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August 31, 2015


The recession: bad for cable...good for the Internet

by Richard Keller, posted Feb 7th 2009 9:03AM

Hulu racked up an increase of viewers late last year as more people turned away from cable.As we all know, and are probably tired of hearing because it makes us so damned depressed, the recession is hitting everyone hard. Businesses are closing left and right, people are losing their jobs, and unemployment rates are hitting levels not seen since the days of leg warmers, headbands and tainted Tylenol. It's bad enough that even if people still have a job, their employers are taking extensive belt tightening measures to make sure they are prepared for the worst.

One of the things being eliminated from families' budgets during this belt tightening is their cable or satellite hookup. With costs that can total over $100 a month, families are just not ready to dump that kind of cash on something they feel doesn't have any value. That doesn't mean they are going without television (especially after the DTV switchover) and turning to a simpler life of canning vegetables, making quilts, and attending square dances. Rather, they are switching off their hi-def flat screens, turning on their computer flat screens, and getting their TV fix over the Internet.

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Time Warner and Viacom kiss and make up

by Brad Trechak, posted Jan 1st 2009 11:20AM
MTVAfter a much publicized battle, Time Warner Cable and Viacom have settled their dispute. For the new year, Time Warner Cable subscribers can enjoy such channels as Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1 or (God help them) MTV.

I didn't see this going any other way. If Viacom withheld its (very popular) line-up of channels from TWC, both of them would lose a valuable revenue stream. This is not a good idea in such an economy where people lose their jobs; I've learned that when the income stops coming in for most households, the first thing to go is cable television. This is not the case for me because the first thing to go in my house in such a situation would be the groceries (no way am I giving up Stephen Colbert).

At least subscribers can now enjoy such greats as Spongebob Squarepants, South Park, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Sadly it means they'll also have to put up with The Hills.

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What do you watch more of...network shows or cable shows?

by Richard Keller, posted Dec 8th 2008 1:02PM

Do you watch shows on these channels more than you do on the legacy networks?Time for an impromptu poll, boys and girls. Something that will shake you out of those holiday blahs that the egg nog, Christmas cookies, and constant replays of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer have caused. Something that will get your brain working again and make you think about your television viewing habits.

I want to know where you are watching most of your shows. Are you still one of those people who focus their attention on the major 'over the air networks' of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and, on occasions when the month ends in a capital 'A', CW? Or, are you one of those new-fangled hippies who do nothing but watch everything and anything on cable? Or, perhaps, it's a bit of both.

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Burn Notice and Psych renewed

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 10th 2008 2:07PM
This really isn't stunning news, as both shows are loved my millions and get great ratings every week, but I think it will bring a smile to people's faces as we watch the Dow go down again.

USA Network has renewed Burn Notice for a third season and Psych for a fourth season. This means the new seasons that will begin in the summer of 2009, not the current season which had its summer finale this summer and will launch the second half of their seasons in January.

You know, TV seasons used to be a lot easier to figure out.

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HBO plans Lincoln assassination mini-series

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 18th 2008 1:05PM
logo HBOA week from now, HBO will probably be one of the big stories from the Primetime Emmys thanks to the success of the John Adams mini-series. But it's not sitting on that success, the premium cable net is banking on it. HBO announced today a mini series based on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln called Manhunt. That news would be interesting enough because the series will deal with the 12 days after Lincoln was shot when the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was on the run. However, the guys that HBO have tapped to work on Manhunt are two of the best in television -- David Simon and Tom Fontana.

HBO knows Simon and Fontana's work really well. Simon was the creator of The Wire and Fontana's brainchild was Oz. This is also not a new collaboration. Fontana turned Simon's book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, into the Homicide: Life on the Streets TV series for NBC.

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Comcast TiVo software rollout in Boston area gets official

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 22nd 2008 12:55PM
TiVo softwareSure, it's been over a month since we started hearing reports that Boston area Comcast customers have been able to sign up for TiVo software on their Motorola set top boxes. But now TiVo and Comcast have gone and made the whole thing official-like by issuing a press release (not yet available on either company's web site) and getting the news in the papers.

The advantage of getting TiVo service from your cable provider is that you get the TiVo program guide and services like Season Pass, WishList, and search while hanging onto services from your cable provider like video on demand. Comcast currently offers 10,000 On Demand titles, including 1300 movies.

On the other hand, you don't get some of the features that make standalone boxes like the TiVo Series2 or Series3 attractive like TiVoToGo or online media.

Comcast will bill customers $2.95 per month on top of their regular DVR and cable fees. The service is currently available only to customers in the greater Boston area, but is expected to roll out in other parts of the country soon.

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Hauppauge to intro device that captures 1080p video without CableCard

by Brad Linder, posted Jan 10th 2008 5:53PM
Hauppauge logoWant to capture high definition television on your home theater PC, but don't feel like shelling out $1000 or more on CableCard tuners that only work with Windows Vista? Hauppauge is preparing to launch a $250 box that will capture 1080p video from a cable or satellite box and automatically transcode it to H.264 video for storing on your PC.

The Hauppauge HD PVR connects to your set top box's component or "YPrPb" output, so what you're capturing is an analog signal. You'll need to use an IR blaster to let the USB TV tuner change channels.

When you combine the analog source with the fact that your video will be compressed, it's safe to say that you won't get the same kind of video quality with the HD PVR as you would with a true CableCard tuner. On the other hand, the HD PVR is going to be a lot cheaper than the competition. And while CableCard tuners only work with Windows Vista Media Center, Hauppauge has a good track record of putting out TV tuner cards that work with everything from BeyondTV and SageTV for Windows to MythTV for Linux.

[via Brent Evans]

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Dexter: The British Invasion (season finale)

by Keith McDuffee, posted Dec 16th 2007 10:08PM
dexter painting
(S02E12) So, was it good for you too? I've read all of your gripes about the season, in particular the past few episodes, and I see where you were coming from. However, there's something about this show that makes me more quick to suspend disbelief and allow a few things to slide so I can enjoy other aspects of the show.

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TiVo hints at upcoming video on demand capable box

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 29th 2007 10:58AM
TiVo TiVo released their quarterly earnings yesterday and while the company lost about $8 million dollars, that's nothing new. What is new is a tiny little nugget buried in CEO Tom Rogers' remarks that indicate the company is working out the details for a set top box that supports 2-way communication with a cable provider.

In plain English, that means support for video on demand, because in order for VOD to work, you need to be able to send a signal upstream to your service provider and not just receive a signal sent to your box.

Right now you can only get VOD and TiVo service if you either have two set top boxes or a Comcast box with TiVo software. If the next TiVo box (we'll all it the Series4, even though TiVo may have done away with that naming scheme with the release of the TiVo HD), could work as a complete replacement for your cable company box.

[via Zatz Not Funny]

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Switched Digital Video support coming to TiVo

by Brad Linder, posted Nov 26th 2007 10:00AM
Switched Digital Video
TiVo and cable industry officials have announced plans to develop an adapter that will let TiVo users watch and record switched digital video channels without a set top box. Even though you'll need an external adapter to play, this technology will only work on TiVo units with CableCard support, which effectively means that Series2 TiVo owners need not apply.

Switched Digital Video is basically a new method for delivering digital video channels to your home. Because you're probably only watching one channel at a time (or recording one or two channels while watching another), there's no real reason for a cable operator to transmit all 300 channels to your house at the same time. But since there was previously no way for cable companies to know which channel you wanted to watch at any given time, they simply transmitted all the channels at the same time.

Switched video enables two-way communication. If you want to watch C-SPAN, your box will send a signal upstream telling the cable operator to start sending the channel your way. The upshot is that cable companies can offer more channels using the same bandwidth.

You should be able to pick up a shiny new switched digital video adapter for your TiVo HD or Series3 TiVo from your cable company during the second quarter of 2008.

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Dexter: Resistance Is Futile

by Keith McDuffee, posted Nov 25th 2007 10:50PM
(S02E09) It wasn't a big surprise to me that Doakes would be brought in as the prime suspect in the BHB case. All the elements were there last week, from Doakes taking the slides to the overly-obvious mention of Doakes' father being a butcher. I was, however, taken by surprise in a huge way when Doakes showed up on the dock at the end of the episode. Holy. Crap.

First let's get to some of the rest of the episode ...

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Dexter: Waiting to Exhale

by Keith McDuffee, posted Oct 7th 2007 11:40PM
dexter(S02E02) Last time we left Dexter, things were looking both good and bad for our favorite serial killer -- the Bay Harbor Butcher. Please... as though he's nothing more than a mere butcher.

Keith Carradine makes his first appearance for the season as the head of the task force investigating the new stack of body bags found at the bottom of the bay, and he's a fantastic presence.

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Dexter season two -- An early look

by Keith McDuffee, posted Sep 25th 2007 11:02AM
dexter season 2These days there are only a few shows I consider must-watch for me. Showtime's Dexter is one of those shows. In fact, I liked the first season so much that I recently listened to the first book the series is based on, Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Sadly (or, actually, thankfully) the television show is much better. More on that later.

I got a look at the first four episodes of the new season, and while things aren't so great for Dexter, for us viewers it's fantastic. Some spoilers follow.

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Now's the time to get a Slingbox, folks with no cable

by Annie Wu, posted Sep 6th 2007 1:43PM
SlingboxLiving without cable can be a real hassle... especially when one's job depends on it. "TV blogger" kind of implies the need for TV. I recently moved into an apartment where there is absolutely no option for cable television and had no choice but to look into alternative methods of getting quick access to TV. Enter Slingbox, about which I have been hearing nothing but glowing reviews. It's been around for a while, sure, but I haven't had any need for it until now.

For those of you who don't know what a Slingbox is, here's the short explanation: It's a box that you hook up to your home's cable and Internet. Once you grant that Slingbox remote access, you can watch your home's cable TV and access TiVo or DVR on your computer, from anywhere in the world. No subscription is required; it's a one-time purchase. The only catch is that if you're watching your home TV with your laptop in a hotel states away, your family back in the house cannot change channels on that home TV. Not too big of a deal, I think, unless you're already an inconsiderate TV hog. Anyway, since my current apartment isn't my permanent residence, I have cable set up in my house in Florida and I'm doing this whole Slingbox thing.

I was originally going to buy the basic tuner from the official website for about $129, but then I checked out Amazon and saw the same thing for $99.99. Just as I was about to buy it, my family in Florida insisted that they look around in stores before I buy anything, to save on shipping and handling. So here's the best part...

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NBC fall TV pilots coming to Video On Demand systems

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 29th 2007 9:30AM

The pilot of NBC's Chuck is coming to a VOD near youSchool is back in session, the U.S. Open has begun, and another Bush appointee has resigned. You know what that means, don't you? It means that the new fall TV season is fast approaching. With it comes the push by the networks to promote the crap out of their new shows. Okay, so they've been promoting the crap out of them since the end of the last television season, but now it's going to start to get annoying. I'm talking about last-week-advertising-before-elections annoying.

NBC will lead this charge by making the pilots for their upcoming fall shows available on cable and satellite Video On Demand systems (known as VOD henceforth). Partnering with NBC in this venture are cable companies Comcast, Cox, Charter and Time Warner and the satellite services DirectTV and DISH Network. The pilot episodes of Chuck, Bionic Woman, Life and Journeyman, as well as a 30-minute fall preview special, will be available on September 10th.

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