Providers and Devices

"Cutting the Cord," the process of ditching traditional cable and satellite content providers for cheaper online-based services, is nothing new. For years, consumers have cancelled their cable subscriptions (or declined to even subscribe in the first place), opting instead to get their entertainment from companies like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

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But the recent introduction of online streaming TV services like Sling TV, new technologies like HDR, and the slow online adoption of live local channels has made the idea of cord cutting more complicated. While cord cutters who are happy with just Netflix and YouTube need not worry, what are the solutions for those who don't like the idea of high cost cable subscriptions but also want to preserve access to things like local channels and the latest 4K HDR content?

This article is the first in a three-part series that will look at this "high-end" cord cutting scenario. We'll be taking a look at the options for online streaming TV, access to local "OTA" (over the air) channels, and the devices that can handle it all, including DVR support, 4K output, and HDR compliance.

There are two approaches that you can take when considering the cord cutting process. The first is to focus on capabilities: Do you want 4K? HDR? Lossless surround sound audio? Voice search? Gaming?

The second approach is to focus on content: Do you want live TV or à la carte downloads? Can you live without ESPN or must it and your other favorite networks still be available? Are you heavily invested in iTunes content? Perhaps most importantly for those concerned with the "Spousal Acceptance Factor" (SAP), do you want the majority of your content contained in a single app, which can prevent you and your family members from having to jump between apps or devices to find what they want?

While most people on the cord cutting path will consider both approaches to a certain degree, it's easier to focus on the one that's most important to you, as that will make other choices involving devices and content easier. Of course, there are those of us out there that are open to purchasing and using multiple devices and content sources at once, giving us everything at the expense of increased complexity. But most cord cutters, especially those with families, will want to pursue a setup based around a single device that accommodates most, if not all, of their needs. And that's exactly what we set out to find.

Read on for our overview and experience with cutting the cord in 2017.

Amazon May Integrate Music Streaming Into Prime Subscription Service

Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: prime instant video, prime, music streaming, amazon

Amazon has been exploring changes to its Prime subscription service, and while drone air delivery may be years out, a music streaming service is a realistic possibility. The company already offers video streaming via its Prime service in the form of a limited selection of its total Instant Video library that can be streamed for free with a yearly Prime subscription. on the music side of things specifically, Amazon already has a massive downloadable paid-for MP3 library with a browser-based (and a new PC application) digital locker and media player. 

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Amazon Cloud Player, a browser-based media player for purchased MP3 files.

In short, all of the pieces for a music streaming service are in place. Amazon has the e-commerce and programing experience, distribution medium, and gobs of cloud storage and processing power. Amazon simply needs the go-ahead from the labels in the form of licensing agreements which appear to be in progress according to Recode.

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An Amazon-run music streaming service would face stiff competition from existing competitors such as Spotify, but if any company can come in and make it work at scale in a competitive market it is Amazon. Especially if Amazon is able to replicate music streaming and offline caching using mobile apps like Spotify offers without charging extra for the privilege. Music streaming seems to be a natural addition to its Prime Instant offering, and may just be the spoonful of sugar that makes a possible Prime subscription price increase easier to swallow.

Should Amazon and the music labels nail down a pricing agreement, I am interested to see what Amazon is able to offer in terms of user experience, applications, and library size.

Source: The Verge

New NBCUniversal TV Shows Coming to Amazon Prime Instant Video

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2012 - 04:33 AM |
Tagged: video, prime instant video, nbc, kindle fire, amazon

Amazon has inked a new deal with NBCUniversal to bring a number of new TV shows to its Prime Instant Video subscription service. The new shows include "Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, The Starter Wife, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, and more."

Internet shopping juggernaut Amazon recently announced a new deal with NBCUniversal to expand the catalog of free movies and television shows offered to Amazon Prime members. Specifically, the company is adding additional content to the Prime Instant Video library which customers subscribed to Amazon's $79 (per year) Prime shipping service get free access to.

Thanks to the new deal, Amazon Prime fans will soon see an influx of new content from NBCUniversal which should hold you over until Amazon can work more deals with studios to make it more competitive with market leader Netflix.

According to Amazon, the new content deal will include several TV series. Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, and The Starter Wife will soon all be available to stream to PCs and Kindle Fires (and other Amazon compatible devices, of course). The company claims that the Prime service now offers up to 22,000 videos, and the NBCUniversal deal should add a couple hundred more to the catalog. These relatively new titles will be a nice addition to the Prime lineup, and if all goes according to plan there should be even more new content for customers to look forward to. 

NBCUniversal Cable and New Media Distribution President Frances Manfredi stated the following:

“We look forward to further expanding NBCU’s content offering available to Prime subscribers in the near future.”

It is not yet clear what other shows might be included in that "near future," but here's hoping it is additional recent TV shows as Prime could really benefit from more of those. I'll admit to being a bit disappointed in the Prime offerings compared to what is available to buy/rent (the full Amazon Instant catalog is really good, but the Prime subscription catalog is only a very small subset of that content library). However, with a rumored Kindle Fire successor on the way, I would not be surprised to see the company push Prime more–and hopefully use its online retailer muscle to bring more studios in on delivering content for Prime subscribers. 

Amazon has made the full press release available on its website.

Do you use the Prime video streaming service? What shows would you most like to see available with your Prime subscriptions? (Personally, i wouldn't say no to some Stargate).

Source: Amazon