Tag Archives: Changes to the Way We Watch TV

More Things To Consider Before Cutting The Cord – Part 3

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Now we’re beginning to get down the nitty gritty part of the decision making for ‘cutting the cord.’ This may very well be the part that separates you from the ‘pay TV’ person and the ‘cord cutter.’ What is it that makes this particular part of this discussion one of the most important determining factors when considering ‘cutting the cord?’ Hopefully that will be obvious when you’ve finished gathering the information available in this chapter (article/podcast).

Almost everyone that has been using a pay TV service provider for any length of time at all has favorite programs or channels they like to watch that are not provided by the local broadcast stations. That means some decisions will have to be made before making the final decision to ‘cut the cord.’ Most importantly it comes down to two questions you have to ask yourself:

·         First – Can you live without them or are they so entrenched in your life that you absolutely have to be able to watch them?

·         Second – If you can’t live without them, are there other ways of receiving them that are less costly than through a pay TV provider and without having to mortgage the homestead to get hold of the equipment to do so?

The answer to the first question here is the easiest to answer. If you can live without them it is easy enough to do so and you won’t need to keep paying for them. Not only that but there are likely other ways to get the same information if it is just information that you want or gain from those channels. However, it may require a little more effort on your part. Things like news, recipes and other types of information can generally be gained from sources on the internet like print media, YouTube or Vimeo videos and others. If it is only entertainment you seek or gain, well, that might be a little different and it may or may not be available to “simply enjoy” depending on your technical and computer prowess.

If you absolutely can’t live without them, there are generally other ways of receiving them. What complicates this question somewhat is how you decide to receive these programs or, at the very least, the information or entertainment you get from them. Since you cannot receive them from an antenna that only leaves one real alternative and that would be to receive them from some source or other via the internet. (Well, that is “IF” you would rather watch them rather than read them.)

Therein is the complication and the thing that warrants asking another question along with this one. Is your present internet service being delivered with enough download speed to handle the extra load of possibly live streaming of the programming or downloading it with minimum wait time and/or buffering for maximum viewing pleasure and minimal frustration?

If you don’t know the answer to this question I think it would be a good idea to check on what the download speed is you are receiving from your internet provider. If you are paying for minimum speed – like 3 mbps or less – you may find it will work but it will likely be very frustrating watching anything of real interest to you because of frequent interruptions from buffering.

If you watch videos from the internet on your computer and constantly see a spinning ball or a screen that says, “buffering” and have to wait for it to catch up to watch the next buffered segment, your internet speed is probably not fast enough for pleasurable viewing of streamed content. If it is not fast enough for that, it means extended wait times for you to be able to view streamed or live streamed video content as well as other types of content. Just remember that video files, especially in HD, are very large even when compressed. What allows you to watch them without waiting so long over an extended download time or frequent buffering is the available download speed you have at your home or other viewing location.

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t mind waiting for things to download and I don’t mind waiting for my streaming content to buffer so I can watch it,” but believe me when I tell you, all of the interruptions and waiting will grow old pretty quickly. I’m not saying you need to upgrade your speed before you decide if you really want to ‘cut the cord’ but if you do decide to cut it and you find some of the frustrations I just mentioned creeping in to your life, upgrading to a higher speed for your internet service is relatively easy and generally not all that expensive. The dividend an upgrade in speed will pay in lack of frustration alone will be great.

Remember this important point if you do get an upgrade in speed. All of us adapt to changes in speed in different ways but it does appear, at least from my viewpoint, we “get used to” the extra speed fairly quickly and even the faster speed seems slow to us after a period of time (and from my view, that time is generally brief.)

Since the only way for you to receive those programs you can’t or don’t want to live without is from a pay TV provider or the internet and you’re trying to stop paying so much for being able to watch TV, you may ask if that means you have to watch those programs sitting in front of your computer or your tablet or smart phone.

The good news is, no, you can watch them on your computer, tablet or smart phone or you can watch them on your larger screen TV. The bad news is you have to have a way to get the information from your computer to your TV. I won’t go into that in this article/podcast but, the good news on the bad news is, there are a number of ways to do exactly that. Another good thing about all this is that you shouldn’t have to call in your computer guru to be able to watch internet delivered programs on your TV.

If you remember, earlier in these article/podcasts I talked about how technology is advancing at an accelerated rate and fortunately for many non-techies, the ones responsible for making the technology available to us as consumers are making it easier and easier to use. Viewing programming in this way hasn’t quite gotten to the point of the ease of use of a Cable, Satellite or IPTV set top box. (Examples of IPTV would be services like Verizon FiOS, ATT U-verse or Prism and others.) It also hasn’t gotten to the point of easily just flipping through channels on a TV without a set-top box like “in the old days.”  It has, however, become much easier than it used to be and that is good for everyone, particularly those that would like to cut the cord and reduce the cost they pay to watch their favorite programs.

Yes, there will likely be a slight learning curve and things might work a bit differently than many are used to but if patience is observed it is going to be worth it all. It will definitely be worth it to take the time to learn a few new things without getting totally frustrated and giving up. The important thing to remember from this article/podcast is the importance of download speed and how it can positively affect your viewing pleasure. If you have minimum speed, you will likely be more disappointed or frustrated than those with higher speed.

Another thing to remember is that your internet service and the speed it is delivered at now becomes the cost of delivering some of your programming to you. Previously it was probably part of your “pay TV” package but is a service many will find hard to live without. (Well, that is unless you desire to totally go off the grid.)

So… what will you need so you can more easily watch internet delivered programming from your computer or some type of streaming box or attachment on your TV? Well, that my friend is what is coming up in the next article/podcast and there are some good things and some not-so-good things you need to consider if you’re really serious and want to ‘cut the cord.’ Believe me when I tell you, we are just beginning to get to the good stuff…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© September 3, 2015 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions

All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

More Things To Consider Before Cutting The Cord – Part 2

 

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If you’ve made it this far in this discussion and you’re still interested in finding out more about “Cutting the Cord”, here is the next important thing to consider while determining whether or not it is something that will work for you and whether or not you should continue toward that goal.

Remember last time I talked about the need to know what your expectations are and exactly what you should expect to receive from an off-air antenna if you eliminate your “pay TV” provider. Just to review, “pay TV” means you pay a Cable, Satellite, Telephone or some other type company for the privilege of watching your favorite programming of all types using their equipment and delivery method. The ones that deliver the programming are generally called re-programmers and you and they are somewhat bound by the pricing dictated by two things. First of all, the re-programmers have to make a profit and that is affected by the second thing – what the programmers charge for their services. When you add it all up, that is what determines how much it costs you to watch your favorite programs on your chosen provider.

The programmers tend to offer more than one channel in a package they provide and try their best to make their package appealing in one way or another. That can mean they want to be in the most popular tier so they will have maximum exposure to the people that desire to have their programming delivered by their chosen provider. That tier is generally called the “basic tier” and usually does have many of the most desired channels.

It also seems to be common practice (once again this is my opinion) for the re-programmers to have a very popular channel or two in the next tier up so they have some leverage over the consumer to up sell them to that higher tier or package. It is my opinion that is just one of many reasons why all of us have to pay for so many channels we seldom or never watch when we use the “pay TV” services. To make their packages appear to be a great bargain, they offer many channels in a tier or package which makes it look like a great bargain to the consumer. At the very least, it forces them pay just a little more for the next higher tier for that one channel or two that a number of them want to watch and can only get if they also include the extra tier with the extra channels.

If you’re wondering what my purpose is and why I mention all of these things it is because of this next important point that needs to be considered in your quest for possibly being able to “Cut the Cord” and still watch TV without all the extra expense. It actually involves the consideration of two things:

1. What are your favorite programs and are they available from your local and network affiliated broadcast stations?
2. Are you a person that likes to watch a lot of sports programming and do you follow one or more of your favorite teams with special programming packages that allow you to watch their televised games whenever they play during their particular seasons?

Without trying to go into a long drawn out dissertation in discussing your favorite programs and what channels they are on, let me try to simplify it as much as I can. If you’re favorite programs aren’t on your local broadcast stations, you won’t be able to receive them by an antenna. In fact, if you can’t receive them with an antenna you may or may not be able to receive them ‘legally’ by another source either.

You see, at the present time, to view certain programs through the internet on your computer, tablet or Smartphone requires you to have an account with one of the pay TV providers to be able to watch them. Although this is changing in some instances, it isn’t happening all that quickly and it may be a while before many of the most popular become available and, when they do, they will probably come with a fee attached for the privilege of viewing them. I will only mention a couple of them here but just look at what CBS and HBO charge if you want the ability to watch their programming in an “on demand” basis. Using them as an example of cost, if all of the Networks and most popular channels follow their lead, there will be absolutely nothing saved to be able to watch them in that manner. In my opinion and considering the cost of just these two, it could cost as much or more to watch your favorite channels as it does from a pay TV provider.

Taking a quick look at following favorite sports and sports teams means you won’t be able to watch them unless they are being broadcast by your local broadcast stations. That generally rules out broadcasts coming from ESPN, FOX Sports channels, NBC Sports Network and others like them. It is true there are special packages available to watch certain things but for the most part, it is still considered “pay TV.” If you’re trying to save money, this may not be a viable option for that.

This may be only my opinion but, have you noticed the networks are covering more of the popular sports genres on their special sports channels? This has become particularly evident to me this year in following NASCAR. Admittedly, I am an avid NASCAR fan and I particularly like to follow them on a weekly basis. There was a definite difference between the coverage last year and this year by FOX Sports. Some, but not all, of the races they covered this year were on the local FOX affiliate. The others were on their sports channel, FOX Sports One. It was a noticeable difference from last year’s coverage between the two, at least to this avid NASCAR fan. The rest of the season is covered by NBC Sports and so far all of the race day coverage has been on their NBC-SN channel, (NBC Sports Network.) If a person wants to watch NASCAR Sprint Cup racing on a regular basis and can’t afford to travel to all of the tracks, this almost forces them to have a “pay TV” service that carries these channels.

I am sure this has a lot to do with marketing, and profiting from, their sports channels and I am equally as sure it works. What saddens me is that it is more a way to make their sports channels appear more popular than they might otherwise be. I’m sure this will change someday but for now, it is the way things are.

Just as a quick review, if you are looking to ‘cut the cord’ and your favorite programs or sports and sports teams are not carried by your local broadcast stations, you will not be able to receive them with an antenna. There are other options available for receiving them but not all come without expense and not all may be feasible for everyone wanting to ‘cut the cord’ depending on how proficient a person might be using internet technology to do so. I’ll talk about in the coming pages (article/podcasts) but if you do determine to go the antenna and internet route to view your favorite programs you really need to consider what I’ll be talking about next…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 28, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

More Things to Consider Before Cutting the Cord – Part 1

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So… you’ve pretty much made up your mind you want to “Cut the Cord” and eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, what it costs you to watch what you like to watch on your TV? You’ve finally decided that paying for a lot of channels you never watch isn’t such a great deal after all and the price for watching the things you want to watch has skyrocketed over the last few years. It may sound strange but you’re joining an ever increasing number of people that feel the same way or are just plain tired of paying so much for what is generally called, entertainment. For some, the expense is just no longer affordable and they have to cut the cost to make ends meet. For others, the cost compared to value really doesn’t appear worth the expense anymore.

Okay, I admit what I’ve said so far sounds just a little like I’m being negative and that may be somewhat true. Even though watching TV for many has become quite expensive, they just consider it to be what it costs for them to view their favorite types of entertainment. They reason they don’t go to the movie theatres anymore and it is just a fraction of what it would cost to watch the same movie in a theatre. The only thing they sacrifice by watching it at home is that great big screen and possibly the expensive sound system. Even with that being said, it still appears that more and more people want to cut back on what they spend to watch TV but just don’t know exactly how to go about this thing called “Cutting the Cord.”

Truth be told, it is very possible to watch a lot of programming without the expense of paying Cable, Satellite or other providers but there are several things to consider before actually doing it. What follows is a short list of questions you need to ask yourself before actually taking the big step of “Cutting the Cord.”

• First – You absolutely need to know what your expectations are for viewing your desired entertainment on your TV or TVs in your home without that entertainment being delivered by a Cable, Satellite, Telephone or other type company.
• Second – What are your favorite shows and are they generally available on your local and network affiliated stations? Do you watch a lot of sports programming or do you expect to be able to watch certain favorite teams throughout the different sports seasons?
• Third – If you expect to use programming delivered by the internet, will your presently delivered internet speed be fast enough to handle the extra load of live streaming of programming without a lot of frustrating buffering?
• Forth – When you get rid of your set top box which allows you to view the programming from any of the providers, is your TV capable of processing the programming available to you without that set top box?
• Fifth – Do you record some or much of the programming you regularly watch for viewing at a more convenient time according to your schedule?

This list is by no means all that needs to be considered but is definitely a good place to start. If I tried to cover each one of them in just one article/podcast, the importance of these items might easily be lost simply because of information overload. That would defeat the whole purpose in writing and talking about these items because it is more desirable that you better understand this process before taking such a step rather than after.

I recognize and I am willing to admit some of you may know more about this process than I do but judging from some of the calls I get and questions asked about off-air reception and “cutting the cord”, many do not. My intention is to make it a bit simpler for those that aren’t as computer and technology literate as others and don’t fully understand all this new “stuff”, how it is being combined with the old way of watching TV and the way I think things are heading in the not-so-distant future.

Admittedly, some of this is speculation on my part and some of it may or may not happen the way I believe it will, but, you can rest assured, changes are coming to the way you watch TV and your favorite programming. Some of the changes are already here even though some don’t use or know how to best use them as yet. The biggest concern I have is just how fast those changes are going to happen. That’s why I want you to stay informed and not be intimidated by them. Hopefully, by visiting this site often and taking advantage of the information it contains, you’ll be better able to do that.

Now that I’ve said all that, I want to take on the first thing in the list above here and now. That’s because I think it is the one that takes the least explanation, but is the probably the least considered and understood part of “Cutting the Cord.”

Let me ask you a question… Do you really understand what is available to view through off-air antenna reception in your area? Most people don’t really understand or separate in their thinking what is actually the “local” broadcast programming from what is called “cable” programming or “pay TV” and that is part of what needs to be understood before making a final decision about “cutting the cord.”

Over the years of receiving programming from what are commonly called “cable programming” or “pay TV” providers like a Cable, Satellite or a Telephone company, many people no longer separate the two in their understanding of what they like to watch and where and why it is available to them. Unfortunately, with some of the advertising abundantly available through different types of media, the issue has been somewhat confused. Some actually think all or, at least, most of their favorite programs are available to them ‘if only’ they had that new indoor antenna they see and hear about in those advertisements. (I talked about this in the previous article/podcast, “New Indoor Antennas – Don’t Be Fooled by the Advertising.” You may want to check it out again to refresh your memory.)

I won’t take the time right now to talk about those new indoor antennas and how they may or may not work for you but you do need to understand what is and is not available from an indoor or outdoor antenna for you to watch.

In think the easiest way to describe what is available from an off-air antenna is in this way. Take all of the channels included in your programming package from your “pay TV” provider and eliminate all but what are considered to be your local broadcast stations. That means no ESPN, no Fox News Channel, no CNN and definitely no specialty channels like HGTV, Discovery, Disney or Hallmark. That only leaves your local broadcast stations which in many markets means, ABC, CBS, NBC, local FOX, PBS, the CW, possibly several Spanish language channels and maybe a specialty channel or two like METV (Memorable Entertainment TV.)

That’s it – Only what is being broadcast in your area from you local broadcaster’s transmission towers will be available for you to receive from your antenna without cost. (Remember, without cost means you don’t have to pay to watch them but you will likely have to invest in some equipment to be able to receive them, like an antenna of some sort or converter if you have a very old TV.)

Of course, whether or not you can receive any or all of them depends on several variables that I won’t go into in this article/podcast but will try to cover more fully in another one soon. At any rate, this is important to remember and does have to be considered if you are contemplating “cutting the cord.”

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 14, 2015 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, The Norman TV View, Norman-TV.com
All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and PodCastNorm Productions
All music used is Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart unless otherwise stated

Just Want to Watch Television? Revisiting The Changes To The Way We Watch Our TVs…

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So much has changed over the last few years in the way we watch our entertainment on our TVs and other devices, I just had to take the time to include this update and rewrite of an article I did a while ago. The Original title was, “Just Want To Watch Television? There’s A New Day Dawning…” It is definitely a new day that is dawning on us and you need to be ready for the changes that are already here and the ones that are coming.

Press Play Below to Listen to the podcast version of this article

(Well, at least that’s what this old TV guy thinks anyway.)

I’ve been watching and experiencing the changes over the last several years and I really have to say things are only going to change more and the changes are going to happen even more quickly than ever. The problem with change is that so many don’t want to make the changes necessary at first. Then those changes become something that the consumer doesn’t have any choice but to make and that is when frustration can set in. That’s just a normal problem of dealing with changing technologies – we all have to either adapt or abandon it all together.

So, go ahead… think back just few years… Do you remember when Cable was new and Satellite was just beginning (and expensive?) You know, people had that big dish in the yard (usually 10 ft across diagonally or larger, in this area), and people wondered why anyone would need more than 5 channels? (Even at that, if people got more channels than their neighbor from their antenna, they would brag to everyone about how many channels they got.)

Well… maybe that’s going back a little too far.

How about, you used to get 36 channels from your cable company and wondered why anyone would only want to watch just the locals on their TV while you could get CNN, ESPN, HBO and a bunch of other channels (whether you watched them or not.) You know; it took a couple of minutes to scan through all of the channels you were getting instead of a few seconds?

Well… I’m sure you know what’s happened since I wrote those words just a couple of short years ago and it is happening again. New methods of delivering programming are becoming visible all the time and, honestly, it is becoming even harder to keep up with all of it, (even for those of us directly involved in broadcast and reception and all of the technology that goes along with it.) It is no wonder, at least to me, that people – at least many of the older ages – are not only frustrated but also confused with much of what is going on in this new day that is dawning.

All of these changes raise more than a few questions, like:

  • What do you really know about watching TV from the internet on your TV (as opposed to watching it on your computer screens)?
  • Do you know what ways of receiving programming are available rather than just Cable or Satellite?
  • Have you purchased a TV lately and found it has an ethernet connection as well as wireless capabilities and USB ports, possibly an SD card slot and a whole host of ways of inputting programming to watch and you have no idea what they are?

Well… if any one or all of the statements above leave you with confused looks on your face and a lot of questions you’d like to ask, then you know exactly how confused many  people are these days and you don’t need to feel alone (or dumb as some of my customers have bluntly stated to me.)

If that is the case, the next few articles here at the Norman TV View will, hopefully, bring you up to speed and remove much of your confusion and help explain where it is all headed, unless you want to keep on paying a lot of money for things you never watch.

You see, I am one of those that thinks the way programming is delivered to our TVs and other devices needs to change. Bundling of services is what most providers use these days to make their offerings look more affordable to the average consumer. Bundling means they offer several services over the infrastructure they have in place to deliver their service. In this instance, I’ll use my own household as an example.

Although there is nothing wrong with bundling programs and services together, it has become very expensive to watch TV, have a decent internet speed for doing the many things we do online now and also have a phone service of some sort.

As I just mentioned, at my house we have 200 plus channels of HD and SD programming, an internet download speed a little faster than some (10mbps) and a land line telephone that is never answered. The reason we never answer it is because we have tried all of the ways available to keep those obnoxious telemarketing and appeal for money calls to a minimum and none of them work or at least hardly work at all. The only reason we have the telephone land line is because we have DSL internet service and 99.9% of the calls we receive on that line are from telemarketers or, worse yet, politicians wanting us to waste more money for them to get reelected (and believe me, they don’t get a dime from us.) Besides, we only give our number to people that need to get in touch with us via the phone and now they do so through our cell phones. (We have much more control over those calls and which ones we will answer.)

Since they have added fiber to our area, we now have faster internet speeds available and the service has become quite a bit more reliable whether we talk about consistency in speed or how it works mostly trouble free compared to the way they used to deliver it. They added the ability to receive TV programming service to their package and it works well to. I have to admit, even I was surprised how well it has worked for us over the last couple of years. Still, my biggest complaint about any “pay TV service” is having to pay for so many channels we never watch.

In my humble opinion, when it comes to the TV service, that is where all of the programming providers need to make changes in how they deliver services their customers want to watch. Although there have been some changes to how those services are packaged and delivered, it is and has been a slow process. Of those 200 plus channels we have to pay for, we only watch 12 – 20 channels with regularity and we hardly watch any of the others. That is why so many people want to “Cut the Cord” when it comes to their TV entertainment.

Even though the providers tell us we are getting a great deal for all of those channels, it isn’t a great deal for consumers and there are a number of reasons so many of the older generations are wanting to join the younger generation in “cutting the cord” and are doing so in increasing numbers or, at the very least are trying to. The problem is, many don’t understand what they might not be able to receive when they actually do.

You see, technology is changing whether or not you keep up with it. No matter what you think, and how positive or negative you feel about it, it’s going to continue to do so and the only encouraging news I can tell you about it is, fortunately, they are making it easy for the consumer to use so you don’t have to be a “Geek” to watch what you want when you want. (Now, come on, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn something new along the way.)

Over the next several articles, I want to give you some usable information so you can begin to understand more about this new technology and the delivery of information and programming to your television (and not just your computer screen…)

If you thought  Digital, HD and 3D was the the biggest and best thing to happen for the viewers of content of all kinds and the end-all of the changes that are coming… think again… Trust me when I tell you, those are just the beginning. So tune in right here next time to the Norman TV View and find out more.

Remember, this is just the beginning of several articles on the newer modes of delivering programming to you…

Next time, we’ll talk about some things you may, or may not know about your TV (especially those new ones…) and what some of those new inputs, ports and slots you’ve never heard of before do for you.

See ya next time…
Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© July 3, 2015 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman, The Norman TV Vantage, Norman-TV.com, Rusty Norman and Norman TV & Video Systems
(All audio and video productions by www.Podcastnorm.com and PCN Productions)

All audio productions by www.podcastnorm.com and Rusty Norman – PodCastNorm 

All music Two Buck Themes by Mike Stewart (Royalty Free Collection) unless otherwise stated