Wednesday, May 8, 2024

I gotta try the new Walmart 4K streamer

I've been pleasantly surprised with the Walmart Onn streaming devices. Well, the second generation devices. The first generation devices were awful.

The original Onn Streaming Stick and Streaming Box were terrible devices. However, when they released new devices last year, I gave them a look, and I liked what I saw.

The current Onn Streaming Box is a great device for $20. The Onn Streaming Stick is good as well, but I like the box better.

Recently, word came out of an updated Streaming Box, with some seeing it on shelves, but not officially released -- somebody in stocking at some Walmart store had some explaining to do! -- so I've waited until it's officially released to decide what to do.

Well, now it's been released. And I will get one and try it out. Eventually.

You see, it's not in stock. Oh, it's been released, and showing as an item for sale on the Walmart Website, it's just that they're all sold out.

When they are back in stock I'll get one and try it out. I'm optimistic based on the current devices. My Streaming Life sometimes uses the Walmart box as a Google TV device. I think I'll like the new one. I sure hope I'm not disappointed by the device.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Just how much is cable?

If you're like me, you're a streamer, not a cable TV customer. But the reality is, some are both. For a long time, my mother kept cable even after she started watching TV via streaming exclusively. She had a hard time dropping cable, although she had no trouble not watching cable. To her, it was her insurance policy.

She had a difficult time realizing that if Comcast Internet went down, Comcast TV would be down as well, but it was her decision, and I helped her with it, so she could watch what she wanted, when she wanted.

She eventually cut back on cable, keeping only local channels -- this was before I put up an antenna at her house -- and saved a lot of money. But until she did that, she was paying a shipload of money for cable TV.

A lot of people pay a lot of money for cable TV, even today. A recent report from U.S. News & World Report says that the average cable TV customer pays over $200/month for the service:

Using data from a variety of public sources, the site found the average monthly cable package is now $217.42 per month. That’s more than the average household’s monthly cost of $205.50 for all other major utilities combined.

However, that cable bill might be for more than simply television. Cable companies may advertise one price for service and then tack on broadcast fees, cable box rentals or other costs that can easily add $50 or more to a monthly bill. Another common strategy is to upsell bundled service packages which make it difficult to understand exactly how much is being spent on cable television itself.

The article goes into a lot of detail about what makes up those numbers, so give it a read if you're curious. But this is a good example of why I cut cable, and why my mother eventually cut way back on cable.

My Streaming Life doesn't involve cable TV. I get local channels form an antenna, and pay very little for the rest. I'm happy, and spending a lot less money than a lot of family members.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Max cracking down on password sharing

Word came out last week about Max cracking down on password sharing. According to a report from Bloomberg, Max has begun a "lot like Netflix" password crackdown:

Their plan starts with increasing the number of people paying for Max. The company plans to start cracking down on password sharing as soon as this fall, timed to one of the strongest programming slates in recent memory. Max will release a new season of House of the Dragon in June and debut The Penguin and Dune: Prophecy later this year.

The playbook looks similar to the one already being employed by Netflix. It will allow account holders to add extra members for less than the $9.99 price of Max with ads, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. Those extra members will have their own credentials and log-ins. They’ll be able to set that up without losing their viewership history.

The reports also says that Netflix has posted strong gains since the crackdown on password sharing, and Max wants the same.

My Streaming Life doesn't use Netflix or Max on any regularity, although they will occasionally make it into my service rotation. I understand their reasons for cracking down on sharing of passwords, but a lot of people aren't going to like it.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Securing your iPhone and iCloud data

Apple has made their iCloud service more secure and private. Well, potentially. Naomi Brockwell explains:

[YouTube]

My Streaming Life doesn't depend on any iCloud content. Online security and privacy is very important anyway. If you use iPhone, make sure you're doing what you can to keep things secure and private.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Streaming the Kentucky Derby (2024)

The Kentucky Derby is this afternoon. It's kind of a big deal, and has been for a while.

If you are interested, and if you are a streamer, you will probably want to know how you can watch it. Or even if you can watch it if  you're a streamer. Of course, you can.

NBC is, again, carrying the race. While USA carried the Kentucky Oaks yesterday, the Derby is on NBC and Peacock. Coverage begins at 2:30 pm, with the actual race a few minutes before 7:00 pm.

The fastest time in the Kentucky Derby was set by Secretariat in 1973, at 1:59.4. The second fasted time in the Derby was Sham, at an estimated 1:59.8. Why was Sham's time an estimate? Because they don't normally keep as accurate records on second-place horses. Sham set his time in 1973, when he lost to Secretariat. Had Sham run that time, and Secretariat not run in the race, Sham would be the record holder. That was quite a race.

Will any records be set today? Find out. Watch the Kentucky Derby on NBC or on Peacock TV and see for yourself.

Here's how to watch:

Peacock TV

Subscription is $6/month for the Premium service. It's $12/month for ad-free. But ad-free doesn't include not having ads in live TV. The ad-free applies to on-demand only.

NBC

  • Antenna (free) over the air.
  • Sling TV ($40 Orange) ($40/Blue) ($55 Orange + Blue)
  • DirecTV Stream ($85/month)
  • Hulu+Live TV ($77/month)
  • YouTube TV ($73/month)
  • Fubo (Pro) ($80/month)

If watching the first jewel of the Triple Crown is on your agenda for the day, you can enjoy streaming it on one of those services. My Streaming Life will include today's Kentucky Derby, probably on Peacock. But there are plenty of options.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Are you spending more than $50/month on streaming?

A recent article in Cord Cutters News says that most streamers spend less than $50/month on streaming services.

Earlier this week, the Website published results from a recent survey regarding the amount of money streamers spend for TV.

According to survey, more than 66% of cord cutters spend $50 or less on services each month. Only 23.5% of our readers pay $51 or more each month.

Here is a full breakdown of how much our readers spend on TV content each month.

  • 5.7% spend $0 to $10 a month.
  • 10.1% spend $11 to $20 a month.
  • 12.5% spend $21 to $30 a month.
  • 19.9% spend $31 to $40 a month.
  • 23.9% spend $41 to $50 a month.
  • 23.5% spend $51 or more a month.

4.5% declined to answer or said they don’t pay anything for video services. (This group was not included in the 66% of cord cutters who pay less than $51 a month.)

The article also mentions the top streaming services, and it might surprise you.

... 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.

...

Why no live TV streaming services like FuboTV or Hulu with Live TV? In short, our survey shows most cord cutters don’t pay for live TV streaming services. If you are not a sports fan, you do not need a live TV streaming service. There is also an argument to be made that the on-demand services listed above offer more content compared to traditional cable TV.

I don't normally use a service such as YouTube TV, Sling TV, or Fubo, although for part of the year (college football season) I do. My Streaming Life averages around $33-$34 each month, as I wrote about about a month ago. I hope you aren't paying too much for TV. If your average is over $50/month, maybe it's time to ask yourself why, and see if you can save some money.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

"Net neutrality:" so what (for now)?

New "net neutrality" rules are back. Well, that's not right. It's the old rules that were challenged in court before the Trump administration canceled the effort. And there will be challenges. But what does this so-called "net neutrality" mean to you?

Well, nothing. Not for now, because of the legal challenges, according to Luke Bouma of Cord Cutters News:

The rules, first introduced in 2015, designated Internet service providers as Title II companies, which are akin to gas and electric companies, with heavier oversight. They made it through a legal challenge in court before the following administration ordered their dismantling (read the full history of net neutrality here).

The new take on the rules is like the 2015 version and will probably be challenged in court again.

So, what’s next? In short, legal challenges long before this will ever take effect. Already a growing number of Internet providers have stated they will fight net neutrality.

“The FCC’s proposal to reinstate Title II regulation of broadband is not only misguided—it is a missed opportunity,” said Grant Spellmeyer, CEO of ACA Connects, a trade group made up of smaller cable and Internet providers. “We should be working together to improve broadband access and adoption for all Americans, not relitigating the regulatory battles of the past.” 

What does this mean for cord cutting? In short, you likely won’t see any changes anytime soon even if the FCC wins the court cases and these rules take effect. The real change is the FCC will now take a larger role in regulating Internet providers.

I'm more of a 10th Amendment kinda guy:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I don't feel the federal government should be involved. Federal involvement is overreach in my mind. My Streaming Life doesn't need more federal government involvement.