Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Watching March Madness

College basketball has reached the end of the season, and now the playoffs begin. The 68-team tournament starts today, with so-called "play in" games.

This is the part of the season that even the casual fans will go crazy about. A lot of people watch the NCAA tournament. And, if you're a streamer, how do you watch it?

The games are being broadcast on several networks during the next few weeks:

  • CBS
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • truTV

Here is how to watch the channels if you are a streamer:


  • Antenna (free)
  • Paramount Plus (Premium) ($12/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • Fubo (Pro) ($80/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)


  • Max (with Ads) ($10/month)
  • Max (Ad free) ($16/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)


  • Max (with Ads) ($10/month)
  • Max (Ad free) ($16/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)


  • Max (with Ads) ($10/month)
  • Max (Ad free) ($16/month)
  • Sling TV (Blue) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange) ($40/month)
  • Sling TV (Orange+Blue) ($55/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • DirecTV (Entertainment) ($85/month)

The cheapest way to watch all the games is to combine subscriptions of Paramount Plus and Max, which will run $22/month.

Oh, there is a March Madness Live app from the NCAA, but it authenticates against one of the services listed above. The app by itself doesn't get you the content, much like the ESPN app doesn't get you college football unless you authenticate against your ESPN provider. And even with the March Madness Live app, you still don't get the games on CBS.

The play in games start today on truTV, and continue throughout the month, and into April, with the Final Four on TBS. My Streaming Life doesn't involve much basketball at all. But a lot of people enjoy this. If this describes you, then you have ways to watch the games.

Monday, March 18, 2024

I still haven't accepted the new Roku dispute terms

Recently, Roku updated their dispute resolution terms, and it's caused some controversy. Not the actual terms, which seem okay for most people, but the way they went about it.

Tyler the Antenna Man had some thoughts on it.


I would throw in that there are cheaper ways to go Android or Google TV (almost, but not quite the same thing), such as Google's Chromecast or Walmart's Onn Streaming Box.

But, about the Roku terms ...

I've still not accepted the new terms. My Roku devices have been useless since the update came. But, how long will I leave things that way? Well, I don't know. I'll probably accept them soon. I don't know if I'll send a letter opting out, but I might just to be difficult. Or not.

When I'll accept the terms is unknown. Maybe later today. Maybe never. Probably soon though.

My Streaming Life has used Roku for years, but lately has been using Google TV (primarily Chromecast). I'm very unhappy with the latest Roku move, but I'll get over it. Eventually.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Project Grandson

Lately, I've been working with one of my grandsons on Raspberry Pi projects.

A while back, he heard about the Raspberry Pi and asked me a bunch of questions. After several conversations and discussion, he said he wanted a Raspberry Pi to do products. So, I got him one.

It went used for a bit -- it seems that things go this way with grandchildren a lot -- because he didn't really have a place to do projects, but that changed recently. He had a workspace and can do his projects in his room.

The first project was simply putting together a computer. I got him a keyboard and mouse (official Raspberry Pi versions, though any will work), and a monitor, then we set to work.

He did all the work himself. I was with him, explaining things, but he did the actual work. I put none of the parts of the kit together. I would pick the various piece up and show him, and he'd ask questions, as most 8 year old children will, but he did the actual physical labor.

The first session ended with his  putting together a Raspberry Pi personal computer. So now he has a computer in his room, and is excited about that.

He's young enough that he's not bothered by it nor running Windows, Mac, or ChromeOS, which are the operating systems he's familiar with, from family members. The Raspberry Pi OS (nee Raspbian) is a version of Linux based on Debian, one of the most popular Linux distribution.

On the next session, he learn about sending commands from one device to another. He was fascinated. Next is learning certain programming commands (Python programming language).

It's going to be a fun, exciting, and rewarding learning experience for both of us. My Streaming Life takes a back seat to more important things. This will be fun, and important.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

How often should you replace your streaming device?

Recently, Tablo Blog had a Q&A where they answered a question about the life of a streaming device. The answer they gave is pretty much on target.

Here was the question:

Our smart TV is only five years old, but it seems to be quite slow compared to the newer Fire TV stick we use on our "dumb TV" in the basement. Do I need to replace my TVs more often now that they're "smart?"

Of course, the answer is no. But Tablo did a good job in explaining why:

In general, you should plan to replace your streaming TV devices every 5 years. This will ensure that your streaming sticks and boxes get regular updates and have enough memory and horsepower to run your favorite streaming TV apps, including Tablo.

However, when it comes to smart TVs, there’s no need to spend several hundred dollars or more and create that much e-waste just to enjoy a more responsive streaming experience.

Instead of tossing your entire smart TV, it’s much easier and more affordable to pick up a top-of-the-line Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Android TV streaming stick or box and connect it to the HDMI port on your older smart TV.

This will allow you to bypass the built-in smarts on your TV and use the younger, faster 'brain' of the streaming device. It doesn’t even have to be the same platform! If you have a Roku smart TV you can use a Chromecast with Google TV, or if you have an Amazon Fire smart TV you can use a Roku.

I would add Apple TV to the mix as well. And I've run into this situation myself. I used a family member's old Roku TV for a period of time, and it was extremely sluggish. I added a Roku Stick and just used it. Essentially, I used the Roku TV as a TV only, and put a Roku on it.

I have Roku and Fire TV devices on a Sony Google TV. That's not necessary, but it's just what I do. I think everyone should find a platform they like and put that on every TV. For example, if someone likes Roku, and have a Roku TV in the living room, but a Fire TV television in the bedroom, I would always suggest they add a Roku to the Fire TV device. That way, they have a consistent experience in every room.

No, that's not necessary, but is is a good idea to me.

My Streaming Life has used several platforms over the years. I've replaced devices on average of about 5 years, except for Fire TV. They usually don't last that long. But, in general, plan to replace it every five years.

Friday, March 15, 2024

No, you don't really need a live streaming package. Probably.

Nearly three years ago, I asked the question: Do you really need a live streaming package?

I spent a long time not really answering the question. What I eventually said was "if you want one, get one." And that really doesn't answer the question.

Of course, it's true that if you want one, you can get one. But, do you really need one? No.

In the last three years, free live streaming services have expanded, so you have a lot more options. But the question is really about cable-like services, such as YouTube TV, Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV, Fubo, Vidgo, and the like.

If you want cable, but watch it streaming, then those services will give you that. They are simply streaming versions of cable TV. They have much the same content as cable: live TV (well, not so much with Vidgo, and even less with Sling), and the major cable channels.

But, if you want the same type of programming that you get on cable, you don't really need a pay TV service such as those streaming packages.

Pluto TV, Tubi, Roku Channel, Plex, Crackle, Sling Freestream, as well as platform specific options such as Live TV from Fire TV and Google TV devices, offer much of the same type of content as a pay TV streaming service.

Note that I say ":same type of content" rather than "same content." To explain what I mean, let's first look at the top cable channels of 2023.

  1. NBC
  2. CBS
  3. ABC
  4. Fox
  5. Fox News
  6. ESPN
  7. Univision
  8. MSNBC
  9. Ion
  10. HGTV
  11. TNT
  12. Hallmark Channel
  13. Telemundo
  14. TBS
  15. History
  16. TLC
  17. INSP
  18. Discovery Channel
  19. USA Network
  20. Food Network

The first four are the major broadcast networks. I'll skip those, at least for now. I'm looking at the major FAST (Free Ad Supported Television) services:

  • Pluto TV
  • Tubi
  • Xumo Play
  • Freestream
  • Local Now
  • Roku Channel
  • Plex
  • Crackle

At 5 is Fox News, while MSNBC is 8. Those FAST services have lots of news channels. Ion (9), Hallmark (12), INSP (17), Discovery (18), and Food Network (20) have content of the type that can be found on the FAST services. In fact, apart from the broadcast networks, only ESPN with its live major sports coverage doesn't have a substitute channel on the FAST services.

If you want ESPN, then yes, you need a pay TV live streaming service. If you want the major broadcast networks, you can get an antenna, or subscribe to a live TV streaming service.

If you don't care to watch those five channels, then you can find the same type of content on a FAST service.

My Streaming Life doesn't involve a pay TV service most of the time. I do like ESPN during college football season, but the rest of the time, I don't care for that channel. I have an antenna. I don't need a pay TV live streaming service. Maybe you don't either.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Definitely more Chromecast

Nearly six months ago, three weeks into September 2023, I wrote that I was going to use more Chromecast. What I said was:

I've used all four of the major platforms, and like Roku best overall. However, some family members seem to really like Fire TV. Lately, I've used more Fire TV, but still stick with Roku when it's just me watching TV.

This has come at the expense of my familiarity with Android/Google TV and Apple TV. I'm not comfortable with that. Beginning this weekend, I'm going to start using more Android/Google TV. Chromecast will be the the primary device I use. I have Chromecast attached to all my TVs already, so it'll be a matter of setting out the Chromecast remote in place of the Roku remote.

It's now 25 weeks later, and I have used more Chromecast. I mean, I have really used more Chromecast.

Actually, I've used more than just Chromecast. I've use Walmart's Onn Streaming Box, as well as the Onn Streaming Stick, I've used the NVIDIA Shield, in addition to Chromecast.

The Walmart Onn devices and the Chromecast have the Google TV interface. The NVIDIA Shield device is Android TV, but doesn't have the Google TV interface. Similar, but not quite the same.

I said I would focus on those "for the next month or so." It's been a lot longer than that. I've used other devices, including my beloved Roku, but I have used the Google TV devices, primarily the Chromecast, as my main device.

My Streaming Life began with Roku, and it's been a part of it ever since. But I've rarely used it in the last six months. I kinda miss it. But I'm still liking Google TV in all its forms.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Roku credit card breach

When I posted yesterday about how to remove credit card information from your Roku account, I hadn't heard about the data breach.

Now, I wish I had posted it earlier. I had it ready to go a while back, but kept putting it off. I'm sorry I waited.

As far as I know, I wasn't impacted by the Roku data breach, as I've not received a notification that I understand they sent to those impacted. Maybe they just haven't gotten to me yet, but I'm guessing I wasn't actually impacted.

According to reports, some 15,000 Roku accounts were compromised. Roku has 80-million user accounts, so the number is actually a small percentage. That doesn't make it okay, just that it's unlikely I'm impacted. 

Bleeping Computer says Roku announced the breach on March 8:

On Friday, Roku first disclosed the data breach, warning that 15,363 customer accounts were hacked in a credential stuffing attack.

A credential stuffing attack is when threat actors collect credentials exposed in data breaches and then attempt to use them to log in to other sites, in this case, Roku.com.

The company says that once an account was breached, it allowed threat actors to change the information on the account, including passwords, email addresses, and shipping addresses.

This effectively locked a user out of the account, allowing the threat actors to make purchases using stored credit card information without the legitimate account holder receiving order confirmation emails.

"It appears likely that the same username/password combinations had been used as login information for such third-party services as well as certain individual Roku accounts," reads the data breach notice.

"As a result, unauthorized actors were able to obtain login information from third-party sources and then use it to access certain individual Roku accounts."

"After gaining access, they then changed the Roku login information for the affected individual Roku accounts, and, in a limited number of cases, attempted to purchase streaming subscriptions.

Roku says that it secured the impacted accounts and forced a password reset upon detecting the incident.

Since I can log into Roku without having to reset my password, I assume I wasn't impacted.

I don't like the way Roku has handled this. They're downplaying it, and that's not good. Any data breach is bad. If someone's account is compromised because they have an easy password, then that's not Roku's fault. But if the Roku systems were breached, that is Roku's fault, and that's inexcusable. No reputable company should experience that type of data breach.

My Streaming Life has involved Roku since 2010. The recent actions of the company have disappointed me greatly.