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Old 12-02-2014, 02:29 PM   #21
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For me, TV lifespans are measured in decades; computers, not so much. I jumped on the $19 FireTV stick bandwagon and that'll take care of my 2nd TV for a few years. Just sideloaded XBMC and re-configured the remote to take care of my inner sloth!

If you fancy a computer project (and who doesn't?) you might show him how to set up his Raspberry Pi and install this bridge software, which allows online gaming.
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Old 12-03-2014, 05:16 AM   #22
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I wouldn't get too comfortable with televisions that you'd expect their lifespans to be measured in decades. Beyond the technical aspect that it isn't most profitable to produce consumer products with such longevity, the content delivery itself could change radically over time. In 1975, we were enjoying our LP records and compact cassettes. By 2000, LPs are now effectively an audiophile-only delivery device, and most of the major U.S. music companies discontinued production of cassette tapes by late 2002.

I am sure many people will fight tooth and nail to protect ATSC, but even though ATSC is relatively new (replacing NTSC in 2009) I wouldn't count on it remaining what it is: Given its open nature, there's no means of asset protection and therefore no means to foster the kind of profit growth that the industry expects. Production of scripted video entertainment isn't like cutting an album of music. As it gets less profitable, there isn't as much margin as there was for music. Eventually, it gets to the point where it simply isn't worth the investment.

And we've already seen the effects. Reality television is now prevalent. While its popularity ebbs and flows, we're seeing that the downturns don't significant affect the prevalence. That's because of the difference in costs between reality and scripted. Reality television is more like music, significantly lower in cost and therefore more readily able to withstand downturns as compared to scripted television. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that broadcast networks strategize about how little scripted television they need to present solely in the interest of keeping complaints to the FCC about wasting the American airwaves under the threshold that would foster true upheaval.

We've seen the future. On Demand now forces you to wait through the commercials. The industry is going to insist on us "paying the full price" rather than allowing some people to skip the advertising. That model is going to require a different delivery mechanism (i.e., IP video). The question is how does the industry get there? The answer is evident: They're going to make the free television experience crappier and crappier, incrementally (with more advertising bugs on-screen while the program is being presented, for example) until you realize that the only worthwhile video entertainment is that which you obtain through other means. And a dumb TV won't be able to access those "other means".

As Dennis Miller said, "I could be wrong." But I doubt I am.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:31 AM   #23
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bUU... Agree with most of what you pointed out. My experience with older folks (my basic community of retirees), is that they go with the flow, and don't even try to keep up. I find many who have $110/mo. bills from Comcast and only use the basic TV, and OTA kind of channels, at that.

My current favorite is PLEX. I have a considerable library of movies and TV series as well as a substantial number of MP3's (gathered in the early days of Napster).... All of these automatically interface with the Plex System to give Album covers, DVD covers and descriptions, dates, time of play and the same kind of memory of favorites, already watched and resume play... features... as good as and maybe a little bit better than Netflix, Amazon or Hulu. All free. A group sourced free program. Plex also offers many free channel access to Nat'l Geographic, PBS, A&E etc.
The PLEX system has improved so much since the early days that I see it becoming a major player in the newly crowding marketplace. The initial scan of your private library takes a while, but it only works when you are not active on the computer.

One more thing... for anyone who has DirecTV, you can now download a tablet or camera free app that allow you to watch live shows, and channels that are on your TV... series and news... on demand. If you have a DVR, you can watch anything that is saved there. If no DVR, you can watch any current show that you might have missed.

BTW... I don't have a Smart TV, so that technology is still over my head.
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:05 AM   #24
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bUU ... my HDHomeRun takes care of all ATSC duties; shows are recorded, de-commercialized and compressed by MCEBuddy, then automagically available from my XBMC server. I forsee no problems getting that content to my antique 720p TV, but if I'm ever able to upgrade my eyes, I might just upgrade my set!


I actually considered migrating to Plex last month, but I've no need to view or share my media away from home, so I'll be sticking with XBMC/Kodi for the time been. Now, if the FireTV's plex client had been free, rather than $2 I might've experimented!
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:56 AM   #25
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I am sure many people will fight tooth and nail to protect ATSC, but even though ATSC is relatively new (replacing NTSC in 2009) I wouldn't count on it remaining what it is
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bUU ... my HDHomeRun takes care of all ATSC duties; shows are recorded, de-commercialized and compressed by MCEBuddy, then automagically available from my XBMC server. I forsee no problems getting that content to my antique 720p TV, but if I'm ever able to upgrade my eyes, I might just upgrade my set!
I think you missed the salient point of my comment. I'm not saying that current televisions may someday not be able to handle ATSC as they do today, but that ATSC service may someday no longer offer content as valuable (either due to changes to programming or how they're broadcast) as it offers today. It will come down to how much the nation wants to impose requirements on private companies to under-perform in the interest of maintaining an unfunded mandate to keep the masses informed and entertained. If the trend away from high quality network news; and the ascendancy and durability of reality television through peaks, valleys and resurgence; are any indication, then free television will continue to lose value over time.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:49 AM   #26
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I think you missed the salient point of my comment. I'm not saying that current televisions may someday not be able to handle ATSC as they do today, but that ATSC service may someday no longer offer content as valuable (either due to changes to programming or how they're broadcast) as it offers today. It will come down to how much the nation wants to impose requirements on private companies to under-perform in the interest of maintaining an unfunded mandate to keep the masses informed and entertained. If the trend away from high quality network news; and the ascendancy and durability of reality television through peaks, valleys and resurgence; are any indication, then free television will continue to lose value over time.
Interesting perspective bUU in several of your earlier posts, thanks.

I think I'd be much happier paying for (better) TV content, buying each "channel" that interests us, instead of buying 140+ channels/networks where we literally never watch 120 of them!

I'd be interested in your perspective on the bundling that cable/satellite services force on us all? I realize that may mean fewer channels, but where there were once too few, maybe now there are (way) too many of value to justify?
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:18 AM   #27
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This has been analyzed repeatedly over the last twenty years at least, and so far there is no evidence that the average consumer will be better off with a la carte as compared to bundled service. As a matter of fact, the analysis continually shows that the average consumer will be no better off and will be no worse off. Deeper analysis shows that that's effectively by definition. Value pricing means that how much people pay will be a more so reflection of how much they make use of rather than how much of what they get they don't use, and whether you pay $100 for the six channels that you use or pay $100 for 140 channels that include the six channels that you use, you're still paying $100.

The story people who support a la carte tell is the story of the very light user - the person who truly only watches four or five channels and never turns on any other channels. Those folks would benefit. And the extent to which those folks would benefit happens to equal the extent to which heavy users would suffer. Again, the end-result is a net-zero. It is actually worse than that. Not only is the zero-sum game in effect, but the zero-sum game has a deteriorating impact on choice, especially choices that serve minority interests. So while there are few winners and few losers in the first round, subsequent rounds of play has more and more losers as compared to winners.

The flip-side is that a la carte would be fairer, in the same way that survival of the fittest is fairer - fair and cruel in a way that contradicts the rationale for civilization, itself.

Furthermore, the bundling you're referring to isn't the bundling that causes the issues you're may think bundling causes. The real "culprit" is wholesale bundling. If you want consumers to benefit from unbundling, you really want to get rid of wholesale bundling. We saw a reflection of wholesale bundling this week, in the wholesale agreement between Verizon and Cox Communications. Cox capitalizes on its control of the Fox broadcast television network affiliate forcing MVPDs like Verizon to carry, for example, FXX, on the basic tier. That's the actual source of anti-consumer pricing.

The problem with getting rid of wholesale bundling is that you're effectively re-regulating the industry, and many people don't like that idea. They don't care that aspects of the free market are anti-consumer, viewing the consumer as no more important to the system than the profiteer. Again: Fair and cruel.

I know you were focused on bundling, but there is actually another angle here that is far more important to consumers than bundling: Competition. Competition is what makes things better for consumers. However, there are many barriers to competition in this marketplace that arguably shouldn't be there. For starters, there are rules against government stepping in to compete with commercial enterprises even when the marketplace isn't profitable enough to foster a number of strong competitors. In addition, even when the market is profitable enough, there are barriers put in place to market entry beyond the financial, including rules franchising authorities impose on franchisees, some of which amount to a form of legal extortion. If the consumer was the paramount concern, the law would allow anyone willing to string cable the right to do so, without the town or city exacting tribute.

One final note about "too many channels". The channels folks mention most as examples are typically the channels that actually reduce the cost of provision of the other channels, i.e., home shopping networks. IIRC, QVC doesn't charge cable companies to carry their channel, and I bet they actually pay for the privilege of being carried. (Avoiding having to pay to be carried on cable is why some home shopping networks try to abuse Must Carry, by buying small UHF channels and carrying their home shopping "programming" thereon.) The other set of channels typically referred to as examples of "too many" are channels that the person making the decision doesn't care about because of their own personal appraisal of value, without regard to the appraisal of others, especially with regard to the appraisal of those with minority interests. It did use to be fairer - true - and crueler.
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Old 12-04-2014, 10:06 AM   #28
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More good insights bUU, thanks.

Point well taken re: competition would be more effective than unbundling, makes sense to me. It'll be interesting to see how content, TV, music, etc., are being distributed in 10-20 years as the various industries grapple with each other/protect their turfs.
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Old 12-04-2014, 10:09 AM   #29
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What ... you pay for cable? Sorry, I'd assumed you must be a cable cutter, my bad. Most everything I watch is downloaded from various sources in England ... but the mods don't like us to discuss such things!


Nope, content availability will never be an issue for those willing to look for it rather than have it served up to them on the cable company's platter!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:12 AM   #30
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bUU...
Thanks for the analysis. Goes to prove that nothing is as simple as it seems.
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