Monday, February 28, 2022

Finally a standalone sports package, but is it enough?

For many sports fans that stream, a standalone sports package -- one that doesn't require other non-sports packages -- would be wonderful thing. Today, if you want to stream ESPN, you have to have a subscription to a service such as Sling TV, YouTube TV, Vidgo, Fubo, or DirecTV Stream. The cheapest of those includes a lot of non-sports. In fact, all of those simply streaming cable-like packages. The difference is that you use the Internet to get them, and subscriptions are one month at a time, not years at a time.

You can get packages without sports, the most popular of those are Philo and Frndly.TV, but you can't get one that's only sports. Fubo started as a mostly-soccer channel. Fubo, futbol. See? But it became simply another streaming-cable package. Well, mostly. It's still pretty sports heavy, and not just soccer.

Over the last few year, many of these live-streaming/streaming-cable packages dropped the regional sports networks. Fox Sports Net channels disappeared from the live streaming services after Fox sold them. They finally became Bally Sports networks. And guess who is launching a steaming sports package? Bally.

In a meeting recently, Chris Ripley, the CEO of Sinclair, which owns Bally Sports, said they would offer live streaming packages this year.

Our current expectations are for the launch of streaming services with content currently available on our RSNs for 5 Bally Sports RSNs with MLB teams in the first half of 2022. We expect to launch our remaining Bally Sports RSNs in the second half of the year, as well as features only subscription.

This isn't what I particularly want, as my primary interest is college football, which currently means ESPN. But, it's a start. And it does give lots of sports fans an option they didn't have before.

Sinclair, to my understanding, hasn't been thrilled with how their purchase of the Fox regional sports networks has worked out. I don't know how this will work out. But if it is a success, and it entices other companies to offer standalone sports packages that include major sports, this would be what sports fans want.

If that does come, I certainly don't want these smaller audience packages to go away. I don't want the lesser watched sports offerings to go away. The content you find on the regional sports networks do not have widespread audiences. Regional is a part of the name for a reason. And the lesser watched sports, such as what you find on ESPN+ has an audience. I don't want that to go away. I want ESPN to expand its coverage, not necessarily into ESPN+ -- how it happens isn't as important as that it happens.

This year's launch by Bally is a good thing. I hope it succeeds. That would be good news for many sports fans. I would really like to have options for standalone sports packages in my Streaming Life.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

A new chair!

I got a new office chair!

Yeah, I get it. Big deal. It's a chair.

Well, yeah, it really is a big deal. In more ways than one.

Not every chair holds someone that's over 200 lbs. Of course, I'm 6'2" so I need a chair that's not only more sturdy for heavier, but for taller as well. Sitting in most desk chairs makes me feel like I'm in a kindergarten chair. Really, my knees should not be higher than my waist.

I had a used chair that a good friend passed to me several years ago. But all the years of usage in my home office -- I worked from home part time for years, then full time for a while -- it gave out. It was old when I got it; he had replaced his and passed his still-good one to me. Only after a few years, it had reached end of life.

So, a few years ago, I bought a cheap office chair. Mostly because I'm cheap. Well, it didn't last all that long. It was one of those "under 200 lbs" chairs. I should have read the print better before I ordered it.

This time, I paid attention. And I did something I thought I'd never do. I got a deck chair. Just kidding. I got a gaming chair.

Now, I'm not a gamer. Sure, I'll play Sudoku on my phone first thing in the morning to get my brain running, but not much more than that. A gaming chair? Pshaw!

Well, I did some looking around, and then it occurred to me that these gamers spend a lot of time in their chairs. They get lots of wear. If the reviews from actual purchasers are pretty good, I figure the chair will be too. So I ordered one.

Now, it is pretty plain looking. It looks more like an office chair than a gaming chair. Almost completely black. Just my style.

It arrived this week. I found it under the carport when I got home. There it was, bearing the words "two man lift" right on the box.

Challenge accepted.

I got it in the house with minor difficulty. It was a decent size box and a little bulky. But, after supper, I put it together and sat in it. I was in love.

But seriously, I like the chair. I don't watch TV from my office, but it is where my computers are located. It's where I'm typing this. And while it's not directly a part of my Streaming Life, it is a good addition to my regular life.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

ION Mystery is the new name of Court TV Mystery, but that's not the real mystery

I saw a news release from ION announcing the name change of the Court TV Mystery channel. They're all owned by the same company, so it's a name change. Or a rebranding. Or something.

If you don't know the background of ION, it started as Pax TV, entered and left deals with NBC, changed the name a couple of times, settling on ION, although the capitalization changed a few times. The news release from earlier this week uses all capital letters, so for now, so will I.

"Mystery has added popular procedural dramas to its schedule and with the network's programming now more connected with the hall of fame line-up of hit dramas on ION, aligning the two networks creates increased consumer recognition, expands brand affinity and cross-promotional strength, and facilitates the ability to naturally share content and more," said Lisa Knutson, president of Scripps Networks

They even had a video.


[Link]

Here's the mystery, to my thinking. Does this mean the Court TV brand is now considered less valuable by ION? Is this a way to latch on to ION's popularity? Or is this ION's way of becoming edgier?

I'm not sure what's going on. Maybe they think there are too many brands. After all, they own Court TV, Newsy, Bounce, Defy TV, Grit, Laff, and TrueReal. I can pick up most of these on local channels. Some are available on free streaming services. The content does offer some variety of stuff to watch for free, either over the air or via free services.

I'm glad there is a family-oriented option for these kinds of networks. It's good when everyone has choices of what to watch. It makes everyone's Streaming Life much more enjoyable.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Raspberry Pi streamer Update 4

I've been wanting to build a Raspberry Pi streaming device. Why? Because it can be done, of course. And I actually did build one. I had some issues, but I wondered if it might be that I used a smaller Raspberry Pi than intended. You see, the requirements are a 4 GB device, and I only had a 2 GB device. Still, it worked. Well, mostly worked.

I ordered a 4 GB device and it arrived, but it had issues, and I've sent it back for replacement. Now, it'll probably be a while before it comes in, but I actually ordered a kit (the one with the board that is being replaced) and a standalone board. The standalone board works. Well, it does and it doesn't.

When I put a regular Raspberry Pi OS in the device, it boots and runs just fine. But, if I put the card with the Android TV setup, the card that runs in the 2 GB device, it won't boot.

Some research shows that the build for the Android 11 TV OS is not compatible with newer boards.

You can use LineageOS 19 builds that ships with 5.10 kernel and newer firmware. LineageOS 18 builds will always stick with 5.4 kernel and firmware to match the kernel version (which is apparently too old for your hardware revision).

So, the simple solution is to get the Android 12 version, since that is compatible with the hardware, right? No, not right. You see, while the Android 12 software should run, it doesn't include access to the Google Play store, meaning no apps. That's a problem. But maybe not for long. The GApps page says a version for Android 12 is "coming soon."

This puts my Raspberry Pi 4 streamer project on hold. Sure, the 2 GB board works, but there are issues with some important apps not working as they should. It could be the underpowered board, so I can't yet say it's a waste of time. I'll find out soon enough, when the GApps update arrives. Until then, my Streaming Life does not include a Raspberry Pi streamer.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Distro TV

There are the big boys of free ad-supported live streaming, such as Pluto TV, Xumo, Tubi, The Roku Channel, Stirr, Sling TV Free, Plex, Peacock, and the like.

You've probably heard of most of those, and have probably watched at least some of them. They're really all worth a look. Some of them have really easy to use interfaces, and some are not quite as user friendly. All of those are pretty good insofar as free live streaming is concerned.

Some of them have more that live streaming. They all offer on-demand content to varying degrees. Some actually have other original intent, but added live streaming after launch. Plex, for instance, didn't start as a live streaming service. Peacock is actually a pay service, but has a free tier. Same goes for Sling TV. The Roku Channel was free on-demand content and added live TV much later.

These aren't the only live streaming services, though. I recently ran across one called Distro TV. They've been around since 2019, but only recently came across my radar. One major difference between Distro TV and the others listed, is that Distro TV is independent of the major networks and studios. Pluto TV is owned by Paramount. Xumo and Peacock are owned by Comcast. Fox owns Tubi. Stirr is owned by Sinclair. Sling TV is owned by Dish Network. And so on. Distro TV calls itself "the largest, independent, free, ad-supported streaming television service." And they very well may be.

I'm not their primary target audience, though. It appears as though they are targeting people younger than me. Much younger. That happens more and more as time goes on. If you haven't that out yet, you will.

The content is still similar to that of the other services. However, Distro TV seems to have a higher percentage of non-English language channels available. While the other services mentioned do, of course, have non-English language channels, Distro TV seems to have a higher percentage in that category.

The number of live streaming channels is under 200, but not much under 200. I counted 187, plus nine music channels. That is nearly three times the number available from Sling TV Free, but Sling TV's free offerings are more of a "best of" listing. That's not to say that Distro TV doesn't have some gems that aren't available there. They do have some content you won't find on Pluto TV or Sling TV Free.

The problem I have with Distro TV, and yes, I do have a problem with it, is that the app doesn't work well. On Roku, the live guide freezes. I've not found an issue with the other menus, but the grid guide doesn't work well. The only way to fix the freeze is to exit the app and re-enter.

On Fire TV, the grid will not freeze, but the scrolling up will stop at times. It's as if the top limit moves down every so often. The only way to get back to it is to exit the app and re-enter.

The performance on Chromecast is worst of all. It's not available. The Website shows Android TV as a supported platform, but Google's own Android/Google TV device isn't supported.

There's a lot of potential in Distro TV, but they aren't there yet. They need to fix the apps above all else. I suspect they are focusing on getting additional content, which would be good, but I hope they set aside some work for the app. It needs it.

For now, this won't be a part of my Streaming Life. But, if the app gets fixed, I'll give it another look

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Olympics viewership down 42%, except for streaming

The Beijing Olympics ended with horrible ratings. But not for streaming viewership. While overall rating for the Olympics were a huge disappointment for NBCU, the streaming audience grew. And that's a good thing for streamers like you and me.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Winter Games were down 42% from the previous Winter Games, and down from last year's Summer Games.

The topline figure is that the Olympics averaged 11.4 million viewers across all of NBCU’s platforms in primetime. That’s down 42 percent from the 19.8 million average for the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea — in keeping with the trend both from the first few days of the games (and, in fact, closing the gap with four years ago a little bit) and the general decline of broadcast network ratings in the past four years.

NBCU’s coverage from Beijing is also down about 26 percent from the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which averaged 15.5 million primetime viewers in the company’s “Total Audience Delivery” metric (a combination of Nielsen ratings for TV and Adobe Analytics figures for digital platforms). That too is on par with the declines from last summer from the opening week of the winter games.

Not all of the news was horrible, however. In fact, the streaming news was pretty good. Streaming viewership was up.

... the streaming audience for Beijing was either the largest or second largest for any Olympics to date, depending on the measurement. Streaming on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, the NBC Sports app had an average primetime viewership of 516,000 viewers, up 8 percent from the summer and an all-time high for any Olympics in the streaming era. Streaming made up about 4.5 percent of the total primetime audience for the games.

U.S. viewers watched 4.3 billion minutes of Olympic coverage over 18 days on the NBCU outlets and social media platforms, the most for any winter games and behind only the 5.6 billion minutes for Tokyo last year. Steaming minutes improved by 78 percent over the 2018 Winter Olympics, and NBCU said Peacock had its “best 18-day stretch of usage” in the 19 months since its national launch. Peacock streamed every event live from Beijing.

With an overall decline in viewership, the fact that streaming was up offers good news for those of us that use that method of watching TV. The streaming audience is growing, even when viewership for the event being watched is dropping.

Maybe this will help push the networks into thinking about streaming and look to offer more for streamers. NBCU did a good job of offering coverage to streamers, with every event available on Peacock TV.

While ABC, CBS, and Fox may be smiling at the low ratings for NBC during the Olympics, they need to learn from this as well. They need to understand that streaming viewership is increasing, and they need to offer more for streamers. If they do, my Streaming Life will be better. And so will yours.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Raspberry Pi streamer Update 3

My Raspberry Pi streamer project has gone okay so far. There are a couple of issues, which I covered in two earlier posts: Update 1, Update 2.

Now I've run into a new issue, but this is a very different issue. Very different. But I also had a good experience to go along with it.

First the good. I didn't really like the remote I originally bought for it, and found a different one that I thought would be better. It is better. I like the new remote. I found it on sale from Walmart.com, and haven't been able to find it elsewhere. The mouse part doesn't work well, but that was true of the first remote. However, the buttons are great. The remote looks and feels a lot like an Apple TV remote, but larger. I like it.

Now the bad. If you recall, I installed the Android TV setup on a 2 GB Raspberry Pi. It recommends a 4 GB device. I didn't have a 4 GB device, so I decided to try it on a 2 GB device just to see what would happen. It ran, but I still wanted it on a 4 GB device. So I bought a 4 GB Raspberry Pi.

It took a few days, since I bought it directly from CanaKit rather than through Amazon, like my first device. Part of the reason was because it wasn't available from Amazon, which would likely have shipped sooner. Anyway, it arrived and didn't work.

Now, it wasn't that the Android TV setup didn't work. It was that the Raspberry Pi board didn't work. I never go to the point of installing Android TV on it. It failed before we got that far. How far did we get? First power up for initial setup. No display. I did proper troubleshooting and ruled out the cause as the monitor, the HDMI cable, the power supply, even mouse and keyboard were changed out. It's the Raspberry Pi itself.

I've communicated for replacement (I want one; I don't really want my money back, just a working device). We'll see how that goes.

The 2 GB Raspberry Pi still works, but I wanted the 4 GB to operate to get a better idea about things. I must say that I am disappointed. I plan to run Plex on a 4 GB Raspberry Pi, but I need a running 4 GB Raspberry Pi first.

My Steaming Life is quite frustrated at the moment. I'm awaiting on that company in Canada to help make it better.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Washington's Birthday

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; owned jointly with Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Today is Washington's Birthday. Well, it's not the actual anniversary of the day George Washington was born, that's tomorrow. But there is a federal holiday, and it's called Washington's Birthday, and here in 2022, that's today.

Here's the listing of this year's holidays from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management:


Can you read that part at the bottom? The part that references today's holiday? It says:

**This holiday is designated as "Washington’s Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.

Some of you, maybe most of you, are thinking that today is Presidents Day. It's not. There is no such thing. And some of you may want to argue about it. "The combined Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday together and call it Presidents Day."

No they didn't. There never was a federal holiday for Lincoln. Ever. Look it up. There may have been state holidays, there may have even been local holidays that closed schools, but there never was a federal holiday for Lincoln. Ever. I'm not saying there shouldn't have been, I'm just saying there wasn't. And that's the truth.

What some -- or most -- may not realize is that the holiday wasn't to celebrate George Washington as president. Yes, he was president. He was the first under the current Constitution, but that's not why there's a holiday for him.

George Washington was one of the most important figures in the creation of the United States as an independent country. He was reviled and respected -- maybe even more respected than reviled -- by the United Kingdom when the War of Independence was fought. He was loved by many in this young country.

His actions in the founding of this country happened in the 1770s and 1780s, with the War of Independence being fought from 1775 (the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence was well after the start of the war; look it up) to 1784 (Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in 1781, the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, but Congress didn't ratify it until early 1784; look it up).

Washington became president in 1789, the first one under the Constitution that was ratified in 1788. However, this was at the end of his service to the nation he helped found. He achieved his high status well before he became president. Had he never become president, his birthday would still have been celebrated, and we'd probably not have any of this silly myth about a "Presidents Day."

We would also have not had the presidency of George Washington. Maybe that would have been a good thing, maybe it would have been a bad thing. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and others, including ones that never served as president, may have been our first president. Perhaps they would have handled some of the major events of those eight years differently. Maybe even some of those events may not have happened at all.

What I do know is that George Washington's birthday wasn't first celebrated because of his presidency. It was because of his actions that led to the creation of this nation, and its establishment as a republic. Without him, there may not have ever been a United States. He didn't do it single-handedly, of course, but without him, there may very well have never been this country.

George Washington was a flawed man. He was an adulterer and a slave owner. He was not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination. However, we are all human, and we all have faults, some worse than others. Washington was one of the most important men to lead this young country, well before he became president. That is why his birthday is celebrated.

Today doesn't celebrate the men who held the office of president. There is no celebration of Joe Biden. There is no celebration of Donald Trump. There is no celebration of any president at all, except for Washington, but his being president has nothing to do with the celebration. There is no holiday celebrating anyone for being president. And there probably never should be.

So, what does all this have to do with streaming? Nothing. Unless you bought a new streaming device or TV in some store's poorly-named sale. Now go watch some educational video with your streamer, and learn the facts about something. Like the actual holiday that is today.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Watching the NBA All-Star game

Tonight is the National Basketball Association's all star game. If you are a streamer, you can watch the game, as long as you have a subscription to one of the live streaming services carrying the game.

If you have an antenna, it won't do you any good. The game is on TNT and TBS, and you can't find that over the air. So, how can you, a streamer, watch it?

There are four streaming services that carry either of those networks. Actually, they carry both of them, so you can choose. Well, six services, if you county Sling three times. Because Sling is, well, Sling.

TNT/TBS

  • Sling TV (Orange) ($35/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($50/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

Sling TV has two different plans. They carry many of the same channels, but the Orange plan has some channels the Blue plan doesn't have, and the Blue plan has some channels the Orange plan doesn't have, and the Orange+Blue plan combines them. The other services either have multiple plans that are build on the lower plans with each level adding more, or add-ons to the various plans.

Fubo TV, which markets itself as the top streaming service for sports, is actually the worst for basketball fans. Many games are on TBS or TNT, and Fubo doesn't carry either.

Oh, there are also some NBA events around the all star game that are carried on NBA TV. That can be a standalone service, or it can be part of a streaming package, such as with YouTube TV, as a higher tier plan for DirecTV Stream, or as an add-on to Sling TV (any plan).

If the NBA all star game is something you want in your Streaming Life, you have options.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Fubo TV's big lie

I've generally thought well of Fubo TV. I remember when it launched, that it was essentially a live streaming service for soccer fans. I assumed the name "Fubo" came from the Spanish word for the sport the USA calls "soccer" and others call "football" or "futbol." It expanded beyond its soccer roots and became a full-fledged serious streaming service that would rival YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu+Live TV, Vidgo, and others. If you wanted a live streaming service, particularly if you were a sports fan, Fubo TV was one to consider.

Recently, Fubo TV conducted a little experiment. They dropped their monthly plan for new subscribers, requiring them to subscribe for a quarterly term only. They have since brought the monthly plans back for new subscribers. And here's where the big lie came into play.

Ahead of the change from monthly to quarterly, Fubo was $65/month. There are bigger plans that cost more, but the basic plan was $65/month.

When they made the change, the quarterly plan was $195/quarter, which works out to $65/month. So, nothing changed, right? Well, not exactly.

If you look at this screen shot from the Fubo TV Website, you'll see that the $65/month for the quarterly plan was promoted as a 29% discount. See?


And that wasn't a single error on one page. It appeared on another page was well.


The match is wrong. A 29% savings from $81 is $57.49 not $64.99. But that's not the big lie. Well, not the only one. When the monthly plans returned, the price is again $65/month. And there's the other big lie.

Where was the discount? It clearly said a 29% savings. Even if it's a typo and it should have been a 19% savings -- $65 is 81% of $81, therefore it's a 19% savings -- even that is a lie. Monthly was $65. When it went to quarterly, it averaged $65. When the experiment stopped, it was $65. The price per month never changed. Yet in the middle of all that, with no actual price change, they promoted the regular price -- the price it was before and the price it was after -- as a discount.

There was no discount. They said there was. They promoted it as such (but got the math wrong). But it was regularly $65, then on sale for $65, then back to the regular $65 price.

If this was a mistake, it got by a lot of people. That shows poor quality control.

If this was not a mistake, it was deception.

So, are they incompetent or liars? I'm not comfortable doing business with either. I don't know if Fubo TV will return to my Streaming Life when I'm next looking for a live streaming service. And I suggest you look long and hard before giving them any of your money.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Roku non-certified apps

I've been looking to write about Roku's move to drop non-certified apps. There are a bunch of people getting their panties in a wad over it on the Roku support forums.

Personally, I don't like everything about the approach Roku is taking, but I understand the reasons behind it. Most of what they're doing, I'm fine with. The only part that really bothers me is the 20-user limit. Yes, Roku will only allow a beta app to have 20 users. That's not enough. But the overall idea of no longer allowing unlimited users for an unlimited period of time is something I understand.

So, I prepared to write up a post telling what's going on and my thoughts about it. Then, I found a video published by Cord Cutters News. This YouTube video on their channel offers good information.

[Direct link]

I can still offer my thoughts. So, do watch the Cord Cutters News video first.

I think that Roku needs to do something about their Private Channels, now known as Non-certifies Apps, process. It's turned into a place where you can find great content, and utter junk. You'll find great little apps that offer great content. You'll also find apps that let you pirate content. Something needs to be done about it.

Two companies with apps that seem to get a lot of use are VidAngel and PornHub. VidAngel edits movies and redistributes them into a more family-friendly format. PornHub is videos of naked people fornicating.

VidAngel lost a lawsuit with Disney over their operations. They had to pay over $62-million in damages, went bankrupt, reorganized, and are now trying to make a comeback. I wouldn't use their service, but if others want to, and if their service doesn't violate any copyright laws or content owners rights, then fine. Go for it.

Personally, if I was offended by a movie, I wouldn't want a third party to edit it for me. The offending company still gets their money (unless it's being pirated, which is a problem), so they have no incentive to do any different. Whatever.

VidAngel has taken the tactic to misrepresent what's going on, painting themselves as the victim. That's out and out false. They don't have a certified app, and want the new rules to not apply to them. I have no patience for people who think they're above the law, or think rules don't apply to them. Those type of people are all the same, and if all disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't miss them.

PornHub is a service that shows pornographic videos. And PornHub has had its share of legal troubles.

The lawsuit claims that PornHub and its parent company, MindGeek, allowed any type of pornography to be published and incentivized people to watch more of it. Executives understood that users were posting nonconsensual sexual content and knowingly chose to monetize it, according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

“The case is not about consensual porn or negligence,” Michael Bowe, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in an email. “It’s about a porn company’s intentional election to include in their business model rape and other nonconsensual content.”

Like VidAngel, PornHub has stirred up its base by painting themselves as the victim of Roku. VidAngel and PornHub are no different in this respect. Their respective supporters have more in common than either realize. Remember the season of the reality show, The Surreal Life, where Tammy Faye Messner (nee Bakker) and Ron Jeremy became friends? This sort of reminds me of that.

I don't have any sympathy for either VidAngel or PornHub. I don't care about their content, but neither does Roku. And that's the thing that they don't want to hear. It invalidates their argument. It removes the victim label, and forces them to have to follow the same rules as everyone else.

Neither VidAngel nor PornHub will be in my Streaming Life. But, if the content of either is for you, I hope they get things worked out within the rules and requirements of the Roku certification process.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Fubo TV back to monthly?

There was a report this week that Fubo TV would switch back to monthly plans today. I hope this is true. Well, I kinda hope it's true. The hesitancy is because of that I'm seeing with the quarterly plan pricing.

In case you forgot, or never knew, the background, Fubo TV changed to quarterly plans earlier this month. I didn't see anyone else pick on on one things I noticed. Along with the move to quarterly, Fubo updated the monthly pricing, raising it around 24%.


See that monthly price? The one that's marked through? That indicates you still get the $65/month price, but only if you subscribe for a quarter at a time. If not, the price is $81/month. Of course, there was no monthly option, so this is either classic salesman lie-speak, or it's a sneaking in of a massive price increase.

The report about Fubo TV going back to monthly plans was from the Twitter account of The TV Answer Man, Phillip Swan.

Mr. Swan has a reliable reputation, so I'm inclined to believe he was correct regarding the plans, at least, at the time of his posting.

As of this writing, Fubo TV hasn't gone back to offering monthly plans (despite listing a monthly price in the quarterly plans), so I don't know if they're going to keep the old price of $65/month, or keep the new monthly price of $81/month.

Either way, this is a bad look for Fubo TV. I think it's a decent live TV service (if you need a live TV service) especially for most sports fans. But sketchy behavior like this can only help me decide to keep it out of my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Fire Tablets

I saw an article online this week that said new Amazon Fire tablets had received FCC approval. The actual FCC document doesn't mention Amazon, However, evidence points to it being a new Amazon Fire tablet, according to Liliputing.

The case for this being a new Fire HD 10 tablet? The FCC documentation doesn’t mention Amazon by name, but everything was submitted by a company called Abyssal Plain, which is the same name as the shell company Amazon used to submit documents for the 2021 Amazon fire HD 10 tablet. And FCC IDs for the new listing (2AWRO-8768) and last year’s (2AWRO-8762) are very similar.

What does this have to do with streaming? Well, you can stream from a tablet, can't you? It's how I stream away from home. Many will pack a Roku stick or Fire TV stick when traveling, but I'll just use an iPad. I could just as easily use an Amazon tablet.

I like the Amazon tablets, but not as much as I like an iPad. Still, they are good little devices. Perhaps the newer tablets, if this is what they really are, will be an improvement.

Whether around the house or on the road, tablets can be very useful in your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

In bed with Roku

I've been a fan of Roku devices since I bought my first one in late 2010. It was a good device, and I've kept good Roku devices in use ever since. Yes, I've used Apple TV exclusively for periods of time. I've used Chromecast exclusively for periods of time. I've used Amazon Fire TV devices exclusively for periods of time. But each time I came back to Roku.

None of this was a lovers spat. You have to remember, in the early days, not every device has every major app. Some stuff only worked on Roku, some stuff only worked on Apple TV. I didn't say anything about Chromecast or Fire TV in the early days, but that's because those are latecomers to the game. They weren't around.

When new devices came out, I did try them out. I was able to get a new device every so often, and I did. Some people I knew liked one thing or another thing, and I tried them out to see what I thought. I gave away all my early Fire TV devices. I gave away early Chromecasts, but as gifts, not to get rid of them like I did with the Amazon devices.

I've used other devices for periods of time so I could give them a good test drive. But, at the end, I always went back to Roku. Now, let's suddenly switch gears.

When I was in the Army, I learned quickly that if I didn't take advantage of situations where I could grab some sleep while deployed, I might not get another change for a day or two. So I learned to sleep in noisy environments. Imagine sleeping on a bag of tent poles while riding in the back of a duece-and-a-half (2½ ton truck) on a path without roads. I can do that. I know that because I have.

Having learned to sleep in noisy conditions actually made it difficult to sleep in quiet conditions. So, when Roku introduced a feature a few years ago, I decided to try it out. It was easy, because it was the default setting for the new feature. They call it Bandwidth Saver.

For me, it was a way I could have the TV playing when I went to sleep, and it would turn off after a period of time. Well, the TV wouldn't turn off, but the Roku would stop playing and return to the home screen. The screen saver would kick in, and if it was the black screen, it would be almost as if being off. So, for me, it allowed me to fall asleep easier and not worry about streaming all night.

And why is streaming all night an issue? Well, I have data caps. Streaming when I'm not actually watching is a waste of my data. If I waste enough, I'm paying overage fees. I don't like paying extra, particularly for something I'm not getting benefit.

So, at night, I'm in bed with Roku, while it plays something from my Plex server, or something streaming online. The Bandwidth Saver keeps my bandwidth under control when I'm streaming at night. It's like a timer, and while that's not exactly why Roku added the feature, it works for me, and makes my Streaming Life better.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Valentine's Day movies

It's St. Valentine's Day 2022, and you may have plans this evening with your Special Someone. Or not.

Maybe your plans (if you have plans) include dinner and a movie. I don't have any McDonald's coupons to offer but you might want to check the app; there are specials there (I'm a cheap date). But, maybe I can help with the movie afterwards.

I went to a few Websites and looked up lists of Valentine's Day movies. These are some of the ones listed, with most of these on several (or most, or all) of the lists. I'll list some of the subscription or free services where you can watch it, as well as a link where you can buy it from Amazon if you want.

  • The Princess Bride is on Hulu, Disney+. Amazon.
  • Pride & Prejudice (2005) is on HBO Max. Amazon
  • Casablanca is on HBO Max. Amazon.
  • When Harry Met Sally is on HBO Max. Amazon.
  • Say Anything is on HBO Max, Cinemax. Amazon.
  • It Happened One Night is on TV Time (free), YouTube TV, Philo, Retro Reels (subscription). Amazon.
  • Lady and the Tramp is on Disney+. Amazon.
  • Titanic (1997) is on Showtime. Amazon.

This next one is a classic, followed by a remake, followed by a not-remake that referenced the others.

  • Love Affair (1939) is free on Pluto TV, Tubi, Plex, Crackle, Classic Movie Vault, Continuum, TMC Movie Classic, Raygun, DDD Television, with subscription on Paramount+, Epix, Epix Now, Retro Reels. Amazon.
  • An Affair to Remember is on Movieland TV (free). Amazon.
  • Sleepless in Seattle is on The Roku Channel, included with Prime Video. Amazon.

This last entry/entries is/are another animal altogether.

  • A Star Is Born (1937) is on HBO Max (subscription), included with Prime Video, and free with The Roku Channel, Plex, IMDB TV, Tubi, Pluto TV, Xumo, Classic Movies, Classic Movie Vault, Classic Reruns TV, Fawesome, ZP TV, TV Tine, TMC Movie Classics, Raygun, Kanopy Hollywood Classics, Continuum, DDD Television. Amazon.
  • A Star Is Born (1954) is on HBO Max. Amazon.
  • A Star Is Born (1976) is on HBO Max. Amazon.
  • A Star Is Born (2018) is on YouTube TV. Amazon.

I own all of these movies, so at least you know I'm not suggesting something for you that I didn't put money into myself. Also, keep in mind there may be other ways to watch the movies. There are certainly other ways to purchase them besides Amazon. I obtained the list of services that carry the movies by searching for each of the movies on Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast/Google TV.

If you want to check out the full lists I used, they are:

Perhaps these movies will make a great addition to your Streaming Life. Or even better, your love life.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

How to watch Super Bowl 56

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. That means a lot of people will be watching the Super Bowl. It's one of the biggest broadcasts of the year, and has been for quite some time.

Last year, on average, 91.6 million people viewed the game, with 5.7 million streaming the game [source: Sports Media Watch]. That's an increase in streaming numbers of 2.3 million from the year before, but an overall drop of 8.8 million viewers overall from the same year. Streaming is gaining, despite traditional TV dropping.

This year, how do you watch the Super Bowl? Well, you have a couple of options.

The game is on NBC, and if you live close enough to an NBC affiliate's TV tower, you may be able to pick up the game over the air with an antenna. If you live close enough, an indoor antenna will work. If you live far away, you may need an outdoor antenna. For example, I live over 40 miles from the NBC station's tower near Savannah. I need an outdoor antenna, but I have one and it works great.

Or, you can stream the game on NBC's own Peacock TV service. Or you can watch NBC on one of the live streaming services that carries that network.

  • Antenna, if you are in range (most of you are). (Free)
  • Peacock (Premium) ($5/month; free to Xfinity Internet Flex users)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($65/month; $195/quarterly required for new accounts)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

Any of these options will get you the Super Bowl. It can be a part of your Streaming Life tonight.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Raspberry Pi streamer Update 2

I mentioned earlier about a project to make a streaming device out of a Raspberry Pi. I ran into a couple of hiccups along the way, but found an excellent tutorial that really helped. (Thanks TripleM)

I left off with an issue with the remote. That's not fully resolved, but it's working better than it was. I don't like the remote, and ordered one that I think I will like. We'll see.

However, since the remote is working better -- still aggravating, just not as bad -- I've actually used the Raspberry Pi streamer a little bit. I've added YouTube, Movies Anywhere, Pluto TV, and Prime Video, since I'm currently using those apps. I also added HBO Max and Paramount+ to see if they would load.

You see, I found some videos about others using a Raspberry Pi as a streaming device. Some loaded apps that wouldn't run. I was worried about that, for a couple of reasons.

First, the fact that someone had a video of an app not running was pretty good proof that something like that could happen. Next, my current Raspberry Pi only has 2 GB RAM. The smallest recommended RAM for an Android TV streaming box is 4 GB, so I'm way under on that.


To my surprise, most of the apps I've tried seem to work. There is an issue with Pluto TV. I can't select a channel. Well, I can scroll around and see all of the channels on Pluto TV, but I can't change the channel via the large menu. I can scroll through the channels up and down, but that's the only way to change the channels. I can mark favorites, but can't select from the Favorites menu. I don't know if that's an app thing or a remote thing. When I get the new remote, I'll know.

Another app with issues is Amazon Prime Video. Nothing plays. I see my entire Amazon library. Content from my Amazon Prime subscription shows. It does everything but play. I get the little spinner and nothing more. I switched to my Chromecast with Google TV and every played, so I'm thinking it's the device. Could be the fact it's only 2 GB RAM, half the minimum recommended.

Hulu had problems as well. I currently have basic Hulu on demand service, with commercials. I couldn't get content to play. Ads would play, but after the last ad, it would hang up. Again, trying different things led me to think it's the device. Maybe it would perform better with more RAM.

Movies Anywhere works as I would expect. There are no issues I've had so far with that app. It's working well. Same with YouTube. Everything plays as expected. Same with HBO Max.

I didn't try a lot of apps because I didn't want to run out of space just yet. There is still space available. I filled up about ⅓ of the available space, and want to hold off filling up until I test a few more things.

For now, it's a mostly working device. Some issues could be the remote. Some issues could be the RAM. I'll have the remote issue resolved soon, I hope. I'm uncertain what to do about the RAM issue. I'd have to buy a new board with more RAM, and I'm not sure about that just yet.

Once the new remote arrives, I'll have a little better idea about how well, if at all, a Raspberry Pi streamer fits into my Streaming Life.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Will free streaming pass subscription streaming this year?

I'm not a big fan of subscription TV. That is to say, I believe it serves a purpose, but I don't think it's worth subscribing to a service year-round. I'll talk more about that in a little bit. For now, I want to talk about a report from Tubi, the streaming service.

According to its yearly report -- this year's called "The Stream: 2022 Audience Insights for Brands" -- Tubi says that free streaming will surpass subscription streaming in 2022. Here a a few definitions to cover first:

AVOD - This is ad supported video on demand. Things like Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo, and the like.

SVOD - This is subscription video on demand. Think Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, and the like.

TVOD - This is transactional video on demand. You buy a movie, order a pay-per-view event. Things like that.

When you see AVOD, think free ad-supported content. When you see SVOD, think subscriptions like Netflix. When you see TVOD, think purchases or rentals. Okay? Good.

Back to the Tubi report, the company says AVOD (free streaming) is becoming more popular:

Tubi’s new research highlights the explosive growth of ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) services, set to surpass SVOD this year in audience size, and the changing demographics of a free streaming universe that remains young and multicultural while becoming more reflective of national audience averages in education and affluence.

I'm not surprised by this. I never really thought about it, but I know that I prefer cheaper ad supported content over subscription content.

Frequenting the Roku support forums, I used to see a shipload of people complaining about ads, saying they would pay to remove ads. Many of the long-time users -- Roku calls us "Experts" now (ha!) -- thought otherwise, but privately figured we were not the norm. Well, we soon will be. Or we were trailblazers. One or the other. I'll let you decide.

Anyway, I came to realize years ago that you don't need to pay a boatload of money each month to watch TV. So, once again, I'm offering my suggestion that you may have read before here a time or twelve.

If you subscribe to a service, don't subscribe year-round. Only subscribe when something you really want to watch is available. This mainly applies to live TV content, such as sporting events.

If you have multiple subscription services such as Disney+, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, Discovery+, and the like, subscribe to one at a time. For example, subscribe to Disney+ for a month, then cancel. Then subscribe to Netflix for a month, then cancel. Then subscribe to HBO Max for a month, then cancel. Do this with all your services. They all have enough content to fill up a month, plus you have plenty of free options (AVOD, remember?).

Right now, I have Hulu. It's $7/month. The subscription will pause (not cancel) in a week. Then, I'll subscribe to something else. Maybe Disney+. Maybe HBO Max. Maybe Discovery+. Maybe Apple TV+. I don't know, something. But then, only for a month. Then I'll move to something else for a month. During the year, I get the content I want, but I don't pay nearly as much.

Also, during college football season, I'll subscribe to a service, probably Sling TV. Any kind of catch up for some content -- Rick & Morty, for example -- I'll do with the on-demand features of that service.

Tubi says free TV is expanding, and more and more people are flocking to it. That's a good thing. That means less money spent for subscriptions, and if the advertising works, more for goods and services that are advertised. That's a win for everybody. Perhaps your Streaming Life will breathe some life back into this economy.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Signing up for Roku with no credit card

Roku is the most popular, and one of the easiest to use, streaming platforms. There are a lot of good things about it. I'm a fan of Roku. But there is one aspect that I don't like: Roku Pay.

Now, Roku Pay has its purpose, but I will only use it on rare occasions, and generally recommend that people not use it. For the most part.

Here's what Roku Pay is. It's Roku's system of paying for stuff through your Roku account. You can purchase apps, you can subscribe to services, you can buy things through your Roku. It's really nothing more than having your credit card stored and using it to pay for stuff. That's all it really is, when you get down to it.

Roku really likes it, because they make money by making it easy for you to buy or subscribe using Roku, and they get a cut. And they make it really easy to set up Roku pay. When you create a Roku account, it automatically goes to a page where you can fill out credit card or PayPal information to be stored and used if you want to purchase or subscribe to something.

Some people get all bent out of shape over this. I personally don't. Roku has never had a financial data breach. Some have made claims there have been, but when the facts came out, it wasn't a Roku breach. I'm fine with having a credit card stored there. But I get it. Some people don't want that. And, since it comes up automatically when signing up for a Roku account, there's no easy way to get past this. Or so people think. But really, it's easy.

All you have to do is click the Roku logo at the top. That's it. Your account has already been created. Roku is simply trying to gather more information. If you don't want to give it, don't. Just click the Roku logo. It's as simple as that. You'll be taken to the Roku home page, and if you look in the top right, you'll see that you're logged in.

Some people will tell you that you can replace part of the URL with something else, and that' true. When the credit card page comes up, you're on https://my.roku.com/signup/payment

Some say change it to https://my.roku.com/signup/nocc and press Enter. You can do that, sure. But, you can also just click the Roku logo. That's easier, to me.

Skipping the credit card entry is really simple. If you look at the Roku support forum, you'll see people thinking it's the worst thing since Stalin. But it's not. It's just a request for data, and you can easily skip it by clicking the Roku logo. Nothing to get all worked up about.

After you click the logo, click the little person avatar in the top right, and go to the My Account page. Be sure to set up a PIN preference. You have three options:

Always require a PIN to make purchases and add items from the Channel Store.

Always require a PIN to make purchases.

A PIN is not required to make any purchase or add any items from the Channel Store.

I suggest the first or second option. The first one keeps anyone from adding apps to your Roku without the PIN. The first and second keep anyone from making a purchase/subscription without the PIN. I never suggest the third. If you use the first or second, you'll get the PIN when something is trying to happen that will cost you money.

Of course, with the first, you can't add a free app unless you enter the PIN, so if you choose the first option, don't get all worked up about the PIN. If you don't care if a user adds apps, then pick the second option.

That's actually more confusing than skipping the credit card sign up. That's really easy. Again, just click the Roku logo when it asks you to enter your credit card information on account creation.

Using a Roku is really easy. Don't overthink it. Just enjoy it, and enjoy your Streaming Life. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Raspberry Pi streamer Update 1

I didn't expect to post so soon about my project to build a Raspberry Pi streamer, but here we are.

After I posted, I realized I had everything I needed to begin the project except a remote. I already had a Raspberry Pi device that worked, although a very basic one. It was connected to a keyboard, mouse, and video monitor via a KVM switch.

I already had that up and running, so I knew the hardware was good. I had another microSD card and reader, and was able to set up the software on it. I didn't want to reuse the working OS for the Raspberry Pi, but rather have the streamer OS and software on a separate card. That way, I could just place the card I wanted in it, boot it up, and it would function as I wanted. That's how most will use project devices. I had everything except a remote. So, I looked for a remote to use with it, and found one that claimed to work with it. That arrived Tuesday.

Last night, I decided to see just how complicated it would be to do this. And, yes, it was rather complicated. Well, let's put it this way: I found several different instructions on how to set it up, and ran into issues each time. There was always something a little different about the instructions and reality.

What I mean by that is the instructions would say "You'll find the {thingy} setting under the {whatsit} section of Settings." However, {thingy} wasn't there. Or {whatsit} wasn't, but {whosit} was. Or when that was figured out, some installation would simply fail. I was starting to get frustrated. Then I found The Video.

[Link to YouTube]

This was fantastic! It covered everything, and was easy to do. Hats off to Triple M for his video.

Back to the project. I followed the instructions in the video, using the versions of the software he suggested, and the thing worked! I had a working Android TV streamer. Now, I was using the keyboard and mouse to do the setup of the software. If you follow the video, you'll see that you install a basic OS, then add software features to it via an interface on the device itself. You can do it all on a Windows or Mac device. You prep it there, but put it together on the Raspberry Pi itself.

So, using the keyboard and mouse, it worked great. But I was to the point of using it on my TV. That meant using the remote. Well, the remote didn't work all that well. Regardless, I moved the working Raspberry Pi streamer to the TV, connected it, changed the input on the TV to the HDMI port I was using, then powered it up.

Everything worked except the remote. I was quite disappointed with that. It may be that I did something silly and wrong, but it was late, and I called it a night.

I'm going to do a bit more research into it, and may end up with a different remote, but either way, the project isn't done. Well, unless I want to control it with a keyboard and mouse, which I don't.

I'm happy so far with the Raspberry Pi as a streaming project. I'll find out once I get the remote control issue worked out if it's really a good streaming device. So, for now, it's still a project in my Streaming Life.


Update 2

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Is Fubo FUBAR?

The news hit this weekend about Fubo's new pricing structure. If you're new to Fubo TV, you can sign up, but the monthly plan is no longer available. The shortest plan is a quarterly plan. And, the pricing is all jacked up, too. That's the really big story, I think.

Let me clarify: by "jacked up" I mean a couple of things.

One thing I mean is a price increase. Fubo seems to have hidden a price increase into all of this. They've upped their prices by a huge amount, then turned around and discounted it to the current price.

The other thing I mean is that whoever at Fubo knows math was left out of the whole thing. The math is wrong. But, as I'll show, even if you take the best way of looking at it, the prices are really high. And Fubo is now the most expensive live streaming service, taking the crown from DirecTV Stream and Hulu+Live TV.

First, let's look at the pricing schedule for new users.

I don't see a monthly plan. And neither do you.

Now, if you've subscribed before, and log in with your old credentials, you'll be presented with the option to renew at whatever old rate you had, for one month at a time. I haven't resubscribed, so I don't know if the renewals are monthly, or if they change to quarterly. I suspect monthly, but I don't know that for certain, and haven't seen anyone who has resubscribed after this change hit.

The other thing I don't know is for new subscribers, is if the renewal is at quarterly intervals, or if it reverts to monthly after the first quarter. I suspect the term is quarterly going forward, but I don't know that.

That leads to the really big story. Fubo TV went up in price. Notice the $65/month price listed. That's what Fubo has been for some time. So, where's the price increase? Look next to the price. See the "29% savings" thing? What that is saying is that the most recent price of $65/month is now a discounted price of 29% off.

Now, I'm pretty good at math, but I am going to round to the nearest dollar to keep the numbers simple. This will give you a good idea of what to expect, okay?

If $65/month is a 29% savings, that mean the regular price is $92/month (actually $91.53). A savings percentage reflects off the full price. Take 92 and subtract 29% (or multiply by .71, same thing). You get about 65. That means that to get a 29% savings at the $65/month price, the full price is nearly $92/month. That's a huge price increase. In fact, it's an over 40% price increase. Take 65 and multiply by 1.4 (that's adding 40%) and you get 91.

Now, if you actually click through the signup as a new person, you see a different price, however. Fubo says the regular monthly price is $80.97. That's a nearly 25% price increase.


Anyway you look at it, Fubo's math is wrong, and that's probably just a mistake, not a an outright lie. Somebody screwed up, and is giving out bad numbers, and probably not on purpose. But even then, that works out to Fubo TV increasing their prices by over 24%. And that's the best-case scenario.

Of course, it bears repeating that this pricing is for new subscribers. Current, and apparently previous, subscribers get the monthly option still, at the monthly rate we're used to seeing, which is the monthly average of the new quarterly plans.

But does any of this matter? Yes. Yes it does matter. But let's look at both sides of the argument.

If you think Fubo TV's $65/month plan is a good thing, and you plan to subscribe for at least three months anyway, there's no big deal. You'll still get the same good service at the same price. So, if you look at it like this, it doesn't matter.

But to me it does matter. Here's what I don't like. One of the biggest attractions about streaming plans is the fact you can subscribe for one month at a time. And you still can for Sling TV, Philo, Frndly.TV, Vidgo, YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, DirecTV Stream, and others. But not Fubo. Not Fubo.

Nothing about the service itself has changed, just the term of service. It's now three months. And I don't like that. I didn't like being locked in to long term plans for cable, and I don't like a streaming service trying to lock me in for a longer time.

I'm worried that if this succeeds, the dams will break. And if that happens, the "damns" will break as well

[Link to video]

Fubo TV is still a streaming service that offers a good selection at a reasonable price on average. But I don't expect them to be in my Streaming Live going forward.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Raspberry Pi streamer?

I may have a new project to do. I recently updated my Plex server, and have a couple of other things I need (okay, want) to do. But in the last several weeks, another project has come to mind that is more streaming related.

For Christmas, I gave one of my grandsons a Raspberry Pi kit. I had thought about doing a Raspberry Pi project for some time, but never really got around to it. Well, when I was trying to decide what to get this one grandson, the idea of a Raspberry Pi was floated, and that's what I ended up doing.

I'm not sure he really got into it, but it did get me to thinking. I know there are several projects that one can do with Raspberry Pi devices, including a streaming device. Now we're talking.

I'm shopping around for the things needed to build a streaming device out of a Raspberry Pi. From everything I can tell, the newer, more powerful devices will run Android TV. I've used a couple of different Android/Google TV devices, and I think it's a fine platform. I wish the Android/Google TV devices I've used had a little more power and storage, but maybe if I build my own, I can resolve that. Maybe.

Don't get me wrong. I really like Roku devices. And the Amazon Fire TV devices work well. And Apple TV. And I like Google/Android TV devices I've used -- Chromecast, TiVo, onn (box, not stick), and others -- so this little project may be a fun thing to do.

I'm not sure if this project, if successful, will be a long-term part of my Streaming Life, or just a side project to see if I can. Either way, it'll be fun.


Update 1

Update 2

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Watching the Pro Bowl

The NFL all star game, called the Pro Bowl, is this afternoon. For years, it was played in Hawaii. From 1979 through 2015, it was in Hawaii every year except 2009 (Miami, FL) and 2014 (Phoenix, AZ). After four years in Orlando, and a cancellation last year, the game returns, being played in Las Vega, NV.

As often happens, players from the two teams in the Super Bowl won't play. Well, most from the Bengals and Rams that were selected have opted out, but as of this writing, some are still on the roster. Other stars often opt out as well. The NFC starting QB Aaron Rogers, along with Tom Brady (his 15th Pro Bowl selection), are not playing. The Cardinals' Kyler Murray, along with replacements Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson will play, as of this writing.

On the AFC side, the three selected quarterbacks are still scheduled to play. Starter Justin Herbert, along with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are still expected to play. I won't go over the entire roster, but you can see the AFC roster and the NFC roster to see who will be in the game.

What you want to know is how can you watch the game, right? Well, it will be on four networks: ABC, ESPN, Disney XD, and NFL Network.

ABC

  • Antenna, if you are in range (most of you are). (Free)
  • Vidgo ($55/month)
  • Fubo ($65/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

ESPN

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

Disney XD

  • Sling TV (Orange) with Kids Extra add-on ($41/month)
  • Vidgo ($55/month)
  • Fubo ($65/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

NFL Network

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

Any of these will get you the Pro Bowl. If the NFL all star game is something you want in your Streaming Life, you have plenty of options.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Amazon Prime price increase

If you're an Amazon Prime member -- and I've been one for years and years -- there's a price increase coming. The current price of $119 will become $139 come February 18 for new customers, or March 25 for those renewing.

As I've said, I've had an Amazon Prime membership for a long long time. I was a Prime member before there was a thing called Prime Video. I was a Prime member when Unbox was introduced. Unbox became Instant Video on Demand, and is now called Prime Video. That's how long I've been a member.

I think (I really should check to be sure) it was originally $79/year. It went up to $99/year, then to $119/year. Now, the next price increase is coming and again, it's another $20/year increase.

Amazon last hiked the price of Prime in 2018, when it increased to $119 from $99. Four years before that, it raised the subscription fee to $99 from $79.

Amazon’s annual increase amounts to about a 17% rise in price. Amazon also raised the monthly price of a Prime membership from $12.99 to $14.99, the company said. New members will see the increased prices on Feb. 18, and current members will be billed at the higher rate after March 25.

Well, there you go. It was $79 to start with. It's not quite doubled since it's original launch, but it is giving me some pause.

When it started, there was no video service. We went with it because we calculated that the cost would be justified by the shipping benefits. Now, at $60/year more than it first cost, I have to wonder if it is worthwhile.

I suppose if you figure the video services into it, it is worth it. But we didn't subscribe for video services, and have always considered that a bonus. No longer. It's now figuring into my calculations, because I'm not sure we'd get $140 worth of benefits over a year from the shipping. Heck, I'm not really sure we're getting $120 worth, the current cost.

So, now Prime Video moves from a bonus to something I'm actually paying for. It's still cheaper than Netflix (the middle and higher package). I'm not a fan of the interface still. It's better. Or maybe I'm just more used to it. I've never liked the interface. But the amount of content is really good, and as a streaming service, it's probably worth it.

I'll be keeping Prime Video in my Streaming Life. I just don't like having to pay more for it. Such is life, even a streaming one.

Friday, February 4, 2022

NBC Regional Sports Networks planning Direct To Consumer service

One of the issue for sports fans -- and if you're a sports fan, you already know this -- is accessing regional sports networks when streaming. Cable systems offer the regional sports networks with their plans, but those are for everyone, not just sports fans. If you don't care about sports, you are paying for something you don't care about. But if you are a sports fan, and your favorite teams are only, or often, or even occasionally, carried on a regional sports network, then you appreciate them.

I bring this up because NBC Regional Sports Networks, specifically Bay Area, California, Chicago, Washington, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, are only available on DirecTV. Well, most of them. NBC Sports Philadelphia isn't available, but the others are, both satellite and streaming (DirecTV Stream).

The DirecTV Stream package that includes the RSNs is $90 and up. That may be a good deal, depending on what you've been paying for cable, but it's a bit more than I want to pay. Since I don't live in one of the areas served by NBC RSNs, it's not an issue for me. But for people that do live there, it matters.

This is where a recent announcement from NBC comes into play. NBC intended to announce that Valari Dobson Staab had a new position with the company, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

NBCUniversal has tapped Valari Dobson Staab to be chairman of NBCUniversal Local, a division that includes the NBC owned-and-operated local stations, the Telemundo-owned stations, and the NBC regional sports networks.

Staab has overseen NBC’s local stations since 2011, and Telemundo’s stations since 2013. She reports to Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal television and streaming.

After an initial flurry of reports that NBC was launching a direct to consumer (DTC) service for RSNs, those hopes were tempered when NBC issued a clarification, according to Forbes.

However, management tried to walk back the DTC news. In a statement released the following day, a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said,  “In a personnel-related announcement issued by NBCUniversal Local on Jan. 31, a reference to the NBC Regional Networks’ direct-to-consumer (DTC) plans was inadvertently included and was misleading,” the spokesperson said.

“At this stage in the process, our DTC strategy is evolving as we assess options in each of the unique sports markets we serve. At this time, we don’t have any further details about launch plans including timing or markets. More information will be announced when available,” said the NBCU spokesperson. 

So it sounds like they said released information that wasn't cleared for release regarding RSNs. That doesn't mean they aren't going to. Most outlets think they probably will. However, I think they aren't ready to announce anything because they haven't come up with enough of a plan to be able to answer the inevitable questions. Now the questions will be coming anyway.

I like the idea of NBC Sports launching a direct to consumer sports service. I wish ESPN (Disney) would do that. Sinclair, who owns Bally RSNs, will be doing it ... sometime. If they do, that will be mean better streaming options for consumers. If I want an RSN package, I can get it. If I don't, I won't.

The plan, whatever Sinclair/Bally, ESPN/Disney (if...), or NBC devise, won't be perfect. Nothing ever is. But it will at least be an option, which we don't have today. More options in my Streaming Life is what I want. I just wish it was sooner rather than later.

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