Warning: This has been an insane journey, so I might be ranting a bit.
Once DirecTV changed their interface, I decided to suspend the service and see if I could live in the streaming only world. It’s been an insane journey which will likely be impossible to journal. I’ll do my best and at some point I am just going to list pieces of the puzzle.
My pride and joy. It’s a super large 4k flat panel that sits over our fireplace. The main purpose of this device is to show pixels in the right colors and play sound. The sound however is garbage, so I bought a Vizio sound bar. This works well, but I find it difficult to control the volume with the Sony remote. The TV is also 3D compatible. I have used that feature exactly once. 3D is stupid.
The Sony TV uses Android TV as its operating system. It’s main purpose is to be the platform for apps. Google has some apps built in, most notably YouTube.com. The store has other apps, which I will get to shortly.
Comcast xFinity Internet
Since Sony and Android don’t have content, I need to get my content from somewhere. In a streaming world this has to come over the internet. I have very few options for internet service. There is Comcast and this company I just found called Wave Broadband. Comcast customer service is legendary for their incompetence. I am seriously considering switching to Wave Broadband. They have options up to gigbit speeds from $50-$70 / month.
Eero Mesh Network
Once I have internet access, I need to spread the signal around the house. A single WiFi router is not good enough for our weirdly shaped home. I spent way too much money on Eero. In hindsight, I would have chosen the Google Home option. However, I have a bunch of Eeros which connect my Comcast internet signal to the TV, which allows the apps to be installed and work on Android TV.
Hulu is mostly owned by Disney, Fox and Comcast. They have many options. For the purpose of this journey, I signed up for the most expensive system they have. Hulu (No Commercials) with Live TV BETA ($44) plus Enhanced Cloud DVR ($15) with Unlimited Devices ($15) and HBO ($15). This package gives me some live sports. Specifically, we want to watch the Golden State Warriors games. This was a hard one to figure out. Hulu seems to be OK so far, but the signal is a little jumpy. Also, I can’t figure out how to tell it “Record all Warriors games, no matter what.” This is important.
HBO Go (or HBO NO Go)
HBO has two services HBO Go and HBO Now. If you have HBO through your cable company, then you get HBO Go. If not, you can buy HBO Now for $15 a month). Now, I have comcast xFinity, which includes a bundle for the TV, which I don’t even use. I literally have not plugged it in. However, it does have HBO included in the base package. But wait! Comcast and HBO are in a legal dispute and someone decided that if you are a Comcast customer, you don’t get access to HBO Go anymore. So that means I had to buy the HBO add on to Hulu since it’s not worth it to get yet another app to get HBO. I find it interesting that the price is the same whether you buy direct or through Hulu.
Everyone knows what Netflix is. I have it mainly because it has original content that I like. If it didn’t I could find all of the older movies in other ways. Netflix survives based on its original content. The minute I don’t like their shows, I will stop the service. I have no loyalty.
Same as Netflix on original content, but it’s tied into our shopping experience. We buy lots and lots of things using Prime to avoid the shipping costs. This is a unique value only Amazon can provide. If they didn’t have original content, I would still get prime.
Neither Netflix, nor Amazon has all of the movies I am interested in. But let’s leave movies on the side for a bit.
Not to be confused with YouTube, this is a Hulu competitor. Why the hell did they confuse the brand? It’s not Youtube. It’s not Youtube Red. It’s confusing and they should fix their brand problems. They need to call this Google TV or make up a new name. It’s not YouTube. Anyway, it’s $35 a month and has alot of shows. More importantly, it has the Tennis Channel, which I watch all the time. It has a cloud DVR service.
Speaking of Tennis, I watch Tennis Channel alot. Again, Comcast is in some legal fuckery with them. If they weren’t I could get it for free with a specific Tennis TV app. Alternatively, you could buy it for $10 a month (annual payment). However, this would require a separate app, outside of Hulu. For right now, I am using YouTubeTV to watch tennis. Oh, and the grand slams aren’t included. I need ESPN or some other shit instead. I am hoping that I am able to get it on YouTube TV the day after. I don’t care all that much about seeing it live, unlike the Warriors games.
Back to Huiu
I purchased a Amazon FireTV a while back. Interestingly, Hulu on my Android TV is NOT the same thing as Hulu on the Amazon FireTV. On the Android TV you can NOT watch the warriors games, or the Cloud DVR. On the FireTV you can. WTF Hulu? You seriously have different functionality on different apps. I know its a pain in the ass to maintain parity across platforms, but you just have to. You are confusing the shit out of me.
So if I want to watch the warriors game, I need to switch to the Amazon FireTV Hulu and not the basic Android TV Hulu. Looking back to YouTube TV, I notice that I can watch the warriors game there too.
So now, I am considering dialing down the Hulu service, but I need to check other shows.
At this point, my head is spinning. There are so many moving parts. YouTube TV seems like a good deal vs. Hulu for live sports. I will try to watch the game tonight and if it works, I will downgrade Hulu to the simpler plan without live TV.
It used to be that Comcast and other cable providers had a monopoly. Only one line into the homes, so they could control who gets a channel and who doesn’t and which package it’s a part of. Comcast was the choke point for all content. With the streaming world, the content providers have options and could even stream directly to the user for a fee.
Now remember, I get my internet access from Comcast, who own Hulu. They obviously would be unhappy if I spent my money on YouTube TV rather than Hulu. Thanks to net neutrality, they weren’t allowed to play mean.
Ooops, no more net neutrality
Without it, Comcast, who has a near monopoly on my internet access could say, “Sorry Glen, we don’t support YouTube TV through our internet access in the normal plan. You can pay extra to get that unlocked.” I would be compelled to use Hulu rather than YouTube TV. I would have less competition.
This is why Comcast is invested so heavily in Internet and Content. Same for Verizon/At&T/DirecTV. Monopolies are worth alot of money.
Where does it go from here?
More consolidation is bound to happen. Disney and Fox might merge with Comast, which should violate anti-trust laws, but might not. Google is laying Fiber around the country for a reason, but they need to get into more content than YouTube. Who will be their partners for content? Netflix seems like a good option. Google should buy Netflix.
That leaves Amazon as the odd man out. They need to get into the internet access business. Maybe Amazon and Verizon or AT&T could make a deal.
It’s all quite confusing. I didn’t even touch on different devices like Tivo, SlingTV, and nVidia Shields. I didn’t go into the individual app markets or mention Movies at all. It’s a whirlwind out there. I am very savvy technology user and I am struggling to make it work. I also didn’t mention that the amount of great shows has skyrocketed. It’s becoming impossible to watch even the best shows. It used to be that everyone watched the best shows and you could talk about episodes. Now, its every man for himself.
Have you cut the cord? Is it going same as me or better? or worse?