At my desk at FreeTVBlog World Headquarters, I’ve got a TV on either side of my monitor. The right TV is hooked up to my AirTV, Sling’s Android TV-based receiver. The left TV is attached to my Channel Master DVR+.
AirTV is great for dishing up all sorts of internet-based TV. Thanks to my distant cable TV subscription (long story, I’ll elaborate in a few days), I can watch Fox Sports, ESPN, and other cable channels through their apps. On the other hand, its integration of over-the-air TV is just enough to watch live; there’s no way to record it.
The DVR+ is the opposite – great at recording OTA but with a much weaker selection of internet-based channels. In fact, those channels haven’t changed in a very long time, so I’d been wondering whether Channel Master was focusing on something else. I also found myself wishing that the DVR+ were also based on Android TV, the better to add complementary functionality to its OTA recording.
Today I noticed, thanks to Jeff Baumgartner, that Dave Zatz of ZatzNotFunny had connected the dots and then some. Zatz said that Channel Master would introduce the Stream+ at CES in January 2018, and he posted the YouTube video above. It’s supposed to be based on the Technicolor Skipper, a 4K Android TV receiver. Technicolor makes the AirTV.
The Stream+ sounds like could be a worthy addition to one of my desk TVs. I wonder which box it will replace.
When Dish (probably) caved in late Thursday and signed a retransmission consent deal with CBS, that was as unexpected as a turkey sandwich on the day after Thanksgiving. It was never a matter of whether the two sides (mostly Dish) would give in, it was when.
So I was a little surprised to get settled in on Cyber Monday and see pundits still picking at the bones of this non-story. Daniel Frankel of FierceCable and Jon Lafayette of Multichannel News both noticed the same thing: CBS and its networks were still missing from Dish’s Sling TV despite the new contract. It might be a coastal bias, but they just don’t get it.
Despite occasional brave noises, Sling TV doesn’t carry any English-language affiliates in most of its subscribers’ markets. As Frankel himself wrote in January, “Sling TV has pointedly noted that its service is not a replacement for traditional pay-TV.” Exactly! By keeping its price very low, Sling has become the supplement for some otherwise-OTA cord-cutters. If they want a local station, they’ll pick it up over-the-air for free. If they want to watch the latest South Park, which they can’t pick up with their antennas, they’ll flip over to Comedy Central on Sling. In that context, it makes no sense for Sling to pay for CBS or any other OTA network.
On the other hand, Frankel ended his latest Sling story by writing, “Dish is expected to include Sling TV rights in its next program licensing agreement with CBS Corp.” So if those networks weren’t bundled with the CBS retransmission deal, those would be candidates for Sling to pick up. I could easily see CBS Sports added to Sling’s Sports Extra add-on, and Pop and Smithsonian could work in Comedy or Lifestyle. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
© winterling / DepositPhotos
First the good news – Dish has come to terms with CBS this morning. The bad news is that the rest of this post is a shameless money-grab. Maybe I’d have been better off waiting for Cyber Monday, but Fridays are often depressing (it’s still early as I type) and Mondays tend to be newsworthy. The following notes contain affiliate links to some of my advertisers. If you click on one and buy something, I’ll briefly get one of the coins in the photo before sending it along to my web host. (Hmm, adding to my Todo List: Get an affiliate link for my web host.)
Antennas Direct has a very interesting ClearStream TV™ Over-The-Air WiFi Television Digital Tuner that’s on sale as I type. I haven’t tried it yet, and I don’t expect that I’d prefer it to my HDHomeRun and Tablo devices, but yaneverknow.
On the other hand, I’m already very happy with my Roku, so much so that I bought a second little one to keep in my suitcase. If I break down and buy a 4K TV, it’ll probably be one with Roku built-in, so then I’d have a spare to send off to college with my kid.
If you’re one of the people who create those streaming videos to send out instead of just watching them, then you could do worse than use Vimeo, especially now that there’s 10% off Vimeo Live! Use Code LIVELAUNCH10.
Finally, for some serious coins, you could use TripAdvisor to book your next hotel in Las Vegas, maybe for CES or NAB next year. I love the reviews, and you’re going to see some hotels (cough downtown) that are convenient to the LV Convention Center at a lower price that most conference-based booking agencies. Then again, if you’ve got the cash for a really expensive, nearby hotel, you’re probably better off booking with at the conference site. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Sure enough CBS blacked out Dish customers Monday night. Dish responded with a press release that talked about over-the-air antennas. “In recent weeks, thousands of eligible DISH customers in CBS markets have made the switch to OTA … Customers with qualifying equipment, programming, and location can choose to receive local channels free over the air and save $10 per month on their bill.” And here’s another reason, if true, for me to dislike CBS’s tactics: “In addition to asking for significant price increases for local channels, CBS is attempting to ‘force bundle’ unrelated and low-performing cable channels (CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian Channel) at a premium.” I have always thought that retrans talks for OTA stations, which are designed to serve the public airwaves, needs to be separate from pay-TV channels.
Last week, I wrote that BTV Phoenix was soliciting feedback for dropping its Katz diginets (Bounce, Escape, and Grit). It’s not asking for feedback any more. Those channels had been grayed out, with an invitation for viewers to profess their enthusiasm for them, but now they’re simply not present, just as happened with those networks on BTV Bay Area. Jeff Baumgartner at Multichannel News got a response from Didja, the BTVs’ parent, that it believed “the situation is temporary, and remains hopeful that they will be restored to its lineups.”
And on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Public Knowledge will host Net Neutrality & Competition: The Final Days of Internet Freedom at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. With the FCC likely to strike down Net Neutrality protections, AT&T looking to merge with Time Warner, and Sinclair trying to gobble up the Tribune stations, “Public Knowledge is coming to California to discuss these important political shifts with engaged individuals, and to build new connections with individuals who want to learn more about standing up for an open internet.” Sound like fun, in a depressing kind of way.
As I was watching the Broncos lose at home again yesterday afternoon, there was an occasional crawl at the top of the screen telling the world that Dish customers should call Dish and complain that they might lose CBS. Or something like that – the game was hard to watch. I rolled my eyes inwardly and thought, here we go again.
The first CBS-Dish fight from over 10 years ago was the impetus for me to install a good Yagi-style over-the-air antenna on the roof. Not only did that let me bypass that dispute, it opened up the world of digital subchannels. I’ve since upgraded to a less pointy version with even better reception, but that’s only part of the reason I just don’t care this time.
When Dish sent out its nigh-annual rate increase around the beginning of this year, for the first time it broke out Broadcast TV as its own $10 charge. “Cool!” I thought, and called in to get the satellite-delivered locals turned off. That wasn’t how it worked; with my typical package of channels, that separate broadcast component was still mandatory.
Which was why I was surprised to get a postcard from Dish a couple of months ago offering to save me that $10/month if I picked up locals via an OTA antenna. They even offered to send out an installer. I called again, and this time the satellite-delivered locals went away and $10 stayed in my pocket. I no longer have PrimeTime Anytime, and my Hopper doesn’t record OTA all that well, but I’ve got a Tablo in place for my OTA DVR. I’m saving money and getting the pleasure of thumbing my nose at CBS’s tactics.
That’s the part that bugs me most. CBS already has enormous leverage in retransmission consent talks, and for the network to bug all viewers just to reach some Dish customers to increase that leverage, I think that’s a jerk move. As long as its stations continue to have an obligation to freely serve the public airwaves, then that’s how I’ll watch my CBS.