Sunday, October 31, 2021

Roku losing Amazon?

There have been some news stories the last couple of days saying that Amazon's IMDB and, more importantly, Prime Video, could be leaving the Roku platform soon. I'm not saying it won't happen, but I'm skeptical.

While there are several Websites reporting the news, they all cite the same source, an article in The Information. According to that article, Roku is, as with Google, refusing to share user data:

One likely battlefront in the coming negotiations will be access to viewing data. During last year’s discussions between Amazon and Roku, Amazon pushed for detailed viewing data about what Roku subscribers watch across all apps, according to people familiar with the talks. If Amazon got such data, it could match that information with what it knows about customer purchases on its site and figure out who buys goods on Amazon after seeing ads on the Roku platform, the people said.

Roku refused Amazon’s request for this data, although the smaller company caved on other issues, such as accepting Amazon’s refusal to share some of IMDb’s ad inventory. Roku does not want to share granular viewing data because doing so would give Amazon’s ad sales an edge over Roku’s, said one of the people familiar with the situation.

Some are saying that Roku is getting into all these disputes, therefore it's Roku that's the problem. But in each case, it's user data that Roku isn't wanting to give up that is the biggest sticking point.

So, perhaps Roku will lose the platforms. If so, I'm glad they're taking a stand. But then again, I'm not suffering a big impact from the disputes.

I don't subscribe to YouTube TV, so the Roku-Google fight isn't a big deal. I don't usually watch Amazon Prime Video, so if this happens, I wouldn't even notice.

Of course, I'm not the typical viewer when it comes to those services. YouTube TV is a massively popular service, as is Prime Video. So, yeah, I get it. A lot of people would cate. So, it's easy for me to come down on Roku's side.

I think Roku's stance is correct insofar as refusing to share user data. I just hope it doesn't hurt the company too bad. I'd hate to lose Roku from my Streaming Life.

Saturday, October 30, 2021


Sometime around the first year or two of my Streaming Life, in 2011 or 2013, I found an app called Popcornflix. It was one of the first ad-supported streaming services I saw. It and Crackle were among the first streaming services that were not part of the mainstream. Prior to my using finding those apps, most of my streaming consisted of Hulu Plus (as it was known then), Netflix, and Amazon Prime (the old name of Prime Video).

I don't have to explain those mainstream apps, of course, but I will anyway. Netflix was, well, Netflix. Hulu Plus was for current TV season content, or at least what was available from the service; it was only broadcast network content. Amazon Prime video app was mainly for watching content I purchased from Amazon, which was mostly current TV series that weren't on Hulu Plus.

Then, I discovered Crackle and Popcornflix around the same time. They has a few titles I knew about, but most of what those apps carried was stuff I had never heard of. Still, I was intrigued and watched content from the two services from time to time. Sony eventually bought Crackle and spruced it up quite a bit. They even changed the name to Sony Crackle.

Popcornflix continued doing what it did, and was eventually bought up by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. It was always what you expected. Mostly movies you never heard of, with a few gems in the mix.

Chicken Soup for the Soul has acquired Crackle (as it's known again) in the last couple of years, and now those two apps I discovered around the same time are now sibling services. Crackle is still  offering more name content than Popcornflix, but it has that feature that showed up during Sony's time: playing content in the background. I hate that.

Popcornflix has made some changes. I read that in passing this week -- I don't remember where -- and decided to check it out. The interface has changed a bit. They've made it a more modern looking interface, but the content is still the same kind of content.

Popcornflix has some movies you're heard of (he Sum of All Fears, The Naked Gun, In Too Deep) and some TV shows you have heard of (The Saint, The Greatest American Hero, Thunderbirds). And then there is the content would expect (Atlantic Rim, Mega Piranha, The Big Bird Cage). The good are good but not great, and the bad are loveably bad.

The interface has changed, but it works well, Well, mostly well. There is one consistent issue on Roku: the row beneath the banner content will overlap on a return from inside a selection, but it's easy enough to get out of it. Still, that bug is annoying. The bug isn't on the Android/Google TV version of the app. For the record, that's a coding issue, not a device issue, since the different operating systems of Roku and Android mean the apps are coded differently. Otherwise the interface works well.

What I can say about the app is: it's Popcornflix. It has what you'd expect, and some of the content is better than you might expect. It's ad supported and it's free. It's worth a shot. It's not the first app I look for, and probably won't be the first one you go for, but it is worth giving a look. It may become a regular part of your Streaming Life.

Friday, October 29, 2021

How long should your streaming device last?

I don't know if I'm the best person to suggest how often you should expect to replace your primary streaming device. You see, in the early days of streaming, I got a new Roku device every year, when the new ones were released. In 2010, I bought the Roku XDS, which was the top of the line device.

Less than a year later, I replaced it with the Roku 2 XS, the new top of the line device. That stayed tops in Roku's lineup for two years.

In 2013, Roku introduced the Roku 3, which I bought and retired the Roku 2 XS. When they updated the Roku 23 in 2015, I didn't replace it, since the update was really just the headphones, or earbuds. The device didn't have any appreciable change, hence the keeping of the Roku 3 name.

Where all this changed was later in 2013 when the Roku 4 was released. I heard early reports of issues with the device, and was really happy with my Roku 3.

Don't get me wrong, I was happy with my Roku XDS and my Roku 2 XS when I replaced them. However, in my experience, the Roku 3 had fewer problems. I never noticed problems with the earlier Roku devices I had, at least not until the lack of problems with the Roku 3. The XDS and 2 XS required occasional reboots, but many devices do. But the Roku 3 seemed to require a lot fewer. Enough fewer for me to notice.

So, when the Roku 4 was released, I didn't run out and buy one. I waited, and saw early reports of issues. Roku replaced the Roku 4 with the Roku Ultra a year later, keeping the same appearance as the Roku 4, but changing the device on the inside. The Roku 4 had a fan and power button. It's the only Roku that had that, and the fact they did away with them indicated to me that they were very aware of the issues.

I didn't buy that first version of the Roku Ultra. I didn't hear anything bad about it, I didn't see anything it brought to the table for me. I didn't need the optical output, and that's really the only thing extra it offered. When I needed to buy an additional (not a replacement, just an addition) Roku, I bought the next version of the Ultra in 2017.

I used the Roku 3 after getting the Ultra. A change of TV watching habits and my beginning to manage TV at multiple households meant the retired devices weren't retired, just moved. The Roku 3 stayed in service for years, as did the Roku Ultra. In fact, I only recently retired the Roku 3, and the Roku Ultra is still operating. I've not purchased a newer Ultra. I still have the 2017 model.

I purchased some other models for secondary TVs, and they are still in operation. I've found Roku devices to be very reliable, at least the models I've purchased. Note that I've not used the low end models, only the higher end devices. Maybe that's why.

But, to the topic at hand. How long should your streaming device last? I'm going to say four years. I almost said five, but I think four is more reasonable.

That is not to say you should replace your streaming device every four years. I'm saying you should be prepared to if necessary. Or if you just really want to. But I would expect any I purchase to last four years.

It's been four years since I bought my Roku Ultra. Am I going to replace it? One day, sure. But not today. I expect my devices to remain in my Streaming Life for some time yet.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Classic Doctor Who

I remember watching Doctor Who episodes when they used to air on PBS back in the ... whenever it was, it was a long time ago.

I never saw any William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton episodes, I can't say that I saw Jon Pertwee episodes, but something about him as The Doctor seemed familiar when I watched them later. I did watch some Tom Baker episodes, and some Peter Davison episodes. I remember Colin Baker, but not his outfit, so I'm thinking I saw the regeneration from Davison to Baker. I don't remember seeing Sylvester McCoy episodes on PBS.

Years later, my sister had started watching the revival of the show, and suggested that I would like it. I thought I'd give it a try, and researched it, finding out it wasn't really a reboot, but a continuation of the original series. At least, it recognized the original series was canon. David Tennant, who was the current Doctor when she made the suggestion, was the 10th Doctor, not the 2nd. So the old shows counted.

Now, a little thing about me. I won't pick up in the middle. I'll go back to the beginning. So, I decided if I would watch the new series, I'd start with the old series. I mean, how many episodes could there be?

A lot. That's the answer, There were a lot of old episodes. 26 seasons, in fact, averaging over 25 episodes per season. 694 episodes and a 2-hour special. So, what was I to do? Get busy, that's what.

I went about watching the old shows. That's when I found out they didn't all exist. Over 100 episodes were missing. So, I started watching the ones I could, starting at the beginning. And here's the thing. I liked it. I really liked it.

Yes, it was different. Production values were limited. But it had a charm. So I as I began finding the shows online, I discovered there were reconstructions of the missing episodes. All of the audio of the missing shows existed -- lots of different reasons for some, but enough that everything was there in audio format -- and some people had started a project (Loose Cannon) where they used clips and promotional pictures to storyboard the audios. The episodes existed to a degree. So, I was able to fill in the gaps. I enjoyed the show.

How much did I enjoy the show? Enough to start buying the episodes. I eventually purchases all of the streaming episodes that were available. I bought the DVDs of the available episodes that weren't available streaming. I got the Loose Cannon episodes. And, when all was said and done, I had all of the classic Doctor Who episodes.

Originally, they were imported into iTunes -- well, the ones that weren't iTunes purchases, at least; iTunes purchases were already there -- and I watched them that way. When I decided to convert my library to Plex, I started converting the Doctor Who episodes, but waited until last to do those. There were so many, and I did everything else first, since there were not nearly as many.

I never did finish that project. I got into Jon Pertwee's episodes, but didn't make it to Tom Baker. Until recently, that is.

Since I set up the new Plex server, I moved all of the episodes from the old Plex server over. Then, I decided to the rest of Doctor Who classic episodes. And that's my current project. I found out I had prepped many of the episodes to move into Plex but never did, so this won't be quite as daunting. Plus, the later seasons didn't have as many episodes. Through the first 10 seasons, there were 351 episodes. That's over half of the episodes, with less than 40% of the seasons. The next 10 seasons should go a lot quicker than the first 10.

I will say Plex and the agents that look up metadata have done well in the fist 10 seasons, so this will be a lot easier moving into Plex than it was putting into iTunes.

I'm looking forward to having classic Doctor Who episodes once again becoming a part of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Watching the World Series as a streamer

The Fall Classic, the World Series, began last night, and for the third time in five years, two National League teams are playing for the title.

Okay, I know the Astros are in the American League, having moved there beginning with the 2013 season. But that was a bad idea. Major League Baseball had moved the Brewers from the American League to the National League in 1998. They decided they needed to move a team from the American to the National in 2013, but didn't move the Brewers back. Rather, the Astros made the move. But, just like I still think of the Brewers as an American League team, I still think of the Astros as a National League team. So that's the background of my little joke.

Anyway, the series started last night, and will go at least three more games. If you're a streamer -- and if you're not, why not? -- and if you're a baseball fan, you're probably wanting to watch the series, even if neither of the teams are yours.

So, how does a streamer watch the World Series? There are a couple of ways.

Sports Bar

Okay, this isn't really answering the question, but this is a viable option. Watching a big game at a sports bar may be the perfect way for you. If so, that's a great option. Just make sure someone is capable of driving safely afterwards. But, what about from home. How do you watch the World Series at home?


If you live close enough to a Fox affiliate, you can pick up the game via an antenna. I have an antenna and am able to watch the games that way. But what other options?


There are several live streaming services that carry Fox local broadcasts. They will run from $55/month to $70/month.:

  • Sling Orange, select markets only ($35)
  • Vidgo ($55, $10 first month) see note
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream, formerly AT&T TV ($70)

Note: Vidgo is not commonly listed in most online Websites that mention watching local channels. However, it is available in my area, whereas Sling TV doesn't carry the Fox local affiliate here. Do your research before picking Vidgo, in the event you are in an area where the local Fox affiliate isn't available.

And that's it. If you want to include the World Series in your Streaming Life, you have options.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Comparing Vidgo plans

Vidgo is a live streaming service that doesn't get as much attention as the others. I'm not sure why.

There are eight major live streaming services that are considered cable alternatives:

  • Frndly.TV ($6/month)
  • Philo ($25/month)
  • Sling Orange ($35/month)
  • Vidgo ($55/month)
  • Fubo ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

As you can see, they are priced from cheapest to most expensive. They all serve one basic function, and that is to provide an alternative to cable while still offering live TV.

Sling TV was the first, and it gets a lot of attention. Hulu gets a lot of attention, building off of their cheap on-demand service. YouTube TV is Google, and gets plenty of attention. DirecTV Stream is AT&T TV rebranded, riding the DirecTV name (note that Sling doesn't ride the DISH name, even though it's owned by DISH). Fubo is huge into sports, and gets lots of attention.

Vidgo and Frndly.TV get the least amount of attention. Many streaming topic Websites talk about 5 or 6 of those, usually skipping Vidgo and Frndly.TV when doing comparisons. I've talked about Frndly.TV before. Today, it's Vidgo.

Vidgo offers two English language plans, and one Spanish Language plan. The $30/month Spanish Mas plan offers "30 channels," the $55/month plan includes "95+ channels," and the $80/month plan includes "112+ channels."

I don't subscribe to Vidgo, but the Website doesn't list that many. It lists 89 on the Plus package:

  • A&E
  • ABC
  • ABC News
  • ACC Network
  • Animal Planet
  • Aspire
  • AWE
  • Baby TV
  • BET
  • Big Ten Network
  • Bloomberg
  • BYU TV
  • Cheddar
  • Classic Reruns
  • CMT
  • Comedy Central
  • Curiosity Stream
  • Discovery
  • Disney
  • Disney Jr.
  • Disney XD
  • DIY
  • ESPN
  • ESPN Deportes
  • ESPN U
  • ESPN2
  • ESPNews
  • FETV
  • Food Network
  • Fox
  • Fox Business
  • FOX Deportes
  • Fox News
  • Freeform
  • FS 1
  • FS 2
  • FX
  • FXM
  • FXX
  • FYI
  • Game Show Network
  • Get TV
  • Hallmark
  • Hallmark Drama
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • HGTV
  • History
  • i24 News
  • ID Discovery
  • INSP
  • Kids Street
  • Law & Crime
  • Lifetime
  • Lifetime Movies
  • Longhorn Network
  • Motortrend
  • MTV
  • Nat Geo
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • Newsmax TV
  • Newsnation
  • NFL Network
  • NFL Redzone
  • Nick Jr
  • Nickelodeon
  • OAN
  • OWN
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Arizona
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Bay Area
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Los Angeles
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Mountain
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Oregon
  • PAC -12 NETWORK Washington
  • Paramount Network
  • QVC
  • Science
  • SEC Network
  • Sony Movie Channel
  • Teen Nick
  • TLC
  • Travel Channel
  • TV Land
  • TV One
  • Uptv
  • VH1
  • Viceland
  • Vrtuo Sports

The Premium package lists 102, those 89 plus:

  • AHC
  • BeIn Sports English
  • CMT Music
  • Cooking
  • Destination America
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • Great American County
  • MTV Classic
  • MTV2
  • Nick Toons
  • RFD-TV
  • Stadium
  • The Cowboy Channel

Is the $25 difference worth those 14 channels? That depends on how much you like those channels. As for the difference in count, either the Website is claiming more than it actually offers, or the list of channels isn't up to date. I suspect the latter.

Regardless, it's a good service. Missing out on NBC and CBS hurts, but if you have an antenna, you really aren't missing anything.

The real draw for Vidgo seems to be the Spanish language package. In fact, when it launched, that seemed to be the primary focus. The English language service was added later, and now makes up two of the three services.

The Spanish Mas plan includes:

  • Altres Series
  • Antenna 3
  • Atrecine
  • Baby TV
  • BeIN Sports - Spanish
  • Canal Sur
  • Centroamerica TV
  • Cinelatino
  • Cine Sony
  • Discovery En Espanol
  • Discovery Familia (DF)
  • ESPN Deportes
  • estudio5
  • Fox Deportes
  • Fox Life
  • History Channel Espanol
  • Hola TV
  • Hogar
  • Nat Geo Mundo
  • NTN24
  • NTN24
  • Pasiones
  • RCN Novelas
  • Telefe
  • TV Azteca
  • TV Dominicana
  • TYC Sports
  • VideoRola
  • WAPA America

That is the best of the Spanish language streaming services I've seen. Sling TV offers some "International" add-ons to their packages, but it doesn't compare to what Vidgo offers. None of the other services do.

If you are looking for an alternative to one of the more expensive live streaming services, Vidgo is one to consider. If you are looking for Spanish language streaming content in your Streaming Life, Vidgo looks to be the one to get.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Chromecast profiles

I totally missed Google's announcement recently that they would be adding profiles to Chromecast devices. And, by Chromecast devices, I mean the Chromecast with Google TV (Chromecast/GTV). I make the distinction because the older form Chromecast still exists. You know, the one where you must use your phone to control playback. To me, the newer Chromecast IS Chromecast, and that's what I'm talking about from here on out.

So, profiles. They haven't been added, but they are coming, according to a blog post by Google:

Google TV profiles let everyone in your home enjoy their own personalized space with their Google Account. With a personalized profile, you’ll get TV show and movie recommendations just for you, easy access to your personal watchlist and help from your Google Assistant.

This is a good thing. A very good thing. Except for one thing. They announced this on October 11 and we don't have it yet.

Sure, it'll come, I know. And I should be patient for it. But I really do like the idea of profiles.

Today, you can actually log in with different accounts, and switch between accounts. So, if the functionality of switching between different users already exists, what's the big deal? For me, I'd use it by setting up a kids profile for the grandchildren to use. I don't think they all have their own Google account, and even if they did, having to go through the process of logging in would be a delay. With profiles, I can set up a kids profile, and quickly switch to it for them to watch TV.

So, yeah, even though the grown-ups in our household have their own accounts, this brings us a little more. And, I suspect, it would be a bigger help to families where not everyone has their own Google account. Profiles just makes it easier.

I'm excited about it, for whenever it finally comes to my Streaming Life.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fubo TV locations restrictions

I decided to try Fubo TV for a month. I tried it again for a week, and was happy with it, so I let the free trial turn into a regular subscription. It had all the sports channels I wanted, and I got three streams, and with local channels, that means I didn't have to change apps to watch something from the broadcast networks. Everything is good, right?

Well, no.

You see, sometimes on weekends, I'll visit my son who lives in another town. I visited last weekend. He has Xfinity cable, even though he was the first person I met who streamed content. He got me into streaming. However, Xfinity offered a deal for him to come back, so he did. But, Xfinity doesn't carry ACC Network, as it turns out, and he follows a team that plays on ACC Network a lot.

Now, let's suppose the following happens:

  • I'm at his house.
  • He wants to watch something on ACC Network.
  • I have a service that carries ACC Network.
  • My service has three streams, meaning if someone at my house is watching, I still have two streams.
  • I can watch my service away from home, and am not limited to a mobile device. I can use a Roku, Fire TV, or whatever to watch.

What could go wrong? Well, here's what could go wrong.

As it turns out, Fubo TV does allow three streams, and I can watch away from home, but I can't use simultaneous streams from two locations. That last bit may need some explanation and examples.

I can watch Fubo TV at home with a streaming device (Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc).

I can watch Fubo TV away from home with a streaming device.

But, if someone is watching my Fubo service at home, I can't stream away from home. Or, if I do, the stream at home stops.

This actually makes sense. It allows my to use Fubo TV at a vacation home, for instance, unlike Hulu+Live TV. (Hulu+Live TV won't let you use a streaming device away from home; you must use a mobile device.) What it won't do, I'm figuring, is allow you to share with friends or family who live at a different location.

So, will I keep Fubo TV? Maybe. How often will I be wanting to stream from my son's house for something he doesn't get on cable, while there's a stream at my house running? Not often.

On the other hand, if I do change to a different service when this month of Fubo is up, I won't have that issue. Well, as long as it's not Hulu+Live TV (hint: it won't be).

These odd things keep my Streaming Life interesting.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Congress, Roku, and Google

We've talked recently about the ongoing pissing contest between Roku and Google. And, we said it could get worse.

It just got worse. Members of Congress are weighing in. That's never a good thing.

CNBC reports that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D - MN) and Rep. David Cicilline (D - RI) are taking sides in the issue, and they are taking Roku's side:

“For too long, the big tech platforms have leveraged their power to preference their products and services over those of thousands of smaller online businesses,” Klobuchar said in a statement Thursday.

Cicilline called Google’s move a “shakedown” in a tweet Thursday.

While I am leaning towards Roku's side in this argument, I don't like the idea of Congress getting involved. There is no problem so bad that Congress can't make it worse.

I'm hoping Google and Roku can resolve this. I don't think either party wants Congress to start getting involved. I know I don't want Congress having anything to do with my Streaming Life.

Friday, October 22, 2021

The Roku-Google pissing contest continues

Remember when Roku and Google got into a pissing contest over a new agreement to carry the YouTube TV app? Well, nothing has changed. Yet. It could be about to get worse, though. Roku might lose the YouTube app as well.

In a recent blog post, Roku says there has been no progress made:

​There are two primary concerns we are working to address: First, Google continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers. This is a concern shared by many companies who believe that customers deserve neutral and relevant results to their search queries. Second, Google discriminates against Roku by demanding search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms. ​

​While we are working to resolve our differences, we want to be transparent about these negotiations. As we shared in April, the threat remains that Google may remove YouTubeTV from the Roku platform. We continue to believe that streamers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal.

Roku refers to the threat of Google removing YouTube TV from the Google platform. Google, however, says that YouTube, not just YouTube TV, will be removed in December if negotiations don't go well:

In a statement to Variety, a Google rep said, “Since our negotiations with Roku earlier this year, we’ve continued to work with them to find a resolution that benefits our mutual users. Roku has once again chosen to make unproductive and baseless claims rather than try to work constructively with us. Since we haven’t been able to continue our conversations in good faith, our partnership for all new Roku devices will unfortunately end on December 9. We are, however, giving Roku the ability to continue distributing both YouTube and YouTube TV apps to all existing users to make sure they are not impacted.”

This ups the stakes. Current users will continue to get the service, but new users won't. And they'll be the loudest, whiniest ones.

Don't get me wrong, things should go in such a way that a platform is able to carry the apps they want to carry. However, Google has the right to ask for things. Who is right? Probably neither. But more Roku than Google.

In the NBCUniversal dustup, I thought Google was correct. In this one, I lean more towards Roku.

If YouTube and YouTube TV come off Roku in December, what will that mean for me? Nothing. I already have the apps and the apps will continue to work. But for new users of Roku, they'll be all whiny and such, and as I said, I understand that.

Should they avoid buying Roku? Between now and December, no. If you have the YouTube or YouTube TV app, the services will continue to work. After December 9, if things don't go well? I don't know. I'll think about it between now and then.

Our Streaming Lives shouldn't be this hard.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Tablo Connect

I've mentioned before that I manage the TV setup for a couple of houses. At my mother's house -- it belongs to me and two of my sisters since my mother's passing -- I bought and paid to set up a TV antenna. That house has a good location for aiming an antenna at Savannah and getting 25 stations.

My house is not in such a situation. Even though I'm a couple of miles closer to Savannah, the lay of the land means I'm not going to get a lot of channels. An antenna isn't worth the effort.

At my mother's house (I still think of it that way) I have Air TV set up for watching local channels from the antenna. At another house I manage, there's an antenna and a Tablo setup. A while back, I added Tablo to my mother's house, giving that location two different ways to pick up over the air TV. I even added a Fire TV Recast there. She had a Fire TV television set, and this would work with it. So there were three different ways to pick up TV antenna content. But that's at my mother's house, not at my house.

Enter Tablo Connect.

With Air TV and Fire TV Recast, you can only watch if you're on the same network from streaming device. You can watch on a mobile device -- phone or tablet -- but not on a dedicated streaming device.

Tablo has a feature called Tablo Connect. It lets you watch TV away from your network, not just with a mobile device, but with a dedicated streaming device. Tablo Connect lets users of Fire TV, Apple TV (new models), and Android/Google TV including Chromecast and Nvidia Shield can watch away from home.

Notice that Roku isn't a part of this. My favorite streaming device doesn't support Tablo Connect. Or Tablo Connect doesn't support Roku. Either way, they don't work together. So, if you're have Roku and only Roku user, you can't take advantage of this feature.

I have the four major platforms. Roku, of course, but also Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android/Google TV (Chromecast). That means I have three options when it comes to using Tablo Connect. And, I've decided to do just that.

I had to configure my router to work with Tablo Connect. Port forwarding was required and was actually easy to set up. Not as easy as I hoped, as I entered the ports backwards. Silly me. But, I corrected my error, and the setup completed in short order.

Next was to sync a device with the Tablo device. My Fire TV, Chromecast, and Apple TV all were set up with Tablo, and I decided to use the Chromecast device. syncing was seamless. In fact, all I had to do was check the menu to sync, but it said the device was already synced.

Taking the Chromecast to my house, I connected it to my TV and launched the Tablo app. Sure enough, the app worked just like I was at the location with the antenna. Sure, I was only a couple of miles away, but I was on a different network, meaning I could have been anywhere and it would have been the same.

Now, I can watch live TV from my TV antenna, even though I'm miles away. I always hated not being able to put up an antenna here. But, I did the next best thing: I put one up at another house and use it.

I'm limited to that one TV to watch by, however. I could add other devices with the Tablo app to other TVs, but I first need to take the device to my mother's house and sync it. I might just do that. But there's one other thing I might do.

Remember I said there's a third house I managed the TV for? It's a bit away from here, and gets local TV from a different city. That's the one that first had a Tablo. I may configure it for Tablo Connect, and put another device on my TV that gets over the air channels from there.

I love playing with these big boy tech toys. It's one of the fun parts of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021


When I was a teenager, there was an underground comic called The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. I don't recall if I saw the comics themselves, or if they were printed in another magazine, but I do remember reading them. Well, some of them anyway. It's possible I ended up reading them all, or all that were available at the time.

I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was a teenager.

I will admit that some of the antics of the "brothers" were funny. Some were ... let's say that while they characters weren't really brothers, they were freaks. If you really want to know the details, go look it up. I'm not going to tell any of the tales of the trio, but I will say that some of the satire was very well done, some emphasized shock value to get points across. I didn't always agree, but I did appreciate the humor. Well, some of the humor.

This bit of the 1960s and 1970s (when I discovered the trio) isn't relegated to the past, as it turns out. Streaming service Tubi has announced they'll be producing original content containing the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, with the series starting November 14:

THE FREAK BROTHERS will headline Tubi’s first foray into adult animation, as it expands its adult humor collection in the coming months. The additional episodes from Season One will drop on Sundays, one every week, through the finale, Sunday, Dec. 26. The eight-episode series chronicles the escapades of a trio of stoner anti-establishment characters and their cat who wake up from a 50-year nap after smoking a magical strain of weed in 1969, and must adjust to life with a new family in present-day San Francisco.

I'm not sure what to think about it. What was shocking in 1970 is tame today. Well, much of it is. Will this turn into The Second Hundred Years? Another second-half of It's About Time? Or, Encino Man, for you younger ones. It seems it will just be one of those tropes where someone from the past deals with the world today.

That's not what the original Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers were. They were contemporary, from today's world, but with a different outlook on the world. They weren't outsiders from out of time. They were of the time as the times were changing.

I'm not sure if I'll watch the show. I had the opportunity a couple of years ago to re-read some of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and I was less than impressed. I was no longer a teenager looking for something that was rebellious. I was a grown man who had real life to deal with. I did find some part of it still funny, though. And a few things still outside the acceptable behavior of pretty much anyone civilized.

I can't say I look back fondly on The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers but I'm not sure I like what they're doing to it. But, I could be wrong. It may turn out to be funny and relevant. And, if it does, it may become a regular part of my Streaming Life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Frndly.TV gets friendlier II

Last week, Frndly.TV announced that they would be adding two more channels to their lineup. GAC Family and GAC Living join the lineup today.

Frndly TV, the leading affordable live TV provider for the whole family, and GAC Media, home to GAC Family and GAC Living, today announced an agreement which makes both networks available to all Frndly TV subscribers. GAC Family and GAC Living will debut on Frndly TV on Tuesday, October 19 increasing the service’s offering to 23 channels, with nine channels in total having been added since February 2021.

If you aren't sure what those channels are, you probably know them by their old names: Great American County and Ride TV.

Discovery sold Great American County off to a newly formed GAC Media, which then bought Ride TV. Great American Country is now rebranded as GAC Family and Ride TV is now GAC Living. As stated, they join the Frndly.TV lineup today.

If you are looking for a good source of family oriented programming, Frndly.TV is a bargain at $6/month. For HD and DVR capability, the $8 is required. There is also a $10/month plan that has more concurrent streams and longer DVR retention. Whichever plan you pick, I think you'll like including Frndly.TV in your Streaming Life.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Watching The Simpsons

Over the years, I've seen many episodes of The Simpsons. I remember first watching the characters when they were shorts/bumpers featured within The Tracey Ullman Show during its first couple of seasons. I don't remember watching it when it first became its own thing, but I may have. I did see many episodes over the next 30+ years, but never watched it regularly.

Now, there is the opportunity for me to catch up on all the episodes. And get paid in the process.

Platin Casino, a company with a UK Website and a Maltese incorporation, is offering to pay people to watch the show.

I'm wondering if I should try this. I'd have to allot 35½ hours a week to do this. If I spent 12 hours each on Saturday and Sunday, that would mean I'd still need to spend around 2½ hours each night, if I kept my day job.

This sounds more like something a person without a job would do.

Maybe more companies will start doing this. Then I could get paid for what I do. My Streaming Life and my real life would finally become one!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Watching NHL games

I covered this a month ago, but it's worth bringing up again, since the season is underway.

NHL games are being carries on Disney/ESPN and Turner Sports this season. Most of the games this week are on ESPN+, which is a $7 standalone service. Of the 45 games this week, two are on TNT, four are on NHL Network, one is on ESPN, four are on Hulu, 38 are on ESPN+. That doesn't add up, but it's okay. The three Hulu games are also on ESPN+, so the math is correct.

Last month, I said that you needed ESPN+ and one of these services to watch NHL games:

  • Sling TV Orange ($35/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

That is not correct. I didn't take into consideration that some games were only on NHL Network. Only two of those services carry NHL Network: Sling TV and DirecTV Stream. With Sling TV, you have to add the Sports Extra to the Orange package. With DirecTV Stream, you have to upgrade to the Ultimate plan, which is $95/month.

To watch all NHL games, you need ESPN+ and one of these services:

  • Sling TV Orange with Sports Extra ($46/month)
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate ($95/month)

That means to watch all the NHL games streaming this year, it will cost you at least $53/month (that's $46 for Sling TV Orange with Sports Extra, and $7 for ESPN+).

I expect this is the final, and finally correct, answer for how to watch NHL games streaming. If I have to correct it, I will, but I think this is actually it. Until the playoffs.

If you're wanting hock in your Streaming Life, you know know your opttions.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Who benefits from a 12-team playoff?

This is a streaming topic because I watch college football via streaming. All of the games by all of the teams mentioned are available to watch via streaming.

Before the Southeastern Conference expanded to add Oklahoma and Texas to the fold, there was movement to expand the College Football Playoffs from the current 4-team setup to 12 teams. After the announcement of the move by the two schools, movement to expand the playoffs ground to a halt. Most talking sports heads said that the other conferences thought a 12-team expansion would benefit the SEC. I disagree. And the numbers by the sports talking heads back me up.

First, under the current setup, the SEC is the only conference that has had multiple teams in the same year, when #3 Georgia and #4 Alabama made it, won their semifinal games, and played for the championship. If you count Notre Dame as an ACC team in 2020, then the ACC had two teams that both lost their semifinal games.

ESPN has an article listing where things stand midway through the season. It shows who would be the likely playoff teams right now under the current 4-team setup and under the proposed 12-team setup.

Currently, the Allstate Playoff Predictor has:

  1. Georgia
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Alabama
  4. Cincinnati

Those would be the four teams in the playoffs, meaning two from the SEC. That's under the current setup, and has happened before, when Georgia and Alabama ended up playing for the title after the 2017 season.

But expanded to twelve teams, you have:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Michigan
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Ohio State
  7. Iowa
  8. Michigan State
  9. Notre Dame
  10. Pittsburgh
  11. Penn State
  12. Coastal Carolina

That means two from the SEC; one each from the Big 12, ACC, American, and Sun Belt; one independent; and five from the Big Ten. Not much of a bump for the SEC, going from two teams to ... two teams. The Big Ten goes from none to five.

Maybe the Alliance has the wrong conference as their target?

Friday, October 15, 2021

Watching the WNBA Finals

I've not been watching the WNBA finals. I don't follow the sport. That's causing me to kick myself because of my bad timing. You see, even though I don't follow the sport, I should be posting how to watch the games for those who are fans of the sport. I've done this for some racing events, golf, and other sports I don't watch. So, why not the WNBA? Exactly. Why not? I should have. I totally missed that the finals were underway.

The series between Chicago and Phoenix is tied at one game apiece. It's a best of five series, so there are at least two more games, possibly three.

Game 3 is tonight on ESPN2.

Game 4 is Sunday afternoon on ESPN.

If a Game 5 is required, it will be Tuesday night on ESPN2.

So, for fans of the game, how do you watch without cable? You need a live streaming service that carries ESPN.

Of the eight major cable alternatives, Philo and Frndly.TV won't do, as they don't carry sports. But the other six do offer ESPN in their package.

  • Sling Orange ($35) or Sling Orange+Blue ($50)
  • Vidgo ($55)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($65)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($65)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70)

Some people think that ESPN+ gets you ESPN content. It gets you some, but it's mostly a supplement to ESPN, although ESPN isn't required to get ESPN+. However, it won't do you any good for watching WNBA games, since those are on the two big channels, ESPN and ESPN2. I say this a lot, but a lot of people still don't get it: ESPN+ subscription does not get you the standard ESPN service.

All of the services listed above will get you ESPN and ESPN2. They will also get you a lot more than those channels, so if you want a live streaming service, you may want to consider that. Or not.

While some services offer a free trial, not alldo:

  • Sling TV and Vidgo offer the first month for $10, but no free trial.
  • Hulu+Live TV offers a 7-day free trial, then a $10 discount for three months.
  • YouTube TV offers $10 off for six months, but no free trial.
  • Fubo TV offers a 7-day free trial.
  • DirecTV Stream offers no free trial nor a discount.

If want some some WNBA action in your Streaming Life, any of these services will fill the bill.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

More Plex server plans thwarted

I've been running a Plex server for some time. I recently purchased a new computer to function as the Plex server, but had some issues copying my content over.

My hard drive couldn't be read by the new device. It recognized the drive was there, but wasn't reading it. Rather than troubleshoot it and risk losing data if I made an error in the process -- who wants to lose nearly 8 TB of data, after all -- I simply pulled out my USB hard drive docking station and connected it.

When it wouldn't read it either, I was very concerned. Had I already damaged my media drive? Had I lost 8 TB of moves and TV shows?

Well, no, I hadn't, as it turns out. When I put the drive back in the old computer, it read it just fine. So, was my hard drive docking station bad? I hadn't used it in some time. I had taken it with me on several service calls, so it was jostled about for months but never used. Maybe it had been damaged. Perhaps it was bad. So, even though I don't use one a lot, when I need one, I need one. So I ordered a new one, and it was supposed to arrive earlier this week. It didn't.

Two days ago, it was due. The post office was delivering, so when I got the notice on my phone that it was delivered, I went to the mailbox. No package. Researching that, I found that the post office Website says that if it is marked as delivered, but isn't there, you shouldn't worry about it. Really.

In rare cases, package may show as 'delivered' but could take additional 24 hours.

Yes, they accept that their employees will mark an item as delivered, but not deliver it. And they're okay with that. But after a day or so, they'll listen to what you have to say.

If it has been over 24 hours from the 'delivered' status, to save time a  service request may be sent by email to your local Post Office™ facility for follow-up. You will receive a confirmation number and a contact within 2-3 business days.

That's right. They'll mark an item as delivered, not deliver it, but you can't ask about it for over a day. But after that additional delay, you can email them. Within 2 or 3 business days, they'll let you know they got your email.

So, if say, Monday, you expected a package, and it was marked as delivered, but you didn't get it, don't bother them until Tuesday. Then, you can send them an email. By Thursday or Friday, you'll get confirmation that your email was received.

This happened to me before, a year or so ago, and I did speak with the fellow who said he was in charge at the local post office. He told me he would call me back and let me know the results.

How long before he called me back? Well, as I said, it's been over a year. That delivery issue was settled outside of post office help, since there was no post office help.

So, I'm now in that situation. And that's unexpected. The regular letter carrier that serves my location is not the problem. She's done this job for some time, and is very conscientious about her work. She's good. And she didn't do the delivery, as I've found out. Had she been doing the delivery that day, it would have arrived. I'm convinced of that. Whoever filled in for her that day simply marked the package as delivered, and didn't deliver it.

So, I'm having to deal with copying my Plex content without a direct connection.

I mapped a drive to the old computer and began copying some content over. That was intended to be a test, just to confirm it worked. And it worked well, to a large degree.

The movies I copied showed up as expected. Better as expected, in fact. The data that Plex found, including the posters and movie data, was much improved over the older computer's data. I was very happy with that.

The test copy worked well enough for the basic moves, that I could copy a few hundred at a time and would probably be good.

It's been a lot more trouble than I expected, but when I get the hard drive docking station -- it will either show up or be replaced due to being lost in shipping -- it may be an easier and quicker process. That would be a welcome relief.

The updated movie information will be good. But the better computer for the behind the scenes work -- ripping moves I've purchased so they can be added to my Plex library -- will be a better process. It's just that I didn't really expect this much work to make it happen. I hope it's worth it. My Streaming Life better improve from this much work. (It won't.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Do you like scary movies?

I think I'm a fan of horror movies. The reason I say "I think" rather than "I am" is that different people have different ideas of what a horror movie is. To me, many movies that are called horror movies are simply gore fests. Yes, that's horrible, but is it a true horror movie? It depends on what you think.

Maybe I'm a fan of some types of horror films. Even then, it's not all that clear. For example, I really like the movie "The Thing" by John Carpenter. Is it a science fiction movie or a horror movie? Yes. Yes it is.

It crosses genre. The 1951 Christian Nyby/Howard Hawks film "The Thing from Another World," also based on the John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There?" is more science fiction than horror. Carpenter's is more horror than science fiction.

"Friday the 13th" (1980) is a horror film. Yes, it has some gore, as does "The Thing," but it's more about the story. And there is one. Plus, the killer -- SPOILERS -- isn't Jason. There's no doubt "Friday the 13th" is a horror film. And while it does have some gore, it's not like the sequels, which seem to me to be primarily gore movies.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying those other films aren't horror films. I'm saying those aren't the kind of horror films I like.

If the fact that I've mentioned moves that are older makes you think that I like older films, you'd be right. But I do like some horror films that are even older. Yes, I'm talking "Dracula" starring Bela Lugosi, "Frankenstein" with Boris Karloff as the Monster, "The Mummy" with Karloff, and others from that era. Let's go back even longer and throw in the F. W. Murnau film "Nosferatu" and the Lon Chaney film "Phantom of the Opera" for good measure.

If you like classic horror films, like I do, then you'll be happy to know that many of them are available for streaming during this month, the month that ends with Hallowe'en.

  • "Nosferatu" (1922) is available free on Tubi and Plex.
  • "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) is free on Plex.
  • "Dracula" (1931) is available on Peacock, as you would expect, since it's a Universal classic horror film.
  • "Frankenstein" (1931) isn't isn't free, but can be rented or purchased. However, "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935) is on Peacock TV.
  • "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1932) is free on Vudu and The Roku Channel.
  • "The Mummy" (1932) is free on Tubi and Peacock TV.
  • "The Invisible Man" (1933) is free on Peacock TV.
  • "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954) is on Peacock TV.
  • "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956) is on Prime Video and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1978) is on Pluto TV.
  • "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) is free on Peacock TV.
  • "The Blob" (1958) is free on Plex and Crackle, and included with HBO Max subscription. "The Blob" (1988) is free on Peacock TV.
  • "Friday the 13th" (1980) is on Peacock TV.
  • "The Fly" (1958) is free on Peacock TV, while "The Fly" (1986) isn't free, but can be rented or purchased.
  • "The Thing from Another World" (1951) is free from Vudu, and "The Thing" (1982) is on Starz with subscription.

Of course we can't forget "Halloween" (1978) which is free on Redbox and The Roku Channel.

Some classics that are not free include:

  • "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1931).
  • "The Black Cat" (1934).
  • "The Wolf Man" (1941).
  • "House of Wax" (1953).

These can all be rented or purchased.

Of course, this just scratches the surface of available horror movies. I focused on the ones I like, but left off several that aren't available for streaming.

If you're a fan of horror movies, perhaps this list will help. Or you can always search your favorite streaming services, or streaming platform, and find the movies you want that are available. Maybe some of yours will be free. Free is good. I like to have more free stuff in my Streaming Life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Problems with new Plex server

I upgraded my Windows machine recently. Well, I tried to. It's complicated.

When I decided to change my local streaming server from iTunes to Plex, I used a Windows device. It was a rather robust Windows machine that was more than capable of handling the job. But, it wasn't a new machine. It was a few years old. It's seven years old now, and while it's more than capable as a Plex server, it has some drawbacks when it comes to doing other stuff. When I sat down and thought about all the things I needed to do, I decided to get a new computer. So, I did.

The problems began immediately. The device experienced high disk usage. Windows Task Manager showed 100% disk usage. That caused the device to be sluggish, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I was less than thrilled. I began researching all the different causes for this, with me wondering if I had a lemon, or if I had erred somewhere in the initial setup. Then, a huge coincidence happened.

In my day job, I do tech support for a local agency. They purchased some new computers recently, and one of my tasks was to set it up. As it turned out, two of the devices purchased were the very same brand and model I had purchased. And they too experienced the high disk drive usage, performing poorly in the process.

That actually became an opportunity. I had a personal computer issue that was driving me nuts. But then work had the very same issue. I could work the issue while at work, because I needed to work the issue for work, and perhaps find the cause and develop a solution. I could also work the issue at home, and anything I learned, apply to work. Finally, I stumbled across information about Killer Network Service. It's supposed to help network performance. Maybe it does. But for the first several hours after it starts running for a user, it slows the machine down to a crawl.

For home use, it's not quite as big of a deal, as I'm the only user. Once it settled down, it didn't act all sluggish. But at work, that was another story. When a new user logs on to the computer on the domain -- they use shared computers -- the whole mess starts over. And, when Windows sends an update that causes setup to repeat or partially repeat, I don't want the users to have do deal with that.

So, I killed Killer. Removed it. Everything seems to be working fine now. But there was another issue on my personal computer.

When I put the 10 TB hard drive into the machine, it wouldn't read it. That was scary, as I was concerned that the new computer, or a poor physical install on my part, had fried it. But that wasn't the case. The hard drive was fine.

So, no easy transfer of data from one drive to another. Oh, did I mention I had a new 14 TB drive in the new computer? No? Well, I did. So all the files needed to be moved over.

Installing the old data hard drive didn't work, so I broke out my USB drive docking station to connect it that way. No luck. The device seemed to acknowledge that something was connected, but it couldn't find the drive enough to read it. I had to use some utilities to confirm it was seeing it, just that it didn't recognize it.

Was my docking station bad? I don't know. But I ordered a new one just in case. It's arriving today, and I'll find out soon enough.

If it's not the docking station, my next task is to put the old computer back together, add it to the network, map some drives across the network, and do the data transfer that way.

My Streaming Life should be a lot easier. I suppose it's my own fault.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Waiting on subscriptions to end

When I did a large cutback on my streaming services recently -- I unsubscribed to services that I didn't really watch -- I had a few that didn't end just then. You see, in the past, I had subscribed to some services on an annual basis rather than monthly. So, when I canceled subscriptions, those services continued to be available until the subscription ends.

That bothers me a little.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm in no way suggesting that the service end immediately. After all, if I paid for 12 months service, and I decide to not renew after eight months, I should still get the remaining four months. I'm not suggesting they end  the service immediately. It's something else that bothers me.

What's bothering me is that I decided I didn't want to continue the service because I didn't watch it, right? But now it's no longer in the back of my mind. I've brought it to the front. Now I'm thinking about that app/service. And I'm more likely to watch it.

Let's take Discovery+ for instance. They offered a good price for a yearly subscription, and I took it. But, I discovered I didn't watch it. During my purge, I canceled. But, with time left on the subscription, I didn't remove the app from my device. I mean, I had time left to watch, so why not keep it, right?

Well, the reason is I might actually watch it. And I might enjoy it. And I might want to keep my subscription.

Is that a bad thing? No, not really. But, if I renew my subscription, I've then undone my cutback, and risk going over budget on my streaming.

So, cancel something else, right? After all, if I'm watching one service more, then at least one service has to suffer from lack of watching, right? Yes, that's true. But then the cycle starts again. I cancel my subscription, then that service comes to the front of my mind. I start watching it, then decide I like it, and renew.

And so on and so on and ... well, you get the idea.

I need a plan for canceling subscriptions. A better plan. Right now, it's simply "I plan to cancel that." And that's really not much of a plan. I need a strategy and I need to stick with it.

Maybe no more annual subscriptions. That way, when I cancel, then if I don't watch in 29 days or less, I don't watch.

Maybe I just need to cancel everything, then if I launch an app and discover I'm not subscribed, then I know I've not been watching it.

I'll figure something out, I'm sure. My Streaming Life shouldn't be this hard. Maybe I'm just making it hard. Easy is the goal. And I'll get there.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The problem with Sling TV

I really like Sling TV. It was my first live streaming service, and it's my go-to service for when I want one. I don't do live streaming year round. Most of the year, I watch on-demand, but during college football season, I subscribe to a live streaming service to watch the games.

For my purposes, Sling TV has one big drawback. ESPN is on Sling Orange, and that plan has a single stream. That means only one person in the family can watch a stream at a time. If someone in the living room is watching Sling TV, no other TV (Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.) can watch Sling TV. The Sling Blue plan offers three simultaneous streams, but that plan doesn't include ESPN, which has most of the college games.

For other purposes, such as regular live streaming usage -- not how I use it, but how many do -- the problem is that there are no local channels. That's not an issue for me, as I have an antenna, and an Air TV device that integrates the live TV (and DVR) into the Sling TV app. But, for those that don't have an antenna, and where an antenna isn't feasible, Sling TV misses a large part of the content people want.

Now, I don't blame Sling TV for forgoing local channels, since the broadcast fees they would have to pay -- and that the other more expensive live streaming services pay -- would mean higher costs to Sling, and higher prices for their product.

It's the same way with the single stream. ESPN costs a lot of money for Sling to carry. That's why they have two plans. Sling Blue doesn't have the six Disney owned channels, including ESPN, that are on the Sling Orange package, but has more channel 17 other channels, giving it 11 more channels net. Sling Blue also has three simultaneous streams, as opposed to the single stream Sling Orange has.

Those are the main problems I see with Sling TV, but there's one other that some people have. That's the number of channels Sling TV offers. Cheaper services, such as Philo, carry more channels. Of course, more expensive ones carry more channels too. But the selection of channels Sling TV carries is actually fine, as far as I'm concerned.

While there are some things about Sling TV that I don't like, overall it's still my go-to live streaming service. It could be better, but the tradeoff is something I'm okay with. Sling TV is a good part of my Streaming Life. Not perfect, but close enough.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Baseball playoffs

I've been a baseball fan for years. However, I've not watched as much in the last few years. But I still love baseball, and am always excited about the playoffs. But, being a streamer, it's not always easy to watch live sports.

Live sports was not available in the early days of streaming, and some sports have been slower than others to be available for streamers. Baseball has been more available than some other sports, but it still has blackouts that keep streamers from being able to watch their nearest team.

The playoffs is a different situation, though. The only thing you have to worry about is finding a streaming service carrying the games.

Today's games are on TBS. You can stream TBS on:

  • Sling TV (Orange, Blue, Orange+Blue)
  • Hulu+Live TV
  • YouTube TV
  • DirecTV Stream

Note that Fubo, the streaming service that touts itself as the app for sports, doesn't carry TBS.

Tomorrow's games are on MLB Network and Fox Sports 1. The services that carry FS1 are:

  • Sling TV (Blue, Orange+Blue)
  • Vidgo
  • Hulu+Live TV
  • YouTube TV
  • Fubo TV
  • DirecTV Stream

MLB Network is on:

  • Sling TV (Blue, Orange+Blue) with Sports Extra
  • YouTube TV
  • Fubo TV
  • DirecTV Stream (Choice)

So, what one service carries it all? There are three, actually.

  • Sling TV (Blue) with Sports Extra
  • YouTube TV
  • DirecTV Stream (Choice)

With any of those three services, you can watch the baseball divisional series. What about the league championships? Those are on Fox, Fox Sports 1, and TBS. To watch those games you'll need one of these:

  • Sling TV (Blue, Orange+Blue) if you have an antenna for Fox.
  • Hulu+Live TV
  • YouTube TV
  • DirecTV Stream

For the World Series, you'll need Fox, which is on:

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

Or, an antenna.

To watch everything, all the baseball playoffs, what services have that?

  • Sling TV (Blue) with Sports Extra, if you have an antenna for Fox.
  • YouTube TV
  • DirecTV Stream (Choice)

So, if you are ready for some baseball, you have some decisions to make, if that's to be a part of your Streaming Life this year.

Friday, October 8, 2021


I saw an article online yesterday about Redbox now being available on some PlayStation devices. I knew that Redbox had a streaming service, and I think I had tried it before, but I didn't have the password saved in my password manager app, so I wasn't really sure. I've tried a lot of apps over the years, so there was the possibility that I was thinking of something else.

Anyway, I went to the Redbox Website, requested a password reset, and sure enough, there was already an account set up. Since I had used Redbox DVD service in the past, I had figured there was an account. But I am certain I had used a Roku streaming app for Redbox in the past. I don't remember anything about it apart from the fact I had it, but removed it, probably for lack of use.

I downloaded the app, launched it, and logged in. What did I find? Xumo. Or something like it.

It defaulted to live streaming, such as you'll find on Xumo or Pluto TV. Redbox had 105 live streaming channels plus another 10 music channels. Compare to Xumo's 228 live streaming channels (counting 13 music channels), and it looks like a lesser service. And I suppose it is when it comes to live streaming channels.

For movies, it became apparent the difference between Redbox and others. Redbox rents movies. But you knew that, if you ever visited one of their kiosks outside the grocery store of the drug store. The movie library appears large and you can rent or buy most of the movies. No, I didn't county them, because they're arranged by genre, and many movies are in multiple categories. It would take a while to county the unique film titles, and I'm not gonna do that.

There was a section of free ad-supported movies, and it's what you would expect. Maybe not the same films you'll find in Filmrise, Xumo, Tubi, and other similar services, but many of the same, and all similar.

This isn't a negative review of the Redbox service. It's not even a review of the Redbox service. It's simply me telling you my first impressions of it. If things went no further, I'd probably delete the app. But, I'm not going to. Not just yet.

I'm going to give Redbox a try. The live TV service, the free on-demand movies, and such, I will try. Not sure if I'll actually spend money to purchase a film, but I may rent one if it's not available on another service for free. I'll include Redbox in my Steaming Life for now. I'll report back later if it stays there.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Buying movies on the cheap

I've talked about this a little bit before, as part of another topic, but it deserves its own focus.

Being a movie fan, I'm always looking to add to my growing movie collection. I currently have 1,679 movies in my collection, all of which are available for streaming from my personal Plex server. I can watch them on my streaming devices, wherever I am. All I need is an Internet connection, and I can watch one of my movies.

My movie collection is bigger than most people's collection. One of the drawbacks is how much it costs. For all of these movies, I either own the DVD or purchased the streaming version. For the 200-300 or so movies on DVD, I used utilities to rip and place them on my Plex server. For some of the streaming purchases, I downloaded, ran through a utility where necessary, and put the resulting file on my Plex server.

Today, I'm not talking about how to save money on DVDs. Rather, it's about how to save money on streaming purchases.

I subscribe to Movies Anywhere. The big deal about Movies Anywhere is that if you buy a movie through one participating video service, you have it through all of those services. The participating services are:

  • iTunes
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Vudu/Fandango Now
  • Google Play/YouTube
  • Microsoft
  • Xfinity (for Xfinity TV subscribers only)
  • Verizon Fios TV (for Verizon Fios TV subscribers only)
  • DIRECTV (for DIRECTV subscribers only)

This means that if you buy a movie from Amazon, you can watch it on iTunes.

What that also means is if Amazon has a movie on sale, you can buy it on sale, and still get it from another service, even if that services has a higher price for that movie.

Some of these services are always putting movies on sale. Sometimes, the movie is only $5 from, say, iTunes, and $15 from Google Play/YouTube Movies. For $5, you can get it from all of the services.

Suppose though, that you don't have iTunes. Suppose you're an Android user, and never had a reason to have an iTunes account. Or, suppose you're all in on Apple. You don't have a Google account, or a Microsoft account. Or, suppose you don't have a Vudu account. What then?

It doesn't matter. You can get one of those account. For instance, I was an iPhone user. I didn't have any reason to have an account with the Google Play Store. It didn't matter. I signed up for an account. When Google put a movie on sale, I got it for the sale price, and it was added to my iTunes library.

The only services that you can't really use are the TV subscribers -- Xfinity, Verizon Fios, DirecTV -- if you don't have their service. For example, I don't have DirecTV, so I can't buy movies from DirecTV.

There's one other catch. Not every movie is eligible. Many are. The studios participating in Movies Anywhere are listed on the Movies Anywhere Website:

Movies Anywhere features a wide range of films from 

  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Universal Pictures (including DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment)
  • The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Twentieth Century Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm)
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment

At this time, movies from non-participating studios such as 

  • Paramount
  • Lionsgate
  • MGM

are not eligible and will not migrate to your movie collection. As Movies Anywhere evolves, we will continue to add more content partners.

That translates to over half -- around 57% -- of my purchased streaming movies are eligible. I was able to buy most of my movies on sale.

This savings is the best reason to have Movies Anywhere. When the service first launched, they promoted it as "buy it on one service and watch it on any service." And that's great. But the better thing is "buy it cheaper from one service and get it on a more expensive service."

How do you find out which movies are on sale? From the Movies Anywhere Website. The movies where at least one service has a title on sale is marked. They're easy to find. Just look for the sale tag, click the movie, and it will show you how much each service charges for it. Buy it from the cheapest, and you own it on all. It's really easy.

Saving money is what I'm after, and Movies Anywhere is a way to do that. That's why Movies Anywhere is part of my Streaming Life, and should be part of yours.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Maybe it's not the saving money...

When I cut the cord in early 2011, it was after looking over two years of data. I looked at my viewing habits form 2009 and calculated if I could have saved money by streaming content instead. That mean watching current season TV shows on-demand from Hulu (free at the time), Hulu Plus (the paid version that had a different content library), TV antenna (live and recorded), and purchasing content from Amazon, iTunes, or other sources.

My numbers showed I would not have saved money in 2009, but when I ran the numbers again covering 2010, I would have saved money. So, I cut the cord and began relying on streaming TV.

But now that I've been streaming for over a decade, what would I miss the most? The money? Sure, that would be something I'd miss. But that would only be on the days I paid the bill.

What I'd miss the most, that is, on most days, is the control over my TV viewing. That would be every day I watched TV, no just on the days I paid the bill.

I began controlling my TV when I got a TiVo in 2006. It allowed me to watch TV when I wanted. I rarely watched anything live. And, during 2010, apart from sports programming, I didn't watch anything live. Well, some news shows, but that was it.

The live news shows were lost when I cut the cord, but the truth is I didn't really miss them. Sports, particularly college football, was another matter, so after live streaming services began, I started doing them in the fall.

Apart from that, I don't watch live TV. I watch stuff on demand, because I prefer it to fit my schedule. TiVo allowed that, and I've enjoyed it greatly since then. So, if I stopped streaming, I'd miss the ability to watch what I wanted when I wanted. I'd miss on-demand. I'd miss the control.

I suppose that's a flaw of mine, liking control. But I don't need to control others' lives. Just my life. And that includes my Streaming Life. And I would miss that, if I couldn't stream. I'd miss the money too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021


I've mentioned many times that I dropped cable in 2011. And that's true. It's also not exactly completely true.

You see, while I did drop cable in 2011, a couple of times since then, the cable company offered specials where it was actually cheaper to have Internet and local cable service than Internet alone. When that was the case, I would subscribe to Internet and local channels because it was cheaper. Yes, that sounds strange, but the cable company was running specials that actually worked out that way.

I still considered myself a cord cutter, because I did drop cable, but I wasn't going to pay more money just to say I was a cord cutter. I didn't watch cable, I just had the service.

Well, that's not completely true. I had a TiVo device with lifetime subscription from years prior. And, to complete the process of securing the special price to have Internet with local cable, I had to have a device that picked up cable. They wanted to hook me up with a cable box, but instead, I had them give me an M-Card to put in the TiVo, and I set it up. So I could use it if I wanted. And, sometimes I did watch some local news or other stuff, but most of the time I didn't.

I'd do this until the special ended, and it was cheaper to have just Internet rather than Internet and local cable. Then, of course, I'd drop local channels and go back to Internet only.

One time, though, they had a really special deal. I got Internet, local cable, and HBO for a lower price than Internet alone. Yeah, surprised me too.

During that time, I did try HBO. Now, I had subscribed to HBO or to Showtime in years past, many years past, but hadn't watched it in years. I did get the chance to watch some of the shows using the HBO GO app, since it let me authenticate. I didn't watch a lot, but did watch Westworld and Silicon Valley. And I did watch some movies.

Maybe I watched and liked HBO more than I realized.

Which brings me to the topic for now: HBO Max.

I never subscribed to HBO Now, which was the standalone HBO service. I only had HBO when it was part of a TV package that was cheaper than Internet alone. But then, HBO Max came about. It was a much better deal than HBO alone. It included the HBO library, and a lot more. But like HBO Go and HBO Now, it doesn't have live HBO.

Recently, I cut back on many of the services I use. I don't do live streaming (except during football season) so I'm very used to on-demand. I cut everything except Amazon Prime, which I keep for reasons apart from Prime Video. and PBS Passport. I did that by reviewing the services I had. What I didn't do is look at services I didn't have.

I'm not wanting to spend a bunch of money, or any money, on another service. However, if I were to spend money on a service, I think it would be HBO Max. And, in fact, I will.

My plan is to subscribe and give it a shot for a month. Maybe two. If I really like it, at least two.

I have some preconceptions about the service, since I've subscribed to HBO Go in the past. I think I'll like it. True, I didn't think enough of the HBO catalog to subscribe to HBO Now in the past, but HBO Max has more than that. Maybe even enough for me to keep a subscription.

I'll figure out when I can squeeze trying HBO Max into my Streaming Life. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe I'll catch up on Westworld. Maybe I'll find some new show that I'll like. I'm looking forward to finding out.