Seems like every news organization has “inside sources” — Fast Company has some saying that following the big splash of Tom Hanks’ Greyhound on AppleTV+ they want to buy 2-4 of these type blockbuster movies a year.
Going forward, one source says the streamer is discussing plans to release a dozen new movies a year on Apple TV Plus, roughly one a month. Two to four of those would be blockbuster-type titles such as Greyhound and Emancipation, the runaway-slave thriller starring Will Smith and directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) that Apple recently acquired for $120 million in a bidding war with Warner Bros., Universal, and other studios. Another source had fewer specifics but confirmed that Apple is telling Hollywood that it’s now in the market for more tentpole-like feature films. (Apple would not comment for this story.)
Simple math suggests, if this is true (big “if” there), could cost upwards of $500+ million. I’m sharing this article here because my confidence in this is pretty high. Apple has the cash to throw around and it fits their historic corporate culture rather than dive into something, they pick and choose.
Under Steve Jobs, rest his soul, this would be exactly the way they’d get into the movie business. It’s what he did with music. Jobs didn’t want to have a subscription plan like Spotify, he wanted to sell tracks for a buck each and so they did — they sold tons of them. Eventually this model would lose out to Spotify, but they made a boatload of cash in the interim.
If you compare the business types, that’s kind of what Apple is doing right now with AppleTV+. They don’t want to pay to rent licenses of movies for subscribers on a license, they want to take a piece of the pie to sell or rent monthly movies only and create their own originals.
The problem is Apple is so far behind Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Hulu, Peacock, that they may never catch up buying and/or creating a mere dozen or so movies a year.
10 years = 120 movies 20 years = 240 movies
That isn’t going to build them a sizable enough library of originals to keep members subscribed. Sure, there are buying TV series, documentaries, miniseries, too (they just bought Werner Herzog’s new documentary “Fireball” according to MacRumors), but will it add up to what Netflix is releasing?
Netflix currently releases around 50+ originals a month. Most are TV shows, documentaries, miniseries, etc, but they offer a fair number of movies each month on average. This original content is on top of the existing library they are paying for of rotating movies. An argument could be made that Netflix doesn’t even need the rotating movies from other studios any more. You can’t say that about any other service of originals except maybe, possibly HBO, that also has an impressive catalog of original programming created since the 70s.
It seems Apple believes this and wants to go grocery shopping on the theatrical movie aisle. So, if you’re a movie studio with a delayed title and contemplating taking it to streaming, Apple has arrived with multiple suitcases filled with cash.
Unfortunately, Apple aren’t the only ones who want to buy these theatrical releases. Netflix, Amazon, WarnerMedia/HBO, NBCUniversal/Peacock … perhaps to a lesser extent even Disney might cough up a few bones (although they seem less likely to be buying other movies, when they have a bunch of their own content in the pipeline).
The studios with finished movies, waiting for release dates will continue to have this option: sell to the highest streaming channel bidder. I’m sure every studio has Apple programmed on speed dial.
Something I used to do from time to time on my tech blog: ask people how they use their home screens on their desktop and laptop computers.
It was illuminating learning what other apps were being used and how they were organized. Sometimes I’d learn about useful apps and programs I didn’t even realize existed.
In the streaming channels world we live in today, July 2020, especially under the You Know What times, maybe your setup is better than ours? Always curious to look at how others are watching streaming channels, how much they are using a particular service, app, interface, etc. It could be personal preference, it could also provide unseen or little known benefits to others. Sharing, in this regard, is helpful and good.
Here’s how our setup at home currently works. I’m not saying it’s the best for others or even us, but it’s what we’re doing in July 2020.
We currently have three ways to access streaming channels through the TV: Roku (both attached device Roku 3 and a Roku-powered TV), Xfinity Flex and Chromecast.
We also have game systems hooked up to the TV: Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The Playstation and Xbox both have ways to watch streaming channels, but we don’t use those devices as portals very often or not at all.
The majority of streaming we do is through the Roku 3 box attached to the TV. I’d put the number at 80%. The other 20% would be mostly Chromecast for HBO Max and a small amount for Flex and Peacock. Less than 5% would be Peacock. If HBO Max was on ROKU, we’d probably be 90-95%+ Roku for watching streaming on TV.
A year from now? Who knows. Maybe some killer new way to watch streaming channels will be available that overtakes Roku in convenience and usability. Right now? They are king of the hill in our home.
We have paid subscriptions as of this writing to: Netflix (monthly), Amazon Prime Video (annual), Disney+ (annual), DC Universe (monthly), HBO Max (monthly), hulu (monthly, just restarted a couple days ago), CBS All Access (monthly), Shudder (monthly, but canceled and access ends soon). We used a free trial (my son, actually) for AppletTV+ to watch Greyhound, but that week ends soon and we’re not renewing. Quibi we did the free 90 day trial but didn’t renew.
I think that covers the major streaming services. We don’t have TV, not Sling TV, Hulu TV, YouTubeTV, etc. None of them. The only live TV programming we can access are local channels through locast (a Roku channel) and if any of the premium channels provide live TV channels (some do, like CBS All Access). We do watch some live horse racing through TVG (Roku channel), have an account, but don’t pay for a subscription.
Really the only live TV I miss are occasional news programs, some special live programming and some sporting events. I used to love the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirectTV when we could access that, but that’s been many years ago. I probably will be more interested in live TV when the presidential race begins in the fall. Might consider adding on TV coverage for a couple months during this time if we can’t get through locast.
We rotate around paid subscriptions, including to premium add-on channels like Starz, Showtime and Cinemax, but are subscribed to none of these at the moment. HBO used to be in that mix, but right now we’re with HBO Max and have quite a bit we want to watch there, so we’ll be keeping that awhile. Since we are Xfinity internet customers, we have a free Flex box and get the $4.99/month Peacock streaming service available at no additional monthly charge.
Roku 3 attached to HDMI
Amazon Prime Video
HBO Now (for portion of HBO content)
CBS All Access
Google Play Movies & TV
Classic Movies & TV
The order is how often we watch the various channels, with perhaps the exception of Spotify for music. Don’t really “watch” that, but when listening to music through the TV that’s used more than some of the others above it.
Xfinity Flex – Peacock
There are applications for the Xfinity Flex box to stream other channels, but currently we only use Flex to watch Peacock. We could use this as an alternative box to Roku, and I’m sure that’s what Xfinity/Comcast is hoping we’ll do, but that’s not what’s happening.
It’s just easier and force of habit to switch the input and go back to Roku. It would probably take less than 15 minutes to hook up all our accounts through Flex, and probably someday we’ll be inspired to do that, but the reality is once you have all your logins setup with one service, do you really want to take the time and input them through another service?
This is a fairly new service we picked up in May as a means to be able to access HBO Max. I like the service, but honestly, it still feels a bit unwieldy using this over Roku. I prefer having one menu and a remote over using my phone as a remote. Am not saying using the phone isn’t a good idea, but definitely not my wife has any interest in using the phone to cast to TV — she wants to use the remote — and I’m in the same boat.
Also, I realize there are ways to use Chromecast with third party services to have a menu and user interface on the TV. We haven’t explored any of those, but I know they exist.
In our case, it wouldn’t make much sense to have three different services with menus with most/all the same underlying streaming services.
Anyway, let’s look at how the apps on my Samsung Note 10+ phone are arranged. They aren’t 100% in the order of most watched (HBO Max is the most watched streaming app for us through Chromecast, not Netflix), but the order of the icons is what is being used as of this writing.
Amazon Prime Video
CBS All Access
Shudder (subscription expires end of July 2020)
Quibi (not currently subscribed)
Peacock (not being used)
Regal’s app doesn’t have any streaming, it’s used for our unlimited monthly pass, currently in hiatus since the theaters are closed. They are still saying on their website that they will reopen on July 31, but I think chances are at best a coin flip this will actually happen. If they do reopen, we plan to visit the theaters again.
Even though I have apps installed for Chromecasting, HBO Max is the only app I use. When I made a video about using Chromecast last month, someone commented that it was bad timing buying a Chromecast when there was a new version coming out soon. The point was I wanted to watch HBO Max on launch day, May 15, not in the future. NVidia Shield Pro was another device the commenter recommended.
Since buying the Chromecast Ultra, I did more investigation and found another device of interest that included a Roku-like menu option, 4K support (although reviews say it is very sluggish for the price), games, remote and cost about the same as the Chromecast Ultra. I don’t know how good or bad it is, but I like the feature set, it’s called: Xiaomi Mi Box S.
I might pick one of those up and give it a try in place of Chromecast since it seems to give me everything I’m looking for: a remote (with voice control), a Roku-like menu, Chromecast. It does have some sound limitations though (no Dolby Atmos).
I also haven’t mentioned the Amazon Fire Stick. Because HBO Max isn’t on that, it doesn’t check all of our boxes.
As for Nvidia Shield Pro? That badboy retails for $200 and seems more gaming-focused than streaming service oriented, but since it was recommended by somebody watching our video, I might research that more as well.
One Technical Solution To Fit All
Bottom line is we’d like one device that has all the features we use (remote, menu, voice search is bonus, though we don’t use that often) and most importantly all the streaming services we subscribe to. Peacock is available as an app, but haven’t set it up yet. Is the experience as good as going through the Flex box? Don’t know. HBO Max is available for Chromecast, but it’s not as friendly as clicking an icon on the TV and watching, which is what we want.
What are you using to watch streaming channels on your TV?
Your turn. I’m very curious how others are watching streaming channels on their TV.
This post will be repeated in the future because our subscriptions do change as well as the hardware used. Admittedly we’ve been using the Roku 3 pretty much since it came out and been very happy with it. What are you using? A Roku-powered TV? Chromecast? A gaming system(s)? Amazon Fire Stick? AppleTV? Cast from your computer to TV? Two cups and some string?
So many different ways to watch streaming channels on our television sets. What do you use most, why and what are your most watched streaming services?
We’ve had it through Flex (a little streaming box for Xfinity customers that offers access to various streaming channels including Peacock) for 90 days as Xfinity Internet customers, but they did release some new content that wasn’t previously available today.
I’ve watched it less than every other streaming channel we have, including Roku’s free channel. It has really rotated out movie licenses since the launch — in a big way. They had Jurassic Park, then it was gone, now it’s back. This shouldn’t be that surprising, as licenses rotate in and out, but their library seems to have been under frequent changes since the “soft” launch, if you will, I guess as they are trying to settle in on what the magical launch library of movies and TV shows should be.
Alas, there are TV shows I wish they had decided to offer (Las Vegas for one). They do have a pretty decent selection, especially if you’re an Alfred Hitchcock and Abbott & Costello fan. Many Hitchcock movies are available to watch.
I’m not going to do a side-by-side comparison in this post, but will highlight the Peacock Originals they are promoting along with trailers, if/when they are available.
What’s up with the “TV” branding?
Did the marketing people think we wouldn’t be able to figure out Peacock by itself was a TV streaming service? Maybe they are right.
In the beginning I was a bit confused with the whole “TV” part. In fact, I started out calling it Peacock TV rather than just Peacock. Maybe that name confusion is solely mine, but noticed today when I sought out the Google Play store app, it is branded as Peacock TV.
The official website is PeacockTV.com too. Who owns peacock.com? Well, NBC does, because it instantly redirects to PeacockTV.com. I don’t get why they didn’t just use Peacock.com? This is a minor quip on my part, but from a technology standpoint, this type of branding can be confusing. Luckily, they own both domains so whichever you type into your browser you’re going to end up at the right place.
There are some Peacock Original TV shows, one movie (Psych 2: Lassie Come Home) and one documentary at launch for those with the premium ($4.99/month) or the almost ad-free plan ($9.99). I believe Xfinity customers receive the $4.99/month plan as a free add-on. We’re not paying anything additional, and I see all these originals, but I’ve read that if you use the free service the originals aren’t available. If you are using the app and know differently, please let me know in the comments.
Psych 2: Lassie Come Home – 1h, 28m – Comedy
The only Peacock original movie available. A sequel to a comedy made for TV movie and TV series. Didn’t see the first Psych: The Movie (this is available on Peacock, as well as the TV series all 8 seasons), so know nothing about this other than the trailer. I will give it a watch and see how it goes. I didn’t find anything in the trailer to be that funny, but comedy movie trailers don’t always work out. Maybe I’ll watch the first movie first, then perhaps a little bit of the TV series and then the sequel. Lots to dig into here for others like me who haven’t seen any of this. Any fans of this show reading? Tell me what you like about this show in the comments (no spoilers, please).
In Deep With Ryan Lochte – 1 h 3m – Documentary
Covers swimmer Ryan Lochte’s scandal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and his goal to get back to the Olympics.
Dreams Live On: Countdown To Tokyo – 57m
Since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed thanks to You Know What, this documentary covers the athletes waiting for their chance to win the gold. The Olympics live coverage was set to coincide originally with the launch of Peacock so this delay impacts the live programming side of the streaming service. Not so much for me, because I haven’t been that interested in the Olympics for years. I do follow some of the Olympics sports, but it’s pretty far afield from what we cover at this website.
Kamone – 23m – Documentary
Blink and this short documentary will pass, but it was interesting (yes, already watched it). Crescent City, California and Rikuzentakata involving an earthquake and the ocean that separates two towns by the ocean. Footage of a 30-foot high tsunami bearing in on a helpless city killing 18,000 people. 1 tree out of 70,000 survived which is a miracle in and of itself and a boat turns up two years later an ocean away. Interesting little documentary.
Brave New World – 9 episodes – available to binge all episodes. It will be one of my Thursday picks. It’s based on the Aldous Huxley novel of the same name. Episode run times are from 40-56 min.
The Capture – Season 1 – 6 episodes – available to binge all episodes. A thriller with episode run times from 56 minutes to an hour in length. This looks pretty good, I’m going to check it out.
Intelligence – Season 1 – 6 episodes. Binge all episodes. Run time per episode is 21-22 minutes. David Schwimmer (Ross from Friends) stars.
Lost Speedways – Season 1- All 8 episodes available to binge. Episodes average 24-28 minutes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. visits historic race courses abandoned and/or no longer in service. An interesting idea and probably make for a good set backdrops for a movie.
There are multiple children shows listed as Peacock Originals including: Curious George (multiple seasons), Where’s Waldo? and Cleopatra in Space (1 season). Probably Waldo interests me the most there.
Have you checked out Peacock yet?
Looking over the app it’s getting rating bombed as of this writing. See the picture at the top. Seems like it has some technical issues. I guess the only reason I might want to use the app would be to include as another Chromecast option, but I prefer using the Flex box. I’m not sure what login to use either (my Xfinity account login?).
Ultimately, I hope they sort this out with Roku and show up there, because I find a bit unwieldy have three different streaming boxes, more if you count the PS4 and Xbox. Change TV inputs just to watch Peacock? I need one of those devices you can talk to that auto switches all of this with my voice (so I can say, “I want to watch Yellowstone on Peacock” and the input is switched and Yellowstone is auto-loaded).
What do you think of Peacock? Are any of the Peacock Originals drawing your interest?
I don’t have a source to link, but believe that the conversion from free trial to paid subscriber averages greater than 10%. Obviously it differs based on a number of factors and Quibi had a very long and generous free trial. The Amazon channel store usually offers 7-day or 30-day, Hulu trials are often 7-day or 30-day. I’ve never seen a 90-day free trial for a streaming service until Quibi.
Whatever the case, the numbers for Quibi are under 10% conversion (I saw 8% quoted in one article). We didn’t pay to renew, so we’re not part of the sub 10%.
Streaming service Quibi only managed to convert a little under 10 percent of its early wave of users into paying subscribers, says mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower. According to the firm’s new report on Quibi’s early growth, the short-form video platform signed up about 9 10,000 users in its first few days back in April. Of those users, only about 72,000 stuck around after the three-month free trial, indicating the app had about an 8 percent conversion rate.
Is it the quick bite 7-10 minute episodic length or is it the content at any length?
If you run a streaming service and don’t have movies and/or shows people want to watch, why should they pay? I think the reason the service continues to suck is because they miscalculated the features in their service and don’t have any killer shows. They have a few decent ones that we watched, but not that amazing “must-see” show to keep more people subscribed.
Look, Amazon Prime has had a lousy user interface since its inception, but they have the second most number of subscribers. One could argue that it’s because it’s a gimme for those who have a Prime subscription, but even Disney+ that came out less than a year ago has already amassed over 53 million subscribers. Quibi is lagging because they don’t have the content people want to see nor do they have any other business like Amazon to sweeten the deal.
Anybody reading currently have a paid Quibi subscription? What do you watch there? Any recommendations for those of us on the outside of the paywall?
From the better late than never department comes this streaming channel feature update.
Amazon is finally giving households the ability to have multiple user accounts — up to six different accounts — for their Amazon Prime so that watchlists can be maintained separately.
Netflix has had this functionality forever and Disney+ and HBO Max launched with it. Not sure if Hulu has it, somebody can let me know in the comments, but Shudder doesn’t and neither does DC Universe. Peacock doesn’t either, but maybe it will launch with that added functionality.
So, Amazon isn’t the lone holdout, they’re just one of the bigger and longest running services that hasn’t. Why the change of heart?
Amazon is making these changes amidst rising competition. Disney+ has seen massive growth in recent months, and Netflix seems to be faring well, too. Big new entrants to the market with massive libraries of exclusive content, like HBO Max and Peacock, are also hitting the scene, which puts pressure on Prime Video to offer competitive features and content.
Common sense here, I know, but yet I read some crazy things online.
Some come from conspiracy theorists on Twitter. and not going to link specific people or commentary here, because that just feeds the trolls, but will describe the circumstances.
Twitter can be a cesspool of negativity, so I try not to get too deeply involved in that site. Facebook? Yeah, I know that site has issues too, so many now that there is an ad boycott campaign.
Sure, I’m biased, but we’re better off spending our free time watching movies, reading reviews and following new movies coming out.
But one of the recent dustups I read about involves Vudu deleting movies you “own” without explanation or reason. I double-checked our library of movies we “own” and yes, they are all there.
As I read through the tweet comments and replies it sounds like since Vudu was purchased from Walmart by Fandango (see: Fandango Buys Vudu from Walmart – What Does This Mean For Both Services?) they are matching up email addresses to owned titles and those that don’t match are being removed from user libraries. Presumably this is some sort of license validation process. Probably the studios require this sort of validation. Legal stuff.
Guess this means get one email and keep it as long as you possibly can. If it’s tied to a domain, better hope it’s one of the major players (Google, Microsoft). Better if you have your own domain that you plan to keep for as long as you live. Whatever your strategy, moral of this story, use the same email address for your movie purchases.
My vote as of this writing and subject to change is both digital and physical media. If you want to truly own a movie, then buy the physical media. This still requires needing some way to play said media (DVD, Blu-ray, etc) and formats can/do/will become obsoleted (Betamax, VHS!). If you don’t have a player that plays the media type, then you don’t own a movie, you own a coaster.
We buy movies through three services: Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. I used to prefer Vudu, but that was because I didn’t think Walmart would sell them. Wrong. The last few movies we’ve purchased through Google Play. Amazon is probably the safest of the three, because Google does tend to cancel out services, but I don’t see financially Google or Amazon going anywhere any time soon. That’s the concern with movies you buy to “own” — will the company go out of business in your lifetime?
I’d wager that both Google and Amazon are pretty safe bets for longevity. Walmart, too, although they no longer own Vudu. Fandango? I’m not so sure about them long term. as they seem way too tied to movie theaters (and look at the current state of movie theaters, sadly), which means I have to hope that somebody buys Vudu from them if they do go under someday. That’s the only way the movies we “own” will remain accessible.
Some of these digital sites allow you to download the movie so you can play it locally, but again there is some sort of Digital Rights Management (DRM) that ties these movies to the website that authorizes the DRM. Without the website, the DRM will fail and your ability to play the movie may cease. If they removed the DRM then you could copy and redistribute the movie to anybody.
But physical copies have issues too. A major one is physical storage space. For a digital library you don’t need any physical space, it’s all in the cloud, all virtual. You can “own” tens of thousands of movies and don’t need a warehouse in your basement or backyard to store the media. Also, there’s convenience. The more titles you physically own, how the heck do you keep them organized? Library in your home, alphabetically is probably easiest but the more you own, the bigger the library, the bigger the dust, the upkeep, the work to maintain them. Digital? No physical upkeep.
And there are real world hazards to be concerned about with physical media.
What happens to your movies on DVD and Blu-ray if you have a fire? If you have insurance, you make a claim and then you receive money, less your homeowner or renters insurance deductible. You don’t ever just get your movies back. You get the money they are worth at the time of loss. This means you have to rebuy them, if you can rebuy them.
A fire won’t destroy your digital goods, but what if the company that you paid to “own” the movie digitally goes out of business? It’s the cyber version of a fire, only there isn’t any insurance — at least that I’m aware of.
For streaming purchases, the unfortunate fate of one’s collection is pretty straightforward: “Let’s imagine Amazon goes out of business,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. “In the case of streaming videos, yeah, you just lose it. It’s just not stored locally.”
So, do you ever really “own” any movie? Digital, physical, the answer is essentially the same.
You possess the ability to watch it based on a set of unknown future conditions. You can transfer the ownership through sale if you own the physical media, which increases the value.
Think I’ve laid out the many pros and cons.
We were huge collectors of movies and TV show seasons once upon a time. We still own hundreds, but we sold, gave away or donated the rest. We don’t need to own a bunch of “stuff” any more. Now the movies we really love to rewatch, we’ll either buy digitally (preferred) or in some cases the physical media (3D movies, for example which are very specialized format and not as widely represented online) or hopefully can subscribe to a service that shows. I’ve never owned Jaws, but right now have access to HBO Max which has Jaws available to stream. Gone With The Wind? Same thing. Star Wars? I have owned that in a couple different formats. We can watch it whenever we want on Disney+ — as long as we stay subscribed.
Conditions, conditions. There is no right answer to this. What do you do? Buy the physical copies? Buy digital? Both like us? Or none of the above, just subscribe to streaming services and watch/rewatch what you’re most interested in at the moment?
Sure hope they go all the way with every version of The Twilight Zone TV in their “new” service scheduled for 2021. That should include the Forest Whitaker hosted version of Twilight Zone as well as the second TV series. And all seasons of everything, please.
As of the last time I was subscribed, only the original series and the newest one were available. Note to companies that own great IP: include everything. I would have stayed subscribed longer had they we worked their IP better, including perhaps some sort of ongoing TZ-related content. Heck, throw up a low-budget podcast that deals with their awesome IPs (Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Perry Mason and so on). I’ll re-up, watch the new TZ season and probably cancel again … until something else new (or classic) and interesting comes along.
Good news for existing subscribers, CBS All Access has added an update with over 100 Paramount movies. Their movie library was pretty bare bones before.
The updates to CBS All Access was discussed during the ViacomCBS earnings call in May, expanding on comments made earlier in the year about a “new” service. At the time, the company said that a “soft launch” of the updated service would take place sometime in 2020. The update started with the addition of over 100 Paramount films to the CBS All Access library, including The Godfather trilogy, Airplane, Pretty in Pink, and more movies from the Star Trek franchise.
The addition of these 100 Paramount movies doesn’t appear to be the soft launch described in the article, so perhaps more of the proposed new service is coming later. How soon, again, isn’t detailed.
Am not sure why these companies can’t do an actual informational press release holding to some kind of future release date. Some time in 2020 is too vague when there are like six months left in the year. As for 2021? Just tack on another up to 18 months. Again, that’s an eternity in the streaming space. By the time CBS All Access adds more, Peacock will be in full swing (July 15, 2020), Disney+ will have The Mandalorian Season 2 (Fall 2020), HBO Max, Netflix and Amazon will have 18 months to build onto their original and existing libraries.
Notice I conveniently left off Apple TV. I’m not sure what they are up to, other than sitting on tons of cash and sort of poking at the competition with a few originals here and there. Greyhound, Tom Hank’s next movie is coming in July, but to this writer’s knowledge, they haven’t sprung for any other non-original content for their service. That’s going to make it nary impossible for them to keep and grow new subscribers. Sure, some will do the dip in and out subscribe routine, but unless they go in all in, they’re going to lag behind.
Quibi wasn’t mentioned either. They remain an outcast, despite their unusually short format (quick bites, yeah, yeah), but for the nearly $2 billion invested they’ll hang around a little while on content alone. Something tells me they were created to be bought by somebody else, perhaps Apple(?). I doubt Apple will be interested, at least in the near future, but it might be a not too expensive (especially if they wait for Quibi to fall almost completely apart and then swoop in with cash) way for them to expand their original content library. Recently, I started perusing Quibi’s content — now that it runs on my TV thanks to Google Chromecast — and am finding some interesting shows.
The door was never completely shut for me at Quibi, I would consider it only when it appeared on my TV. As it turns out, my motivation for getting Chromecast wasn’t Quibi, it is simply a benefactor for me wanting to be able to more easily cast to TV HBO Max, which is another Roku holdout.
The Stranger was my first complete Quibi TV movie broken into 13 episodes of 10 minutes or less runtime. It follows Claire, an Orbit driver (think Uber, Lyft) who encounters a psychotic passenger that instantly reminded me of the 80s classic The Hitcher starring the late Rutger Hauer (if you haven’t seen Hobo with a Shotgun, seek that craziness out).
I found the show itself somewhat interesting and entertaining (very good ending, including a solid modern cover version of “California Dreamin'”), but, again, painful to watch with 10 separate starts and restarts.
When an episode ends, you have to manually restart the next one, there (seems to be) no continuous play option on Quibi. It just goes to a stock Quibi screen waiting for another click from the user.
This intentional interruption in the watch flow is noticeable and dumb. If anybody reading knows how to turn on some sort of continuous play — perhaps in Quibi options — please let me know.
You’d just think an app that $1.8 billion invested in it would have gone through some sort of usability testing, but no such logic present here.
Have checked out a second Quibi show called Most Dangerous Game. Again, this one reminds me of other hunting human beings for sport like Jean Claude Van Damme in Hard Target (1993).
More recently just before the pandemic, The Hunt ⭐️⭐️ was in theaters and dealt with similar subject matter. My favorite story on this topic is Stephen King’s novel writing as Richard Bachman, The Running Man (recommended read). It was made into a movie, The Running Man ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ by Paul Michael Glaser starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Dawson.
Back to the Quibi show? The main character is having rough times financially, so considering being hunted for a bunch of cash seems … not so crazy (yes, it still does). Add to it, however, that he’s sick, too … (still crazy).
This one has a lower Rotten Tomatoes review score than The Stranger, but the acting is better and the action ramps up once you get about 30 minutes in (3 episodes). The stake in the game are simple: every hour you survive the hunt more money is put in your account, if you make it 24 hours and still are alive, all the money is yours.
Anything on Quibi I should check out before our free trial runs out? Any Quibi shows that caught your interest and curiosity?
Today, I said goodbye to Roku for Google Chromecast. After tax this cost me $65 and some change. I could and would have bought a new Roku device if they could have offered the same streaming channels, but their inability to close a deal with channels I pay to subscribe to was enough to look elsewhere.
Think about that. You have a service that involves aggregating channels and you don’t have every channel you possibly can have on your service? Instead, as a customer I’m toted as advertising bait, but not important enough to give me all the channels? Sorry, that just rubs me all kinds of the wrong way.
Ok, so it’s not literally goodbye, as our beloved Roku 3 is still hooked up to the TV, but I’ve begun the process to combine the most streaming services onto a single streaming device. It’s just less complex to do it this way. My wife doesn’t want to switch between multiple devices to watch TV or movies, she doesn’t care. I’m going to have to download all the apps on her phone, which is a bit of an annoyance, but then she can click what she wants to watch on her phone and the cast button and watch away. Not sure how she’ll take to this process … but hey, it’s a work in progress.
The two lagging services I couldn’t cast to TV thanks to avarice (HBO Max + Roku) and stupidity (Quibi) are both available — right now — on Chromecast. Also, every other paid streaming service we currently subscribe to including: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, DC Universe and Shudder. They all work on Chromecast.
Next month when Peacock goes full launch, they will support Chromecast, too. Bing!
Arnold-Commando would say, deadpanned, to Roku, “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
…part of the Chromecast’s appeal lies in its portability and ease of use; just plug in, connect to Wi-Fi, and you’ll be streaming Netflix, Spotify, HBO, Hulu, and more from your mobile device or PC to the TV in no time. Not to mention apps for music, working out, and catching up on sports.
Speaking of Arnold-Terminator, will I be back to Roku? Maybe.
One sacrifice will be The Roku Channel. Not that I watched it very much, but that does not appear (somebody let me know in the comments if there is a workaround, please) available on Chromecast. I can live with switching over to Roku once in a blue moon to watch that.
How about the other free channels? Tubi, Pluto TV, Xumo? Yes, all available on Chromecast.
One thing early on — and given this is really early on — that I like about Chromecast is I can set what I want to watch and then go do something else on my phone. I couldn’t do that while watching HBO Max as cast to TV option before (see: HBO Max to Roku Cast To TV Microsoft Windows Workaround), which was a bummer. So, if someone calls or need to text, it’s pause then unpause. If I want to take pictures with the phone, no problem with Chromecast.
So, while getting used to only using my phone as a remote will be something to work on — they do sell Google Chromecast remotes for people who absolutely must have a remote (I might be one of those, we’ll have to wait and see). More geeky readers can use HDMI-CEC on newer TVs with their existing remotes to control play and pause functionality. I haven’t dug into that yet, but for those interested here’s an article from Android Authority explaining on how to do it.
The thing is that muting and pausing is a little faster with a remote than using the phone. Especially if you keep your phone locked down after X seconds from someone tampering with it or potential pocket dialing and texting.
Speed is everything when you have an incoming call. You’d think that there would be an app that auto-pauses upon receiving a phone call (is there? again, use the comments to let me know).
Anybody reading that already uses Chromecast? We’re newbies. Tips welcome and encouraged in comments below.
With Net Neutrality revoked by the Trump era FCC, AT&T has launched HBO Max with a feature that’s anti-competitive, according to three senators: not counting the bandwidth used when streaming HBO Max for AT&T subscribers.
This is called “zero rating” for those that didn’t know (don’t feel badly, I was one of them!).
Not counting the data used to watch HBO Max against an AT&T subscriber’s data cap would seem to benefit that subscriber. But the Senators point out that it can hinder competition instead since it would promote the use of HBO Max over other streaming apps that are not zero-rated; those apps would include streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. In their letter, the three Senators wrote, “This practice of allowing one arm of your company to ‘pay’ another arm of your company for preferential treatment attempts to mask its true impact…
I wonder though if this is a really that significant of a benefit to be a non-competitive practice? Think about how many different cell phone companies there are. T-Mobile, Verizon are just two other big names and there are a boatload of smaller ones. Will people really switch carriers to get with AT&T for zero rating of HBO Max? Some might, but we certainly wouldn’t.
We had AT&T once upon a time for cellular service and won’t ever be returning, so count us out. Amazon is doing just fine competing with this zero rating, according to a recent customer satisfaction survey Disney+ and Netflix are #1 and #2 respectively in customer satisfaction.
What do you think? No big deal? Unfair business practice? Attractive customer benefit?