Cord cutting still subpar

comfortably_numb

Dogs have owners, cats have staff
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Nov 30, 2011
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Everyone who pays for TV should be constantly watching the cost .vs. benefits curve.

If all things were equal (availability of broadband everywhere in the US) then that would be true. But (unfortunately) it isn't. YTTV could be $5 a month and it still wouldn't work for someone living in rural Missouri. That's the primary reason I hang around this forum- to remind us that while streaming may be the future, it hasn't replaced other delivery methods and won't for quite some time.

Not only that, but other delivery methods are still very effective for many. Take OTA for example. High quality picture and programming for free if you're located close enough to the towers.
 

SpaethCo

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YouTube TV allows users the option of watching the recorded version or VoD version on all channels except CBS, Pop, and CW, when a VoD version is available (doesn't affect my local news, sporting events, etc.).

Just because I almost didn't believe it myself, after 20 months with PS Vue

You're highlighting the point I was setting out to make. The DVR functionality can vary considerably between services, or even with the same service based on what device you're using or what contracts are in place with various network providers. In your case the VOD swap-out isn't happening on locals, but in some areas it's still happening because of the contracts in place with the network affiliates that service those areas.

My use of streaming services is a bit different from most - I'm actually combining a bunch of different options to try and get the best overall experience:

Tivo OTA: I have a strong enough signal to never have rain fade, so this means reliable recording of locals, and the ability to skip commercials with a single button press thanks to Tivo's skip functionality.

DirecTV Select w/ Center Ice: Takes care of Viacom channels, A&E networks, Discovery Networks, NBC networks, etc all in one place. It gets me NHL network, plus NHL.tv is bundled in for viewing while traveling.

Hulu w/ Live TV: We were already subscribed to the $11.99 commercial free Hulu anyway, so picking up Live TV enabled me to drop down to Select and get NBCSN via streaming instead, plus I gain access to good streaming video feeds during (admittedly rare) weather interruptions or while we're traveling. It ends up being a sharper picture, I suspect because they either use a progressive-scan source or use advanced interpolation de-interlacing before compressing. As a bonus, the mobile viewing experience is lightyears ahead of DirecTV's clunky mobile app for satellite subscribers.

When you switch from the Tivo and DirecTV genie DVR over to some of the clunkier streaming service DVRs things start to stand out. You can already see the landscape forming on how they're planning to use streaming services for highly targeted advertising, at least once they can figure out how to get ads to work consistently in general.
 

sxmfan2018

SatelliteGuys Guru
Aug 30, 2018
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With the caveat that once a show you DVR is available in the channel's VOD catalog, it is replaced in your list of shows with the VOD version with forced commercials.

PS Vue will only let you pause live TV for 5 minutes, and you can only "DVR" shows by liking specific program titles. If you like "The Big Bang Theory" you get all the new episodes on your CBS station (that works or doesn't work depending on the contract Sony has with your local CBS provider), but you also get all the reruns, VOD episodes, and any of the syndicated replays on stations like TBS. If you record something like a hockey game that has a condensed replay later that evening, the condensed replay will replace your original game recording in your DVR. Certain channels like HBO aren't eligible for DVR at all, so your only choice is to watch live or from the VOD catalog. Generally that's not a problem, but it means some of the programming (Real Time, Last week tonight) you either have to watch it live or wait until it makes it into the VOD system the next day.

Hulu Live will let you pause Live TV for quite a while, but once you pause you can't fast forward through commercial blocks. If you DVR shows from Live TV, you can only fast forward through commercials if you pay the extra $15 for the advanced DVR.

Fubo TV you have to manually setup recording of individual episodes - it has no concept of scheduled series recording. If you want to start watching a show that is already in progress from the beginning, it only works on a subset of devices (mostly Apple devices) that run the Fubo app.

Sling doesn't provide DVR functions at all unless you pony up extra dollars.

None of the streaming services will let you pad your recording schedule to accommodate live events that may go over their scheduled broadcast time.

This is the minus of cloud-based DVRs -- every provider does something different, and it's not always immediately obvious what restrictions you're going to run into on each service.
sling tv is a ripoff if your having problems with there service good luck getting your money back and you can have the bank dispute it for you good luck there a complete ripoff. and if you do pony up for the DVR service it don't work on all of the channels due to contract rights!!!!
 

Zookster

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Dec 19, 2004
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You're highlighting the point I was setting out to make. The DVR functionality can vary considerably between services, or even with the same service based on what device you're using or what contracts are in place with various network providers. In your case the VOD swap-out isn't happening on locals, but in some areas it's still happening because of the contracts in place with the network affiliates that service those areas.

My use of streaming services is a bit different from most - I'm actually combining a bunch of different options to try and get the best overall experience:

Tivo OTA: I have a strong enough signal to never have rain fade, so this means reliable recording of locals, and the ability to skip commercials with a single button press thanks to Tivo's skip functionality.

DirecTV Select w/ Center Ice: Takes care of Viacom channels, A&E networks, Discovery Networks, NBC networks, etc all in one place. It gets me NHL network, plus NHL.tv is bundled in for viewing while traveling.

Hulu w/ Live TV: We were already subscribed to the $11.99 commercial free Hulu anyway, so picking up Live TV enabled me to drop down to Select and get NBCSN via streaming instead, plus I gain access to good streaming video feeds during (admittedly rare) weather interruptions or while we're traveling. It ends up being a sharper picture, I suspect because they either use a progressive-scan source or use advanced interpolation de-interlacing before compressing. As a bonus, the mobile viewing experience is lightyears ahead of DirecTV's clunky mobile app for satellite subscribers.

When you switch from the Tivo and DirecTV genie DVR over to some of the clunkier streaming service DVRs things start to stand out. You can already see the landscape forming on how they're planning to use streaming services for highly targeted advertising, at least once they can figure out how to get ads to work consistently in general.

Yes, the services vary between them. I don't disagree, but that's to be expected: they are different services. Netflix, Amazon, regular Hulu apps function differently as well. That doesn't make them all bad or inherently flawed. People will like different things for different reasons. Let the market sort out which services survive and which fail.

And while apps on different devices for the same OTT live TV services vary somewhat, they are close enough. Again, that's to be expected. Mobile interface is different from PC, which is different from a Roku or a game console. The Netflix app UI varies on my various devices as well.

Regarding YTTV, I don't agree with
In your case the VOD swap-out isn't happening on locals, but in some areas it's still happening because of the contracts in place with the network affiliates that service those areas.

I follow various YTTV groups closely, and since restrictions have been lifted on recordings for all channels and networks (local affiliates) except CBS, CW, and Pop, I haven't heard anyone say they are still getting forced VoD for certain shows on local network affiliates (Fox, ABC, and NBC). I've only heard that on the two networks that still force VoD, some people aren't getting commercials on certain shows in the VoD version. But since they aren't shows I watch, I can't compare my experience personally. I just know on the CW shows I follow, I still get commercials in the VoD versions. And I've certainly never heard anyone getting forced VoD versions of sporting events or local news, even before YTTV lifted the forced VOD on all but three channels. Also note, whenever I do try to launch a recording of a show with a forced VoD version, the message is always: "[Network Name] has restricted access to this recording. Watch another airing of this version instead." It's always the name of the network, not my local affiliate, e.g., KSWB.
 

msmith198025

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Yes, the services vary between them. I don't disagree, but that's to be expected: they are different services. Netflix, Amazon, regular Hulu apps function differently as well. That doesn't make them all bad or inherently flawed. People will like different things for different reasons. Let the market sort out which services survive and which fail.

And while apps on different devices for the same OTT live TV services vary somewhat, they are close enough. Again, that's to be expected. Mobile interface is different from PC, which is different from a Roku or a game console. The Netflix app UI varies on my various devices as well.

Regarding YTTV, I don't agree with

I follow various YTTV groups closely, and since restrictions have been lifted on recordings for all channels and networks (local affiliates) except CBS, CW, and Pop, I haven't heard anyone say they are still getting forced VoD for certain shows on local network affiliates (Fox, ABC, and NBC). I've only heard that on the two networks that still force VoD, some people aren't getting commercials on certain shows in the VoD version. But since they aren't shows I watch, I can't compare my experience personally. I just know on the CW shows I follow, I still get commercials in the VoD versions. And I've certainly never heard anyone getting forced VoD versions of sporting events or local news, even before YTTV lifted the forced VOD on all but three channels. Also note, whenever I do try to launch a recording of a show with a forced VoD version, the message is always: "[Network Name] has restricted access to this recording. Watch another airing of this version instead." It's always the name of the network, not my local affiliate, e.g., KSWB.


My experience and research mirrors this.
 

SpaethCo

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I follow various YTTV groups closely, and since restrictions have been lifted on recordings for all channels and networks (local affiliates) except CBS, CW, and Pop, I haven't heard anyone say they are still getting forced VoD for certain shows on local network affiliates (Fox, ABC, and NBC).
It looks like that's a pretty recent development, at least within the last 30 days: YouTube TV gaining full DVR playback for Disney, Fox, NBC, and more

It's good for YoutubeTV subscribers that this functionality changed for now, however, I'm skeptical this will continue to be the case long-term.

Alphabet, Inc's main source of revenue is advertising. Pare that up with how the video streams are sourced in the first place -- Hulu gave a talk at an AWS conference last year highlighting their content flow (which translates pretty readily to how pretty much every service is doing this):


The key takeaways are that the origin streams come directly from the content owners, and are re-packaged by the streaming TV providers to deliver to any given service's clients. Within the metadata of the origin streams they are preserving the SCTE-35 coding to signal ad insertion points, as it common in other digital streams today such as satellite feeds where the DVRs are doing local ad insertion. What's particularly interesting in this talk, is they point out the ownership of Hulu being content producers, and thus the heavy influence to have the mechanisms in place for non-skippable ads.

When you combine a company that primarily makes its money from ads with video streams that are already nicely encoded for ad insertion points, I find it really hard to believe that the long term play for YoutubeTV is perpetually to be a $35/40 service where you can watch all the TV you want and skip all the ads at will.

Streaming being a winner based on price is a short term game. I don't say that as a way of saying "streaming is doomed" or anything like that. There are still numerous advantages when it comes to providing enhanced video quality (4k is much more prevalent in streaming), mobility across multiple devices, and having substantially more levers to customize your content selection and discovery. I get my value out of Hulu just by being able to side-step DirecTV's horribly clunky VOD / mobile app platform.

If I have a beef with streaming, it's around the constant advertising with the taglines of "Stop paying too much for TV" or other Bullsh!t like that. It makes it sound like you'd be a fool to not cut the cord and switch to a streaming service, but the reality is it's a bit of a minefield out there.

No contracts! Switch all you want!

Oh, you want to watch AMC? Hulu's off your list.

Oh, you want to watch A&E networks? Scratch Vue and YoutubeTV off your list

You want to watch Viacom channels? Enjoy 30fps video on Sling or Philo, or "enjoy" the dumpster fire that is DirecTV NOW

You can't stand 30fps? Skip Philo and SlingTV

You have an Amazon Fire TV device? No YoutubeTV for you.

Oh, and in each case, you have to walk away from all your DVR'd content when you switch services.

Matching what networks you watch to services has become complicated enough that now sites exist just to help people with that very problem: Suppose... you could design your perfect TV service
 

Zookster

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Dec 19, 2004
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It looks like that's a pretty recent development, at least within the last 30 days: YouTube TV gaining full DVR playback for Disney, Fox, NBC, and more

It's good for YoutubeTV subscribers that this functionality changed for now, however, I'm skeptical this will continue to be the case long-term.

Alphabet, Inc's main source of revenue is advertising. Pare that up with how the video streams are sourced in the first place -- Hulu gave a talk at an AWS conference last year highlighting their content flow (which translates pretty readily to how pretty much every service is doing this):


The key takeaways are that the origin streams come directly from the content owners, and are re-packaged by the streaming TV providers to deliver to any given service's clients. Within the metadata of the origin streams they are preserving the SCTE-35 coding to signal ad insertion points, as it common in other digital streams today such as satellite feeds where the DVRs are doing local ad insertion. What's particularly interesting in this talk, is they point out the ownership of Hulu being content producers, and thus the heavy influence to have the mechanisms in place for non-skippable ads.

When you combine a company that primarily makes its money from ads with video streams that are already nicely encoded for ad insertion points, I find it really hard to believe that the long term play for YoutubeTV is perpetually to be a $35/40 service where you can watch all the TV you want and skip all the ads at will.

Streaming being a winner based on price is a short term game. I don't say that as a way of saying "streaming is doomed" or anything like that. There are still numerous advantages when it comes to providing enhanced video quality (4k is much more prevalent in streaming), mobility across multiple devices, and having substantially more levers to customize your content selection and discovery. I get my value out of Hulu just by being able to side-step DirecTV's horribly clunky VOD / mobile app platform.

If I have a beef with streaming, it's around the constant advertising with the taglines of "Stop paying too much for TV" or other Bullsh!t like that. It makes it sound like you'd be a fool to not cut the cord and switch to a streaming service, but the reality is it's a bit of a minefield out there.

No contracts! Switch all you want!

Oh, you want to watch AMC? Hulu's off your list.

Oh, you want to watch A&E networks? Scratch Vue and YoutubeTV off your list

You want to watch Viacom channels? Enjoy 30fps video on Sling or Philo, or "enjoy" the dumpster fire that is DirecTV NOW

You can't stand 30fps? Skip Philo and SlingTV

You have an Amazon Fire TV device? No YoutubeTV for you.

Oh, and in each case, you have to walk away from all your DVR'd content when you switch services.

Matching what networks you watch to services has become complicated enough that now sites exist just to help people with that very problem: Suppose... you could design your perfect TV service

Cutting the cord and switching to an OTT live TV service definitely isn't as easy as going from cable to satellite, and definitely isn't for everyone who wants instant out-of-the-box convenience, but satellite has been making outrageous claims about the disadvantages of cable for years (especially DTV ads), hammering away on issues I've never personally experienced, as someone who has had both, and sometimes at the same time. So if someone doesn't take an ad like those for OTT live TV services with a grain of salt, that's their problem. Consumer beware.

Regarding skipable ads in DVR'd content, if these service are trying to make money by inserting their own ads, they (at least PS Vue and YTTV) are really missing out on all the open ad slots on ESPN networks. Every other commercial break (and I'm usually watching sports live) just has the ESPN logo rather than the ad that the local cable operator would normally be inserting there. I don't know why OTT live TV services aren't selling those slots, whether it's a technical or contractual issue with ESPN. That's the only channel I ever see that.

YouTube TV is definitely going in the direction of lifting DVR restrictions - even crowing about it on their Twitter account. So I don't see that changing any time soon, though I'm not saying it won't change eventually. YTTV is probably selling my data to the channel provider in exchange lol (though there is a way to prevent that sharing in your privacy settings).

Regardless, I'd gladly pay a $5-$10/mo fee for advanced DVR privileges that don't limit fast-forwarding on any content, much the way cable/sat charges a premium for DVR services. I just want the option. Hulu's $15/mo fee for fast-forwarding is excessive and includes other benefits I don't really need.

It's also worth mentioning, a lot of people using these services don't really use the DVR to fast-forward content. At the peak of YTTV's restrictions, a lot of people in the groups I frequent said they don't care about that and would rather keep the prices down.
 

SpaethCo

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Regarding skipable ads in DVR'd content, if these service are trying to make money by inserting their own ads, they (at least PS Vue and YTTV) are really missing out on all the open ad slots on ESPN networks. Every other commercial break (and I'm usually watching sports live) just has the ESPN logo rather than the ad that the local cable operator would normally be inserting there. I don't know why OTT live TV services aren't selling those slots, whether it's a technical or contractual issue with ESPN. That's the only channel I ever see that.
This gets into the mechanics of how streaming actually works and limitations they're facing today. When most people hear "streaming" they think that their box makes a connection to a server and video starts spewing over that connection as a steady collection of bits. Reality is much more complicated. What the video streaming clients do is pull down a manifest of what streaming bitrates are offered, and the manifest has links to individual video transport files that contain a few seconds of video each. The player keeps downloading (HTTP GET requests) individual 4-10 second video segments and playing them in sequence, and makes a decision when to try fetching a lower bitrate file when it has problem keeping the video playback buffer full. (that's why streaming has 30+ seconds of delay -- the clients need enough buffer to make rate-adaptive selection decisions)

Right now pretty much everyone is focusing on just keeping video segments distributed on the CDN and being able to generate and cache the manifest files appropriately. Being able to localize client details and be more dynamic with the manifest file creation is on the roadmap of things to tackle once they can get the issues worked out with handling the load at times of high demand.

In a lot of ways it's a miracle that live video streaming works at all when you look at the insanity of all the technical scaling challenges. Heck, Hulu was hitting Amazon S3 performance bottlenecks with their live service, and they only use that to shuffle video from their ingestion and repacking system to their CDN partners (not actually serve subscribers directly).
 
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silverdiskdj

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May 28, 2004
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I will say that Hulu, with even more recent developments, has and will allow us to drop other services. Movies almost mirror what is on Netflix, and if I can get all the shows that my wife and I watch that is only on Netflix, saved into my PlayOn Cloud DVR, I can cut Netflix out and save that $12 a month. PlayOn has allowed me to save stuff that we have on all services, including Hulu, so I can cut down on the in-service DVR.

Hulu plus Live TV is really super complementary, and as close to an "all inclusive" option as I have gotten in recent times. I liked Sling, but we were paying $40 a month once you added in the DVR function and Lifestyle/Kids packs that we needed. We already had $11.99 Hulu without commercials, so adding roughly $30 a month to that to add a plethora of live channels too, including all the ones we need and watch (Food Network, HGTV, Disney JR... and now we also get FSN Wisconsin to watch all sorts of WI sports as well, which we had to get a separate package on Sling to get that plus Disney Jr). Once I get a handle on all Netflix shows into PlayOn cloud so I can cut Netflix 100%, then I will DVR what I have in Hulu saved... so I can also cut that service down from the current 200 hour DVR to the basic 50 hour DVR and save even more money.
 

harshness

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May 5, 2007
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The part that kills me about PlayOn is the quality limitations. Even if your service serves up 1080i, PlayOn delivers the 720p version.

Yah, not a big deal for device viewing but if you're looking to build a collection for TV viewing, it suffers noticeably. I haven't looked into what kind of sound it delivers (how many audio channels), but I'm not optimistic.
 

sxmfan2018

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Aug 30, 2018
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The part that kills me about PlayOn is the quality limitations. Even if your service serves up 1080i, PlayOn delivers the 720p version.

Yah, not a big deal for device viewing but if you're looking to build a collection for TV viewing, it suffers noticeably. I haven't looked into what kind of sound it delivers (how many audio channels), but I'm not optimistic.
i tried playon and it just outright sucked to many issues with it
 
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harshness

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i tried playon and it just outright sucked to many issues with it
The only real problem I've had with it is documented and it has to do with Windows 7 machines that have a VPN connection. For whatever reason, it chooses the VPN connection over the Internet connection.

That it depends on Edge is something no software should do.
 

Zookster

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I had a lot of trouble getting PlayOn to work just recording network shows off their websites. More than half the time the recording would fail and the other half of the time the recording would be really buggy. My recordings off the ABC Network website would cut off the last two minutes of the show. When I did manage to get a successful recording with minimal bugs, the image looked washed out to me compared to what the on-demand version looked like on whatever service I had at the time. With all the time and aggravation I spent trying to get a successful recording, I was better off watching the show live OTA with commercials.
 
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schneid

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Jun 27, 2007
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Biggest negative for me is the lack of 5.1 Surround programming. Sticking with DirecTV Sat for that and the luxury of an integrated cross-platform guide. Curious about Amazon Recast with OTA/DVR support and integration with PSVue. PSVue 5.1 yet? I have a FireTV Cube but find myself exclusively using DirecTV Sat and my LG OLED WebOS for Netflix and Amazon Prime. WebOS does Dolby Vision and Atmos better than the Cube.
 

endswell

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Sep 23, 2008
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Posting a follow-up to my earlier post about being quite disappointed with streaming services, especially Directv Now. I recently signed-up for FuboTV and have to say I am quite pleased with what I'm getting. Picture quality is good and there have been very few pauses in content being delivered. I plan to stick with FuboTV if it continues to be this good. The only downside some may have is that it doesn't include any of the ESPN channels.
 

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