Tuesday, February 28, 2023

More regional sports networks troubles

There have been news reports that Bally Sports will be declaring bankruptcy soon, and those regional sports networks will be shuttered. If this happens, that will impact lots of sports fans.

Of course, the fact that there aren't enough customers for the Bally regional sports networks (RSNs) means that not enough people will care to prevent it from happening.

Now, there is word that AT&T SportsNet RSNs will be closing down, according to the Wall Street Journal:

In a letter sent Friday from the unit's president Patrick Crumb -- a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal -- teams were warned that "the business will not have sufficient cash to pay the upcoming rights fees," people familiar with the letter said. The teams were also told that Warner Bros. Discovery "will not fund our shortfalls," they said.

The letter proposes that AT&T SportsNet transfer ownership of the networks and programming rights to the teams for no purchase price consideration beyond a release by the teams of any future claims against the networks.

Bankruptcy is also on the table, the letter said. ...

The affected teams include the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz; Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies; and the National Hockey League's Pittsburgh Penguins, the people familiar with the matter said.

The NBA, MLB and NHL are also being informed by Warner Bros. Discovery of the situation, the people said.

This is bad news. Or maybe it's good news. NBC has been having trouble with Peacock recently, mostly because other services have more in-demand content. However, NBC has been moving a lot of sports programming to Peacock. Ryan Downey, The Streaming Advisor, suggests this is the way for Peacock to grab viewers:

With Peacock growing but still needing to add content that will give it an edge or at least seriously differentiate it in the market it may be able to make sense of purchasing the sports networks and integrating them into the fold. They feel like they would fit in with the $9.99 tier. Does Comcast have the money and the know-how to make it all work? The company already pulled its own sports network NBC Sports Network into the app. With the combined coverage area of NBC Sports and Bally Sports footprint Peacock could begin to put together something of a national footprint across NBA, NHL, and NBA markets.

How will all this shake out? I suspect Mr. Downey is right, and that Peacock could take advantage of the Bally Sports bankruptcy (should it happen) and now the AT&T SportsNet shutdown (should it happen).

How will this impact everyone? My Streaming Life may be impacted in a positive way if baseball allows live in-market games via the RSNs, or on Peacock. Otherwise, I really don't care that much about the RSNs. I'm like most people, it seems. However, I do want the RSNs to survive. Or better put, the content on RSNs to be available to consumers via streaming in some way.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Are you paying for subscriptions you aren't using?

One of the great things about streaming is the amount of content that you can access. A lot of the content is free, though ad-supported, and can offer much to watch at an excellent price (free is excellent).

The downside of free, ad-supported television (FAST) services is that not everything is available free. A lot of free content is excellent, but some content is only available via a paid subscription service.

Many people think that they must subscribe to a lot of services. And, I suppose that some must. But I don't have to, and it's likely you don't either. Or, if you do, you may not need as many as you actually have.

A recent study by C+R Research indicates that many people subscribe to services they don't even use:

On average, $86 per month was the initial amount consumers estimated they spent on subscription services. 

But upon closer look at their itemized expenses, the average monthly spend for consumers was more than 2.5 times the amount they thought at $219 – a whopping $133 higher than their original estimate. Almost one-third (30%) of the people underestimated by $100 to $199 and nearly a quarter each underestimated by less than $25, $25-$99, and $200 or more. 

That shows how easy it is to run up your bill a lot higher than you realize. The study also indicates that Gen Z streamers are far more likely to forget about the subscriptions than Baby Boomers. That's because we Baby Boomers are much more aware of spending and where our money goes. Kids could learn from us.

Spending less money than necessary on streaming (or anything really) means more money for things you'll actually use and enjoy. It's possible to save a lot of money in your Streaming Life, and save it for other things.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Why a box instead of a stick?

I'm a fan of streaming boxes, but not so much streaming sticks.

The fact is, most of the drawbacks of a stick don't really apply to me, and I could just as easily use a stick rather than a box.

If you asked me, I'd usually suggest a box, because if something does go wrong, it's easier to restart a box that is frozen than it is to restart a stick that is frozen. But that doesn't really happen so much anymore. At least, not on the good sticks.

Recently, someone asked Tablo about the differences between the Amazon Fire TV Cube and the Fire TV Stick. And I really liked the answer Tablo gave:

Since it's difficult to pack the features and performance of a box-style model into the smaller footprint of a stick, you can almost always assume that boxes will be better overall. However, they also come with a higher cost. That's why it's important to review and compare the features and specs of each device to decide which will be best for your needs.

If you don't plan to use the Ethernet connection or the advanced voice control features of the Cube, you may find the 4K MAX Stick offers enough performance to power your next binge-watching session. However, it is best to avoid the very low-end stick models as the feature sets, memory, and Wi-Fi connectivity of higher-end models are worth spending a bit extra for.

I whole heartily agree with picking the Fire TV Stick 4K Max over the cheaper sticks. I really do not like the cheaper devices. A close friend had a Fire TV Stick Lite that a family member had installed. I replaced it with one of my Fire TV Stick 4K Max devices. She was happier with it, so I consider that a win.

If you are looking at purchasing a streaming device, if wires are a problem, get a good quality stick, whether Fire TV Stick 4K Max, or Roku Streaming 4K or 4K+. Stay away from the cheap sticks. They will frustrate you in your Streaming Life.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Comcast updating their Flex box interfaces

I've given Comcast credit for developing a streaming device that works a lot like their cable box. The idea is that it will help users transition from cable to streaming, and stay in the Xfinity world as they do that.

It's good marketing, and anything that makes the transition easier is a good thing for the customer.

The problem is that the interface isn't very good. Sure, for cable, it's okay, but it really doesn't work well for streaming.

Comcast is doing something about that, according to Cord Cutters News:

"Our products are in tens of millions of customers' homes and will soon be enjoyed around the world and in every major U.S. city through our recently announced joint venture with Charter," Comcast said in a letter to shareholders. "We are just beginning to realize the full potential of our proprietary global technology platform, and later this year we’ll launch a new user interface for Sky Glass, X1, Flex, Xumo, and our international partners."

This new user interface is part of a bigger push for Comcast to take on Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV. Later this year, Comcast will launch a streaming player called Xumo Play, a rebranded version of the Flex player. This new streaming player from Comcast will be sold at Walmart and will target new cord cutters which are used to the X1 interface and want to cut the cord.

If they do it right, then that will be a huge benefit to those making the transition from cable to streaming. Anything that helps someone ease into their Streaming Life is a good thing. Even if it's from Comcast.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Amazon Fire TV explands support for hearing aids

I don't wear a hearing aid, but I suspect I will need to do that one day. Not many in my family wear them. In fact, I'm trying to think of anyone in my family who does. We've been lucky, it seems.

However, I do have some friends with hearing issues, and one close friend in particular who may need to get a hearing aid soon.

When I saw a couple of articles this week about Amazon Fire TV devices expanding hearing aid support, they had my attention. According to one article, they are using the open-source Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA) protocol. That means it isn't limited to any particular brand's proprietary code.

Cochlear has configured direct streaming from Fire TV to the Cochlear Nucleus 8, Nucleus 7, Nucleus Kanso 2, and Baha 6 Max sound processors. With ASHA, sound processors connect directly with the Fire TV device, so customers can enjoy audio from their favorite streaming apps, use Alexa, listen to music, hear navigational sounds, and more.

ASHA-enabled Fire TV devices include: Fire TV Omni QLED Series, Fire TV Omni Series, Fire TV 4-Series, Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen), and Fire TV Cube (2nd Gen).

This is welcome news, I'm sure, to many who suffer from hearing loss and use hearing aids. I trust this will make for a more enjoyable Streaming Life for them.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Why I like Roku better than Fire TV, or Google TV

If you've followed along for any period of time, you know I'm firmly in Team Roku. However, I also will use and do appreciate the other major streaming platforms. Apple TV's interface is good, as is the Google TV (and Android TV) interface. And, yes, the Amazon Fire TV interface is good as well.

My favorite is Roku, because it's not pushing stuff on me.

Well, that's not exactly true, because there is that big ol' ad once you move over to select the app you want to launch. However, it stands out as an ad, and can be ignored if you like. On Amazon and Google, they mix the ads and promos in with the rest of the content.

Roku doesn't throw stuff at you. Well, there is that big ad, but you see it for what it is. It's a simple interface, and the apps don't jump around. Whatever you place as your first app in the list stays there. On Amazon and Google, they will move them around, with the most recent played at the front.

There is a line that doesn't change, but it only shows a handful of apps, meaning you have to hunt for more apps is you want one that isn't in the top six or eight. Roku puts them all there, in rows of three, and you can find the one you want because it's always in the same place, unless you move it.

Amazon and Google with promote content within the interface, rather than off to the side as Roku does. I don't like that. I prefer to know that if I see something, it's something I put there, not something that some company is trying to push off on me.

I've not talked much about Apple TV in all this. Apple TV is similar to Roku in the way the interface works. However, they do offer a couple of different views, including one that looks somewhat like the Amazon or Google one, and one that looks more like Roku in that it's simply a list of your apps.

Roku wins the interface battle for me, due to its simplicity.

But I get it. Some people like what is suggested to them. Roku does offer suggestions, but not at the main menu. And if  you like the Fire TV or Google TV interface better, that's fine. I'm not trying to change your mind. I'm simply trying to tell you what I like about the Roku interface.

To me, the others are too cluttered and jumbled and make it harder to find something to watch. I want things simple in my Streaming Life, and Roku does that for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

No more remapping Amazon Fire TV remote buttons

If you have been trashing Roku and praising Amazon because of the ability to remap the buttons on the remote, you're about to lose your passion for the Fire TV. Amazon has an update out that has blocked users from doing exactly that, according to AFTV News:

That changed with the recent arrival of software update version to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. This update contains a more sophisticated method to detect whether the app being launched by the remote app buttons is the expected app or not. Trying to use Remapper to remap an app button results in the line "App [app name] is not trusted. Aborting launch." appearing in the Fire TV's log file.

So far, only the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has received this change, but I expect other Fire TV models to also eventually receive a similar update that prevents my Remapper app from working. As mentioned in my introductory post about the app, this was to be expected. It was a nice two years where we were able to crawl back a bit of control over how Fire TV remotes worked, but I don't expect a new workaround to be found to get Remapper to work again.

This is not unexpected, as the author said. Amazon, and Roku, both have buttons to certain apps on their remotes. They sell those to companies, and do their best to enforce the mappings so that they can justify the price they charge.

Both Amazon and Roku sell remotes that come with programmable buttons, allowing the user to add that customization to their device of choice, to make their Streaming Life easier.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

MLB TV now even more NOT worth it

I have a love-hate relationship with MLB TV. I so want to love it, but MLB blacks out my team -- the one that plays in a stadium over four hours away from my house -- and has for years. And continues to.

But now, they are doing something that makes that aggravation even greater. They have raised the price of a subscription.

Oh, they've thrown a new wrinkle in as well. In the past, when you auto renewed, you got the previous year's pricing. Not anymore. According to TV Answer Man Phillip Swann, MLB is hitting everyone with the price increase:

But MLB TV announced yesterday that it will raise the price of the 2023 plan by $10 to $149.99; the 2022 regular season price was $139.99. In addition, there are no pre-season discounts, which have been available in past years.

Which brings us to the issue of the auto-renewal.

Earlier today, we noted in this article that MLB TV has had a policy of auto-renewing subscribers every March 1 at the previous year's price. That would be $139.99 for 2022. The league even has a web page that says this:

"Your subscription will automatically renew annually approximately March 1 each year at the previous year's regular full yearly price."

However, it appears that MLB TV this year has updated the policy to state that you will be auto-renewed at the current year's price, not last year's rate.

Once again, I so want to subscribe to MLB TV, but the blackouts mean it's meaningless for me. And this on top of that makes it less desirable. However, if it works for you and your Streaming Life, that's great. I just wish it worked for me.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Washington's Birthday (2023 Edition)

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; owned jointly with Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Okay, it's not the actual anniversary of the day George Washington was born. That's coming up on Wednesday. But today is a federal holiday, and that holiday is called Washington's Birthday.

Now, before you argue about what today is, keep reading. And if you were going to argue, if you do keep reading, you may learn something.

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

You can't see it in that image, but at the bottom, it says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Good news for Fox

A couple of reports this week showed that Fox is making huge strides in streaming and digital content.

One report, as cited by The Streaming Advisor, says that Tubi, the free ad-supported television (FAST) service from Fox, grew at an impressive rate last year:

Tubi's Total Viewing Time (TVT) is up 44% year-over-year (2022 calendar year vs 2021), with more than 5 billion hours streamed in 2022, and the platform audience has grown surpassing 64 million monthly active users. Tubi's audience continues to be young and increasingly diverse, African American and LGBT audiences grew over 50% in 2022, and audience growth exceeded 25% in each major level of household income and the Hispanic demo – according to MRI. Additionally, Tubi's core younger demographic remains strong – more than 1 in 3 (36%) Tubi streamers are between the ages of 18 and 34. Tubi is proud to offer consumers free access to more than 50,000 titles from 455 content partners as well as a growing curated FAST offering watched by 1 in 5 AVOD streamers in the past 12 months.

The news about this growth came out around the same time as new data showing that Fox News continues to dominate the ratings for streaming and digital content:

The news option has spent 23 straight months as the number one news brand with multiplatform minutes. Multiplatform minutes reflect views on mobile, smart TV’s and any other way people may access the service online.

FOX News Digital closed out January reaching over 3 billion total multiplatform minutes, 1.8 billion total multiplatform views and 109 million multiplatform unique visitors.

I won't even mention the rating that show Fox News host Greg Gutfeld dominating the late night ratings. Well, I did mention it, but won't go further into that. Needless to say, Fox is having a good year. Again. It seems many people are including Fox entertainment and Fox News in their Streaming Life.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Whole house DVR? Yes!

When I put up an antenna, I tried out three different DVR systems. All worked well. My favorite of them is Tablo, but Air TV (from Sling TV) was good. I wasn't all that thrilled with Amazon's offering, but it did okay.

Recently, Tablo posted an answer to a question about setting up a whole home DVR. And the answer is that you can. And with a network connected DVR -- meaning network connected Tablo, as well as Air TV systems -- you get that as part of the setup:

Let's say your TV antenna is connected to your Tablo in an upstairs bedroom. The room next door is your office where your Wi-Fi router is located. Downstairs you have a Roku-enabled Smart TV.

Your Tablo will connect to your router via Wi-Fi and so will your Roku-enabled Smart TV. Using the Roku Smart TV's remote, you download the Tablo app to the television. The app on the Smart TV connects to your Tablo over Wi-Fi so you can stream live and recorded programs and control the DVR using the Roku remote. Have another TV in the basement with a Fire TV stick? The same process applies.

This is why I really like my Tablo setup. But to be fair, this applies to Air TV as well. If you want a whole home DVR as part of your Streaming Life, it's easy.

Friday, February 17, 2023

A new YouTube TV scam?

One of the pitfalls of doing something new is needing help, and getting bad search results when you seek that help.

This seems to have happened recently to people looking for help with YouTube TV. It seems some scammers were gaming the Google search results and getting their fake Website, voutube.com, listed high in the results.

It's kind of funny, in a shake your head way, in that Google owns YouTube TV and YouTube, yet were listing fake results at or near the top of the search results.

According to Cord Cutters News, this has been happening recently:

Recently some of our readers noticed sponsored Google search results when you look for help with YouTube TV that doesn’t point you to TV.YouTube.com but instead point to voutube.com. A simple switch of the Y with a V can easily be missed if you are not looking closely for it. (Also, we highly recommend you do not go to that other website.)

Increasingly scammers are trying to trick YouTube TV customers into thinking they are contacting customer service. Instead, they reach a 3rd party group that offers to help them for a fee or some other plan.

Tricks like this are not new, as Roku, for years, faced a vast number of groups that would try and trick you into paying to activate your Roku. Sometimes $100 or more they would want in order to activate your Roku for you. These groups bought up search terms about activating or setting up your Roku player and would try to charge you to do what should have been free.

I did a search for "help with YouTube TV" and did not get the fake results that were reported. Apparently, Google stepped in and did something about it. But this does show that scammers are able to succeed for at least a while, and are brazen enough to try to do it to Google services, and Google searches.

Stay vigilant when it comes to seeking help on the Internet. Don't treat Google searches as Gospel. Like everything else, be careful with your Streaming Life.

Thursday, February 16, 2023


Word is that Warner Bros. Discovery is planning to launch a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service.

That would join the large number of existing services, including Pluto TV, Xumo, Tubi, Plex, Streamfree (Sling TV free), and others, that provide streamers with tons of free content. Of course, they have ads, but for the cost, that ain't bad.

Warner Bros. Discovery is the parent of Warner Bros. (naturally), Discovery (of course), HBO Max, TCM, TNT, TBS, CNN, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, and others. This would be their first foray into FAST services. Cord Cutters News has more information on that:

Warner Bros. Discovery has a vast back catalog of content from Discovery, Scripps, and Warner Bros. programs to build a service on. Now don't look for major hits like Friends being offered free but do look for Warner Bros. Discovery to follow Pluto TV's model by offering a collection of new and older content to help attract subscribers to HBO Max.

Pluto TV has been very successful not only at getting ad revenue but also in promoting Paramount+. Often older seasons of hit shows are offered free to get you hooked, only to make you pay to see the new seasons. Now Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly wants a similar model for themselves.

Here's the catch. They are planning on calling it WBTV. That makes sense, right?

Well, there is a TV station in Charlotte, NC with the call sign WBTV. And it's been WBTV since 1949, when it first signed on. So there's that.

Once they get all that worked out, I'm looking forward to the WBD offering. I think with their catalog of content, the FAST service, whatever name it takes, will be a good addition to my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Fubo being Fubo

For the last few years, Fubo TV has been the leader in streaming sports programming. No, they don't have everything, but they have more sports overall than any other live streaming service.

Recently, they added Bally Regional Sports Networks -- just in time for Bally to be ready to declare bankruptcy -- filling a huge gap in their sports coverage. They also did something recently that isn't so great.

Right before the Super Bowl, Fubo TV stopped monthly subscriptions, and offered only quarterly subscription plans. Now, after the Super Bowl, they offer monthly subscriptions again.


Money. It's always money.

The TV Answer Man, Phillip Swann, explains.

It would appear FuboTV has some concerns about people signing up for one month and then canceling soon after the Super Bowl, although it still permits a 7-day free trial. (Fubo also sends reminder e-mails before the 7-day free trial ends.)

A FuboTV spokesperson noted last Friday that the quarterly-only packages were "temporary."

"We have temporarily made our channel packages available to new subscribers as quarterly plans. We're always experimenting with our channel package offerings to better understand what our subscribers like," a FuboTV spokesperson told the TV Answer Man.

They do have a valid concern regarding the 7-day trial being used only for the Super Bowl. Of course, the Super Bowl was offered free on other apps, so nobody had to use Fubo TV to watch the Super Bowl.

If someone did use the 7-day trial, and then forgot to cancel, they'd pay for three months. Another option would have been to have removed the 7-day trial. After all, not all services offer the 7-day trial. Some require you to subscribe for a month with no free trial.

I suppose no matter what Fubo TV did, they'd get complaints from people like me. Of course, they could have done nothing, and left things as they were. But where's the money in that.

To be clear, I don't have any problem with companies getting money for their goods and services. But I don't have a problem with people legally saving money, either. But this does go to show you that you have to keep a watch on things in your Streaming Life, just as you do in all aspects of life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Less than half of USA had cable TV

If you are a cord cutter -- and of course you are -- you are no longer in the minority.

I cut the cord in early 2011, after getting a Roku device in late 2010. And, according to a study in late 2011, at the time, over 71% of USA homes had cable TV then.

A new study from the Leichtman Research Group suggests that 71% of U.S. households still have pay TV.

However, the new figure -- which accounts for cable, telco, satellite and internet-delivered virtual MVPDs -- still represents a significant decline from penetration rates five years ago. The research firm said this latest percentage is down from 82% in 2016, 87% in 2011 and 86% in 2006.

A new study says that less than half of USA homes have cable TV in 2023.

For years cord cutters were often looked at as this weird small group of people who didn’t watch TV. Now according to Samba TV, 52% of Americans no longer pay for cable TV.

You can clearly see this change as broadcasters have increasingly moved content off of traditional broadcast TV to streaming. NBCUniversal has been one of the largest movers of content off of NBC and over to Peacock.

This is a big shift. And if you've been a cord cutter for some time, you were ahead of the curve. If you're new to cord cutting, welcome aboard. Enjoy your Streaming Life!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Sling TV's "new" free service

Sling TV has announced that Freestream, a live streaming service, has launched. It's on Roku now, and will be on other platforms soon.

But think for a minute. Sling TV already had a free tier. Sling TV offered over 160 channels of free content for some time now. I wrote about it in 2021, and again in 2022.

So, what's new?

Well, there are more free channels available. The nag to subscribe upon launch isn't there. That means it's simply an expansion of the existing free tier of Sling TV, although a welcome expansion.

Is it worth checking out? Of course. I previously said how much I liked the Sling TV free tier -- which is how it works with Air TV for non subscribers -- so an expansion of that is great.

If you want another good free streaming option, Freestream, the free portion of Sling TV, is a great addition to your Streaming Life.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Watching the Super Bowl

If NFL football, or even just the Super Bowl, is your thing, you have plenty of streaming options.

The game is tonight at 6:30 -- well, kickoff will be later than that, but that's the official game time -- and a lot of people will be watching.

If you're a streamer, how will you watch?

You got options. Lots of options.

Fox network is carrying the game, and it's free on lots of ways. Of course, if you subscribe to one of several live streaming services, you have access to Fox network.


  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Fox Sports app, free.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • Fubo TV, $75/month.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $75/month.

My Streaming Life doesn't have any of those paid services, but fortunately for me, I have the free options available.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

ESPN standalone service is coming ... some time

Something that I've been wanting for quite some time will be happening. But not soon.

Cord Cutters News had an article this week that covered a point in the Disney earning call that was of interest to me and some other sports fans.

According to the report, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that ESPN would offer a stand alone streaming service in the future, but made it clear it would not happen soon. Just eventually:

When asked about the future of ESPN as a direct streaming service during Disney's 1st quarter 2023 earnings call, CEO Bob Iger said, "Regarding ESPN and when we might make the shift, if you're asking me, is the shift inevitable? The answer is yes, but I'm not going to give you any sense of when that could be, because we have to do it, obviously, at a time that really makes sense for the bottom line. And we're just not there yet," Bob Iger said. "And that's not just about how many subscribers we could get, it's also about what is the pricing power of ESPN, which obviously ties to the menu of sports that that they've licensed."

This is not the first time Disney has hinted at offering ESPN directly to consumers, but this is the most forceful we can remember. Clearly, Disney and others are looking closely at when and how to jump off of the cable TV bundle and go a la carte.

This is good news, insofar as confirming it will happen. This is bad news in that it will not happen any time soon.

Personally, I'm ready for a standalone ESPN subscription in my Streaming Life. And many others are as well.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Netflix password sharing cost

As many know, and as we talked about a week ago, Netflix has changed its stance on password sharing over the last few years.

Well, they have kind of changed their stance. They used to promote password sharing. Now, they are saying don't share. Except where they are saying you can pay to share.

Confusing? Welcome to the world of streaming.

Streaming itself is a great thing. Companies trying to find ways to get every dollar they can from you is not so great. And now that is happening in streaming.

To the point of this post, Netflix has announced the pricing for password sharing. It's not available in the USA yet, so they would rather you not share. But it's coming, and the pricing is available.

Netflix has four plans:

  • Basic with Ads ($7/month)
  • Basic ($10/month)
  • Standard ($16/month)
  • Premium ($20/month)

The cost of password sharing? That will be $8/month. And, you must have the Standard ($16/month) or higher plan to get a sharing add-on.

It would be cheaper to buy the kinds a Basic with Ads account.

The password sharing is rolling out in select countries, not the USA, and offers some restrictions and options that will make a few people unhappy:

So over the last year, we’ve been exploring different approaches to address this issue in Latin America, and we’re now ready to roll them out more broadly in the coming months, starting today in Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain. Our focus has been on giving  members greater control over who can access their account.

  • Set primary location: We’ll help members set this up, ensuring that anyone who lives in their household can use their Netflix account.
  • Manage account access and devices: Members can now easily manage who has access to their account from our new Manage Access and Devices page.
  • Transfer profile: People using an account can now easily transfer a profile to a new account, which they pay for — keeping their personalized recommendations, viewing history, My List, saved games and more.
  • Watch while you travel: Members can still easily watch Netflix on their personal devices or log into a new TV, like at a hotel or holiday rental.
  • Buy an extra member: Members on our Standard or Premium plan in many countries (including Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain) can add an extra member sub account for up to two people they don’t live with — each with a profile, personalized recommendations, login and password — for an extra CAD$7.99 a month per person in Canada, NZD$7.99 in New Zealand, Euro 3.99 in Portugal, and Euro 5.99 in Spain.

I see all kinds of problems with this, notably the fact that some ISPs will change your IP address, and even route you through different cities, fooling systems into thinking you are away from home, when you aren't. That will be a huge problem.

However, if you want to use Netflix after these changes roll out, you'll have these potential issues to address as part of your Streaming Life.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Good reception, bad location? No problem!

If you've looked into getting an antenna, but find that you don't get good reception on your main TV, but can get great reception on another TV in an inconvenient location, what do you do?

For example, suppose the reception in a guest bedroom is great, but in the living room, you only get a few channels. What then?

Well, you can do like I did and get a network connected Tablo.

The antenna is located on the side of the house, near a bathroom and guest bedroom. It's not located near the living room. But that's not a problem. In the guest bedroom, I have a network connected Tablo device. The antenna is connected there, and with the Tablo connected to the network, I can watch TV on any TV in the house. I use the Tablo app on my Roku. If you use Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, or Google/Android TV, you can use the Tablo app as well, and watch antenna TV on any of your TVs.

If this sounds like a commercial for Tablo, it's not. Well, it's not a paid ad. It's how I actually do this.

I was inspired to tell about this because of a Q&A post at the Tablo Website that talks about this very thing. The question is a little odd, because the questioner doesn't understand how things work. And what they're trying to ask makes sense, just how they asked it was awkward. But Tablo answered it, and what they said is essentially what I'm doing.

If you want to add a TV antenna to your Streaming Life, a Tablo is a great way to do just that.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Want to watch the best shows? Don't look to cable.

This got past me. It got past a lot of people. But Luke Bouma at Cord Cutters News noticed it several weeks after the fact, and that's where I saw it.

USA Today had a list of the best TV shows of 2022 back in December, and the top ten included no cable shows.

Well, you could say that one of them is available of cable, since it's on ABC, and most cable systems carry the broadcast networks. However, if you have an antenna and can pick up your local ABC station, you don't need cable to watch that one show. The other nine are all on streaming services:

  1. Andor (Disney+)
  2. Reservation Dogs (Hulu)
  3. The White Lotos (HBO Max)
  4. For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
  5. Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  6. Heartstopper (Netflix)
  7. Pachinko (Apple TV+)
  8. The Bear (Hulu)
  9. Starstruck (HBO Max)
  10. Bluey (Disney+)

I've not seen any of these shows. Well, I did watch the first two seasons of For All Mankind, but haven't seen the most recent season. And I've seen none of the others listed. I'll look into them.

If you haven't seen them because you don't stream TV, you are missing out. And spending more money than you should.

Oh, and if you say "Yeah, but to subscribe to all those services would cost more than cable" then you aren't doing it right. Subscribe to one service for a month and watch all the stuff you want on that service that month. Then cancel. And the next month, subscribe to something else. Do that over and over, and you still get to watch everything, and spend a lot less money.

My Streaming Life gives me lots of options. And I'm glad to see there are some good ones that I can look into. I'll be doing that soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Bally Sports RSNs finally on Fubo TV

A little while back, it was announced that Bally Sports Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) were being added to Fubo TV. There was no date announced, apart from "soon."

Well, "soon" has now arrived.

According to a report from Cord Cutters News, and verified by a visit to the Fubo.TV Website, Bally Sports RSNs are available on the service.

In my area, that means Bally Sports South and Bally Sports Southeast. And sure enough, there they are.

What I wasn't sure about was which plan would offer the RSNs. And it's the cheapest plan, the Pro, at $75/month.

While $75/month is a lot of money, it's cheaper than the DirecTV Stream service that carries the RSNs. The DirecTV Stream Choice plan is $100/month, a full $25 more than the FuboTV package. There are other benefits to the Choice plan, but if RSNs are all you want in your Streaming Life, the DirecTV Stream $75/month plan is the cheapest way to get that.

Monday, February 6, 2023

Sling TV newest price increase

Sling TV just recently upped its subscription cost. And now, for some people, it's going up again.

Don't worry, though, as only five markets are getting the additional price increase. It's a little confusing, but TV Answer Man Phillip Swann has all the details.

In five markets where Sling TV will offer Fox, ABC and NBC affiliates, the live streamer will increase the base price by $5 to $45 a month. The five markets are: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Although Fresno, Houston and Raleigh-Durham will get ABC, too, Sling does not provide either Fox or NBC in those markets so they will not get the price increase. The rate hike is only for markets which will get all three network affiliates. (Sling TV has never carried CBS.)

Confusing? Yeah, maybe a little. But people threw a hissy fit when Sling TV lost ESPN for a weekend last fall. Sling gave in, and now the result of all that is that some will have to pay even more for TV.

Sling upped their subscription price after the ESPN dispute, and these ABC channels are causing more subscribers to pay more. Sling is holding the line and not raising prices again across the board, but is raising prices for the affected markets.

I hate price increases. But over the last two years, we've seen a lot of that, and it will likely get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, even though some of us have to pay more -- I don't -- we can still enjoy our Streaming Life at a reasonable cost.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Watching the Pro Bowl Games

It's the week between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl. That means it's the week of the Pro Bowl. Well, it used to mean that. Now, it's something completely different.

Beginning this year -- this afternoon, in fact -- the Pro Bowl is no longer being played. Rather, the NFL has the Pro Bowl Games. That makes a meaningless game even more meaningless.

Once upon a time, it was an all-star football game. In fact, it was called the NFL All Star Game before World War II. After the war, it was revived following the merger with the AAFC and was called the Pro Bowl.

It was a straight up football game featuring stars from the two conferences (sometimes Eastern and Western, sometimes National and American).

In recent years, the format was altered in all kinds of ways, and now there's not even a football game. Well, not a real football game. They will play flag football. And do other stuff. There is more than flag football happening:

  • Best Catch presented by Uber Eats (Finale): On Sunday, the top vote getters from each conference will compete head-to-head, as they perform in front of panel of celebrity judges. The pass-catcher who accumulates the highest score from the judges will be determined the winner.
  • Gridiron Gauntlet: A side-by-side relay race showcasing strength, speed and agility, six players from each conference will compete to see who finishes first and wins three points for his team. The four-part Gauntlet, each segment 40-yards in length, includes a series of breakaway walls, a section of climbing over walls and under tables, a tire run and a blocking sled carrying a Legend coach across the finish line.
  • Kick Tac Toe: Each team's kicker, punter and long snapper compete in a giant Tic-Tac-Toe competition to showcase their respective skills. The first team to complete a connecting line of three squares or hit five squares total will be declared the winner and earn three points for his conference.
  • Move The Chains: Four teams (two teams from each conference) will compete side by side in a weighted wall pull that will showcase their strength, speed and ingenuity. Each team of five players is responsible for pulling a wall, loaded up with heavy weights, 10-yards as quickly as possible using first-down chains. The winner of the best-of-three playoff will earn three points for their conference.

This will be followed by a series of flag football games that will eventually determine the winning conference. The winning conference gets, oh, I don't know, bragging rights maybe.

Personally, I'm not sure just how much interest there is for this event. However, if it seems interesting, and you want to check it out, you can watch it this afternoon.


  • 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.


  • Sling Orange, $40/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue, $55/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Fubo TV, $70/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $70/month.


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.

If this turns out to be a good event, I would be surprised. But, a nice surprise is always a nice surprise. Perhaps it will go well, and this could be a yearly event in my Streaming Life.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Pebble Beach Pro-Am

While the Pebble Beach Pro-Am isn't one of the biggest gold tournaments, it has a long history. It used to be the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, or the Crosby Clambake. The Pebble Beach event remains one of the most known non-major tournament.

The tournament actually began Thursday, and concludes tomorrow. If you're looking to watch the last round or two, here is how you can do that.


  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • Paramount+ Premium, $10/month.
  • Vidgo Plus, $60/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • Fubo TV, $75/month.
  • DirecTV Stream Entertainment, $75/month.

Golf Channel

  • Sling Blue with Sports Extra, $51/month.
  • Sling Orange+Blue with Sports Extra, $66/month.
  • YouTube TV, $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • Fubo TV, $75/month.
  • DirecTV Stream Choice, $100/month.


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 Trio Basic, $13/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 included with Xfinity Internet plans.

  • Peacock Premium, $5/month.

If golf is something you want in your Streaming Life, you have options.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Frndly TV gets even more friendly

According to reports, Frndly TV has added more channels to their lineup. And, these are some good channels that many people enjoy.

A report on Cord Cutters News says that Frndly TV has added Ion TV, Grit, and Ion Mystery. Sure enough, those channels are listed on their schedule now.

It's true that these channels are often available over the air on secondary local channels, but these channels do carry a lot of family friendly content that people like.

As of now, the count of channels and networks offered by Frndly TV stands at 46:

  • A&E
  • BabyFirst
  • BYUtv
  • Circle
  • Cowboy Way Channel
  • Crime & Investigation
  • CuriosityStream
  • Decades
  • Dove Channel
  • Dove Family Movies
  • Dove Kids
  • FETV
  • FMC
  • FYI
  • Game Show Network
  • GetTV
  • Great American Family
  • Great American Living
  • Grit
  • Hallmark Channel
  • Hallmark Drama
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • Hallmark Movies Now
  • Heartland TV
  • Heroes & Icons
  • The HISTORY Channel
  • INSP
  • ION
  • ION Mystery
  • Lifetime
  • Lifetime Movie Network
  • Local Now
  • MeTV
  • Military HISTORY
  • Movies!
  • Outdoor Channel
  • Pixl
  • QVC
  • Recipe.TV
  • Sportsman Channel
  • Start TV
  • StoryTV
  • UPtv
  • The Weather Channel
  • World Fishing Network

Frndly TV has been a favorite of mine for some time. And the $7/month price is fantastic. I actually use the $9/month plan. And it's available on Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV. Frndly TV has been a part of my Streaming Life for quite some time. And it may be worth looking into for you as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

New Netflix sharing rules

Netflix has introduced new rules to prevent password sharing. The company has been testing ways to stop users from sharing passwords in some South American countries for a little while now. The USA is now reaping the benefits of that testing.

If this is a surprise to you, you have good reason to be surprised. Netflix itself had once, around six years ago, tweeted "Love is sharing a password." That sentiment has changed.

Netflix posted new rules, or guidelines, about what they're doing to make it difficult to share passwords.

When someone signs into your account from a device that is not associated with your Netflix household, or if your account is accessed persistently from a location outside of your household, we may ask you to verify that device before it can be used to watch Netflix. We do this to confirm that the device using the account is authorized to do so.

To verify a device:

  1. Netflix sends a link to the email address or phone number associated with the primary account owner.
  2. The link opens a page with a 4-digit verification code.
  3. The code needs to be entered on the device that requested it within 15 minutes.
    • If the code expired, you will need to request a new verification code from the device.
  4. Once successful, that device can be used to watch Netflix.
  5. Device verification may be required periodically.

If you suspect unauthorized use of your account, we recommend you reset your password immediately. You can also sign out of all the devices connected to it.

The idea is to make it difficult to share passwords. None of these steps will stop password sharing, but it may make it more difficult to use a shared password.

I don't share Netflix passwords. Heck, I rarely use Netflix myself, and I don't share my Netflix password with others. Does that make me a bad person? Actually, quite the opposite. The fact is that Netflix is simply enforcing rules that others have ignored for years. Even Netflix ignored the rules, as that tweet from 2017 indicated.

Some will still share passwords and go through the process to verify access, but Netflix is hoping people will just get their own Netflix account. You know, like they should. What will happen, I think, is that it will make it more difficult for legitimate users. Well, for some, at least.

Will it make users of shared passwords get their own account? Maybe. Probably not. Some will simply stop using Netflix. Others will jump through the new hoops. People have a way of reacting in unexpected ways. Netflix is an important part of many people's Streaming Life. However, they may about to upset a lot of those people.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

New Walmart streaming device coming

You may have noticed that the Walmart brand ONN Streaming Device and Stick have both been hard to find lately. Maybe you haven't.

Some people seem to love the devices, and others are more "meh" about them. I'm in the "meh" camp.

As posted a couple of months ago, the devices were disappearing from shelves, with some speculation that Walmart was discontinuing the device altogether.

I had thought this was possible because of the deal to carry the new Xumo player from Comcast and Charter. Or that it was simply the older line being discontinued to make way for an updated line. It now appears the updated line is on the way, according to a tweet from @AndroidTV_Rumor:

Looks like @Walmart is planning to release a new 4K #AndroidTV Dongle this year.

The ODM is @SDMCTECH (model DV6105Z) and it's more than likely using an #Amlogic S905Y4.

Not sure when this year it might hit the shelves.

Maybe the device will have enough of a bump in specs to change my mind about the line. Previously, I said the box was okay but the stick was awful. It would be nice if the devices were upgraded and made a viable alternative when looking for a Google TV device to use in your Streaming Life.