Cable television

Why the Internet Is the Greatest Achievement of Any Civilization, Ever

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Growing up, my father often complained about the rising cost of our cable subscription. The bills got higher, the number of stations increased, yet the amount of television we watched rarely changed. The ‘value-added’ networks didn’t add much value. As the number of networks increased the actual worth of television only seemed to decrease.

Much has changed. The amount of content—the word that has replaced ‘art’ and ‘creation’ in recent years—is staggering, leaving an unfathomable amount of unwatchable television in the queue. Yet many have claimed this to be a ‘golden era of television.’ It’s hard to disagree.

While the administrative bureaucracies behind major movie studios take fewer risks, cable TV studios, many now free from the burden of bundling, are pushing boundaries. Shows like HBO’s ‘The Young Pope’ and ‘The Leftovers,’ the BBC’s ‘Peaky Blinders’ and ‘Sherlock,’ and Hulu’s ‘The Path’ take chances only found in independent movies.

Is Your Life Really Yours? How ‘The Attention Merchants’ Got Inside Our Heads Tim Wu

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Is Your Life Really Yours? How ‘The Attention Merchants’ Got Inside Our Heads

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Tim Wu

Author, The Attention Merchants

09:21

As consumer watching habits shift and producers rush in to fill their needs, the question of creative value has been a constant. The NY Times’ Farhad Manjoo, for one, believes the expanding opportunities offered by the digital revolution are saving culture, pushing art forward in interesting, new multi-disciplinary platforms. Manjoo thinks today is “the beginning of a remarkable renaissance in art and culture.”

“In just about every cultural medium, whether movies or music or books or the visual arts, digital technology is letting in new voices, creating new formats for exploration, and allowing fans and other creators to participate in a glorious remixing of the work. This isn’t new; from blogs to podcasts to YouTube, the last 20 years have been marked by a succession of formats that have led to ever-lower barriers for new and off-the-wall creators.”

There is truth to this, though Manjoo comes off as overoptimistic regarding the number of success stories. He points to a handful of Patreon phenoms who are earning their living as independent creators thanks to monthly subscribers. The technology exists and they have taken advantage of it—a certain benefit for those working from the ground up. The problem of rising to the top of the tens of thousands of Patreon users remains, however.

Which is a different scenario than the cable bundling model. In the old days (the eighties, in my case) small networks were able to exist thanks to behemoths like HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax. This model still works for networks like ESPN, which gets six to seven dollars for every subscription, the highest paid network today. Their success allows smaller players to stay in the game.

ESPN provides a…

How to Get HD TV Channels for Free (Without Paying for Cable)

Remember TV antennas? Well, they still exist. A digital TV antenna allows you to watch local TV stations for free, all without paying a dime to a cable provider.

We’ve talked about cutting the cord by relying on Internet services, but this is yet another way to cut that TV bill and get more content to watch. Follow along as we run you through not only which antenna to buy and the differences between them, but also which local channels you can receive based on where you live, and how strong of a signal you can get in the first place.

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Discover Your Local Channels and Their Signal Strength

To find out which TV channels you can get over the air for free, we recommend visiting a site called TV Fool and using their signal locator tool. Simply enter your address and click on “Find Local Channels”.

Give it a few moments to load the next page. Once it loads, you’ll see what looks like a round diagram with various lines inside, as well as a list of channels off to the right, highlighted in different colors.

It can be a bit daunting trying to figure out what it all means, but the only thing you really need to pay the most attention to is the circular diagram. The lines you see are in various lengths, and each line represents a channel. The longer a line is and the closer it is to the center of the bullseye, the better the signal is for that channel based on your location.

The direction of the lines are important as well. The diagram’s cross represents north, south, east, and west. As you can see from my diagram above, most of the broadcast signals are coming from the northeast, which means I should ideally place my antenna in the northeast corner of my house so that I can get the best signal possible. (More on antenna selection in a moment.)

From the list of channels on the right-hand side, you really only need to focus on the distance of the broadcasts signals, which tells you how far away they are.

Since many of the signals that I can get are fairly close to my location (only 5-10 miles away), placement of my antenna isn’t super critical. However, if your broadcast signals are farther away, you’ll need to pay extra close attention to where and how you place your antenna.

TV Fool gives you a rough idea on this by using colors to highlight which channels you’ll easily receive and which ones would be more difficult. Channels in green are channels that you could get with a basic TV antenna, while channels highlighted in yellow and red will need a more powerful antenna and strategic placement.

The Different Types of Antennas

Which type of antenna you purchase largely depends on the information that you gathered from above diagram, and different antennas are available depending on how far away you are from the broadcast signals.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Antennas

Not all TV antennas are weatherproof, and many cheaper ones are only meant to be placed indoors. If broadcast signals are relatively easy to come by in your area, then you’re probably fine getting an indoor antenna.

If some of the broadcast signals are farther away, though, an indoor antenna may not be powerful enough. For that, you’ll need an outdoor antenna, built to take the grunt that mother nature provides, and reach much farther. Outdoor antennas are almost always more reliable, though they take a bit more work to set up.

Directional vs. Multi-Directional Antennas

You’ll also want to consider whether the antenna you get is directional (also called uni-directional) or multi-directional (also called omni-directional). As you can guess, directional antennas grab a signal from a single direction, while multi-directional antennas can fetch signals coming from any direction.

Multi-directional antennas are more convenient, but have a significant downside: their range is usually much weaker than directional antennas, which can put all of…

What Is PlayStation Vue, and Can It Replace Your Cable Subscription?

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Getting away from traditional TV service is becoming more and more popular, with streaming TV services leading the charge. Today we’re going to take a closer look at Sony’s take on TV streaming: PlayStation Vue.

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What Is PlayStation Vue?

PlayStation Vue is Sony’s take on traditional TV. It streams live TV over the internet, with most of your favorite cable and network channels along for the ride.

Despite its namesake, PlayStation Vue isn’t just available on PlayStation devices—there are also apps available for Android, Android TV, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, and Chromecast. It also works in the browser, though the experience is pretty watered down compared to the full application experience. Either way, even if you don’t have a PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, or PlayStation 4 Pro, you can still benefit from PlayStation Vue. Good move, Sony.

When you sign up for Vue, you’ll have to select your home location. That’s probably the biggest thing worth noting about Vue: some channels are geo-restricted. I’m going to assume these are local channels, but restricted channels will only work when you’re inside of the Home Location that you set when you sign up for service. You can modify your home location if you move, but you can only do so once. Otherwise your account may be blocked from service. It’s really kind of bizarre, and something I’ve never experienced with other streaming services. That said, it does make sense—they don’t want you living in Dallas but getting access to Chicago’s local channels.

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Otherwise, Vue is straightforward. It offers an absolute ton of channels, along with what I feel is a pretty aggressive pricing model. It’s broken down like more of a traditional TV service with its packages, not a more à la carte structure like some other services offer. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll get with each package:

  • Access, $39.99/Month: This is the entry-level package, which offers 45+ channels including ESPN, Fox, Disney, and more. At the time of writing, this package is on sale for $39.99 a month, with a normal price of $49.99 a month.
  • Core, $45.99/Month: All of the channels included in Access, plus access to regional and national sports channels, for a total of 60+. At the time of writing, this package is on sale for $45.99 a month, with a normal price of $55.99 a month.
  • Elite, $54.99/Month: All Core and Access channels, plus more sports, movies, and entertainment channels, for a total of 90+. At the time of writing, this package is on sale for $54.99 a month, with a normal price of $64.99 a month. This is the service I used for testing.
  • Ultra, $74.99/Month: All the channels from Elite, plus HBO and Showtime.

If you’re looking for a bit more from your plan, there are also a handful of add-ons that you can tack onto any plan:

  • Showtime: $10.99/Month.
  • HBO: $15.00/Month.
  • Epix Hits: $3.99/Month. Included in Ultra.
  • Premium Pack (Showtime + Epix): $13.99/Month.
  • Cinemax: $15.99/Month.