Tag Archive for ‘Cord Cutting’

Channels DVR Adds M3U Playlist Support ➝

Jared Newman, writing for TechHive:

Where Channels really stands out, though is in what it can record beyond just over-the-air broadcasts. Last year, Channels added support for capturing TV Everywhere streams, so if you have a pay TV login, you can use the DVR for cable channels. It also added Locast.org support, so you can record local channels without an antenna in certain markets.

Last month, Channels took things a step further: For any legal video source that generates an M3U playlist, you can now add it to Channels and record its content. That means it’s now possible to record free streams from Pluto TV or Stirr, add a live webcam to your channel guide, or even roll your own round-the-clock channels from locally hosted media.

I’ve been using Channels to watch over-the-air television on my iPad and Apple TV for years. It’s an excellent piece of software. And I’ve dabbled with their Channels DVR service in the past. I eventually gave it up because it didn’t offer anything that I didn’t already have access to through Plex — where I watch most of my content.

But this is the first that I’m hearing about some of these features. Specifically the M3U playlist support. My wife and I have been watching a lot Pluto TV lately — Match Game on Buzzr is a huge draw. And having the ability to record shows from Pluto TV for more convenient viewing sounds fantastic.

➝ Source: techhive.com

Hulu’s New Live-Streaming Service ➝

Peter Kafka, on Hulu’s new live television service:

That $39.95 will get you several dozen channels, which you can watch on your phone or connected TV devices like Xbox and Apple TV; more devices, like Roku, are on the way. It also includes Hulu’s subscription video service, which gives you access to old TV shows and movies, as well as Hulu originals like “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

If you want to spend more, you can pay for extras like a cloud DVR. You can also add Showtime, but not HBO, to the mix.

I’m going to beat this drum until the fad ends or new services quit cropping up. But why would anyone want to pay $40 a month for, what is essentially, a cable subscription that’s transmitted over the internet?

I get it — sports, no long-term commitments. But there must be a better way.

Canceling Netflix

I’ve been a cord cutter for my entire adult life. When I moved into an apartment of my own, at the age of 18, I signed up for cable internet from Time Warner. They tried to up-sell me into one of their bundled deals, but I didn’t want any part of it. I didn’t need anything more than internet access.

At the time — 2006 — I was using a cell phone on my mother’s plan and most of my media viewing was coming from alternative means. Whether it be the discs that Netflix sent me in the mail, video podcasts, TV and movies from the iTunes Store, or video files acquired from a certain pirate-themed website. I didn’t have any reason to pay for cable.

As time has passed, my interest in acquiring content nefariously has all but disappeared. There isn’t much of a point to it anymore. Most of the major content creators have their movies and TV shows available online in an easy to obtain and inexpensive form. It’s taken a long time to get here, but I think the film and TV industry are finally to a point where they can compete with piracy.

Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and numerous offerings from just about every provider has made cord cutting an easy decision for a lot of families. It’s usually far less expensive than a cable package and can be consumed on any device you can think of — with a far better interface, to boot. And the best part is, each person can pick and choose which services are best for them.

What’s interesting about that last point is, just about every person I know has a Netflix account — or at the very least, access to one. As the first major player in the subscription streaming video market, Netflix is the default choice for most cord cutters and those even flirting with the idea. The service has mass appeal because of its savvy content dealings and name recognition. And in recent years, they’ve kept subscribers loyal by producing their own shows which are available exclusively on their service.

But I’m here to tell you that I’ve done the unthinkable. Last week, I canceled my Netflix subscription.

There wasn’t any one thing in particular that pushed me to make this decision. The biggest of the bunch, though, is that it had been several weeks since I even launched the app on my Apple TV. Netflix is a wonderful service with plenty of great content, but lately I’ve spent all of my time watching Hulu, YouTube, and my collection of archived DVDs in my Mac mini’s iTunes Library.

I don’t need Netflix anymore because there isn’t anything on the service that’s grabbing my attention the way that Regular Show and Top Chef are on Hulu; Giant Bomb and LinusTechTips are on YouTube; or Boy Meets World is in my iTunes Library. I’d rather watch those than anything Netflix has available.

It’s also worth noting that I was going to be charged for my next month of service — the day after I canceled, coincidentally — at the new $9.99 rate. I had been grandfathered into the old $7.99 rate, but September was the last month they would be honoring the lower price. I can’t say this had any bearing on my decision, though, because I had already decided to cancel when I found out about it.

Don’t get me wrong, this is unlikely to be the end of Netflix for me. Hulu and YouTube have been fantastic lately, but all streaming services grow stale eventually. Once I’ve exhausted the options available from my current services, I’ll probably come back to Netflix. When will that be? I don’t know. But in the mean time, I’ll be more than happy to have an extra $10 in my pocket at the end of each month.

‘Why I’m Finally Leaving Cable TV’ ➝

Chris Plante, writing for The Verge:

For years I figured that when I scrapped my cable plan, it would be because an even easier option appeared. But this week, I’ve considered finally cutting the cord for a different reason: subscriptions services better respect my time.

In fact, now I recognize all the ways cable is designed to waste my time.

The key point for me is the lack of advertising. I pay less for a Netflix and Hulu subscription than anyone I know pays for cable and I never have to sit through a single commercial. With cable, unless I take the time to setup DVR recordings before a show airs, I’m stuck watching it live. And even if I remember to record it, I still have to fast-forward through ads and hope that I hit play at just the right moment. That’s less “entertaining” and more “nerve-racking.”

Netflix CEO Tells Subscribers to Brace for Higher-Priced Plans ➝

The cost of cord cutting is destined to increase over time. I just hope price-conscious users continue to have inexpensive options in the future. I always thought Netflix would be that option, but maybe that isn’t the case.

How to Watch NBC’s Super Bowl Live Stream ➝

I’m not much of a sports guy. But if I end up watching some of the Super Bowl this year, this is how I’m going to do it.

Chris Morran Gets Hands-On Time With Sling TV ➝

Talk of Dish’s new streaming video service, Sling TV, seemed to be everywhere after it was announced early this week. Headlined by ESPN and ESPN 2, it was positioned as a way for cord cutters to get access to sports content that had previously been impossible to access without a cable subscription.

But frankly, the service doesn’t look like a very good deal. It costs $20 a month and doesn’t seem to offer very much for the price. There’s only nine networks listed on the bottom of Sling’s homepage. Which brings me to the biggest problem I have with the service — it focuses on live content.

I’m not the least bit interested in watching anything live. My work schedule doesn’t typically allow for me to watch anything I’d be interested in while it’s airing and, most importantly, I can’t imagine having to sit through long commercial breaks again.

There is some amount of “on-demand” content, as Chris Morran mentions in his aforelinked piece on Consumerist:

While Sling TV will allow you to pause and rewind live feeds, there is no recording or DVR-like storage. Instead, each of the channels determines which previously aired programs from the past few days can be available on demand.

That doesn’t sound very promising.

I guess if you’re really interested in cutting the cord, but can’t live without ESPN and ESPN 2, this could be the perfect service for you. Although, you’re going to be paying a lot of money for what appears to be a fairly shallow service. But, at least you’ll be able to watch the GoDaddy Bowl at 2AM like cable subscribers can.

The Tools and Toys Guide to Cutting the Cord ➝

My sister and brother-in-law recently canceled their cable subscription. They bought an indoor antenna and a couple of Apple TVs to connect to all of the televisions throughout their house. I helped them pick out a lot of the devices and services that they would use to fuel their media consumption. This guide on Tools and Toys would have been invaluable for them during the lead up to their transition away from cable. If you know anyone that’s cutting the cord — or even thinking about it — send them a link to this guide.