Friday, September 30, 2022

New Fire TV Cube coming

It's still nearly a month from actual release, but Amazon did recently announce that a new edition of the Fire TV Cube would be available soon.

I know that most people opt for the Fire TV Stick -- commonly called "Firestick" by many users -- but the Fire TV Cube is the top of the line of Amazon's streaming devices. Personally, I use the Fire TV Cube because of my previous experience with the Fire TV Sticks.

The first Fire TV Sticks were simply inferior devices, especially when compare to the Roku devices. However, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a very good device, and completely changed my mind about the Sticks. But, if you do want the top of the line experience, the Fire TV Cube is the way to go.

According to the Amazon Fire TV Blog, the new Fire TV Cube will be available on October 25 and have some improvements in power and speed, plus an HDMI input:

An industry-first, Fire TV Cube includes an HDMI input port, giving customers the flexibility to bring their entertainment devices together by directly connecting compatible cable boxes, Blu-ray players, and more devices. Now, customers can just say, "Alexa, tune to ESPN on cable" instead of manually changing inputs to get to the content they want. With Fire TV Cube, customers can easily control live TV, cable boxes, and on-demand streaming via Fire TV's Alexa Voice Remote or hands-free with Alexa. Fire TV Cube also features a USB port for easy connection to compatible webcams for video calling with Alexa Communications — simply say, "Alexa, call mom" to connect with family or friends from the largest screen in the home.

This may pressure other streaming manufacturers to do the same. Until that happens, the Fire TV Cube will be the only major streaming device to offer a feature that's normally reserved for a full smart TV.

The features are interesting, and if someone has been thinking about getting a Fire TV device, this, to me, is worth waiting for. I don't think I'm going to upgrade my current Fire TV Cube however. If you have an older Cube, then I can see that. But as I don't have need of the HDMI port, I don't see it bringing anything to the table for my Streaming Life. But the device sounds great for someone who doesn't have a current Fire TV Cube.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Hallmark content on Pluto TV

Back in August, Pluto TV announced that they would be adding several channels in September, including content from Hallmark.

This week, I finally saw the Hallmark Movies & More channel on Pluto TV. And that is a welcome addition.

Hallmark has been a favorite source of content for family members for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, specials from Hallmark on TV were something that my mother would often enjoy watching.

In later years, family members enjoyed Hallmark's content, particularly their Christmas movies. Having it on cable was nice, and when we dropped cable, the various streaming platforms that carried Hallmark content were things I regularly subscribed to.

Hallmark content has been on some very low-priced streaming platforms, both on-demand and linear streaming. A favorite has been Frndly TV, which at $7/month is the lowest price of the live streaming services that carry the actual Hallmark Channel. Philo, at $25, is another low priced streaming service with Hallmark Channel.

But, you can find Hallmark content for free, though not Hallmark Channel. Hallmark does offer a secondary catalog, still Hallmark Channel content, just not current content. It's almost like Hallmark Classic. Not everything is really old content, just stuff that has rolled off of Hallmark Channel rotation.

For some time, Hallmark Movies & More has been available as a live streaming channel on Xumo and Roku Channel. This month, it finally appeared on Pluto TV.

I've mentioned before about Hallmark content being on Xumo and Roku Channel, but Pluto TV is the big dog when it comes to FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) content.

If you want to watch some Hallmark content, you now have another option to improve your Streaming Life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A new PayPal scam

We're going off-topic here for something I think is important, and may be a new scam. At least, it's new to me. I've never seen this, and I can see people falling for it.

Last night, a family member received an email from PayPal about a charge against her account. It was for $899 for an iPhone, or so it said.

What seems to have happened is that someone submitted a PayPal charge against her PayPal account, and PayPal sent an email notifying her.

To be clear, the email itself was legit. The problem was twofold, however, and it was within the email.

The first problem was, of course, that she had not ordered an iPhone. The seller/scammer had submitted an unauthorized charge. PayPal has no idea if it's legit or not, so they sent the email notifying her of the submission, for her to decide to pay it or cancel it.

The second problem was within the body of the email, and that's the other part of the scam.

Note the part in the "Seller note to customer." That is content that the seller/scammer sent along with the submitted charge. It's for any communication a normal PayPal seller wants or needs to communicate to the buyer.

However, look at the contents of that:

We've detected that your PayPal account has been accessed fraudulently. If you did not make this transaction, please call us at toll-free number +1 (888)-224-7574 to cancel and claim a refund. If this is not the case, you will be charged $499. 00 USD today. Within the automated deduction of the amount, this transaction will reflect on PayPal activity after 24 hours. Our Service hours:(06:00 am. to 06:00 pm. pacific Time, Monday through Saturday)

Again, and this is important, that is not legitimate! DO NOT CALL THAT NUMBER!

That reads like a message from PayPal, right? Only, it's not a message from PayPal. That is a message from the seller/scammer pretending to be from PayPal.

Note that it also has several of the earmarks of a scam email. First, the amount in the note does not match the amount of the charge. Next, the punctuation is incorrect in many places. And the capitalization is wrong in several places.

Finally, and it says it right in the email but can easily be overlooked, that is A MESSAGE FROM THE SELLER, not from PayPal. The seller is saying the transaction is fraudulent and to call the number.

That last bit got past her briefly (understandable) and she called the number. The person who answered pretended to be from PayPay. Then he gave her a lot of BS about needing her to sign a form but he couldn't email it for security reasons. To get her to sign it, he wanted her to connect to their servers.

I'm gonna stop for a second and bring up a point some might miss here. If an item cannot be sent via email for security reasons, there is no way on earth that any legitimate company is going to let someone's home computer connect to their servers. That would truly be a security risk. Rather, they'd have her connect to a secure Website, not download some software that gave full access to a server.

As an alternate note, the software they asked her to download, TeamViewer, is a legit software package, but it would have granted the person on the phone full access to her computer. Nobody ever needs full access to someone else's computer.

Anyway, this is when red flags started going off and I became a part of the conversation. She added me to the call, and I listened to the scammer tell me the story of why he was needing this. And, like most scammers, was getting pushy.

People who know me know that I don't care for pushy types. And since I'm quite capable of being a little pushy myself, can deal with them on an equal basis. I was calm and polite and said the whole thing was bullshit and suggested to her that she end the call. So the call ended.

She had sent me a copy of the email (you saw a screen shot of that earlier) and noted the note from seller. We had a discussion, and she gave me permission to log in to her PayPal account.There, I found the legitimate way to dispute and cancel the submission. It was easy and only required a single click, much to PayPal's credit.

We both learned something about a new -- well, new to us, anyway -- type of scam. And I thought it might be worth sharing.

Again, this doesn't have anything to do with your or my Streaming Life, but I thought it was worth sharing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Bally Sports has launched

Well, sports fans, the big day has arrived. Yesterday, in fact.

Bally Sports+ launched yesterday, making the service available nationwide. Well, mostly.

Back in June, the service launched in five markets: Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa (or Tampa Bay). Those are the five baseball markets where Bally Sports+ carry the baseball games. None of the other markets that carry Major League Baseball have agreements for the teams to be broadcast over the streaming service.

For example, I live in an area where I would get Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast. And, I would normally get Braves baseball, which is carried on those regional networks.

Yesterday, I became capable of subscribing to Bally Sports+, and can get both Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast, but it states "Braves baseball and related content are not currently available on Bally Sports+."

I can still get all the other programming, just not Braves baseball. And for me, Braves baseball is what I want. NBA and NHL games are available. In fact, from what I'm reading, everything normally carried on the Bally Sports regional networks in my area is available except Braves baseball. And it's that way for the areas covered by all 19 of the Bally Sports networks. Well, except for the five markets -- Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee, and Tampa Bay -- that got the early launch and have agreements for the baseball teams.

It is expected that Bally Sports will be able to negotiate agreements with the other Major League Baseball teams for next season, but it's unknown if any agreements could happen to allow the remaining current season to be carried. Probably not.

The service is $20/month or $190/year. Whether or not that's enough value without baseball is a decision each streamer that is a sports fan will have to make. I would subscribe if they had Braves baseball. And next season, if they carry Braves baseball, I will. Of course, if I was big into NHL and NBA, it would certainly be worth it to me. But I'm me, and it's not.

But for you and for others, Bally Sports+ may be a great addition to your Streaming Life.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Cutting streaming subscriptons to save money

A recent survey indicates that more people in the USA, as well as in Europe, are cutting back on streaming subscription services because of inflation.

Not that streaming services have raised prices, but that everything else has gone up meaning less money for non-essentials. And streaming services are getting hit by this.

While I've not seen the poll, I've seen a write up about it by a good source, The Streaming Advisor, which covers many of the bits of information uncovered by the survey.

There is a definitive generational preference as well. Over two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennials in the US (66% and 76%, respectively) are willing to pay to skip ads, compared to 32% of Baby Boomers, who may be accustomed to ads while viewing TV content. More than half of this generation (the Boomers) are the most unwilling to pay to skip over ads (52%) compared to just 14% of Millennials and 17% of Gen Z who say they are unwilling to do so.

I get this. I'm in that generation, and I usually won't pay to skip ads.

There are other interesting bits, so do go read the article. Of course, I'm not really impacted by much of this. I already cut back on services. I'll subscribe to one a month, watch the content, then cancel and subscribe to a different one the next month.

Over a year, I get all of the content that's exclusive to any service, and I pay a lot less. It is how I conduct my Streaming Life, and I suggest you consider it for yours.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Privacy phone, part 7: Apps

I've been testing some different setups for privacy phones, and have found an issue that's common to them all. The problem is apps.

Now, the whole reason for a privacy phone is to keep information about activity from being sent to Google, Facebook, or other places that collect and sell your data. The easiest way for them to do this is via apps.

If you notice, I didn't say anything about Apple just now. That's not because I'm not concerned about Apple having that data. Apple is actually the least offensive of those that gather your data, but I still don't like the idea of them gathering it. And I don't want iPhone developers getting the data either.

Many apps will collect the data or simply not run. That can be a problem. But the workaround is actually quite simple. Use the Web browser on the phone to access the Website. For example, rather than opening the Facebook app, I'll go to the Facebook Website on my privacy phone. It works pretty much the same. Pretty much. There are some differences. Not enough to make it unworkable, but some differences nonetheless.

However, not all services have Websites that work well with mobile apps. That usually is because the Website is not properly configured to display in a smaller window, such as on a mobile device. Sometimes, it's because of poorly coded Websites.

For instance, if you have a Website where you log in, and if they offer the ability to remember who you are, that's because of it sets a cookie on your phone. However, cookies are not forever. And sometimes, you can tell it to not set certain cookies that are used to track you. The "remember me" cookies don't really track you to the degree of other cookies.

Sometimes, when you go to a Website that wasn't properly coded, it can do some weird things. Like if you don't have certain cookies set, it redirects to a login page. But if the login page sees a certain cookie set, it assumes you are logged in, and redirects to a different page. But that page doesn't see this other cookie that isn't set, so it directs you to the login page. And so on and so on.

This doesn't happen on most Websites, of course, because they use better logic or handling of redirects that prevents an infinite loop from happening. But those that do? Oh boy, are they ever aggravating.

The solution is to remove all cookies from that Website for your mobile phone, but that is easier to do on a computer than on a mobile device. Unless you simply want to remove all cookies from everything. And you don't always want that.

So this transition to a privacy phone is going to have some hiccups, some major and some minor, along the way.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Watching college football games this weekend: Week 4

College football season continues, and while some games are not huge draws -- Big Dawg U vs Cupcake U games still happen this early in the season -- there are also some major matchups.

If you want to watch all of the games this season, you need access to all the networks. And, as you will see, that can get expensive. Of course, you might not want to be able to watch al the games. You may have only a single team, or a few teams, you care about. We'll show you how you can watch the games, whatever the games might be.

Well, most of the games. Four Saturday games will not be on these networks. A couple surprise me, but that's how it goes. Here are the networks carrying games:

  • ABC
  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten
  • Big 12 Network
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPN U
  • SEC Network
  • ESPN+
  • Fox
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Longhorn Network
  • NBC
  • NFL Network
  • Pac 12 Network
  • Peacock

Here is how to watch these networks:

ABC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ACC Network

  • Sling Orange, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big Ten Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big 12 Network

Big 12 Network games are available through ESPN+.

CBS

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Paramount+ Premium, $10/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

CBS Sports Network

  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate, $105/month.

ESPN

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN2

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN U

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

ESPN3

ESPN3 is usually included with a service that carries standard ESPN/ESPN2.

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a standalone sports programming service. It is not the same thing as regular ESPN that you get with cable or one of the live streaming services. Some content from ESPN, ESPN2, or other ESPN networks may be available on ESPN+, but often, it's content that is only available on ESPN+.

  • ESPN+, $7/month.
  • Disney Bundle, $14/month.

Fox

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Fox Sports 1

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Longhorn Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.

NBC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

NFL Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.

Pac 12 Network

  • Sling Blue, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

Peacock TV

Peacock is a standalone streaming service that carries NBCUniversal programming, including much sports from NBC as well as exclusive sports programming. Peacock Premium is $5/month, but is included with Xfinity Internet plans.

SEC Network

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.
  • Fubo TV Ultimate, $100/month.

This list of networks covers all the games airing today. It also covers games next week through Friday, as the early games next week are all on one of these networks.

NOTE: Peacock and NBC are not needed this weekend as Notre Dame is not playing at home.

To watch all the games, having an antenna won't really matter, as in order to get all the networks, you'll need services that cover the OTA stations. So, how much to watch them all?

The services necessary will cost $118 That's $65 for YouTube TV with has most of the networks, $46 for Sling TV Blue plus Sports Extra to get Longhorn and Pac 12, $7 for ESPN+.

If you want college football in your Streaming Life, you have options, though it can get expensive depending just how many games you want to watch.

Friday, September 23, 2022

The new, lower priced Chromecast

Rumors of a new Chromecast have been around for a bit. Well, they are rumors no longer.

Yesterday, Google announced the new device, called the Chromecast with Google TV (HD). In the process, the current Chromecast with Google TV became the Chromecast with Google TV (4K).

So, yeah, the rumors about it being a lower end device were true. A new improved Chromecast was not released. Rather, a new lower priced one was released.

Chromecast with Google TV (HD) streams in high definition with 1080p HDR, and we’ve made software optimizations behind the scenes to make sure you get a smooth and snappy experience no matter what TV you’re watching on.

Starting today, Chromecast with Google TV (HD) is available for $29.99 in our classic Snow color, and is available in 19 countries now, with more regions coming soon.

There is no reason to run out and buy one, unless you want a new Chromecast for a secondary TV. I has lesser features, though not really much less. The main thing is 1080 HD vs 4096 UHD/4K. It's simply a budget device.

For someone who has been thinking about getting a streaming device, but didn't want to spend $50, this $30 device is a cheaper way to test out streaming. I don't see me adding one to my Streaming Life, however.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Is there an alternative to YouTube?

YouTube is the big dog when it comes to hosting user created content. Some think it's the only place to do that. But it's not. There are other places where similar content resides.

Vimeo, Vevo, and Dailymotion have been around for a while. And the latest hot alternative is Odysee. That one is interesting in that it is promoted by a lot of content creators as being more free -- as in free speech -- than any other platform. And there is a lot of truth to that.

But still, YouTube reigns above all of them. And that's partially because of laziness. Each of the various services has unique content, but most users simply go to YouTube and only go anywhere else if they can't find what they want. Some -- most? -- don't even know you can go elsewhere.

Last year, NordVPN published a list of the 10 best YouTube alternatives:

  1. Vimeo
  2. DTube
  3. Internet Archives Video Section
  4. Metacafe
  5. 9GAG TV
  6. Dailymotion
  7. Vevo
  8. Twitch
  9. TED
  10. Crackle

The article lists information about each of the services, and is worth a read.

You may not be seeking an alternative to YouTube, but you will certainly find some interesting content on these services, as well as new kid on the block Odysee. And that means more options and more content in your Streaming Life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Making the call to cut the cable

In 2009 and 2010, I spent time running the numbers to determine if I could save money by streaming TV rather than staying with cable. Spoiler: yes.

I went through all the numbers, and bought the equipment to set it all up, and started streaming. But the last piece of the puzzle took a little while.

Until I saw an article last week on the Tablo Blog about it, I had pretty much put it out of my mind. But after seeing the article, I began to remember that it was, at the time, a pretty big step.

One thing that can be a problem is when they then start to pressure you, sometimes being subtle, sometimes not. Tablo covered it pretty well:

Don't let your provider convince you to boost your internet package or speeds either. Unless you've got online gamers in the home or other high-bandwidth needs, 25 MBPS download/3 MPBS upload speeds and a 1TB data cap are usually enough.

I've spoken to people after they cut the cord and they then brag about how they got a good deal on faster Internet. I let them enjoy their win. The cable company really won that, but they're happy, so I let them have it.

Cutting the cord is a big step. The call, or office visit, to cut the cable TV package can be intimidating, but it shouldn't be. It should be looked at as one of the steps to ensure you have a happy Streaming Life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Wait until they find out ESPN is available

A survey by Beta Research show that, once again, ESPN is a must have network for many cable users.

ESPN seems to always top the list of cable channels that users want. This year's survey is no different.

The Streaming Advisor suggests this is the top reason that people keep cable, and he may be right. And his suggestion that if more knew they could get the channel without cable, they might cut the cord as well.

Let's look at the details of the survey. The top channels for men and women were different, as you might expect.

Among men, the favorite basic cable channels included ESPN, History and ESPN2, Fox News, CNN, Discovery Channel, Fox Sports 1, Comedy Central and National Geographic.

Among women, the top networks were Food Network, HGTV, CNN, Hallmark Channel, ID, TLC, Lifetime and History.

All of these channels can be had via Sling TV Orange+Blue with Lifestyle Extra for $56/month. Or Sling TV Orange+Blue and Frndly.TV for $57/month, which may be a better deal overall, with the extra family friendly content.

According to July report from US News & World Report, the average household pays well over $200/month for cable.

Using data from a variety of public sources, the site found the average monthly cable package is now $217.42 per month. That’s more than the average household’s monthly cost of $205.50 for all other major utilities combined.

That's a lot of money. And a heckuva lot more than $57/month, the cost of a streaming package that includes the most wanted channels (plus a lot more channels).

When people realize how much they can save by cutting cable and streaming TV, they may make a change. If this is you, then welcome to the Streaming Life!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Should you drop cable?

Do you have cable? Or know someone who does? And do they watch it? I mean, really, do they watch cable?

There have been articles about users "quiet quitting" cable, meaning they keep cable, but rarely ever use it. And that's more common than you might realize.

With the number of streaming services that offer great content, some TV users stop watching cable, but still pay for cable.

It's difficult for me to understand that, partly because I started streaming heavily with the intention of cutting cable. I was not one that started watching more and more streaming, then realized I was still paying for cable but not watching it.

Some family members were like that, though. When I asked why the cutting of cable wasn't happening, the response was that there might be something that's just on cable, such as sports programming.

The logic there is that paying $100/month (or more, in the example I'm using) every month keeps one from having to subscribe to a $35/month service when ESPN carries a game.

Yeah, I know, that would be considered flawed logic. However, it would have meant going into unfamiliar territory, and that can be scary.

If you, or someone you know, is in that situation, it may be difficult to take that last step. But the fact remains that there's not much that you would keep cable for that you can't also get on a streaming service.

Right now, I'm subscribing to a live streaming service to get ESPN. I'm dropping it at the 30-day mark, then re-upping when a game I want to watch airs. I'll end up subscribing three times to cover the college football season. (Draw it out on a calendar and you'll see why that's the case.)

But to the topic at hand. Should you try to convince a family member to drop cable if they are not comfortable doing that? I say no. Don't pressure them.

Rather, let them see what you are comfortable with, and how you are able to watch the stuff without the high cable bill. Don't try to talk them into something. Show them what you're doing.

My Streaming Life hasn't had cable in quite some time, because I haven't needed cable in quite some time. If others see how that works, and that it works well, they'll decide to save money, but in their own time.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Pi Hole is a keeper

I've mentioned my testing of Pi Hole on my local network. Generally, people use Pi Hole to block ads on their network. That's not really what I'm after. There are URL lists that are designed to block other things. Some block NSFW content. Some block malicious Websites. Some block tracking services. And of course, some block ad services.

When I set up my Pi Hole, I started using the standard ad blocking, just to test it out. It worked well. Be aware that it won't block all ads. For example, if you're watching YouTube, and the ads are served from YouTube, then you'll still see the ads. If they are from a different service, then yeah, it will block them.

That's because of how Pi Hole works. It blocks content from certain servers. If the server is not an ad server, you'll get the content you expect. Of course, if the ad is from the main server as well, Pi Hole can't tell the difference. So no, it won't block everything. It can't.

After that initial testing, I added other lists, particularly blocking tracking services and malicious Websites. I turned off the standard ad blocker, since I'm okay with ads. But if the ad also tracks you, it will get blocked.

So, I get some ads, and some ads get blocked. The ads that are blocked are tracking ads, and that's what I want blocked. Other tracking activity is blocked as well.

After a month of testing and trying different things, I've decided that I'm keeping Pi Hole. It does what I want it to do.

There have been no issues with it interfering with my Streaming Life, so it will stay on the network, and keep doing its job.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Watching college football games this weekend: Week 3

For the first time this season, all of the networks that carry games will all have at least one game this weekend. In the first three weeks -- Week 0, Week 1, Week 2 -- at least one of the networks, often two or three, didn't have any games on their schedule.

That is no longer the case. Every network has a game. That's because Longhorn Network, which carries Texas home games, has a game. NBC and Peacock, which carry Notre Dame home games has a game. NFL Network has a game. This will happen again many times this season. I think it will. Sure it will. Probably. Yeah.

Anyway, if you want to watch all of the games this season, you need access to all the networks. And, as you will see, that can get expensive. Of course, you might not want to be able to watch al the games. You may have only a single team, or a few teams, you care about. We'll show you how you can watch the games, whatever the games might be.

Well, most of the games. Four Saturday games will not be on these networks. A couple surprise me, but that's how it goes. Here are the networks carrying games:

  • ABC
  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten
  • Big 12 Network
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPN U
  • SEC Network
  • ESPN+
  • Fox
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Longhorn Network
  • NBC
  • NFL Network
  • Pac 12 Network
  • Peacock

Here is how to watch these networks:

ABC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ACC Network

  • Sling Orange, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big Ten Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big 12 Network

Big 12 Network games are available through ESPN+.

CBS

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Paramount+ Premium, $10/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

CBS Sports Network

  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate, $105/month.

ESPN

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN2

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN U

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

ESPN3

ESPN3 is usually included with a service that carries standard ESPN/ESPN2.

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a standalone sports programming service. It is not the same thing as regular ESPN that you get with cable or one of the live streaming services. Some content from ESPN, ESPN2, or other ESPN networks may be available on ESPN+, but often, it's content that is only available on ESPN+.

  • ESPN+, $7/month.
  • Disney Bundle, $14/month.

Fox

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Fox Sports 1

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Longhorn Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.

NBC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

NFL Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.

Pac 12 Network

  • Sling Blue, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

Peacock TV

Peacock is a standalone streaming service that carries NBCUniversal programming, including much sports from NBC as well as exclusive sports programming. Peacock Premium is $5/month, but is included with Xfinity Internet plans.

SEC Network

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.
  • Fubo TV Ultimate, $100/month.

This list of networks covers all the games airing today. It also covers games next week through Friday, as the early games next week are all on one of these networks.

To watch all the games, having an antenna won't really matter, as in order to get all the networks, you'll need services that cover the OTA stations. So, how much to watch them all?

The services necessary will cost $118 That's $65 for YouTube TV with has most of the networks, $46 for Sling TV Blue plus Sports Extra to get Longhorn and Pac 12, $7 for ESPN+.

If you want college football in your Streaming Life, you have options, though it can get expensive depending just how many games you want to watch.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Ads work

This week, I had a conversation with a 20-something at work. She was talking about movies with her manager, and mentioned that they subscribe to seven streaming services.

I mentioned my method of subscribing to only one or, if the cost is low, two streaming services each month, rotating them around. She seem a little interested, and I mentioned the pricing, and how I do it. She corrected my numbers on the cost of Hulu, and that's when I realized that she was paying for the no-ads plan. She said she can't watch ads.

I hear that a lot from younger people. They will pay more money to simply not watch ads. Personally, I would rather save the money. Heck, there might be an ad for something I want, or it might let me know about some sale, and I can get what I would buy anyway, but for a lower price. Saving money twice.

There are plenty of people like her, but a new survey indicates there are more that watch ads. And, most importantly to the advertiser, the ads are making the difference they want them to make.

Roku released a news story this week about a poll they commissioned from Harris, and it shows exactly that.

This year’s survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults who plan to purchase gifts finds that holiday shoppers plan to shop earlier, increase spend, and turn to TV streaming for entertainment and information.

"The holidays reveal the shopping trends that will shape the year ahead," said Asaf Davidov, Head of Ad Measurement and Research at Roku. "Brands that message value, ramp up advertising early, and surprise and delight in streaming TV are set to take the share this season."

Ads can work, for both the advertiser and for the consumer. And doubly for consumers that use lower priced, ad supported services. And sometimes, lower priced means free.

I like saving money in my Streaming Life. And ads help make that happen. And, according to the poll, do exactly what they are supposed to do, meaning that there will continue to be ad-supported discounted, or free, services for some time to come.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Netflixx to drop binge releasing orginal content?

There were a few reports recently suggesting that Netflix was considering releasing its original series content in a more traditional way. Netflix has previously released its series all at once, allowing its subscribers to binge watch the new shows, same as it had for older shows.

Most of the recent news articles referred to a report from Puck News [pay wall warning] that said Netflix was considering changing its model. I have a couple of thoughts on that.

The main thing is that most of the articles all refer to that one source. So, seeing a dozen or so reports doesn't really carry weight, since they all have a single source. When there is only one source, that causes questions in my mind.

If there are multiple sources, that indicates there may be something to it. But when everything goes to a single source, that doesn't carry as much weight.

Having said that, if the single source is a good one, then it's a good source. And this seems to be good source.

Oh, and one other thing. I found a second source that nobody seems to be quoting. CNBC had an article in June that suggested the same thing:

Despite the success of its marquee series, however, Netflix is struggling to jumpstart subscriber growth. So its binge strategy is facing new scrutiny as the company looks for ways to better retain its subscriber base.

"With Netflix, or anyone, never say never," said Peter Csathy, founder and chairman of advisory firm Creative Media. "Just like they said 'no way, no advertising,' don't assume that binge viewing is forever." He added: "Binge viewing is on the table."

I understand why Netflix would switch away from that. If a 13 episode season drops today, I could watch it in a matter of a few days, even on just a weekend if I totally vegged out in front of the TV. Netflix would get a single month subscription from me.

If they released the series one episode a week for 13 weeks, they would get three months subscription from me. Well, not really, but from many.

I would wait until the entire season was released, then binge during a single month. Yes, I'm that cheap.

If Netflix does make the change, it might impact the Streaming Life of many people. But, the economics of the situation may make it a move the streaming giant has to make.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Why doesn't DirecTV Stream carry NFL Sunday Ticket?

Fans of the NFL who are streamers are sometimes frustrated that they can't get NFL Sunday Ticket with a streaming package.

In fact, some NFL fans won't fully cut the cord because of this. NFL Sunday Ticket is that important to some fans of the league.

For those that don't know -- and yes, NFL fans, there are those that don't know -- NFL Sunday Ticket is a service where you can watch out of market games. It won't carry local games that are available over the air or on a local cable system, but is very useful to fans who want to watch games otherwise not available.

In the USA, DirecTV, the satellite service, is the only way to get it. DAZN, a streaming service, has it in Canada, while SKY Mexico, a pay TV service, covers most of the rest of North American. Some other cable services handle the Caribbean and South America. But here in the USA, it's DirecTV.

Do you ever wonder why it's not available on DirecTV Stream? So do others. Recently, TV Answer Man Phillip Swann was asked the question. And he found the answer, though it's not really the answer most are looking for.

Simply put, the contract that DirecTV has with the NFL is only for satellite, and does not authorize streaming. And the NFL won't discuss a streaming option.

The TV Answer Man column does a great job of laying it all out, and I would suggest going there and reading it, if you've wondered why DirecTV carries it, but DirecTV Stream doesn't.

So, if you've been wondering why you can't get NFL Sunday Ticket as part of your Streaming Life, you now know. But, there's hope that could change next year, as the current contract is up soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Roku Express will FINALLY be dual-band WiFi

When I got my first Roku device in 2010, it operated on both the 2.4 GHz WiFi band and the 5 GHz band. That wasn't that common. And, in fact, only the top tier Roku device -- the most expensive one -- supported 5 GHz as well as 2.4 GHz.

If you aren't familiar with the differences between the bands, just understand that 2.4 GHz is older and has some issues. 5 GHz is newer, and has its own issues, but is generally better performing overall for most people.

Smaller and older devices support 2.4 GHz only. Most devices these days are dual band, meaning they can connect to either. Most will use 5 GHz if it's available and a decent signal.

Around 2015, 5 GHz became much more widely used, and became more common on cheaper devices. Roku had included dual band on all devices except the entry level ones by late 2013.

For the past nine years, that has remained the case. The low tier, entry level Roku devices have been 2.4 GHz only. The Roku 1 and Roku LT were 2.4 GHz only. When the Roku Express and Express+ replaced them, they were 2.4 GHz only.

In one of Roku's weirdest naming decisions, the Roku Premiere and Premiere+ originally was dual band, and was essentially a Roku Ultra with a few bells and whistles missing. It was dual band. However, in 2018, they downgraded the Premiere and Premiere+ from a scaled down Ultra to a souped up Express. And it lost the 5 GHz connectivity, being 2.4 GHz only. Like I said, merely a souped up Express.

When the newer but primitive Premiere line was replaced with the Express 4K series, that had dual band, leaving only the basic Express as the last 2.4 GHz only device.

That finally changes on October 13, 2022. The Express will be upgraded and the new model 3960 will be dual band. For the first time, all Roku devices will be dual band.

Roku is late to the party on this. Other lineups by Apple, Google, and Amazon have been all dual band for a while. And with the recent behavior of ISPs that changed the 2.4 GHz settings on leased devices, many Roku Express users have had major issues with connectivity. The ISPs were wrong for just up and changing settings like that, but Roku was way behind on technology by not offering dual band on their top selling, cheapest device.

I'm glad to see it. Only I know people, and some people will say that Roku is simply trying to get folks to buy a new device by making the older one stop working, when it's actually the fault of the ISPs. Roku should have done this years ago. But, in a month, it will be done, and the issues will start to go away as fewer and fewer of the older 2.4 GHz only devices remain.

If you're thinking about getting into streaming, or simply looking to add an additional but cheaper device to a second (or third) TV, either do not get a Roku Express, or wait until October 13 to get one. Make sure it's dual band. That will make your Streaming Life so much easier.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Watching the Emmys in 2022

As much a fan of TV as I am, you'd think I'd be watching the Emmy Awards. You'd be thinking wrong.

I cannot remember the last time I watched the Emmys. Probably over 40 years. Why is that?

Well, it's one of those things where if you stop doing something, and you find you don't really miss it, you don't go back to doing it. I watched the Emmys because I was home and it was on. And whatever was on the other channels -- there weren't that may channels back then -- was either a rerun I didn't want to see, or some other show I haven't seen and didn't want to see. I watched the Emmys by default.

I got a job working nights and didn't watch a lot of prime time TV for a few years. And when I stopped working nights, I didn't really pay attention when the Emmys came on, because I really didn't miss them.

However, I may decide to watch them tonight. I looked up the nominees and found that a couple of shows I watch got nominations. I'll be pulling for Better Call Saul and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to win in the categories in which they were nominated.

To watch the Emmys, I'll need to be able to watch NBC or Peacock. I can do that. And if you cut the cord, you can too.

Peacock

Peacock is a standalone streaming service that carries NBCUniversal programming. Peacock Premium is $5/month, but is included with Xfinity Internet plans.

NBC

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($35/month) (11 markets only)
  • Vidgo ($60/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If you want the Emmys in your Streaming Life, you have options.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Privacy phone, part 6: rethinking things

Every now and then, when you start a project, you should have a sanity check along the way. Rethink things. Ask yourself if where you're going is in line with your initial goals. If not, did the goals change? If so, was it for a valid reason? Or did you simply forget the initial goal and veer off course?

With this privacy phone project, I had to do this recently. And I'm not sure just where I'm going to go with this, because it brought home something I had not considered. Well, I had, but I hadn't given it proper consideration. Here's what's going on.

When I set a privacy phone as a goal, it was to reduce being tracked by a big data company. Apple and Google each are able to gather a lot of data on you, and I really don't like that. That was one of the reasons behind my trying out a Pi Hole device on my network; not to block ads, but to reduce tracking on my online activity. Google has a lot of data on me, and I'm just not comfortable with that. They sell it and make money. Remember, if you can use the product for free, it's not actually the product; you are the product.

So, my trying out three different phones with operating systems that focus on privacy and allow you to not be tracked is happening. But I thought I should do a reevaluation of things, and make sure I'm going about it the right way.

Well, I'm not sure about that. You see, the three phones I've been trying are using three different operating systems. And they all have their drawbacks. But there's a fourth phone I'm now evaluating, and it's doing surprisingly well.

The Pine 64 phone is using a mobile Linux (Manjaro) OS. This is the one that's the least likely to be my final choice. I've all but ruled it out.

The Google Pixel 4a is using Lineage OS. That's an open source Android based operating system. It replaced Google Services with another service that anonymized your data when it does have to communicate with Google. There's no way to entirely keep your phone from contacting Google, but the data being anonymized can prevent Google from knowing it's you. Google knows there is activity, but it doesn't know whose activity it is. It has an open source app store that allows apps that don't use Google Services to be loaded. Some actually work quite well. Some, not as well.

The Teracube 2e is using /e/OS, which is a variation of Lineage OS. It acts the same way when it comes to contacting Google. The data is anonymized and Google cannot track you, when it does have to contact Google. It also allows you to install apps from open source app stores, including some of the same that the Lineage OS phone uses. That makes sense, since the OSes are very similar.

Then there's this other phone I have. It has to utilize services from a big company, but can actually be prevented from contacting Google altogether. It's possible to run this phone and never contact Google, and the services work well. When it does reach out to a service that serves the same function, it anonymizes the data, meaning that the service never knows it's you. Yes, it does keep track of where you've been, but that data is never sent to a big data company. It stays on the phone and isn't shared with other devices or services. And it can be deleted at any time.

And, the battery life of this other phone is really good. It's easy to use, but it has one drawback. The app store doesn't carry a lot of open source content. Most of the content in its app store is proprietary. However, some of the open source apps that are available for the /e/OS and Lineage OS devices are also available on this other phone.

On the phones I'm testing, some open source apps are simply not available. For those, I have replace many apps with browser shortcuts where I can. For example, I do not have the Facebook app on any of the four phones I'm testing. Instead, I have a browser shortcut saved to the phone. Launching it launches the mobile version of the Facebook Website, and operates a lot like the app. This works for Twitter, Amazon, Walmart, and for many many other situations. With location services not shared with the browser I'm using for these, it eliminates much of the tracking that goes on with these apps.

So, what is this mysterious fourth phone? Well, it is the phone I'm looking to replace: an iPhone 12 running iOS.

Yep, turns out that the tricks these open source Android phone are using when they have to reach out to Google to keep you anonymous are already being done by Apple. Now, you can choose to share the data with Apple, and they'll accept it gladly. But, you can choose to not share it as well. And that's what I'm doing. I'm also replacing proprietary apps (non-Apple, such as Facebook) that can track activity with the mobile version. The alternative is to not use the services, and of course that is an option. But, if I want to use Facebook, the way I would do it on an open source Android phone can also be done on an iPhone, and is as secure and private.

So, if the phone I'm already using is as secure and private as what I'm trying to go with an open source Android phone, why am I even trying this privacy phone project?

Well, it goes back to Apple dropping support for my MacBook. I'm going to lose a lot of functionality unless I pony up the money to buy a new computer. It would cost me $1,500 to replace it with the current equivalent device. Just to get the new operating system. So I'm looking at replacing macOS in my day-to-day life with GNU/Linux. In fact, I've already loaded Linux on an older MacBook Pro and running it regularly. It's working well so far.

If I drop macOS, I'll lose a lot of the functionality of my iPhone. However, I won't lose everything. And, so far, I've not seen that an open source Android phone will be able to function any better than an iPhone with no Apple computers in the mix. I'm not sure that switching to open source Android will do anything for me.

However, I'm still testing things. Only I'm testing four things, not three: mobile Manjaro Linux, /e/OS, Lineage OS, and iOS. I'll keep testing all four until I weed them out one at a time. Last phone standing will be the winner.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Watching college football games this weekend: Week 2

For college football fans, it's now Week 2, which is the third weekend of football.

If that doesn't make sense to you, welcome to the world of college football. I don't blame the colleges for this. They didn't name it. Sports broadcasters and reporters did that. Blame them.

Or, don't worry about it and just watch some football. That's what I'm going to do. I gave up on broadcasters and reporters a long time ago. And not just the ones that carry sports.

It's Week 2 of college football, and after just two games ahead of today, both last night, there is a full Saturday of football in store. And, if you cut the cord and are a streamer, you have ways to watch the games.

My needs are simple. I have an antenna for the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC games that I want to watch. There are a few interesting games, plus the usual early season Power U vs Cupcake U games. But, if you know which network your game is on -- see the NCAA broadcast schedule here -- you can watch the game with your streaming device or over the air antenna.

So where can you watch the games? The games that are broadcast will be on one of these networks:

  • ABC
  • ACC Network
  • Big Ten
  • Big 12 Network
  • CBS
  • CBS Sports Network
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • ESPN U
  • SEC Network
  • ESPN+
  • Fox
  • Fox Sports 1
  • NFL Network
  • Pac 12 Network

How do you watch these networks? Keep reading.

ABC

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ACC Network

  • Sling Orange, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big Ten Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.

Big 12 Network

Big 12 Network games are available through ESPN+.

CBS

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Paramount+ Premium, $10/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

CBS Sports Network

  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Ultimate, $105/month.

ESPN

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN2

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN U

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

ESPN3

ESPN3 is usually included with a service that carries standard ESPN/ESPN2.

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

ESPN+

ESPN+ is a standalone sports programming service. It is not the same thing as regular ESPN that you get with cable or one of the live streaming services. Some content from ESPN, ESPN2, or other ESPN networks may be available on ESPN+, but often, it's content that is only available on ESPN+.

  • ESPN+, $7/month.
  • Disney Bundle, $14/month.

Fox

  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

Fox Sports 1

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.

NFL Network

  • Sling Blue, with Sports Extra, $46/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, with Sports Extra, $65/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.

Pac 12 Network

  • Sling Blue, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • Fubo TV Elite, $80/month.

Peacock TV

Peacock is a standalone streaming service that carries NBCUniversal programming, including much sports from NBC as well as exclusive sports programming. Peacock Premium is $5/month, but is included with Xfinity Internet plans.

SEC Network

  • Sling Orange, $35/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $50/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $90/month.
  • Fubo TV Ultimate, $100/month.

These services will cover all but eight of the Division 1-A/FBS college football games this weekend. Those eight are not being broadcast nationally.

So how do you watch them all? That is, the ones that are being broadcast? As you might expect, it's a little complicated. You need several services. The cheapest configuration is:

  • Fubo TV Pro, with Fubo Extra, $78/month.
  • ESPN+, $7/month.

That's $85/month. Keep in mind that Longhorn Network isn't required this weekend. If it was, the price would jump quite a bit, since Longhorn is only part of Sling TV's packages, but CBS Sports Network is not. That means you would need Sling TV Blue with Sports Extra, YouTube TV, and ESPN+. That totals to $118/month.

It can get complicated, but the up side is you can find a way to watch however many games you want. If college football is a part of your Streaming Life, it may cost you a bit. But you can watch.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Hulu price change notificaiton

I got my notice from Hulu on Tuesday. Prices are going up.

This was not a surprise. We talked about this last month, after all. And it is happening next month.

A report on Cord Cutters News mentioned that users were getting emails, so I certainly wasn't the only one.

Comparing their email to mine, it showed that the emails were specific to the plan the user has. I have the cheap plan -- because I'm cheap, I suppose -- and it mentions the price increase for my plan only.

The price of Hulu’s ad-supported plan will increase on October 10, 2022 to $7.99/month. The price adjustment will be reflected in your first billing cycle on or after October 10. Your payment method on file will be charged the new price unless you cancel before the start of your first billing cycle on or after October 10.*

As always, it’s easy to switch between our subscription plans and packages. Explore all of our plan options to find the one that best fits your viewing needs, or to cancel, visit your Account page.

We are always here to help. For any questions, please visit our Help Center for more information.

The Hulu Team

For users of the No Ads plan, those prices will be $15/month. Prices for Hulu+Live TV remain the same, unless I'm reading all this stuff wrong.

I'm actually in a pause, and my Hulu subscription won't resume until November. I get hit with the price increase then.

And that's a tip, by the way. Some services allow you to pause the subscription for a period of time. I'm in a pause at the moment for Hulu. That mean I won't get hit with the price increase until November. Of course, I'm not currently watching anything on Hulu, but I'm fine with that. In November, I'll begin catching up all the stuff I normally watch, and will then pause again as I await shows to build up episodes.

Nobody likes a price increase. I certainly don't. However, to me, even with the price hike, the $8/month plan (increasing from $7/month) is still a good deal and brings value to my Streaming Life.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Ad-supported Netflix sooner than later?

This totally got past me last week. An article in Variety says that Netflix has accelerated its timeline on launching its ad-supported tier.

In case you weren't aware, Netflix is launching an ad-supported tier in the next several months. Expectations are that it will be in the $7-10 range.

This follows a price increase earlier this year, which brought the monthly subscription prices to $10, $15.50, and the top tier is $20. The differences are as follows:

 

Basic

Standard

Premium

Monthly cost* (United States Dollar) $9.99 $15.49 $19.99

Number of screens you can watch on at the same time

1 2 4

Number of phones or tablets you can have downloads on

1 2 4

Unlimited movies, TV shows and mobile games

Watch on your laptop, TV, phone and tablet

HD available

 

Ultra HD available

   

The final details on the ad-supported tier are not available, but Variety reports that Netflix is moving the launch date up.

In July, Netflix told investors that it was targeting the launch of the ad-supported plan “around the early part of 2023.” But now, Netflix’s ad-supported is set to go live Nov. 1 in multiple countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., France and Germany, according to industry sources who have been briefed on the streamer’s plans. That would be a little over a month before Disney+ Basic, priced at $7.99/month, hits the market in the U.S.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, you may be able to save some money by moving to an ad-supported tier. I know that some people can't stand ads, so there are the high-priced plans for them. But for those wanting to save money in their Streaming Life, the Netflix ad-supported tier may be the thing to do.

 

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

When stations disappear

While my focus is usually streaming -- when I'm not off on a Linux computer or security phone tangent -- I occasionally talk about over the air antenna TV. I feel there is not enough emphasis on over the air TV.

That used to be the only way to pick up TV stations. Then cable happened, and the local stations got in on that. Today, some live streaming services -- to include YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Fubo TV, DirecTV Stream, and others -- have local channels as part of the lineup.

However, that's not the only way to pick up these stations. An antenna, if you are able to put one up, or live close enough to the TV towers that a small indoor antenna will work, is a great way to watch local channels.

The thing is, there sometimes the channels disappear. They don't really, they just move. Not physically; the tower doesn't crawl away or anything. The stations will sometimes change frequency.

You see, there are two channels that today's digital signals use. One is the channel you call it, and the other is the channel it actually is.

For example, in Savannah, my local market, WSAV TV Channel 3 is actually broadcasting on channel 16. WTOC Channel 11 is actually broadcasting on channel 23. WTGS Fox 28 is on channel 26. WJCL TV 22 is on channel 22. Weirdos.

Seriously, of the four major network stations, three are on frequencies that do not match their actual frequencies.

Even then, they could still change to a different frequency, even if they changed before. There are reasons, and that could take all day. I'll just end with the fact that there are reasons.

So, what do you do? You have to scan the channels again. And that brings me to a post that Tablo posted recently.

When your local TV station makes a change like this, adds a new OTA subchannel, or re-arranges their current ATSC 1.0 broadcasts to enable new ATSC 3.0 channels, you'll need to run and save a new channel scan on your television and/or DVR to continue watching.

Even if you haven't had this happen to you, it's worth a read. It could happen in the future. And you don't want to lose any channels and experience frustrations in your Streaming Life, now do you?

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Peacock stepping up

There are lots of little things I don't like about Peacock TV. Every bit of the problem is related to the user interface. Features that I don't like or want because they don't have them. But one thing that isn't a problem is the content. Good content can cause a person to overlook a lot of other issues.

Peacock TV has some really good content. Of course, the NBCUniversal library is huge and contains some really good stuff. So yeah, it's expected that Peacock would have good content.

Recently, though, they did something I didn't expect. I saw it and thought perhaps I wasn't seeing what I was seeing. But there it was. Jurassic World Dominion was streaming on Peacock.

My first thought was that it was the previous movie, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, but nope, this was the recent movie. As in the movie that was released in the USA less than 90 days ago and had nearly one billion dollars in box office receipts. That movie.

Right now, if you want to watch that movie, you can simply watch it on Peacock. You don't have to buy it. If you are an Xfinity Internet customer, you get Peacock for free. If not, it's $5/month. You could watch Jurassic World Dominion for 720 hours straight for $5.

Peacock has the movie for the next four months, before it moves to Amazon Prime Video for 10 months, back to Peacock for four more months, then on to Starz.

I've seen where films have been available for home rental while still in theaters, but this is available for watching on a high quality, low price streaming service. Peacock is doing its best to be a part of your Streaming Life. Moves like this help.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Older Disney movies

I regularly visit sever Websites that focus on streaming. I list many of these in the sidebar. One is The Streaming Advisor, and I saw a post there that got me really excited.

The post was entitled "How To Find Wonderful World Of Disney Movies On Disney+" and if you know me, you know that caught my eye.

I'm of the age where I used to watch Walt Disney's Wonder World of Color, which also went by other names over the years. The it was called the Wonderful World of Color when I started watching it, so that's how I always think of it.

I had previously gone to Disney+ during a time when I had an active Disney+ subscription (see "Streaming more content with fewer services" for more about my rotating subscriptions). I saw different categories for Disney owned movies, but I didn't find a grouping for the older movies that aired on Wonderful World of Color.

What I had to do was browse through the movies or search for a specific movie. I was disappointed. Then, a few days ago, I saw the post by Ryan Downey at The Streaming Advisor about how to find those movies. I was excited.

Turns out my excitement was all for naught. He hadn't discovered some trick to finding the movies, or posting about a new feature that Disney+ had implemented. Rather, he was lamenting the same thing that I'm saying. And he had to do the very things I was having to do.

He was addressing what you have to do to find the movies, not sharing some secret. There is no secret. There is no easy way to find those movies. He was explaining what you had to do:

For those looking for films from The Wonderful World of Disney series, you will have to either do a basic search for the title you are seeking or scan through the section simply labeled as Movies. From there the selections will be among the rest of the catalog via the A-Z sorting choice. Why Disney has not broken the movie into their own category considering it has a Disney Channel Movies section and more is a question above my pay grade.

And he is right. That's exactly what you have to do. He doesn't like it. I don't like it. And Disney seems to not care.

Oh, well. If I want those classic Disney films in my Streaming Life, I have to find them the hard way. But you know what? It's worth it. I just wish I didn't have to do it that way.

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