| March 26, 2020
The journey to a box-free television life continues.
There is something almost as exciting about gathering up all the DirecTV hardware all over the house as there was in having it installed. It’s all gone to FedEx (no remotes requested) for free delivery back to the home ship. Shelves are more open. Fewer wires float around our TVs.
The reality for my family is that we still want access to everything. And everybody’s everything is something else. For us, it’s all the movie channels, all the broadcast networks, cable news, cable kids shows, and the top cable channels. That last one got more complicated than expected.
Our baseline of choice is YouTube TV. We have four TVs in our home, so if we want to have all of them on – very rare, but it happens – they are really the only choice. So here is our new monthly bill.
YouTube TV $49.99
AMC Premiere $5
Sundance Now $7
HBO Now $15
After a few days of settling into the YouTube TV life, I realized that Comedy Central and Nickelodeon were not part of YouTube TV. I watch The Daily Show and the David Spade show every day they air and as much as I craved my weekly Amy Schumer Show or Broad City, I now find myself looking forward to the weekend Nora From Queens. And my son is into a couple of the shows on Nick, though truth be told, he would live without them. Me, not so much.
So I took another dip into the small bundle delivery companies. In the couple weeks since this cordless journey began, AT&T TV Now (they need to pick a frickin’ name and stick to it) had improved its number and added the Viacom networks. And HBO/Cinemax is part of the package. Their monthly…
ATT TV Now w/HBO/Cinemax $80
Extra Movies $5
Take Sundance Now and AMC Premiere off of the YouTube TV bundle and they are the same monthly price, but without having to have a second app for Viacom and with Cinemax, which HBO Now does not include (which will be moot in a couple of months, when HBO Max arrives).
With that, the AT&T TV Now free trial begins.
It took less than an hour to decide to stick with YouTube TV. The interface was plainly inferior… at least for me. We are an AppleTV family and on that platform, there is no fast-forward or rewind available with live streaming TV. There is something cool about being able to stroll through “stations” on the app, but because you get no control of the line-up of stations, it is much like switching channels in the 1980s… going past a lot of stuff you have zero interest in seeing.
Also… I don’t trust that the AT&T TV Now program and pricing will remain stable. I just got out of a very long relationship with DirecTV and one of the keys to us staying together was stability with incremental improvements. There were channel numbering changes that still irritate, but mostly, things stayed put.
The AT&T TV Now free trial made it two days. Cancel.
Beyond that, there are still some serious frustrations in this process. If you want the Viacom cable nets, there are very limited options. Philo is a cheap way to get a small bundle at $20 a month, but $20 a month for the Viacom nets feels like a lot of money in this ecosystem. Why doesn’t YouTube TV have Viacom cable channels in its line-up? Probably money. Make it a $6 a month option? I’d be all over that.
Other quirks show up. Like if you held onto a network show on YouTube TV for a week and want to do a two-hour binge after the next episode drops, you get to deal with ads that can’t be passed. Worse, the ads on the show are the same five network promos over and over and over again, not unlike the bad old days of cable and satellite VOD. There are now a series of NBC shows I will have an involuntary vomit reaction to after seeing the same ads so many times in a hour or two. This is good for no one.
Being on the AppleTV box all the time also reminds you of how little you are clicking on other apps you are paying for monthly and how you would prefer them to work. For instance, why does HBO Now not offer up the most recently aired new shows, especially when we are all trained to do appointment viewing with HBO? If I have time, I may wander around the HBO Now site, looking for something to consume. But on Sunday night, I want to go on there, see what is new or when it is coming online… period. Why do I need to click through three or four windows to find out (and still not really know for sure)?
That brings up time zone programming. I probably could fix this by cheating somehow. But with DirecTV, I consistently had shows sitting on my DVR three hours before their first West Coast appearance. HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, Bravo, etcetera. No more. This is not a deal breaker, but my biggest question is, “Why?” Isn’t this The Future? If I am getting shows, even scheduled shows, pretty much on demand, why does CBS or HBO or anyone really care whether I get it at 5pm or 8pm? Isn’t the goal to get me to watch it, as opposed to get me to jump through hoops?
And don’t even get me started on the AppleTV remote… or do. Next time.
| March 26, 2020
| March 19, 2020
| March 14, 2020
Arundhati Roy: "Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it."
| April 5, 2020
"Black Widow's new home of November 6 used to belong to Eternals, which will go out February 12, 2021, a date previously inhabited by Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi is moving to May 7, 2021, displacing Doctor Strange 2, now set for November 5, 2021. That prompted Thor: Love And Thunder to relocate to February 28, 2022. Black Panther 2's May 8, 2022 date is unchanged, while Captain Marvel 2 is moving up two weeks to July 8, 2022."
Isn't It Marvel-Less
| April 5, 2020
More TIFF Talk: "We are always hopeful of course that the change will be positive. We can see it already – festival partners, stakeholders and industry colleagues alike – working together to support each other. Moments of crisis present moments of opportunity as well. We’re experiencing more sophisticated and flexible use of technology. We have had to sweep away artificial barriers and move more of our lives online. It’s helping us continue to contribute and keep our part of the industry going. Not everything can be virtual of course, and when this global pandemic recedes and we slowly settle back into a new but familiar world, we hope we will all continue to be collaborative, kind, generous and supportive."
| April 4, 2020
| December 13, 2019
| December 4, 2019
| December 4, 2019