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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  April 22, 2016 — 7 Comments

A periodic roundup of relevant news…

google-cast

I’ve been alerted that Google Cast technology will be hitting existing Google Fiber television hardware in the very near future… making subscriber’s “cable” TV set-top boxes that much more interesting, as tons of over-the-top Internet audio and video apps become available, via smartphone control, in a far more efficient manner than, say, TiVo’s approach of negotiating development of individual apps like HBO GO. Beyond my trusted source, additional evidence can be found in this Chromecast code snippet, referencing the “Google fiber remote,” and from some beta testers who look to have prematurely spilled the beans.

Unlock The Box?

Dave Zatz —  March 22, 2016 — 21 Comments

After years of fits and starts, we finally find ourselves on the cusp of a CableCARD successor as the FCC has proposed the pay television industry “unlock the box”– providing customers broader access to programming via hardware and experiences of their choosing.

As a long-time industry observer, I’ve found much of the press coverage unsatisfying – marred by a lack of situational awareness and heavily influenced by lobbying groups on all sides. Sadly, as a blog hobbyist (with a new baby), I can’t give you the polished 4000 words this topic demands. But I can provide one man’s rough yet somewhat educated and largely unbiased opinion, both textually below and via the new LPX Show podcast embedded right here – along with my pals Brad Linder and Mari Silbey.

A Very Brief Primer Continue Reading…

Pioneering Internet streaming service Sling TV has unveiled their upcoming interface refresh from CES. And our pal Brad Linder went hands on. Beyond recent guide presentation updates, the thrust of this transition is functional — with personalization taking center stage.

A new MyTV dashboard collates content you’ve previously flagged as Favorites, Recommended content based on viewership, and any On Demand programming you may have left in progress – so you can pick it up at another time or from another device. Further, On Now is a new customized guide presentation based on what you generally watch and when you watch it. Beyond these changes, Sling has also realized the UI does not need to be consistent amongst devices — what works on a touchscreen up close may not be suitable from a leanback experience. Not to mention navigation conventions vary by platform, say Xbox One versus Roku.

While the new approach does seem compelling and more interactive, at least in regards to Sling’s target millennial audience, it’s likely too visually rich and complex for my mom… who owns two Roku TVs and doesn’t particularly care for Comcast. Perhaps a future update could incorporate a slimmed down, “lite” mode with a more traditional presentation to expand Sling TV’s demographic to include seniors. In any event, Sling expects the multi-platform rollout to commence later this quarter.

T-Mobile’s innovative and contentious video streaming compromise took additional heat this week … when it was disclosed that YouTube, a non-Binge On partner, is being served to customers at 480p by default – irrespective of LTE speed and coverage. As to how many customers noticed the reduced quality on their own or are aware they can opt out of Binge On, we just don’t know.

Google’s YouTube complaint:

Reducing data charges can be good for users, but it doesn’t justify throttling all video services, especially without explicit user consent

And T-Mobile’s response:

Using the term “throttle” is misleading. A better phrase is “mobile optimized” or a less flattering “downgraded” is also accurate.

I assume most consumers are satisfied with T-Mobile’s favorable rates over lesser quality cellularly-served video given the relatively small screens and abundance of WiFi. But it’ll be interesting to see if this runs afoul of FCC net neutrality guidance, should the situation escalate and despite their initial blessing.

To celebrate promote the launch of Sling TV on Chromecast, the companies have quite the promotion running. Existing hardware owners are entitled to two free months of the normally $20/month over-the-top television service. Tho Sling TV has occasional streaming issues and a somewhat uncomfortable interface (that’s being improved), nearly a year later, no one else has managed to launch an equivalent nationwide Internet TV service. So why not check it out… for free?

slingtv-chromecast

Try the Best of Live TV for two months free, with Chromecast. See 20+ channels live including ESPN, AMC, HGTV, and more. No annual contract.

The Google OnHub announcement led to a cacophony of polarizing views regarding this new, unexpected router. And now, after having deployed it within the Miarka house the past 24 hours, my thoughts fluctuate — I love the ease of setup and administration, but find myself perplexed by some of the performance I see throughout the house. Read on for more impressions of Google’s first router as it exists today.

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Continue Reading…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 6, 2015

xfinity-voice-remote

Comcast Announces new Xfinity remote with voice control
You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be.

JetBlue to Offer Amazon Prime Members Free Wi-Fi to Stream Video
Amazon is taking to the skies in its battle with Netflix: The e-commerce giant announced a deal with JetBlue, under which Prime members will have free, unlimited access to in-flight Wi-Fi — fast enough to stream video right to their seats.

TiVo Survey Indicates Majority of OTA Cord Cutters Come From Satellite
TiVo Inc., a leader in monetizing over the air signals for operators, today released the findings of an in-depth survey of Over The Air (OTA) TV consumers revealing that a materially higher percentage of cord cutters are coming from former satellite TV service subscribers.

Cable companies want you to pay twice for On Demand with Hulu Plus deal
In another sign that operators are increasingly willing to bring over-the-top streaming services directly to their subscribers, Hulu has announced that it has reached agreements with five multichannel operators to offer Hulu’s subscription streaming service to their customers.