The Tubi TV home screen on Android

The Tubi TV home screen on Android

Tegna, which I still think of as the old Gannett TV, today announced a strategic investment in Tubi TV. The press release said that Premion, Tegna’s local ad network for OTT content, will expand its existing relationship with Tubi. Therefore Tubi, which picked up $20 million in funding last May, probably has a better chance of staying around awhile.

I must confess that when I’ve done roundups of free, ad-supported streaming services, I haven’t given Tubi full credit. The press releases it sends out call it “the industry’s leading free streaming and TV movie network,” and its library covers a lot of genres. Tubi also has apps for most of the usual streaming suspects, though I wish it would roll out an Android TV app to go with its app for other Android devices.

That press release had a lot more, including the kind of quotes you’d never hear in conversation. “Tubi and Tegna share a vision of the future of digital advertising, based on superior technology, targeting and premium content,” said Farhad Massoudi, founder and CEO of Tubi, Inc. “Together, we provide innovative ad solutions within an unparalleled mix of premium content. I look forward to our broader collaboration with Tegna.”

It all reminds me of two recurring themes I’ve been reading lately from the some know-a-little pundits. One is that streaming services are losing money because they can’t possibly afford to pay for the content they’re using. In fact, the kind of precisely targeted ads they can offer make that revenue stream a lot larger than for typical network ads. The second is that cord-cutters don’t account for internet service provider fees when considering TV subscription costs. Well yeah, and they aren’t accounting for the price of electricity or heat for their viewing room either. For the vast majority of US households, broadband internet is an automatic purchase like running water. For all of these viewers, Tubi TV is a pretty decent free service.

Locast channel grid ending with WNETLocast.org, the non-profit service streaming New York City over-the-air TV stations on the internet, added another channel since its launch earlier this month. WNET, NYC’s primary PBS affiliate, joins WLIW, the secondary PBS station in town.

I noticed the addition in a Bloomberg Technology story that ran last Friday; it mentioned that Locast carried 15 channels. And the article led with the news, or non-news, that I find very interesting about this startup. “It’s been a week and we haven’t heard anything,” said David Goodfriend, head of Locast. “I don’t know how long that will last, but it’s been longer than I’d ever thought.”

Later, that Bloomberg article possibly explained what might trigger broadcasters’ lawsuits. It quoted Jack Goodman, a former general counsel for the NAB, who noted that the non-profit copyright loophole prevents Locast from benefiting from its retransmissions. In short, there will be trouble if it ever starts charging for subscriptions. And if it remains a free service, Goodman said, “I don’t know how they can afford to do it.”

(I know how they might afford to stay free, not even accounting for donations from grateful viewers. Already, Locast is funded by an anonymous, deep-pocketed benefactor. Since Goodfriend used to work for Dish Network, let’s hypothetically say that benefactor is Dish founder Charlie Ergen. What do you think it would be worth for Dish, in its next OTA retransmission impasse, to be able to tell its customers to flip over to the local Locast feed? Could Dish add Locast as a digital service alongside YouTube and Netflix? If the benefactor is connected to a cable TV giant, the same scenarios could play out. After all, as I wrote at Locast’s launch, Cablevision suggested something like this years ago.)

Locast remains geofenced, available only to devices that can prove they’re in New York City. The web site posted an apology to folks who live within the NYC media market but outside the city. “Unfortunately, as we grew rapidly during our first weekend we experienced some difficulties servicing those residing outside of the city limits. We apologize for this inconvenience but are working to get everyone their local content soon.” If those growing pains are the worst of Locast’s worries, it’s doing very well.

 Pygmalion (1938) on IMDb

It’s back-to-back Leslie Howard films in this section of the Internet Archive Top 100. He was nominated for a best actor Oscar for his work in Pygmalion, and George Bernard Shaw won a best screenplay Oscar for the adaptation of his play about the professor who bets that he can transform a Cockney woman into a high-society lady. It was later remade as the musical My Fair Lady.

Leonard Maltin gave this film a perfect 4 stars. Wendy Hiller won a best actress award from the National Board of Review for her portrayal of the student Eliza. It’s just a great movie, which is why it belongs here in the Top Ten.

 

Screenshot of the Impractical Jokers' episode, The Truth HurtsYesterday, after Sling TV had stopped working for over 12 hours on my Channel Master’s DVR+ receiver and with all signs pointing to a permanent shutdown on that platform, I proclaimed that it was gone for good. A few minutes ago, just for fun, I tried it again. Now it’s working fine. D’oh!

It would be very helpful if Sling would let us know more about what’s going on beyond its original short email to subscribers who viewed it on a DVR+. Anyway, I’m not going to mention this again until it’s been off for at least a week, or until Sling tells us more, whichever comes first. Please enjoy your weekend.

 The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934) on IMDb

Here is a story that provided many of the roots of the modern comic book hero. As Wikipedia put it, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the name of a chivalrous Englishman, Sir Percy Blakeney, who exhibits characteristics that would become standard superhero conventions, including the penchant for disguise, use of a signature weapon (sword), ability to out-think and outwit his adversaries, and a calling card (he leaves behind a scarlet pimpernel at each of his interventions). The 1903 novel arguably established the idea of a secret identity.

Leslie Howard, who starred in this 1934 film, made a similar modern-day version of the story in 1941’s “Pimpernel” Smith, which is #60 in the Internet Archive Top 100. Nothing beats this original, where Howard rescues innocents from the French Revolution instead of the Nazis.