Monday, January 31, 2022

Peacock TV is losing lots of money, as expected

Comcast lost a lot of money on Peacock TV last year. According to Variety, the streaming service lost over $1-billion in 2021, qnd is expected to lose even more in 2022.

Comcast, in reporting Q4 earnings Thursday, revealed that Peacock generated $778 million in revenue for the full-year 2021, with an adjusted loss of $1.7 billion. That’s compared with $118 million of revenue and an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) loss of $663 million in 2020.

For 2022, Comcast expects Peacock losses to total about $2.5 billion as its investment in content doubles, CFO Mike Cavanagh said on the earnings call.

So, why is this a good thing? I mean, losing billions of dollars doesn't sound good, does it? But, launching a large streaming service is expensive, and Comcast thinks that in the long run, they can withstand these losses and end up making money overall. They're looking at it as a long-term investment.

In fact, for the 4th quarter of 2021, Comcast performed better than expected.

This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of 5.48%. A quarter ago, it was expected that this cable provider would post earnings of $0.75 per share when it actually produced earnings of $0.87, delivering a surprise of 16%.

Over the last four quarters, the company has surpassed consensus EPS estimates four times.

So, it looks like Comcast won't be cutting their losses. They expected them, and overall, business is better than expected.

What does this mean for the streamer? It means that Peacock TV will be hanging around for a while yet. It won't be going the way of PlayStation Vue, at least nor for a few years. And, if the better than expected performance continues, Peacock TV subscribers can expect to have that as a part of their Streaming Life for some time to come.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

A good look at HBO Max

After a couple of earlier musings on HBO Max, and an abbreviated test run, I finally was able to spend some time actually using the service. I like it. I won't keep it, but I like it.

First, I'll tell you why I like it, then I'll tell you why I won't keep it.

Why do I like HBO Max? Quite simply, it has good content. That's really the only reason to subscribe to any service, and HBO Max is definitely one to consider. While not all of the movies are my taste -- I'm not in the target audience for most theatrical releases -- the service has a lot of hit movies available. And TV shows. Don't forget the HBO shows.

There are Academy Award winning films from the early years (Grand Hotel, The Great Ziegfeld, Casablanca) to 21st century Best Picture winners (Argo, No Country for Old Men). There are plenty of movies from the history of cinema, from the 1902 Georges Méliès classic Le Voyage dans la Lune/A Trip to the Moon to this week's theatrical release The Fallout.

HBO Max has popular and award winning TV series such as South Park, Sesame Street, Westworld, Game of Thrones. and Lovecraft Country, among many many others.

A feature of HBO Max I really like is the Hubs. There are hubs for HBO content, HBO Max original content, DC comics content, TCM (Turner Classic Movies), [adult swim], Cartoon Network, Sesame Street, and Looney Tunes. Some of those really appeal to me, and being able to find them in one place is a nice feature.

What I don't like about HBO Max is the fact that I can't turn auto-play off. When an episode of a TV show is done, I may not want to watch the next episode. I may not even want it to start playing. I want auto-play to be off. To be fair, on some devices, it can be turned off.

Autoplay can be turned off on Cox devices, LG TV, VIZIO TV, XClass TV, Samsung TV, and Xfinity devices. 

Other devices: Autoplay can't be turned off. If you don't want to watch the next episode, pause or stop playback before the next episode begins. Stay tuned as we add this functionality to more devices.

I'll be happier when they roll it out to devices that I use.

If you were to decide to have only a single streaming service, HBO Max is a great choice. Could it replace Netflix? Sure. Keep in mind that most of the content on HBO Max can only be seen on HBO Max. You won't find the content on Netflix, or at least, not for long. It's owned by Warner Media, and the Warner Bros. catalog of movies and TV is huge. They'll be keeping their content in-house for the most part, and you'll only be able to see the content on HBO Max. So yes, it certainly can replace Netflix, if you so choose.

And that gets me to why I won't be keeping the service. Oh, it's a good service. It's a great service. But, no service has everything. Yes, you can get everything, but you have to subscribe to everything to get it. Here's the secret: you can, and you can affordably.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, you can drop your subscription any time you like. You can replace it with HBO Max. And, when you want to go back to Netlfix after a month or more, you can. Drop HBO Max and resubscribe to Netflix. Or a different service.

Look at it this way. You can subscribe to Netflix for two months, and it will cost you $31. You can subscribe to HBO Max for two months, and it will cost you $30. That's $61 for two months. Or, you can subscribe to Netflix for one month, then HBO Max the next, and that's $30.50. Half the cost for two months. Watch one service one month and the other service another month. Over the two months, you have plenty to watch, the same amount of content actually, over the 60 days. You get one service at a time, and pay for once service at a time. You can watch the same content during those 60 days for half the cost.

So, I'm not going to keep HBO Max when the subscription ends. Not because I don't like it, but because I'm going to use another service for a month. I've done Netflix recently, and now HBO Max, but I'm not sure what next month will bring. I'll use something, though. I don't like the idea of subscribing to multiple services at the same time, because I can't watch them all to make it worthwhile. But, I can watch one this month and another next month, and so on. That would be cost effective. And entertaining. I'll have HBO Max back in my Streaming Life again.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Streaming Beijing Olympics

The 24th Winter Olympic Games begin February 4th in Beijing. If you're a streamer and interested in the games, you'll be happy to know you can stream them.

In 1901, Sweden hosted the Nordic Games. At the time, there were no winter games in the Olympics. Norway hosted the Nordic games in 1903, then Sweden hosted the games in 1905, 1909, 1913, 1917, 1922, and 1926.

In 1924, the first Winter Olympics were held, and the Nordic Games ceased running after the 1926 events. The Winter Olympics were held every four years from 1924 to 1992, excepting 1940 and 1944 when Axis Powers countries Japan and Italy were scheduled to host. World War II took priority.

The Winter Games shifted two years following the 1992 games, being held in 1994, and every four years after. That puts the Summer Olympics in even years divisible by four, and the Winter Olympics during the intervening even years.

This year, they're in Beijing. And, as usual, NBC has broadcast rights in the USA. You'll be able to watch many events on your local NBC station, using an antenna or a live streaming service. If you want to watch more events, there's Peacock TV. The Olympics FAQ says you'll be able to watch every event with that service:

Can I watch the entire Winter Olympics on Peacock, including Opening and Closing Ceremonies?

Yes! If you have a Peacock Premium plan, you can stream the entire Winter Olympics, from Opening Ceremony to Closing Ceremony and everything in between. Get more details here.

If you have a Peacock Free plan, you can stream recaps, highlights, and commentary on our always-on Olympic Channels.

Peacock TV Premium is $5/month. If you are a Comcast/Xfinity Internet subscriber, you can add Xfinity Flex to your plan for free, and get Peacock TV Premium included.

If you want to watch NBC content, your local NBC station is available several different ways.

  • Antenna (free to watch)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

Keep in mind that only Peacock TV has every event. If you want the Winter Olympics in your Streaming Life, Peacock TV, at $5/month, is the cheapest way to accomplish this.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Tablo Connect update II

A few months ago, I set up Tablo Connect and tried it on my Chromecast with Google TV device, and with my Fire TV Stick 4K device. I had planned on testing it with Apple TV, but never did. I will eventually. Probably.

My focus for now is on Tablo Connect, not on the devices. Simply put, the device doesn't matter. Well, as long as the device supports Tablo Connect. That means no Roku. Tablo works on Roku, but the Connect feature doesn't. Maybe it will one day, but for now, to use Tablo Connect, you need Apple TV, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield, Fire TV, iOS devices, and Android devices.

So, what is Tablo Connect? Well, it's what Tablo calls their watch anywhere, on the go, whatever you want to call it. You can watch your Tablo, live or recorded content, away from home. Is that a big deal? Well, yeah, it really is. Think about that. You can watch your home TV antenna content anywhere. All you need is an Internet connection.

I manage the TV/tech setup in a couple of houses. I don't have an antenna at my house because of the trouble with trees and power lines. It's not an ideal situation, but one that I'm working to resolve. It's not a priority though. Why not? Because at my mother's house, I bought and put up an antenna. That gave that house the ability to watch TV over the air. I set up Tablo there so all the TVs can watch over the air TV and recordings through the Roku devices.

So, my antenna is at a location away from my house. Not ideal, but Tablo Connect lets me use it just as it it was at my house. And it works well. As long as the Internet is working at both locations, I can watch over the air TV any time I want.

The only issues I ever have are unrelated to Tablo connect. There are a couple of channels that occasionally experience dropouts, but that's the antenna and the signal, and the fact the TV tower is over 40 miles away for that station. Tablo Connect is great.

How could it benefit you? Well, if you're in a situation where an antenna isn't easy to set up at your location, but there is another location you could use, then setting up Tablo Connect solves that problem. I bore all the expense is the setup. I bought the antenna and pole, paid for the installation, paid for the Tablo device, paid for the Tablo two-week guide, paid for everything.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. I mean, if I was doing this at my house, I'd have paid for everything, so it was no extra cost for me. I bought what I would have bought anyway. I just put it up at my mother's house rather than mine, because it was much easier to put up an antenna there. I get to watch TV over the air, as do everyone there.

Tablo Connect is great. If you're using Tablo, or thinking about putting up an antenna, consider Tablo. Both it and Air TV work well, but Tablo Connect is a useful feature for me. It makes my Streaming Life so much better. It may be something for you to look into. I'm glad I did.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Do you need a year-round live streaming service?

If you cut the cord and replaced cable with a live streaming service -- YouTube TV, Fubo, Vidgo, Sling TV, Phio, etc. -- I have a question for you: why?

Why did you simply replace cable with a live streaming service? What was it about cable you didn't like? The price? Okay, I get that. If the live streaming service is cheaper, that's great.

Or was it paying for channels you didn't watch? Well, if that's the case, does the live streaming service have channels you don't watch? I bet it does. So what did you solve? Price? So we're back to that, which is fine, but I'm trying to understand why you actually cut the cord. The real reason.

Is it more control of your viewing options? That's legit. There is nothing wrong with wanting to control your TV, rather than ceding that to the cable company. With cable, you probably have only one or two cable options. With streaming, you have many options, including those listed above. You can switch easily, with month to month service, unlike cable where you are often locked into long term contracts.

My reason was price, and it's still true that I'm saving money vs paying for cable. But I don't have a live streaming service year-round. I'll subscribe to one during part of the year, usually for a total of four months, though not four back-to-back months. I'll let time pass between them. And I'm wondering if you should do that too.

Do this little thought experiment. Suppose you didn't have a live streaming service. Everything you have for streaming is there, just not the live streaming service. Would you be okay with that? Now, perhaps your first reaction is "no." But is that really your final answer. Let's go through this and see.

If you did not have a live streaming service, would you just not watch TV? I suspect you would find something to watch. Likely, you have other services, such as Netflix, Disney+, Discovery+,  Prime Video, Paramount+, HBO Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, or one (or more) of the many many other services. If you have one or more of those services, you can find stuff to watch.

Of course, while you can watch something, you wouldn't be able to watch everything you want, losing the control you may be after. So is it a bad idea to drop live streaming? Well, for you, it may be. But it is something to consider.

If you only subscribed for a few months out of the year, how big of a problem would that be? If you subscribed every other month, would that be a problem? If you could catch up on the missed shows, would the savings in money, cutting the live streaming costs in half, be worth it? What about if you subscribed one month a quarter? Or four months a year, spread out in some manner? Would the savings make the delay in watching some shows worth it?

You can't do this with cable. If you are on a month to month billing with cable, after your long-term contract is up, and you drop cable, they'll sometimes have a reconnect fee. Or they may require a long-term contract to go back. Streaming services don't require that, and you can subscribe and drop as often as you like.

I'm really not trying to talk you out of a live steaming service, but I am trying to get you to put some thought into ways to save money. You have options streaming that you don't have with cable. If utilizing these options saves you some money, then you're ahead of the game. Heck, you're not just ahead, you've won.

If you put a little thought into your Streaming Life, you may end up putting some money in your wallet. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Are new Chromecasts coming?

I so want to like the Chromecast with Google TV device. However, the more I use it the more trouble I find it. Storage is one of the big issues that I've encountered. I've been hoping for a better Chromecast device with more storage. And, it looked like one was coming, according to a report from 9to6Google.

Part of the charm of the Chromecast with Google TV is the simplicity of the dongle form factor, but demand has been rising for a higher-end device to compete with the Nvidia Shield TV series. In that vein, perhaps Boreal could be a more premium Google TV box. Google has pursued this model in the past with the $69 Chromecast Ultra and $99 Nexus Player.

But now, it appears the new Chromecast will be a low-end device, if the report from Protocol is correct.

The new low-end Chromecast is said to be based on an Amlogic S805X2 CPU with a Mali-G31 GPU. This would allow it to support decoding of the AV1 video codec — something Google has been pushing other hardware makers to adopt. The dongle will have 2GB of RAM at most, and support 1080p streaming with a maximum frame rate of 60fps.

Google’s most recent streaming dongle, called Chromecast with Google TV, sports a more powerful chipset capable of 4K streaming, but doesn’t currently support AV1 hardware decoding. The device retails for $50, making it likely that the new HD-only Chromecast will sell for $40 or less.

I hope that it's simply a mixup, with two devices coming. To me, the best thing would be to replace the low-end Chromecast with a low-end Chromecast with Google TV, and to replace the current 4K Chromecast with Google TV with an upgraded 4K that had more on-board storage.

There's no evidence that this is what will be happening, but if it did happen, then both stories could be true, and the discrepancy could be simply confusing the code names of the new devices.

I so want to like the Chromecast with Google TV. If they fix the storage issue, that would be a huge step in the right direction. Chromecast with Google TV is a part of my Streaming Life, just a small part. An upgraded device would make it much easier to use it more. I really hope that's what happens.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Watching Hallmark movies

During the Christmas season, it's almost cliché to think about the Hallmark Channel and all their Christmas movies. People will joke about how bland and predictable they all are, but watch them anyway.

Of course, Hallmark doesn't just have movies during Christmas. The Hallmark Channel, and the Hallmark channels (there are more than one), offer content year-round. And, sure, you could make the same jokes about the other Hallmark movies that you do about their Christmas movies (most of the same jokes) but the reality is, you'd probably like those movies just as well.

There are several ways for a streamer to watch Hallmark movies and TV shows, ranging from expensive to cheap to free.


The services that carry the three Hallmark channels carry more than just Hallmark. However, it's a good idea to look at their other channels to see if it's worth the cost. It may be. Or not. If your only want is Hallmark, these are probably not the way to go. All of the expensive ones carry news channels and, mostly, local channels as well. Note that Hulu+Live TV, which would be listed in the Expensive category isn't listed because it doesn't have any Hallmark channels.

DirecTV Stream

The DirecTV Stream service is the most expensive, at $70/month, but includes a lot of channels, including local channels, plus two Hallmark channels: Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. You can add Hallmark Drama as part of the Movies Extra Pack, which is another $5/month. That pack also includes AMC+, Hallmark Movies Now, Lifetime Movie Club, A&E Crime Central, HISTORY Vault, Pantaya, UP Faith & Family, Pantaya, Revry, and DOGTV.

Fubo TV

Fubo TV, at $65/month, includes the three Hallmark channels, as well as local channels and around 80 other channels.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is $65/month includes the three Hallmark channels, with the ability to add Hallmark Movies Now for another $6/month.


Vidgo is cheaper than Fubo or YouTube TV, and offers the three Hallmark channels in their $55/month package.


Cheap is a relative term. Compared the the services listed above, these services are at least $20/month cheaper. None of these carry local channels, and only one, Sling TV, has any news or sports channels.

Sling TV

Sling TV is a little complicated. That's because Sling TV has a free tier that most people don't realize or think about. Free Sling TV is similar to Xumo or Pluto TV, but doesn't offer as much content. What it does offer is a "best of" in that the offerings they do have are many of the more popular ones of the free streaming services. That includes some on-demand content from Hallmark Movies Now. To be sure, it's not the entire library, and it's not the current year's content, but it is Hallmark content, and it's free.

For Sling TV subscribers, whether the Orange or Blue plans ($35/month) or the combined Orange+Blue plan ($50/month), you can get the three Hallmark channels with the add-on Lifestyle Extra package for another $6/month.


At $25/month, Philo is one of the best deals available for live streaming entertainment, with over 60 channels, including the three Hallmark channels.

Frndly TV

For $7/month, this is the cheapest way to get the three Hallmark channels, with live streams plus on-demand content.

Oh, if you have a service that doesn't have any Hallmark content, it may be easy enough to


Yes, you can get some Hallmark content for free. You won't get the full live streams of the three channels, but you will get some content, which is better than no content. And you'll get it for free, which is better than paying through the nose.

Live streams

These apps and services offer free Hallmark content live streaming.

  • Xumo (Hallmark Movies & More)
  • The Roku Channel (Hallmark Movies & More)

On demand

These apps and services offer free Hallmark content on-demand.
  • Xumo (Hallmark Movies & More)
  • Sling TV Free (Hallmark Movies Now)


I know we're talking Hallmark content, but the reality is that Hallmark doesn't have a monopoly on the types of movies they show. You can find similar content on many services. For example, on Netflix, if you search for "Hallmark" you'll find no matches. You'll also find a list of movies that are similar, and if you didn't know better, would think that many of them were Hallmark movies.

If Hallmark movies and TV are what you're after, you can add some content for free, or all content for as little as $7/month.

Monday, January 24, 2022

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

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 broadcast fees and regional sports fees add another $29.30/month to this, bringing this to $138.30/month, plus tax.

Now, during the first year, with a one-year agreement, there is a $29/month discount.

Also, the 125+ channels package has less than 125 channels if you don't count the music audio only channels, and you don't double count the channels with both an SD and and HD feed. Taking the audio-only music channels, and not double-counting the SD/HD feeds, there are 112 channels. Take out the local channels and you're left with 93 channels that you can't get with an antenna.

My current Internet only 50 mbps service is $49/month. That's it.

Okay, there is more, because we have to add TV channels. There are a couple of ways to do this. I'm close enough to some TV towers to pick up 25 over the air channels reliably. There are more channels I can occasionally pick up, but I'm ignoring those channels. I'm only looking at channels I can pick up. I get 25 local channels. That's six more local channels than Comcast/Xfinity cable offers.

So, what if I add a streaming service to get those other channels, what's the cost? Well, before I go down that road, I need to determine if I really want all those channels. And a quick look shows that I don't.

Of course, I don't care about any of the cable channels outside college football season, but others might. So, what service gets someone what they want?

There are three categories of live-streaming cable replacement services. One category has no news, sports, or local channels. Another category has news and sports but no locals. One category has news, sports, and locals.

If you feel you really need local channels because you don't or can't have an antenna, you probably feel you need the third category. As of this writing, those services, and starting prices, are:

  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If you have an antenna, or otherwise don't care about local channels, then it comes down to whether or not you want news and sports.

If you do, then you have one option: Sling TV ($35/month).

If news and sports aren't important, but you still want cable channels, then your best options depend on just what you want. You have three main options, depending on the channels in your wish list:

  • Frndly.TV ($7/month)
  • Philo ($25/month)
  • Sling TV ($35/month)

Yes, I know I included Sling TV in two categories, but the fact is, they have some popular channels that Philo and Frndly.TV don't have. Look into the channels you want, really want, and pick the cheapest one that meets your needs. For example, if Hallmark is a must-have, you may be able to get by with Frndly.TV ($7/month). Or, if HGTV is your must have, then Philo ($25/month) is your best option. And, if USA is your must-have, that means Sling TV is your cheapest option.

Of course, you don't have to subscribe to any service year-round. You can subscribe to a service for 30 days only, then cancel if other services will suffice. By other services, I'm talking bout Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, Discovery+, or others.

That's an important thing to consider. There's no year-long commitment to any streaming service, whether a live or on-demand service. You can subscribe to a single service for a month, then change to another.

For me, I'm saving a lot of money by streaming instead of having cable. I don't need a live streaming service year-round. I don't need an on-demand service year-round, and there are enough to swap around month to month.

Will you save money? Or ar you already saving money? If you plan things right, you may be able to save a lot of money in your Streaming Life, and use that money for something, or someone, else. Valentine's Day is coming, after all.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Netflix troubles

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-billion/month to do use the service. And that is disappointing investors. So, what'll happen? Probably not much. Well, maybe Netflix will have less original programming. Or more. I don't know. All I know is that it's a valuable part of the Streaming Life of a lot of people. I hope it streamers continue to have good options.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

DirecTV Stream price increase

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

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. Prices went up, and you pay more. Simple. But that might not sit well. It wouldn't with me.

Another option is to look for a cheaper service. DirecTV Stream is the most expensive service, so just about any other service will save you money. If another service has the channels you want and is cheaper, you can save money by switching services.

And there's the old "do I really need this" option. I don't use a live streaming service year-round. Ask yourself if you need it year round. If you can skip a month or two during the year, you'll end up saving money, even with the price increase.

You can also do both the second and third option. Get a cheaper service that has the channels you want, and only subscribe part of the year. Along with that, look into the free services, such as Pluto TV or Xumo, and see if the content there can substitute for some of the channels on your expensive live streaming service. You might be surprised what you find. Even with the price increases, you may be able to save some money in your Streaming Life.

Friday, January 21, 2022

TV antennae and distance

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 about making millions of dollars that people latched onto. Cable was big. However, the whole time, over the air TV still worked. Many people didn't use it though. Cable was expensive, but convenient.

The increase in streaming services has put a huge dent in cable, and is partly responsible for people remembering, or finding out for the first time, about over the air TV. What was an old market, an only market, was resurrected, and became a hot new market again. And what happens when a new market emerges? Somebody wants to take advantage of it.

A lot of TV antennae that you see in stores make some really outrageous claims. I've seen antennae claiming 200 mile range.

Let me tell you a secret. They're lying. Here's why I can tell you they are lying: the earth is round.

Try this experiment. If you can't do it in person, do it in you mind. Or read this article. You'll see what I mean. Go to the ocean. Stand on the beach and look out over the ocean. See the horizon? Where the sea meets the sky? That's a little over five miles away. Well, for me it is. If you're taller, maybe a little more, and if you're shorter, a little less.

Now, if you're higher, say on top of a building, you can see even farther, maybe ten miles away. Now, if there's a TV tower, those are a bit higher, and you can see them even farther away from the top of a building. But how far away? Maybe as far as 70 miles. Maybe not quite that far.

There are other factors to consider as well. Ground clutter -- the natural or man-made obstructions between you and the object (TV tower, in this instance) -- can negatively affect the signal. The antenna itself can make a difference. All antennae are not created equal. Also, all TV signals are not created equal.

TV stations that broadcast on channels 2-6 are VHF low, channels 7-13 are VHF high, and 14 up are UHF. You need a different antenna for each of those bands. The good news is that you can find an antenna with all three in one. The key thing is, every antenna has all three combined.

Another thing is that not every TV station actually broadcasts on the channel you think. The actual channel may be different than the virtual channel. Let me use my local stations as an example.

All the stations in Savannah except one operate on the same channel by which they identify. WTOC channel 11 broadcasts on channel 11. WJCL channel 22 broadcasts on channel 22. However, WSAV channel 3 actually broadcasts on channel 16.

A better example is Jacksonville. WJXT channel 4 actually broadcasts on channel 42. WJXX channel 25 is on channel 10. WTLV channel 12 is on channel 13. There are more, but I think you see the point. It's complicated.

Regardless of the fruit basket turnover involving virtual and actual channels, if you have an antenna that picks up all three bands, you still need to be close enough to a tower to pick up the station.

There is no such thing as a 200 mile antenna. If you take nothing else away from this, take that. Marketing hype is a fancy term for lying. Don't believe the hype. Do some research, or reach out to an expert. One is Tyler the Antenna Man, but there are others.

If you can, find a good antenna. Use the resources available to get the local channels, if you live close enough.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

A new TV?

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, then you're okay. Well, if you like the platform. Let me explain.

Suppose you are a fan of Fire TV. You've used Fire TV and you like it. Now, suppose you need a new TV, and after doing all your research, you find a TV that you like, except it is an Android/Google TV platform. That's okay. You don't have to switch to Android/Google TV. You can add a Fire TV Stick to it and use that instead.

Likewise, suppose you are a fan of Roku, but the TV you really like is a Fire TV television. All you have to have to do is add a Roku device to it.

In both of those scenarios, you ended up with a TV giving you the picture you want, and the platform you want. That's because of this one basic truth:

You are not locked in to any platform.

Of course, if you really like Roku, and you find a TV that you really like, and it is a Roku TV, then you're fine. But if the TV platform and your favorite platform aren't the same, add a device and use the device instead.

One of the good things about streaming is getting to watch TV you want, when you want. And changing the platform on a TV by simply connecting a device to it lets you watch it how you want. Your Streaming Life can be exactly how you want it to be.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The more things change...

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 the 1960s, you would watch live TV. In the 1980s, using a VCR, you could also watch last night's shows today.

Now, in 2022, you can subscribe to a live streaming service and watch live TV, or use the DVR feature, or the on-demand feature, and watch last night's shows today.

See the difference? The dates on the calendar changed. That's it.

Okay, that's not it. In the 1960s, you put up an antenna and watched whatever aired from your three or so local stations. In 2022, you can put up an antenna and watch whatever is airing from your 25+ local stations.

Okay, let me try something else. In 1980, you could use a VHS and record shows instead of arranging your plans around whatever was on cable. In 2022, you can use Hulu to watch last night's shows instead of arranging your plans around whatever is on live TV.

Hmmm. Still not much difference. The change is the method of watching TV, but not really the way we watch it. Instead of cable, we use an Internet connection to stream TV.

But is there really another way to watch TV? Not another method -- antenna, satellite, cable, streaming are simply methods of watching TV -- but a different way. I'm not sure there really is. Stuff is either happening right now, or it happened already. It's a TV, not a TARDIS. We really can't watch TV any other way. Or maybe we just haven't figured it out yet.

I prefer streaming to other ways, but I don't just stream. I have an antenna, and when I use the antenna, I'm doing the same thing in 2022 that I used to do in 1962. I'm watching live TV over the air from an antenna. There are a lot more channels, but it's still over the air free TV. I like free.

I also like streaming on-demand content. I can have a huge library of movies and TV shows without a bunch of VHS tapes taking up a room full. So, while my TV habits went from watching live in the 1960s, adding watching on-demand (VHS recordings) in the 1980s, to ... well, live and on-demand in 2022. I just have a lot more stuff from which to choose. And that's the real difference. That's what makes my Streaming Life enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Saving more money when streaming

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 other services. But not all at the same time. And that's the key.

Most of these services offer discounts for a yearly subscription. And, if you were going to have a subscription year-round, it makes sense to subscribe that way. However, I won't watch all these services year-round. Well, with one exception, which I'll talk about briefly, and get out of the way first.

I've been an Amazon Prime member since well before there was a Prime Video service. When I first subscribed to Amazon Prime, it was for the shipping benefits. And, even today, the benefits apart from streaming are worth it to me. So I subscribe yearly, and keep the service year-round. The Prime Video service is a bonus. I'm not a big fan of the app interface and layout, or the Fire TV interface, for that matter, but it does have good content, and I can find something to watch. In fact, I could get by with just that one service, but I don't. However, I don't have a bunch of services.

The streaming service I've used the longest is Hulu. I've subscribed to Hulu ever since Hulu Plus, as it was known way back when, was launched. I don't keep Hulu year-round. I used to, before I came to realize just how much I could save by subscribing only occasionally. Right now, I'm not subscribed, but I will subscribe again soon, because shows I watch will have enough episodes queued up. I'll subscribe for a month, watch everything in queue, maybe a couple of other things, then drop the subscription for a month, two, or three. Maybe four. Then I'll subscribe again, watch the queue, then drop it again. This will go on throughout the year, and I'll end up saving money with the monthly price than I would by paying the discounted yearly price. I'll pay less money, and I'll watch the same TV. That's a bargain in my eyes.

Same thing with the other services. I'll subscribe to one of the other services after I cancel Hulu, then watch that other service for a month. Then, I'll cancel and pick another service for a month.

The idea is to only watch a single service in a month. If you have, say, six services you want to watch, but do them one at a time, one per month, over the year, you'll have saved a shipload of money and watched the same amount of TV. Again, in my eyes, that's a bargain.

What about live streaming services? Personally, I don't need one year-round. Now, I have the advantage of an antenna to watch local channels. I have a DVR attached -- Tablo at one location, Air TV at another -- and they work great. There is the initial upfront expense, but after that, it's really cheap. Air TV doesn't charge for a channel guide. Tablo is $5/month, although you could get a longer term, including lifetime, if you so choose.

Again, I don't need a live streaming service, at least not year-round. During college football season, I'll subscribe to Sling TV (any service will suffice, but Sling TV is the cheapest that carries ESPN) when the season kicks off, and watch for 30 days. By then, five weekends have been covered, and I'll cancel. The next weekend, I'll subscribe again, watch for 30 days, which is another five weekends, then cancel again. Then, the next weekend, subscribe again, watch for 30 days, then cancel. That covers the entire season. Well, until the bowls start. I'll subscribe at the first bowl I want to watch, then cancel after the last game. I'll have subscribed for four months, and watched five months of football.

The rest of the year, I don't need live TV. I can stream on-demand. Or, free streaming services, if I don't really need the current season of some show. Pluto TV, Xumo, and other services offer free live streaming.

The whole topic of whether or not a year-round live streaming service is needed is a topic for another day. Today, I want you to look at the monthly on-demand services, and consider subscribing only occasionally. You'll save a lot of money, and watch the same amount of TV. It keeps the cost of my Streaming Life under control, and could do the same for you.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Low end Roku devices

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 replaced it with a Roku Streambar. I had a Streambar on another TV at another residence, and liked it, so I put one on my main TV when my Roku Ultra died. I also have a Streambar Pro on a family member's main TV, which replaced a Premiere+ model 4630. I have sticks on some TVs, and a Premiere+ model 3921 on one guest room TV.

Notice that I've not mentioned the Roku Express anywhere along the way. The closest is that Premiere+ model 3921, which is the Premiere series that looks like the Express, rather than the older series that looked like an Ultra or Roku 4.

No, I've never had an Express. I don't usually buy the lower end Roku devices. I've used them, but I personally don't care for them.

I once bought a Roku 1 model 2710. The idea was to put it on a secondary TV. I didn't really like it. The device was noticeably slower than the Roku 3, and slower than the older but upper tier Roku devices I was retiring.

Perhaps that soured me on the low end, or entry-level Roku devices. I've never bought one for me. I did help a friend set up a Roku, and she wanted the cheapest one, so I got her the Express. It was okay. I mean, it was a heckuva lot better than the Roku 1 from a few years back, but I didn't like the infrared remote that required line of sight to operate. I always used the better remotes on my Roku devices. Heck, I once bought an Enhanced Remote to go with a Roku 2 model 4210. That turned it into a Roku 3, for all practical purposes. That was actually a cheaper way to get a Roku 3, since the Roku 2 (4210) and the Roku 3 were identical devices inside the housing, and the cost of a Roku 2 (4210) and an Enhanced remote was actually one cent cheaper than a Roku 3, and I got a space remote out of the deal.

However, I've never found it to be cost effective to get an entry level Roku and upgrade the remote. And the lower tier Roku devices were never really my thing. I started with top of the line, liked it, and stayed there.

That's not to say you should not buy an entry level Roku device. If I thought that, I would have insisted my friend upgrade to something other than an Express. But for me, personally, I like the better devices. Yes, I see that the low end devices get a lot more complaints than the upper tier devices, but I suspect that's just because there are more sold. Another factor would be someone complaining about the remote or some feature that's only on the upper tier devices. For many people, a low end Roku is fine. It's just not something that is, nor will be, a part of my Streaming Life.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Netflix costs more

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 are regular Netflix subscribers.

While Netflix isn't a regular part of my Streaming Life, it may be a part of yours. It's probably worth the extra cost to most people. Netflix is counting on that.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

KVM switch issues

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 switch. Switching to your desktop computer allows you to interact with it while your Plex (or whatever purpose) computer continues to operate. When you want back on it, just switch to that device.

All this sounds great, if it works. Mine had a problem.

When I got my new Plex server last year, I also bought a new, larger video monitor. I really like it. And that's where the problem began.

When I connected my keyboard, video monitor, and mouse to the KVM switch, and then connected the first computer, I tried it to confirm everything was working. No video signal to the monitor.

Well, that was frustrating. I got a bad switch, right? Well, maybe not.

Prior to getting the switch, I had a keyboard and video monitor for each computer. So, when my new monitor wasn't working, I decided to try my old, smaller monitor. It worked.

That means my KVM switch is good -- probably -- and the issue is the monitor. Yeah, maybe something about the switch is causing the new video monitor to not work, but if so, it's not stopping the old monitor.

So far, that's the only thing wrong with my setup. I don't know what steps to take next. I think more research is in order.

I really would prefer to use the newer video monitor if I can, so I'll be running this down for as long as it takes. I may even try a different switch, just in case it's not the monitor or HDMI cable.

If you want to run a Plex server, and another computer, and save on desk space, a KVM switch is the way to go. As long as it works.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Frndly.TV staying friendly

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.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Roku Live TV

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 way to tell is the actual live content from The Roku Channel has a "LIVE" indicator on the thumbnail. If it doesn't have that, it's either an app, or a section of The Roku Channel.

And if it seems I've mentioned The Roku Channel a lot so far, that's because the Live TV section is really heavy into The Roku Channel. Too heavy, I think. Let me offer an example.

I have the AMC+ app and subscription directly to AMC+. I can log in on any device that supports the AMC+ app. However, on the Roku Live TV menu, under the "Watch with your Premium Subscription" section, the AMC+ item takes me to the AMC+ "channel" within The Roku Channel. That can only be access via a subscription through Roku. My subscription is not through Roku, but through AMC+ directly. I can't log in and watch from The Roku Channel, or from the Roku Live TV section. However, I can launch the AMC+ app from the Roku main menu and watch.

I can see this causing some confusion and frustration for Roku users. What should happen is an additional item, both in the Roku Live TV section and in The Roku Channel for "I already have a subscription" that launches the appropriate app.

Which brings me to another thing about the Live TV section. Roku doesn't just list apps you have installed on your account when it lists live TV apps. If you have the app installed, it launches the app. But if you don't have the app installed, it will install it for you. If you have your Roku configured to require a PIN to install apps, it will prompt you. If you don't have your settings to require a PIN, it will simply install the app.

One other thing about Live TV: I don't see a place or setting for OTA content. If you have an antenna, it's not accessible within Live TV. At least, not on a standard Roku device. I need to see if the implementation on a Roku TV is different. And, it doesn't pull in content from Tablo or Air TV, or from what I can tell, any other apps that use antenna content.

There are some good things about the Live TV section, and some things I don't like, mainly the push for Roku subscriptions at the expense of existing subscriptions. However, that's been a sore point for me about The Roku Channel for some time, and this is really the same issue, since the Live TV section is so Roku Channel focused.

Still, overall, I live it better than the Amazon Fire TV implementation, if for no other reason, the autoplay that Amazon won't let me turn off. Despite the things I don't like about it, overall it's good, and I see it becoming a part of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Second thoughts on Chromecast

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 with Google TV is a bad device. Rather, it's not quite up to par with Roku or Apple TV, and right now, if behind Fire TV. It's number four on my list of four devices. It was second, behind Roku. That's not a good trend.

Still, it works well enough. And if it's your device of choice, that's a good decision. It's just not my device of choice. However, it will remain a part of my Streaming Life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

App cleanup

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, as is Sling TV. During college football season, that made sense.

After those first four apps, the next five are apps I will occasionally subscribe to: Disney+, Paramount+, Showtime, HBO Max, and Discovery+. Sometime during the year, it's likely I'll subscribe for a month to one or more of those, just for a month, and binge stuff. Of course, I might not. But if I do, I'll move it to the top of that listing.

Next are AMC+, Starz, and Curiosity. Those first two are like the previous four. I may subscribe some time during the year. I do have a Curiosity account, though. It's cheap, and they have good content. I don't watch it that much, though, probably because of where the app is located. So, I'm moving it to the 3 slot.

The next one is Hulu. I was surprised that it was so far down on the list. I've subscribed to Hulu since they sold subscriptions. I'm not subscribed at the moment, waiting for the queue to build up, and will likely subscribe again later this month or next month. I'll keep it until I'm all caught up, then let it lapse until I want to play catchup again.

Movies Anywhere is a favorite of mine, but it really doesn't bring much to the table since I started using Plex. All of my movie purchases are downloaded onto my Plex server, so I can watch them that way. I keep Movies Anywhere around, of course, but I don't use it that much. I do recommend it, however. Not everyone has all of their movies on a Plex (or similar) server. It's a great app and great service. I highly recommend it.

Pluto TV is next, and I really like it. I need to move it up the menu. Same with Prime Video and Pub-D-Hub. I've written about them before, and may again. I do watch it, but not as much as I really would, because it's so low on the menu. It's getting moved up.

Don't worry, I'm not going to list all 60 apps, but I will mention a few more. Tablo is a favorite, but at my house, I don't have it high on my Roku device for a reason. The antenna is at another location, and I have to access it across a different network. Tablo doesn't support watching from another network on Roku, but they do on Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android/Google TV. Tablo is the first app listed on Fire TV, for instance, and that's how I watch TV over the air. The Tablo device is at a different location, and I can't watch it on my Roku at home. I have a Roku at the other location, though, and use Roku to watch it there. So, I keep Tablo on my Roku menu. But at home, it's down on the list for a reason.

I was surprised to see Xumo so far down. Next to Pluto TV, it's my favorite free live streaming service. Tubi, to me, is not as useful as Xumo, but I know a lot of people like it. I keep it around, but not as high on the menu. Xumo is being moved higher though.

Peacock TV needs to be moved higher, but not too high. I hate the autoplay, and don't use it as much as I would.

All the news apps will stay down on the list. I never watch them, but I do keep them around. For now. I probably should delete them, since they aren't serving any purpose.

I think I'll take one day a week to go down on the menu and pull up one I like to watch. After a couple of months, I'll delete the apps that are at the bottom of the list. Unless there's a good reason to keep them. I can't think of a good reason, but I'm open to keeping something that might be useful.

For now, most of those apps aren't useful. I may end up removing them from my Streaming Life, as I try to get my streaming devices in order.

Monday, January 10, 2022

How to watch the College Football Playoff championship game

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 carries many college games during the season. A few are carried on ESPN2. All services that carry ESPN also carry ESPN2:

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

The cheapest way to watch all of the bowl games is Sling Orange ($35).

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Dropping Live TV Streaming

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 cancel.

It's simple and straightforward. I won't get billed when the month ends, and I won't have access to those channels then either. Come next football season, I'll subscribe.

Of course, the way I do it isn't the only way. Even if you don't care about sports, you can still use this concept of subscribing and canceling throughout the year.

For example, I do the same thing with Hulu. Right now, I don't have a subscription. I will, I just don't at the moment. There are some shows I watch, but they aren't airing right now, or only a few are airing. In a month or two, there will be enough shows in the queue where it'll be worth it to subscribe again, and I will.

Doing it this way saves me some money. While there are things to watch on Sling TV -- or any other live streaming service -- I can find plenty to watch without the service year-round. Same thing with on-demand services such as Hulu. I could find something to watch right now, if I had a subscription. But without it, I still have stuff to watch, and when I do subscribe for a month a little later, I'll watch all the stuff that's only on Hulu. Then, I'll cancel again and save some money.

Is it a lot of work to do it this way? Isn't it simpler and easier to just subscribe and keep the subscription? Or subscribe for a year and save money? Sure, that's a viable option. But for me, the whole idea was to save money. I can subscribe at month-to-month prices for less than yearly discounted price because I won't subscribe as often. To me, the extra work pays off with saving money. I like saving money.

So, Hulu is not active at the moment, but will be in a month or two. Sling TV is about go to inactive, and will remain so until football season. It works for my Streaming Life, and keeps the costs down.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Would expanded playoffs have made a difference?

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) Baylor (Big XII)
(10) Michigan State (At-large)

(8) Mississippi (At-large)
(9) Oklahoma State (At-large)

Or, if you had NFL style seeding, you would have had:

(1) Alabama (SEC)
(16) Michigan State (At-large)

(2) Michigan (Big Ten)
(15) Oklahoma State (At-large)

(3) Cincinnati (American)
(14) Mississippi (At-large)

(4) Baylor (Big XII)
(13) Ohio State (At-large)

(5) Utah (Pac 12)
(12) Notre Dame (At-large)

(6) Pittsburgh (ACC)
(11) Georgia (At-large)

(7) Louisiana (Sun Belt)
(10) Northern Illinois (Mid American)

(8) Texas-San Antonio (Conference USA)
(9) Utah State (Mountain West)

I think either way, Alabama and Georgia make it to the second round. Michigan and Cincinnati would have had an easier time in the first pairing, but the second pairing (the one I prefer) would have had them face tougher opponents. Either way, they could have made it through.

So, with all four of the CFP teams making it through the round of 16, would they have made it further? That depends on which seeding was used. The first has Alabama playing the winner of Mississippi-Oklahoma State. The other seeding would have Alabama playing a lesser opponent. That's not a slap of those two teams, just a reality. Alabama would probably have made it through the second round, putting them in the four-team round.

Michigan would have played either the Baylor-Michigan State winner, or the Louisiana Northern Illinois winner. While the first would have been a tougher game, Michigan would have been favored to make it to the third round, putting them in the group of four. So, no change so far.

Georgia would have faced either Ohio State (the other team in the pairing was Utah, and those two actually played in a bowl, with Ohio State winning), or Cincinnati. So my preferred seeing would have kept one of the actual final four teams out of that round. Georgia would have handled Cincinnati much as Alabama did in reality, the different style of Ohio State would have made an interesting game. Still, int he playoffs, the SEC usually beats the Big Ten, so in either case, Georgia makes it to the final four.

In the top pairing, Cincinnati would have faced the winner of Notre Dame-Pittsburgh. Cincinnati would probably have won that matchup, although both would have been tough opponents. It's very possible that Cincinnati would not have made it to the final four regardless of seeding.

Oh, the other team, assuming the NFL-style seeding? The winner of Baylor-Ohio State against Utah-Notre Dame. That would have been a good game.

In either case, you would have had Alabama, Michigan, and Georgia as three of the four remaining teams. In one seeing, Cincinnati would have been the fourth team, as it was in reality, but in the other seeding, you would have one of four very good teams: Baylor, Ohio State, Utah, or Notre Dame.

In the top seeding, you would have what you ended up with. And if the outcome of those games didn't change, you'd still have Alabama vs Georgia.

In the other seeding, you would have Alabama vs Georgia as well, but in a semi-final game. The other game would have been Michigan against Baylor-Ohio State-Utah-Notre Dame. I'm not even going to pick the winner, because it doesn't matter for me to make my point.

However you think that matchup would go, the final game would not have been Alabama vs Georgia. You would still get to see that, but in the semi-finals if my preferred seeding was in place. The championship would have been the winner of that game against a team from the Big Ten, Big 12, or Notre Dame.

The end result would still be a champion from the SEC, as I thing either Alabama or Georgia would win a matchup against any of those (they did beat one already in reality).

If you kept the current seedings, just expanded to 16, you'd have exactly what you ended up with anyway. What you would gain would be the fans of Baylor, Notre Dame, and Ohio State knowing whether or not their teams could have made it.

If you seeded conference champions at the top, you would get a different championship game. You'd get a different final four even. So an expanded playoff may not have changed the result -- it would if they did it right -- but it would have answered some questions, or ehanged things entirely.

I still think it's a good plan.

Friday, January 7, 2022

Powering a streaming stick from USB? Don't.

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 port on your TV." But I say otherwise.

Now, if it comes down to the company that built the device (Roku) and some random jackass on the Internet (me) telling you two different things about the device, you should really listen to the ones that built the device. Except you shouldn't. Roku will say you can do it. I say maybe you can, but maybe you can't. And, based on the number of Roku support questions about it, the evidence tends to lean toward me.

But this isn't just a Roku thing. Amazon Fire TV Sticks shouldn't be powered by the USB port on the TV either. I'm pretty knowledgeable about Roku, more so than I am about Fire TV. But I'm pretty good with Fire TV, just better with Roku. So, is my suggestion that you shouldn't power your Fire TV via the USB on your TV not valid? Or not as valid? No, my suggestion is right. And one Fire TV expert agrees with me.

Elias Saba at says to not use the USB port on the TV to power a Fire TV stick.

The main reason not to use the USB port on a TV to power a Fire TV Stick is that it greatly increases the risk of damaging or “bricking” your streaming device. I know there are going to be thousands, if not millions, of people who will be quick to mention that they have been powering a Fire TV Stick with their TV’s USB port for years without any issues. That’s fine and I believe them because I’m not saying doing so will absolutely damage the Fire TV Stick, but it does make it much more likely for something to go wrong.

He has a lot more to say about it, and it's all good advice. He even added a new column for this year emphasizing the advice. I'm glad to see others on other platforms confirming my experience and suggestions.

Like real life, your Streaming Life can benefit from the experience of others. And maybe their (including mine) experience will help yours to be better.