Archives For TV Shows


Noted Apple gossip blog Bloomberg indicates the company intends to beef up its TV app on Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad:

Right now, the TV app aggregates content from other providers, allowing people to locate shows from a wide array of apps and channels like ABC, NBA League Pass and HBO, rather than having to hop between different apps. But then Apple sends customers outside its app to buy access to those channels or watch shows. With the pending change, subscription purchasing would move to the TV app. Apple could eventually move the streaming to its own app, instead of sending users to third parties.

Sounds a lot like Amazon’s Prime Video app and Channels approach, by becoming a streaming service content hub for, presumably, a more elegant end-user experience, that also happens to generate additional affiliate revenue for Apple — and not entirely dissimilar from Roku’s desire for a bigger cut on the content distribution front. Beyond 3rd party providers, this may also signal that Apple intends to leverage an updated TV app to distribute its own upcoming original programming.

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.

Giving or getting a Roku this Christmas? The streaming pioneer has lined up an impressive array of free trials. Some of the more compelling offerings:

  • Hulu – 3 months free
  • HBO Now – 1 month free
  • Netflix – 1 month free
  • Showtime – 1 month free
  • CinemaNow – 3 movie rentals

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Some of the promos, like Netflix can be applied to (certain) existing accounts, whereas Hulu and HBO require new identities. But while the terms may slightly vary, the bottom line is you’re going to need to link up a Roku account with your credit card and remember to cancel any subscription before the trial is up. Unless you’re so enamored with the service you choose to carry on — which, of course, is their hope.

Having recently outfitted both our kitchen and guest bedroom with 32″ Roku TVs, I took advantage of the Hulu trial. Despite the commercial interruption, we thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Manhattan and are currently bingeing the Hulu-original Casual. We have until 1/16 to activate any of the others before the promotion period expires… and it sounds like I’ll want to catch up on new seasons of Showtime’s Homeland and The Affair.

TiVo to give away viewership data in 2016

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Word on the street is that Apple TV will gain Siri-powered “universal” search with a rumored new $149 model being unveiled next week. Which would be quite curious if they also deliver a more open app platform as, suddenly, Apple iTunes video could compete directly against the likes of Amazon and Vudu. Presumably, should both come to pass, Apple would be content to take a cut of app sales (as seen on mobile) to offset the video losses.

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Of course, others like Roku and Fire TV, have long featured universal search, with TiVo leading the pack — as both live and upcoming television programming are indexed, along with the ability to create a OnePass playlist from disparate sources. Apple’s search functionality would gain additional utility should their rumored streaming TV service launch… with live programming and hopefully an on demand library.

Commercial-Free Hulu Is Here*

Dave Zatz —  September 2, 2015

Hulu just overcame one of its two biggest shortcomings in launching an ad-free tier. Whereas the Hulu we know and rarely love runs $8/month, the new offering clocks in at $12/month. I’m certainly willing to pay more for video streaming without commercial interruption, but I wonder if Hulu is 30% better than Netflix – which runs $9/mo for new customers. Sure Netflix has lost EPIX to Hulu, but they’re firing on all cylinders in regards to producing compelling original content and exclusively licensing some hidden gems. Beyond advertising, Hulu’s second significant shortcoming has been a large number of incomplete series/seasons. Not sure how the catalog looks these days but, given this new subscription option, I’m finally willing to take a look. Just as soon as the incoming TiVo app update hits…

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Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  May 8, 2015

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