Thursday, June 30, 2022

Amazon Deals!

I couldn't hold out til Prime Days to get a new TV. But if you've been wanting to get a new TV, Amazon is running some specials right now.

One that caught my eye was a 65-inch that's about 40% off.

That's a pretty good deal. Yes, it's still $400, but those are pretty darn good TVs. And if you're looking for a Fire TV platform, this looks like a good choice.

Of course, if your TV picture is good, but your streaming device doesn't get a good signal, maybe it's actually your network.

Amazon's Eero 6 mesh router is a good option. The sale will end on this one soon, but it may come back. Even if it doesn't, it's a good device in my experience. Put a few of them together and give your home the coverage it needs.

Many people with do everything but upgrade their network. Once I got a good network setup, most of my problems with streaming went away.

Check out Amazon's Prime Day page and see if there's something that will make your Streaming Life even better.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Resolving WiFi issues with Fire TV devices

I saw an article on AFTV News yesterday that covered a topic I thought was worthwhile.

Network issues are very common in low-end Roku devices. I don't see a lot of complaints about network issues with Fire TV devices, but I don't frequent the Fire TV support areas nearly as much.

Network issues happen on all devices. Lower end devices are usually more susceptible to such issues, as they are usually lower priced because the parts are cheaper. And cheap network parts sometimes function like cheap network parts.

Poor network quality and the issues that it causes, like buffering and degraded image quality/resolution, are the top complaints among Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, and Fire TV Smart TV owners. That is likely why Amazon has revamped the Fire TV’s built-in network status testing utility with additional information and functionality to help Fire TV owners asses and fix network issues. This guide will help you understand the different values in the new network utility, such as signal strength, noise, and channel utilization, as well as suggest ways to improve each value.

Network issues can happen on higher priced, better devices as well, as  you may have noticed by the reference to the Fire TV Cube. So, if you do have network issues, or simply want to try to improve your network connectivity, consider giving the AFTV News article a read. It may improve your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

No subscriptions?

I've balanced my Streaming Life between watching free content, or FAST (Free Ad-Supported Television) and subscription content, to include vMVPD (Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor) content such as Sling TV, etc., and SVOD (Subscription-based Video on Demand), such as HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, etc.

Rather than subscribe to multiple services, I'll subscribe to one service for a month, then the next month, subscribe to a different service. As I don't usually use vMVPD (streaming cable type of services), I am trading the immediacy of watching content for the extra money in the bank. The content will show up on SVOD soon enough, at least soon enough for my purposes.

Of course, some people just have to watch that special program when it airs. I'm not some people. And maybe you don't have to be either. Many services are $70/month, with others close to that. Do I need to watch the content RIGHT THEN, or can I wait a few hours (if it's on Hulu) or a few days, weeks, or months, and save the cost of an iPhone? Or more, as $70/month totals $840 over a year.

Since I preach this so much, but still do subscribe to the occasional service, I'm going to let the current subscriptions run out, then see how long I can go just watching FAST and AVOD content. June is nearly over, and I have some subscriptions ending. I'm not jumping to another service on the first of the month. Rather, I'm letting things end, and seeing how it goes.

Here's a secret: it will go well. How do I know? Well, I've not watched much of the content from this month's subscription service. I haven't missed it. I simply noticed that the month is ending, and I went to ensure I had a cancellation set. I did. Then I wondered what to get next month, and I realized I barely watched any this month, if at all. Seriously, I don't think I watched anything.

Now, the challenge for you. Look at all the items to which you are subscribed. How many did you watch in the last month? Seriously, more than just one thing, how many did you really watch? Drop anything you didn't watch. Remember, you can always subscribe later. Just cancel, or turn off auto-renew, and let the subscription expire. Go as long as you can.

Even if you only can go one week, think about this: you spend one week without a service, then subscribe. Let it go the month, then let it expire. Then go another week before subscribing again. Over a year, you have subscribed 10 times (actually, 9.865). That means 10 instead of 12. You saved two months. That's $140. You just saved $140 by letting a subscription expire, then doing without for a week.

Now you have a new problem, though. You have to figure out what you're going to do with that extra $140. There are a lot worse problems one can have in a Streaming Life.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Streaming continues to grow

News that streaming continues to grow really isn't news is it?

Well, yes it is. But it is expected news. Well, it is expected to me. And maybe to you as well.

Likely, you're here reading this because you are a streamer, or thinking about becoming a streamer. So, finding out that others are thinking like you doesn't really shock you, does it? Didn't think so.

So, as I said, streaming is growing. According to Nielsen, in May, streaming growth continues to not only grow, but grow at record-breaking numbers. In fact, for the last three full months, each growth exceeded the previous, which was a record at the time.

While overall TV usage decreased by 2.7% in May compared to April—a drop that follows typical viewing trends for this time of year—streaming was the only viewing category to exhibit any month-over-month growth in May as it continued to narrow the gap on cable's 36.5% share of viewership, and it exceeded broadcast's 24.4% share.

Time spent streaming in May increased by 2% versus April, bolstered by the release of new content at the end of the month: Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+ and Netflix's Stranger Things. With the release of these programs, Disney+ captured 2.5% of total TV viewing on May 27, and Netflix claimed 9.0% on May 28.

Broadcast and cable viewing both declined in May, as viewing volume fell 3.5% for each category versus April. The drama genre led with the largest share of broadcast viewership for the month, with procedural crime dramas representing about one-third of broadcast viewing.

TV overall is down, but streaming is up. Way up. Which means that non-streaming TV is way down.

I'm not surprised by this trend, as I said. I dropped cable in early 2011, and my part-time streaming became full time streaming at that time.

The cost savings, the selection of content, the ability to watch on my schedule, all that means that my Streaming Life is a happy one. And it's becoming that way for more and more people.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Linux and Privacy

I've been running a non-streaming (mostly) project of installing and operating using a Linux computer. At least one Linux computer. I'm actually planning on running a desktop (what I'm using now) and a laptop (gotta find one I like).

One of the things about Linux is the security. The operating system is very secure. And you might think that would not be the case. After all, Microsoft and Apple keep their operating system code closely guarded, while Linux in all its forms is open source. That is, anyone can look at the operating system code.

The bad side of that is that anyone easily look for ways to exploit the code. No getting some employee to smuggle out any section of code so you can look at it. With Linux, the code is there for anyone to see.

The good side of that is that anyone can easily look for ways to stop others from exploiting it. Right now, if someone finds an exploit in Windows or Mac OS, only a team at Microsoft or Apple, respectively, can work on fixing the exploit. And that's after teams at Microsoft or Apple missed the exploits in the first place.

If someone finds something wrong with Linux, the entire planet could work in resolving it. Even people from Microsoft or from Apple. Think of it as a strength in numbers.

Most of the security breaches from the Linux standpoint have to do with applications that are running under the GNU/Linux OS, and the applications have issues that have not been fixed, often because the user didn't update the applications.

The way you operate a Linux computer is heavy with security as a default way of operating. For example, if you set up a new Windows or Mac computer, by default, the user has full administrator access. And that makes it easier for malware to impact a Windows or Mac computer.

Let me take a quick side trip to dispel the notion that Mac computers cannot get a virus. They can. If someone told you they couldn't, they likely told you that out of ignorance. Now, to be sure, it's much more likely for a Windows computer to be attacked because there are so many Windows computers, and so many users (Windows, Mac, or Linux) that just don't understand which behaviors are dangerous.

Linux, by default, won't let you, the only user on the computer, perform administration functions. Well, not easily. Those have to be executed with a special Super User command, and a password supplied. So, while it can still happen, it takes effort of the user to force themselves into a dangerous situation.

With Windows or Mac, you can do like I do and set up a local Admin account first, then add other accounts that are used for daily use. These daily accounts are not Admin accounts, but regular user accounts. That's how my Windows and Macs are all set up.

So, Linux is security focused. And many Linux users are focused on security as well. All should be. Where there is a difference among users, I think, should actually boil down to privacy. 

Most Windows and Mac computers are not all that great on privacy. Oh, they'll do a decent job of keeping your data out of the hands of others. And "others" is the key word here. Microsoft and Apple will keep you data, as will Google if you use a lot of Google services. So, they promote themselves as privacy gurus, and they are, insofar as it keeps your data from others. But they have a lot of your data, and you might be shocked just how much.

This is where Linux breaks the mold. Most Linux distributions don't gather your data, but some do. Most don't, and that's a good thing.

To me, security and privacy go hand in hand. They're two aspects of the same thing, and that's being able to use a computer without everyone getting their hands on your data or your money.

I'll talk more about GNU/Linux and privacy in the future. Probably on a weekend, when I talk about my side projects that are only slightly connected to my Streaming Life.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Streaming the USFL Playoffs

This weekend, the football playoffs begin.

Say what?

You heard me. It's time for the football playoffs again.

The USFL playoffs are this weekend, with a game today and another tomorrow.

This afternoon, the New Jersey Generals (9-1) play the Philadelphia Stars (6-4) in the Northern Division championship game. The game will be broadcast on Fox at 3:00 pm.

Tomorrow night, the Birmingham Stallions (9-1) play the New Orleans Breakers (6-4) in the Southern Division championship game. NBC will carry the game at 8:00 pm.

There are a few different ways to watch the games if you are a streamer.


If you have an antenna, you can watch Fox for free. If not, there are streaming services that carry local Fox broadcasts.

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (18 markets only)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)


If you have an antenna, you can watch NBC for free. If not, there are streaming services that carry local NBC broadcasts.

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (11 markets only)
  • Vidgo ($60/month; $159/three months)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If the USFL is something you've been following, or wanting to follow, you can have the spring league playoffs in your Streaming Life.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Free premium channels for Sling TV on weekends

I've said before that I'm not generally a fan of the paid live TV streaming services, or Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD). I prefer the Free Ad Supported Television (FAST) services, but I do have my go-to services for the times when a live TV streaming service (vMVPD).

One is Sling TV, which was the first of the vMVPD services. And, because of its relatively low price, at least compared to other major services, is my go-to in most cases when a vMVPD is called for. Like watching something on ESPN.

Sling TV also has a free tier that can be used standalone FAST service. It can also be used in conjunction with Air TV, so you don't need a paid tier for that. But, you do need a paid tier if you want to take advantage of the latest promotion that Sling TV is offering.

This weekend, and every weekend during the summer, Sling TV is offering free premium channels to paid subscribers. This weekend, it's Showtime. And each weekend, another premium service will be offered for free:

During Freeview Weekends, customers have access to standalone streaming services’ live schedule and on-demand content library. Most Freeview offerings will start Friday and run through Monday. Premium streaming services currently slated in the preview lineup include EPIX, Hallmark Movies Now, Curiosity Stream, Sundance Now, AMC+ and more.

One good thing about this is that if you like the premium service, but don't want to keep Sling TV ongoing, you can do just that.

Following a Freeview Weekend, SLING makes it easy for anyone to continue watching their favorite entertainment by subscribing to the streaming service as a standalone subscription. With nearly 50 standalone streaming services, including SHOWTIME®, EPIX and Starz, available without a base SLING subscription, SLING provides the best à la carte streaming experience on the market.

While I prefer the separate apps for premium subscriptions, I understand the benefit of including it with a package such as Sling TV. And, by the way, if it wasn't clear, you can use the paid premium service with Sling TV Free tier.

This may be a great way for you to check out these premium services and decide if you want to include them in your Streaming Life. As I said, it's not for me, but it just may be something that works for you.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Bally Sports+ to launch today, sort of

Some sports fans have been excited about the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+ streaming service. For some, that happens today.

Bally announced a while back that it would launch a direct to consumer sports network that would offer content from Bally Sports Networks. No dates had been given, with "summer" or "fall" thrown around as launch targets. Until this week.

Earlier in the week, Bally Sports announced that Bally Sports+ would launch in five markets on June 23. Well, according to my calendar, that's today. However, according to my map, I'm not in Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, or Tampa, so I won't get it. At least, not today.

According to Sports Business Journal, it will be about three months before the full launch of the service.

Pay-TV subscribers already have access to streamed games through Sinclair's TV Everywhere apps that are treated as add-ons to pay-TV subscriptions.

Sinclair's executives expect their relationships with subscribers will change once they actually start paying for the streaming service.

"TV Everywhere wasn't a focus," Ripley said. "We didn't make a lot of money off that. Our whole mentality is going to change and say, when the user comes, what does he or she do first? Where do they go? Are they interacting with our gamification features?

"We're talking a three-month ramp from soft to full launch. But we thought it was a smart idea to get some reps under our belt before we go wider."

The service will cost $20/month or $190/year (over 20% discount). If you're in one of the five early launch cities, you will have the first look at the service. For the rest of us, we'll have to wait before we can test drive the service and determine if it's something we want in our Streaming Life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Ad-supported streaming grows

A report from Comscore, a ratings service, says that more and more people in the U.S. are using ad-supported streaming services. To those I say, "Welcome."

I've long been an advocate of the free streaming services over the pay services for some time. And, of course, the free streaming services are by and large ad-supported services.

A little over a year ago, I viewed with some skepticism a report that free ad-supported services were on the rise, mainly because the study was commissioned by Tubi, a free ad-supported service. But, I said I wished it was true, and thought it could be true, but it seemed a little self-serving by Tubi.

Earlier this year, there were suggestions that free services could pass pay services for streamers. Not sure that will happen, but the trend is there. The report by Comscore says that the number of ad-supported services grew at a higher rate and pay subscription services. streaming services (AVOD) are being adopted at a faster rate than subscription-based services (SVOD). AVOD services saw a 29% increase in 2022, compared to 2020. SVOD services saw a 21% increase in the same time period.

Is this bad news for pay services? Not at all, at least I don't think it is. Streaming overall is growing, and 21 percent increase is nothing to sneeze at. I think this means that more people are realizing just how much good free content is there. And free is cheaper than pay.

Pay services won't go away at all. There is content that is only available on pay services. I subscribe to several pay services, in fact. Only, I don't subscribe to them all at the same time. I'll subscribe to one this month, a different one next month, a still different one the next month, and so on. I'll binge and catch up during the month, then go to another the next month, and do this all year long. But I keep the ad-supported services year-round, of course.

There is a lot of good free content. If you are spending all your time on pay services, take a break and look around at the free content. Really look. You may find that you can save a lot of money, and use the pay services to fill in from time to time.

It's really a good way to spend your Streaming Life without spending a lot of money.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Developer Mode on Fire TV

According to AFTV News, there's an update being rolled out for Amazon Fire TV devices that seems to remove Developer Mode on the devices.

For most users, this isn't that big of a deal, but for some, this is a thing.

You see, some users like to extend the features of their Fire TV devices by loading content that isn't in the Amazon application store (sometimes called "side loading"). Many times, this is simply content that for one reason or another, hasn't been approved for the Amazon Store. Other times, it's an app that wasn't actually designed for Amazon's OS, but will work. And others are loading pirate TV content.

To be fair, some that are loading pirate TV apps don't realize the apps are pirate TV apps. That's mostly because they don't understand that such things can be illegal, and pirates take advantage of this.

There are other reason for Developer Mode besides side loading apps. But removing the feature would impact a large number of users, even if the percentage is small.

However, they didn't really remove Developer Mode. Rather, they hid it. And, AFTV News also reports that it's actually easy to locate and enable Developer Mode:

If you’re using a Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, or Fire TV Cube, go to: Settings > My Fire TV > About. If you’re using a Fire TV Smart TV, go to: Settings > Device & Software > About. Once there, repeatedly select the first menu item, until a countdown message appears near the bottom. After selecting the first item about 7 times, the message “No need, you are already a developer” will appear at the bottom to indicate you are done. Go back one menu to find the newly revealed “Developer Options” menu.

The article also gives step by step instructions, with pictures, and videos.

If you're an Amazon Fire TV users, and were worried about losing Developer Mode from your Streaming Life, you need fear no more.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Streaming the Stanley Cup finals

One of the drawbacks of not following some sports closely (or barely at all) is that when a particular sport's big event, or events, happen, they slide right under the radar. That happened to me this week with ice hockey.

The NHL championship, the Stanley Cup, began Wednesday, and I totally missed it. There have been two games played, and Colorado leads Tampa Bay 3 games to none. Game three is tonight and will be broadcast on ABC and ESPN+.

If you're a streamer, you have options to watch the remaining games in the best-of-seven series. Let's start with a streaming only way, then other ways streamers could watch the series.


The Stanley Cup finals are being broadcast on ESPN+. That's a $7/month package that includes lots of sports. To be sure, this is not the same as ESPN. If you have or plan to cut the cord, realize that you cannot get standard ESPN content for $7/month. But, you can get a lot of content, including the NHL championship series.


You have several options at different price points if you want to watch ABC.

  • Antenna (free)
  • Vidgo ($60)
  • YouTube TV ($65)
  • Fubo ($70)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70)

Professional ice hockey's biggest event of the year can be part of your Streaming Life without much fuss, or much cost.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Writing about My Streaming Life on Linux

I said last weekend that I had a desktop computer set up running Linux, and that I intended to use it for writing the content here. I also mentioned that I hadn't done that part very well.

That has changed, and I've used the Linux computer more. Every new post I wrote in the past week has been on the Linux computer. To be fair, some of the posts last week about streaming services were written the week prior and held until last week. In fact, the one that appeared Friday, on Frndly TV, was one of the first I wrote. But, I didn't publish them in the order I wrote them.

Some of those posts were written on the Linux computer, but some were written on Windows, and maybe one on the Mac. However, I am focusing on writing solely on Linux for the foreseeable future. I want to get used to it, and this is a good way to accomplish that.

I realize the focus of this Website is streaming. And I realize that my writing about writing on Linux really has nothing to do with streaming. But, maybe I'll be able to tie it all in. So, if you are following this Website, do pay attention to how much trouble, or ease, I'm having with Linux. There will be a payoff. Not a big one, but a payoff nonetheless.

I mentioned that I have been writing on both Mac and Windows. So why is Linux different? Well, for one thing, the browser is different. I have used the Google Chrome browser on both Windows and Mac for some time. It's one of the browsers that runs on both platforms. In fact, there's a version for Linux, but I'm not using that.

So, why not use Chrome for Linux? Well, GNU/Linux is an open source operating system. Yes, it's actually GNU/Linux, but most everyone calls it simply "Linux" and so will I.

Being open source, and free, Linux is a different approach to computers. And Linux lends itself to more customization than you are used to. Or want, to be honest. I could spend all day -- heck, all week, month, or year -- talking about that, but I won't. Let's just say that I decided that, at first at least, I want to be open source with both my OS and with my apps. And Google Chrome is not open source.

There is a browser called Chromium on which Chrome is based, and Chromium is open source. But, it has some quirks I don't like. Maybe I'll switch to it later. For now, though, I'm using Firefox.

I've used Firefox before, and was my browser of choice until it ran into some issues I didn't like a while back, and I switch fully to Chrome on Mac and Windows. But, so far, I'm having a good experience with Firefox. Well, mostly. I ran into a hiccup trying to make one specific online purchase, but it turned out the service's Website was the problem, not Firefox. So, with Firefox, so far so good.

But, Firefox is different from Chrome. And it has taken some getting used to. Chrome has some features I like that Firefox is missing, but I'm able to work around them with little issue.

For now, I'll continue to write on my Linux computer using Firefox browser. And yes I will be able to work all this into my Streaming Life when this great experiment is done. I'm just not sure how.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Fubo TV and gambling

When I looked at Fubo TV a little more the other day, I wasn't aware that Fubo was just days away from rolling out a way to actually wager on games.

Yes, you will be able to bet on games from Fubo TV.

The company announced this week that a feature called "Pick’em Games" that opens up the possibility of sports wagering.

... pick’em players in select markets will have seamless access to Fubo Sportsbook by scanning a QR code to place real-money wagers aligned with their picks. This marks the latest incorporation of FuboTV and its owned-and-operated real-money wagering platform.

Pick’em players will be able to predict the outcome of select live sporting events directly from FuboTV’s live TV streaming platform’s home screen. Fubo will make pick’ems available prior to the start of select live sporting events each Sunday. Players can test their skills through a variety of contests, including Perfect Pick’ems, to earn points and compete against their friends and the FuboTV community for the chance to work their way up leaderboards.

FuboTV will continue to expand the types of contests, the gaming experience and, later, will introduce prizing.

Not everyone will get it at first, but this is the first part of a planned rollout to allow you to wager on games.

From the looks of the YouTube video that Fubo TV released, it shows how to pick the games on the streaming device, then generate a QR code that you'll use on your smartphone to complete the wager.

I don't have a good feeling about this, but I'm not going to criticize it. After all, having the Georgia Lottery app on my phone means I have no room to talk about others using smartphones to gamble.

Fubo is in a good position to do this, having branded themselves as the top sports streaming service. And that claim is hard to dispute, although they certainly don't have everything. They do have a lot, and this seems to be the next step.

If sports is something you enjoy, and sports wagering is something in which you have an interest, you'll soon be able to incorporate all that in your Streaming Life.

Friday, June 17, 2022

A closer look at Frndly TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services that I think is a real gem: Frndly TV.

I've been a fan of Frndly TV for quite some time. And with plans starting at $7/month, it's a great deal. Well, to me it is.

Unlink YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Fubo TV, and DirecTV Stream, there are no local channels in the Frndly TV plan. Which means if you want local channels streaming, this may not be the service for you.

Of course, if you have an antenna, or can add an antenna to your setup, then Frndly TV is one to consider.

Mostly, it's a matter of taste. What type of content to you want? If you want family friendly TV, it's hard to beat Frndly TV. Even if you want other content, using Frndly TV as an add-on rather than a primary service is still an option.

Three Hallmark channels, UP TV, MeTV,and so many others make this one of the most affordable ways to watch those channels.

While the number of available channels isn't huge, right now it's at 38 channels, the selection of a good one if you want family friendly TV.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Streaming the U.S. Open

The U.S. Open, one of the four major golf tournaments, starts today. If you're a golfer, you're probably interested. Even non-golfers follow the majors. It's quite the big deal.

If you're looking to watch the U.S. Open, you have plenty of options, including streaming options.

The U.S. Open will be broadcast by NBC, and carried by to additional networks that are owned by NBCUniversal: USA and Peacock.

So, how can you watch the 122nd United States Open Championship?


If you have an antenna, you can watch NBC for free. If not, there are streaming services that carry local NBC broadcasts.

  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (11 markets only)
  • Vidgo ($55/month; $67/three months)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)


  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month)
  • Vidgo ($60/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month; includes Disney Bundle, meaning ESPN+)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)


This standalone service is $5/month for Premium (the free tier doesn't get you all the sports). It's also free to Xfinity Internet customers.

The U.S. Open schedule is available on the Peacock Website. If the U.S. Open is something you want in your Streaming Life, you have plenty of options.

NOTE: Sling TV carries NBC in 11 markets only:

  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Hartford/New Haven
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
  • Washington, DC

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

A closer look at Philo

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services that doesn't get enough love: Philo.

At $25/month, Philo isn't the cheapest live streaming service, but it's close. And it's a really good service. But Philo isn't for everybody.

As is true of the other less expensive live streaming services, Philo does not carry local channels. Philo also doesn't have many news channels, nor does it have much sports programming. If you have or can put up an antenna for live local channels, then that's no longer an issue.

News may not be an issue. Philo has BBC World News, Bloomberg, and Cheddar news. If you simply want news, there are those, plus several free news services available on the major streaming devices. ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC all have news streams available for free. There are others as well. If you want to high ratings talking heads from the cable news channels, you won't find those for free. But if you want more news than opinion, and not all the shouting, then the free services available on the major streaming devices will fill the bill, and that becomes no longer an issue with Philo.

Sports? Okay, that's a problem. Philo has Motor Trend, but that's it. You won't find ESPN or Fox Sports for free, or in a standalone package. Bally Sports hasn't launched yet, and that may not have everything you'd expect at first. So if sports is a big thing for you, Philo probably isn't the way to go.

Unless you only follow a certain sporting season. For example, if you like college football (using my personal example) then you could subscribe to Sling TV during football season, then save $10/month by switching to Philo the rest of the year.

Of course, if you don't need major sports programming, then this won't matter. Personally, I really like Philo. It has a lot for the money.

The interface is okay. It's not my favorite, but it's functional. And you can mark certain channels as favorites, which it moves to the top of the guide.

Philo is one of the cheapest ways to get Hallmark. All three channels -- Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Drama, and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries -- are included in the package. Plus, you get a lot more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A closer look at Sling TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services: Sling TV.

When I do go to a live streaming service, I usually go with Sling TV. That's because it has what I want, when I want a live streaming service, and it has a better price than other services with my target channels.

Sling TV was the first live streaming service, and I tried it when it first launched. Kept it a couple of months, got used to it, then dropped it until football season. And each year, I've used Sling TV for football, at least part of the time. If another service runs a really good deal, I'll use that other service, but when the deal is over, it's back to Sling TV.

I actually use Sling TV free (more about that in a minute) for Air TV (more about that too), so I see the interface rather often. I'm used to it. I do recall a lot of people complained when the new interface rolled out last summer. It's fine. It's not that much different than other interfaces. They're pretty much the same. One little tweak Sling TV has is the ability to mark channels as favorites and move those to the top of the grid. Not all services do that.

Local Channels (or not)

Unlike the other major live streaming services, Sling TV doesn't have local channels. Well, in most markets, it doesn't have local channels. There's a list at the bottom of where they do have locals.

Sling TV has a feature of sorts that can make up for missing local channels, but it's kind of expensive. Well, you have to buy some equipment, then you can watch local channels. First, you need an antenna. So, if that's out of the question, then you don't need to look at any more of this section.

If you do have one, or can put one up, you can purchase an Air TV device and connect your antenna to it, then add the device to your network. Then, you'll see local channels within the Sling TV interface. And here's the thing: you don't need a Sling TV subscription to use Air TV. That's because of the next thing that's different about Sling TV.

Sling TV free

Now, know up front that you can't get the full Sling TV lineup for free. But you can get some live streaming content for free. There are 167 channels of live and on-demand content for free. If you're familiar with Pluto TV, Xumo, Roku Channel, Plex, or any of the other free live streaming services, then you have an idea. And, again, it's free, so you can add the app to your streaming device and create an account. You don't have to do a trial of Sling TV regular services. Just create an account, tell it "no" every time it asks you if you want to subscribe (usually just a login or app launch), and watch TV for free.

The other plans, called Orange and Blue, are $35/month, and similar. Or, you can get both for $50/month.

Monday, June 13, 2022

A closer look at DirecTV Stream

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the biggest, most inclusive live streaming services: DirecTV Stream.

DirecTV Stream began at DirecTV Now. Then it was AT&T TV Now. Then it was AT&T TV. Now it's DirecTV Stream. Oh, and there was AT&T Watch TV, which was a separate service. And there was some overlap in the services and names of services. But, now it's simply DirecTV Now.

Even with it's confusing upbringing, it's always been a good service, and is a good service today. However, it's usually been the most expensive service as well. Today, it still holds that title, but Hulu+Live TV matches its price.

The interface looks good and is functional. I prefer the guide, but for those that like the modern interfaces, the one on DirecTV Stream works as well as any.

On the guide, you can mark channels as favorites, but they don't move to the top. Rather, you can filter by favorites. Sorting is either alphabetical or by channel number which harks back to cable. The filters by Favorites, Sports, Movies, Kids, TV Shows, and Recent work well enough. One thing you cannot do is remove a channel from the lineup, as you can with YouTube TV. Still, it works well enough.

The large price tag comes with a large number of channels.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Linux after all

A couple of weekends agp, I mentioned that I've made no progress in my setting up a Linux desktop for everyday use. What that has to do with streaming is ... well, not a lot. Although streaming is what led to me deciding to set up a Linux desktop.

You see, I wanted to set up a Raspberry Pi as a Plex server, and I did. It's running at a family member's house, where I maintain the computers and network. It works great.

Of course, Raspberry Pi OS is a version of Debian, a Linux distribution. And that got me the Linux itch again.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, I had a device set aside and bought a new hard drive (an SSD) since the reason the device was available was the existing hard drive crashed. So, I put a new one, a better one, a faster one, in the device, and was ready to install Linux. Then my TV thing happened. But that's done. Mostly. So I decided to take a little time and install Ubuntu Linux on the device. So I did. Now I have a running Linux desktop computer from a re-purposed Dell Windows computer.

I haven't done much with it. I did a basic Ubuntu installation. Why Ubuntu? Why not? It's one of the most popular distributions and there's a ton of community support. So, this Linux round -- my first was 15-20 years ago -- I'm starting with a common Linux distribution, and will branch out to others when it seems the thing to do.

I'll probably stick with Ubuntu Linux for a while. I want to get to the point of it being second nature to sit down at that device, rather than the Windows device I'm using to write this, or the Mac OS device that's the one I use the most.

I've been spending a lot of time testing and evaluating live streaming services recently, and that has been and will continue to be a major focus. I had planned to write many of those posts on my Linux device, just to get used to it. I've written more on my laptop than intended, and as Linux is on a desktop, not that many of these posts have been written on Linux. But I have been playing around and getting used to the interface.

So, while Linux isn't actually a part of my Streaming Life, it is a result of it, and I plan on it becoming more and more a large part of the way I write about my Streaming Life.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

More are not paying for TV

A report from Leichtman Research Group says major pay TV services lost nearly 2-million subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. And yes, that's a lot. But some of the articles I've seen missed a key point.

First, the overall report gave some interesting -- well, interesting to me -- stats about various pay TV services services.

According to the report, most of the numbers are estimates, though some are hard numbers. And of the top traditional cable outlets, a total of825,308 customers left the services:

That's a lot of disappearing revenue. And the bad news continues. Other major providers, including DirecTV, Dish, Verizon FIOS, and Frontier lost623,000 on top of that:

But then comes the part that most of the news reports I've seen overlook. And maybe intentionally. Three top streaming services, Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV, and Fubo TV lost507,562 subscribers during the quarter.

Yep, pay TV is showing losses in cable, satellite, telco, and streaming.

Some are spinning the report to show people are dropping cable and satellite in favor of streaming. And I think that's true. But it also shows losses in some areas of streaming. So what it really means is people are realizing they don't need to pay as much for TV to enjoy watching TV.

An antenna is a great way to watch free TV. I realize not everybody has an antenna. And for some people, it's expensive to put up a large outdoor antenna, which is needed if you live far from the TV towers. I live over 40 miles from the nearest major towers, and I couldn't just put up a small indoor antenna. And a small outdoor antenna was hit and miss. So I needed a large outdoor antenna, and I paid to have one put up. I've been happy with the results.

But even if I didn't put up an antenna, I wouldn't pay for a live streaming service. I do use the antenna, but rarely to watch the major networks such as ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. My Hulu subscription ($7/month) gets me next day programs on three of those four (no CBS) which is no different than if I recorded them on a DVR.

And while I do watch the local subchannels, much of that content is available with free streaming services such as Pluto TV, Tubi, Xumo, Sling TV (free tier), and others, either a stream of the very same networks, or similar content.

When I cut the cord, there were no live streaming services, and I found out real quick I could do without. Many that are cutting the cord today are finding that they don't need to pay for a live streaming service. Over half a million found that out in Q1 of this year.

I enjoy my Streaming Life. I also enjoy not spending money when I don't have to. And others are finding out the same.

Friday, June 10, 2022

A closer look at Fubo TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services: Fubo TV.

Fubo TV promotes itself as a sports focused service. The page banner even says "LIVE SPORTS & TV WITHOUT CABLE" listing sports before anything else. And they are a sports focused service.

Now, Fubo TV doesn't carry Bally Sports networks, so that is a gaping hole in their sports coverage. But, Fubo TV does have a lot of other options. Of course they have the ESPN networks and the Fox Sports networks. Be In sports, NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and lots of soccer (futbol) channels.

The interface looks good -- there's not a lot of difference between the interfaces of the major live streaming platforms -- as does the guide, which is a standard cable-like guide.

Since they focus on sports, the setup covers things like your favorite teams from a variety of leagues. I'm a college football fan, but there wasn't a way for me to pick my college team. For professional leagues, however, you do have that option, and your team's events do show up on the main page.

So, while they don't have all the sports channels, they have more than any other live streaming service. If you love sports, and missing out on Bally Sports networks, then Fubo TV may be right up your alley.

For $70/month you get a lot of channels.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

A closer look at Vidgo TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services: Vidgo TV.

Vidgo doesn't get a lot of love from the Internet. Many reviews of live streaming services completely leave Vidgo out. There's not even a Wikipedia page for Vidgo. Yet, it's a legitimate live streaming service that offers a decent package, compared to some other services.

The pricing is $15 cheaper than YouTube TV, and $10 cheaper than Hulu+Live TV or DirecTV Stream. It is more than Sling TV, but it has more than Sling TV.

I counted 113 channels in the Vidgo Plus package, which runs $60/month.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

A closer look at Hulu+Live TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the popular live streaming services: Hulu+Live TV.

I've been a Hulu user for years, over 10 years in fact. However, I use the standard Hulu on-demand service. What I'm looking at today is the live streaming service.

Hulu+Live TV is not just the name of the service, it's a description of the service. You have Hulu, which is a very good on-demand TV service that carries current season content from many of the networks. Not all the networks, mind you, but many. It's $7/month and you can watch new content within hours of it airing live. Think of it like a DVR service for, well, everything.

Some content goes away after 30 days, but some stays around longer. A lot longer.

The other thing that Hulu+Live TV has is ... live TV.

Not only can you watch on-demand content from Hulu, but you can watch live TV from a bunch of channels. That bumps the price up by $63/month. While Hulu is $7/month, Hulu+Live TV is $70/month. But, you do also get Hulu along with it. And you get Disney+ along with it. And you get ESPN+ along with it.

So, it's not really Hulu+Live TV, it's Disney Bundle+Live TV. Which means the $14/month Disney Bundle is included in the $70/month price. Which means you're actually paying $56/month for the live TV part. And that's a better price than most of the live streaming services. If you would otherwise have the Disney Bundle, that is. However you look at it, it's one of the better pricings on a premium live streaming service.

So, what channels do you get? A lot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

A closer look at YouTube TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the most popular live streaming services: YouTube TV.

The service is $65/month. That's a lot of money. Even so, it's not the most expensive service.

So, what do you get for the money? A lot actually.

Monday, June 6, 2022

What's the best live streaming service?

I've been streaming since for a decade and a half. I dropped cable in January 2011, and have relied on streaming as my primary source of TV content ever since.

The options in the early days of streaming were a lot slimmer than the options today. And, because of that, I learned that I didn't need a live streaming service.

First of all, the first live streaming service, Sling TV didn't launch until early 2015. I had already been doing without cable for four years by that time. I tried out Sling TV, and thought it was a fine service. But, I didn't keep it around, because I had learned that I didn't need it.

As a TiVo user, I was previously recording content, so I was used to watching shows after they aired. That means it was on-demand, with my TiVo recordings being the source. So, early on, I got used to on-demand content.

Hulu was around, and it was free. I was watching it on TV via a Microsoft Windows Media Server setup. On my Roku device, I watched the pay service Hulu Plus, which at the time was a separate catalog of content. Eventually, Hulu's free plan went away, and Hulu Plus became just plain Hulu. And I continued to watch it, as it was on-demand content, and how I was used to watching stuff already.

I would still use my TiVo to record shows over the air, or to watch live local channels through TiVo with an antenna. I never found a use for Sling TV, or any other live streaming service, until football season rolled around. Then, I'd subscribe, watch the games, then cancel. I still do that.

So, what's the best live streaming service? For me, for most of the year, it's none of them. I don't have the need for one. I watch on-demand from Hulu, unless it's a show I purchase from Amazon or Apple, then it's on-demand from my personal library.

But, that's because my watching habits, wants, and needs lean to not having a live streaming service. So, I don't spend the money on something I don't need. But you aren't me. You may feel you need a live streaming service. Or, at least watch live TV.

If you want live TV, put up an antenna if you can. If you can't, there are some live streaming services that carry local channels. And even if you do have an antenna for local channels, if you really want to watch other channels, there are live streaming services that carry a lot of cable channels.

Over the next several days, maybe weeks, I'll look at the major live streaming services, and give my thoughts on them. But, I want you to know up front that none of them are my choice. But maybe one will be your choice. If it improves your Streaming Life, and you're happy with the cost, then you've done what's good for you.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Watching the NBA finals

This one snuck up on me. The NBA finals are underway. I knew they were coming, but as I don't watch NBA regularly -- that means "at all" -- I wasn't paying that close attention to it. But, my son loves watching the NBA, and he'll talk about the playoffs from time to time. And he's a great source for reminding me about upcoming major sporting events in sports I don't follow. And that's most sports.

This past couple of weeks, though, a few things interfered with our regular get-togethers and talks. That means he didn't remind me about the NBA finals. Not his fault, of course, but mine. I should follow things closer. Even though I don't follow the sport, a lot do, and streamers that are NBA fans want to watch the finals. And the fact that I haven't posted about it, means I've fallen down on the job.

Boston is up 1-0 in the series, having taken the first game from Golden State, 120-108. Game two is tonight, Game 3 is Wednesday, Game 4 is Friday, with potential Games 5, 6, and 7 being the 13th, 16th, and 19th.

All the games are on ABC, so it won't be hard to find. But if you're a streamer, what are your options?

  • Antenna. Most people have a local ABC affiliate. And the game will be available free over the air to anyone who has an antenna and is close enough to an ABC affiliate's tower. Most people are close enough (not everyone, of course), so that's actually an option many don't think of.
  • Vidgo ($55/month) carries local ABC content. It's the cheapest streaming service that carries ABC. It also carries Fox, but doesn't carry CBS or NBC.
  • YouTube TV ($65/month) also carries local ABC content. It's the cheapest live streaming service that carries all the major broadcast network local channels.
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month) also carries ABC and the other major affiliates. It included the Disney Bundle in its package.
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month) is another option for ABC and all the major networks. It has Bally Regional Sports Networks in their $90/month plan.

If you're looking to include the NBA finals in your Streaming Life, you have plenty of options.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Back to Apple TV

Roku has been my streaming device of choice for years. I've used others, but Roku has been the one I've used the most. Apple TV has been the one I've used second most, though lately, I've not touched it.

I did touch it when I set up my new TV and reconfigured the network and attached device. I disconnected it, along with everything else. So far, I've reconnected Roku, since it's a Streambar, functioning as both a Roku device and a sound bar. I've reconnected my Fire TV cube, because when I disconnected it, the way some things were run, I left in place, so there was no need to re-run any cables, as they were still there. Plugging it up was super easy, barely an inconvenience.

The Google/Android TV devices haven't been connected, since the Sony TV is also a Google TV device. So that leaves Apple TV. And that's what I'm working on this weekend. Well, other stuff too, but that is one of the tasks.

I really like Apple TV, and am a little surprised that I haven't used it much. That changes this weekend. I feel like I'm welcoming an old friend back into my Streaming Life.

Friday, June 3, 2022

My Google TV quandary

I mentioned recently that I was getting a new TV.

I also mentioned that I had the new TV and that it had taken my focus from a couple of other things.

Well, all that is so. But after a week, I'm not still setting it up.

Well, the TV is set up, but the stuff connecting to the TV isn't. Not all of it, anyway.

You see, the new Sony TV is an Google TV device. And that's the quandary. Do I set up one of my existing Google TV devices?

I have a Chromecast with Google TV device, and I have an Nvidia Shield device. Both are Google TV devices. Yes, the Nvidia Shield is technically an Android TV device, but they're both the same thing underneath. It's practically a distinction without a difference.

Anyway, the Google TV interface of the Sony TV is fine. It works as I would expect. In fact, if you bought one, you really wouldn't need a streaming device. It uses one of the Big Four.

There are plenty of smart TV that are lesser devices, and I always put a streaming device on them. In fact, I haven't bought a TV that wasn't a smart TV since I started streaming. And I've never used the interface within a smart TV. I've looked at them and dismissed them as inferior, mostly because in my opinion, they are. I've connected Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, or Android/Google TV devices to them. But for this Sony TV, I won't recommend adding a Roku. Unless you just like Roku and it's on all the other TVs. But the Google TV interface is fine.

And, that means I have both a Chromecast with Google TV and an Nvidia Shield device that aren't connected to anything. Yes, I did connect my Roku Streambar, and use that device for my day to day streaming. I also added my Fire TV Cube. I haven't added my Apple TV just yet, but I will. I want my TV to have all of the Big Four connected, but I don't need to add any Android/Google TV device to accomplish that.

Now what am I going to do with my Google TV devices? I'm sure I'll figure something out. Probably put them on spare TVs, which is something I don't normally do, as the secondary TVs usually just have Roku on them. But I'll relegate the Google TV devices to secondary TVs.

I suppose there are worse things to have to worry about. Maybe my Streaming Life has reached the point where I'm looking for problems. I shouldn't, though. The problems will find me soon enough.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Tablo dropping the ability to skip commercials

I'm a fan of Tablo. I like what it does.

I have a network-connected Tablo device, the Quad Tuner device that allows me to watch live TV over my network to any connected device. That means I can watch live TV or recorded shows from any Roku, Fire TV, Google/Android TV, or Apple TV device on the network.

And, off network, I can watch live TV or recordings on any of my non-Roku devices via Tablo Connect. For some reason, Roku doesn't support Tablo Connect, or Tablo Connect doesn't support Roku. One or the other. Or both.

Tablo Connect is a feature you can use if you have a Tablo subscription. It's $5/month, $50/year, or $180/lifetime. I have the lifetime subscription. You also get the 14-day guide. Without a subscription, it's a one-day guide and no out-of-home streaming. I prefer the 14-day guide, and the ability to watch out of home on occasion.

Tablo has another subscription though. Or had. Or has but soon to be had. Lemme explain.

Tablo Premium Service is $2/month, or $20/year. It skips commercials. And it works mostly. Almost all recordings I've done do skip the commercials. However, I found out that it really isn't that important to me, so as the one-year term came to an end, I canceled.

Apparently, not everyone used the feature, either because they didn't know about it, didn't understand it, or didn't care about it. I ended up in the third group. Regardless of group, the demand for the service was underwhelming, so Tablo is ending the service.

The engineering, support, and cloud computing resources required for Automatic Commercial Skip have been significant and the uptake on the Premium Service subscription has not been as strong as we’d anticipated.

For this reason, we made the difficult decision to sunset Automatic Commercial Skip to focus on higher demand features.

I'm not sure if NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) is a contributing factor. I understand there are some technical challenges that Tablo has faced, causing them to delay new NextGen TV devices.

So, if you use the service, and keep the subscription active, you'll keep the feature. But if you drop the service, then after July 19, 2022, you lose it for good.

It was not a factor in my Streaming Life, so I didn't use it, and as a result, won't miss it. But if you use it, or want to try it, you have a month and a half to decide. If you like it, keep it. They'll continue to support it. But drop it, and it's gone.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Starz being sold to Roku?

There is speculation that Starz will be sold to Roku this summer. Lionsgate, which owns Starz, announced last year that it was looking to spin off or sell Starz this year.

According to a report in Variety from last November, Lionsgate began shopping he service and looking at spinning it off as a standalone company:

... Lionsgate announced that its board of directors has given the greenlight to its management team to explore spinning off or selling its Starz division. The company Lionsgate spent $4.4 billion to buy Starz in 2016, a move that expanded its television operations, but one that also added to its debt load.

Now comes word that Roku is one of the companies interested in purchasing Starz. Variety reported last week that the streaming platform already has a relationship with Lionsgate and Starz, and that could make it a smooth transition, should the platform purchase the service.

Among the suitors are Roku and Apollo Group, which have teamed on a bid to acquire a minority stake in Starz.

On the earnings call Thursday, CEO Jon Feltheimer said Lionsgate is aiming to announce its plan for Starz by the end of this summer and that the company expects a transaction could close as early as the first quarter of calendar year 2023.

If this happens, I certainly hope that Starz isn't limited to Roku devices or the Roku Channel for a standalone subscription. Rather, it would be good to continue to offer it as it does, plus keep a standalone app, at least for non-Roku devices.

Adding older Starz content to the ad supported Roku Channel would be a boost for Roku Channel, should that happen. And it may make it easier to get Roku Channel on other platforms. While Roku is the largest platform, having a presence on its competitors' platforms would be an increase in ad revenue from Roku Channel.

I don't know if Roku is being slack in getting apps developed for the other platforms, or if the other platforms simply don't want Roku Channel on their platforms.

If the former, this may help with that, if they get some qualified programmers for those languages/platforms. If the latter, this may be leverage in helping get Roku Channel on the missing platforms.

In the end, if your Streaming Life is easier on account of this, then this would be a good thing. While Starz isn't quite the stature of HBO or Showtime, it's a good streaming service and cable channel. I'd like to see it succeed and gain a wider market.