Why the DVR just won't die

Sometimes I like to imagine a future where DVR doesn’t exist. Instead of wrangling with scheduling conflicts and storage limits, people should just be able to watch what they want on demand, preferably with no commercials. In other words, all TV should be more like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

But as television moves online in the form of streaming TV bundles, DVR remains a crutch. AT&T’s DirecTV Now is tough to recommend without DVR, Sling TV is scrambling to add DVR, PlayStation Vue is the best streaming bundle right now largely because of DVR. YouTube TV and Hulu’s upcoming bundle will include DVR at the outset.

While I wish the DVR would step aside in favor of easy on-demand access to everything, I’ve come to understand that the situation is too complex to be resolved anytime soon, at least for traditional TV channels. With DVR, as with everything in television, change doesn’t come easy.

Read more »

0

The quest for smooth 60-frames-per-second sports in streaming TV bundles

Have you ever watched live sports on a streaming service such as Sling TV and thought it didn’t look quite right? Compared to cable, satellite, or over-the-air broadcast TV, streamed sporting events can look a bit choppy or jittery, making it harder to keep track of quick passes and fast breaks.

The issue here is frame rate. Sports telecasts typically come in at a smooth 60 frames per second. But that higher frame rate isn’t a given with streaming services, where that same video might play at a choppier 30 frames per second. As this 60 fps vs. 30 fps comparison video on YouTube illustrates, frame rate is the difference between a lifelike picture and one that looks more like a scripted TV show.

With March Madness getting underway, cord cutters should know that not all streaming services treat frame rate with the same level of care. Let’s dive into the differences between TV bundles, and why frame rate can be an issue in the first place.

Read more »

0

How to watch the news without cable TV: 2017 edition

One question I often get from potential cord cutters is whether they can still watch the news without cable. These days, it's easier to accomplish than ever, as more companies invest in streaming the news, and streaming channel bundles emerge with access to major cable news networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

I first wrote about cable-free news options in 2015. Here's an update that includes all the best services and apps to emerge since then;

National broadcast news networks

Read more »

0

YouTube TV could be the best streaming bundle for sports—if you can get it

Streaming TV bundles in 2017 are like snowflakes. They all look similar from afar, but they reveal their differences under a microscope.

The latest of these bundles is YouTube TV, which parent company Google announced this week. While its combination of live channels, on-demand video, and DVR follows the basic blueprint of other streaming bundles, there’s a subtle difference in how its channel lineup puts a greater emphasis on broadcast networks and sports.

For $35 per month, YouTube TV will include all four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC), ESPN channels, regional Fox Sports networks, and regional Comcast sports networks. No other bundle puts those channels together at that low of a price, and YouTube TV also includes CBS Sports Network, NBC’s Golf Channel, and Fox's FS1 and FS2 for good measure.

Read more »

0

It's not too late for Apple TV

Time hasn’t been kind to the fourth-generation Apple TV. In recent months, Apple’s streaming platform has lost market share to rivals like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast, and Apple itself has admitted that sales last holiday season decreased from 2015.

But perhaps a turnaround is in the making. Last week, as part of a lengthy rundown of what went wrong with Apple TV, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that a new Apple TV could arrive this year with 4K video and “more vivid colors” (likely a reference to HDR). Gurman also suggested that Apple might try again at negotiating a streaming channel bundle akin to Dish’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now.

Read more »

0

5 ways TV networks are responding to the growing cord-cutting movement

As more people decide they don’t need cable, the TV networks are waking up to the fact that they can’t bet the farm on the same old business models, even as they depend on cable for most of their revenue.

The latest earnings reports from companies like Time Warner, Viacom, and Disney provide a useful snapshot of how networks are responding to cord-cutting. Spoiler alert: The responses aren’t always consumer friendly.

1. Bet on streaming bundles

Read more »

0

Roku upgrade guide: Should you buy a new box?

Out of all the companies making streaming TV devices today, Roku is the most prolific, having released more than two dozen streaming players and sticks over the last eight years.

With so many Roku players in the wild, the decision on when to upgrade can be daunting. I’m generally in favor of keeping what you have for as long as you can tolerate it; but if you’re curious what you’re missing by holding out on upgrading to a new Roku, here’s a rundown.

Do you want the latest apps?

Read more »

0