Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Has Netflix Lost Nickelodeon Shows?

A strange thing showed up in my Netflix instant queue today... "Available Until May 1, 2010".  I was immediately concerned that Netflix is losing streaming content.  Upon further inspection, it seemed that all of the expiring content was owned by Nickelodeon.  I called Netflix support to find out what's up.  I was told by the support engineer that Netflix has limited time contracts, and when the contracts run out, it gets removed from the instant queue.  I was also told that the content usually gets replaced by newer content.  I'll be sure to keep an eye on things come may first.  I hope Netflix did not lose the Nickelodeon contract!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Review: MLB.TV Beta on Roku

At midnight I was notified that the MLB.TV beta on Roku has begun.  I immediately signed up and turned it on just in time to see David Eckstein's game winning homerun over San Francisco.  I was immediately blown away by the High Definition quality of the stream. Before I get too caught up in the details, let me back up a bit.

MLB.TV has had a Roku app in development for some time.  A $99 subscription to MLB.TV and a Roku box will give you access to all out of market games, excluding blackouts for national broadcasts.  Being a big baseball fan, and a Mets fan living in the Philadelphia area, this is the perfect solution for me.  Now on to the details...

Once you open the app, you choose the game you'd like to watch.  You can watch live games, or games that have already been played.

If the games have already been played it will appear as "Final." If the game has not been played, it will show the scheduled pitchers.

You can choose which broadcast you would like to watch...

...or show the game status.

If the games already been played, you can watch it from the beginning...

... or jump to a specific inning.

Once you make your selection, the game plays in HD

From what I've seen thus far, this is close to being ready to ship to the general public.  Hopefully the quality won't suffer once the number of streams multiply.  I've only had it a day and I plan to do a follow-up after I've used the service for awhile.  My initial thoughts... the MLB and Roku have hit a homerun!!!  (corny pun intended)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Starz Play - The Future of Pay TV

The season finale of "Spartacus Blood and Sand" was just broadcast this past Friday.  What a great show.  It got me thinking... how was I able to get it?  Starz Play... that's how!

Starz has taken a lead in making their content available outside of cable and satellite distribution.  You can get Starz Play a number of different ways, and the cost seems to vary.  Starz Play is part of my $8.99 a month NetFlix subscription.  Verizon offers Starz Play for $5.99 a month ($9.99 a month for non FIOS subscribers) and Quest offers it for $7.99 a month.

Cheaper TV Take: HBO, Showtime, and other premium service providers can learn a thing or two from Starz.  People love their content... they shouldn't limit distribution of their content to cable and satellite providers.  Kudos to Starz... keep up the good work!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Free TV revolution has begun... 800,000 people cut cable

The following news story was posted on Yahoo today...

Nearly 800,000 U.S. TV households 'cut the cord,' report says

It became the most popular news story of the day and received 8,000 comments from Yahoo readers.  By comparison... a news article about Iran building a nuclear bomb generated 190 comments.  It's obvious that replacing pay TV with broadcast TV or other entertainment options is no longer outside of the norm... you are not alone!!!  Many people are considering it, or have already replaced cable TV.  Welcome to the free TV revolution!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cousin Jenn - Sticking it to the man!!!

I just found out tonight that my cousin Jenn has decided to join me in cutting cable, using a combination of broadcast TV and streaming internet content to her apartment in Brooklyn.  She went to Best Buy to buy an antenna, but the salesman couldn't understand what she was trying to do.  When he finally got it, he said... "Oh, you're trying to stick it to the man."  I love that quote!

Like most people, Jenn ran into a few roadblocks when making the switch.  She installed the antenna and scanned her TV, unfortunately, she was missing ABC, PBS, and a few other stations.  I checked antennaweb.org, and it turns out that the stations she wasn't receiving were being broadcast over VHF.  I advised her to purchase a cheap set of rabbit ears for $10, and merge the signal using a combiner.

She then hooked up her laptop to her TV so she could stream Hulu.  Everything seems to be working well.  Good luck Jenn and welcome to the Free TV team!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

NetFlix for the Wii has arrived

The NetFlix disk for the Wii has arrived!!!  We now have two tv's connected to NetFlix, one in my bedroom, the other in the living room.  Now that Netflix is available in the living room, my wife and I will get our room back.  I love my kids but there are times we need our space.

Setup for adding NetFlix to theWii is a piece of cake.  Simply insert the disk, and follow the instructions on the screen.  The Wii only streams in standard definition, which works for us, because our living room TV is not HD. The difference in quality between the Roku on a HD TV and the Wii on a standard def TV is noticeable.  One day, when I replace this TV with a HDTV, I may not want to use this solution. For now it's fine.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

3 Easy Steps to Free TV

Since starting this blog, I've often talked with friends and family members about moving away from cable TV.  It seems a lot of people want to give up cable, or have tried to take some steps in that direction, but have failed to fully move away from paying for TV.  So for those of you that have thought about moving to free TV, here are three easy steps to follow:

Step 1 - Buy a cheap antenna - Buy a Basic Indoor Antenna for less than $10.  Remove your existing cable and connect the antenna to your TV, and re-scan the channels on your TV.  If you have a newer TV that accepts digital signals, it should just work without any further adjustments (skip to step 3).  If you have an older TV, you may need a converter box... move on to Step 2.  If you receive some channels but not others, you may need a better antenna.  You should visit www.antennaweb.org to determine your antenna needs.

Step 2 - Buy a converter box or HDTV (optional) - If you have an older TV set, one that only accepts analog signals, you can buy a digital to analog TV converter box to use an antenna to get TV broadcasts.  These boxes cost about $40 and are very easy to install.  If you  have a much older TV, and think you're going to be in the market for a new TV soon, it may make sense to buy a new TV instead of buying a converter box for your old TV.  You can buy a new 19" or 20" HDTV for less than $200.  For example the Vizio VA19LHDTV10T costs only $178.

Step 3 - Call your cable company - Pick up the phone and tell your cable or satellite provider that you are cancelling your cable tv subscription.  If you have second thoughts and think that you can't live without all of the channels cable has to offer, consider buying a Roku box and subscribing to NetFlix.  With over 17,000 movies and TV shows available for $9 a month, you'll have more than enough TV to watch.  Don't worry, any decision you make is not final.  Believe me, cable companies are always willing to take your money, so you would be able to re-subscribe at anytime.