Why Cable TV Subscribers Are Making It Miserable To Cut The Cord

This is what I look like waiting for TV shows to be released on Netflix. Not really – this is what I look like all the time. Image Credit – BigStock

There’s a new report out this week (to be filed in the “Duh” folder…right next to “No Kidding”) showing that some 2.6 million cable television subscribers cancelled their service in favor of Internet-based streaming services between 2008 and 2011.

Reported by Slashdot, Yahoo and others this morning, Canadian research firm Convergence Consulting Group summarized the following from their…well, research:

“We estimate 112,000 TV subscribers were added in 2011, down from 272,000 in 2010, and forecast 185,000 TV sub additions for 2012. 2000-2009 annual TV sub additions averaged 2 million. Based on our TV Cord Cutting Model (takes into account economic conditions, annual subscriber additions, digital transition), we estimate 2.65 million (2.6%) US TV subscribers cut their TV subscriptions 2008-11 to rely solely on Online, Netflix, OTA, etc, 1.05 million (1%) in 2011 alone. We forecast cord cutters will reach 3.58 million year end (3.6%) 2012.”

So, essentially, folks are fleeing traditional television for streaming services in decent numbers, but those numbers seem to be slowing. News reports on this are rounding up the typical line-up of culprits for this dialing-back on the rush to streaming – content limitations of streaming services (a.k.a. ‘ I can’t believe Netflix doesn’t have so-and-so) based on sluggish deals being struck by Netflix and others with studios and networks; and the ultimate price-tag of achieving a more robust catalogue of content will break the cost model for places like Netflix and their service will become prohibitively expensive. [Read more...]

Dear Netflix, Please Be Careful. Signed – A Faithful Subscriber

Oh, Netflix.

Still staggering from the one-two punch of the infamous 60 percent price increase for unsuspecting users in July, followed by a sloppy September move to break off its mail order business and call it Qwikster – Netflix has been looking a little weak in the legs.

Angry subscribers and jittery investors do not a good combination make.

Let’s hope their latest announcement – conveniently broken the same morning as the Apple show was dominating another couple of news cycles – isn’t the knockout punch.

According to Reuters, “Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings has quietly met with some of the largest U.S. cable companies in recent weeks to discuss adding the online movie streaming service to their cable offerings, according to sources familiar with matter.”

Most see these talks as a short term development in a long-term conversation that could bring Netflix to cable television as an on-demand choice. Some even see Netflix as a future rival to HBO. Perhaps Netflix is feeling the heat of a crop of competitors with deep pockets (Google, Amazon and others).

But whether it’s a bid to regain lost confidence or a nod to future partnerships aimed at satiating shareholders, Netflix might just be ignoring the one party that made this all possible – current subscribers.

Should talks with cable companies lead to cozy deals, maybe customers who likely view Netflix as the best option for “cutting the cord” will head elsewhere for streaming content. In other words, simply associating with the cable monopolies will taint the flavor of the entire service.

Last year’s debacle cost Netflix 800,000 subscribers (although they gained back 600,000 by year’s end). They got raked over the coals in a very public way by subscribers, industry watchers and more. Combine that with the fact that you could fit the number of people who feel love for their cable provider in a bouncy castle and you’ve got Netflix looking like they might be poised to step in it again.

Here’s another potential deal that might look great for the bottom line, but alienating to the subscriber base. A subscriber base (myself included) that knows the future of video content and entertainment streams wirelessly across the living room – not through a cord.

GNC-2012-03-01 #746 Back from DC

Great quick trip to DC. Should be back in Honolulu for a couple of weeks before any other trips.. Studio construction to commence shortly. Video viewers watch to qualify to win!

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GNC-2012-01-27 #737 Shame on Hawaii Legislature!

Going to be implementing some Studio upgrades in the next couple of weeks should be fun. I go after a couple of my state legislatures pretty hard tonight on two idiotic bills that they introduced. Also hope I was not to punchy on the last show notes. I am feeling much better by the way and although the voice is not a 100% I feel a 100% better.

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Android Causing WiFi Router Lockups

I’ve had an Android phone for about a year and a half (the HTC Evo from Sprint) but primarily because of battery use issues I’ve never used it on my home WiFi network.

In the interim, a few months ago I purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which runs a custom version of Android. I’ve also experimented with dual-booting the Nook with CyanogenMod 7, an open-source version of Android. When I dual-boot into CyanogenMod 7 and connect to my Apple Airport Extreme router, the router will loose Internet connectivity after only a few minutes, requiring me to cycle the router’s power off and back on to restore connectivity.

Now that I’ve been able to install the authorized version of Netflix onto the Nook after Barnes and Noble’s latest Nook OS update, I tried running Netflix on the Nook on my home network. After watching video for 15 or more minutes, my Apple router loses Internet connectivity.

My youngest brother has a newer HTC Android phone, and after he connected to my local WiFi network almost immediately the Apple router lost connectivity. It happened so frequently at one point that I was beginning to think the router was dying.

However, after futher experimentation I’ve determined that if I don’t connect any Android devices to my WiFi, the router seems to work as flawlessly as ever.

Time to check Mr. Google. Using the Google-suggested search term “android crashes router” (the term pops up immediately after I start typing “android cras   “ so I know plenty of other people are looking for a solution) 4,730,000 results come up. After reading through a number of posts by people experiencing the same issue, I have yet to come up with a definitive answer. What is it about a variety of versions of Android connecting to WiFi that is causing many different brands of routers to lose Internet connectivity? The problem is by no means an Apple Router/Android WiFi incompatibility – it therefore seems more likely an issue with Android itself, or at least certain Android builds.

The suggested fixes range from people suggesting that they try to update their router’s firmware to trying to confine the router to Wireless “G” only.

Ironically my HTC Evo phone can also be used as a WiFi hotspot. I can connect any Android device to the Evo’s WiFi hotspot feature and transfer all the data I want without issue. In other words, Android cannot cause my Android phone’s hotspot feature to lose Internet connectivity.

It would be logical to assume that this problem is an Android software issue. The problem seems inconsistent, most probably because of the patchwork-quilt variety of Android hardware and custom OS builds.

So far, the problem hasn’t even seemed to be officially acknowledged as an issue. I suspect that bad Android battery life has prevented a lot of people from trying to connect their Android phones to their home networks via WiFi, so mass numbers of people likely haven’t experienced the potential WiFi router crashing problem.

Of the people that do connect their phones to home WiFi routers, some people never have a problem, while others are constantly plagued by it.

Android crashing WiFi routers is enough to cause me to veer away from future Android devices, unless and until the problem is solved. Phase one of the chaos of the Windows desktop has spread to smartphones.

Welcome to the new Windows fractal – it’s name is Android.

Dexter, Game of Thrones Part of Top 10 Most Pirated TV Shows in 2011

Dexter

Dexter

The group over at TorrentFreak.com have come up with the top ten pirated shows this last year. They collected information from many Torrent Trackers to come up with this list. This list is US only.

Dexter, the show about a serial murderer who kills bad guys topped this years most downloaded list at 3.6 million downloads. Game of Thrones was second, and CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” hit third.

Terra Nova is the surprise – 8th place at 1.9 million. This is a show that is on the verge of cancellation by Fox. So does a number like this mean there is still hope for this show?

Some good news is these numbers are declining. Web streaming sites like Hulu give people a chance to see their shows on their schedule. In return, they don’t have to search for the latest episode.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

However, shows like Dexter and True Blood –  which are on premium channels Showtime and HBO – don’t show up on Hulu. A season of these episodes might take 2 years before they land on Netflix streaming. You can buy seasons at the conclusion through sites like Amazon, and rent shortly through Blockbuster or Netflix DVD.

Five network TV shows ended up on the list – Big Bang Theory, House, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, and Terra Nova. TorrenkFreak deduces these are mostly downloads for people who are overseas and do not have access to Hulu.

GNC-2011-12-12 #728 Biggest Goof of the Year!

All good intentions have a serious consequence when executed incorrectly. You will get a nice chuckle out of my goof up this weekend.. This show has some interesting topics that should make us all sit back and say hmmm..

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On The Net, Less Can Offer More

For some time now I’ve been using an iOS/Android app called “Heytell” to communicate with a number of friends and relatives. Heytell’s appeal is that it offers reliable asynchronous voice messages that are quick and easy to send to people when you don’t want to invest the time in a phone conversation. Heytell’s success as an app is that it offers something that’s less than a phone call but does it very well indeed.

Text messaging is successful and popular because it offers the opportunity to send quick and easy messages directly to the cell phones of others if you don’t want to invest the time or effort into writing a full-fledged email. Text messaging’s success is that it offers something that’s less than an email but does it very well indeed.

For some time now, I’ve been experimenting with various set-top boxes, including the Western Digital WDTV as well as built-in apps in a couple of different brands of Blu-Ray players, the software version of Boxee, an Apple TV, and even a Mac Mini connected to my HDTV. All of them had their strengths, however, it still felt as if something was somehow wrong or missing from each one of those experiences and user interfaces.

Over the weekend I bought a Roku 2 XS. The Roku is by far the best set-top box experience I’ve ever had. Roku has got it right. They’ve currently got well over 100 apps to chose from, with many more constantly being added. Roku has a tremendous amount of content provided by those third-party apps, and content drives success. Content is king and always will be.

It hit me what the appeal of a box such as Roku is with its third-party apps. These streaming apps, such as Crackle, Netflix, etc. are something less than a full-fledged cable or broadcast TV network. They can have lots of highly-specialized content to choose from, such as Netflix, or such a small amount of highly-specialized content that it’s only updated once a week. Big traditional cable and broadcast networks provide only one program at a time that the viewer has to make an appointment to watch. Roku video streaming apps provide specialized content that in many cases could never make it on a traditional broadcast network because the audience would be too small. That same specialized content begins to have tremendous appeal in a Roku app venue where it’s something less than a full-fledged network environment, yet delivered very well indeed.

On the Internet, less really can be more.

Hulu Not For Sale

Hulu.comThe owners of Hulu announced today that they are no longer for sale, after shopping themselves around since June.  Maybe with Netflix’s sudden unsettled condition, it occurred to them that maybe they could make a few more dollars on their venture.

I am not a huge user of Hulu, but my teenage daughter is.  She watches all her favorite cable and network shows there when she misses them on regular broadcast, or when someone accidentally erases something she’s saved from the DVR.  Unlike others in the geek-o-sphere, we are not ready to cut the cord on our satellite yet.  But having choices like Hulu means that we have some flexibility in how we watch some of our favorites.

I went and tooled around on Hulu tonight for a bit, to see what was there to watch.  The American Experience series from PBS is available for free viewing, as is one of my guilty pleasures, Storage Wars from A&E.  Much of what I found was cable-based, as most network shows end up on the networks’ own websites.  Hulu is good for getting links directly out to shows that they don’t carry directly.

Most shows won’t play unless your ad-blockers are turned off, and they all include ads.  Most ads are only a minute or less, and happen only a couple times during the episode you may be watching.  That’s what you get for free.  If you want to pay $8 a month, you get access to more shows, many of them current or newest releases including movies, plus the ability to watch them on any device from a smart phone to a tablet to an Internet-enabled television or set-top box.

From what I can tell, if you’re looking for things that have appeared on television, Hulu is where you want to go for content.  If you’re looking for new releases, they are pretty much a black hole of nothing.  But still, for those that don’t want to pay Netflix’s inflated prices for content, Hulu may be a reasonable alternative.

I intend to spend a little more time poking around seeing what is there.

$49 Roku Might Be the Golden Ticket for Cord Cutters

Roku LT

Roku LT

This morning, Roku announced a $49 model of their popular Over the Top TV solution. The Roku LT is a very slimmed down version of the box. It does up to 720p video (which most content providers are creating content for), and while you cannot play Angry Birds or have a USB and Ethernet port (it’s a WiFi device, too) like the $99 model, it does have all the other functionality of this popular internet appliance.

Roku has been growing, adding many new channels including EPiX, which has been convincing people to cut the cord, as GigaOM discusses. Roku also added HBO Go – which is a On Demand service offered by HBO. You still need to order a cable package to get the OTT channel.

There are other great channels on Roku that do not require a cable connection, such as the TechPodcasts channel and Blubrry. You also have the Netflix, HuluPlus, Revision3, KoldKast, Glenn Beck, NHL, Fox News and many other channels.

The LT also undercuts the Apple TV by $50. Roku was already the lowest priced box, with a $59 and $79 version of the box. But this new magic price point turns the OTT box into a “great gift”. With the holidays fast approaching, this might be the hot item.

So with this news, will you finally be purchasing a Roku? Let us know!