Thursday, February 22, 2024

Over $900/year on streaming services?

How much are you spending on streaming services?

A recent study indicates that streamers in the U.S. are paying $924/year for streaming services. That's $77/month.

Cord Cutters News reports that the amount is still a lot less than cable:

Bango, which provides software to companies that help them bundle together subscriptions, asked 5,000 people about their streaming habits and found the average person subscribes to 4.5 services ranging from streaming, gaming, news, home tech, and online retailers. The survey found that 10% of participants signed up for more than ten services, while 2% said they had more than 15 accounts. For streaming specifically, 76% said they pay for at least one streaming video-on-demand platform and 13% pay for sports video-on-demand services. Due to recent price hikes roaming across platforms, 57% said they had canceled a subscription, and 67% reported they couldn’t afford all the subscriptions they wanted.

All in all, Bango found people spend an average of $924 a year on subscriptions, or about $77 a month. That’s still less than the average cable TV bill, which is more than $200 a month, a total of $2,640 a year. The study also found that 25% spend $100 a month, while one in twenty pay more than $200 a month – still cheaper than cable TV. Parents tend to spend more on services, averaging $83.40 per month. One in ten parents also sign up for educational subscriptions for their kiddos.

I decided to see what I'm paying. I'm uncertain how to count some stuff, so here are the details. I'm subscribed to a few services:

  • Pub-D-Hub ($7/year, Gold & Gold Plus)
  • Frndly TV ($98/year)
  • Hulu ($8/month, $96/year)
  • Paramount Plus (included with Walmart Plus)
  • Peacock (included with Xfinity)
  • PBS ($120/year donation)
  • Prime Video (included with Amazon Prime)

This works out to $321/year or just under $27/month.

Should I count Prime Video? I mean, I'm not subscribing for the video service, and rarely use the video service. But, if I were to count it, it would be another $139/year.

Should I count Paramount Plus? It's included with Walmart Plus. But, if I paid separately for it, the cost would be $120/year, because I would get the "with Showtime package."

Should I count Peacock TV? It's included with my Xfinity Rewards. If I were to pay for it, the cost would be $120/year, because I would get the Plus package.

If I paid full price for all of those services, that would be $700/year, or just over $58/month.

Of course, if I count them, I should only count half of my PBS donations, since I could donate just $5/month and get PBS Passport. I pledged $10/month a while back, and that's what I do. PBS Passport is a bonus. But, were I to count it, I should only count $60/year.

That drops it to $640/year, or just over $53/month.

Come to think of it, I only actually pay for Hulu for a little over half of the year. I'll suspend the subscription for a few months when I am caught up on all the shows. So, it's really $8/month for 8 months, or $64/year. That brings the total to $608/year, or about $51/month.

My Streaming Life costs less than the average U.S. streamer, however it's calculated. I'm happy about that.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

More are streaming free content

A report from Cord Cutters News says that the number of streamers that are watching free ad supported television (FAST) content is increasing. If the report is accurate, I think this is good. It means streamers are getting more sophisticated in their approach. But first, the "if the report is accurate" part needs some exploring.

The report cites Neilsen ratings in it's top ten streaming platforms for 2024.

Here Are The Top 10 Streaming Services:

  • YouTube: 8.6 percent
  • Netflix: 7.9 percent
  • Prime Video: 2.8 percent
  • Hulu: 2.7 percent
  • Disney+: 1.9 percent
  • Peacock: 1.6 percent
  • Tubi: 1.5 percent
  • Max: 1.3 percent
  • Roku Channel: 1.1 percent
  • Paramount+: 09 percent
  • Pluto TV: 0.7 percent

*Note: YouTube is for the main site not YouTube TV and Hulu is for the video-on-demand not the live TV service.

Here's the catch: the story cited and linked, as least as I write this, is from June 2023. That's nearly eight months ago. While it does show an increase over previous ratings, eight months is a long time, and the trend may not be holding.

For now, let's assume the data holds and the conclusion is accurate. If so, that is good news as I see it.

It means that more people aren't simply looking for cable in a streaming environment. When I broke free of cable, I got and enjoyed a new way to watch TV. I don't want that to go away. I want something different from cable. YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu+Live TV, DirecTV streaming, and other platforms are simply cable TV repackaged as streaming. In fact, Sling TV is owned by Dish, and DirecTV streaming is exactly what the name says it is: DirecTV streaming.

The other bit of good that I see is that people are discovering that it's not necessary to pay to watch good content. I dropped Netflix because there isn't content I want to pay for. Same with the other pay services. I'll occasionally rotate services around, subscribing to one a month, but I'm not even doing that anymore. I've found enough to watch for free.

My Streaming Life started as a way to pay less for watching TV. It's continued to be that for me, and it appears it's becoming more of that for others as well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Should I recommend not getting cable?

A friend just moved to the area from a large city. She's a family friend, actually, that I met through the family (of course). She lived in the Washington DC area and I've visited her house there with family. She's moved from that area to southeast Georgia recently. As in within the last week. She's setting up house, getting things organized, and making the adjustment from DC to SE GA.

During a conversation this past weekend, she mentioned in passing that she doesn't have Wi-Fi, which I took to mean she did not have Internet at her new house. At least, not yet.

When we visited her, we didn't watch any TV, so I don't know if she had cable or not. Or satellite or not. I don't know what she had.

Anyway, her comment that she didn't have Internet got me to thinking. Should I ask her about her plans for TV? Maybe she just doesn't watch TV. Maybe she loves satellite TV. Maybe she's a fan of cable.

Whatever her preference is, that's her preference and what works for her. I should not insert myself into that part of her life. I mean, yes, she's a friend, hugs me when I see her, and is a person I genuinely like. But we've never watched TV together and I don't know her TV likes and dislikes.

You see, just because I'm into streaming, and have been for over a dozen years, doesn't mean that what works for me will work for her. I'm experienced and knowledgeable and can answer questions about streaming options. I know devices, services, and equipment. I know ways to save money and find ways to watch the content you want to watch.

What I'm not able to do is tell you what's best for you. Only you can do that. And that goes for my friend. If she has questions, I can answer them. I can help her setting up anything she wants. But I can't suggest she not get cable.

I can help her compare the prices of cable against streaming. I can help her find the services that offer the content she wants. I can help. But I can't interfere.

My Streaming Life works for me. If she wants help with hers, I'm here for her.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Washington's Birthday (2024)

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

Today is Washington's Birthday.

Okay, it's not the actual anniversary of the day George Washington was born. That's coming up on Thursday, the 22nd. But today is a national holiday, and that holiday is called "Washington's Birthday."

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

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

You may not be able to see it clearly in that image, but at the bottom, it says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Privacy is important, maybe more important than you realize

Is privacy important to you? Most people don't think so. "I don't have anything to hide" is a common phrase. And maybe you don't. But it's really not that simple.

Naomi Brockwell has some thoughts on privacy.

[YouTube]

My Streaming Life involves streaming devices that report more information than I like. While I would prefer more privacy, I am aware of what's going on, and at least know the consequences of my actions. I'm not blind to it. Maybe you aren't either.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time for another app cleanup

From time to time, I'll reexamine the apps on my streaming devices and find some to remove.

It doesn't really hurt to leave apps I don't use on the devices, but I prefer a cleaner experience. So, I decided to look at the apps and see what could be removed.

I have the Sling app, but that's for when I subscribe to Sling TV for ESPN during college football season. I should remove it.

ESPN was only used with the Sling TV credentials during football season. It's now been removed.

Xumo Play is another I don't use. I actually don't like it, since it plays content without my pressing "Play" and there's no way to turn it off. There is no option to disable Autoplay or Auto Preview. So, yeah, it's now removed.

Netflix was to watch Dave Chappelle last month. I canceled at the end of the month, but never removed the app. Well, I have now.

YouTube Music isn't used on my streaming device, so it's now cleaned off.

Starz is one that I'm still waiting on the subscription to run out. I'm keeping it for now, but it'll go away in a few months.

I rarely watch Kanopy, but I want to keep it. So, I'm keeping it. Maybe I'll actually use it again soon.

I haven't used Redbox in quite some time, so it's now been removed.

I really should remove Pluto TV, Roku Channel (from non-Roku devices), and Tubi. I rarely watch them.

CW is another I rarely use. I need to look around more on that app and decide if I want to keep it. I'll probably remove it, just not yet.

Disney Plus isn't used, so it goes away.

Max was still on one of my devices, even though the subscription ended a while back. It's gone now.

Same for Brit Box. Haven't subscribed in a while, so the app is now gone.

Likewise Curiosity Stream.

Stirr is still on one device. Make that "was" on one device.

Filmrise hasn't been used in ages. It's now gone.

Same for Local Now.

I should probably remove Crackle, since I don't watch it. I will, just not yet. Not sure why not.

My Streaming Life doesn't utilize these apps and services, but they are taking up space on my streaming devices. Or were. It's nice to clean things up every so often.


Friday, February 16, 2024

She lost the remote

My Special Lady did something unexpected the other day. She lost the remote to her Chromecast.

She's not one that often does stuff like that. I mean, she actually lost the remote. Not simply misplaced it and found it later. She actually turned the house inside out looking for it. It's gone. Missing. Nowhere to be found.

So, what to do?

Well, the easy answer is to replace the remote. So, how much does one cost?

That's not easy to answer, because it depends on where you buy it, and from who you buy it.

Google sells the Chromecast remotes for $20. There are compatible remotes on Amazon for the same price, but would arrive sooner.

There were even other remotes for a lower price, but not that much lower in price.

So, spend $20, right? Well, yes, but not in the way we discussed. I simply spent $20 for the new Walmart Onn Streaming Box. That gave me a comparable Google TV device, but a 4K/UHD one rather than a standard HD device.

It also meant that I didn't need to wait on it to be shipped, since Walmart had the device in stock.

I don't like not having the remote, and I don't like having a useless Chromecast, but I did what I think was best to resolve it. I got an entire device for the same price as the remote.

My Streaming Life doesn't often run into issues of missing or defective items, but every now and then, things happen. This happened, but now it's fixed.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Best free streaming video services

If you've cut the cord, or are thinking about cutting the cord, you may have wondered how you watched TV for free without an antenna. Well, an antenna is a great thing to get, if you live close enough to stations to easily install one. But not everyone can or wants to do that. I would suggest that a reconsideration is in order, as the benefits of an antenna are great. But still, what about without an antenna?

There are a number of free streaming video services. Many of them have live streaming, as well as on demand. But which are the best?

Consumer Reports recently (late 2023) had an article on that. It's an interesting read, and gives good information about a number of services. And, of course, Consumer Reports (yes, I'm a member) is based on actual consumer reviews. Generally. You'll see what I mean shortly.

If you can't read the entire article (some can be read for free, others require a membership; I'm not certain which this is), or just want the summary, here are the top services:

  • Amazon Freevee
  • Amazon Fire TV Channels
  • Crackle
  • Hoopla and Kanopy
  • Peacock
  • Pluto TV
  • Redbox
  • The Roku Channel
  • Sling Freestream
  • Tubi
  • Vix
  • WBTV
  • Xumo Play

They also have more free streaming services for you to consider. I am bothered by the inclusion of WBTV, as there are no actual consumers of that, since it hasn't launched. Also, as I don't speak Spanish, I haven't watched Vix. But Vix doesn't bother me, of course, just WBTV. That seems wrong.

My Streaming Life uses a lot of free services. You should consider them as well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Valentine's Day movies to stream

As much as I am a big streamer -- I've been streaming exclusively for over 13 years -- I haven't been big on streaming for Valentine's Day.

Christmas movies? Sure. Hallowe'en horror movies? Yep. Valentine's Day? Not so much.

I don't know why that is, and maybe I need to change that. Well, there's a list by Good Housekeeping that might be a good place to start:

  1. Valentine's Day
  2. Sylvie's Love
  3. 50 First Dates
  4. The Sun Is Also a Star
  5. The Perfect Find
  6. Moonstruck
  7. Waiting to Exhale
  8. Long Live Love!
  9. Your Place or Mine
  10. Brown Sugar

There are 40 more to check out.

My Streaming Life doesn't involve streaming Valentine's Day movies, but maybe that'll change by next year.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Amazon cripples ad-supported tier

Recently, Amazon started showing ads on it's Prime Video service. They will remove the ads if you pay $3/month. But now there is word that Amazon has removed some functionality of the standard (now ad-free) plan.

According to Forbes, Amazon has dropped visual and audio quality for subscribers:

... the Prime Video with ads tier also denies subscribers the previously available benefits of Dolby Vision high dynamic range pictures and Dolby Atmos sound.

So as well as having to put up with adverts on a subscription they may well have taken out months ago out with no expectation that ads would be involved, basic tier subscribers now find that they also no longer get the same potential premium picture and sound performance features they once had.

This is just dirty. It says a lot about the character of the decision makers at Amazon.

My Streaming Life doesn't utilize Prime Video much, so I'm not really impacted, at least not much. Still, it's a bad thing that Amazon has done. And as soon as Walmart Plus gets the kinks worked out of its shipping, I'm done with Amazon Prime.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Best streaming services that aren't as well known

Tom's Guide had an article recently that I found interesting. I didn't necessarily agree with it, but I did find it interesting.

The article was titled "5 best streaming services you've never heard of" and covered some specialty services. I was familiar with four of them.

Whether you're a cinephile yearning for meticulously curated cinematic masterpieces, a thrill-seeker immersed in the spine-chilling allure of horror films, or love the world of Asian dramas and animation, these niche streaming services all have libraries that you might just want to check out!

The article then listed them, along with descriptions. Here are the names of the five:

  • Shudder
  • Crunchyroll
  • Rakuten Viki
  • BroadwayHD
  • MUBI

None are really my cup of tea. MUBI is the one that is of most interest to me, but I won't pay $15/month for it. Oh, the one with which I was not familiar? BroadwayHD. Again, not really my cup of tea. But one or more of them might be yours.

For years, I've thought the best service that isn't well known is actually a free one, though they have a paid version: Pub-D-Hub. Yes, it's public domain content. But it's an excellent place for lots of content. And while it's free, the paid versions -- Gold and Gold+ -- are less than $1/month combined, paid yearly.

The only bad thing about Pub-D-Hub is that it's only available on Roku and Fire TV. No Apple TV or Google/Android TV.

My Streaming Life has used Pub-D-Hub for several years. I've tried MUBI but didn't keep it. It wasn't the content, it was the cost. I wouldn't watch enough of it to make it worthwhile. But you might. And try out Pub-D-Hub while you're at it, if it is supported on your platform.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Watching the NFL postseason: Super Bowl 58

The NFL playoffs concluse today with the NFL championship game, Super Bowl 58 (LVIII). Four teams remain, two in each conference, including the top seeds hosting the games.

The Game

The two teams have met in the post-season just once. Since they're in different conferences, they could only meet in the Super Bowl. In 2020 (2019 season), Kansas City beat San Francisco 31-20 in Super Bowl 54. They have met 14 other times, with the teams splitting at 7 games apiece.

Super Bowl 58, the NFL Championship

  • Kansas City (AFC champions) vs San Francisco (NFC champions). CBS

How to watch

The various networks carrying the games are available to streamers in several different ways.

CBS

  • Antenna (free)
  • Paramount Plus (Premium) $12/month
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Fubo (Pro) ($75/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)

My Streaming Life does not often involve professional football, particularly NFL games. But, there is no denying the popularity of the NFL. If you want to watch the Super Bowl and are a streamer, or if you're thinking about becoming a streamer, maybe this will let you know just what you would need to do to watch the game.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Microsoft pushing Windows 11

It took about 4 years for Windows 10 to surpass Windows 7 as the top version of Microsoft's operating system. It's been around 2½ years since Windows 11 was released, and it's lagging behind Windows 10 having 2½ times the users of Windows 11. That's how it goes. Microsoft doesn't like that, however, and is pushing Windows 11 hard.

[YouTube]

One of the biggest reasons people aren't upgrading is that Windows 11 requires more updated hardware than many users have. They'll have to buy a new computer, or purchase extended support for Windows 10. Or, and hear me out on this, switch to another operating system. ChromeOS is a good choice for extending the life of outdated computer hardware. Linux is also a good choice to extend hardware life.

My Streaming Life uses Windows to drive my Plex server. It's still running Windows 10, but it is upgradable to Windows 11. If it was not, I would install Linux.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Plex rentals

This week, reports came that Plex now had a movie rental store available within its app. I checked it out -- no, I didn't rent anything, just looked it over -- and sure enough, you can rent movies through Plex.

I'll say up front that I don't see myself taking advantage of this. At least, not much. I don't often rent movies, unless it's something I really want to see, and it's not available on a streaming service I am subscribed to at the time. Rarely have I rented movies, but I have. If it's not a "watch with subscription" movie, I'll usually buy it when it goes on sale, either for a price similar or cheaper than the rental cost.

However, I could see times that I would rent a movie. So, this may be something I try.

As you can see, it's a pretty standard layout. There isn't anything special about Plex movie rentals as far as I can tell. However, as the next picture shows, they seem to be fair when it comes to offereing how to get the films.

When I looked at "Barbie" for instance, the first option wasn't Plex rental. It was watch with a subscription to Max. And, there were otehr rental options listed as well. They aren't quite so in your face as other streaming services. I like that.

My Streaming Life doesn't often involve rentals. But I now have one more option when I do rent a movie. And more choices is better.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

New ESPN/Fox/Warner sports service coming

ESPN, Fox, and Warner have teamed up to start a new sports streaming service. The service will carry the major sports leagues, including NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, as well as college basketball and football.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the service will launch later this year:

The as-yet-unnamed service will be offered directly to consumers, who would be able to stream all of these companies’ sports content, the companies said in a statement, following a report in The Wall Street Journal about the new venture.

Each of the companies will have one-third ownership of the new service, which is expected to launch in the fall. The companies didn’t announce pricing.

The chief executives of Fox, Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney -- ESPN's majority owner -- said the new offering would increase choice for fans and give a new sports-centric service to those who have cut the cord to traditional pay-TV.

I've been wanting a service that offered major sports apart from cable. Now, it looks like we'll have it. My Streaming Life could get a lot better this fall.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

YouTube TV is now the largest live TV streaming service

Quick, what's the largest live TV streaming service? If you said "YouTube TV" then you either are very smart, or you read the title of this article.

Figures released recently show that YouTube TV now has over 8-million subscribers. YouTube's CEO Neal Mohan wrote a blog post recently that included that bit of information:

We’re also seeing growing consumer interest in our subscription services. We’re excited to announce that we have more than 8 million subscribers to YouTube TV. And we passed 100 million Music and Premium subscribers, including trials. Music subscriptions help us deliver on our goal to be the best place for artists to connect with fans, from insider access to Coachella to Shorts challenges with NewJeans, Dua Lipa, Tate McRae, and more.

The 8-million subscribers total is the most of any live TV streaming service, according to Cord Cutters News:

With this jump, YouTube TV has nearly doubled the subscribers of Hulu + Live TV, the next largest TV service. This news comes as YouTube TV successful used its NFL Sunday Ticket exclusivity to help drive up subscribers. To help keep customers, YouTube TV has also been rolling out new improvements...

My Streaming Live rarely uses a live TV streaming service. I'll subscribe during football season to get ESPN, but that's it. The rest of the year, I don't need the live TV content. But, it seems a lot of people do want the services. I will say that if I used one of those services, YouTube TV probably be the one.

Hulu and password sharing

An email sent to Hulu subscribers this past week indicates the service is beginning to crack down on password sharing.

On January 31, this showed up in my email:

We're Updating Our Subscriber Agreement

We wanted to let you know that we are making some updates to our Subscriber Agreement.

These terms will apply as of January 25, 2024 for new subscribers. For prior and existing subscribers, like you, these terms will be effective beginning on March 14, 2024, unless you acknowledge an in-app notice of these changes earlier. Until then, the terms of our prior agreement apply.

We encourage you to review the updated Subscriber Agreement in full and save a copy for your files. Once effective, it will govern your use and enjoyment of your Hulu subscription. We are as committed as ever to making sure you have an enjoyable streaming experience. Please visit our Help Center for more information about your subscription.

We have highlighted some of the changes for your reference:

  • We're adding limitations on sharing your account outside of your household, and explaining how we may assess your compliance with these limitations.
  • We're updating aspects of our dispute resolution policies, including terms related to choice of law and updates to the arbitration agreement to be more specific about the procedures for resolving any disputes relating to your subscription and our services, and to offer you the choice to “opt out” of resolving disputes through arbitration.

Thank you,
The Hulu Team

So, what does this mean? What changed?

Both the old terms and new terms state:

c. Restrictions on Your Use of the Services. You agree that as a condition of your license, you may not and agree not to:

share your login credentials with third parties;

So it already says no password sharing? Yes, it already said that. But you know people. And so does Hulu. They added the following:

m. Account Sharing. Unless otherwise permitted by your Service Tier, you may not share your subscription outside of your household. “Household” means the collection of devices associated with your primary personal residence that are used by the individuals who reside therein. Additional usage rules may apply for certain Service Tiers. For more details on our account sharing policy, please visit our Help Center.

So, either some people played stupid, or actually were stupid, when it came to the rules for no password sharing. This is stupid language for stupid people.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not taking up for Disney vs the little guy. But, they are the content owners and service providers. Yes, I give them my money, but they do get to set the rules. If I don't like the rules, I don't have to subscribe to their service.

My Streaming Life has included Hulu since I dropped cable in early 2011. Hulu is cheap, with the price now at $7/month. I haven't shared my password, and don't plan to. This policy change doesn't impact me at all. But if it impacts you, maybe you should ask yourself why.

Monday, February 5, 2024

Onn 4K Streaming Box

In 2021, I bought and tested the Walmart Onn Streaming Box. It went poorly.

Last year, Walmart released an updated Onn 4K Streaming Box. That went well. In fact, I like the devices so well that I plan to add them to TVs that don't have a Google TV interface available. The $20 price is $30 less than the 4K/UHD Chromecast device, and has the same functionality.

Okay, I said I like it, and that's true, but I didn't give many details of what I like. I'll do some of that now.

First, the box comes with everything you need.

Besides the device itself, the remote, alkaline batteries, and the power cord, there is also an HDMI cable and double-sided adhesive tape.

The thing I don't like about the device is that it's so small and lightweight, that the stiffness of the HDMI and power cables can keep the device from sitting flat. The double-sided tape can be used to keep it attached to a shelf, or better, the back of a TV. It's not a stick, but it can be out of sight like a stick.

If the device was heavier or larger, it might not be possible to mount it so easily. The Roku Ultra device is larger and heavier, and there are third-party mounts that can be purchased for around $20. Or, you can buy a pack of adhesive strips from Roku for $3. Yes, that's cheaper, but Walmart includes the necessary adhesive tape. No extra cash, no extra waiting.

Another thing I don't like is that the HDMI cable and power connection are on opposite sides. That means there is no "back" to the device. Either one comes out the front and the other the back, or they come out the left and right sides. Either is awkward. Unless you mount it to the back of the TV, in which case it doesn't matter.

So, those two things I don't like about it, are actually pluses. There is one other thing I don't like about it: the USB connection is USB mini, not USB-C. It's really not a big deal, and I assume cheaper. If so, that keeps the price down. So, that might actually be a plus as well.

Now the things I like. Well, it's a Google TV interface. I like the interface. Roku's is simple, and easy, and great. But Google TV is pretty darn good. It's a busier interface, similar to that of Fire TV, but it's better done than Fire TV. It's different from Roku's, but it's good. So the interface is a positive.

The remote is good. I actually like it better than the Chromecast remote. I like it as well as the Roku remote, which has traditionally been my favorite.

Setup is easy. You simply use the Google Home app (available on Android and iOS) to set it up. It's easy and well done. It walks you through the setup, and suddenly you're done and have a working Google TV device.

Now, if you don't like the Google TV interface, you won't like the Onn 4K Streaming Box -- or Google Chromecast, for that matter. But if you do, the device works well and setup is as easy as it is for Chromecast.

My Streaming Life has used primarily Google TV for the last several months. The Walmart Onn 4K Streaming Box is a very good streaming device at a great price.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Watching the NFL postseason: The Pro Bowl Games

The NFL playoffs are not done. There is still the NFL Championship, Super Bowl 58 (or LVIII, if you like their silly Roman numberals thing). But that's next weekend. Today, it's the all star game, called the Pro Bowl. The best players of the AFC and the NFC square off in Orlando. Well, the best players that could be bothered with playing. Players from the two Super Bowl teams won't be playing. And a lot of otehrs that would qualigy have opted out. But still, it's pro football with a lot of starts. Well, sort of pro football.

It's a bunch of pro football players who have been playing a lot of activities, including dodgeball, and the championships are this afternoon. Oh, along with a flag football game.

The Game

The Pro Bowl Games championships and flag football game are today.

  • AFC vs NFC. ABC, ESPN, ESPN+

How to watch

The various networks carrying the games are available to streamers in several different ways.

ABC

  • Antenna (free)
  • Sling TV (8 markets only) ($45/month)
  • Vidgo (Plus) ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Fubo (Pro) ($75/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)

ESPN

  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Vidgo (Plus) ($70/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Fubo (Pro) ($75/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)

ESPN+

  • ESPN+ (standalone) ($10/month)
  • Disney Bundle ($15/month)

My Streaming Life does not often involve professional football, particularly NFL games. And dodgeball isn't my thing. But, there is no denying the popularity of the NFL, even when it's not playing football. If you want to watch the pro bowl games and are a streamer, or if you're thinking about becoming a streamer, maybe this will let you know just what you would need to do to watch the NFL.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Paying Amazon to remove ads doesn't remove all ads

Some people are getting upset because Amazon has added ads to Prime Video, and are asking for $3/month to remove those ads.

Some that are paying the money are upset that they are still getting ads. I hate to say it, but Amazon is correct about still showing ads. The problem is that people assume things they shouldn't assume.

Of course, the bigger problem is that Amazon started showing ads as a hidden way to increase the price of their service. Getting $140/year isn't enough for them, it seems.

Here is why I'm saying that Amazon is correct in still showing ads. Follow me on this, if you initially disagree.

Amazon had places that had ads already. They recently added ads to their Prime Video service, but have always had ads on Freevee (formerly IMDB TV) and other free streaming channels. If Amazon hadn't made their recent change, you would not have ads on the Prime Video content, but you would have ads on Freevee and similar services.

Now, Amazon has added ads to Prime Video, and want to charge you $3/month to remove those ads. And they will remove the newly-added ads, but you'll still get the ones you always got.

So, technically, Amazon is correct in not removing all the ads. But I really don't like them adding ads to start with. They are catching flack because of this whole removing ads but not removing ads.

My Streaming Life doesn't often use Prime Video, so this isn't really a problem for me. But I hate what they've done to those that use the service a lot.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Verizon's nationwide home 5G Internet isn't nationwide

I saw an announcement from Cord Cutters News yesterday that Verizon had launched a new nationwide 5G home Internet service.

I knew Verizon had service available in many places, and was waiting on it to become available everywhere. When I saw that article, I thought to myself, "Self, you should check this out."

This morning, I did. And I learned something. Nationwide service isn't available nationwide.

I know that, because I live in the nation. My state was one of the 13 original states when this nation became a nation. Nationwide should cover this part of the nation. It's not like Georgia just became part of the nation. No state has been part of the nation longer. Well, unless you are Verizon. Or Total by Verizon.

The prepaid carrier, which is available in hundreds of stores throughout the country or online, will be offering the service, which costs $50 a month, or $45 if you sign up for its auto-pay discount. The company touts unlimited data and download speeds of up to 200 Mbps.

The move follows in the footsteps of T-Mobile, which expanded its 5G home internet service to its prepaid arm, Metro. By expanding its distribution to Total, the company is expanding its potential base of customers beyond people who look at Verizon as a service provider. Prepaid services like Total typically cater to customers with lower credit scores and are looking for better deals on their wireless service.

If only they included me.

I do like my Comcast (Xfinity) Internet service. But I want options. The pricing of this plan is in line, and would seem to be a viable option. If they offered it "nationwide" like they say.

My Streaming Life will continue to ride Comcast for a while yet.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Watching with no subscriptions

I will occasionally subscribe to a streaming service. For a while, I've been subscribing to one streaming service a month, and changing out each month to a different service. That way, I could watch the content from several services, but not pay the cost of all of those services each month.

That way has been a good way to stream. Only, I've noticed something over time. I would subscribe to a service, then not watch anything on the service. The reason that happened is that my process was to subscribe to a service at the start of the month, then toward the end of the month, set a reminder to cancel, and do that before the month ended.

Then, at the start of the next month, I'd subscribe to another service. And the cycle would repeat. And that was a pretty good way to do things, except that I would sometimes subscribe because it was time to, but never watch the service. This wouldn't happen all the time, but it would happen sometimes.

Then, I decided to subscribe, set a reminder, cancel when it was time, but then not subscribe to another service until there was something I wanted to watch on it. And I found that I would go a while before subscribing.

Things didn't go quite so smooth, though, as there have been subscriptions to services for longer than a month. For example, a service, say Starz, would offer a heckuva deal for subscribing. As I had budgeted $15/month for services, these promotions would have a really good price for 3-6 months, and when a family member said "I'd watch that" then I would take advantage of the special pricing and subscribe. It was more than $15, but not a lot more. And it covered multiple months.

Well, wouldn't you know it, but the service would often not get used. So, now I'm keeping my mouth shut, not asking "would you watch that?" to anyone, and simply subscribing when I find something I want, or am asked about some content.

I've canceled or suspended subscriptions on everything, and I'm now waiting on services to end. When that happens, my plan is to not subscribe to anything. I want to see how long I can go like that.

I'm thinking I can go that way for a while. My Streaming Life hasn't used the pay services much over the last year, so I'm about to make that official. No subscriptions. Let's see how long I can go.