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Reality TV for Foodies – and it’s streaming

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A recent tip from Kevin pointed me to Forekast, an aggregator site of “world vents”, that can  be anything of “global interest” , e.g. sports, TV shows, holidays…. Some of the listings are streaming, some not. (Thanks for the tip Kevin).

Scanning through the upcoming listings I came upon Feedback Kitchen, a streaming series set to start tomorrow featuring Mario Batali.

I’ve always appreciated content that demands little attention, and presents little stress to the viewer. I guess that’s why I like things like the Golf Channel and the food network. (I think Chopped is the best food contest show ever made – full Chopped episodes  here).

Feedback Kitchen looks like the kind of program you could watch while drinking a glass of wine, and having a totally separate conversation with your friends on the side.

Let’s see where it goes…


Feedback Kitchen – Teaser Trailer by FeedbackKitchen

 


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Say Goodbye to Time Warner Cable

A memo went out last week to Comcast and TWC employees announcing the new management structure after the merger is complete. I think it hit the press the same day.Rumor has it that the deal will be complete by  the end of Q1. Despite some emerging critics of the acquisition, Comcast seems to know their way around Washington, and this internal announcement indicates extreme confidence.

photo: Consumerist Dot Com on Flickr

photo: Consumerist Dot Com on Flickr

To cable subscribers and cord cutters this merger will probably have little impact, at least in the beginning. Network infrastructure as well as management  will be consolidated very slowly. Comcast will want to avoid the fiasco that occurred when Adelphia Cable was absorbed resulting in network outages and sent customers fleeing to DIRECTV.

The “good news” is that TWC and Comcast were never direct competitors. For my market the number of pay TV providers will remain at four: Comcast, AT&T U-verse, DIRECTV and Dish. That’s why I have more of a problem with the AT&T DIRECTV deal – it really does eliminate competition.

After the Comcast TWC deal is complete Comcast will control roughly 30% of the pay TV market. But who cares really? What worries some is that Comcast will also become the biggest internet service provider in the country and will  “use its market power to dictate the terms of broadband openness, cost and access…

We can only hope that regulators somehow maintain an environment where competition thrives. Some of us are old enough to remember the days when “Ma Bell” controlled the world of communications in the U.S. Placing a phone call to someone 100 miles away meant per minute billing. Imagine what internet service would cost today had the Bell system remained intact? Let us not recreate it.

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Nonsensical News from CES: Charter did what?

Just now reading about this story about how Charter can update the “look and feel” of services without updating the set-top box and I can’t make any sense of it.

Another puzzler: “The approach will let Charter compete more effectively with Comcast Corp. and other pay-TV companies …”

Really ? Since when does Charter compete with Comcast. Here is the article on Bloomberg. Let us know in the comments if it makes sense to you….

 

 

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Cord Cutter News from CES

We’ll be watching Vegas all this week to see what breakthroughs emerge. So far the biggest story is the following:

ESPN on the web for $20 a month is coming soon

 

Stay tuned for updates and analysis…

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The Interview

Merry Christmas Cord Cutters!

My favorite story of 2014  – only tangentially related to cord cutting – is the #SonyHack. This story has a bit of everything: espionage, Hollywood gossip, technical hacking, freedom of speech issues  – you name it. More later but in any case at the time of this writing the movie “The Interview” (that may have started the whole thing) is just going online. Not very Christmasy I admit, but maybe good fare for late in the day. Here is a link to the release on YouTube.

 

There are a few other streaming options including one set up by SONY itself, www.seetheinterview.com. This would make it seem that North Korea no longer has the ability to take control of SONY’s data. Interesting.

Other sites for viewing:

Google Play

Xbox Video

I can only wonder why Amazon and Netflix are not getting in on this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving Cord Cutters: NFL No problem today

For all of you that enjoy watching NFL before, during and after your big meal, this year’s schedule presents no cord cutter challenges. There are 3 games today, all of which are on major networks.

NFL Schedule Thanksgiving 2014 

Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears — 9:30 am.  on CBS (nice to see Lions winning on Turkey day)

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles — 1:30 p.m.  on  FOX

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks — 5:30 p.m.  on NBC

All times are PST

courtesy Rachel Kramer - Flickr

courtesy Rachel Kramer – Flickr

I remember years ago when the biggest game of the day (New England  I think) was on the NFL network only. Some providers had it some didn’t. Maybe greed got in the way, but in any case I’m glad that practice has stopped.

Does watching football play into your annual event? Let us know how in the comments. Hope you are all having a great holiday.

 

 

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The Great Unbundling and the Cord Cutter: Will it drive prices higher?

This was a huge week for Cord Cutter news. Both  CBS and HBO announced new streaming services. But is this the beginning of the a la carte dream cord cutters have been waiting for? Some say no, be careful what you wish for, because in the end it will mean only less channels for higher prices.

Will we need a loan if we leave the bundle? photo: "Diaper" on Flickr

Will we need a loan if we leave the bundle?
photo: “Diaper” on Flickr

According to FierceCable and the Wall Street Journal the prices for a family that will choose several streaming services (e.g. HBO, CBS, Netflix) might end up being MORE than the typical Cable bill. Really? That doesn’t seem obvious to me but let’s do some back of the envelope calculations.

Let’s say I’m a basic basic cord cutter, with just Netflix and an Antenna and I decide to add  the new CBS and HBO streams to have those additional channels. I’ll call this the:

Basic Streaming Bundle

Service Monthly Cost Notes
Antenna $0.00
Netflix $8.99
CBS $5.99
HBO $15.00 estimated
subtotal 29.98

But I’m missing a lot of cable content, reality shows, other networks, etc.  so I’ll add Hulu to pick up some of them. And of course the cord cutters Achilles heel – SPORTS. Assume the best and that ESPN finally gives in to unbundling. We have to take a guess at the cost but assume it will be something more than any of the above services and I’ll go as others have speculated with $25 per month. I’ll call this the:

 

Premium Streaming Bundle

Service Monthly Cost Notes
Antenna $0.00
Netflix $8.99
CBS $5.99
HBO $15.00 estimated
Hulu Plus $7.99
ESPN $25.00
subtotal $62.97

 

So as you can see, making a few assumptions and guesses, we have a monthly bill of $62.97 – not  cheap but still less than the average Cable bill of $90+. Of course it wouldn’t be hard to exceed $90  just by adding another new streaming service or two.

 But there is something missing with the argument that unbundling will lead to higher prices – the market. It’s a fallacy to assume that ESPN or HBO can simply charge what they want.

One leading theory is that if you unbundle content the price per consumer goes up because the content is no longer subsidized by all those cable customers being forced to take it. Wrong! The market drives the price and if the consumer is willing to pay only $1.00  per month say for the Golf Channel, then that’s what will determine the price.I f the Golf Channel goes out of business at this rate, so be it. Or think about it another way: why is Netflix only $8.99 per month?

In a way the great unbundling does open a Pandora’s box for content providers. The internet has made every other service cheaper – consider music, travel, consumer goods, through the process called disintermediation. If Cable becomes unbundled it will be no exception.

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HBO going À la carte in 2015

This IS big news. What’s missing from the story? Price.

More to follow

 

http://www.cnet.com/news/cord-cutters-hbo-to-start-online-only-subscriptions-in-2015/

 

 

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Is DirecTV Worth it? Another Case of Cord Cutter Ethics

Just as an aside I wondered: If you are a die-hard NFL fan, should you even be a cord cutter? All this talk about how to watch via some inferior stream using a VPN blah blah blah… What if you could just give up being a cord cutter from September to the Super Bowl?

courtesy MatthMatthew Straubmuller flickr

courtesy MatthMatthew Straubmuller flickr

So I jumped on over to DirecTV’s site and tried to sign up for the cheapest package that included  NFL Sunday Ticket. The process feels a little like trying to close the deal at a car dealer. Well you’ll need one of these (packages) and one of these (equipment) and oh what about this (extra channels). But I persisted.

In the end I was presented with something that would cost me $92.98 per month and $99 due at check-out. The NFL Sunday Ticket portion of that was $39.99 per month. Well OK fine. Going to just one game live easily costs $100 these days, so perhaps 6 months of TV football is not such a bad deal. Then I’ll just turn it off.

 

Well no, unfortunately, DirecTV is smarter than that:

ALL OFFERS REQUIRE 24-MONTH AGREEMENT Offers valid through 10/1/14 and are based on approved credit; credit card required, except in MA & PA. New customers only (lease required). Applicable use tax adjustment may apply to the retail value of the installation. Programming, pricing and offers are subject to change and may vary in certain markets. Some offers may not be available through all channels and in select areas. Customers activating the CHOICE™ Package or above or the MAS ULTRA Package or above will be automatically enrolled in the 2014 season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET at no additional cost and will receive a free upgrade to the NFL SUNDAY TICKET MAX for the 2014 season.

TWO YEARS? Many marriages don’t last that long. I’m not signing up for that. But what if there was some legal/semi-legal way around this 2 year thing?

Well to do it legitimately would cost you penalties:

If you cancel before your contract ends, you will be charged a deactivation fee of $15 plus a prorated early cancellation fee of up to $20 a month.

Let’s see, that’s about $15 + 12 months x $20 or about $255 to cancel. We’re up to about $812.88 for the season now. That cancellation fee really hurts. But what if you could get out of it? Well it turns out some people have found ways around the cancellation fee. These techniques are basically about providing some sob-story to customer service until they relent.

So in another case of cord cutter ethics we found a way to (maybe) get NFL Sunday Ticket for just the 6 months of the season then turn it off.

Opinions?

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NFL 2014 and the Cord Cutter

Sorry that I’ve been off busy with my day job but checking in quickly with a look at the season which officially kicks off tomorrow.

Well not much has changed. For the casual football fan, you’ll still be able to watch most of your games. The exception will be Monday nights, which belong to ESPN. Or if your team sucks this year you might suffer an unfortunate blackout or two.

Stay tuned – more to come.

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