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Yesterday I wrote about the abysmal state of retail affairs and I wrote mostly about my personal experience but I also wanted to cover another topic on why I think retail is suffering.  A few years ago, I cut the cord and switched most of my TV viewing habits primarily to three mediums: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime.  I frequently alternate between HBO and Showtime when new seasons of my favorite shows start so that’s technically a fourth.

Initially, my wife and kids mostly watched Hulu but begged me to get rid of the commercials so I paid the extra money to avoid commercials.   It didn’t occur to me then but it did hit me recently with this thought.   As my kids began watching commercial free TV, they also demanded less and less products.    Over the last three years, I can’t think of a single thing that my kids have asked for me to buy them aside from Apple products.    Long gone are the days where they watch a TV commercial and say, “I want one of those.”

It’s not just my kids though, I too  haven’t seen too many commercials either.   And I not only avoid commercials on TV, I also have numerous ad-blockers on my computers and electronic devices that I rarely see an ad.   I mostly listen to Spotify now and it is also commercial free – no more radio ads for me.   I recently got a new computer at work and it did not come pre-loaded with ad-blockers and I was shocked to see so many ads on web pages!    I was even tempted to buy some items that were deeply discounted but they disappeared as soon as I loaded the ad-blockers!

Yesterday, I wrote about the retail “ecosystem” and it occurred to me that the “ecosystem” also includes advertisements but in this case ads are an inverse reaction to successful retail.   Combine the horrible retail experience with ad-blocking TV, Music, Internet and it’s not too hard to figure out why retail is suffering tremendously.

It has now been a little over three years since I cut the TV cable cord and I figured I’d give everyone an update on how things have changed and progressed over that time.

First and foremost the most exciting thing to happen is the final realization from companies like HBO and Showtime that there is money to be made by offering stand alone streaming services.   In the past you could only get streaming if you had some type of cable TV subscription to HBO or Showtime but in 2015 that has all started to change!

Let’s take a look at my setup and I’ll run you through some other options.

Step 1 – Hardware

When I cut the cord a few years ago there were many limited device options.  At the time the two major devices were the Apple TV and the Roku devices.   At the time I owned both and each had their pros and cons.   Today there are many more devices with a few other options.   Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick/TV have started to garner larger acceptance.   To read reviews you can click here.   You can now also stream content to gaming devices such as a Playstation 4 or Xbox One.

Personally I have most of the devices listed above and use them for different reasons.

The Roku is my family’s primary device.  The Roku device itself I always considered rather primitive but it does the job well enough that I can’t really complain.   You essentially setup “apps” inside the Roku that will stream content to you from a particular provider.

The Amazon stick is great if your traveling and you can plug in to a hotel TV to stream content while you’re sitting in a hotel working.

The Apple TV is what we use to watched purchased movies through iTunes.    We don’t buy DVDs or BluRay discs anymore just keep everything in the cloud and stream it to the device.  There is no danger of a disc getting scratched and it will live forever in the cloud as I plan on passing on my iTunes account to my kids or grandkids!

Step 2 – The Streaming Services

We stream content from HuluPlus ($7.99/month), Netflix ($7.99/month), Amazon Prime (Free with Prime),  I recently added Showtime to my HuluPlus for an additional $8.99/month.   So for $25/month I have access to more content than I will ever be able to watch because these services are constantly adding new shows as time goes on.    Compare this to paying $65+ or more on a monthly basis for cable channels that you never watch and it makes complete and total sense to cut the cord.   What really annoys me though are the superfluous charges for “HD service”, “DVR”, “cable rental fee” that simply don’t exist with streaming services.

I also currently have HBO go as part of my Internet service under a 12 month plan.  When that offer expires I plan on adding the HBO Now service for an additional $15/month or hold off until it rebuilds their content warehouse and switch between Showtime and HBO year over year.

The Limitations

There currently are some limitations to this system though.  The most blatant one I get grief about are sports.  ESPN currently doesn’t offer a stand alone streaming service that is comparable to what is on cable so if you are a huge sports fan you’re a bit out of luck with this system.    The second one are specialty shows like HGTV or Disney that the wife and kids may want to watch.   There are services that do fill a partial gap such as Sling.com that offers a $20 bundle that gives you a few of those channels including ESPN but the major limitation is that it only offers streaming on one device at a time so you won’t be able to watch ESPN on one TV while watching HGTV on another.

I suspect that cable companies are going to have a “come to customer” moment and be forced to offer a-la-carte channel selections or better bundles more competitively priced in 2016 if they wish to keep more people from cutting the cord.

The Future

Rumors are that Apple will release a new Apple TV with some exciting content streaming services so the playing field will become even more competitive than ever just stay tuned and watch…

 

i got very excited about Sling TV offering streaming TV for just $20 bucks per month. I eagerly signed up for the invite only process a few weeks ago. Today I got my invite code and called up Sling.

Unfortunately, I was told that you could only stream Sling on one TV at a time. This is a HUGE limitation that is not worth the effort. I currently have four big screen LEDs at home in different rooms and kids that will inevitably want to watch different shows at the same time.

Rather than deal with that headache, I have often to not sign up for the trial at all much less the service.

The rep told me in the future they may offer multiple steams and I told her that I may sign up in the future when that happens.

I’ve not been keeping up with this blog because I have been extremely busy but here are a few highlights from the last few months.

1. I have been traveling to South America a great deal on business.  I will be there again soon so I won’t be posting much beyond this week and next.

2. I have dropped out of my second MBA program.  To make a long story short, I was told I would need to take more classes to complete the second MBA and I’ve had enough of the clowns at the college so I dropped out and settled for one MBA.

3. I have paid off my mortgage.  Technically, I have about 2k left on the loan but that will be gone over the next few weeks as I move money from various banks around to restructure my banking strategy and posture for some potential meltdowns over the next couple of months.

4. With the Obamacare healthcare fiasco (website not working, no one signing up, etc) I decided to take my health into my hands by purchasing a new treadmill.  I now run 3 miles in the morning and 3 to 5 miles in the evening on it.  So far so good and I love that it has a screen with google street view to allow me to go on runs all over the world!

5. I am learning Portuguese because I have fallen in love with Brazil.    Despite some protests and rather scary violence outbursts, the country is quite agreeable with me so I may be spending more time down there in the future.

6. My kids are getting older and are only a few short years away from college.   It’s hard to imagine but we’ll be empty-nesters in a few short years!

7.  There have been an astonishingly a high number of friends and relatives that are dying at the age of 50 something.   An Uncle had a sudden heart attack, a friend died of cancer, others from a variety of illnesses.   A few of my kids friends have been left without parents and I find this startling.  I went to a public school with 4000 kids during high school and don’t recall hearing about a single person’s parents dying and now I’m hearing stories of deaths almost monthly!

8. With the year almost over, I am now planning my winter vacations and deciding on what to get everyone for Christmas. Hint: iphone 5S are in the queue.

 

Well it seems as WordPress advances and upgrades, some of my older plugins become obselete or don’t work they way they should.  I’ve recently noticed spammers have gotten a bit more creative and the math comment spam protector doesn’t seem to work as well.   Essentially, the math comment protectors asks a question like “what is 4 + 3” and expects the correct response.   I always wondered why someone couldn’t right a script to do the math and respond but it seems we’re entering a new level of spammers creativity.   In any event I’m cleaning up my plugins!

I’ve now dumped the math comment plugin in favor of SI Captcha so I hope that will do a better job of catching spam.   I still do have Akismet but that doesn’t always work well.

I have also been on heavy business travel and MBA school work so sorry for the lack of posts.  I do have quite a few rants, raves and other observations to write about but just don’t have the time…

Well it looks like nincompoop was re-confirmed to the Federal Reserve and that means that I need to use the nuclear option: Closing down all my big bank accounts!   I wanted to do it this week but I’ve been too busy to shuffle money around so it will need to wait till next week.    If you want to see some change in the financial system, I would encourage you to move your money to a credit union or a community local bank!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Icqrx0OimSs&feature=player_embedded

This video link has been sent to me numerous times and it seems to be gaining traction.  To be honest, I’ve considered dumping all my big bank accounts and credit cards as this seems to be the only way to deal with the real problem of corrupt bankers, politicians, and the like.   The best way to suffocate a crook is to cut off the oxygen supply (money).

Watch the video and consider moving your money, this is one of my goals for 2010.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Icqrx0OimSs

I had lunch with a former co-worker college and he showed me his new iPhone.  I asked him why they were switching and he said that the company didn’t want to support Blackberry servers and pay licensing fees for it anymore.  Evidently, the iPhone can connect to the e-mail server without a blackberry server.  I’m not sure of the technical logistics of it but I was interested in what RIMM stock was doing so I decided to check it out.

From what I can tell, RIMM is on a struggle to get traction.  The economic meltdown seems to have taken a huge toll on Blackberry but I’m wondering if the change in business attitude is going to hurt RIMM in the long term.    Personally, I’m waiting for the rumored carrier-free Google Phone to come next month so I can buy it.   I’m tired of waiting for Apple to separate from AT&T so I can buy an iPhone and the company issued Blackberry I have has a pretty crappy browser so my choices are fairly limited.

I hope Google is serious about the Nexus cause I’m serious about buying.

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No posts until Tuesday, I’m taking the weekend off!

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