Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Keep Peacock or not?

I have a decision to make soon. I'm an Xfinity Internet subscriber, and Xfinity Internet subscribers get Peacock Premium free. That's changing next month.

According to Comcast, NBCUniversal will stop offering the service for free to Xfinity Internet customers:

Why is this changing?

NBCUniversal included Peacock Premium at no extra cost to customers with Xfinity services, and that offering is concluding.

This is a classic example of blaming others when it's yourself. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, so if they say Xfinity gets Peacock for free, Xfinity gets Peacock for free. That's like a parent blaming one kid for not sharing with another kid something the parent owns. If it stands, it's the parents who let it happen.

Anyway, on June 26, 2023, I love my free Peacock service. I'll have to decide by then if I want to pay for Peacock.

There are two tiers. One, Peacock Premium, is $5/month while the other, Peacock Premium Plus, is $10/month. The difference is that Peacock Premium Plus doesn't have commercials in the on-demand content, and includes local NBC station, WSAV in Savannah for me. Peacock Premium has ads in on-demand content, and no live local NBC stream.

Will I subscribe to Peacock? Maybe. Maybe not. There is a special they're running right now where a year of Peacock Premium (the $5/month plan) is $20. That's tempting. I'm not sure if I'll fall for the temptation.

My Streaming Life has included Peacock since the service launched, but only because it was free. I'm undecided on keeping it going forward, but I'm leaning against it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Local Now grows

I read an article on Cord Cutters News this week that surprised me. I did a little digging and found more about it. The numbers in my research are a little different, but the point of Luke Bouma's article is still valid.

The story was that Local Now had topped 450 live streaming channels. That's a big number. And, it is true, but there's a catch. First, a little of what they said:

Recently Local Now topped 450 free live TV channels making it one of the largest free streaming services for cord cutters when looking at the number of free live channels.

Local Now also provides localized news, weather, sports, traffic, and entertainment, produced by various leading news organizations in more than 225 markets across the U.S.

Local Now is not done expanding as it recently announced a deal to add all local PBS stations later this year. No dates have been announced yet for when all of the local PBS stations will be added other than it should happen in 2023. Already though, in a handful of markets, PBS stations are starting to go live on Local Now so check to see if your local PBS is now free with Local Now.

All that is true, but let me tell you why I look at it a little differently.

I counted all the channels, one at a time, starting at the top. Just so you know, these numbers are based on a Savannah, Georgia viewing market.

I counted 487 channels, which is in line with the CCN report of "over 450" channels. But, of those, 117 are local broadcasts. My thinking, which could be wrong, is that people generally won't be interested in local news from other areas, making over 100 of those meaningless for most people. However, that is the backbone of Local Now, so I understand why they should be counted.

However, to me, the main attraction to live streaming services are the live streaming channels that go beyond local news and local interest. Local Now has 370 of those. That is on top of the 117 local offerings, bringing the total to 487, which is by far the largest live streaming service.

CCN said as much, and I don't disagree. Even if you omit the 117 local based streams, the remaining 350 make it one of the largest anyway. The increase in these channels means that Local Now deserves to be though of as similar to Pluto TV, Tubi, FreeVee, Xumo Play, and the other major players in the free ad-supported television (FAST) services.

My Streaming Life hasn't included a lot of Local Now in the past. It will going forward.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day (2023)

I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering works on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung. With words we make promises, plight faith, praise virtue. Promises may not be kept; plighted faith may be broken; and vaunted virtue be only the cunning mask of vice. We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue. For the noblest man that lives, there still remains a conflict. He must still withstand the assaults of time and fortune, must still be assailed with temptations, before which lofty natures have fallen; but with these the conflict ended, the victory was won, when death stamped on them the great seal of heroic character, and closed a record which years can never blot.

Excerpt from the first Memorial Day proclamation, May 30, 1968, by President James A. Garfield.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Broadcast TV viewership drops

There are reports out that viewership of the traditional TV networks -- ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC -- has continued to drop year over year. In fact, according to the study, CBS has lost nearly half its viewers in ten years.

The conclusion that Cord Cutters News reached is that cord cutting is the reason. The headline is "ABC, CBS, FOX, & NBC Primetime Viewership is Falling Fast as Cord Cutting Speeds Up" which I think is a little off the mark.

The article cites the increase in cord cutting over the last decade, along with lower broadcast network viewership as the result. Only, what about antennae? Isn't putting up an antenna (or using an existing antenna) often a part of cord cutting? You drop cable, put up an antenna (indoor if close enough), and you still get the broadcast networks. I mean, they broadcast their signal over the air, right?

I don't see cord cutting itself as a reason for drop in viewership. I look at it more as a drop in cable. With cable, it's easier for viewership stats to be collected. However, with an antenna, they have to rely more on traditional methods such as the Nelsen dairies to gather the data.

I think the numbers may be down for multiple reasons, and a lot of it is due to content of streaming services.

More or better content via streaming leads to cord cutting. It also leads to drop in broadcast viewership. Cord cutting is not the cause of people watching less broadcast TV, it's the result of it.

My Streaming Life hasn't really seen a drop in broadcast TV viewership. I used to record shows and not watch them live. Now, with Hulu, I'm watching shows on demand, after they air, just as when they were recorded with TiVo. If I'm watching less content from broadcast TV, it's because other sources have more content I want to watch. Broadcast TV is available to cord cutters. They just need to make better content.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Netflix crackdown on password sharing

I got my Netflix email this week.

Yes, I know. I talk about how I don't watch Netflix. And I don't. So, why did I get an email from Netflix? Well, having a Netflix account doesn't mean I watch Netflix. But I am paying for Netflix for someone else. For the time being, anyway. At this writing, the subscription ends in June. I may extend it with the ad-supported plan.

Back on topic: I got my Netflix email this week. You know the one. The one where Netflix is letting people know that you can't share passwords with people who live outside your household:

Your Netflix account is for you and the people you live with — your household.

You can easily watch Netflix on the go and when you travel — either on your personal devices or a TV at a hotel or vacation home.

To control how your account is used, you can:

  • Check who’s using your Netflix. Review which devices are signed in to your account. Sign out of devices that shouldn’t have access and consider changing your password.

If you want to share Netflix with someone outside of your household, you can use these features:

  • Transfer a profile. Anyone on your account can transfer a profile to a new membership that they pay for.
  • Buy an extra member. You can share your Netflix account with someone who doesn’t live with you for $7.99/month more.

We know you might have questions. Our Help Center has detailed information for you.

Thank you for choosing Netflix. We appreciate your membership and we look forward to bringing you more great TV shows and movies.

The Netflix team

I'm logged in to a few devices at home, but I haven't used them in a long long time. My girlfriend is logged into one device at her house, and that's the only one that has been active. The account is in my name, but she's the only one using it. Is that a violation of Netflix rules? Well, maybe. But I'm not using the account at two different households. She doesn't watch Netflix at my house, and I don't watch Netflix at all.

So, I don't know if I got the email because they detected logins at multiple locations, or if they simply sent the email to everyone with a current account.

She already is used to the idea of not having Netflix. One of her children was sharing passwords with her, and she had her own profile set up on that account. But she was told about the crackdown and was disappointed, as she had just started watching some series. So, I restarted my account using the ad-supported plan and logged in on her device. Then upgraded to the regular plan.

So, now I'll either drop to the ad-supported plan in June, or drop it altogether. She hasn't watched anything in the last few weeks, so I'm thinking I'll just drop it.

I understand why Netflix is doing what it's doing. They're bleeding money, and if this increases revenue, then good for them. I don't watch it because it doesn't have enough value for me. I have enough to watch without it. My Streaming Life has survived without Netflix for quite some time, and will continue to do so. I'm hoping my girlfriend feels the same way.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Comcast new streaming service

Comcast is launching a low prices live streaming service. NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast, has the Peacock streaming service already. However, according to reports, they're looking to launch a service that would compete with Frndly TV or Philo.

According to TV Answer Man, the new service will cost $20/month and include Peacock Premium.

The service, which does not include any local or sports channels, will be offered to Xfinity Broadband customers in the coming weeks, the company said. Now TV, which will not require any equipment or contracts, will include a 20-hour DVR and three concurrent streams.

"With content and connectivity at the core of our company, we are uniquely positioned to build and deliver streaming entertainment offerings unlike anything else out there today," Dave Watson, Comcast Cable’s CEO, said in a press release. "NOW TV is a great example of how our company brings together its collective video experiences, innovative technology, and superior broadband service to deliver some of the best entertainment into one affordable streaming bundle."

Now TV will be available on the Xfinity Stream app. Supported devices at launch will include Xfinity Flex, Fire TV, iOS and Android-powered devices, and via casting through Apple AirPlay and Google Chromecast.

The lack of Roku support is surprising. First, Roku is the largest streaming platform. Next, the Xfinity Stream app has been available on Roku for years. However, Roku is noticeably absent from the list of supported devices.

My Streaming Life currently includes Peacock TV, although I will likely drop it soon. I have Frndly TV, so I'm not sure what the new NOW TV service would bring to the table.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Max, formerly HBO Max

Max rolled out a couple of days ago. It was a fairly smooth change from HBO Max to just plain Max, but it wasn't completely seamless.

First, when I fired up the Roku to check it out, I saw the HBO Max app still on the device. "Okay," I said to myself, "the app needs to update."

Roku checks for updates every day (or more likely, every night), and I figured the last check was before the change was official. So, I checked for updates. There were none.

So, I launched the HBO Max app to see what would happen. What happened was the app called itself "Max" when the app launched, although the icon on the Roku menu still said "HBO Max."

I had to log in, as it had forgotten my password. Or, maybe it never had it. This may have been more than a cosmetic change, but a full change of the app itself. Whatever reason, I had to log in. So, I logged in. My profiles were still there once I logged in, but the avatars for the profiles were missing. It was easy enough to add a new one.

All my content was there. Everything was smooth sailing once I logged in. I rebooted the Roku and the login remained, allowing me to simply launch the app (still saying "HBO Max") and watch TV.

When I closed the app a second time, the Max icon was there. The cosmetic portion of the update finally happened.

Now, a month ago, I had subscribed to HBO Max as part of my rotation of apps. I'll subscribe to one app a month, then when that 30-day subscription is done, I'll subscribe to something else. My HBO Max 30-day subscription ends today, so I only had a couple of days to check out the app unless I wanted to extend the subscription. I don't want to do that, so I caught up on Rick & Morty and a couple of other things, and simply used the Max app.

It works as I expected, after the initial hiccup of losing my login and avatars, Max is what I thought it would be. My Streaming Life loses Max today, and it'll be a few months before I subscribe again. For now, though, it's working well.