Tuesday, March 26, 2024

How many pay services?

A recent poll indicates that most streamers use four or fewer paid streaming services.

That's surprising to me because I was under the impression that most streamers subscribed to a lot of services. That was true at one time, but it has dropped to a smaller number faster than I thought it would.

The poll, conducted by Cord Cutters News, says that nearly 2/3 of streamers use four or fewer services:

According to our readers, 63.3% pay for four or fewer streaming services, 47.3% pay for three or fewer streaming services, and 27.3% pay for two or fewer streaming services.

While most cord cutters still pay for four or fewer streaming services, the number of cord cutters paying for five or more is up slightly since October 2023. Last October 66.2% of cord cutters paid for four or fewer services. Now that number is down to 63.3%. Part of that number may be the growth of sports across multiple streaming services like the NFL airing a playoff game exclusively on Peacock back in January.

So, what would four streaming services cost every month for the average cord cutter? (Why with ads? Because cable TV has ads.)

  • Disney+ $7.99 with ads.
  • Paramount+ $5.99 with ads.
  • Discovery+ $4.99 with ads.
  • Netflix $6.99 with ads.

Total Cost: $25.96 a month.

I use two services  myself. The only one of those four I use is Paramount Plus, and I don't really pay for it, as it comes with Walmart Plus. I'm not counting that.

I have Prime Video, but that's only because I pay for Amazon Prime for shipping benefits. I rarely watch anything from Prime Video.

I don't pay for Peacock, as it's included with my Xfinity Rewards.

I do pay for Frndly TV ($9/month). I also pay for Pub-D-Hub ($6/year, works out to 50¢/month).

And, right now, that's it. For under $10/month, I have all the pay services I want. The other pay services I have are free. If you counted Prime Video, I would still pay less than the poll indicates, so I would still feel I'm doing well.

My Streaming Life doesn't include a lot of pay services. I'm able to watch what I want with little expense. I like it that way.

Monday, March 25, 2024

The top free streaming services

Recently, Tom's Guide had a list of their top free streaming services for Roku. Using Roku's naming convention, they called it "The best free channels on Roku."

Most of the items on the list are correct, in my opinion. But, I'm not agreeing with the entire list.

The list is of eight services:

  1. The Roku Channel
  2. Tubi
  3. Pluto TV
  4. Crackle
  5. Newsy
  6. PBS Kids
  7. TED
  8. The Bob Ross Channel

I don’t really have a problem with any of their items. The items in positions 1-3 would be on my list as well. I will say that I consider Xumo Play is more deserving than Crackle, but I'd probably have Crackle in my top ten. Maybe top eight.

I agree with PBS Kids being on my top ten/eight.

The CW -- the app now just says "CW," having dropped the "The" -- should be on the list as well. It has all of the CW network shows available on demand, including current season shows.

My list would also include Hoopla or Kanopy, both which provide free content provided by your local public library. Well, if your library has an agreement with one of the services.

I would also put one of my favorites, Pub-D-Hub, to the list. The service does have a paid service, but it's really cheap, less than $5/year. Yes, per year. Even the free version has a lot of good content.

Oh, and YouTube. That's always a good service to have.

There are other services that would apply to Fire TV devices, and others that would apply to Google TV devices. While the Tom's Guide list, and my alternative entries, are focused on Roku, they are not Roku specific. This list applies across platforms.

My Streaming Life has used more free streaming services over the last few years. To my mind, that's the way to go.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Google Docs

First, understand that I do have my issues with Google. Of course, I have my issues with Microsoft, Apple, and most every large technology company. Since they all have issues, I deal with them as best as I can, and use the features that I like the best, provided the irritation isn't too much.

I've used Microsoft Word for many years, but have grown tired of how much it cost over time. In recent years, I've used Open Office, LibreOffice, and Only Office apps, but I've also used Google Docs. And that's the topic of the video I want to share today, from Explaining Computers:

[YouTube]

Yes, I understand the issues with relying on Google, because of privacy issues. But, it's cheaper than Microsoft Word, and Microsoft 365 is no better, and im my opion, worse in regards to privacy, and definitely worse in regards of security.

My Streaming Life involves using several Google services in the creation of this blog. And while I do have some concerns about Google, they're not the worst of the lot. And there is some benefit from them.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

So, $40 for the new sports only streaming service?

Rumors are that the new streaming service from ESPN, Fox, and Warner Discovery will run around $40/month.

That's a lot of money, in my opinion. But where are those rumors coming from. Well, USA Today reports the expectation is around $40, if not more:

... [former Fox Sports Networks president Bob] Thompson predicted it could cost more than $40 per month.

The math would have work for three companies that are paying huge fees to sports leagues for the rights to show this content. For example, ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Amazon are scheduled to pay the NFL more than $100 billion combined through 2033 for rights to broadcast NFL games on their networks.

It would also have to take into account how the introduction of this streaming service will spur more viewers to ditch cable television – which has been a huge source of revenue for companies such as ESPN, the most expensive channel on cable television.

Variety says it could run more than $40:

But if you add up the distribution fees for ABC, Fox, ESPN and the other cable networks, it suggests the bundle will have to carry a retail price of at least $50 per month, according to Morgan Stanley’s Ben Swinburne.

Will I pay that much? Probably not, especially since Sling TV includes ESPN and is $40.

Whatever happens, I wouldn't use it year round. I only subscribe to a sports package during college football season, and even then, it's not continuous. I'll subscribe on a Saturday for 30 days, which covers 5 Saturdays. I'll cancel, and save the days in between, subscribing the following Saturday for another 30 days. Three times covers 15 weekends, which is the full season. Once more covers bowls, and then I'm done until the next season.

I may try it when it comes out, but not until college football season. My Streaming Life doesn't include year round sports. It certainly doesn't need a sports service that expensive.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Streaming and traveling

One thing I used to do was take a streaming device with me when I traveled. I don't do that any more, and I'll get into why I don't later. Bur I used to carry one in my travel bag. If you want a streamer to carry, you need to keep a few things in mind.

First, never attempt to set up the device while traveling. Set it up ahead of time. Test it at home. Make sure it has the apps you want and it can connect to the Internet.

Next, consider that some wireless network for travelers have a splash screen for when you join the network. Some devices don't play well with those. Roku used to be notorious for this, mostly because most people use Roku. For the most part, they have resolved that issue.

For Fire TV, the option is pretty easy, and it's not that hard for Chromecast/Google TV devices, according to Cord Cutters News:

On Fire TV devices, the process might be easier. Head to Settings, and then Network to set up a new WiFi connection. You should see the captive portal web page on your TV screen, where you can log in and start streaming.

For the Chromecast with Google TV, you might need to download the Google Home app to connect your device to the hotel or dorm WiFi.

I've not used Fire TV nor Google TV when traveling, but I understand from others that Fire TV is easy to use.

Note that I've not mentioned Apple TV. There are two reasons. First, I've not found instructions on how to use it, and second, I think sticks and dongles are the better form factor when traveling, and there is no Apple TV stick.

And that is another thing: use a stick for travel. They are smaller, more compact, and easier to use. And don't forget the remote! It's nearly impossible to use a stick without a remote when traveling.

Another recommendation is that you have a device designated for travel. Don't unplug the one from your TV and take with you. Things happen when you travel. Luggage gets lost. Things get broken when plugging them in and unplugging them so much. Think of a travel streaming device as disposable, because if something goes wrong, it is.

My final thought is what I mentioned earlier. I used to take a device with me. I don't any more. I have mobile devices, such as phones and tablets -- and laptops, for that matter -- that are designed for travel, and that can be accessed any time if I need something. But one thing I never do is turn on the TV when I'm traveling. I'm traveling for a reason. It's not to watch TV. I can do that at home.

If there is something going on in the world, I can get the gist of it from network news from the TV service they have at the hotel. But I rarely turn on a TV when traveling. My Streaming Life is important to me. But my real life is more important. They are not the same.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Roku rules

A recent survey reveals that Roku is still king of the streaming devices, and by a pretty hefty margin.

Cord Cutters News says that Roku accounts for 62% of all devices streamers use:

In our survey, we asked our readers to list all the devices they use to stream their content. (Adding the numbers up won’t add up to 100%, as many people use multiple types of devices.) According to our readers, 62% use a Roku, 36% use a smart TV, and 32% use a Fire TV.

In fourth place were laptops and PCs at 25%. In fifth place was the Apple TV with 20% of the market, and in sixth place was Chromecast—all versions—at 15%.

The biggest loser were gaming systems. Only 4.7% of cord cutters use a gaming system to stream their favorite shows. This is down from 10.5% in 2019.

My Streaming Life has used Roku since 2010. A lot of upgrades and improvements to Roku have happened since then, and this survey indicates the improvements have helped Roku keep its lead.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Another data breach: AT&T?

There is a new report of a data breach, and the company that is said to be involved says they were not hacked.

Bleeping Computer said AT&T data was stolen, and report AT&T says it wasn't stolen from them:

AT&T says a massive trove of data impacting 71 million people did not originate from its systems after a hacker leaked it on a cybercrime forum and claimed it was stolen in a 2021 breach of the company.

While BleepingComputer has not been able to confirm the legitimacy of all the data in the database, we have confirmed some of the entries are accurate, including those whose data is not publicly accessible for scraping.

The data is from an alleged 2021 AT&T data breach that a threat actor known as ShinyHunters attempted to sell on the RaidForums data theft forum for a starting price of $200,000 and incremental offers of $30,000. The hacker stated they would sell it immediately for $1 million.

AT&T told BleepingComputer then that the data did not originate from them and that its systems were not breached.

It'll be interesting to see how this latest data breach plays out. My Streaming Life doesn't involve AT&T, but I do have an account with them. I'm checking to see if I was impacted as well.