Friday, March 31, 2023

A new Roku update is coming ... eventually

One thing about Roku that some people don't understand, and really don't like, is the rollout process for updates.

People want, or expect, or both, the updates to come quickly, and all at once. But that's not how Roku works.

When Roku has a major upgrade, they roll the updates out over a period of time. Not days. Not just weeks. Roku takes months to roll them out.

Sometimes, your update will come the day that the update is released. Sometimes, your update will not come for a couple of months, or more.

Also (as if that's not enough), if you have multiple devices, not all devices will get updates at the same time. That is, your Roku in the bedroom may get the update the day it's released, but your Roku in the living room might not get the update until three months later.

Of course, you could get all your updates the very first day. But you probably won't.

Roku announced Roku OS 12 back on March 9. I haven't received an update on any of my devices yet.

When OS 11 came out, once device got it same day it was announced (actually, the day before, as the announcement was delayed until the next day), and other devices got it a month or two later. Usually, I don't get any updates the same day it is announced. Usually, it's a month or two, or three, until I get them.

So, what's up with Roku OS 12?

  • Local news on Live TV. Only, I see that with Roku 11.5. Are they expanding it?
  • Premium Subscriptions within Live TV. Again, something I already see with Roku OS 11.5.
  • Sports. Again, part of OS 11.5, but they promise more personalized. Which I hope means they'll quick suggesting ice hockey, soccer, basketball, tennis, and such.
  • Continue Watching (in What to Watch). Again, I have this in OS 11.5.
  • Roku Mobile App Account Hub. I'm seeing the ability to do all the things it says.
  • Roku Mobile Home page streamlined. I see the features it promises already.
  • Live TV Guide Button on the mobile app. This is something I don't see. I'm curious to see if this actually rolls out with OS 12, or if it's a feature that is delayed.
  • Photo Stream improvements. As I don't use Photo Streams, I wouldn't know if this is an actual improvement or not. I'll take others' words for it.

Roku lists several things in the Roku 12 update, but I'm already seeing some of these in Roku 11.5. So, that makes me wonder if there are really any OS 12 changes. This is how Roku seems to have done things the last few years, and I don't particularly care for this.

It's great that features are rolled out, but to say "New in OS 12" when they are already there just seems wrong.

This won't impact, and hasn't impacted, how Roku is a part of my Streaming Life, but it is a sore spot with me.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tips for Fire TV users

While I'm firmly in Team Roku, I have enough people in my life that use Fire TV devices that I like to keep up with them. In fact, I like to keep up with all four of the major platforms: Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android/Google TV.

Several days ago, Cord Cutters News posted tips for Fire TV users, and I thought it worth sharing.

[YouTube] [CCN]

I find the tips from Cord Cutters News to be worthwhile, and I always check them out, even if it's on a platform I don't regularly use. It may not improve my Streaming Life, but it could help someone, and that's always a good thing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Mounting a TV over a fireplace

Several years ago, there was a discussion in the family about mounting a TV over a fireplace. I was against it. I was the only one against it. I lost the argument.

When I saw a Q&A recently about mounting a TV over a fireplace, I wanted to see if I was right. Spoilers: I was.

TV Answer Man Phillip Swann says it's a bad idea, for a couple of reasons:

If you mount the screen too high on the wall, your eyes have to adjust to focus on the center point and, consequently, your viewing is not as smooth. You will feel like you are constantly adjusting your seat position and that’s no way to watch TV!

Plus, if the set is mounted above your eye level, you will indeed have to crane your neck to watch it. That may be okay for a few minutes, or even a 30-minute sitcom, but try watching a two-hour movie that way. (If you do, bring a bottle of Advil. You will get a headache!)

The other reasons is from the heat. Read his entire article for more information. Perhaps it will help your TV last longer, and help you enjoy your Streaming Life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Scams as far as the eye can see

As more and more people enter the world of cord cutting and streaming, more and more scams pop up. It's how things are.

Wherever there are people, there are other people trying to separate them from their money. There are tales of pickpockets roaming the crowds at public hangings, where the people being hanged were convicted thieves. Even with the threat of death over them, thieves will be thieves, and will target wherever the people are.

So, with more people adding streaming, or moving to streaming, more thieves are moving there as well.

Recently, Cord Cutters News had an article outlining "The Most Common Cord Cutting Scams to Watch Out For":

Bill Pay Scams

Increasingly scammers are sending out emails that appear to be from Netflix, for example, asking you to update your billing info. Scammers are trying to get you to hand over your credit card info.

How to avoid this scam. Never click links in an email. Always look closely, not at the name used in the email but at the actual email address to make sure it is not from a random website. If in doubt, go to the website of the service to check your billing information.

They also cover problems involving:

  • Illegal Streaming Services
  • Stealing Your Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, etc Accounts

It's a good read, and something to consider if you're new to streaming, or even if you've been streaming a while. If you can keep others from taking your money, you'll enjoy your Streaming Life so much more.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Hulu layoffs?

A report last week said that Hulu may be laying off a lot of people.

It's never good when people lose their jobs.

Parent company Disney is laying off a lot of people, and Hulu is expected to get hit with a higher proportion of cuts than other divisions of the House of Mouse.

Hulu is not alone in the job cuts as Disney is reportedly planning to make cuts at ABC Signature and 20th Television also but Hulu's may be more significant. Deadline reports that Hulu's layoffs could start as soon as next week but may be done in waves and not all at once.

This all comes as Disney has a decision to make as time is running out to decide if Disney wants to sell off Hulu or complete its deal with Comcast to buy all of Hulu.

During Disney's last earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked if Disney would be open to selling off. In response, he said everything was on the table.

I've been a fan of Hulu for some time. It doesn't matter to me if Hulu is owned by Disney or not. It was originally owned by NBC, ABC, and Fox when they were all separate entities. Those three major networks had an interest in making Hulu work. Now, that's not so much the case.

I would hate to see Hulu go away. I have enjoyed the service for years, and hope to continue that. But things change, even my Streaming Life.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Is your VPN stealing your information?

 If you're a streamer (and of course you are), you've found that some content is restricted in your area.

That can be from Major League Baseball (I can't watch the Braves live on MLB TV, for example) to football (Georgia Tech is often blacked out here) to movies (some content isn't available in the USA) to practically anything.

You'll hear some advocating to use a VPN to get around geolocation restrictions. I don't do that, for two reasons.

First, if content is restricted here, it's restricted here. I'll just deal with it.

Second, is I don't trust most VPNs.

Here's a recent video from Naomi Brockwell about how risky it is to use some VPNs.


How big of a deal is this? I think it's a pretty big deal. I run my own VPN that allows me to connect to my home network. That's free, but takes some setup. I will look at some other VPNs that I can use, in case my home network is down and I need a VPN connection.

Why would I need a VPN? Well, if I get on an unsecure or untrusted network (because my cellular signal is not sufficient) I want to be able to secure my data, and a VPN to my home network does that.

If you are a streamer, and want to use a VPN in your Streaming Life, be careful. Be very very careful.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Netflix and reasons to drop it

I don't watch Netflix.

The reason is simple: they don't carry enough content for me to watch to justify the cost.

Sure, Netflix starts at $7/month for the ad-supported plan (with content restrictions), and $10/month for the ad-free plan (without content restrictions). It's not that much.

However, it doesn't take many of those "not that much" subscriptions to end up paying almost as much as cable.

That's why I subscribe to a single service at a time. I'll subscribe to one service ($10-15) this month, then a different service next month, and a different the following month. And so on and so on. Over a year, I've watch a lot of content for not as much money.

Netflix sometimes is in the rotation, but I have gone years without subscribing once. That's because of the content. And the frustrating menu system that auto-launches content.

To be fair, Netflix finally stopped playing stuff automatically. Or at least, they allowed me more options to stop stuff from playing before I hit Play. So good for them for paying attention to what customers want.

However, none of that makes up for the limited amount of content that interests me. And, it seems there's another reason that some don't like Netflix. It has to do with their suggestions:

When I canceled Netflix, I mostly kicked it away because of a lack of pressing new programming. But earlier this week, I heard podcaster Merlin Mann (opens in new tab) declare that that Netflix "wants [him] to be somebody different than who" he is.

The second I heard that, I realized a significant reason why I canceled Netflix this year that I had never even thought of. Netflix, as you may find when you use it, really cares about promoting shows that you may have have zero interest in. I'm trying to see things with an open mind these days (heck, I started Yellowstone, which I thought I'd never do), but Netflix often seems to swing and miss.

Netflix has long pushed stuff I didn't like or care about. Did that enter into my decision to drop them? Actually, no. But it didn't help. And I did notice what they were doing.

I dropped Netflix because the value just wasn't there. But I understand about why others are frustrated with Netflix pushing content that is out of line with their viewing history.

I will add that the last time I looked at Netflix and their suggestions, they did a better job of not pushing uninteresting content. When I did subscribe, I took the time to give Likes and Dislikes to many of the things they pushed, and to their credit, they have done better. But they have a ways to go.

If you are frustrated with the way Netflix is promoting content that you don't have an interest, I understand. And if you drop them from your Streaming Life, maybe they'll understand as well.

Friday, March 24, 2023

New, cheaper Fire TV televisions

It looks like Amazon has introduced a new line of Fire TV televisions.

According to Amazon's official Fire TV blog, a 32-inch Fire TV device from Amazon is available for $200. That's not the only thing introduced by Amazon in their new lineup, but it is the thing I noticed.

Fire TV televisions have always been good TVs. I don't like the Fire TV interface as much as I like the Roku interface, but the quality of the devices have always been good.

Now that Amazon is making their own televisions, they seem to have kept up the quality, which would explain why a $200 television is a big deal, when you can get a Roku TV from Walmart for half that.

According to Amazon, there is a lot to crow about with the new TV updates:

Amazon is expanding the Amazon-built TV lineup with three new sizes of the Fire TV Omni QLED Series -- 43", 50", and 55" -- and introducing the affordable Fire TV 2-Series, starting at just $199.99. Amazon is also launching its Amazon-built TVs in more countries, bringing the Fire TV Omni QLED Series, Fire TV 4-Series, and the new Fire TV 2-Series to the United Kingdom, Germany, and Mexico for the first time.

"We knew we could build a better experience for the living room," says Daniel Rausch, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services. "Televisions are the fastest growing segment in the Fire TV business. When customers love something, we double down."

Is the device better than the Onn Roku TV from Walmart? Probably. However, the 32-inch Fire TV television only supports 720p, same as the cheap Roku TV.

Is it worth the extra money? Possibly. If I was in the market for a TV (I'm not) I would consider it. Whether or not I'd pull the trigger is another matter. But it's worth looking at if you want a new TV, particularly a Fire TV platform set, in your Streaming Life.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Newsmax returns to DirecTV Stream

There was a dust-up recently about DirecTV (and DirecTV Stream) dropping Newsmax from its lineup. I didn't weigh in on it, but I probably should have.

Since I don't subscribe to DirecTV Stream (or any of the expensive live streaming services) it didn't impact me. Newsmax has a Roku app (although it's buggy) that I could use if I wanted to watch the content.

Honestly, any time something comes to or leaves an expensive live streaming service, I don't really care. I don't subscribe to those services (except for college football season, when I'll subscribe to Sling TV or some other service to get ESPN).

However, I do not like it when content is pulled from a service. Usually, it's over money. Heck, it's always over money. And the outcome is always people paying more for a service. (But not me, since I don't subscribe anyway.)

Now, word is that Newsmax returns to DirecTV Stream (and DirecTV satellite service) today:

"Newsmax recognizes and appreciates that DIRECTV clearly supports diverse voices, including conservative ones," said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax. "As a standalone company, DIRECTV helped give Newsmax its start nearly a decade ago as it continues to do with upcoming news networks, which is why we are pleased to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that will deliver our network to DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM and U-verse customers over the next several years."

"This resolution with Newsmax, resolving an all-too-common carriage dispute, underscores our dedication to delivering a wide array of programming and perspectives to our customers," said Bill Morrow, CEO of DIRECTV. "Through our persistent negotiations, we reached a resolution under mutually-agreeable business terms allowing us to deliver the conservative news network at the right value -- a reflection of the free market at work."

Newsmax will be available on DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-verse customers, rejoining the now expanded and diversified news lineup, which includes six 24/7 news networks.

See? They're playing nice. Until the next time. Which again won't impact me, as I don't expect to be paying for a high-priced live streaming service, when I can get so much so cheaper in my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Why costs for streaming keep rising

There is an analysis about the increasing costs of streaming services over on The Streaming Advisor.

Ryan Downey wrote his column after the recent announcement by YouTube TV of a price increase. I think he's on to something:

This has always been the issue with pay TV services since cable TV first hit the scene. If a service offers more content options it has to charge the customer more. But if it doesn’t offer certain content options customers may decide to jump to another service to get it. The problem is that the competition has not led to innovative pricing. It has caused them to balloon. That is because the channel owners demand what they consider fair fees for the content.

I don't disagree with Mr. Downey. Prices go up all the time. More competition usually leads to lower prices, but I think there is more to it than that.

A lot of things have gone up by a surprising amount in the last three years. I think that as a result, we are more accepting of price increases as a result. We're simply going along with it. They are raising the prices, not because they need to (though it may figure into it) but because they can.

The financial policies of the country have created an environment that is not consumer friendly. As a result, every aspect of your life, including your Streaming Life, has suffered.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

YouTube TV price increase

Are you tired of having to pay $65/month for YouTube TV? Well, there's good news. And bad news. Really bad news.

The good news is that starting April 18, you won't have to pay $65/month for YouTube TV.

The bad news, the really bad news, is the price is going up to $73/month.

YouTube TV sent an email around to customers recently. It explains things, at least from the Google perspective.

We have an important update for our members. After nearly 3 years, we’re adjusting our monthly price from $64.99/month to $72.99/month. As content costs have risen and we continue to invest in the quality of our service, we are updating our price to keep bringing you the best possible service.

Your YouTube TV Base Plan membership price will change in your first billing cycle on or after April 18, 2023, and will be charged to your payment method on file going forward. To view your current plan, go to your Settings > Membership page for updated information. If you are currently on a Base Plan promotional price or a trial, that promotion is still honored and unchanged.

We will also be lowering the price of our 4K Plus add-on from $19.99/month to $9.99/month. Users new to 4K Plus are eligible for a $4.99/month for 12 months promotional offer.* For existing users, if you are on a promotional price below $10/month, you’ll enjoy that price until the promotional period is over, at which point you’ll automatically receive the new price of $9.99/month. If you’re currently paying above $9.99/month, your new price will be $9.99/month.

We hope YouTube TV continues to be your service of choice, but we also understand that some members may want to cancel their service. Family managers have the ability to cancel anytime here. For additional information, please visit our Help Center.

The YouTube TV team

It's true that there hasn't been a price increase from YouTube TV for a while. However, a price increase is still a price increase. And there seems to be a lot of them recently. Everything has gone up since 2021, it seems.

How can you avoid the price increase? This may be a good time to sit down and decide if you really need YouTube TV. Or any live streaming service.

If you don't need to stream local channels, then you could subscribe to a cheaper service. If you have an antenna, or simply don't watch local TV -- sometimes Hulu gets you all the network TV shows on a next day basis -- then a cheaper live streaming service may be the way to go.

Or don't subscribe to a live streaming service at all. I don't.

Well, that's not true. I do subscribe to Frndly TV. That ($7/month) and Hulu ($7/month) get me all I want to pay for. Perhaps it's time you sat down and seriously considered if you're really getting value from paying so much for a live streaming service. Your Streaming Life may not need to cost so much.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Tubi is number one

For some time, Pluto TV has been the top free ad-supported television (FAST) service. Pluto TV has ruled the roost for years.

Not any more.

Tubi has taken over as the top FAST service, according to recent stats.

This is a bit of a surprise, as I've just gotten into the mindset that Pluto TV was the top FAST service. It always has been, and always will be.

Only, reality has stepped in.

Pluto TV is now the second largest free live streaming service, and Tubi TV is the new king of the FAST services, with 1% of all streaming, compared to Pluto TV's 0.7%:

"Reaching 1% of total viewing minutes is a huge milestone for us because it validates we are driving massive viewership and our data-informed personalization and recommendations get the right content in front of the right people," said Mark Rotblat, Chief Revenue Officer at Tubi. "Advertisers can feel confident that our light ad loads, addressability and tools for cross-screen planning and measurement are built with their success in mind and they can shift a significant portion of their video investment dollars to a 100% addressable audience on Tubi."

Tubi is now owned by FOX and used FOX's super bowl this year to push the free service with several virtual ads. It seems that big ad spend has helped Tubi grow and become the largest free ad-supported service in America.

I actually prefer both Pluto TV and Xumo Play to Tubi, or at least did the last time I spent a lot of time looking at them. I need to spend more time with Tubi, so I can see if changes to the service justify it's new reign at the top.

Tubi TV has been a part of my Streaming Life for some time. It may become a bigger part soon.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

An Amazon browser?

There are rumors that Amazon is looking to launch a Web browser.

If you've used Fire TV devices, or Kindle Fire devices, you've seen the Silk browser. So you know Amazon already has a browser. But, it's only been available on some Amazon devices.

It seems as if Amazon is looking to release a browser for other platforms now, including your computer or mobile phone, according to Cord Cutters News:

Recently Amazon started to email customers to see if they would be interested in using a browser on a desktop and laptop. Amazon already offers a browser on mobile devices, Fire TV, and Echo Show devices, but currently, the Amazon Silk Browser is not available on desktops and mobile devices. It first launched the Silk browser back in 2011.

A browser can be a very profitable tool for Amazon. First, Amazon could use it to push Amazon products and services. Secondly, Amazon can use it to collect data about their habits to better offer ads and services targeted at them.

I don't know if I would use it, as it likely is for collecting data, and I don't want to share any more of my data with Amazon, or anyone. My Streaming Life, like my regular life, is not for the benefit of others.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Another pirate shut down

I have trashed piracy for years. To me, if some one creates entertainment and you enjoy it, you should compensate the entertainer.

Piracy has others that had nothing to do with the creation of the content getting paid for the work of others.

It's theft. There is no difference between taking entertainment and taking a physical item. If you built a table, and someone took the table and sold it to others, and kept the money, they would have stolen from you.

Piracy is the same way. It's content created by someone, who others take and sell. And because it's not a single physical item, they sell it over and over to multiple people.

Piracy is theft, pure and simple.

That's why I always read with interest when pirates are shut down. And a recent report tells of just that. IPTV service Streamzz was recently shut down.

First launched in 2019, Streamzz hosted more than 75,000 movies and 15,000 TV series episodes. The service was used by more than 60 pirated websites, including IPTV services. Based out of Germany, the website had more than 7 million monthly visits on average.

"The shutdown of Streamzz is fresh proof that no one in the content piracy ecosystem -- whether they're a streaming service, video streaming host or anything in between -- is above the law," said Jan van Voorn, executive vice president and global content protection chief of the Motion Picture Association and head of ACE. “We will target piracy services of various kinds in order to protect the global creative economy."

ACE worked with Constantin Film, a member of the coalition, on this action.

I'm glad to see when pirates are shut down. If you have been supporting pirates, I hope you change your ways and stop giving thieves your money. Your Steaming Life should be free of such things.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Netflix subtitles improvements ... finally

Netflix did something recently that some users have wanted for some time. This week, the streaming giant updated their apps to allow users to change how subtitles work.

I have to admit that I never realized that Netflix didn't offer such customization. There are a couple of reason I never noticed it. First, I don't use Netflix that much. Next, when I have used it, I never felt the need to alter the subtitles.

However, some users have wanted to change them, but were not able to. Until now, according to a report in The Verge:

Netflix already offers similar subtitle customizations via the web. Now, the feature is also available globally to TV users, a welcome update considering that Netflix reported in 2018 that 70 percent of its content is watched on TVs, and smart TVs and app-supported streaming boxes have only grown in popularity since. Other streaming platforms such as Disney Plus, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video also offer similar user adjustments to their own subtitles.

I'm glad Netflix is finally listening to users' wants and requests. It's about time. If Netflix is a part of your Streaming Life, then this should be a welcome update.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Roku drops Roku 4 from support

Roku has finally announced that the Roku 4, model 4400, is no longer receiving support.

I found out about this because of an article I read on Cord Cutters News. According to the Website, Roku sent emails to owners of Roku 4 about the decision. Since I never owned a Roku 4, I didn't get an email. I did check the Roku Hardware page and see that the Roku 4 was moved to the Legacy section, indicating it had indeed been moved from the list of supported devices. I never did get the email.

While your current player will continue to stream and receive critical updates, it doesn’t have the latest capabilities and will soon stop receiving feature updates.

You can keep using your Roku player to stream the channels you currently have. However, this device will no longer get new features or streaming channels, updates to existing channels, or other software-related updates. You may lose access to some channels over time as those channel partners make updates.

I think it's about time. The Roku 4 was the first high end Roku device that I never recommended. That device has had a troubled history, and I thought they should have discontinued support for it a long time ago.

When it came out, I actually considered getting a new Roku device. However, I waited, and I'm glad I did.

When the Roku 4 was released in late 2015, the Roku 3 was two years old, having been released in late 2013. However, they had refreshed the Roku 3 in early 2015, and when the Roku 4 was released, they didn't discontinue the Roku 3.

I had purchased my first Roku in 2010, and had the top of the line model. When new top of the line devices were released, the previous one had been discontinued. However, the Roku 4 was not a replacement for the Roku 3. Rather, it was an expansion of the line. They kept the Roku 3 in the lineup.

Since this was not the way things had been done in the past, I wondered what was up with that. So, I waited to get one. And I'm glad I did.

The Roku 4 had all kind of issues, from being noisy -- it was the first Roku to have a fan -- to locking up or simply stop working altogether. Several Roku users that frequented the support forum actually recommended against it. I didn't, but I did report to others about the issues that had been experienced by some, and always recommended the Roku 3, since it was still in the lineup.

Roku replaced the Roku 4 with the Roku Ultra a year later, and did actually remove the Roku 4 from the lineup, but continued support. I always thought Roku should have offered an exchange for the Roku 4 and dropped support immediately. I would have suggested notifying all Roku users of the decision immediately and offered a year to exchange the device, and gotten that poorly built device out of circulation.

Roku didn't, of course. Rather, they kept pretending it was worth supporting. Well, until recently.

I'm glad to see it moved to the legacy section. By the way, the Roku 3 (both models) are still in the list of supported devices. The Roku 3 was a rock solid device in its day. The Roku 4 was not. I'm glad my Streaming Life never included one of those.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

MLB to stream some games for free

With the impending collapse -- or what seems to be an impending collapse -- of regional sports networks (RSNs), Major League Baseball is reported to be planning to stream some teams' games for free.

As always, there's a catch.

Bally Sports Networks (actually, Diamond Sports Group) declared bankruptcy this week. In the process, reports say that some contracts are being canceled. Not all, but some.

The New York Post has a report of a new wrinkle in all this in that MLB TV will stream for free some of the games of the canceled contracts.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred will have the league take over the local broadcasts of the money-losing teams and stream them for free in their respective local markets as he negotiates with their cable companies for lower contracts, a source with knowledge of the discussions said.

MLB has not finalized plans for how fans in the blacked-out markets will be able to view the free games. Currently, fans can pay to watch out-of-market games through the MLB.TV app.

MLB declined comment.

Everything indicates that current blackout rules apply. This simply means that fans will still have access to the same games, just for free for those teams. If they weren't able to stream them live before when paying for them, they still won't be able to stream them live for free.

So, if you wanted live baseball for free in your Streaming Life, you may get some teams, but the same blackout rules apply.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

March Madness (2023)

It's college basketball playoff time, and while we're half-way through March, and though the finals are in April, the March Madness name sticks around.

So, for the die-hard college basketball fans, or for the casual college basketball fans, how do you watch the tournament if you're a streamer?

It's not that hard, really. There are four networks carrying the games, and all are available with various streaming packages, as well as some games, including the Final Four, available over the air.


The Tiffany Network is carrying games from every round, and has the Final Four and Championship games.

  • Over the air/antenna (free)
  • Paramount Plus (Premium) ($10/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($75/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($75/month)


The former SuperStation has games from the first four rounds, from the field of 64 to the Elite Eight.

  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($75/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($75/month)


Some games from the first two rounds are available on TNT.

  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($75/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($75/month)


The former Court TV (not the current over-the-air version) channel is carrying games from the first two rounds.

  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($75/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($75/month)

The cheapest way to watch everything is YouTube TV. If all you care about is the Final Four, an antenna is cheapest, with Paramount Plus Premium next cheapest way.

However you want to do it, however many games you want, you can include March Madness in your Streaming Life.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Why don't the TV channel numbers match?

You may not realize this, or you may but not understand why it's so, but it's actually pretty common for the channel number by which you know a TV station to be different than the actual channel.

Tyler the Antenna Man explains more:


If you don't have an antenna to pick up local stations, it may be something worth looking into. I went for so long without an antenna and wish I had put one up earlier. It's made a positive impact to my Streaming Life.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Microsoft Office privacy concerns

I've become more and more concerned about privacy over the years, and sometimes will take a day here to offer tips and suggestions that are not specifically streaming related, but important enough to consider.

Microsoft Office is the most popular office suite -- the video explains this -- but has some serious security issues. Naomi Brockwell looks at the issues, and alternatives to Microsoft Office:


I have used different office suites, and no longer use Microsoft Office. This saves me money, as well as improves security, so this is a win for me. Perhaps it will be for you too.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Bnadwidth issues?

One of the things about streaming that can cause a lot of aggravation is when things suddenly don't work as you think. There are many things that can interfere with with your streaming experience, and this video from Britec09 offers some useful suggestions.


This isn't all encompassing, and doesn't address everything that can cause problems, but it does offer some good suggestions, and is worth looking into. It may improve your Streaming Life.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Tablo and deleting recordings

I love Tablo. It's a great way to watch over the air TV.

Tablo is a DVR system, but the network-connected devices also allow you to watch live over the air TV on any TV connected to your network. And, to tell the truth, I use Tablo that way more than I do with recordings.

Many do use it for recordings, however. And there is one thing about Tablo that can cause problems with recordings. That's deleting the recordings.

Sometimes, you want to protect a recording from deletion. This is something that some DVRs offer. Tablo, however, doesn't let you protect individual recordings, though they do allow protection of recordings. It's just the way they go about it that is a little unusual.

In a recent Q&A, Tablo addressed the issue:

While Tablo DVRs don't have a 'recycle bin' or 'undelete' option, they do have a feature called 'protect'.

Within the RECORDINGS screen of all Tablo apps, when you select a specific program you'll see a PROTECT option. On most platforms this will disable the DELETE button on the recording, requiring a user to UNPROTECT the recording before being able to delete it.

Not having a recycle bin makes it impossible to recover an accidental recording, and protecting all recordings in a series makes it problematic if you want to erase a recording after you watch it. In other words, the most likely scenarios are the very ones for which they did not account.

I still am a fan of Tablo. But if they were to fix this obvious system design flaw, it would make everyone's Streaming Life better.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Thanks AT&T but no thanks

I so want to like AT&T. Really I do. But they seem to go out of their way to make things so hard.

I use AT&T Wireless, having switched from Verizon, and have overall been happy. There have been some things I didn't like, but overall, I'm good with the switch.

Of course, since they have my email address and phone number (it's a new number, as I retired the old number from a different area code), AT&T will send me marketing offers, such as ACP (the cheap Internet discount for which I don't qualify) and Fiber, which is not available here.

That last one is really an irritant to me. They have my address, so they know they don't offer the service at my house, but they promote it anyway. And every time they do, I check, and sure enough, it's not offered here.

They do offer service, just not good service. Did you see the speed?

Three mbps? Three?

Living in a small town, we are ignored by large companies and don't get all the products and services. I'm used to that. But I don't understand why they offer me things they don't or won't provide to me. I'm not going to settle for something less in my Streaming Life.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Data caps for Spectrum

An online report says that Spectrum customers are about to experience data caps.

Welcome to my world, Spectrum users.

I've been with Comcast for several years, and have dealt with data caps this entire time. I have to say that only a couple of times have I surpassed the caps, and each time was unrelated to streaming. Well, mostly unrelated.

One time, I set up a new computer and had the iTunes settings so that it downloaded everything I had purchased. I thought it was set for new purchases only, but no, it was set for all. And I did this before I went out of town for a few days, so it downloaded about a TB of files, which busted my data cap.

Something similar happened a second time. Not exactly the same, but it was another out of the ordinary thing that busted the caps.

Normally, I don't have to worry about going over, so I haven't complained a lot about the data caps. But a lot of people do complain. And a lot of Spectrum customers have boasted about the lack of data caps on that system.

No more. According to Cord Cutters News, Spectrum is about to impose caps on customers:

Now on May 18th, 2023, Spectrum’s deal with the FCC will end, and it is expected that Spectrum will impose data caps.

Right now, only a handful of major providers do not impose data caps in some form. Most customers may never go over 1TB of data it is possible. Streaming Netflix in 4K will go through 1TB of data in about 171 hours. That works out to be roughly 7 hours of 4K streaming every day in a month.

Now, most streaming is not in 4K. With Netflix HD, it works out to be about 500 hours of streaming to hit 1TB. That works out to be over 16 hours of HD streaming every day in a 30-day month.

Whether or not Spectrum imposes the caps -- and I don't doubt they will -- it probably won't impact a lot of people. Like me, they probably won't go over. And while I don't like the idea of data caps, it is a part of my Streaming Life, though a part I don't like.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Top free apps for Fire TV

I've been a Roku user since 2010, well before Amazon and Google launched streaming platforms. I actually used both Roku and Apple TV, but that was when Apple TV had a very limited interface. In the years since, I've stayed with Roku.

Recently, I've used Fire TV more and more. I'm not dissatisfied with Roku, but from time to time will focus on other platforms. I'm not always qualified to suggest apps for other platforms -- at least, not as qualified as I am for Roku -- but I do have an idea. However, I'm willing to defer to those with more experience with the other platforms, including this video from Cord Cutters News that lists the top free apps for Fire TV:


Could I have done a list like this? As it turns out, yes. I would agree with most of these. Luke knows his stuff, but since I pretty much agree with his list, I kinda know my stuff, too. Still, it's a good resource for new about cord cutting, and a Website that I use in my Streaming Life.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Not cutting cable? Cut the costs!

Not everybody who streams cuts cable. Some using streaming as an enhancement to their entertainment options, and still keep cable. It's what works for them.

I saw a video from Lon.TV recently where he covered things he did to help his mother reduce her Xfinity cable bill. I had done the same things with my mother and her cable bill some years back. These suggestions were good then, they're good now, and are not exclusive to Comcast/Xfimity.


If you or someone you care about still has cable, perhaps these tips will be useful. If you still have cable along with your Streaming Life, this can make your overall costs go down. And that's good.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Private Cloud Storage

Yes, I know that the purpose here is focused on streaming, or is supposed to be. However, security is also something of great interest to me. I hope that it is of interest to you as well.

Part of increased security is a change in the way of thinking of things. Keeping security in the forefront of thinking is how you become more secure. And when it comes to saving money, you can do more than learning tips and tricks about streaming. You can keep your data, and your money, safe and secure.

One of the tools that many people use today is cloud storage. That can be tricky to do and stay secure.


If security helps you in your everyday life, not just your Streaming Life, then it gets better.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Cord cutting grew last year. Again.

Twelve years ago, I was a rarity. I was a cord cutter, and there weren't as many of us.

Today, there are so many more cord cutters, and the numbers of others joining us in the world of cord cutting continues to increase.

A report from TVTech says that traditional pay TV services lost a lot of subscribers in 2022, more than they lost the previous year.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 70.2 million subscribers—with the top seven cable companies having about 37.8 million video subscribers, other traditional pay-TV services having 24.1 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having 8.3 million subscribers.

That number represents a steep drop from LRG’s estimate of 76.1 video subscriptions in 2021. Although cord cutting has gradually increased year over year for the past decade, LRG reported that the trend eased up between 2020 and 2021 when pay TV providers lost 4,690,000 net video subscribers in 2021, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 4,870,000 in 2020. That blip was probably best represented by the fact that more TV was being consumed during the lockdowns imposed by the global pandemic.

You and I are part of a growing field. My Streaming Life, and yours, are the way that more and more people are going.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Google TV changes

Roku is my favorite streaming device. It's my favorite partly because of how reliable the devices are, and partly because I really like the interface.

However, there are good things about other platforms, including Google TV. But, the other platforms' interfaces aren't as good in my opinion. Google TV has a cluttered appearance, for instance.

That is changing, however. Google TV is changing its interface. Google says the changes should make it better:

So to improve your search journey and help narrow down your options, we’re launching four new content pages on Google TV in the U.S. These new pages, located right below the apps row on the For you tab, give you easy access to the best of Movies, Shows, Family and Spanish-language entertainment, without jumping app to app.

Is it an improvement? Well, I'll be looking it over and sharing my thoughts of it. I've been using Amazon Fire TV more lately, for a couple of reasons. But Google TV will get some focus now.

I'm always in favor of things getting better. However, sometimes "better" isn't better. But I'll give this a shot. If it is better, then my Streaming Life will be better. And I'm always in favor of that.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Regional Sports Network crisis could be good news for baseball fans

The unstable world of regional sports networks (RSNs) may have an upside for baseball fans.

How could there be any good news? Well, like often is the case, in unexpected ways.

The troubles that the various regional sports networks are facing these days could wind up with a lot of content no longer having a home. However, for some sports, there may be ways for them to respond in ways that are beneficial to streamers.

Major League Baseball could offer in-market games for 17 teams that would be impacted if Bally Sports Networks shut down, according to Cord Cutters News:

Now the MLB has added three executives to its local media departments as it prepares to take over local broadcasts for 17 teams. These executives, Kendall Burgess, Doug Johnson, and Greg Pannell, all have experience working as executives at RSNs.

"These new hires are an important step in our preparation to address the changing landscape of MLB game distribution in light of the increasing challenges and pressure facing regional sports networks," MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said in a statement.

The MLB is still hoping to find a partner to broadcast its games on traditional TV services but is also preparing for the reality that it may not happen this year. So the MLB is creating plans to offer streaming only versions of in-market games, likely through its MLB.TV service.

Being a baseball fan, and one that is eager to watch in-market games for my team (Atlanta Braves), this is a good opportunity. I hate the idea of many sports teams not having an outlet if the RSNs shut down. However, I like the idea of my favorite baseball team having an outlet they haven't had before. It will make my Streaming Life better.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Dish and Sling TV data breach

Recently, there was an outage affecting Dish Network and Sling TV. It wasn't a short outage either.

At the time, it was described as a "cybersecurity incident" but there were no details about it. Now, more details are coming out. And it's not good.

On Tuesday, Dish confirmed "certain data" was obtained from its IT systems during the cybersecurity breach. So far, it's unclear what data was taken, according to Cord Cutters News:

On February 27, we became aware that certain data was extracted from our IT systems as part of this incident. It’s possible the investigation will reveal that the extracted data includes personal information. The forensic investigation and assessment of the impact of this incident is ongoing. The security of our customers’ data is important to us, and if we learn that information was compromised, we’ll take the appropriate steps and let any impacted customers know

Just what this means, we don't know. Was financial or other personal data obtained? They haven't said, but this is in no way good news.

I don't currently have an active subscription to Sling TV, but as they do have payment information on file, there is the possibility of compromise. One thing I don't have to worry about is if my password was compromised. I use a different password for Sling TV than I use for other services. This is why.

If someone has my Sling TV credentials, since it's only for Sling TV -- that is, since I do not use that same password on any other account anywhere -- then those credentials cannot be used anywhere else.

If they did get passwords, and if someone is using the same password for Sling TV that they use on a financial account, that financial account is now in danger of compromise.

That's one of the reasons I'm so big on security. It is a big deal. It's also a change to the traditional way of thinking. I use a password manager -- BitWarden is my current choice -- to keep up with all those passwords. It was a bit of a change to my thinking and a change to my processes, but it keeps my Streaming Life more secure.