TV rantings…

nocbsI recently purchased an Apple TV.  For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is not an actual TV.  Rather, it is a small box that connects to any TV with an HDMI port, it connects to your home WiFi, and you use it to stream content from services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.  It will also play your iTunes content.  I originally had a Roku streaming box,  Then Amazon offered its Prime members a chance to buy the new Amazon Fire TV streaming stick for just $19.  I wanted one for the upstairs TV in the bedroom, but I was thinking that I might like it better than the Roku, so I got a second one for the living room TV at that price.  I liked it better, so I gave away my Roku.

But after a little while, it was not staying connected to the internet.  The bedroom one was fine.  But that’s because the router is upstairs, and it turns out that the WiFi antenna in this thing is not as strong as advertised.  So, being that I am a happy owner of an iPhone and an iPad, I decided to give Apple TV a try.  I’ve had it for about a week now, and it is working flawlessly.  One thing it doesn’t have, though, is Amazon Instant Video, probably because it is a direct competitor to iTunes.  However, Amazon’s Instant Video app for iOS supports Apple AirPlay.  This is something that lets you beam whatever is on the screen of your iOS device to an Apple TV.  So problem solved, I can still watch Amazon content on the living room TV.

But you know what DOESN’T work?  The CBS.com app.  It sends the audio track to the TV, but no video.  What is the point of THAT?  But CBS has been notoriously tight-fisted about allowing their shows to be shown anywhere but on the network or on their website/mobile apps.  And their iOS app has been dismal.  The latest update seems to have eliminated the endless buffering and freezing, but today was the first time I used it since the update.  But it limits me to watching on my iPad, because of not supporting AirPlay.  I would really prefer to watch TV shows on my big living room TV, which is why I pay for Hulu Plus.

The other major thing about CBS that sucks is their Boston affiliate, WBZ.  It is clear to me that what they REALLY want to be is a news and weather channel, given the number of times that they break into my soaps for “news” stories that could have easily waited until the regular 5PM newscast.  I have often noticed that they break into shows when WCVB/WMUR (ABC) and WHDH (NBC) have not.  However, WBZ wants to keep the network affiliation so that they can still make a shit-ton of money off football.  And that’s another damned thing – forget about watching “60 Minutes” during football season.

Anyway, if I am sitting here watching ‘The Young and the Restless”, I don’t want to see “breaking news” about the governor sneezing or farting, or Tom Brady catching a cold from Gisele and the kids, or any of the other dumb crap WBZ’s shitty news department foists on us.  And there really is no need for weather stuff except for hourly updates and tickers at the bottom of the screen.  For a PLANNED pre-emption, such as for something like Mayor Tom Menino’s funeral, they will put the soaps on their sister station, WSBK-38.,  But this is hit or miss, they do not always do this, and even if they do, you’re screwed if you work during the day and record the shows.  Your DVR will record the news and not the soaps.

If you have cable/satellite and your provider has the POP channel (formerly TVGN), there are same-day evening showings of both “The Young & the Restless” and “The Bold & the Beautiful”.  But this is useless for folks who don’t have cable or satellite, and according to some of the posters on the SoapCentral.com forums, not all providers offer this channel.  So they are stuck with having to watch online, and it has to be either on a computer at CBS.com, or via their mobile app.  No way to watch it on a TV.

I was wondering how WBZ gets away with this and still keeps their network affiliation.  But then I noticed that CBS has rolled out its own paid subscription service for watching their shows online and on the app.  So they do not mind if people can’t watch their shows on the network, they can just get them to pony up six bucks a month for the privilege of watching a network that is supposed to be FREE.  And for that, you don’t even get to watch on a TV.  I am happy to pay for Netflix and Hulu Plus, because they offer a variety of content from many networks and studios, AND it can be watched on pretty much any device, including streaming to a TV.  Sure, I can watch the last five episodes of the soaps for free, but how much longer will THAT last?  I will NEVER pay for a CBS subscription, even if they do make it stream to a TV.  I would sooner just give up the CBS soaps, if it gets to be too much of a production to watch them.  They are all I really watch on CBS any more; I stopped investing myself in any of their prime time shows because they either suck, or the ones I did like got cancelled.

NBC’s iOS app does support AirPlay.  I was able to watch yesterday’s pre-empted episode of “Days of our Lives” flawlessly my TV with the app.  I don’t use ABC’s mobile app, because they require a login with a “participating TV provider”, and apparently, our provider, Comcast, is not one of them.  Without this, you have to wait a week to see today’s shows.  However, with a paid Hulu Plus subscription, you can by-pass that and watch today’s episodes the next day.  And they do have “General Hospital”.  It works for most people, because many people who do not have cable or satellite subscribe to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus for stuff to watch on TV.

Even PBS is not immune to interruptions due to snowstorms.  Last night, Mike was trying to watch “American Experience”, which was a profile of Thomas Edison.  But not once, but TWICE, it was interrupted by those government alerts – ABOUT A SNOWSTORM THAT ALREADY HAPPENED.  WHY???  Unless there is a real threat, a life or death situation, LEAVE OUR TV shows alone.  Fortunately, PBS is not a dick like CBS is, and they have a streaming channel that can be accessed on Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.  The Edison show is up there now, so he can watch it that way with no rude interruptions.  And PBS also never charges for anything.  They rely on donations, but if you can’t afford to donate, you can still watch all of their fine programming free of charge.

A future post will be about my thoughts about cutting the cable cord for good.