About Victor

Victor cut the cord and canceled cable in 2008. He got tired of consistently poor customer service and even poorer programming options. Working experience in IPTV and antenna installation made the transition to off-air TV and streaming internet services a natural progression for his broadcast reception at home. Here at KickOutCable.com, Victor is right at home, continuing the effort to share the secrets of cord cutting that the cable companies don't want you to know.
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Kids Programming – Advantages of Time-Shifted TV

What Kids are watching on TV

When it comes to Programming for Kids, the big content aggregators have impacted the youth of our society in ways we’re not able to completely comprehend…until you cut the cord and kick out cable.  Cutting the cord inevitably leads to individuals researching and experimenting with various SVOD services (Subscription-Based Video on Demand).  The impact of time spent by our kids watching commercials has reached an all time high.  I didn’t realize how influential all this commercial viewing was until I began discussing TV

Kids Watching TVwatching habits with a friend of mine that has recently cut the cord and began primarily using SVOD services. She mentioned she’d recently asked one of her kids what he wanted for his birthday and the little guy had no answers!  Traditionally when asked this question he’d spout off a list of the hottest toys of the year, video games, automatic nerf-guns, even “as seen on TV” products. Having seen zero commercials in the past 6 months, he hadn’t been brain-washed by the advertisers and thus couldn’t answer the question.  All this conversation about the lack of advertisers input on our children’s brains led me to wonder about just how much time they are spending in front of the “glowing rectangles” and what exactly they are seeing.

How much TV Kids watch

Consider this.  Composite viewership for traditional TV consumption (broadcast/cable/satellite) for ages 2 thru 11 is 102 hours and 45 minutes per month.  Consumption for Time-Shifted TV/SVOD services, like my neighbors children in the same age group, is 11 hours and 15 minutes.

Commercial Make-Up

Nielsen also reports Commercials consumed 14 minutes and 15 seconds of each hour of broadcast television in the year of 2013.  Cable networks are even more egregious boasting an average of 15 minutes and 38 seconds for each hour of…cough cough…”programming“.  As both of these numbers are close to 15 minutes, 1/4 of an hour, let’s use that number and blast some math here.

  • 102.75 hours of Broadcast TV consumption per month
  • 25% of the afore mentioned hours are commercials
  • This means 25.69 hours of commercials viewed per month

Additional aspects for our math blasting exercise.

Broadcast TV/Cable/Satellite – 1 Day analysis of “average” time allocation

  • Sleep                                    11 hours        (45% of the day)
  • School                                 7.25 hours    (30% of the day)
  • Broadcast TV Viewing     3.38 hours    (14% of the day)
  • Meals                                   1.5 hours      (6.25% of the day)
  • Total                               23.13 hours   (96.4% of the day)
  • Commercials                   .84 hours

Actual days have 24 hours each.  You can see this curriculum leaves .02 hours per day for quality time of your discretion.  Let’s look at the same set of assumptions but substitute SVOD or Time-Shift TV Viewing for Broadcast TV services.

SVOD services – 1 Day analysis of “average” time allocation

  • Sleep                                   11 hours        (45% of the day)
  • School                                7.25 hours    (30% of the day)
  • Time-Shift TV Viewing    .37 hours     (1.5% of the day)
  • Meals                                    1.5 hours     (6.25% of the day)
  • Total                          20.12 hours    (83.8% of the day)
  • Commercials              0.0 hours  

The SVOD services scenario of  watching time-shifted Kids Shows on TV, leaves roughly 16% of the day for activities not listed.  That’s a significant chunk of time!  One could add activities like outdoor time, reading, one-on-one w/ parents, sharing in some household duties, etc.  Merely cutting out Broadcast TV/Cable/Satellite and their incessant commercial inclusion seems at the very least to be prudent if not for time savings, then surely for the avoidance of commercials and their influence.

Taking back the Reins

Digging in a bit more into my  neighbor’s TV regiment,  I asked, “what kind of programming are you turning to now that you’ve cut the cord?”  She says “most everything we watch is SVOD and has an educational slant to it.  Of course there’s the occasional fiction/sci-fi/cartoon kids show, but I really try to provide an appropriate mix of fiction and educational material.  I want to make the most out of their time staring at the glowing rectangle.”

Reviewing content that’s available for youngsters on streaming services, there’s actually quiet a bit to choose from and numerous categories at that.  I’ve included a list of content along with providers, broken down into some wide categories.    Much of the content noted below is a need-to-watch in my opinion, an effort to ensure a well-rounded viewing experience for all..

 

Time Shifted TV is the trend

Nielsen reports that over 40% of US homes had access to SVOD (Subscription-Based Video On Demand Services) services as of November 2014, and 13% of homes boasted multiple streaming services.  As a society, we are learning that TV viewing doesn’t have to happen on anyones schedule but our own.  Furthermore, we are learning that we don’t have to tolerate content littered with advertisements, pushing product and messaging we may not support or approve of.  We, modern day society, now have the technology to take control of what we watch.  Don’t you think it’s time we put that technology to work and make the most of our families time spent “staring at glowing rectangles”?

Educational Opportunities for kids on SVOD

 

 

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video recorder

Is the new Roamio TiVo DVR for Cord Cutters?

TiVo has released a new DVR, the Roamio, that integrates traditional off-air programming guides as well as some popular services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.

stack of cashDue to the fact that TiVo requires a 1 year commitment at 14.95/month or $179.40 plus 49.99 purchase price plus tax you’re at $250.00…and we’re about done here.  But wait, you can add the TiVo Stream service at $129.99 and be able to watch your programming anywhere for a total investment of ~$400. Kicking out Cable is supposed to be about saving money.

TiVo and Cord Cutters are somewhat incompatible in my opinion.  Channel Master, we’re nodding at you!  Now, we’re done here.

 

 

 

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How to watch the US Open Online

Watching on the PC

This year, once again, the US Open is streaming all the matches for free this year on their website.  To view them, all you have to do is visit their streaming page, where they have current live matches showing as well as previously played matches if you need to catch one you missed earlier.   Watching on an iPad

For viewing oTennis Ball in Handn an iPad, IBM built the  iPad app for the 2014 US Open that provides full access to events happening at Flushing Meadows. This is definitely the best viewing option for “on the go” viewing and keeping tabs on your favorite player from mobile.

Watching on an iPhone

There’s also an iPhone version, which is also usable on iPads  and iPods, is also available although the screen size definitely makes tracking the flying balls a less than optimal situation, we suppose it’s better than not watching.

For Android viewing

Android users, again developed by IBM, can download the US Open app here.  While the app is built on the same premise and design as the afore mentioned Apple product apps, the Android app seems to suffer from resolution issues and crashing.  Let us know if you have better luck.

 

IBM has done a great job with these apps.  The US Opens willingness to support over the top delivery is great news for cord cutting tennis fans and another fine example of content owners straying from the traditional means of distribution…those nasty cable conglomerates.

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Top Cable Networks see decline in Subscribers

A recent survey of top major multi-channel video providers indicates the industry has just seen it’s first industry-wide decline in subscribers.   This loss rounded out to about 105,000 customers.  While it’s a small number, it’s still being marked as a turning point in the industry when coupled with the fact that the top networks are also experiencing market share slip  holding only 52% of multi-channel video subscribers as opposed to 58% 3 short years ago.  My how time flies when you have options for cord cutters like free HD off-air TV and Apple TV.  Now, if we can just convince ESPN to loosen their content distribution methods so the sports fans aren’t tied up in cables.  When ESPN moves, everyone else will follow suite.

Updated:

Experian Marketing reports that 6.5% of households nationwide have kicked out cable.  That’s up significantly from the 4.5% number reported in 2010.  Yes, Comcast, DirecTV and the lot of them $uck.  Kicking Out Cable does not.

Additionally, they report that  Households with adults under the age of 35 are twice as likely to be Cord Cutters.

If  you’ve been thinking about canceling cable or satellite but on the fence, check out one of our earlier post that details what you need to know before cutting the cord.  TV on your Terms is a good thing.

 

 

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Roku introduces the Streaming Stick

Roku announced a new product today called the Streaming Stick.  Priced at 49.99, the device is designed to complete head to head with the Chromecast by Google and the Apple TV.   The new Roku Stick is capable of 1080p and connects directly to an open HDMI port on your TV or AV Receiver as a new input.  Unfortunately, the Steaming Stick also requires additional power, either from your home 110V or a USB port if you have one available.  Power input is 5V at 1Amp.  Typical power consumption is 2Amp when streaming HD content.Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick comes with a WiFi remote, and will also allows management thru the iOS or Android applications available for your mobile device if you prefer.  This allows use of the “send to TV” casting offered by Netflix and YouTube.

The WiFi connection utilizes the N standard, providing the bandwidth and range required for streaming video content across wireless, thru typical home environments.

We look forward to the opportunity to review one of these when we get hold of one.  Let us know your thoughts on the newest player on the market for Cord Cutters that have Kicked out Cable.

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3 Easy steps to watch Downton Abbey Season 4 – For the Cord Cutter

With the 2014 season of Downton Abbey underway, we figured it was time to revisit ways those of us based in the US PBS viewers can get access to the new Season 4 episodes coming out.  If  you’ve gotten used to waiting for episodes of Downton Abbye to show up on your local PBS affiliate, you’ll really appreciate this tip for ipad computer or TV viewing.

Step 1.  First, navigate over to Tunnel Bear and download their VPN client.  This is a piece of software that resides on your iPad, PC or Mac and allows you to navigate to overseas sites, and appear to be local to that country.  This is key for viewing the Downton Abbey shows coming from the UK.

Step 2.  Once you have the Tunnel Bear application installed, you are required to acknowledge and complete the registration process by replying to an email.  Simply click the link received in the registration email and the install is complete.

Step 3.  Start the application and choose your target country from the drop down box.  Click “On”.  That’s it.  Your computer now appears to be in the country you chose from the drop down box.

Start watching Downton Abbey Season 4.  Navigate to www.itv.com and start catching up on all the episodes you’ve missed of the critically acclaimed Downton Abbey series.   Now, keeping up with the episodes is simple.   5 minute setup and you’re watching on your Downton Abbey on your iPad, PC, Android or computer connected TV.

 

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Watch TV Online – Top 10 Online Content Distributors

Watching TV Online - Unlike traditional over the air and cable TV service, watching TV online offers a more pleasant viewing experience given the latitude of control over time and variety.

The key to watching TV online and cutting the cord is knowing where and how to get the content you’re after, and how to view it on your TV.  We’ve culled the net and outlined our Top 10 Online Content Distributors as a starting point for cutting the cord and watching TV online.  The follow-up on this article will list our Top Set Top Boxes for 2013/2014.

We expect to regularly update both Top 10 Online Content Distributors and Top Set Top Boxes on a regular basis as technology and content companies offerings progress.

Lady watching tv onlineTop 10 Online Content Distributors 2013/2014
1. Hulu Pluswww.hulu.com
Hulu Plus provides well organized movies & tv shows for your online viewing pleasure.  Streaming is done at 1080P “when available”, which in my experience is mostly for the content we watch.  While they do show ads, yes we said ads, somehow the content selection has been able to negate this factor and brought Hulu into the regular line-up for watching tv online in our house.  Shows like Sleepy Hollow are available to steam the day after airing on networks.  The last 8 episodes aired are available for streaming.  Cost is 7.99/mo
2. Aereowww.aereo.com
Aereo offers online tv viewing of major networks including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and PBS.  Additionally they have syndication rights with MOVIES!, MeTV, Peachtree TV and Antenna.  The service also includes a variety of news, multi-lingual, weather and religious channel options including Accu-Weather, UniVision, MundoFox, and Jewelry TV.  The downside is the service does not offer contiguous coverage of the US, although they state services are rapidly expanding.  Streams are delivered at 720P HD format “when available”.  The DVR functions included in Aereo are primitive, but better than nothing.  Including Dual Channels, pause, time forward and back, single and series record options, the DVR offers all the basic requirements, and nothing extra.  Cost is $8/month, which isn’t bad if you live outside a market and are looking for easy ways to view those college basketball games in your home city via online TV.
Media Streaming
3. FOXwww.fox.com
FOX delivers ads at the start of video play.  Only one!  The encoding is among the best for the big name networks, ESPN and family aside.  The browser player integration is also one of the easiest to use.  The downsides for watching TV online here is the selection of content.  Most shows are locked from viewing for a month or more post original show airing, without logging in.  Cost is Free.
4. ABCwatchabc.go.com  This service also includes ads. Three at the start, one of which includes the notification the video includes ads, and then minimally throughout play of the video.  The encoding is heavy on motion and some pretty obvious processing is being done with images, but the delivery is suitable for a laptop or pc monitor.  Cost is Free.
5. Netflixwww.netflix.com
Netflix is still a go to source for movies and series of recent and afore times.  1080P steaming capable, as well as 3D, depending on the set top box capability.  The inventory of content for online tv viewing is respectable, although delayed for currently aired shows by at least 30 days.  Whether you’re looking for full seasons of older shows like “Cheers” or newer content like “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad”, you’re likely to find something that fits the bill and meets your time-shift viewing requirements for watching TV over the net.  Netflix continues to develop original content as well like “House of Cards”, Disney’s “Marvel Comics”, and “The Short Game” by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.  Cost 7.99/mo.
Streaming TV online6. Amazon Instant Videowww.amazon.com/instant-video
The content available thru Amazon is massive.  If you’re already doing business with Amazon for online shopping, taking advantage of the Instant features for watching TV and Movies online is only logical.  Streaming is formatted at 720P resolution.  The download to TiVo service formats video at 1080i.  In addition to your computer, Amazon Instant is available on a miriad of devices including Roku, Multiple TV Manufacturers like Samsun, Phillips, etc.   Check here for device compatibility.   Cost 79.99/year
7. NBCwww.nbc.com
NBC also delivers ads at the start of video play.  You can actually bypass these ads by not enabling in your browser when the request.  You’ll just stare at a blank screen for 45 seconds while the ads are not showing.  We think this is an improvement of experience in many cases.  Encoding is acceptable, although clearly pixelated.  Cost is Free.
8. YouTubewww.youtube.com
YouTube offers tons of older content that you’d forgotten how much you love.  And, a lot of new content that will make you wish you could recover the time just spent watching it.  Finding online tv shows is easy with a little google-fu.  Shows like Taxi, Laverne & Shirley, The Brady Bunch, Star Trek, Sons of Anarchy, How I met your Mother, Keeping up with the Kardashians, Family Guy…I could keep going.  Cost is Free.
Online TV9. BBC iPlayerbbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv
The recently launched iPlayer expanded coverage, but still limits content distribution for TV play over the internet.  This is supposed to be changing soon, widening access to the British shows we crave.  Shows like East Enders, Atlantis , The Graham Norton Show and Match of the Day fill our viewing schedule from this EU Content Distributor.  Users outside of BBC proper distribution area may look to some alternate DNS services to get around content blocking by country.
10. AcornTV - acorn.tv
Acorn TV is a streaming service based out of the UK and carries a nice line-up of British Comedy, Drama, Mystery and Documentaries.  Content includes programs like Doc Martin, Mid Somer Murders, Going Postal and Joanna Lumley’s The Nile, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime: The Tommy & Tuppence Mysteries and Doctor Zhivago  As a quick aside, keep an eye on OnCue, an Urban Themed channel making it’s home on YouTube and owned by the same folks that are behind the AcornTV station.  Devices supported on AcornTV include Apple TV and the Roku.  Streaming is presented up to 1080P.  Cost is 2.99/mo or 29.99/yr.  This covers shipping of Blu-Ray and DVD disk, which is a pretty sweet deal.
DNS –  Sometimes, Content Distributors block content regionally.  Alternate DNS servers, also known as DNS Redirects, can help you watch regionally blocked content, on any device, including your Apple TV, Roku, Chrome Stick etc.  Using alternate DNS service to watch TV online is a better approach than setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) because of the bandwidth consumed with VPN.   Sites offering DNS services are plentiful.  UnBlockUs tops the list for user interface and uptime, although at 4.99/mo the cost is a little steep.  They do offer a free trial if you want to see it work before you commit.  For a free service with good support for Europe to get back across the pond, check out Tunlr,
How we watch TV online?
Now that we’ve outline our top go-to sites for content, it seems prudent to take a minute and review the hardware we use to watch TV online.  The main viewing space in our house is the living room TV,  a Samsung 50″ plasma.  The Samsung TV is internet connected, and utilizes the Samsung Smart TV interface which includes portals for Amazon Instant, Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.  This one device supports the majority of content viewing on this TV.  We have an Apple TV setup for iTunes content viewing, and Aereo Air Play casting.  A mac mini running Plex Media Server and Client servers in-house content to this TV as well.  This Plex server also offers nice channel presets which are handy for viewing networks and independent channels like NBC, CBS, FOX, Weather Channel etc.  Although this is configurable thru the Samsung TV, we like the Plex interface better.
Set Top BoxThe landscape for set top boxes and online TV viewing is vast and growing exponentially.  No one TV or set top box is the end all solution for online viewing in today’s market.  If you haven’t already started watching TV online, choose a set top box that supports some of the content you already know you’re interested in watching and begin to discovery the newest way to watch TV…online.
We are constantly evaluating new ways to watch tv online and would love to hear how you’re handling your over the top tv delivery.  Share how you watch tv online below.
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Apple opens up your AirPlay for everyones AppleTV

Apples event earlier this week didn’t have much exciting to say for us cord cutters.  Perhaps the most interesting development of late, not mentioned at all at Apples event, is the rumor circulating about Apple TV adding a new feature of sorts to the AirPlay functionality.  With the new iOS 7 release of software coming mid month, the Apple TV will also see an update.

You’re probably familiar with Google Play.  Using this feature, you can “cast” video from your device to most any Apple or Android device.  The new AirPlay will allow you to do the same, within the Apple ecosystem.  You’ll be able to “cast” any content in your iTunes library to another persons Apple TV.  This won’t be a direct link between your device and theirs, rather their Apple TV will pull the content from iCloud.  The trend away from cables continues…the convenience of wireless continues to have impact on how we use technology.

While we don’t know the specifics and nuances of this new feature, it sounds like it will be convenient to say the least.  We already use the AirPlay function to send content to home theaters, stereos and the like.  The ability to play content on a friends Apple TV without having to load it on their Apple device first is going to be cool.  Now you can tell your friends, “I’ll bring the movies, you get the pizza”

Scotty, beam me some Pulp Fiction!

 

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Articles

Apple TV get’s Disney, Smithsonian, Vevo and TWC

The Apple TV continues to bring new channels to it’s lineup.  This past week Apple added Disney Channel, Disney XD, Smithsonian, The Weather Channel and Vevo TV.  We already gave the Apple TV high marks for the features like Air Play and content library integration.  With each channel and application addition, the Apple TV becomes more of a contender for our time spent ingesting content (watching the glowing rectangle).

Here’s a rundown of the recently added channels for Apple TV.

Vevo TV – This network brings over 75,000 music videos, exclusive original programming and live concert performances.  Users can browse videos by artist or genre.  Users can even create logins for personnel playlist creation of their favorite content.  This new service taylored for the Apple TV is available in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and The Netherlands.

Smithsonian Channel – This network brings 100% original content to your Apple TV.  They include programming categories for broad appeal including Air & Space, Science % Nature, Science, History and a special Kids lineup.  All programs are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1.  If you’ve kicked out cable, and are looking for good quality family oriented content to watch, this is a channel you’ve got to check out.

The Weather Channel -  What else is there to say.  This is The Weather Channel on your Apple TV.

Disney and Disney XD – These channels were added to the menu but require cable or satellite packages to access.  These content aggregation and distribution licensing contracts are complex and lucrative.  Disney in particular.  If you are a cord cutter, you’ll have to wait a bit longer, while the un-bundling process continues in the industry, to gain access to this channel without submitting to the cable conglomerates.  Stay strong my friends, our time is coming…

 

What are you watching on your Apple TV?  Tell us in the comment section below, and be sure to check out our Facebook page for up to the minute updates on Kicking Out Cable at www.facebook.com/kickoutcable.

 

 

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Google eye’s National Football League’s Sunday Ticket

I can think of a lot of reasons Google would buy Sunday Ticket NFL rights for 2015, and almost no reasons they wouldn’t. DirecTV may soon be challenged with self worth questions…  As The Street reports, Google and Apple clearly have the cash on-hand to entertain such offers, likely orders of magnitude higher than what DirecTV has been paying. (1 billion/season).

While some speculate that Google will charge for the service, the additional traffic and advertising opportunities that come along with NFL content may warrant the investment all on it’s own.  Either way, this is good news and proper conversation for those of us interested in Kicking Out Cable.

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