What happened to Fling, Amazon's Chromecast clone on Fire TV?

Back in July 2015, Amazon announced a Chromecast-like feature for its own Fire TV streaming box and Fire TV Stick. The feature was called Amazon Fling, and it would allow existing phone and tablet apps to play media on a nearby television, just like Chromecast can.

But over the last two years, that effort has languished. I can't find a single high-profile streaming service that supports Fling, and when I asked several streaming companies about it, their responses generally ranged from no comment to no interest. (By comparison, Chromecast works with thousands of iOS and Android apps, including most major streaming services.)

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The unpleasant reality behind PlayStation Vue's recent price hike

Last week, Sony wiped out PlayStation Vue’s price advantage over other streaming bundles, raising the subscription cost by $10 per month in many markets.

Sony previously offered a “Slim” version of PlayStation Vue in places that didn’t get live broadcasts from ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Those plans started at $30 per month, versus $40 per month in markets that included a majority of live broadcast feeds. Now, Sony is charging the higher price nationwide for all new subscribers, and it will raise prices for all existing Slim subscribers after their next three billing cycles.

While the price hike might cause some PlayStation Vue subscribers to quit in a huff, the reality is that Sony’s Slim plan was an exception to how streaming bundles work now, and it was probably unsustainable in the long run. Its demise merely brings PlayStation Vue in line with the cost of its competitors, underscoring how streaming bundles today have limited ability to keep prices in check.

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Linear TV is falling apart

Apart from live sports and breaking news, TV broadcasters have—with some minor variations—relied on the rigid time slots of linear TV for decades. They've clung to this model even as more people turn to DVR and streaming services to watch TV on their own schedules.

That’s finally starting to change. A couple weeks ago, Fox announced that it would adopt a six-second ad format, beginning with its on-demand shows and eventually moving to its linear broadcast channel. And last week, AMC announced a $5-per-month streaming service that will let cable subscribers watch shows like The Walking Dead at the same time as the live broadcast, but without ads.

Those developments could be the beginning of a breakdown for linear TV as we know it. When commercial breaks become drastically shorter, or when a subset of viewers can watch new shows with no breaks at all, spacing every program into 30- or 60-minute time slots becomes obsolete.

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Fubo TV: All the details on this sports-heavy streaming bundle

FuboTV doesn't have the name recognition of other streaming bundles, but it’s been quietly building up a service to take on the likes of Dish’s Sling TV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now, and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.

Although FuboTV originally launched in 2015 as a streaming service for soccer fans, it later pivoted to a broader mix of streaming cable channels, and has been flying under the radar as a public beta for most of this year. Over the past couple weeks, though, the company has made lots of noise, announcing plans to add channels from CBS and Scripps Networks, and closing a $55 million investment round.

If you're planning to cut the cord and haven't considered FuboTV, now might be the time to give it a look. Here’s everything you need to know:

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Over-the-air DVR: Do you really need it?

One of the most interesting trends in cord cutting this year is the resurgence of over-the-air TV and new tools to make the most of it.

Over-the-air DVR maker Tablo, for instance, recently launched a new two-tuner model, and has several other products on the way. Plex recently took its own DVR service out of beta with live TV feeds and more tuner support, and tuner maker SiliconDust is working on a DVR service as well. Device makers like Amazon and Roku also seem to be inching toward full-blown DVR support in their smart TV products, which already offer time-shifting of live antenna TV.

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Sling TV channel guide: All the programming, all the restrictions, and everything else you need to know

Sling TV is a much more expansive streaming video service than used to be, but it hasn’t gotten any easier to understand. If anything, Sling has become more complicated since last year’s launch, with two base packages instead of one, more add-on packages to choose from, and new restrictions that apply to some local and sports channels.

I've completely updated our guide to list all all of Sling TV’s channels and add-on packages. Below the chart, I’ll walk through some other things you need to know.

Sling TV channel guide

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Apple TV gets cozy with Amazon Prime, so where does that leave Netflix?

Apple CEO Tim Cook spent less than two minutes talking about Apple TV during the company’s WWDC keynote this week, but that was enough time for two revelations: First, Apple’s TV guide app now pulls in movies and shows from more than 50 streaming video sources. Second, Amazon Prime will become one of those sources when Amazon launches an Apple TV app later this year.

Apple’s TV app, which arrived last fall, is supposed to solve streaming video’s “what to watch” problem. Instead of making people bounce between apps, it provides a central hub where users can catch up on their favorite shows and get recommendations on more things to watch. The TV app worked with 37 content sources at launch, and the list has grown by about 15 apps since.

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