries several games this weekend, including FBS/1-A games, involving both Power 5 and G5 conferences. There are no FCS/1-AA games, but there is a Division II game. ESPNews caries few games. None are scheduled this weekend, but depending on how games go, particularly involving overtime games, some may be shifted to ESPNews at the last minute. I'm including the two services together since every service that carries ESPNU also carries ESPNews. To watch ESPNU or ESPNews, its almost the same as ESPN, except for Sling TV, which includes ESPNU and ESPNews in an add-on package, and DirecTV Stream, which requires a larger package:

  • Sling Orange with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream Choice ($85)


ESPN+ is a standalone service that is designed as a supplement to ESPN. You don't need to subscribe to ESPN in order to subscribe to ESPN+.

One thing that some people still don't get after all this time is that ESPN+ does not include ESPN. It's not the same thing. Subscribing to ESPN+ does not get you ESPN, or any other ESPN service. Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the fact that the ESPN app is used to access all ESPN content, but it only lets you watch the content to which you are subscribed. How do you get ESPN+? Easy:

  • Standalone subscription ($7)


Some games are available from your local Fox affiliate. If you have an antenna, you're covered. If not, and you decide to go with a streaming service, you have some options:

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling Orange, select markets only ($35)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream, formerly AT&T TV ($70)


Some games are available from your local Fox affiliate. If you have an antenna, you're covered. If not, and you decide to go with a streaming service, you have some options, including more than Fox:

  • Antenna (free)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream, formerly AT&T TV ($70)

Fox Sports 1 (FS1)

Fox Sports 1, also known as FS1, carries a number of games, all involving FBS/1-A teams. Some of the teams playing this weekend will be FCS/1-AA teams, but they're playing FBS/1-A teams. I'm listing two Sling TV packages, since many of the teams carried by FS1 will be carried by ESPN channels later in the season. If you only care about FS1, the smaller Sling TV package is the one to consider.

  • Sling Blue with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Sling Orange+Blue with Sports Extra ($65)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)

SEC Network

This could have been included with ESPNU and ESPNews, as the same services apply. However, as this is one of the major conference networks, I'm listing it separately.

  • Sling Orange with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream Choice ($85)

ACC Network

Like the SEC Network, the ACC Network is included with the same package as ESPNU and ESPNews. And, like the SEC Network, I'm listing the ACC Network separately because it's a major conference network.

  • Sling Orange with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream Choice ($85)

Big Ten Network

I was surprised to find that not all of the major live streaming services carry the Big Ten Network. Specifically, DirecTV Stream doesn't offer it in any package. I'm listing two different packages of Sling TV, but the larger package is only needed if you want ESPN channel services as well. Many Big Ten teams will play on ESPN, so listing both packages seems the thing to do.

  • Sling Blue with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Sling Orange+Blue with Sports Extra ($65)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)

Pac-12 Network

The Pac-12 Network is available on some of the live streaming services. This channel carries many Pac-12 games that are not on one of the major broadcast networks or on a major sports service such as ESPN or FS1.

  • Sling Blue with Sports Extra ($46)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Fubo Elite ($80)

CBS Sports Network

  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate ($95)

The Kitchen Sink

If you want to be able to watch everything, there are some ways to do that. The simplest and cheapest way to watch everything is Fubo Elite ($80/month) and ESPN+ ($7/month). There are other ways to combine services and get it all, but the $87 for Fubo and ESPN+ gets you everything.

That actually surprised me. I thought it would require several services, but it turns out that if you want to watch college football, Fubo is the one live streaming service that gets you the most big games. Adding ESPN+ gets you everything. Well, everything that's available streaming.

There may be a cheaper way to get what you want, depending on what games you want. But if you want everything, this is the way to go. If college football is a part of your Streaming Life, Fubo may need to be as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Apple TV Siri Remote

I have the new Apple TV 4K device. I use to use Apple TV all the time. It was my go-to streaming device.

I've been a fan of Roku since I bought my first one in 2010. I bought an Apple TV device for the first time in 2010 also, just days after purchasing a Roku device. Back then, there was stuff one did that the other didn't. That's still true to a small degree, but today, essentially, they do the same thing.

Back then, Apple TV was intended to play music through the sound system that was connected to the TV. Since all the music was in iTunes, that was the easiest way to play that content through that system. It worked well. And, though I normally used Roku for streaming, I would use the Apple TV device -- a second generation Apple TV -- to stream on occasion.

Apple TV took over when I began using iTunes and Apple TV for playing local content. I ripped my DVDs into iTunes to go along with iTunes purchases that I downloaded, and iTunes was the server that, well, served them up.

What frustrated me the most about Apple TV was the remote. The touch remote was frustrating. I could use it, I just really didn't like using it. Eventually, Roku went from sharing time with the Apple TV to taking over completely from the Apple TV, solely due to the remote.

The new Apple TV 4K comes with the new Siri remote, which is a hybrid of sorts. It still has some touch capability, but the button pad works a lot like the older silver Apple TV remote, which I liked. The remote is, in my mind, a huge improvement, getting back to an easier to use remote, but still offering some touch capabilities for that that want such a thing. I don't.

There is still some frustration to be had with the touch capabilities. I never want to use them, but it is easy to accidentally activate the functionality. So, it's not perfect, but it is an improvement.

By the way, when I went to set up the new Apple TV, it wouldn't let me use my iPhone to speed up the process. That's the first time I couldn't use my iPhone to set up an Apple TV. I have no idea why, but a manual setup isn't that difficult, so it wasn't a deal breaker for me. It was frustrating, though.

Apple TV won't replace Roku as my go-to device, but the new Siri remote makes it a device that I will use on occasion. I like having it back into my Streaming Life.