Xumo, the free, ad-supported streaming TV service now owned by Comcast, wants to make the case that it’s in the same league as its two primary rivals, Fox’s Tubi and ViacomCBS’s Pluto TV. Since January, according to Xumo, its user base has soared 2.5 times to reach more than 24 million U.S. monthly active users.
Their subscriber milestone shows many people continue to enjoy watching ad-supported TV streaming services like Xumo, Tubi, Pluto and others. Or maybe it shows that a significant number of people want to sign up — like we did — for the service.
Subscribing to something free, however, isn’t as important as people who sign up and are active.
How many of those 24+ million subscribers are actively watching say an average of 2 hours a week? That’s an average of watching one movie a week on the service. I would call those subscribers active.
Us? We wouldn’t pass this test. Not just with Xumo, but not any of the others either: Tubi, Pluto, heck we don’t even average that with the Roku channel, also free.
We are watching some live TV through Locast local channels like the Seahawks NFL games on Sunday. Have also been watching more news with the impending election and other world events through CBS All Access live TV option.
We have these free channels on Roku but the vast majority of our TV time goes to the 7 paid channels we subscribe to (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, CBS All Access, Shudder)
What about you, friendly readers? How much of these ad-supported TV/movies are you watching? Xumo, Pluto, Tubi, let’s just use those. Do you watch any of them more than 2 hours a week? Do you have a favorite of the three? Which one?
When you think about having more stuff plugged into your TV — and you aren’t a hardcore techno nerd (like me!) — vs. buying a smart TV which has the stuff built-in aesthetically it’s a no brainer: buy the smart TV.
And that’s exactly what most people are doing.
Smart TV adoption is up to 54% in the U.S., according to Parks Associates, vs. 47% a year ago. Meanwhile, U.S. adoption of HDMI-connected streaming devices from brands like Roku, Amazon and Apple has only reached around 42%.
This is the Roku trojan horse: start out as the default. It’s the same strategy for Microsoft Windows on PCs and it’s replaying the narrative in the streaming world. Roku needs to get their UI at the very least as an option in as many TV sets as possible.
And, to date, they have.
Here’s another thing to consider: how often do people buy new television sets? It’s been something like 10 years since we bought ours. It’s getting near time for us to buy a 4K TV. Or maybe we skip 4K and go straight to 8K. We just love our existing 3D TV not to want to trade up.
When did you buy your last TV?
I think buying a TV, unless you want to stay bleeding edge of tech, is about as frequent as buying a new car. In our case, we buy cars only when we have to — when the repair bills don’t make sense or when the car outright craps out. TVs aren’t quite the same, but we remain very loyal to our older 3D HDTV.
In 2014 Chinese electronics manufacturer, TCL, didn’t think that much about sharing in the value of including Roku with their TVs. Their 2014 deal astonishingly included $0 for them to include that with their TVs.
Now that they have over a quarter of all the smart TV market, TCL wants in on the Roku market.
Sensing a missed opportunity, TCL has been working with other TV software providers to capture more customer revenue. In March 2020, the company announced a target of “profit from value-added Internet services exceeding 50%,” sending Roku’s shares down 5%.
For those who haven’t been following the kerfuffle, Roku and Amazon for their popular Fire stick believe they have the upper hand being that they serve as gateways to some 70% of the streaming households. HBO Max and Peacock feel they deserve to get the same treatment as Netflix, despite HBO roots as starting as an add-on premium service and Peacock being new. I left out Quibi, but they also aren’t on Roku or Amazon Fire stick.
Why do I think Roku will cave? Because they need HBO more than the reverse. HBO has been making original content since the 70s, long before anybody even knew what Roku was.
As for Peacock? They are big enough to go it alone for awhile. I’d think it’s more likely they cut a deal with Roku before HBO.
Quibi? Dart throw, it’s anybody’s guess where they land. My opinion only, but I don’t think Quibi is even in the discussion a couple years from now. Somebody bigger will likely buy them (Apple, perhaps) for their originals and creative pipeline, axe the nonsensical 10 minute clips and the company will be a historic footnote.
Back to this TCL deal. This is bad news for Roku. They cut a very smart deal in 2014, but doesn’t sound like they can benefit the same way from that any longer.
When it comes to what’s popular outside the United States as far as TV, streaming, whatever goes, we don’t know much. Therefore, if we get the facts wrong on international news, please feel free to correct in the comments.
Crossover relevance to the United States is coming, so stay with me.
Apparently, Star India is a major pay movie and TV channel abroad and is owned by Disney. Meanwhile, Hulu remains an exclusive streaming service in America.
There has been talk about expanding Hulu internationally for some time, but since Disney bought Fox and plans to buy the other part of Hulu owned by Comcast in 2024, Disney appears to be changing focus to Star India instead of Hulu abroad.
Chapek explained on the earnings call that Hulu aggregates third-party content, while the Star service will host Disney-owned content from ABC Studios, Fox TV, FX, and other such sources. Chapek also added, “And Hulu also, I must say, has no brand awareness outside of the U.S., and nor does Hulu have any content that’s been licensed to it internationally.” That shows that Disney would essentially be starting from scratch if it took Hulu outside of the U.S. Additionally, Hulu’s ad business won’t transition easily to international markets.
Looking at those reasons as well as Star’s strength in India, it’s clear why Disney is elevating that brand and not Hulu.
This makes sense, but can’t help wondering: what is going to happen to Hulu? We subscribed a month ago and it’s currently one of the better streaming services out there, with a solid amount of exclusive/original content, recent popular TV shows like The Orville, Rick and Morty (also on HBO Max), documentaries, miniseries and a compelling selection of movies.
We watch Hulu more than Peacock and CBS All Access and DC Universe (in fairness, DCU doesn’t have many movies or TV shows), but not as much as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.
What do you think will happen to Hulu? What should happen to Hulu?
The above banner ad made me click right away. I rarely click on banner ads, but Mike Tyson taking on a shark? Seriously?
No, it sounds more exaggerated than what’s really happening on the 61 minute show with the subtitle “Rumble On the Reef.”
Legendary boxer Mike Tyson is BACK, taking on a new challenge and he’s chosen the most unlikely training partner — sharks. Tyson will face his fears and square up with the ocean’s champions to learn how to TKO a shark all in the name of research. TYSON VS JAWS: RUMBLE ON THE REEF
Usually, we fall asleep watching something on TV. A tradition of sorts, we’ve been doing this for 30+ years now.
It’s usually an episode of a TV series (60%), but sometimes a movie (maybe 40% of the time). What we were watching wasn’t necessarily bad or boring, just that it was time to go to sleep. We both get up early for our jobs. Our bodies know what time we need to go to sleep and it doesn’t really matter what’s streaming.
According to health.com, this isn’t a very healthy practice for regulating sleep cycles.
Falling asleep with your TV on means you’re also soaking in blue light from electronics. This can mess with the quality of your sleep by suppressing production of melatonin (the hormone that keeps your sleep/wake cycle in check), and it can delay sleep onset (the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep), says Dr. Jain.
Neither of us currently have any sleeping-related issues, so maybe this doesn’t negatively effect everybody. Am certainly not recommending this activity and really we should program our TV to auto sleep after X amount of inactivity (120 minutes would not be too annoying).
Do you do this regularly? Or do you read or some other activity before bed?
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?
While these are terrible times right now for many reasons, there is one area in the entertainment sector where it never has been this good: movies and TV series available on streaming services.
The sheer quantity and variety of movies, not to mention the accessibility, is fantastic. With most movie theaters closed, we’ve even been treated to a few new movies that would have been released theatrically, going either to VOD or streaming.
Below and linked, Tom’s Guide ranked their picks for the best free streaming services in 2020. Their #1 choice is the severely commercial-ridden, but well known Crackle. #2, is IMDBtv, a much better choice toward the top. Here’s what they have to say:
Some free streaming services offer live channels, others offer on-demand content. A few have both. Our top choice is Crackle, which has on-demand movies, TV shows and originals. Its movie selection is particularly good, with several recognizable titles from recent years. IMDBtv and Tubi are also great on-demand services with extensive lineups of movies and TV shows, plus easy-to-use interfaces that allow you to browse genres and curated collections. Vudu features many newer movies, since it’s got the might of Walmart behind it. Plus, it’s also a digital marketplace, so you can rent or purchase the latest hits.
Had to add Tubi and Xumo to my Roku channels list because they weren’t added. I re-added Sling, since I removed that when our free trial ended.
Based on number of commercials shown during movies (lesser commercial interruptions is better), here’s how I’d rank the free services I’m familiar with in the list above:
MovieReviewsbyUs Best FREE Streaming Channels in 2020
Unranked: Tubi, Sling Free, Xumo and Pluto TV
Tom’s Guide didn’t focus on the number of commercial breaks and/or length of these commercials into their ranking, instead evaluating the overall library and quality of movies. I’ll agree that Crackle has a decent list of movies and on that basis only does deserve to be better than last, but what good does that do if the experience trying to watch them is painstaking?
I didn’t rank Xumo, Tubi, Sling Free or Pluto TV because I haven’t watched movies on there — either at all or not enough — to fairly rank them in the listing. Crackle has been awhile, but the last experience was so miserable I was scarred from returning. I’ve watched the most free movies on Roku, Vudu and IMDB TV in that order. Obviously, if I can find something I specifically want to watch on the streaming services we subscribe to, that is my go-to option first.
The streaming services we have paid subscriptions to as of this writing are:
Amazon Prime Video ($130 USD annual, included with Prime membership)
Disney+ ($70 annual)
HBO Max ($11.99/month)
DC Universe ($5.99/month, grandfathered special promotional pricing)
Peacock (included with XFinity internet)
These subscriptions work out to roughly $60/month or a total annual cost of $720 USD. If you factor in the cost of our high speed internet, we still are paying over $150/month for TV, despite cutting the cord from cable a long time ago.
Which ad-supported (free) movie/TV streaming services do you watch most?
No. That’s the answer to the headline. Louder, no.
There are plenty of great stories in the Star Trek universe that can be told on streaming, in movies, books and more. The galaxy is massive and dare I suggest provides nearly limitless creative potential.
We might disagree on the most recent two Trek ventures (Discovery and Picard), but to suggest any one bad movie, TV show, book, story, etc can ruin the future story potential is silly.
(would say the same thing about the Terminator franchise, btw)
Some of the 10 ideas suggested in the linked article quoted above I really liked. The Galactic Core and Holodeck ideas stood out. I’m the type of creative person who looks at this well of creative goodness and sees immense opportunity.
My Twilight Zone TV Series Pitch
I can’t recall ever writing any fan fiction, but the closest I could see myself writing would be some kind of Twilight Zone stories. The coolest thing I’d like to see are an extension — not a reboot — of the original Twilight Zone episodes: filmed in black and white, shadows, substance, same stock Bernard Hermann music, 22-25 minute run time, and a narrator Serling clone who wears the black suit and has the wry Serling expression and cigarette dangling. Heck, even get sponsors that still exist and have retro commercials. So many opportunities with this pitch. If anybody from CBS is reading this, contact me, because, yes, I do have several script ideas. Again, this isn’t a reboot idea, this is a continuation of 1959-1963 in present day. Sacred ground, yes, I know, but if it’s a project done with admiration and love it could be pulled off and amazing. Would you dig seeing a Season 6 of the original series?
Am sure there are fans of Star Trek with ideas they can pitch that are as good as or better than what’s presented in the quote above — or my Star Trek: Next Generation Titan idea. There are also boatloads of books in the Star Trek universe that could be adapted. Picard won’t be the least Star Trek TV series.
Do you have any Star Trek (or other shows they own the IP) pitches for CBS All Access? Go ahead, pitch in the comments. Never know who’s reading!
The next time you can go out shopping for a new TV — I know, probably not high on the list right at this moment in time — there is a 33% chance the TV you take home will be a Roku TV.
Ok, maybe that’s not an exact statistic, but of all the smart TVs being purchased in America, Roku TVs are standing out.
Roku TV, has been a standout success. In the five years since launching the platform in the U.S., Roku has grabbed a considerable share of the smart TV market: 1 in 3 smart TVs sold in the United States last year was a Roku TV.
Hard betting against Roku in these times. We’ve been using a Roku box for years. Haven’t bought a new TV in awhile, as we’re still using our HD 3D TV, but our next TV purchase could very well be a Roku TV.
Then again, we really, really like our current TV. It’s been a trooper and still looks great years later.
Do you currently own a Roku TV? If so, what do you think of it? Our oldest son bought a Roku TV and he loves it.