Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Starz Camelot Early Screening - Cheaper TV Review

I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of Starz latest original series... Camelot. I'm happy to say, it appears Starz has another hit on their hands. I'm not much of a movie critic, but I was blown away. The acting was first rate, the script was original and an interesting twist on a story that's been told many times over, and the production quality and set design was equal to that of a top studio film.  Camelot stars Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Claire Forlani.

If you can't wait to see it, you're going to have to break down, subscribe to cable and Starz. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you're going to have to wait 90 days before it appears in your instant streaming queue.  If you're a Verizon Fios customer, you can order Starz Play for $5.99 a month without subscribing to the Verizon TV service. Using Starz Play you will be able to stream the shows to your PC.

For high quality shows like this, I don't mind spending a little money for a subscription to Starz.  Just don't force me to subscribe to cable in order to view it.  Keep up the good work Starz!

Update: If you're a Netflix user you can watch Camelot live (Friday nights @ 10 PM) without having to wait 90 days for it to appear on your instant streaming queue. Here's how:

  • Using Internet Explorer, Login to Netflix on the web (
  • Click on the "Watch Instantly" tab and choose "Starz Play" in the sub-menu
  • On the right hand side, click on "Live Starz TV Channel"
  • BAM, you are now watching the Starz Channel streaming live on your computer.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Are DVR's a Dying Business?

photo by Nesster

Recently Business Week reported that TIVO recorded a major 4th quarter loss. It got me thinking, is TiVo and DVR's in general a dying business?  The way I see it, DVR's and TiVo specifically have 3 major issues:

  1. Hardware Costs - the cheapest TiVo costs about $300, while the cheapest Roku device costs $59. Your other option is to rent a DVR from a cable company, and pay a small monthly fee now until forever.
  2. Technology - Both DVR's and internet TV appliances (ex. Roku, Boxee, Google TV, Apple TV) provide TV entertainment on demand, but with the TiVo you have to manage what shows you want to record, while with an internet TV appliance, you have access to thousands of movies and TV shows.  Both have their benefits, but you can easily see how a DVR can be substituted with an internet TV device.
  3. Subscriptions - Why does TiVo charge a subscription fee?  Sorry TiVo, but I would never pay to subscribe to your directory service.

When I started my quest to replace Cable TV with other options, I seriously considered buying a DVR.  I'm really glad I didn't!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheaper TV's take on Netflix Original TV Shows: What a Gift!

As reported on the Cheaper TV twitter feed, Netflix is in negotiations to purchase an original show; "House of Cards" starring Kevin Spacey.  This is a major, but logical, shift in strategy for Netflix, and puts it in direct competition with the likes of HBO, Showtime, and Starz pay cable channels which all show original content.  Those pay channels have been attracting viewers for years with their own original series like "The Sopranos", "Weeds", and "Spartacus".  Not having it's own content, Netflix has been at the mercy of the Hollywood studios and pay TV channels to provide content for it's service.  This is a bold but calculated step to keep Netflix somewhat independent.  Networks have start grumbling about Netflix's power in the market.  Many network execs have felt that Netflix undervalues their content by making it available, online and on demand for too low a monthly subscription fee, and have threatened to marginalize Netflix by only giving them access to outdated content.

Cheaper TV take: This is great news for Netflix subscribers and could have a major affect on the industry as a whole.  For those of us that replaced cable TV with an antenna and a subscription to Netflix, we can expect to see even more shows available on Netflix.  Companies like HBO and Showtime have to be thinking about how to divorce their content from exclusive cable distribution.  For instance, HBO is now making their shows available for online streaming through their HBO GO service.  This service is only to people that subscribe to HBO through a cable company.  So someone like me, that no longer has cable would be shut out.  If HBO wants to keep up with Netflix and Starz Play, it's going to have to open their content up to the general population and make it available through as many distribution outlets as possible.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cheaper-TV: Show of the week... March Madness

It's March, and if you're a college basketball fan you've been waiting for this month all year... March Madness baby!!! This is one sport where you don't need cable to get your fill. CBS will be broadcasting the tournament live prime time March 17th - March 19th.

If you get digital broadcast TV, you will be viewing it in high definition... free of charge!  Go St. Johns!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Facebook is now in the Movie Rental business

So Facebook is now in the movie rental business.  It will cost you 30 credits or 3 US dollars to see the Dark Knight movie streaming online.  I can't say I'm really interested in watching movies on Facebook... are you?

Cheaper-TV: Show of the week... CSI NY

The CSI series has been a chart topper for some time.  Maybe I'm biased being raised in Brooklyn, but of the three my favorite is CSI NY.  A new episode will be broadcast this Friday, March 11 @ 9PM... free to anyone that gets broadcast tv.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Future of Sports TV... Online Pay Per View

One of my favorite memories of my father, was going to see the fights with him and my uncles.  In the 70's and 80's we didn't have cable TV, so if there was a big fight it was broadcast on one of the major broadcast channels like ABC's Wide World of Sports.

Boxing promoters like Don King quickly figured out that there was more money to be made using modern technology, so they started showing the big fights like "Roberto Duran vs. Sugar Ray Leonard" on closed-circut.  For those fights you would need to go to a theater to see the fight.

Then cable came along, and they started showing the best fights using the cable "Pay-Per-View" system that is still in existence today.  The question is... what's next?  Ustream and Zab Judah may have an answer for that.  On March 5th 2011, they will be offering a "Pay-Per-View" Championship fight online.

So is streaming video the future of "Pay-Per_View" events?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Mother is now Cable Free

My mother made me proud, and cut her cable TV.  As expected, she needed a little convincing, but in the end, she is very happy with the result.

The Concern
My mother is a news junkie.  Her biggest concern was that by cutting cable, she wouldn't be able to watch MSNBC or CNN, and that she would be "out of touch".

The Sales Job
To convince my mother, I installed Roku and a cheap $9 rabbit ear antenna.  I showed her how she could get multiple news shows (including MSNBC and CNN) from the "Roku News Channel" at any time, on demand.  Basically, she could watch the news on her schedule  I also explained that she could still watch broadcast TV to view "the News" on free OTA TV.

After installing the rabbit ear antenna, I scanned her TV.  She ended up with over 50 digital channels, most in HD!  She was blown away with both the number of channels, and the quality of those broadcasts.

The Result
After seeing all of the options available on Roku and through broadcast television, my mother decided to leave cable.  She still has her phone and internet provided by the cable company, but by cutting TV she trimmed her monthly bill in half ($162, to $81). She has also convinced two women living in her building to do the same.

Enjoy your new "cable free" TV mom!