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Am I still saving money by streaming? Yes. Yes I am.

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I first cut the cord in 2011. At the time, I was saving $65/month by cutting cable. Yes, I had to buy some equipment for streaming, but that up front investment was paid for by the savings within the first two or three months. That meant that first year, I saved about $650. That was over a decade ago. If I were to cut the cord today, would I save that much? Would I save anything at all? I feel that I would, but I haven't run the numbers. Until now. There are a couple of ways looking at this. I'm going to look at a scenario where I've been a cable TV user for some time, and comparing the cost to switching to streaming. And, since I'm not a gamer, I'm going to consider an Internet speed that is sufficient for streaming, but may not suffice for heavy gaming. I'm a Comcast/Xfinity customer, and I'm using their plans to check this. Currently, a plan with 50 mbps service with 125 cable channels, including local channels, is $109/month plus tax. Oh, the broadcas

Netflix troubles

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Netflix announced this week that their subscribers grew by 8.3 million in the 4th quarter . The company on Thursday forecast an increase of 2.5 million subscribers in the current quarter, compared with four million a year earlier. It also slightly missed its subscriber estimate for the fourth quarter, adding 8.3 million subscribers instead of the projected 8.5 million. Netflix stock fell 20% in after-hours trading, while shares of its main streaming rival, Walt Disney Co. , were down 3.4%. It's not so much the increase in subscribers, but that the increase isn't enough to satisfy the stock gurus. Netflix revenue went up 16%, to $7.71-billion. That's a lot of money, but not enough for some people. And, their stock fell 20% because of that. Think about if your income went up 16% in three months, and people were disappointed in you. But, that's how things work in business. Netflix offers a lot of content that people like. A lot of people like it, and spend over $2-billi

DirecTV Stream price increase

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This past year, Hulu, Netflix, Frndly.TV, and other services have raised their prices. Now, DirecTV Stream, the most expensive of the live streaming services, is raising prices on most plans this week. According to a notice on their Website, the prices for service will go up tomorrow on most plans, but not on their cheapest plan. That plan remains at $70/month. The bigger plans, though, go up $5-$10. For grandfathered plans, the increases will be $4-$10. DIRECTV Stream packages (Current) Monthly price increase amount Minimum service ENTERTAINMENT No increase CHOICE $5 ULTIMATE $10 PREMIER $10 This is not unexpected. Prices increase because that's what prices do. Or have done to them. Bottom line is it costs more. How do you deal with this? What can you do about it? Well, there are several ways to go. One way is to just put up with it.

TV antennae and distance

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If you're a cord cutter, or thinking of becoming one, an option you should consider is getting a TV antenna. Most people in the USA live close enough to at least one broadcast tower and could pick up TV signals over the air. That's free. A long time ago, when I was just a wee lad, that was the only way to watch TV. We had a TV antenna pointed toward the TV towers in Savannah, and we'd watch the stations from that city. It was the closest place that had TV signals. Next closest was Jacksonville, Florida. Or maybe Charleston, South Carolina. But we usually watched Savannah stations. And we used an antenna because that's how you watched TV. Later, a company ran cable in our area, and we eventually switched over in order to watch the newer channels that were available beyond the Big Three networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC. Fox and CW came much later. Cable became big. Really big. It made Ted Turner millions, and Braves fans out of many people across the country. It was the part

A new TV?

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I wrote a few months back that if you have a smart TV, but it's not a Roku TV, Fire TV, or Android/Google TV, then you should consider getting a streaming device and using that instead . I stand by that recommendation. Let me lay out the case again. Most TVs today are smart TVs. Not all, but most. The obvious differences of resolution, color, all the things that matter to you, those are the most important things to consider. The smarts inside the TV are not quite as important. There are four major streaming platforms: Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android/Google TV. Any other platform, at least now, are lesser platforms. Don't even consider using a device on another platform. Of those four major streaming platforms, all but Apple TV can be found built in to some smart TVs. When it's time to get a TV, it doesn't matter if it's a smart TV or not. All that matters is that you are happy with the picture and the price. If the new TV is one of the Big Three platforms,

The more things change...

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There are two main ways to stream content: live and on-demand. You probably already knew that. If not, you just never took the time to think about it. But, it's really obvious once you ever do think about it. In the old days, you could only watch something as it became available. A new episode of I Love Lucy or Star Trek or Cheers would be watched when the network aired it. Or you might watch the baseball game of the week as it happened. That was how you could watch TV. Eventually, VCRs came available and you could record your soap operas for watching later. That meant there were two ways to watch TV. Now, you're streaming. And, you can watch TV in one of those two ways. If you have a live streaming service, you can watch the latest episode of NCIS when it airs. This is like the traditional way of watching TV. If you have an on-demand service, you can watch last night's Grey's Anatomy or This Is Us , same as if you had recorded it. Think about that for a minute. In

Saving more money when streaming

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I cut the cord to save money. When I first looked into streaming, I decided I would not drop cable if I couldn't save money. I spent a year keeping a record of what I watched, and then calculated how much I would have spent if I had streamed instead of watched with cable. And after a year, the numbers showed I wouldn't have saved any money. But it was close. So, the next year, I did it again. And that time, it turns out I would have saved money, so I cut the cord. That should show that my primary goal in cutting the cord was to save money. I'm not suggesting that's the only reason that should be considered in cutting the cord, but it was a requirement of mine. I'm all about saving money. So, if there's a way to save more money, I'm all in. The main thing I can do -- and you, too -- to save money is to not pay for anything more than I need to. I'll subscribe to Hulu, Discovery+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, Paramount+, AMC+, and ot

Low end Roku devices

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I've rarely purchased low end Roku devices. The first Roku device I bought was the model 2100 Roku XDS. That was the top of the line device, and I really liked it. Of course, devices got better, and I bought a newer device the next year. I moved the XDS to another TV and put my new model 3100 Roku 2 XS on my main TV. A year and a half later, I bought a Roku 3. I later bought a Roku Ultra. I've always had the top of the line devices, but I have purchased other devices along the way. I bought some sticks, but never really liked them until the Streaming Stick+ was released in 2017. However, the sticks went on secondary TVs. I always kept the better devices on my main TV. Right now, though, I don't have a Roku Ultra on my main TV. Now, to be clear, I maintain the Internet and streaming setup in four residences, my own and other family residences. On the main TV in my home, I actually have a Streambar. The Roku Ultra finally gave out after a little over four years, and I replace

Netflix costs more

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The cost of Netflix has gone up again. For most of 2020, Netflix standard plan, the mid-price plan, was $13/month. In late 2020, it went up $1, and now it's gone up another $1.50. The top tier plan went from $16 to $18 to now $20. Of course, it's not unexpected that prices will go up, especially with the inflation rate over four times what it was a year ago . While the price of entertainment hasn't gone up as much as the cost of energy, it all adds up. And now, to watch Netflix, it'll cost you around $2/month more, and 11% hike. Is Netflix worth it? Well, I dropped Netflix several years ago. I have occasionally subscribed, particularly when new Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes were released, but usually, I don't subscribe. Apart from MST3K, which is gone from Netflix, I'll subscribe about one month every year or two, to catch up on things (Stranger Things) that pique my interest. So, this price increase won't impact me, but I do feel for those that ar

KVM switch issues

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This is not exactly streaming related, other than it does involve my Plex server. Since Plex functionality allows local videos to be streamed over a local network, or over the Internet to approved users, this does to some degree apply to streaming, albeit specialized. I have more than one computer set up. If you're running a Plex server, it may be that you would accomplish it by having a dedicated computer for that purpose. If you do, and if you have another desktop computer for regular computer usage, you can run into space issues. That's where a KVM switch comes in. A KVM switch allows connecting multiple computers to a single keyboard (K), video device (V), and mouse (M). If you have two computers, your desktop could be PC 1 and the Plex server could be PC 2. Or, the other way around as it doesn't really matter which you call which. The thing is, you connect a single keyboard, a single video monitor, and a single keyboard to the switch, and two or more computers to the s

Frndly.TV staying friendly

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Frndly.TV has been a favorite of mine since it launched. It offers good family friendly entertainment at a good price. It's one of the cheapest ways to get Hallmark Channel streaming content. Recently, Frndly.TV has added several channels to its lineup, and went up a dollar a month -- still a good deal starting at $7/month -- but some of the new channels aren't as family friendly as the original lineup. I'm not saying the content isn't good, but some of the crime shows may be too intense for children. Not quite as family friendly. However, the most recent addition is more in the family friendly style. Frndly.TV has added FMC: Family Movie Classics to its lineup . While I've not seen that channel, it is one I will be checking out. I'm glad to see more family friendly content available for streaming. And while I may not be tuning in FMC or Frndly.TV every day/night, it is something that will be a daily stop in some people's Streaming Life.

Roku Live TV

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Roku has launched a new "Live TV" item on its menu. It's similar to the Live TV section of Amazon Fire TV, but there are some differences, as you might expect. But not many. The main difference, really, is that Fire TV will try to autoplay selections for you while you are reading the description of the content. There are settings that will turn some of this off, but that only works on the items at the very top of the Live TV section, the Featured section. When you go to the other sections, Fire TV autoplays. I hate that. Roku doesn't autoplay, which is something I prefer. So right off the bat, Roku wins the comparison. Roku Live TV focuses primarily on The Roku Channel. All of the content you can access directly from the Live TV menu is from The Roku Channel. There are sections of content that are actually shortcuts to Roku apps. Of course, since Roku calls apps by the name "channels" it's difficult to tell if this is a live TV channel, or an app. The wa

Second thoughts on Chromecast

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I've been using Roku as my primary streaming device since 2010. But, along the way, I've used many other devices. I currently have an Apple TV, Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast with Google TV. And Chromecast is my topic today. I've talked before about what I like about Chromecast , and what I don't like about Chromecast . The things I like are still true, but the things I don't like are becoming more and more apparent. For example, my Chromecast is sluggish. Sure, there are ways to fix that , but having to do that isn't something I particularly care for. These little nagging things -- sluggish and requiring a restart , running out of space  -- can wear on my patience. Now, if all devices were like that, I wouldn't complain so much. But, over time, it turns out that Fire TV, which was on my naughty list for years, now performs better over time. And Roku performs best overall. Well, Roku and Apple TV perform the best. This isn't to say that Chromecast wit

App cleanup

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I noticed that on my primary streaming device, a Roku device, I have 62 apps listed. That kinda surprised me. Side note: Roku calls their apps by the name "channels" which I never really liked. I'm calling them apps, because that's what they are. I asked myself, "Self, do you really use 62 different apps? Surely you can't be serious." But I did not complete the Airplane joke, I stopped at the Flip Wilson joke. And if you don't get that, you're a lot younger than I am. I know I don't use 62 different apps, so it's time for a cleanup. Only, I discovered it's actually 60 apps. Turns out, I still have the "Add Channels" and "TV Off" selections on the main menu, which Roku calls "shortcuts." Those were the first to go. Down to 60. On a Roku home screen, there are nine fully visible apps, and three mostly visible apps. The two I use most, Plex and YouTube, are the first two items. ESPN is on that block of nine,

How to watch the College Football Playoff championship game

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There have been 37 college bowl games/playoff games so far this year. More were scheduled, but five were canceled. The first two games were on December 17, and the 38th one, the national championship game, will be tonight. In all, 74 schools will have played games this post-season. Streamers used to have a difficult time watching the games live -- at least legally -- but that changed in the 2015 season when the first live streaming service, Sling TV , launched. Now, there are several live streaming services, and you have lots of options when it comes to watching bowl games. The Game Monday, January 10 College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T 8:00 PM ESPN Alabama vs Georgia How to Watch The game will be on a streaming service that carries ESPN. Here are the services for that network. ESPN/ESPN2 ESPN carries many college games during the season. A few are carried on ESPN2. All services that carry ESPN also carry ESPN2: Sling Orange ($35)

Dropping Live TV Streaming

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Every football season, I subscribe to a live streaming service, usually Sling TV, to watch football. Well, there's one more game left in the college football season, the national championship tomorrow night. After that's done, I drop Sling TV. A lot of people use a live streaming service, some call it "Cable 2.0," year-round. I don't. There's nothing that I watch live year round. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I can watch local channels via an antenna. I don't need YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Fubo, or any other service that carries local channels. The fact that my go-to service for college football is Sling TV is because I don't need locals, and Sling TV doesn't carry locals. That's why it's so much cheaper than other services. With no need for a live streaming service, I'm about to save $35/month by dropping Sling TV. And that's one thing I really like about streaming. All I have to go is go to the Website and canc

Would expanded playoffs have made a difference?

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For quite some time, several of my online friends have advocated and expanded college football playoff system. We've not been some Johnny-come-lately about it. We've been clamoring for this online for over a decade and a half. And privately for longer. If you want a refresher of one of our latest calls, there's a post I wrote last month that you can review here . If that had been how things were done this year, would we have still ended up with Alabama and Georgia playing for the title? Heck, I don't know. And that's the point. The four-team playoff pretty much guaranteed Alabama vs. Georgia. Had the 16-team format been in place, you would have had: (1) Alabama (SEC) (16) Northern Illinois (Mid American) (2) Michigan (Big Ten) (15) Utah State (Mountain West) (3) Georgia (At-large) (14) Texas-San Antonio (Conference USA) (4) Cincinnati (American) (13) Louisiana (Sun Belt) (5) Notre Dame (At-large) (12) Pittsburgh (ACC) (6) Ohio State (At-large) (11) Utah (Pac 12) (7)

Powering a streaming stick from USB? Don't.

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Sticks are a popular way to add a streaming device to a TV. I have streaming sticks by Roku and Amazon on my TVs, as well as Google Chromecast, on different TVs, but on my primary TV, my main way of watching isn't with a stick. However, I do use them on occasion. All of my Amazon Fire TV devices are Fire TV Sticks, for instance, so when I decide to use Amazon Fire TV, I'm using a stick. I have no issues with sticks. They're great. One thing that crops up often in the Roku support forums is odd behavior from a Roku stick, and it turns out that the user is powering it from a USB port on a TV rather than with the included Roku power supply. The other thing is that for some overseas locations, Roku doesn't even include a power supply on some devices, so you have to use the USB port on the TV. And, Roku has included instructions on how to use the USB port on the TV to power the stick. That means that Roku says, "Sure, go ahead, power your Roku device with the USB por

Next Gen TV

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There are reports that half of the USA will be in range of at least one TV station with Next Gen TV (ATSC 3.0) by the end of 2022. That's a good thing. Well, I suppose it is. Next Gen TV is supposed to be wonderful and offer all kind of great things. The biggie is 4K TV over the air. There's also Dolby AC-4 (7.1.4, Atmos). Other stuff, too. The big thing is the TV broadcast could look and sound better. If you have the right equipment. Now, if you are a streamer, and only a streamer, this doesn't really matter. Your streaming services will deal with all of that. But, if you do use an antenna, it might make a difference. I'll use my current situation as an example. In one of the rooms, I have an HD TV with Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Fire TV devices attached. I do not have an antenna attached to that TV. There's more to this, but keeping it simple, let's say that's the extent of it. In that case, Next Gen TV won't mean a thing for that TV. Let'

Fawesome, a deeper look

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Some weeks back, I took a quick look at the Fawesome app. It's another free streaming app, ad-supported app with some good selections and some bad ones. It's one of several that you can find for different streaming devices, and I said before that it's one I would probably keep and watch from time to time. Well, I did. And I will still. But I don't want to give the impression that it's an exceptional app. It's not. But it is a good app. By that I mean I have experienced a lot of apps that were not as good. This is better than most of its type. The quality of the app is fine. The drawbacks are common to these types of apps. The selection of movies isn't great, but it's okay. It's not up to that of Crackle, for instance, but it's okay. The commercials play every 10-12 minutes of movie time, and can run 2-3 minutes. That gives you 10 minutes of movie, then 2 minutes of commercials, another 10 minutes of movie, another 2 minutes of commercial, ano

How to watch the bowl games: Day 15

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There are 44 college bowl games/playoff games this year. The first two were on December 17, and the last one, the national championship game, will be on January 10. In all, 86 schools will have played games this post-season. Streamers used to have a difficult time watching the games live -- at least legally -- but that changed in the 2015 season when the first live streaming service, Sling TV , launched. Now, there are several live streaming services, and you have lots of options when it comes to watching bowl games. The Games One bowl game, the last bowl game before the championship game next week, is scheduled. Tuesday, January 4 TaxAct Texas Bowl 9:00 PM on ESPN Louisiana State (6-6) vs. Kansas State (7-5) How to Watch Today's game will be on a streaming service that carries ESPN. Here are the services. ESPN/ESPN2 ESPN carries the most games. A few are carried on ESPN2. All services that carry ESPN also carry ESPN2: Sling Orange ($35) Vidgo ($55) Yo

Back to basics

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I have a problem. Not with cord cutting, since I've been doing it, and doing it successfully, for over a decade. And by successful, I mean that I've saved money and watch as much TV as I want. That's may goal: save money, watch what I want. Still, I have a problem. The problem is that I'm eleven years removed from the questions that a new cord cutter might be asking. And in those eleven years, the questions have changed. And for the questions that have not changed, some of the answers have. The problem is compounded by the fact that even if all the questions and answers were the same, I'm no longer in the same confused mindset that someone totally unfamiliar with cord cutting would experience. While I know the answers -- that may sound arrogant, but it's true, I know my stuff -- I can't always anticipate the questions. Here's where that gets worse. Many people new to cord cutting -- including me a dozen years ago -- didn't even know what question

The problem with posting ahead

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One of the things I like about Blogger and other platforms -- I'm also quite familiar with WordPress and others -- is the ability to write a post ahead of time for it to appear at a scheduled time. I can schedule a post to appear whenever I want. I certainly don't wake up every morning and write a post at 6:00 AM. I write them ahead of time and schedule them to show up then. Often, I write the day or night before, but sometimes, I write well ahead of time. There are a few different reasons for this. One is that I want to write about something, I have the time and have done my research, but I don't want to wait. I'm ready to go, but I don't want it to show up just then. I'll write the post, then schedule ahead of time. This is very common in blogging. Another is that I'm going to need some time away, but I don't want this Website to sit dormant. I want content to appear, and will write something that isn't time sensitive, or if it is, schedule it

How to watch the bowl games: Day 14

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There are 44 college bowl games/playoff games this year. The first two were on December 17, and the last one, the national championship game, will be on January 10. In all, 86 schools will have played games this post-season. Streamers used to have a difficult time watching the games live -- at least legally -- but that changed in the 2015 season when the first live streaming service, Sling TV , launched. Now, there are several live streaming services, and you have lots of options when it comes to watching bowl games. The Games Five games are scheduled for today. Saturday, January 1 Outback Bowl 12:00 PM on ESPN2 Penn State (7-5) vs. Arkansas (8-4) Vrbo Citrus Bowl 1:00 PM on ABC Iowa (10-3) vs. Kentucky (9-3) PlayStation Fiesta Bowl 1:00 PM on ESPN Notre Dame (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-2) Rose Bowl 5:00 PM on ESPN Ohio State (10-2) vs. Utah (10-3) Allstate Sugar Bowl 8:45 PM on ESPN Mississippi (10-2) vs. Baylor (11-2) How to Watch All of today's