Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Media’

Plex Announces Movie Rentals ➝

I’m not in love with Plex moving into this space — I don’t want the Plex app to turn into an advertisement for their add-on services. I just want it to give me a great interface for the media I have stored on my home server.

But I understand that they need to make money somehow and they will eventually hit a dead end with revenue if they continue to offer lifetime Plex Pass as an option. Hopefully they will keep the feature in sensible places within the app so users that don’t want to see it never have to.

➝ Source: plex.tv

Prime Video to Include Ads Next Year, Amazon Offering Ad Free Option for $2.99 a Month ➝

Coincidentally, prior to this news, my wife and I had a conversation about whether we could cancel Amazon Prime. The only feature we actually use is Prime shipping — we don’t use their music service, video service, or anything else, just the shipping.

I have a feeling we could get along fine without it.

As for Prime Video and streaming services in general, the cost-benefit equation has seen a sharp decline in recent years. I’m so glad I made the decision to build my own media library in Plex and eliminate our reliance on these streaming services.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

iOS 17.2 and tvOS 17.2 Kills TV Show and Movie Wishlists ➝

Juli clover, writing for MacRumors:

In the iTunes Store app on the iPhone and iPad, and the separate iTunes TV Shows and iTunes Movies apps on the ‌Apple TV‌, there were options to add TV shows and movies to a dedicated wishlist when browsing, which consumers used to save the content for later and watch for sales.

The wishlists did not transfer over to the ‌Apple TV‌ app with these updates, so some customers who had compiled long watch lists are unable to access those curated lists or copy them over to a new location. Some users are able to open up the iTunes Store app on iOS devices and tap on the hamburger button in the upper right corner to see their wishlists, but this does not appear to be working for everyone. Those who compiled lists on the ‌Apple TV‌ appear to have no way to access them.

I’ve also noticed that there is no option to view a preview of TV show episodes in the TV app either, which was available in the dedicated iTunes TV Shows app.

A warning on this would have been nice, but I hate that they’re doing it regardless. If I want to browse TV shows or movies to purchase on my Apple TV, all the iTunes Store content is commingled with media that’s only available on streaming. Even if you stick to the “Store” section, you’ll see plenty of movies and shows that require Apple TV+ or another streaming app and subscription to view.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

Disney+ and Hulu Merging Into Single App, Beta Coming in December ➝

Merging the apps makes sense from a business standpoint — it will give them more opportunities to promote the subscriptions to users that only have one or the other.

But I suspect they will go beyond that — I’d take this as an early signal that Disney+ and Hulu’s existence as separate subscriptions isn’t long for this world. It seems inevitable that they’ll eventually be merged.

If you’re still paying for subscriptions like this, I’d suggest setting up a Plex server and spending the equivalent of a streaming subscription each month on purchased media — be it DVDs and Blu-rays to rip or digital downloads that you can strip the DRM from.

Start building up a library of content that you own to eventually opt out of this whole subscription nonsense.

➝ Source: macrumors.com

Internet Protocol Television

iPlayTV Channels Tab

Ever since I went all-in on Plex in 2016, I’ve been slowly but surely moving away from bigger streaming services and toward more self-hosted and distributed, open alternatives. Up until a few weeks ago, I was primarily using Plex, Pocket Casts, and YouTube for everything I watched. The latter of which I’ve been trying to cut back on by replacing it with more podcasts, Odysee, and other alternative platforms.

I would occasionally dabble with Pluto, Plex’s Live TV feature, and even Channels paired with an HDHomeRun for over-the-air television. But none of it ever stuck for me. Pluto’s Apple TV app has always been dreadful to use. Plex’s Live TV feature didn’t have many good stations and randomly lost Buzzr — one of the few I actually enjoyed. And there was a restructuring of over-the-air stations in my area a couple years ago, which made it nearly impossible for us to consistently get more than a channel or two.

I’ve found something better, though. Something distributed and something that feels like the heyday of over-the-air television or C-band satellite for the internet age. Internet protocol television or IPTV.

Now, that’s often used as an umbrella term to refer to any and all video streaming on the web. In this case, though, I’m referring specifically to .m3u and .m3u8 playlists. There are for-pay providers that sell access to these, but those all seem to be of questionable legality and not the kind of sites I would want to enter my credit card information into.

There are, however, legal and freely available streams on the web. There’s probably a bunch of resources for finding them, but I came across a GitHub repository that looks to be regularly updated and has a wide variety of streams available. They’re categorized by region, language, genre, and more.

So how does it actually work? Well, it works a lot like podcast apps did back before they all included integrated indexes. You copy a link to the playlist file you want to use and paste it into your IPTV app of choice. The app will parse the playlist file and give you a list of channels to watch.

In my case, I copied the link for the United States playlist and pasted it into iPlayTV on my Apple TV using the excellent keyboard/remote control feature on my iPhone. You can give the playlist any name you like within the app, I simply went with “Internet Protocol Television”. You can also, optionally, enter a link to an electronic program guide (EPG) file, which the app can use to indicate what’s playing on a given station. I used the United States one from the sister repository.

I have access to about 1900 stations with this setup. To be fair, the overwhelming majority of those I will never actually watch. But I went through and saved all of the most interesting streams as favorites, which gives me about 35 channels to choose from

iPlayTV Sidebar Guide

In frequent rotation is Laff, MeTV, the aforementioned Buzzr, and Rewind TV. It’s a lot of old sitcoms and game shows, but that’s kind of my jam anyway. There are plenty of other channels, of course, from a wide variety of genres — you’ll likely find something you enjoy regardless of the type of content you tend to watch.

I’ve never been too much of a fan of linear television programming. With ads and a limited number of channels, you’re kind of stuck watching what’s available and often times have to sit through a bunch of ads to do it.

Those problems still exist, but there is something nice about having a smaller number of options to choose from. And within those options, not having to decide what episode to watch. With the size of my Plex library, analysis paralysis is a common occurrence. With this IPTV setup, it’s nice to just glance through the channel list and only have to decide whether you want to watch Dick Van Dyke or Match Game.

Aside from the existence of ads, there are other downsides. One of the most notable is that the guide feature within iPlayTV, appears to display every single channel it has guide data for, regardless of whether you have access to that channel or not. So I just stick to the Channels tab and, while playing a channel, use the swipe gestures to view program guide data, which will only show you information for your current category — favorites, in my case.

There is a bit of work to get it set up. As I mentioned, I went through and favorited all the channels I might want to watch — that takes a bit of time. Some of the channels are non-English, some streams just isn’t working, or the content it’s playing doesn’t match what the playlist thinks it is. That can be tedious to wade through. Luckily, the app supports syncing over iCloud, though, so I don’t have to add the playlist and favorite channels on each of my three Apple TVs individually.

There’s also the occasional issue of channels being removed or added to the playlist — as channels get taken down or are no longer accessible. The day after I got it all setup a few of the channels I favorited just disappeared on me. One of them eventually returned and luckily iPlayTV still had it saved in my favorites section. The app also does a great job of highlighting newly added channels — giving them a red border in the channel list and their own dedicated section in the sidebar.

None of this is a deal breaker for me, though. Once it’s all configured, there’s very little effort to keep it up and running. Sometimes a channel I watch will disappear, but I haven’t had this happen with anything I watch regularly. It’s always been one of the oddball channels that I have favorited because I might watch it.

There’s still a lot to explore for me in the world of IPTV — I’ve only set it up on the Apple TV so far. Unfortunately, iPlayTV is Apple TV-only. I’ll have to do some digging to see if there are good options on iPad and iPhone. I have Awesome IPTV on my list of resources to dig through, which includes options for apps, providers, and more. It’s been a pretty fun and entertaining experience so far and I’m looking forward to spending more time on this little project going forward.

Broadcasts, a Simple Radio App ➝

I’ve been, inexplicably, on a bit of a radio kick lately. Not using an actual radio, though. Instead, I’ve been manually adding streams from local radio stations to Broadcasts so I can listen from my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook.

I have it setup with about a dozen music and talk radio stations and it’s currently my go-to way to fill in the gaps when I run out of podcast episodes. That’s something that I was previously turning to YouTube for. But I’ve been more actively trying to reduce my time on YouTube and Broadcasts has been doing a great job to help with that.

➝ Source: apps.apple.com

PlayOn ➝

This is a pretty rad service that appears to exist in a legal gray area. It essentially let’s you authenticate a browser on PlayOn’s servers with the credentials for streaming video services, for the purposes of screen recording content.

The services it works with are pretty extensive and you can install a downloader app on your computer to automatically download new recordings in MP4 format. My own interests are purely academic, of course.

➝ Source: playon.tv

Add Collections to Home Screen in Plex ➝

Plex:

If you’ve created a collection, you can optionally choose to make that collection visible as a row on the home screen or library Recommended screen. This effectively lets you create some powerful “custom” rows. For instance, you could create a smart collection based on filtering/sorting a library and then have that appear as a row on the home screen.

Perfect for your Christmas movie collection during the holiday season.

➝ Source: support.plex.tv