Saturday, April 9, 2022

True Crime TV

I've never watched True Crime TV. That's not a cable channel -- I don't think it's a cable channel, and I'm too lazy to check -- but a genre, a type of show. There are comedies, mysteries, drama, "reality" (which is as real as professional wrestling), westerns, teen, romance, and a whole slew of others. And of of those others is True Crime.

Why have I never watched it? Because I have no interest in it. I remember how popular Unsolved Mysteries was, and how popular many other shows such as 48 Hours, America's Most Wanted, The People vs. O. J. Simpson, Forensic Files, New Detectives, and so many more were and are. But I don't get it.

Some of the shows actually served a good purpose. America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries did bring some crimes to the attention of the public, and some led to arrests. So good for them. But, and I could be wrong, my impression is that many of the shows today are simply sensational versions of the truth. The truth may not be front and center. The truth may not even be in the room. The truth may not even be in the same state. TV networks lie about news, so I have no doubt they lie about "true" crime shows.

And maybe "lie" is a strong word. Perhaps exaggeration, omissions, and such aren't really lies. But here's the secret. They are. A lie is a lie no matter how it's executed.

So, True Crime isn't something I've cared about watching. If they fictionalized the stories -- which I just said they already do -- then maybe I'd watch it. Like professional wrestling, they aren't fully straight and truthful, but use their talents in storytelling to be entertaining. If they get it right, it's totally by accident. Oh, and I'm not talking about wrestling with that last sentence. I suspect wrestling is closer to the truth than most True Crime TV.

Some people really love it. They are True Crime junkies. And I am not going to criticize them for that. I was a TV news junkie at one time. And like True Crime junkies, I believed a lot of what I saw on TV. But now I know better. It's not real, and I'm not going to pretend it is.

If you're a True Crime TV junkie, that's fine. You have lots of options when it comes to watching those kind of shows. But keep in mind that it's entertainment first, and truth when it's convenient. And if you enjoy those shows and make them a part of your Streaming Life, then you're living in the right era.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Too many streaming services

A study by a group called Interpret says that one in five streaming subscribers think they subscribe to too many services. The main focus of the report is actually talking about something we touched on this week: aggregation of content.

We touched on OneFlix and Plex promoting aggregation with new apps or updates to apps. In that article, I thought that the Plex offering is better for streamers, because it's available on streaming devices, while OneFlix is limited to mobile devices, at least for now.

Well, this study by Interpret says that one in three streamers want better aggregation.

Among subscribers to streaming services, fully one-third express an interest in being able to manage and search for their available content from one place. Consumers want aggregation services to help remove pain points from the subscription process. They also expect bundled offerings to deliver greater value, as well as to improve account management, discovery, and content recommendation functionality.

And while I understand that, and how that would be the focus because anyone that can do that can get more eyeballs, and more ad revenue. But the thing that is of interest to me is that one in five think they are already spending too much money on too many streaming services.

Interpret’s study, The Future of OTT Aggregation, reveals that US viewers subscribe to an average of 4-5 SVOD services, and the majority also access multiple ad-supported or ad-funded on-demand services. That’s a lot of content to navigate and manage, and over 20% of US consumers agree that they “subscribe to too many video streaming services.”

I think that simply means that 20% realize it, and that up to 80% are doing it but not yet realizing it. I truly think most people can do better with how they subscribe to services.

And this isn't new. There have been studies in past years about the same thing, with similar results.

For a while, I've said streamers need to question if they really need a live streaming service, and if they really want one, if they are getting the best value for their money.

Now, to be sure, a number of streamers are getting exactly what they want, whether they spend a little, like me, or if they spend a lot, like I used to. I'm fully aware that what works for me doesn't mean it works for someone else. But the study does show that a good number think they spend too much.

If you want to spend less, check and see if that live streaming service is really providing you the content you want. Can you get the same or similar content cheaper?

And these smaller on-demand packages? Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max -- all the Plus and Max services -- may have what you want, but do you really need to subscribe all year to all services? Can you skip around? Can you get by subscribing to just one this month, and another one next month, and a still different one the following month, and so on? I have settled on doing it that way, and still get to watch what I want, but pay a fraction of what others pay for the same services. I just don't have them all at the same time.

If you have too many streaming services, you are not alone. More people think they have too many, and if you can find a way to save some money, that's a very good thing. I enjoy my Streaming Life better knowing I'm saving money. And you can too.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Streaming The Masters

I'm not into golf. My son is. And I have a grandson that is as well. One of his grandmothers posted a picture on Facebook of him at a driving range this week. They went to Jacksonville, and he had a blast.

So, while I would post what I am today anyway, it's a little extra fun for me knowing my son and at least one grandson would have an interest in this topic.

The Masters is this week. Starts today, in fact. And if you're a streamer, you have some options for watching one of the premiere gold tournaments.

The first two rounds will be on ESPN with additional coverage on ESPN+. The final two rounds will be on CBS.

If you're a streamer, you're in luck.


  • Sling TV (Orange) ($35/month)
  • Vidgo TV ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

ESPN+ is an standalone service that is $7/month. It does not include the standard ESPN content.


  • Antenna (Free)
  • Paramount+ ($10/month)
  • YouTube TV ($65/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($70/month)
  • Fubo TV ($70/month)
  • DirecTV Stream ($70/month)

If golf is something you want in your Streaming Life, you have plenty of options to watch one of the most prestigious tournaments, starting today.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Finding what to watch

For a while, streaming platforms have been implementing ways to find what it is you want to watch. If you're like me, you don't really care what service and app carries certain content, just that the content you want is available ... and it's easy to find. It's that "easy to find" part that is hard.

Roku search was one of the best early ways to find content. Roku was service independent. They didn't care where it was, if their database had the content you wanted, it pointed you to it, or the multiple apps/services that had your content. Then Roku began doing what the others did and started featuring content from their streaming service, the Roku Channel.

Of course it makes sense to feature your carrying of the content. If a movie you want is on Roku Channel and on Xumo, for instance, Roku would rather you watch it on their service so they get the ad hits and more ad revenue.

Amazon did this a lot right out of the chute. Fire TV is essentially the Amazon Prime Video app with all the other apps being available, but not really featured. And Google did the same thing with Android/Google TV. They featured their content above other services and apps carrying the same content.

Now, to be sure, Amazon didn't hide other services/apps that carried the content you wanted. Neither did Google. And, when Roku began doing that -- to a lesser degree, but still doing it -- there was no truly independent way of finding content.

This week, a couple of Websites had articles on a couple of services that are taking another stab at being an independent resource of finding streaming content. One is called OneFlix, and it has information from some of the major streaming services.

Citing the need to help users find content instead of spending their time searching for it Oneflix pulls together the content from Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, and Paramount+ into one interface that puts the content from the most well-known streaming services in one place.

The big drawback is that this is for tablets, not set top streaming devices or sticks.

Also, another service says they're going some of the same thing. But this is available on streaming devices. Because it's Plex that is doing it.

And with our unified Watchlist, now you can keep a single, central list that covers what you might want to watch on any service. So, instead of a watchlist on your HBO Max account and your Amazon Prime service and your FXNow service, you just add it all to your Plex Watchlist. And what’s better, when you add Beavis and Butt-Head Do America to your list, we’ll always know where you can watch it when you’re ready—because it was on Hulu when you added it but who knows what service(s) it’s on now (oh that’s right, we do!).

Since Plex has is own content with ads, will they focus on theirs, as other services have? Will they actually present others with the same emphasis? They say they will.

Yep. We will tell you that too. Even if it means sending you to one of our many well-funded competitors. Because again, our mission is to serve you and your needs. While we have a great amount of free movies, shows and other content (over 50,000, titles last we counted) and over 250 free Live TV channels that we think you’ll love, we’re smart enough to realize that it’s a big universe out there, and the heart wants to watch what the heart wants to watch. So again, our goal is to support your viewing experience, no matter where it takes you. You can trust that the results we are providing you with are the most accurate ones around.

If they mean it, and follow through on this, we may have found our Holy Grail. So now I'll update my Plex app then search for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and see if I have indeed found it, in both respects.

If Plex follows through, or if OneFlix develops an app for Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, etc., then we'll have a couple of good options in our Streaming Lives.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Fubo TV price changes aren't actually price changes

If you currently subscribe to Fubo TV on the $65/month plan, your price is going up on May 1. But there is not a price change. Let me say that again. If you're on the $65/month Fubo TV plan, you'll be paying more after May 1st, but Fubo TV is not raising prices.

How in the world are they managing that? Well, it's quite simple, really. They're doing away with the $65/month Starter plan, and moving all those subscribers to the $70/month Pro plan.

The Pro plan is already $70/month, and has been for a little while. But they're doing away with the smaller plan, and moving you to the higher plan. The Starter plan, the $65/month plan, is going away.

Now, you don't have to accept the move. You can simply cancel Fubo TV and pay nothing.

The bottom line is that if you're on the Starter ($65/month) plan, you'll pay more, because you get moved to an existing, and more expensive, plan.

That leaves YouTube TV as the final $65/month live streaming subscription service, the cheapest one with the four major network local channels.

Vidgo is still $55/month, but it only carries ABC and Fox locals. No NBC or CBS.

Sling TV is still $35/month, but no local channels, except in limited markets. Probably not yours. Certainly not mine.

Philo is still $25/month, but no locals.

Frndly.TV is still $7/month, and no locals.

So you certainly have options. If local channels are a must, and if  you don't have an antenna, within a month, YouTube TV will be the cheapest option.

If you do have an antenna, or can put one up, then you have even cheaper options.

Streaming is getting more expensive. Everything is getting more expensive. I'll blame much of the high inflation on the policies of the government. Of course, elections have consequences. This is one of them. But I do not blame the rise in streaming services on the government. I think that'll come, but this isn't it.

Your Streaming Life is getting more expensive, and it's more and more important that you look at what you're spending your money on and why. I'm staying on top of my expenses. I want to keep as much of my hard earned money as I can.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Beatles Rarities

This isn't really about streaming, but it came up because of streaming. Specifically, my Plex server setup, which not only includes my movie, TV, and video shorts collections, but also includes my music collection.

I don't have all of my music in Plex just yet. That's not really a priority, but I have some artists collections in Plex. Only three at the moment, two of which are complete: the Beatles, Elton John, and Eagles.  Elton John isn't complete, as I don't own all of his releases. But, most of what I own, at least the full albums, are there. But it's not Elton John I'm talking about today. It's the Beatles.

My collection is rather extensive. I own all of their music that's available via download, mostly iTunes, and all of their CDs. I used to own all of their albums. Okay, most of their albums. Via purchase, I owned all of their US releases except Introducing the Beatles, from Vee Jay records in 1964. Via CD, I own all of their Capital US releases, and their official catalog which is mostly UK releases.

I owned the stereo versions of their US albums, except Meet The Beatles; I had the mono release. I later bought the Beatles In Mono CD collection, which contained the UK official version of their albums in mono, which were the versions the Beatles considered official. They didn't care about stereo releases until the late 1960s. All of this to bring up that I had a version of all of their releases in some format or another.

When I began moving the content into Plex, I first moved the official catalog CDs. But I grew up in the US. To me, Meet the Beatles is a better album than With the Beatles, the UK counterpart. There's a whole story behind why they are different, and that could take days to explain. Essentially, the US label, Capitol Records, had a different philosophy about releasing music, and part of that was driven by the US standards vs the UK standards. I may talk about all that one day. Or not. Bottom line was most of the US releases were different from the UK releases.

Remember when I mentioned Introducing the Beatles on Vee Jay? There's a whole 'nuther story around that for another day (if at all). Oh, and a movie deal meant that United Artist Records got some tracks that Capitol Records didn't.

The end result of this is that when the Beatles broke up in 1970, there were 13 songs that had not been released on Capitol Records. Eight of them had never been released in any form at all on a Capitol album, though . Three were tracks that were in versions only available on singles in the US, one was on a charity album, and one was a B-side from a single.

In 1978, the UK label released a collection of non-album tracks called Rarities. In 1980, the US label (Capitol) released their version. Some of the UK Rarities had been released on albums in the US, but, as I mentioned, 13 songs were not available on any album. So, the easy thing would be to put those 13 on an album and release it, finalizing the Beatles catalog on album.

Here's how that would have looked:

  1. Love Me Do - Original single version, different from the version on The Early Beatles.
  2. Misery - Had been on Vee Jay's Introducing the Beatles, but was left off The Early Beatles.
  3. There's a Place - Had been on Vee Jay's Introducing the Beatles, but was left off The Early Beatles.
  4. From Me to You - Early single. Not included on other Capitol collections that included other early singles.
  5. Sie Liebt Dich - German language version of She Loves You. The German language version of I Want to Hold Your Hand had been released on Something New.
  6. A Hard Day's Night - Only US album release was on United Artists Records soundtrack to the movie.
  7. Help! - Original single version. The version on the US Help! album included a James Bond style intro.
  8. I'm Down - B-side of Help!
  9. The Inner Light - B-side to Lady Madonna. Left off the Hey Jude album, which was a singles collection and included Lady Madonna.
  10. Get Back (single) - Single version left off Hey Jude compilation. Different from the version on the Let it Be album.
  11. Across the Universe (Wildlife) - Released on a charity album. Different from the version on the Let it Be album.
  12. Let It Be (single) - Single version. Different from the version on the Let it Be album.
  13. You Know My Name (Look up the Number) - B-side to Let it Be single.

Note that I said "would have" because this is not what Capitol did. Rather, they left off:

  • From Me to You
  • A Hard Day's Night
  • I'm Down
  • Get Back (single)
  • Let It Be (single)

They added 

  • And I Love Her - The German mix.
  • I'm Only Sleeping - The UK mix; the US version was an early mix.
  • I Am the Walrus - A combination of two separate mixes, creating a new mix.
  • Penny Lane - A version that included a portion of a promotional mix (the trumpet version), creating a new mix.
  • Helter Skelter - The mono mix that actually had been released on the mono version of The Beatles (White Album)
  • Don't Pass Me By - The mono mix that actually had been released on the mono version of The Beatles (White Album)

They added the run-out from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had been omitted from the US album. However, they didn't include it in the run-groove, but as a 27-second version of the intro and 2-second loop.

I disagree with creating brand new mixes and calling them rarities, so two of those are bogus right off the bat. Two had actually been released previously, so those was totally bogus. The other two were rare in the US, and I won't complain too much about them, but the five they omitted where major omissions, especially I'm Down, which had never been on any album on any label in the US.

From the time I heard of the UK Rarities album in 1978 until I heard of the release of the US Rarities album in 1980, I held out hope the Capitol LP catalog would finally include all the Beatles songs. But, it was not to be.

So, when I began putting my music into Plex, I decided to reconstitute the Rarities album, rather than transfer from vinyl to MP3. Well, as many as I could. A few had to be transferred from vinyl, but most didn't. I already had them on MP3 and simply edited the tags appropriately. That saved a lot of time. that actually led to something else which I'll cover another day.

For now, I was able to recreate my vinyl copy of Rarities and add that to Plex. And after much though, I created my own Bonus tracks. You know how re-releases of albums will include bonus track? Well, I added five bonus tracks to Rarities. The missing tracks from the Capitol album catalog.

I had actually done this before. My Rarities album was missing for a while, so I had recreated it years ago with what I had, and putting the five omitted songs in place of the six dubious ones (I didn't have the White Album on mono at the time). Finding my Rarities album allowed me to recreate an MP3 version. But the bonus tracks makes it more complete than the official one.

Thanks for taking the time to head down this side path of Beatles music. It's not streaming, but if it inspires you to add your music collection to Plex or another server setup that allows you to stream your personal music catalog from anywhere, then I've actually done a good thing. I like having my music available in my Streaming Life, and I hope you'll be able to have the same pleasure from yours.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

My strategy for saving money on streaming services

I've mentioned this before, but I had a conversation along this line this week at work, and that has put it in the front of my mind.

One of the criticisms of streaming, at least as it has developed, is that by the time you subscribe to all the services you want, you end up paying more than cable. And that can be true. But it's not for me. So why is that?

Well, I subscribe to different services, but not year round. Oh, year round, I'll have something, but not everything at the same time. I'll subscribe to one service, keep it a month, watch all I want, then cancel.

Next month, I'll subscribe to another service, keep it a month, watch all I want, then cancel.

The next month, I'll subscribe to another service, keep it a month, watch all I want, then cancel.

You see where this is going, right? Let me offer some examples of how this might work.

According to one recent survey, here are the most popular subscription streaming services:

  1. Netflix, 221.8 million worldwide, $20/month for UHD/4K.
  2. Amazon Prime Video, over 200 million. $9/month for video only.
  3. Disney+, 129.8 million. Includes Disney+ Bundle totals. $8/month, $80/year.
  4. HBO Max, 73.8 million. Includes both HBO and HBO Max. $15/month for UHD/4K, $150/year.
  5. Paramount+, 56 million. $10/month, $100/year.
  6. Hulu, 45.3 million. Includes Hulu as well as Hulu+Live TV, and Disney+ Bundle totals. $7/month for basic Hulu, $70/year.
  7. Discovery+, 22 million. $5/month.
  8. Apple TV+, over 20 million. $5/month.
  9. Peacock, over 9 million paid of 24.5 total. $5/month, $50.year.

Some of the services offer ad-free options. If the only difference is ads, I'm using the lower price. If the ad-free option has other features, I'm using the higher price. Ads alone are not driving this comparison.

Since I'm telling how I do this, I'm going to list a couple of things that may be different from your situation. I have Xfinity Internet service. That means I get Peacock Premium, which is the $5/month plan. For that reason, I'm excluding the cost of that from my comparison, as I have no cost involved.

Additionally, I subscribe to Amazon Prime, and have for years. I had Amazon Prime before they launched their video service. So, as that is a service I would have anyway, the video portion is actually a bonus, and no effective cost to me. As with Peacock, I'm excluding Prime Video for the same reason.

If you subscribed to the seven remaining services, in a year, you would pay $760/year using the annual plans where available, or $840/year if you used the monthly plans only.

However, if you used my method, you'd pay $140/year. Here's why.

As mentioned earlier, subscribe to one service for one month, then change the next month. One month, pick two of the $5/month services. Then, every service gets two subscription months a year, but over the year, I've watched all I want from the services. For $620 less. That's nearly $52/month cheaper.

The downside? Well, there are two. One is you actually have to do it. The other is for some content, you wait a month or more to watch it. Is the combined benefits from not changing subscriptions every month, and the immediacy of watching on-demand content worth $52/month?

If you'd rather pay $52/month more, go ahead. I'd rather not. And I don't. The goal is to enjoy your Streaming Life. If it costs you more to enjoy it, then it costs you more. But the $52/month savings makes it more enjoyable for me.