Posts Tagged ‘Cable television’

I am a big fan of cord cutting. Unfortunately, the cable companies have us cornered. Providing both internet connectivity and content (cable programming). There is only way any one person can tell the cable companies they are not happy and that is with their wallet. They dump cable.

The trend has been growing so fast, cable companies are getting worried. But you know they didn’t get rich and eliminate competition by being stupid. Since they own the data pipes to your house AND provide content they still own you. See the graphic below.

Cable Internet Costs

A few years ago I checked internet only prices in the Washington DC area. Comcast, Verizon and Cox all provided internet only services averaging $30-$45/month. With the cord cutting trend picking up steam the cable companies got smart and started offering higher bandwidth connections of 50 MB up and down for more money. Keep in mind that you only need 3-8 MB down to stream 1080p HD.

Recent social media discussions show that in parts of the country Internet only is now costing $60 a month for the same fiber link to your house. Sure you get higher speeds, but usually more than you need.

So let’s say you cut the cord, spend $20-$30/month on subscribed streaming content, you might end up with 15-10 channels and maybe live TV. That’s $60 for internet and $20 for content which equals $80/month. On the other hand for the same $80 you get the same internet connection and 400 plus channels of live TV.

So how or what do you win? The cable companies are still getting their money, and you are getting less content.

The Fix

There is only fix for this situation and that is competition. The removal of restrictive deals with cities which give monopolies to the cable companies and the Federal Government with laws and regulations that stimulate competition. This is a much harder problem to fix if you really want to cut the cord and not be at the mercy of the cable companies.

A small hope for a small number of consumers is to get the internet only, put up an indoor/outdoor HD antenna, and get free live HD programming which an old law says broadcasters must continue to provide.

Good luck.

Homemediaguy

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Every day you hear and read about cord cutters and how happy they do not have to pay for cable TV. Whoops! They still have to pay for internet access, which makes sense. When you think that most people leave their TV’s on for the noise factor even when they are not watching but listening to TV; streaming content is the de facto standard of video delivery. What most people do not think about is the cable companies realize what’s coming and have postured themselves to never having to reduce revenue. How can that be?

Easy. There are three elements to the “bundle” package most people subscribe to with their cable company. Phone, TV and internet. As the demand for 40 good channels on cable, they end up paying over $200 a month for those channels, a phone (which is becoming more irrelevant due to cell phones) and the ubiquitous internet connection.

If you look at any cable TV companies web site, they offer internet only services for around $50 a month. Wow. That’s a lot for something that just sits there until you use it. And you’re right. Where there is competition and adequate regulation you can get faster internet for about half the price if you lived in Europe or Asia.

As people look to dump the TV part of their package, they find that they still pay a high amount to stay in the internet streaming game. Add to that that companies like Comcast are starting to limit the amount of data you can use each month with your internet connection, we are headed right back to where we started. Comcast is offering an unlimited internet connection in markets with data limits (like your cell phone data plans) for an additional $30 a month. $50 + $30 = $80, ouch!

So let’s look at online streaming. First, there is no one content provider that offers you all your local stations and a few more. There is no one out there that can put this simple package together. Then you have to pay another $30 on top of the $50 for internet connections, because streaming all day will bust your monthly cap.

Should you decide that you can change your viewing habits (yeah right) you could still cut the cord and have almost everything you have today regarding TV content. Moving to an over the air option (OTA) gives you FREE local TV in 1080p HD.

Let’s compare OTA to the “bundle” and see:

Now Instead try this:
Cable provided phone Cell phone
Cable channels A regular in attic TV antenna
Cable DVR Tablo DVR

It’s really not that hard to make the switch if you change your “viewing habits”. I used to record 6 or 7 shows I loved and went crazy finding the time to watch it all. So I stopped watching all of them and spent time with my wife and dog every day doing stuff. Real life stuff. You can do this too.

It is true not everyone can put an antenna in their attic or on their roof and get a good TV signal, but it doesn’t cost much to try. There is also websites you can search for that can tell you before you spend any money on an antenna (ex. http://antennapoint.com/).

Tablo.tv makes great DVR’s to hook your antenna to and record all your favorite shows.

This approach leaves you with only a monthly internet bill much lower than you pay now for the “bundle”.

Let’s look at some numbers:

Cable Bundle Number of Channels Internet, TV, Phone Cable Boxes 1DVR & 2 Boxes Taxes & Fees Monthly Total
Introductory Price 400  $              89  $               25  $   20  $        134
Normal Price  $            225  $               25  $   20  $        270
     
     
Cable Internet Only 0  $              50  $                –  $   12  $          62
Streaming content        
Sling TV 23  $              29  $                –  $    –  $          29
Netflix 1  $              12  $                –  $    –  $          12
Amazon 1  $              12  $                –  $    –  $          12
Monthly  $        385
One Time Cost  $           –  
Over the Air Live TV Number of Channels Internet, TV, Phone Cable Boxes 1DVR & 2 Boxes Taxes & Fees Monthly Total
Antenna 20-40 $50 – $100  $                –  $    –  $           –  
DVR (Tablo & Roku 3 TV’s) $550  $                –  $    –  $           –  
Phone (Use cell phone) $0  $                –  $    –  $           –  
Internet only $50  $                –  $    –  $          50
Monthly  $          50
One Time Cost  $        650

Take a few minutes and think about how much TV is a part of your life and the money you spend on video content. Then decide. Good luck.

Homemediaguy

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Put simply, a media server is usually a PC which can store your various media files such as photos, music, home movies and purchased movies. You can also install software to manage your media. Media servers can also hold specialized software to allow you access to internet media content not normally available from a web browser.

A good example of the latter is a software package called Playon (www.playon.tv). Once installed on your media server, Playon allows you to access a host of cable channels including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Bravo, LMN and others. The ability to easily install plugins, allows to access channels like TVLand and NatGEO provided by third parties. Playon offers HD programming for a onetime cost. Playon transcodes (converts) your media at the media server, thus requiring a fairly high performance processor. CPU chips with a Passmark score over 2500 are recommended. Since Playon does not have a button available to tell you the Passmark score of your CPU, You have to find the chip information in Windows and look it up yourself. It is well worth the effort if you are building a server to have an idea of your server performance before you start buying components.

My favorite media server application is called Plex (https://plex.tv. It is an open source program that allows you to access your media content on tablets, smartphones, and PC’s from anywhere in the world. You can also share your media libraries with others very easily. There are also apps for Android, IOS and Roku.

These applications also have channels on the Roku devices. Allowing you to take your Roku box with you when you travel and watch your media content anywhere.

Homemediaguy

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It is so cool to be able to watch the shift from the omnipotent cable companies who control TV programming to IPTV. We are in a time similar to when the Internet first became popular in the 90’s. Free ideas, lots of choices, but Whoops, very few standards.

I certainly understand this is just the beginning and companies like Roku, Aereo, Apple and Google have jumped into this trend will both feet. But I think we are now at the time that the masses (that’s us) and not the big corporations need to step up and tell those companies along with small developers what we really want. Thus I am providing my wish list. Feel free to Tweet, Facebook and email to anyone who will listen what you really want.

One of the biggest problems IPTV needs to solve is the current “user experience”. That is hitting the guide button and surfing to find what you want to watch. So simple compared to today’s channel structure in IPTV (Roku, Apple TV, etc.). Most people don’t want to have to work to find what they want, which is what you have to do today to find a show you like; even if the shows are already categorized by channel (UFO TV, Kino Lober, etc.). You have to drill down the menus sometimes 3 or 4 times to get to the listings you want to choose from.

My list.

  1. One or two or even three types of channel guides for IPTV content. I mean a channel guide similar to cable in format (for lack of a better idea). Where the channel provider like Paranormal TV, Russia Today, Netflix, HuluPlus, and everyone who provides content will show you their content on the FIRST screen. Say the channels would be across the top (where cable companies put the time) and what is showing now along the left edge. Any new content (shows, channels, etc) would be listed at the top with a “NEW” logo. This idea means that the providers would “push” what is available to you instead of you “pulling” digging and drilling down to find what you want.
  2. Select “Favorites” from providers like Hulu on the first screen like cable so you don’t have to sort through tons of stuff you don’t care about.
  3. Finally, wouldn’t it be cool to integrate this concept with an over the air channel guide like the one Tablo provides? Right now it’s just a dream. But you have to start somewhere.

Hey, I understand all the content providers will scream NO! But like a lot of IT related issues, rarely do they think of the “user experience”. Fixing the channel lineup issue will go a long way to move from the early adopters of today to the masses.

What do you think? Help spread the word.

Homemediaguy

Back in the 90’s there were thousands of internet service providers who would give you internet access for a decent price. Sure back then it was dial up, but it only cost a few bucks to connect. In other words Affordable and reliable.

Those sneaky and smart cable companies realized what the future held and bought out all the little guys, then bought out each other to get to the giants they are today.

The reason it is nearly impossible to cut the cord to cable TV is because the same company is also your internet service provider. So they price their “internet only” offerings so high (twice as much as Europe) you have to be a diehard cord cutter and cut the cord based on principal and not dollar savings. And if you are lucky, you might save a few bucks (no monthly cable box charges).

There is a way to disrupt the status quo. It’s not easy, considering many people don’t have the interest to vote in local and state elections. Cities, counties and even states have passed laws making it illegal for local municipalities to compete in the same geography as cable companies for internet service offerings. The cable companies did a great job of lobbying the right folks. If we changed lose laws, once again we would have something we all thought was lost forever – COMPETITON.

Yes, municipalities have tried and failed, but the success rate is getting much better because cities are learning from the mistakes of others. But first the laws need to change.

Since many people don’t have the time to mess with stuff like this (voting and complaining to elected officials), what we need is a champion. I think that the champion should be Google. They are running very high speed fiber in select cities; they are looking out for our privacy (NSA) and seem like good guys. AND, like the cable companies they have a TON OF MONEY. Let me know what you think.

Contact Google to see if they will fund my nonprofit to change laws for city competition to cable companies.

WOW! A research firm conducted a survey of TV watchers for the second quarter of 2014 and discovered that there are 50,000 more internet TV subscribers than cable TV subscribers. No wonder the cable companies are charging double the cost for internet alone than anywhere else.

Click on this link to read the full article http://www.worldtvpc.com/blog/internet-tv-subscriber-numbers-surpass-cable.

homemediaguy

I know folks its hard to believe. How bad to you want to dump cable? Willing to spend a few bucks risk-free to see if this option will work for you? Why not? I post different ideas on how to dump cable and each of them costs something different. This option is the cheapest one I know except for buying an outside antenna and getting 22 channels.

Step 1: Buy a Roku box for less than $100

Step 2: Buy the entire Playon.tv package for $50 and install on a PC. This will give you basic cable, Hulu (standard definition) and more. You get 30 days free to see if you like it. Also make sure you use a newer PC. All PC processors (chips) have a rating. If you want to stream video over the internet without buffering or other transmission problems you want to make sure the processor in the PC can handle the video stream so you are not calling tech support alot. If you click on your Windows Start button then put your mouse over “Computer”. Then right click and click on “Properties”. The screen that pops up will tell you the chip that you have in the “Processor” section. Write down what you see there.

 PC Processor Menu Selection for processor typePC Processor Type for cpubenchmark

Then go to http://www.cpubenchmark.net and click on “search for your CPU model”. When the page pops up “DO NOT PERFORM A SEARCH”. Unless you type the exact character string to match thier list, nothing comes up. Look down the list and find your processor. The first column to the right is the “Passmark CPU Mark”. If your CPU is over 1,000 your streaming should be pretty solid. Keep in mind bandwidth, RAM and other stuff may impact your video quality. But if your CPU is over a 1000, give it a try. You get 30 days free with Playon.tv. 

CPU Benchmark 1308
Happy viewing.

Bill, home media guy

 

 

As I mentioned in my earlier posts and YouTube video, PlayonTV and Hulu Plus basically replaces your cable TV provider. What do you need to do to get on this bandwagon? Easy,

  1. Go to http://www.playon.tv and buy their ultimate package for less than $60, It comes with over 90 cable channels and DVR software. You pay only once, no monthly fees.
  2. Go to http://www.hulu.com/plus and sign up for Hulu Plus, yes it costs $7.99 a month but that is better than your cable bill, isn’t it?
  3. Take any PC you have, either a desktop or laptop;
  4. Make sure it has an HDMI output. If not buy one for your desktop for $50, sorry older laptops can’t be upgraded
  5. Connect the HDMI cable to the PC and TV
  6. Connect a Roku box up (takes 5 minutes)
  7. Go to the Roku website register and select two channels (which will automatically download the ROku device in your house
  8. Select the PlayonTV channel and watch over 90 cable channels with DVR capability (your media server and PlayonTV software)
  9. Select the Hulu Plus channel and watch all your regular TV shows (one day after they are broadcast.

You can do all this in a few hours. In the end, you pay $7.99 a month for Hulu Plus and get free programming for life from PlayonTV. That wasn’t too hard now was it?

Leave a comment and let me know.

Bill
home media guy