Friday, June 30, 2023

CNN+ failed, so CNN may go all in on streaming ??

Word is that CNN is considering becoming a streaming platform and dropping cable altogether. That's right, Cable News Network might leave cable.

Of course, another report says "not so fast there" calling the report "premature." Note that "premature" could mean wrong, or it could mean right but not officially announced.

Which is it? I dunno.

First, let's look at the report that CNN is going to be added to Max (formerly HBO Max) as a live channel. Not content from CNN, but actual CNN. That would make sense, as Max and CNN have the same owners.

Where it gets questionable, but still possible, is the suggestion that CNN may ditch cable altogether. The Cord Cutters News story mentions an article from Bloomberg, but I can't find anything that says CNN will drop cable. I'm either missing something, or Cord Cutters News knows something others don't.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see CNN on Max. I would be surprised to see CNN drop cable and go only streaming. It's possible to be on streaming and on cable. Just look at ... everything else.

A report from Deadline called the Bloomberg story into question:

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Warner Bros. Discovery had already decided to add live news to its service outside the United States.

A source at the network told Deadline, "We are looking at all options," noting the global reach of CNN and its networks, which include CNN International. Another source said that the Bloomberg report was premature.

My Streaming Life doesn't include a lot of news, because all of the US services are skewed to one side of the political spectrum or the other. Most lean left, and a handful lean right. None, as far as I can tell, ignore an agenda and report only the facts, and not just the facts that bolster one side.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Peacock TV again! Yay!

Less than a day after getting hit by the Xfinity Rewards glitch for Peacock TV, things started working. I never had to call Comcast.

Briefly, I couldn't activate my Xfinity Rewards for extending free Peacock TV service. I don't watch Peacock TV a lot, but if I can get it for free, I'll take it. Only the glitch that some people experienced seems to have hit me as well.

When I got in from work on Wednesday night, it was working. That caught me by surprise.

I have to give Comcast credit for fixing the issue without even having to contact them. When Comcast works, it works very very well. And after a bit of a problem, it once again works very very well. I'll call them out when there's a problem. I should give them credit when they get it right. And currently, it's right.

My Streaming Life is usually without many problems. That is again the situation, and I really like it when it's that way. Good on Comcast for fixing this without having to contact them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Xfinity Rewards and Peacock TV

Being an Xfinity Internet customer for years means that I qualify for the Xfinity Rewards bonus of free Peacock TV. So, I activated the rewards. Things didn't go well.

It seems as if the glitch that has been impacting Xfinity customers over the last few days hit me as well. Xfinity says I've already activated the reward, but my account doesn't have it. So, I'm in the Xfinity Circle Of Hell where you follow the instructions and the instructions lead you down a circular path.

I'm going to have to speak to a human at Comcast, and that is something you never want to do.

When Comcast works well, it works really well. When Comcast doesn't work well, it's hell to get a solution. I'm in Comcast Hell right now.

I'll deal with it later, probably tomorrow. Today is a busy day, and I don't want the frustration from Comcast Hell to make work any worse than it's going to be already.

I have to admit that I don't watch Peacock TV that much, and that the $5/month cost isn't that much. But if I can get it for free, I'll take that. Who knows? I might watch it more? (I won't.)

My Streaming Life is usually pretty stress free. Usually. Today isn't one of those days.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Netflix dropping $10/month plan?

A report from Canada says that Netflix is ending it's $10/month plan. In Canada.

Why does this matter in the US? It might not. But then, again, it might. Netflix has rolled out changes that customer won't like in other countries before finally implementing them in the US. The whole password sharing crackdown? Outside the US before finally hitting here. This could be another instance of that. CTV has the report on the Canadian service change:

The change in subscription options comes months after Netflix used the Canadian market as a testing ground for its password-sharing crackdown.

Netflix has already removed the basic tier for new subscribers and a company representative said it will also be removed as an option for current members "in the near future."

When this may hit the US, if it hits the US, isn't know. My Streaming Life doesn't involve Netflix currently, and I would probably use the ad-supported tier if I wanted to re-subscribe.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Walmart Plus and Pluto TV

I was looking into the new combined Paramount Plus and Showtime combined service recently. You see, I get Paramount Plus as a perk from Walmart Plus. The $5/month Paramount Plus service is included, and that's a nice little perk.

No, it's not the top tier service with live local CBS, but it is a really good service. Yes, there are ads, but they aren't intrusive and I'm fine with them. Yes, it's always better when there are no commercials, but what they have is reasonable in my mind.

What has been my concern is that Paramount Plus is expected to raise its price when the Paramount Plus and Showtime services merge. And, with the price increase, it may be that the Walmart Plus perk ends, or at least changes. So, I was researching that, when I found Walmart Plus listing Pluto TV as a perk.

That struck me as odd, since Pluto TV is free anyway. Why would it be a perk?

According to the Walmart Plus Website:

Every month Walmart+ members can view select content without ad interruptions in the dedicated Walmart+ On Demand category.

So, I decided to check it out. There are currently six TV shows listed in the "Walmart+ Experience" group:

  • I Love Lucy (1 season, all 35 episodes of Season 1)
  • Perry Mason (1 season, all 38 episodes of Season 4)
  • Rawhide (1 season, 17 of 23 episodes of Season 1)
  • Half & Half (1 season, 20 of 23 episodes of Season 1)
  • Numbers (1 season, all 18 episodes of Season 4)
  • Charmed (1 season, all 22 episodes of Season 1)

Some classic shows, some more recent shows, but nothing extraordinary. However, they are free, and they don't have ads. Not really a downside.

Is it enough to make me want to sign up for Walmart Plus? No. But I'm already with Walmart Plus, so it's a bonus. I would enjoy the older shows, particularly Perry Mason.

I still haven't found out if Walmart Plus is losing any of the Paramount Plus perk, but it is good to see the extra content, ad free, that comes from Pluto TV. Oh, and it may be worth mentioning that Paramount owns Pluto TV. If the Paramount Plus content goes away, they could move some content to Pluto TV as Walmart Plus exclusives, as they did with those six show.

My Streaming Life consists of more and more free ad supported television (FAST) content. These additions to that from service I use anyway, makes it even better.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Free Roku apps

It's nice to find free content. Of course, TANSTAAFL, so what we're talking about is FAST, free ad-supported streaming television, services.

Luke Bouma at Cord Cutters News has a rundown.


It's hard to beat the cost, and ads aren't a bother for me. It's how all TV used to be, so I don't mind. My Streaming Life has a lot of free content, and I'm enjoying what I'm watching, and I'm enjoying saving money.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Cord cutting equipment

When I cut the cord, I had DSL Internet, an HDTV, and two streaming devices: Roku and Apple TV. I bought the Apple TV for my wife to stream music through the sound system on the TV, and bought the Roku to stream TV. We ended up using both devices.

Our DSL Internet wasn't very fast, but we could stream some content. I later got an antenna to pick up local channels. And, being an Amazon Prime member for years before, we had the Prime Video service.

That was then. Now, what is needed to cut the cord? A question like that was asked by a TV Answer Man reader, and Melanie Mayberry gave an answer:

Can you explain what you need to cut the cord. What products and services, for example? ...

To cut the cord, you should get at least three of the following four products and services:

1. Reliable Internet Connection ...

2. Streaming Device ...

3. Subscription to a Streaming Service ...

4. Antenna ...

There are details given in the article, and I suggest you give it a read. My Streaming Life followed pretty much that pattern a dozen years ago, and it holds true today.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Should you buy a smart TV?

When I cut the cord a dozen years ago, I didn't have a smart TV.

Well, I did, but I didn't. Let me explain.

At the time, my TV was a Sony Bravia, which had an option to add on a piece of hardware that gave it smart TV functionality. Of course, that was a dozen years ago, and the smart TV functionality was nothing like you find today.

Adding a Roku box and an Apple TV box gave me what I needed to stream, and I still use Roku devices today. I bought smart TVs in the intervening time, running various platforms, but always put a Roku device on them, as that was and is my platform of choice. I didn't buy them because they were smart TVs. I bought them because they were TVs, and I didn't care what platform they ran. I got a smart TV because that's what they're selling these days, not because of the platform. I just wanted a good picture and sound. As I said, I put a Roku on them, and I was good to go.

Recently, I bought a Roku TV. I wanted a new TV for the guest bedroom, and Roku TVs were on sale, so that's the one I got. Good picture, decent sound, and that's all that mattered. The fact that it has built-in Roku is a bonus.

But, that may leave you wondering if you need to buy a smart TV if you want to stream. The answer is no, but you may end up with one anyway. Just because it has one platform on it doesn't prevent you from putting your own favorite platform on it. I always put Roku on the Google TV or Fire TV devices I had.

Recently, Melanie Mayberry from TV Answer Man answered the question about if a smart TV was needed:

Do You Need a Smart TV to Cut the Cord?

The short answer is no. You don’t necessarily need a Smart TV to cut the cord. While a Smart TV offers convenience by eliminating the need for additional devices, it is not the only way to access streaming services. There are alternative methods available to transform your regular TV into a smart one...

I added a Roku to my TV, and my son added an Xbox to his, when he started streaming. He now uses Apple TV. The bottom line is you can add whatever you want to a TV if it doesn't have the platform you want.

My Streaming Life is mostly Roku, because I want Roku. And while I do have one Roku TV, I have Google TV devices with a Roku attached. But I could easily have an old fashioned TV with no built in smarts, and be just fine.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Cutting back on streaming services

A new report from Hub Entertainment Research indicates that consumers are cutting back on streaming services. The main reason is cost.

I'm not surprised, as I found out a while back that the number of streaming services can run up a bill pretty quickly. I've cut back on my streaming services in a couple of ways.

First, let's talk about the new report. Kayla Wassell from Cord Cutters News had an article recently that looked into the May report from Hub Entertainment Research. And she says cost is driving it:

Hub states "Complexity is as big of a limitation to new subscriptions as cost," with 82 percent of respondents claiming budget is one of many factors contributing to selecting a platform. The study showed that even if consumers could afford to subscribe to every platform, there’s still a clearly defined limit to the number they’re willing to have on board.

Roughly half of consumers' "total entertainment ecosystem" are considered must-haves. These include video, audio, gaming, social media, podcasts, reading, and other categories of entertainment. Hub reports the average household uses 12.7 different sources, which is consistent with last year’s findings. Households with kids used an average of 16.3 sources, while younger consumers used around 15.8 sources.

Of these entertainment sources, respondents reported only half to be vital to their households and the rest as perks they could live without if needed.

I have cut back over the years. One of the major things I did was to rotate services. I would subscribe to one service a month, cancel, then subscribe to a different service. I would rotate through a collection of services, and over a year, watch content from them all, at a fraction of the cost.

Lately, I've simply cut back. I found that I wasn't watching as much content from the subscription services, so rather than continue to pay for something I wasn't watching, I decided to pause subscriptions. I haven't subscribed to a service this month, and it's looking like I won't subscribe next month either. I've been watching mostly free ad-supported television (FAST) services.

Now, to be sure, I do have Peacock TV, but that is because I get it with Xfinity Internet service. That stops later this month, however, and I haven't decided to continue the service.

I also have Paramount+ as part of my Walmart+ subscription. I will keep that as long as I have Walmart+ and it's included. If they drop it, I may let it lapse as well.

I've had Amazon Prime for years, well before they launched Prime Video streaming, so as I plan to keep Amazon Prime, I'll continue to get Prime Video, but if it wasn't included with the other benefits, I wouldn't keep it.

Hulu is on hold. Apple TV+ stops when my free three months ends next month. AMC+ will end soon, as will Starz. Those last two were subscriptions for others that won't be renewed.

I will likely renew Frndly TV, which I've had since it launched and replaced the old Hallmark Feeln service.

My Streaming Life has included subscription services for some time. It will have fewer going forward.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

So what's with all the YouTube videos?

You may have noticed a lot of YouTube videos from different sources being posted recently. If so, and if you've wondered why this all of a sudden, the answer if simple: I'm off doing family stuff.

I haven't had the opportunity to take any of the grandchildren to a theme park in quite some time. However, the opportunity to take my son and his family, so I did. And now I'm back. Did you miss me? No? Oh well.

I wrote this post, and the other recent posts, in the days ahead of the trip. I wrote stuff that wasn't time-sensitive. It's all good stuff, or at least stuff that I think is useful and interesting. And it allows me to keep content posted every day. And it allows me to focus on the family for these few days.

My Streaming Life is important to me. The kids are more important.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Comparing live TV streaming services

Michael Saves is a YouTube channel that covers saving money with cord cutting. It's a pretty good one.

I don't always agree with his recommendations, but they are valid things to consider. The main thing is that he's a huge fan of YouTube TV, while I think that you can easily watch what you want a lot cheaper. He favors simplicity over price, and for many people, that's what they want as well. Of course, that's also why YouTube TV is more than double it's original price.

Still, he does a good job of comparing the major subscription live TV streaming services:


My Streaming Life doesn't include a monthly live streaming cable replication service. But if that's what you want, his thoughts on them are pretty much on the mark.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Pirate TV boxes

I've been critical of those IPTV boxes for some time. They are simply ways to pirate content.

I've found out along the way that a lot of people don't care. They want something cheap, and don't care if it's illegal or not. And because people, either out of ignorance or because of questionable morals, are willing to pay money for pirate TV boxes, TV pirates will continue to sell them.

Linux Tech Tips recently looked at a bunch of those pirate TV boxes, and discovered something they didn't expect: malware. Lots and lots of malware.


My Streaming Life doesn't involve these IPTV boxes. Never has. If yours has, maybe you'll stop. If not because it's the right thing to do, then out of self-preservation.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Be wary of browser extensions

Browser extensions can be a good thing. But browser extensions can be a bad thing. A very bad thing.

I'm not trying to scare anyone, so don't get the wrong idea. However, it is important to be aware that browser extensions come with risks.


To be sure, I use some browser extensions. I use the BitWarden password manager extensions. I also use a Gmail extension from Google when I use the Chrome browser. But that's it.

My Streaming Life doesn't often involve using a browser, but when I do use a browser, whether for streaming or not, then I want to be safe and secure. As a result, I rarely use browser extenions.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Streaming prices increasing

The writers strike could be a contributor to streaming prices going up. That's according to an analysis from Cord Cutters News that was posted this week.

According to the report by Kayla Wassell, the strike is hitting traditional TV hard, and streaming TV isn't immune from the effects:

Traditional linear television is taking a harder hit than connected TV, which GroupM expects to jump up 11.6 percent by 2024. Linear television, on the other hand, has dropped 4.7 percent to $62.8 billion. Connected TV is swiping subscribers from traditional linear television, essentially. But overall, cord cutting is a big player in all of this. Fewer cable subscribers mean less ad revenue, an open feedback loop in a sense.

Streaming services use ad-revenues to keep subscription costs down. As that money supply dries up, it is very likely some services will be forced to raise prices.

None if this is good for consumers. My Streaming Life doesn't use a lot of subscription services. I'm focusing more on free ad-supported content (FAST) services at the moment. However, this will impact others as it's making a bad situation worse. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

Chrome browser hijackings

My daily computer is a Linux laptop. It's a MacBook Pro with a replacement SSD and Ubuntu Linux installed. My daily browser is Firefox.

However, my daily computer is always at home, even though it's a laptop. My travel computer is a Chromebook. That means I run the Chrome browser when I'm away from home.

Word is that a new variant of the ChromeLoader browser hijacker is making the rounds. It's called "Shampoo" and it's infecting a lot of people. Shampoo is targeting pirate streaming sites, along with the usual adult sites, giveaways, and the like.

And, it seems to be mostly Windows computers being hit, as every detailed story about it mention Windows-specific processes that Shampoo uses. If that's the case, then my Chromebook is safe, although I'm not certain about that.

Of course, the sites that are being used to infect people aren't sites I visit, so practicing safe computing helps.

There is a video that came out last month that covers browser hijackers, and it's worth learning about.


My Streaming Life has not been impacted by viruses, and I hope yours has been safe as well. If you are visiting the pirate streaming Websites with your Chrome browser on Windows, you may want to rethink things.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Amazon Home Internet is still months away

Most of my life, I have lived in areas where Internet options were limited.

I had to deal with dial-up for years after some friends and family had much faster service.

DSL was eventually available, and I had AT&T DSL when I started streaming back in 2010. Eventually, good high speed Internet came available, and I moved to an area with more options.

Currently, I'm in an area where it's pretty limited. The only reasonable ISP is Comcast/Xfinity. Starlink isn't available, but will be before the year is out. That would be $120/month in addition to the $600 equipment price, plus another $102 in tax and shipping. Xfinity Internet is $52/month. I'll only go to Starlink if Comcast really ticks me off.

However, Amazon is looking to launch a home Internet service later this year. And it should be cheaper than Starlink, according to a report quoted in Cord Cutters News:

Amazon hasn’t announced pricing details yet, but affordability is a key principle of Project Kuiper. Amazon has a longstanding commitment to low prices, and lots of experience building popular, low-cost devices like Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick. We’re applying a similar approach with Project Kuiper. We also know customer needs will vary quite a bit around the world, and our service offerings may vary from country to country with the right pricing and service for customers in each region.

I am curious about this, and hope the expected $100/month price turns out to be even lower. My Streaming Life would like to have more options.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Flag Day and Army birthday, 2023

I've been quite remiss in recognizing important days of the year. On these days, I consider posting about the day, and many times decide against it. The topic of this Website is streaming, and I suppose if I put enough effort into it, I could find some streaming tie-in. However, I've decided to simply acknowledge the particular day.

Today is two special days. It is Flag Day, and it is the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Army. So, here is the Army Field Band performing the Star Spangled Banner.


My Streaming Life is important to me. But my admiration and respect for the Flag and the Army are greater, and I want to let you know that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

YouTube TV cracks down on password sharing ... maybe

A week or so ago, there was a report from Cord Cutters News that YouTube TV had begun cracking down on password sharing. This came on the heels of Netflix cracking down, and reports that subscription numbers are up as a result.

CCN said the streaming service had begun enforcing existing rules:

YouTube TV has always put limits on its account-sharing feature. YouTube TV clearly says it is only for people living in the home. So your family that live outside of the primary account location are not allowed to use the account-sharing feature of YouTube TV. You can use YouTube TV outside your home, but you are supposed to bring that device back to your home location every 90 days.

Now YouTube TV has started to crack down on people sharing their YouTube TV account with people living outside of their home. Over the last few weeks a growing number of people have reported their friends and family have woken up to error messages on YouTube TV. These messages inform them that they need to buy their own YouTube TV subscription or return to their home location to continue using YouTube TV.

More recently, word came that Netflix had seen an uptick in subscriptions after its crackdown:

According to Netflix, 100 million people around the world access Netflix through a friend or family member's account.

This news comes as Netflix had seen two consecutive quarters of subscriber losses. Now with the password-sharing crackdown, Netflix has seen that number turn around and is once again adding subscribers.

To be sure, not everyone is subscribing. Some are dropping the service. However, I believe that many that say they'll drop the service won't follow through. Netflix seems to have made a decision that, at least in the short term, has increased the number of subscribers.

However, all of that is countered by a Tom's Guide report that the supposed crackdown by YouTube TV is simply a glitch that the company is working to resolve:

And YouTube's own account actually responded, writing "Just wanted to give an update — engineering is aware of this & is currently looking into how to fix it." That account also offered a temporary solution: "If you remove the family member & re-add them then they should be able to login again."

This reply, plus the lack of any official statement from YouTube TV about account sharing, makes it seem like nothing's actually certain about a potential password-sharing crackdown.

So, that's the actual deal? Who knows? My Streaming Life does not include Netflix or YouTube TV currently, so whatever is going on doesn't impact me. But it may very well impact you. And we need to keep an eye on this situation.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Free TV

One of the really neat things about streaming is the amount of free content available.

I may need to pause for a minute and remind the gentle reader that "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." If you always keep in mind TANSTAAFL, then you'll be okay.

Free content usually (always) means ad-supported. If you don't want commercials on your content, this post isn't for you. But, if you can put up with some commercials, read on.

There are many free services available, and they advertise hundreds of free streaming channels. And while they're truthful about that, the reality is that most of the streams are the same, regardless of service.

For example, if you took five services that offered 300 channels, how many total channels would you have? Trick question, because the answer is not 1500 (5 x 300) because all five probably have the same 300 channels. There may be a handful on one service that is not on the others, but it won't be many.

Now we have two drawbacks: duplicate content across services, and commercials. You were already okay with commercials, or you would have stopped reading when I said to. So the duplication of services is the thing.

Is it okay? Well, yeah, probably. If there is a channel that one service has that really means a lot to you, then it's simple: use that service. If that's not the case, then what it really boils down to is: which interface do you like the best?

I like some of the interfaces, and I hate others. The ones that irritate me and that I don't use are those that automatically play content and won't let me change a setting to stop it. I will never never never never never want any service to automatically play content. Never. If the service insists on doing that, I insist on not using the service. Simple as that.

So what are the best services? Well, that's subjective, of course. But here are the ones I like, or think are worth considering:

  • Plex
  • Freevee
  • Sling/Freestream
  • Roku Channel
  • Pluto TV
  • Tubi
  • Xumo Play
  • Crackle
  • Local Now
  • Filmrise
  • Stirr
  • Redbox

Most of these are pretty much the same thing. 100-400 channels of free streaming content. Local Now and Stirr have local TV content, mostly news and weather.

I do not like that Xumo Play, Local Now, Stirr, and Redbox automatically play content when launched. They would be a good one, in my opinion, if they did not auto-play.

Filmrise doesn't have live/linear content -- it's all on-demand -- but it is a good source for free ad-supported content. The others are pretty much the same. Some offer more content, but more isn't always better. They're all good. The ones I use least are the ones that auto-play.

My Streaming Life has a lot of free ad-supported television, and these services are some good ones.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Managing passwords

One of the things that I find most frustrating is people using the same password for everything. "Oh, it's easy for me to do it that way" or some variation is the reason given.

What they don't think about is that it makes it just as easy for hackers. Once they get one, they get them all.

So, having the same password on multiple accounts is a security issue. But here's the thing: managing a separate password for each account is a pain, a huge pain.

A password manager is a good way to keep up with everything. It can generate passwords for you, and keep them all safe and secure for you. Or at least that's the idea. You have to keep your access to a password manager safe, or else you took a bad situation and made it worse. A good, safe, secure password to access your password manager is critical.

But, that's not the only thing. So what's a body to do? Well, knowledge is good. And Rob Braxman is a good source of information about security. Earlier this year, he did a video on password managers. If you're concerned about security, give it a watch.


My Streaming Life involves a lot of passwords, and my password manager (BitWarden) does a good job.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Streaming the Belmont Stakes

There will be no Triple Crown winner this year, as the Kentucky Derby was won by Mage, and the Preakness Stakes was won by National Treasure. However, there is still an interest by horse racing enthusiasts for the individual races, even without the possibility of a Triple Crown winner.

Today is the final race, with the Belmont Stakes airing on Fox. Coverage starts at 4:00 although the actual race is not until 7:00,


  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • DirecTV (Entertainment), $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • Vidgo (Plus), $70/month.
  • YouTube TV, $73/month.
  • Fubo (Pro), $75/month.

Of course, I'm not going to let the opportunity pass to mention Secretariat. That horse hold the record for the fastest time in the Kentucky Derby, in the Preakness Stakes, and in the Belmont Stakes. Not just set the records the year he won those races, but still holds the records to this day. While the 1973 Kentucky Derby and 1973 Preakness Stakes wins were impressive, the 1973 Belmont Stakes was something else altogether. If you have never seen it, this is your opportunity. If you have, you'll want to see it again.

I was please to watch that race live on TV 50 years and one day ago. It's not likely that we'll see anything like that this year, but you never know.

If you want to watch this year's races streaming, you have options. My Streaming Life doesn't normally include watching horse races, but I'll probably peek in about post time. You never know what might happen.

Friday, June 9, 2023

Onn Streaming Box gets it right

Over a month ago, I decided to try the new Onn Streaming Box.

I tried the older Onn Streaming Box back in 2021, and was underwhelmed.

When I read that Walmart was updating the device, I was skeptical. I said I would probably get one -- and I did -- but I also said I wasn't expecting to like it.

I was wrong. I actually do like it. It's a huge improvement over the original Onn Streaming Box.

The remote is pretty much the same, and is still missing a pause button. It's not intuitive for me to press the center button to pause. It's not ideal for me, but I can adapt to it.

The Google TV interface is good. The device is responsive. Most importantly, the device is stable. The original device required a lot of restarts. The new one hasn't skipped a beat.

At $20, it's a great bargain. My Streaming Life is predominately Roku, along with some Fire TV. But the Onn Streaming Box running Google TV is an excellent choice, based on my experience.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Ad supported Prime Video, but with a catch

There is a report in the Wall Street Journal that Amazon is planning to launch an ad-supported version of its Prime Video service. But there is a catch.

You may remember that recently both Netflix and Disney Plus launched ad-supported versions of their services. It involved a new tier at a lower price.

For example, with Netflix, before the ad-supported tier launched, the lowest priced tier was $10/month for the Basic plan. The new "Standard with ads" plan is $7/month. Its limits include not just ads, but some original content is not available on the service.

With Disney Plus, the discount for the ad-supported plan is $3/month as well. The ad-supported plan for Disney Plus is $8/month, while the regular plan is $11/month. There are not restrictions on the content, such as what Netflix has.

Amazon is expected to take a slightly different approach, according to the Wall Street Journal report:

Amazon is discussing a variety of ways it could introduce ads in Prime Video, people familiar with the matter said. One option would be to bring more advertising to existing Prime subscribers and give them an option to pay more for an ad-free alternative and other features, some of the people said. The company is planning for the ad breaks to be short, they said.

That kind of upselling is an approach Amazon has taken recently with its Amazon Music offering: It gave Prime members access to more songs at no additional cost, but took away the option to get most songs on demand unless users opt for a pricier upgrade.

So, the idea is that Amazon would introduce ads, or actually more ads, into the current model. Amazon has ads to a degree already. They are actually promos for other Amazon content, not third-party advertising. This would change, the report says, and you'd start seeing standard commercial advertisements, not just Amazon promos. Then Amazon would offer an extra fee to stop the ads.

This is the opposite approach from Disney Plus and Netflix, where the new tier was a lower price. Amazon would turn the existing service into an ad-supported service, then charge more for an ad-free experience.

My Streaming Life has included Prime Video, but only because I've been an Amazon Prime subscriber since before Prime Video existed. Prime Video has been a bonus for me. And I rarely watch it. If they do introduce more ads, it won't impact me that much, and I won't pay more to omit them.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Paramount Plus discount for military

Paramount Plus is running a special for veterans, whether active duty, retired, or other. It is available to active duty, retirees, reservists and National Guard, veterans, dependents and spouses.

Being a veteran, it looked interesting to me. Getting 20-25% off Paramount Plus sounds interesting.

I don't normally take advantage of military discounts. I'm quite proud of my military service, but as I didn't retire, simply ETSed, I usually don't take advantage of these things. I don't have a card that I carry, and I certainly don't lug around a copy of my DD-214, so should I even try for such things, it's usually them taking me at my word. Things like that bother me, because that puts the merchant at risk of being exploited by someone who is guilty of Stolen Valor.

I didn't do 20 years, and those that did are the ones that are more entitled to the discount. However, Paramount Plus has a verification process, and if they do check, then I'm more likely to take advantage of the offer.

20-25% off for life sounds pretty good. And if you are a veteran or active duty, and you want a discount, you may want to click the link and sign up.

My Streaming Life isn't very expensive, as I don't subscribe to a bunch of services all at once. I'll do one this month, another the next month, and so on. If I did keep a service year-round, Paramount Plus is one that would be on the short list. The ability to get local live CBS, as well as other live CBS/Paramount content is something that is appealing to me.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

CW changes, but does it matter?

CW is changing how it negotiates deals with streaming services. Well, maybe. There is a change, but the change might not lead to a change. Let me explain. Or try. It's can be confusing.

Currently, CW stations negotiate with streaming services at the network level. That is, your local CW affiliate goes along with whatever CW negotiates. They don't have an option. If they are a CW affiliate, they are part of the deal. That's what's changing.

According to reports, CW will allow local stations to opt out of the network negotiations and cut deals themselves. For larger companies that own CW stations, they may do just that. For smaller ones, they may continue to let the network handle the negotiations.

"We, as the owner of The CW, are constructing a new affiliation agreement template that is going to allow affiliates to opt-out of The CW deal with the virtual MVPD and cut their own deal -- or they can opt in to the deal that we have already established for them. But larger companies are going to opt out, because they have other business to do with the virtual MVPDs. The smaller companies are going to say I can't do as well on my own -- going back to the comment I made earlier about distribution -- negotiations are all about scale and leverage," Sook said of the change coming for CW affiliates.

"We can't advocate for this and then put our network hat on and say, not so fast. Will other networks follow The CW's lead? We are hopeful," the Nexstar CEO told the investor conference.

So will this make a difference? For some people, it will. For others, it won't. But for those that opt out of network negotiations and handle it themselves, it could be a return to the days of your local station not being available on a service, just as in the cable TV days. Remember the old days of a scroll across the bottom of the screen saying you may lose the channel soon if you don't call a number and tell them to keep the channel? Welcome back to those fun days.

My Streaming Life doesn't involve a lot of CW, although I do have the app on my devices, and will watch on occasion. I don't use YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, or any other service that carries local channels. This won't impact me. I hope it doesn't impact you.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Streaming the Stanley Cup

Well, dang it. Not only did I miss the start of the NBA finals, I missed the start of the Stanley Cup, the NHL finals.

Mind you, I don't watch basketball or hockey, but a lot of people do. And I'm a bit embarrassed that the professional championship in those sports came and I wasn't ready.

With the first game in the books, the Vegas Golden Knights hold a 1-0 series advantage over the Florida Panthers. Game two is tonight.

If you are a fan of the NHL, you can watch the Stanley Cup without cable.

TNT is broadcasting the series, and you can watch TNT streaming by a few methods.


  • Sling TV (Orange), $40/month.
  • Sling TV (Blue), $40/month.
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue), $55/month.
  • DirecTV (Entertainment), $65/month.
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.
  • YouTube TV, $73/month.
  • Fubo (Pro), $75/month.

You may have noticed that Vidgo ("We are live sports") isn't live sports for the Stanley Cup. Vidgo doesn't carry TNT.

The cheapest way is to get Sling TV, either the Orange or the Blue package. But the overall content of the package may be a reason to pick one of the more expensive packages. My Streaming Life doesn't normally include ice hockey. But if yours does, you have options. Lots of options.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Rethinking subscription rotations

For some time, I've been subscribing to one streaming service a month. A the end of the month, I'd cancel that service, and the next month, subscribe to a different service.

At different times I've had different services in my rotation. Generally, they are:

  • Apple TV+
  • Paramount+
  • Peacock TV
  • Max (formerly HBO Max)
  • Disney+
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • AMC+
  • Starz
  • Prime Video
  • Discovery+

That's a general listing, and they really don't all apply to me. Those were, at the time, the largest services in terms of subscribers. Not in that order, but those were the most popular. I'd probably a few more to the list:

  • Brit Box
  • Frndly TV
  • Showtime

I'm sure I'm missing a couple that should be on the list, but you get the general idea of the apps about which I'm speaking.

With a list such as this, if you subscribed to one a month, it would take over a year. So, my thinking would be to take a couple of the $5/month services, and do two on some months. For the more expensive services, say $10-$15/month, subscribe to just one. For services less than $10, perhaps adding a $5/month service and do two that month.

I've done this for some time, except that I have a couple of variation.

First, I've been an Amazon Prime subscriber since before they offered video services. I'm going to have that anyway, so Prime Video has not been in my rotation.

Next, as an Xfinity Internet subscriber, I got Peacock TV Premium free. That bonus ends later this month, and Peacock will go into rotation.

Then, I've been a regular subscriber to Frndly TV since the service launched. When I decided to rotate services, I couldn't include Frndly TV, since I have an annual subscription. And, when renewal time came, I decided to keep it.

Also, I ended up with AMC+ for an extended subscription. There was an issue subscribing one time a while back, and when everything was finally resolved, I ended up with a multi-year subscription. It expires in November, and AMC+ goes into rotation.

There are two new wrinkles to this as well. I recently ended up with a three-month trial of Apple TV+, and that expires soon. It will go back into rotation then. Paramount+ came out of rotation when it became a perk of Walmart+. So I have that service included in another.

Those six variations keep my process from being pure and simple, but I have been rotating among the others. Except for right now.

Right now, I'm not subscribing to any in my rotation. I'll restart the rotation soon, I expect. But I might not.

Right now, I'm going to simply watch what I have on the free trials and perk/included services. Unless there's something I really really really want to watch, I'll focus on those. My Streaming Life should get along just fine.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Streaming service rotation

A recent article on Cord Cutters News talks about how many cord cutters are cutting back on their streaming services. I'm glad to see more and more people thinking that way.

The article by Kayla Wassell cites a recent study by Parks Associates that says turnover in OTT services is nearly 50%:

Recent reports from Park Associates found that 37 percent of households subscribe to OTT services through a cable provider. The turnover rate for OTT video services has been 47 percent for quite some time now.

"There is so much to talk about – direct subscription has been losing ground to aggregation, and bundling is becoming more important," said Jennifer Kent, Parks Research Associate’s Vice President.

The comments are where there is more direct talk about rotating services. Some of the comments talk about only subscribing to certain services for a period of time. That's one of the things I've done for some time.

I have had Amazon Prime since before it included streaming services, so I don't really count that. I'm going to have it anyway. The streaming part is a bonus, for me anyway.

Other subscription services are something I usually avoid. I have been rotating services for some time. I will subscribe to, say HBO Max (now just Max) for a month, then cancel and subscribe to, say, Paramount Plus for a month. Then Disney Plus for a month. And so on. One service a month. I watch a lot on everything, and pay a lot less than those that subscribe year-round.

Well, I used to. Max recently ended, and I've not picked up a new service for this month. And I might not. I haven't seen anything I really want to watch on one of the subscription services, so I've been in no hurry. And I'm not sure just what I'll try next, or even when I'll try it.

I did not watch much on Max. My Streaming Life is doing fine without a subscription service right now. While that could change at any time, right now, I like keeping my wallet closed.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Streaming the NBA Finals

Well, I missed it. The NBA finals started last night, and the Nuggets took a 1-0 lead. However, there are 3 to 6 more games in the series, and you can watch them streaming.

ABC is broadcasting the series, and you can watch ABC streaming by a few methods.


  • Antenna, over the air, free.
  • DirecTV (Entertainment), $65/month. 
  • Hulu+Live TV, $70.

  • Vidgo 9Plus), $70/month.
  • YouTube TV, $73/month.
  • Fubo (Pro), $75/month.

If you can pick up your local ABC affiliate with an antenna, that's the cheapest way, as you can see. Next cheapest is the DirecTV Entertainment streaming package.

My Streaming Life contains ABC with an antenna, so I am getting by pretty cheaply. If you have an antenna, you're in luck as well. If not, you still have options.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Streaming local channels cheaply

If you have cut the cord, or are thinking about it, you will probably want to pick up local channels. The easiest way is with an antenna. Most people in the U.S. are able to pick up the major network stations with an antenna. Some, such as me, need a large outdoor antenna to get everything, but it's still possible to pick them up.

This isn't true for everybody, however. There are some areas where it is not easy to pick up the major network stations. Some family friends recently moved to an area where it's difficult to pick up the major networks.

They can pick up a local (12 miles away) PBS station, consisting of four channels. They are in range of another station (51 miles) that has Ion, CourtTV, Ion Mystery, Grit, Laff, and a few other shopping and news channels. And that's it. No ABC. No CBS. No Fox. No NBC. No CW.

This isn't common, but it does happen, and it's a problem they're wanting to overcome. But how?

Well, they could subscribe to one of the major live streaming cable-like services:

  • DirecTV ($65)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70)
  • YouTube TV ($73)

There is also Vidgo (ABC, Fox only) ($70) that only carries ABC and Fox. However, there is an option that gets you CBS and NBC local stations for $20/month. How?

Subscribing to both Paramount Plus Premium ($10/month) and Peacock Premium Plus ($10/month) get you those services, ad free, plus local live CBS (Paramount Plus Premium) and NBC (Peacock Premium Plus).

Is that a viable solution? Well, I don't know. Maybe. If I didn't have an antenna, this may be how I'd go for the local channels. It's a lot cheaper than the cheapest major streaming service that includes the channels. True, it's only two of the four, but two is better than none. To get more than those two via streaming, it'll cost a lot more. $20 for the two services is the cheapest way to go.

My Streaming Life has been fortunate to have an antenna as part of it. Not everyone is as fortunate as I.