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How TV Will Change Within a Trump Presidency

The television industry, at present, is bigger than it has ever been. There are more channels than you can watch, more streaming services than you can remember, and more TV shows than it is humanly possible to enjoy. If anything has been able to occupy the mental space of our collective minds more than the television entertainment, it is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and his eventual election as the President of the United States. They are not necessarily independent of each other. TV has played a major part in his meteoric rise in the campaign. Everything that aired on television, both good and bad, worked in Trump’s favor. Trump too made it a point to occupy maximum screen time. In essence, the 2016 presidential campaign was one big reality TV show. And, that was only the season 1. So, brace yourself America. Season 2 is due in 2020.

While the effect of television on Trump’s campaign is quite clear, it takes a nuanced approach to see his effect on television so far, and going forward. Whether you like it or not, the 2016 Presidential Election was the most engaging topic of the year. And, Trump has managed to keep alive that energy since he has taken office by signing a series of controversial executive orders. The television industry, which is fueled by the creators and the demand of the viewers, never was and will never be immune to his antics.

There Will Be Friction

For one, the present day America finds itself in a precarious situation. The investor confidence has taken a serious hit. Large corporations are not confident that their President will be taking decisions that will be favorable to them. Naturally, money follows their confidence. Where there is no confidence, there will be no money either. In a nutshell, the drop in investor confidence means that there is less room for risk-taking behavior. This applies to TV networks as well. The American TV industry owes its high quality TV programming to the producers’ appetite for taking risks. Now, the producers will be predisposed to take lesser and lesser risks. So, they will be following tried and tested TV formulae, and we all know that makes for a bland TV experience.

There is a flip side here too. The political atmosphere is so charged and the show creators are bound to be affected by it. Their views about the present state of things will undoubtedly make way into their creative works. A lot of them might even try to passionately express a particular opinion, which will not go well with the risk-weary producers. Sparks of friction will fly everywhere. Jane The Virgin’s showmakers have already indicated that the show will be taking up the issue of immigration and the repeal of Obamacare in the future episodes.

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Escapism Will Turn Viewers into False Heroes

The political situation in the US is a mess. Some people are taking it to the streets to express their displeasure; some people have turned their social media space into virtual battleground of words; and some people are spending their time and money to come to the aid of the distressed like the stranded immigrants in airports. Then there are also a lot of people who have resigned to the situation. Now, what better way to escape from reality than tuning in to their TV sets!

In the entertainment industry, there is a sort of consensus building that the astounding rise of a reality star, Trump, into the highest position in the country will spawn a series of shows that feature larger-than-life characters. The television will soon be inundated with ‘House of Cards-style’ shows, which will demand the audience’s attention. It is very difficult to capture the audience’s attention with the usual storytelling. A strong and big personality not only grabs, but forces people to pay attention to it. In Trump’s America, everything will be big, especially television.

Don’t Expect TV Networks to Always Take a Stand

Over the past year, Trump-bashing had become a favorite pastime for many TV channels who were aching for viewers. Since the announcement of the election results, Americans on the other side of the fence are slowly coming to terms with the fact that Trump is here to stay, and “is their President”. TV networks constantly reminding of Trump’s latest blunders is certainly not helping them escape the reality either. So, they are tuning into channels that are not focusing too much on him. Streaming services are a great option for them. If the networks keep on obsessing about Trump, they will lose a bulk of their audience with time. For better or for worse, TV networks are slowly realizing this too.

There is another part of this puzzle. While Trump-haters are tired of hearing bad things about him, the Trump supporters never wanted to hear anything bad about him in the first place at all. So far, the networks were playing a huge gamble by either supporting Trump or by criticizing him. Now, they cannot afford to take sides and ignore the other half of the population. Not to mention the powerful Republican lawmakers, especially when there is a Republican president at the helm of affairs. The survival instincts will kick in, and this combined with an audience that no more wants anything political, the networks will eventually give up their Trump-bashing, if not change sides altogether.

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How The Future Will Look

Many showmakers have expressed their plans to incorporate the issues of immigration, racism, and fear in their shows. They feel that their audience will relate and empathize with these issues better when they see them on the screen. While it is a great initiative on their part to combat fear, racism, and repression by using entertainment, only time will tell how much effect they will have on a typical American’s psyche. Because, make no mistake season 2 of Trump’s presidential campaign will be with us sooner than you think.

The Scoop on AirTV

In the middle of December of 2016, DISH Network leaked a few details about its latest offering to the cord-cutters – AirTV. But, we had to wait until CES 2017 to finally get a good look at the product. And from the looks of it, it can be a game-changer in the industry. For one thing, it has combined streaming service, cable programming, and Over-the-air (OTA) local channels into one irresistible package that is sure to revolutionize the television entertainment experience for viewers.

DISH Network brought a paradigm shift to the streaming industry when it launched its Sling TV service. At the time of its launch, it was the first of its kind to offer live television for streaming. It was now finally feasible for the cord-cutters to completely give up their cable connections. They could enjoy cable programming on the Sling TV app, and tune in to on-demand services like Netflix or Hulu, when they felt like it. It really was a huge step for the industry as a whole. Now, AirTV is taking this game to another level altogether.

At its core, AirTV is a streaming media player that runs Sling TV. But, calling it just a streaming media player is a gross understatement. In addition to running Sling TV, the streaming player from DISH brings you on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, and so on. But, that is not where its awesomeness ends. It does something that no other streaming service has been able to do before – offer local channels.

That’s right. AirTV combines live TV of Sling TV, on-demand services of streaming services, and the highly desirable local programming.

AirTV runs on Android TV. This means that it is capable of running all the streaming services that are available in the Google Play Store. Whether it is Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Now, or something else, if it is there in Google Play Store, then AirTV will run it for you.

The device itself is compact and occupies as much space as an Amazon Fire TV. It comes with a remote control that features a good selection of buttons on it. It even has dedicated buttons for Netflix, and Sling TV. Switching between cable programming, OTA channels (local), and streaming services is a seamless experience and not distinguishable at all.

If you get OTA channels like NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, CW, and others in your location, then AirTV will enable you to tune in to them using an add-on device. AirTV comes with an optional OTA USB adapter, which is fitted with an antenna. Once you plug in the adapter, the local channels broadcasted in your area will immediately appear in the Sling TV guide. You can select the channel you want to enjoy right there, be it broadcast channels or cable channels. Even the movie catalogue of Netflix appears right in the Sling TV app, making AirTV the most convenient all-in-one solution for TV viewers.

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AirTV is presently available at a starting price of $100, including the remote. If you want to buy the optional USB antenna separately, it will set you back by another $40. But, the AirTV + USB Antenna combo is available at a discounted rate of $130. When you buy the device, you get a $50 credit toward Sling TV. Although the device comes with Sling TV and Netflix pre-installed, and it is not mandatory for you to subscribe to either of the services. In fact, if you want to catch the local channels with AirTV, then all you need is the USB antenna. That being said, you are buying AirTV to enjoy the best of what cable, streaming services and OTA channels all have to offer. So, it would be a waste of money if you only use it to enjoy local channels.

Subscribing to Sling TV, or the streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others will cost extra, as per the standard plans offered by those services. To recap, AirTV is not a bundled service, but an integrator that has managed to bring three different TV entertainment media sources on a single platform. And it does a masterful job at it.

AirTV will be directly competing against some other products that will be looking to make it big this year. Mohu AirWave, Tablo Droid, and Tablo Live will all be integrating antenna-based local channels with streaming. AirTV enjoys a unique position as a service from the satellite TV provider Sling TV. Whether that position will help it in any way against the competition, only time will tell.

It should be noted that AirTV is not the first device which combines live TV with streaming. In fact, we can already enjoy this on most of our smartphones. We can install a streaming service like Netflix, and a TV service like Sling TV, and enjoy what both have to offer. But, AirTV differs in one crucial aspect – ease of use. AirTV is designed for the not-so-tech-savvy among us. There are a lot of people who want to cut the cord, but are not comfortable using smart devices. For them, AirTV is a game-changer. Its simple design and easy to use remote allows such users to enjoy the very best of television entertainment, without having to master any smart devices. To make things easier for them, DISH is even offering them an installation service. At this very moment, AirTV is an unbeatable deal.

Although there is no doubt that AirTV is a great substitute for a cable connection, it is bereft of some crucial features, just like the streaming service Sling TV. DISH has yet again failed to introduce the much-awaited DVR capabilities. Some of you might know that DISH is experimenting with cloud DVR service, which is still in beta phase. Ergo, AirTV features neither the local nor the cloud DVR capabilities. Note, however, that it is still a great offering, despite the absence of a DVR feature.

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How to Enjoy the Super Bowl Without Cable TV

It’s that time of the year again. The time when 2017’s biggest (arguably) extravaganza will be happening this Sunday. It is the time when cable subscribers feel vindicated and cord-cutters curse themselves for ditching their cable connection. Their plight is only understandable, because IT’S SUPER BOWL TIME!
This year’s Super Bowl, the Super Bowl LI, is pitting Atlanta Falcons against the New England Patriots. As thrilling as the game is bound to be, the half-time performance will be no less amazing either. In case you are wondering, it will be performed by Lady Gaga this time. Not to mention the phenomenal Super Bowl commercials, which have become a tradition of sorts. Yeah, no. We are not rubbing your nose in it, cord-cutters. On the contrary, we bring you today some simple solutions to address your present problem – how to watch the Super Bowl without a cable connection? Check out which of these methods work best for you.

 

Digital Antenna

When everything else fails, go back to the basics. We live in the era of 4K content streaming over the internet; we enjoy the DVR feature that enables us to never miss a show; we are able to enjoy television anywhere and everywhere. But, we are yet to get sports entertainment on more than a few streaming services. So, what is the solution? Take the old-fashioned option. Purchase a digital antenna from your local electronics store. It will allow you to catch a whole range of broadcast networks without paying a single penny to the cable operators. More importantly, you will be able to tune in to your local Fox affiliate, and enjoy the Super Bowl in all its glory. By the way, the type of antenna that you should buy depends on your geographical location. So, do some research and pick the right one.

 

Chromecast

A representative of Fox Sports recently made an announcement that the Super Bowl will be streamed live on the channel’s official website. Clearly, all you need is a smart device and an internet connection to enjoy the most awaited sports event of the year. Smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, or any other similar device will do. But, if you want to enjoy the event on your HDTV, then you will need a Chromecast. This device will allow you to stream the event on your device, and then cast it onto the TV. If you have a high speed internet connection, then you can enjoy it in high definition as well.

 

What About Overseas Audiences?

If you are an American who is travelling overseas, then it becomes even more difficult to find a source that streams Super Bowl there. Even Fox Sports has stated that only limited sports programming will be available in the overseas markets. It is reasonable to assume that wherever you are staying, the chances of Super Bowl being broadcasted live are slim. Be that as it may, there is a clever trick to not miss the game. Of course, you will need the usual items – an internet connection, and a smart device. Now, all you need to add to the mix is a US-based Virtual Private Network. There are dozens of good VPNs operating out of the US. Sign up for an account with a suitable pricing. It will allow you to mask your device’s IP address, and fake it. The VPN fakes your location within the US, and you will now be able to enjoy Super Bowl online on the Fox Sports website, as if you are at home

 

Fox Sports Go App

The Fox Sports Go app usually requires you to login using your cable subscription credentials, which you obviously do not have or else you wouldn’t be here. But, the network is disabling the authentication for the game. The app itself is compatible with a host of devices and platforms, making is easy for almost everyone to enjoy the game on their device.

Fox Sports Go is supported on iOS, Android, Windows, and Amazon tablet platforms. Apart from the smart devices, the following devices support the app as well – Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, Amazon Fire, Chromecast, and Android TV.

 

Sling TV

Sling TV is the streaming service from Dish Network which brings cable programming for cord-cutters. The service offers live TV that includes more than a hundred channels via competitively priced packages. But, guess what? You don’t have to sign up for the service yet. You can start by signing up for a trial run of the service. Dish Network offers a 7-day trial of Sling TV for new users. Once you sign up, you can go right away to Fox Access, which is where the Super Bowl will be featured. To its credit, Sling TV is a cool service. But, if you do not wish to continue with it, remember to disconnect the service before the trial period expires.

 

PlayStation Vue

Simply put, PlayStation Vue, is Sony’s answer to Sling TV. It is slightly pricier than Sling TV. But, you need not worry about that, as Vue also comes with a 7-day trial offer for new users. Create an account with Vue, and start enjoying the service right away. Here too, you need to go to Fox Access to watch the Super Bowl. However, before you sign up for the service, check out whether PlayStation Vue is compatible with at least one of your devices, on the official PlayStation website. At the moment, the service is available on a limited set of devices only. Needless to say, deactivate the account before the trial period is over, if you do not intend to continue with the service.

Verizon Users

Verizon users have won a jackpot this time. All of them will be able to enjoy Super Bowl on their smartphone or tablet for absolutely free of cost on the NFL Mobile app. Alternatively, if you have Chromecast, you can cast the live event onto your TV at home and enjoy it on the big screen.

 

Finally, if everything fails, just hit a sports bar, or plan the weekend at your friend’s. Make sure that they either have a cable connection, or some other way of watching the sporting event.

FuboTV Review – Live Soccer for Cord Cutters

FuboTV launched as a live streaming TV service in January 2015 primarily for soccer fans, offering viewers the chance to watch soccer matches and other live sports on 10 different channels for a low monthly price of $9.99 (with a chance to upgrade with “add-on” packages).

Image result for FuboTVAt the end of December 2016, though, the company announced that it had signed major partnership deals with Fox Networks, NBC Universal, A+E Networks, Crown Media Family Networks, Fuse Media, NBA TV and The Weather Channel. Starting in early 2017, fuboTV plans to offer 70+ premium sports and entertainment channels for an introductory, discounted price of $34.99 per month (which will increase later to $49.99 per month).

As a result, fuboTV viewers will be able to watch live sports events from all major U.S. professional and college sports, as well as international leagues and tournaments. For sports fans looking for a live streaming TV service, fuboTV has suddenly become a very attractive option, especially because the network also plans to bundle in some major entertainment channels as well.

With the huge boost in the number of channels that fuboTV will offer, the streaming TV service is transitioning from being a niche sports streaming service into being a major sports-centric live streaming TV service that can compete with the likes of DirecTV Now, Playstation View, Hulu Live and Sling TV.


CONTENT

Image result for FuboTVAs noted above, fuboTV now plans to offer 70+ channels. Full beta launch is coming in February 2017, although the current website for fuboTV still describes the $9.99 package for 10 channels.  So let’s take a closer look at the core 10 channels still being offered, and then consider the remaining channels.

Here are the 10 channels offered in 2016:

  • BeIN Sports
  • FuboTV Network
  • El Rey Network
  • Univision
  • Univision TDN (Televisa Deportes Network)
  • BeIN Sports En Vivo
  • Football Report TV
  • Revolt
  • UniMas
  • One World Sports

New sports channels coming in 2017

  • FOX
  • NBC
  • Regional sports networks from FOX Sports and NBC Sports
  • Big Ten Network (BTN)
  • FS1
  • FS2
  • FOX College Sports
  • FOX Soccer Plus
  • FOX Deportes
  • Golf Channel
  • NBA TV
  • NBCSN

New entertainment channels coming in 2017

  • A+E Networks (A&E, History, Lifetime)
  • Hallmark Channel
  • National Geographic
  • Fuse
  • FM
  • NBC Universal (Bravo, CNBC, E!, Oxygen, USA Network)
  • The Weather Channel

It remains to be seen how fuboTV will adjust the composition of its special “add-on” packages for viewers. Currently, fuboTV offers four major add-on packages:

  • Entertainment (4 channels, $2.99/month)
  • Lifestyle (6 channels, $2.99/month)
  • Portuguese (3 channels, $19.99/month)
  • Spanish (7 channels, $3.99/month)

PRICING

What we know now is that fuboTV plans to price its new basic package at a special discounted rate of $34.99 per month, and eventually raise that to $49.99 per month. That puts this live streaming TV service almost directly in line with the pricing offered by DirecTV Now, which also started its promotional pricing at $35 per month. In contrast, current fuboTV pricing for 10 channels is $9.99 per month.

PROS

Ever since its launch in early 2015, fuboTV has attracted a diehard audience of soccer fans, who used the service to watch soccer matches from around the world, including the Premier League, the Brazilian League and MLS. There’s no other streaming service that can offer this type of live soccer programming. And, with the new content from the likes of Fox and NBC, it’s clear that fuboTV is trying to become the streaming service of choice for sports fans in the United States beyond just soccer, to include basketball, golf and other major sports.

Image result for FuboTVBut the advantages are more than just all the great new content. Just like the other streaming TV services, fuboTV is playing up all the differences with cable TV. For example, you can cancel online anytime without having to deal with the customer service department.

And, you can watch fuboTV anywhere on any device. The service is currently supported by iOS, Android, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast. Once you’ve downloaded the fuboTV app, it’s possible to watch it on your TV, your tablet, your smartphone or your laptop computer. All you need is the Internet.

And, as part of its expansion, fuboTV plans to offer several more extras: programming look back (in which you can watch previously aired content), video on-demand, digital TV guide navigation and a cloud DVR service. As it stands now, users will be able to watch shows they’ve recorded on the cloud DVR within a period of 3 days of recording. So, for example, if you missed the NBA basketball game last night, you could record it and then watch it the next day for no extra charge.

Finally, fuboTV offers a very crisp 1080p HD quality live stream, so all of the matches and games look spectacular on your viewing device.

CONS

With any new service, there are always growing pains, and for fuboTV to make such a drastic change in its strategy could impact its core viewers. If you look at what fuboTV plans to offer (lots of American sports, plus entertainment) and compare it to what fuboTV has been offering for the past two years (lots of Spanish- and Portuguese-language soccer games), it’s clear that the service is going to have two very different types of audiences.

And it will have to be careful that it doesn’t alienate these diehard sports fans with a sudden burst in pricing and streaming content options. In short, will people who are paying $9.99 now still want to pay $34.99 in the future for content they may not want to watch?

If you’re a current subscriber, it’s time to ask a lot of questions about what will or won’t be included in the new programming lineup. For example, will the old Entertainment add-on package of 4 channels (Antena 3, TeleHit, Bandamax, Ritmoson) now be included in the core offering of 70+ channels? What happens to all the live soccer online content? And what happens if you want to watch ESPN, which doesn’t seem to be included in the list of new channels?

CONCLUSION

FuboTV has the potential to become the leading sports-centric live streaming service. For anyone thinking of signing up for a live streaming TV service, it will be almost impossible to beat fuboTV’s wide offering of both national and international sports programming.

The service just has to make sure that it clearly states what’s going to happen in 2017. It’s now been a month since the company announced the major programming change, for example, and the fuboTV website still doesn’t even have something like a “Coming Soon” announcement on its homepage. The service is currently offering a free 24-hour trial, so that might be one way to sample it to see if it’s right for you.

Roku Review – What You Need To Know

The Roku streaming media player  which now comes in six different versions, is an easy and convenient way to stream content from the Internet to your TV. The company announced its latest fifth generation products in October 2016, each of them geared to a slightly different type of streaming media user. When you combine the Roku streaming media player with a Roku HDTV or Roku 4K TV, you get a powerful way to watch all of your entertainment options.

Image result for rokuIn terms of similar products, the Roku is most similar to other set-top boxes, such as Apple TV. Once you connect your Roku to the same Internet connection as your TV, you can unlock over 3,500 free and paid channels as well as 350,000 movies or TV episodes. Some Roku users have compared it to being in a “multimedia candy store,” and for good reason – you’re literally getting access to just about every type of streaming content that exists.

However, it should be pointed out here that, just because you can access Netflix content doesn’t mean that it’s all free. If you want to stream Netflix content, for example, then you have to have a Netflix account. And the same is true for any of the other streaming services, such as Hulu or HBO Go. Think of Roku as the gateway to this content, not as the provider of this content.

Image result for rokuThe Six Different Roku Players

So, if you think you might be interested in getting a Roku player, you then need to figure out which one is right for you. There are six different options, ranging in price from $29.99 for the Roku Express to $119 for the Roku Ultra. And, if you’d prefer to use a USB stick, you can get the Roku Streaming Stick. As Roku likes to say, there’s a Roku product for everyone and every budget.

  1. Roku Express ($29.99) – This is the entry-level version of the streaming media player, and gives you full access to the same amount of streaming content as the more advanced versions. In addition, you can stream content in 720p or 1080p (but not 4K). You won’t get all the extra features that are found in other versions, but this is a popular option for people new to streaming content.
  2. Roku Express+ ($39.99) – The primary difference between this version and the regular Roku Express is the ability to use it with non-HDTVs. This might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a capability that’s lacking in the Apple TV, Fire TV, or Chromecast. So, even if you have an older type of TV, you can still use Roku!
  3. Roku Premiere ($79.99) – At this price point, you get the advantage of streaming content in full, glorious 4K. However, of course, you need to have a TV screen or mobile device that’s also capable of playing 4K content, which is why some people prefer to add in a Roku 4K TV.  And there are a few other goodies here – like screen mirroring capabilities (if you want to send content from a mobile device or laptop to the TV) and Night Listening Mode (which helps to regulate between the very loud and the very soft sounds that might be in a movie, so you don’t have to keep turning up/turning down the volume).
  4. Roku Premiere+ ($89.99) – This is almost completely the same as the Roku Premiere, only it comes with headphone jacks and the ability to listen to streaming TV or music content with headphones.
  5. Roku Ultra ($119) – At this price point, you really have to be an entertainment fan to appreciate all the perks. In addition to all the features included in the other models, you also get voice search, special gaming buttons on the remote and a USB port for adding your own personal media files.
  6. Roku Streaming Stick ($48.49) – If you’d rather use a USB stick that plugs into the side of your TV, this is a great option. It’s similar to the Roku Premiere, but lacks the ability to play content in 4K.

Roku TV

Where you can really create a world-class entertainment experience is by combining a Roku smart TV with a Roku streaming device. Unlike TVs that you might buy for cable or satellite TV, these TVs are intended to be streaming-friendly. That means you can use the same remote for the Roku and the Roku TV. In terms of pricing, these TV sets are meant to be more affordable than those you’d buy from a company like Samsung or LG. Thus, you can get a 55-inch 4K Ultra Roku Smart TV on Amazon for less than $500. But be forewarned – you don’t need a Roku TV to enjoy a Roku. Any HD television works, so if you already have an HDTV, then you probably won’t buy a Roku TV.

Image result for rokuSo many great features

One great feature of the Roku is the ability to search across multiple content platforms for the same movie or show. This helps you find options that are cheapest for you. For example, you might see that a certain movie is free if you have Hulu  Or you can compare the cost of renting or buying the movie from several different streaming content providers. That’s a great option, especially when you compare it to an Apple TV, where you have a single price – the cost of the item in the iTunes Store. Once you have a Roku account set up, it’s very easy to rent, buy or subscribe across different platforms.

Roku also plays nice with mobile devices. Users can “cast” their content from mobile devices to the TV as long as they have the Roku app installed.

Once you’ve paid for your Roku streaming player, there are no monthly equipment fees and no rental fees. You only pay for the content that you consume and you don’t have to worry about hidden fees or any kinds of data limits.

In many ways, Roku empowers users to find the very best content. To make that possible, the remote has shortcut buttons for popular services like Netflix. And more advanced versions – like the Roku Ultra – now have voice search.

Conclusion

For anyone thinking of cutting the cord from cable, Roku makes it very easy to access the very best streaming media content. The selection of content – 350,000 movies and TV shows and 3,5000 channels – can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get used to the idea of a la carte consumption, it becomes very intuitive. At a time when the latest generation Apple TV can cost $149, you can get a very similar type of streaming player for less than half the cost. This is definitely an option to consider if you’re looking for a great way to stream content like movies and TV shows.

Sling TV Review – Everything You Need to Know

When Dish Network officially unveiled Sling TV in January 2015, executives knew that they had a winner on their hands. With the tagline of “Take Back TV,” Sling TV was positioned as a hip, savvy way to “cut the cord” with cable TV companies, but still have access to lots of premium live content at a more affordable price point. And now, only a few months after launching, the service has picked up more than 1 million subscribers, including many in the very desirable 18-to-35 demographic.

The best live programming

The fundamental appeal of Sling TV is that it gives you access to the best live programming, including live sports, hit TV shows and breaking news. And you don’t get burdened with a lot of channels that you don’t want.

As part of the Sling Orange package, subscribers get access to 30+ channels, including ESPN and CNN, for the low monthly price of just $20. As part of the Sling Blue package, subscribers get access to 40+ channels, including FOX and NBC (but not ESPN) for just $25 per month. And as part of the Sling Orange + Blue package, you get access to all the channels for just $40 per month.

Sling TV touts the Orange + Blue package as the best overall value, and it’s easy to see why — if you get the Blue package, you get access to live sports via ESPN but don’t get access to hit broadcast TV shows from FOX and NBC. And if you get the Orange package, you get access to the hit broadcast TV shows from FOX and NBC, but you don’t get ESPN. So, if you’re like most people, you probably watch a little of both entertainment and sports, so you’d want to get the blended Orange + Blue package.

But think of how brilliant that is from a marketing perspective — Sling TV can claim to offer live streaming TV for just $20 a month, even if most people will eventually upgrade to a package that is twice as expensive! The important point, though, is that Sling TV was the first live streaming service to offer ESPN (although now PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now offer it), and also the first live streaming service to give users the option of bundling in HBO without having a cable TV subscription.

In fact, Sling TV has a number of important content “add-on” packages that can easily raise the price of your monthly bill. These are just some of the options available to Sling TV subscribers:

  • HBO – $15
  • Cinemax – $10
  • Starz – $9
  • Kids Extra package – $5
  • Sports Extra package – $5 and $10
  • Lifestyle Extra package – $5

So, in many ways, Sling TV customers can personalize their channel lineup to fit their tastes. For example, NFL football fans can order the NFL Red Zone network, Spanish-language viewers can order the Spanish TV package, and movie fans can bundle in services like EPIX and HBO.


Live TV on-the-go

One of the reasons why tech-savvy millennials have embraced Sling TV is because it appears to be tailored to their mobile, on-the-go lifestyles. Young millennials don’t watch TV from a couch — they watch from their tablets and smartphones and laptops, wherever they might be. That’s why Sling TV constantly emphasizes that you can watch “at home or on the go.” You can watch on literally any digital device.

And, best of all, there’s no pricey equipment to order, and no installation. All you need to do is to go online, sign up, and download the Sling TV app. From there, you just sign in, and you can start watching instantly from any device. Except your TV, that is. To watch Sling TV on your home TV, you’ll need a set-top box. Supported devices currently include the following:

  • Apple TV
  • Roku
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Chromecast
  • XBox One

No annoying cable experience

And, as part of the overall branding of Sling TV, the service does everything possible to eliminate every annoying aspect of the cable TV experience. Sling TV encourages you to “watch what you love, without the cable experience you hate.” (It has to be pointed out here that, since Sling TV is a subsidiary of Dish Network, there’s not a word about the “satellite experience you hate.”)

As part of delivering this optimal experience, Sling TV makes it very easy for people to sign up and also to cancel. You can just cancel online, for example, without having to get into a debate with a customer service representative. And there are no cancellation fees, as well as no annual contracts and no credit checks. This makes Sling TV much more like a traditional service you’d order over the Internet, and not at all like a traditional cable TV provider.

Drawbacks to Sling TV

Ok, so Sling TV sounds absolutely amazing, what doesn’t it offer? Well, you’ve probably noticed that there hasn’t been any mention of an “on demand library.” That’s because, well, there isn’t one to mention. Subscribers are essentially limited to “catch up” programming from the TV networks that are part of the service. You’re not going to be binge-watching a full series of TV shows or streaming movies from a vast archive.

This is probably a major drawback for many people. However, even Sling TV admits that it’s meant to be a “complement” to services like Netflix. In other words, if you want live streaming TV AND you want live streaming movies, you’re probably best off combining Sling TV and a service like Netflix.

And that has opened the door to competing services like AT&T’s DirecTV Now, which offers both a full channel lineup of live streaming TV, in addition to a massive, on-demand archive of 10,000+ movies and TV shows. DirecTV Now, of course, is the creation of DirecTV, the primary satellite TV competitor to Dish Network (which created Sling TV). So, DirecTV Now and Dish Network are essentially fighting a new war now, this time over content streaming over the Internet.

Conclusions

Sling TV stands out as the first real streaming TV service to take on the major cable networks. It’s relatively cheap (with prices starting at $20 per month) and offers a robust lineup of channels that can be customized to specific tastes. Moreover, it’s perfectly tailored to the on-the-go lifestyle of young millennials. Perhaps the only thing it’s missing is a comprehensive video on-demand service for people who enjoy movies along with their live streaming TV.

Review: DIRECTV Now

DIRECTV Now is the new streaming service from AT&T that just launched at the end of November. Unlike the satellite service DIRECTV, this new service is offered completely over the Internet via live streaming. Think of it as an easier, simpler solution to getting the best content that doesn’t involve annual contracts and hooking up a satellite dish.

What content is available via live streaming?

The first question on everyone’s mind, of course, is what kind of content will be available via streaming. This is AT&T, after all, so the expectation is that there is going to be a lot more content on this service than on competing services. In many ways, DIRECTV Now doesn’t disappoint – it handles much like a slightly slimmed down satellite TV service, but at a more affordable price point.

The entry level package offers all the major TV networks, with just one exception: CBS. So the entry package includes the likes of CNN, ESPN, AMC, CNBC, Discovery, Disney, Fox News, MSNBC, NBC Sports, TBS and Nickelodeon.

At the next higher price point, you can get premium channels like ESPN News, MLB Network, NBA TV and BBC World News all bundled together.

For fans of HBO and Cinemax, there’s even the option to add them for only $5 each per month. To give you an idea of how great a deal that is, the cost of standalone streaming either of those would be $14.99 per month. When you order HBO and Cinemax via DIRECTV Now, you also get authenticated access to their apps, so you also get to watch them on your mobile devices, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.

Pricing of DIRECTV Now

As part of a special promotional rate that was valid up until the middle of January, it was possible to get the “Go Big” package of 100+ live channels at a discounted rate of $35 per month. Going up to the next price tier – $70 per month – would get you 120 channels, so it’s easy to guess which option most consumers chose as long as AT&T was offering the special promotional rate. In short, $35 was a steal.

And, just to sweeten the pot, DIRECTV Now doesn’t require a contract or any kind of lock-in. This is supposed to be TV, the way you want it. There’s no equipment to buy, either.

At the end of the promotional period, the plan was to raise the price up to $60 for the basic package. So, if you add in both HBO and Cinemax, that would be $70 per month. That’s not cheap, but compared to cable – where nearly one-third of consumers pay more than $100 per month, it’s very affordable.

There’s one other pricing twist to keep in mind. If you’re an AT&T wireless customer, then there might be a better economic argument for choosing this service. That’s because watching video on DIRECTV Now doesn’t count against your data limits. So, for example, if you’re watching a two-hour movie from DIRECTV Now on your AT&T wireless tablet, that wouldn’t be included in your monthly data cap. So, it’s easy to see how some customers might be tempted to drop their existing wireless service provider, sign up for AT&T, and then order DIRECTV Now.

Competitive landscape

The big question, of course, is how consumers will view the new service. Is it a Netflix replacement? Or just a cable TV replacement? And which live streaming service does it most resemble? Based on initial consumer feedback, it looks like DIRECTV Now is basically a replacement for DIRECTV. The live streaming competitor mentioned most often by consumers is Sling TV, which you can get for $20 per month. Another similar competitor is PlayStation Vue.

That pricing is going to present some problems for DIRECTV Now, especially since the price is now $60 and not $35. So you’re comparing a $20 per month service to a $60 per month service. So what does DIRECTV offer that Sling TV doesn’t?

That’s an easy question to answer: a ton more archived content that can be played on-demand. DIRECTV boasts that it has more than 10,000 titles available on demand. That’s easily as many titles as you might expect from a mainstream cable TV or satellite TV provider.

Which is why it’s hard to shake the feeling that DIRECTV Now is basically going to siphon away some of the DIRECTV audience. Wouldn’t you switch over if you could avoid the contract and get almost the same amount of content without changing your provider and getting some cheaper pricing as an extra kicker?

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Quality issues

The major problem facing DIRECTV Now are nagging questions about quality. The concern among consumers is that AT&T might have tried to rush this product to market without fixing all the bugs. Just check out social media – the complaints keep rolling in about glitches, freezes, buffering errors, and app crashes.

In fact, there’s a real consumer backlash growing on social media, with a lot of people saying they plan to quit after the promotional pricing runs out. Others are actually threatening to sue DIRECTV Now after they got permanently logged out of their account and couldn’t get back in. Essentially, they’re saying that AT&T pocketed their $35 monthly fees without providing the agreed upon service. Let’s just hope these are “teething troubles,” as one business news source called them.

Other features

There’s one more issue that needs to be cleared up about this new DIRECTV Now service, and that’s the need for extra equipment. Technically, if you’re planning only to watch TV on mobile devices (i.e. a tablet or phone), you don’t need any equipment, and certainly not any satellite dish. And, if you’re planning on watching on your laptop, you just watch by heading over to DIRECTVnow.com.

However, what happens if you’re planning on watching on your home TV? That’s where things get interesting, because you will need some kind of set-top box to play the content and access the menu. There’s no AT&T set-top box – instead, you need to have something like an Apple TV or Chromecast. During the promotional period, DIRECTV Now was giving away a free Apple TV worth $149 if you agreed to pay the first three months upfront.

Moreover, one drawback to the service is a lack of a DVR, although AT&T says that it plans to add one soon. So there’s no way to watch shows without commercials, like you might with a cable TV or satellite TV subscription.

Conclusions

So, summing up all the pros and cons, the major pro is an amazing amount of content, both live and on-demand. The pricing is also attractive, but not nearly as attractive if you can’t get the promotional rate. In terms of cons, the overall quality of the service has to be named as one. And the need for a set-top box if you don’t already have one is also an issue.

The consensus: if you want to cut the cord, but still want the safety of knowing that you have access to almost all the content you would with a regular cable TV provider, then this service might make sense for you. Moreover, if you only plan on watching via an app on your tablet or on your laptop, then this also might make sense. But if you’re planning to have regular “family nights” in front of the TV, then it’s easy to see how a cheaper service like Sling TV might make a more compelling option for now – at least until DIRECTV Now works out all the glitches in its service.

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Super Hi-Vision: Inside the 8K, Future of Television

If you have had the opportunity to check out the power of 8K televisions that are being showcased at various tech exhibits, then you already know how brilliant and breathtaking the picture quality of these television sets is. The Super Hi-Vision, also known as UHD technology, is something right out of the future. It’s as if somebody went into the future and came back with a television set of the era. The truth is that we honestly feel that it is too early to expect Super Hi-Vision to hit the mainstream market. The reason is that the entertainment industry is yet to completely come to terms with the predecessor technology – 4K. However, there are some strong signs that 8K may soon be accepted by the industry. The biggest sign of them all is the backing 8K is getting from NHK.

NHK, or Nippon Housou Kyoukai, is a Japanese broadcaster who has been at the forefront of technological revolutions in the television industry. In fact, innovations like color television broadcasting, and HD broadcasting owe a significant part of their success to NHK. In 2012, NHK gave us a preview of what 8K picture quality would be like. To say that it blew away everyone’s minds is an understatement.

For comparison, 8K resolution is 7680×4320 pixels, while 4K resolution is 3840×2160 pixels. Looking at these numbers, it might look like 8K is about twice as good as 4K. But, the truth is that 8K is 16 times better than 4K. 4K, or 3840×2160, is about 2 million pixels. 8K, on the other hand, is 33 million pixels. Today’s TV technology is not capable of handling this kind of raw power.

If you thought 4K is superb, 8K is a giant leap from there. The leap here is not to bring the television screen and camera recording as close to reality as possible. Instead, it is to outmatch the reality itself. That’s right. Super Hi-Vision beats human eyes in many ways. Very few human’s eyes are capable of capturing the depth of field that is delivered by an 8K camera. Soon, although not very soon, you will have televisions that features 16 times the resolution of today’s best televisions.

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But, how soon can you enjoy Super Hi-Vision?

If everything goes according to plan, then we may be able to start enjoying Super Hi-Vision as early as 2020, if not before that. In preparation for the Olympics, NHK is already experimenting with the technology to broadcast the games in 8K. Of course, merely broadcasting the games in 8K will be futile, unless there are televisions to actually show programs in such high resolution. The good news is that TV manufacturers are already gearing up for the big challenge. Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic have all announced plans to have 8K TVs ready by 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, hold your horses before you get all your hopes up.

The thing about 8K televisions is that they will be big, and by big I mean really BIG. For human eyes to actually differentiate between 4K and 8K resolutions, 8K televisions have to be at least 70 and 80 inches in size. But, to truly enjoy 8K, the television sets have to be a lot bigger than that. Panasonic has developed a plasma television that is a massive 145 inches. That’s about 12-freaking-feet. That’s about the size of many living room walls. Now, you can imagine what will be the price of such televisions. Not to mention that the technology to record video in 8K is not fully developed yet. Currently, NHK is developing a 120fps 8K sensor in collaboration with Shizuoka University. It already has a working prototype camera as well. So, yes, in all probability, 8K televisions, as well as programs (or program), will be a reality as early as 2020. But, it will be some time before they become affordable for most of us.

But, hey. There is a silver lining here. 8K is expected to become a standard for moviemaking before it becomes a standard technology in your living room. So, if you really want to enjoy 8K, you will be able to do so at the cinemas. Apart from that, you will have to wait until the 2032 Olympics, or at least 2028 Olympics, for 8K televisions to become mainstream.

What is Sky Q?

Sky Q is the next generation premium TV service from Sky. Sky Q is not a single device. It is a platform that makes use of a family of devices to deliver a truly luxurious, and seamless television entertainment experience at your home. Sky Q debuted this March, and has already been quite a success in the United States. So, what is Sky Q exactly, then? Here, we will answer all your questions about Sky Q.

Sky Q Silver

Sky Q is the flagship service from Sky, which will replace Sky + HD as the most premium service from Sky. This service makes use of a variety of devices, depending on the requirement and usage of the consumers. The showrunner is the Sky Q Silver, which is the set-top-box. It is the central nervous system of the Sky Q platform, and sits in the place of your existing Sky + HD box. The Sky Q Silver set-top-box is revolutionary in many aspects, but what makes it phenomenal is UHD support. Yes, this baby ships 4K ready.

Sky Q

Suppose you are on a tight budget, and could go without the UHD functionality, then you can drop Sky Q Silver from your living room set up, and instead, go for its toned down version that is simply known as Sky Q. This device has a smaller hard drive, and lacks some top-of-the-range functionalities of Sky Q Silver, such as UHD support. However, it is also budget-friendly.

Sky Q Mini and Sky Q Hub

With the latest Sky Q service, you can enjoy your television entertainment in different rooms seamlessly. You can use a Sky Q Mini box, which connects to the main set-top-box, Sky Q Silver, via the Sky Q Hub internet router. You can use multiple Sky Q Mini boxes for each television in different rooms in your home. Further, your entire family can enjoy television in their respective rooms without any hindrance, or hiccups. The entire system works like a charm as if each Sky Q Mini box is an independent set-top-box.

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Sky Q Touch Remote

Although television technology has evolved over the decades immensely, the remote control has always been a bland device with buttons. Nothing has changed. That is until Sky Q decided that it’s time to change it. The all-new Sky Q Touch Remote, as the name indicates, features a touch functionality. So bye-bye button-pressing, and welcome smooth swiping. The best part about this remote is that unlike the older versions, it does not run on infrared. Instead, it features Bluetooth technology, which means that you can use the remote without worrying about the line of sight. This makes it possible for you to hide away the Sky Q box or the Sky Q Silver box.

Fluid Viewing

All Sky Q ads, for over a year, have been enthusiastically highlighting the Fluid Viewing aspect of the latest Sky Q offering. What Sky Q refers to as Fluid Viewing is the seamless experience that the new device family offers to the consumers. Thanks to the latest Sky Q devices, you can enjoy whatever you want, wherever you want, and whenever you want.

All your television entertainment at will be centralized via the main Sky Q box. Thus, you can watch a TV program on your living room television, your bedroom television, or even your tablets and phones. In fact, the experience is so smooth that you can watch half a show on a television in one room, pause it, go to another room, and continue where you left off on a completely different television, or a mobile device. The entire thing will be enabled via your home Wi-Fi network.

All of this is not limited to just on demand programs, but also the shows and movies that you recorded and stored on your main box. Yes, you can record the shows to enjoy them later on the go. That’s right. All the content that you downloaded to your main Sky Q box can be transferred to your phone or tablet using the Sky Q app wirelessly. You can enjoy this content later at your convenience.

The entire Sky Q system is robustly designed to meet the needs of a modern family. You can record up to 4 shows simultaneously, so that nobody has to miss a program because of overlapping TV schedules. In addition to this, the entire family can watch up to 5 different programs simultaneously, while downloading 4 shows in the background.

This way, you get a superfluid experience of enjoying your television entertainment, and that’s why the name Fluid Viewing.

sky-Q-box

Does the LCD TV Have a Future?

For today’s TV viewer, the big, flat screen LCD TV is the industry standard. Every company makes one, they’re available in just about every size up to 90 inches, and they fit nicely in every room of the home. You see these TV screens just about everywhere you go – in hotel rooms, at supermarket checkout lines and in lobbies of office buildings. There’s just one problem – there are other technologies out there – such as OLED – that promise to make the LCD TV obsolete.

OLED vs. LED

For now, OLED is the big new technology that could revolutionize the way you watch TV. With OLED (which stands for organic light emitting diodes) screens, there’s a significant increase in picture quality because the TV screen can literally control the color of every single pixel on the screen. That’s not the case with the LCD TV, also known as the LED LCD TV, which relies on backlighting for the pixels. In short, with the OLED TV, you can control the brightness of the screen, pixel-by-pixel.

If you walk into a consumer electronic store like Best Buy, the difference between OLED and LED can appear to be very significant – there’s greater color contrast, the bright colors are brighter, the dark colors are darker, and it’s possible to get a true “black” on the screen. Also, OLED screens are slightly curved, and that means you can see more of the picture even if you are not facing directly in front of the TV. For picture quality purists, then, OLED screens are superior.

However, OLED TVs are still too expensive for the average consumer. They’re typically priced at $9,000 or higher. As a result, there are only two major companies – Samsung and LG – that make them. And they are only available in screen size of 55 inches and greater, making them also largely impractical for most people, who are quite comfortable with their 42 inch screens.

The rise of Ultra HD 4K

If picture quality is the primary concern of consumers, then makers of LCD TVs have the solution – Ultra HD 4K televisions. In some regards, “Ultra HD 4K” is more of a marketing innovation than a technological innovation. There’s not really a change in the technology that TV makers are using – they are simply adding more pixels to the screen. The previous HD standard was 1080p (1,080 pixels), and this new 4K standard is approximately 4,000 pixels (actually, 3,840 pixels, but who’s counting?).

At a glance, you can see that 4K offers nearly four times the number of pixels as the old HD screens. More pixels, better quality, right? But 4K is still just a resolution – it tells you nothing about other factors that impact the overall picture image, such as contrast, brightness, or black level.

But, for the average consumer, 4K is a real reason to go out and buy a new TV set. And here’s the thing – the only way to get 4K is with an LCD TV. So you can view 4K as a key way that LCD TV makers are going to hold off the OLED revolution. If everyone is too busy buying 4K TVs, they aren’t going to buy OLED TVs, and that means OLED manufacturers will never be able to create the type of scale needed to compete at a more reasonable price point.

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Whatever happened to the plasma TV?

The battle between OLED and 4K, in some ways, is reminiscent of the battle between LCD and Plasma. Again, plasma TVs represented a fundamentally new way of displaying a clearer, crisper picture. TV enthusiasts raved about the overall picture quality on their plasma TV screens.

But, somehow, plasma TVs never became profitable. One reason is that, at larger sizes, plasma TVs were just physically bigger than LCD TVs, and consumers didn’t want to absorb all the extra costs (e.g. it’s cheaper to ship an LCD TV than a plasma TV.) Panasonic, which was one of the biggest players in the plasma TV market, recently got out of the business. And only two companies – Samsung and LG – even make plasma TVs anymore, and both are phasing out of the business.

In short, the LCD TV met the challenge from plasma TV. It was simply the case that the high-end LCDs could equal or surpass the picture quality of the plasma TV at much lower price points.

Why LCD will continue to dominate

For now, it looks like the LCD TV will continue to dominate the market. Plasma TVs are going extinct and OLED TVs are still way too expensive. One big reason is that the LCD screen is what’s used in nearly every technological gadget, so there’s what economists refer to as “economies of scale” when it comes to creating LCD screens. Companies can literally create a giant glass of pixels and slice it up into smaller screens. They could take one 84-inch block of pixels and use it for one 84-inch screen, or they could create lots of smaller screens.

Take your smartphone and look carefully at the screen. There’s a 99 percent chance that it’s an LCD screen. The only major smartphone that uses an OLED screen is the Samsung Galaxy S7. (However, there are rumors that Apple will include an OLED screen on the next iPhone) So, if OLED is ever going to take off in a serious way, it will be because of Samsung, which also happens to be only one of two major manufacturers of OLED TV sets. But will Apple consumers ever admit that Samsung phones have better screens?

Ultimately, the best technology does not always win – the most profitable and the most marketable technology wins. As long as the high-end LCDs are cheaper than their high-end rivals, they are likely to remain dominant. At a certain point, it’s not just about price, it’s also about the price/value trade-off. If you don’t get a lot more value for each increase in price, consumers will determine that it’s just not worth it.

Moreover, there’s one other factor in favor of the LCD TV – since so many manufacturers make them, there’s continual innovation happening in this space. One new innovation people are talking about are “Quantum Dots” to improve the LCD picture quality. Others are already talking up the promise of 8K (8,000 pixels!) TV screens that will make the 4K TV screens look like dinosaurs. And still others are experimenting with the actual technology that influences picture quality, such as High Dynamic Range (HDR, for brighter brights and darker darks) and new ways for “outdoor televisions” to display a quality picture despite the glare from the sun. There’s even talk of bendable or flexible displays – imagine being able to “unroll” or “unfold” a TV screen.

The future, though, is always uncertain. At some point, technologies from the gaming world – such as virtual reality, holograms or augmented reality – could spill over into the TV space, fundamentally changing the way we think about the TV in the living room. But until that happens, the LCD TV looks like it has a future.

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