The future of streaming

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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Frederica

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The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 11:28 am

This weekend I binge-streamed Carnivale courtesy the HBO collection on amazon prime. It worked out really well for me, I didn't have to take the three steps to the bookshelf and pull out the dvds, what a pain that is, right?

So I have a few television shows (and a lot of movies) on dvd, many of which are now available to stream via the various services. Those services are not free but at this point they're also not a big expense. However I have read a few articles intimating that streaming is likely to become more expensive. I have no clue if that is true or likely or whatever. Zen Master would love to get rid of all those pesky discs, but she is concerned about the future--what if the business model changes drastically and she can no longer watch Buffy kick the living crap out of someone, at the drop of Mr. Pointy and at a very low cost?

So does anyone have any input on what the future is likely to hold in this area?
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Rick Lanham

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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 1:20 pm

While I don't have a crystal ball, or a wired/wireless ball, I have heard that there are upward pressures on the price of internet communications and cable.

Indeed, my own internet connection, has increased in price this year. This is separate from cable TV.

While I have your attention, and since it doesn't fit into most of our topics, here is a link to an article on the streaming of some British programming. I thought of you when I read it the other day:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/brit-streaming/" target="_blank

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Last edited by Rick Lanham on Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 2:07 pm

From a business perspective, there is increasing pushback from the increasingly concentrated internet providers against "Open Access." Open Access says that all the Internet is there, available for the user at all times. Companies whose business models rely on these are the ones that send a lot of data over the Internet, like Amazon.com and Netflix with their streaming services. Basically, streaming services require providers to build and maintain excess capacity. There are times of the business day when the stuff streaming through from the financial industry makes my access slow and chancy. Who is to pay for this extra capacity is a big argument; should it be spread equally to everyone on the internet, regardless of how much they use (Open Access) or should there be a usage charge like the phone company?

Heavy users and businesses which send huge amounts of data down their T3 cables, like Netflix and Goldman Sachs prefer open access, since it means it's not a cost past the capacity; if they get charged for shipping the data they must either charge their customers or cut their profit margins. People who go onto the Internet sparingly or have to provide the extra capacity to get it to their customers, like Comcast, prefer to charge extra for extra use.

Currently Open Access is mandated for another couple of years, but after that? It depends on the FCC or possible Congressional action.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Frederica

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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 2:14 pm

Rick Lanham wrote:While I don't have a crystal ball, or a wired/wireless ball, I have heard that there are upward pressures on the price of internet communications and cable.

Indeed, my own internet connection, has increased in price this year. This is separate from cable TV.


Yes, that was pretty much the upshot of what I'd read, I'm just not au fait with the issues. I don't have cable at all. Obviously the smart thing to do is to hold onto my dvds and wait to see what happens. Although that could be an issue when Zen Master gets into "chuck it!" mode.

While I have you attention, and since it doesn't fit into most of our topics, here is a link to an article on the streaming of some British programming. I thought of you when I read it the other day:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/brit-streaming/" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank


Thanks for that link, Rick--I'd checked out Acorn a while ago, waffled a bit, then decided not to go for it. I've seen many of those programs, I can wait until the newer shows/episodes appear on American TV.
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Frederica

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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 2:21 pm

boblipton wrote:From a business perspective, there is increasing pushback from the increasingly concentrated internet providers against "Open Access." Open Access says that all the Internet is there, available for the user at all times. Companies whose business models rely on these are the ones that send a lot of data over the Internet, like Amazon.com and Netflix with their streaming services. Basically, streaming services require providers to build and maintain excess capacity. There are times of the business day when the stuff streaming through from the financial industry makes my access slow and chancy. Who is to pay for this extra capacity is a big argument; should it be spread equally to everyone on the internet, regardless of how much they use (Open Access) or should there be a data charge like the phone company?

Heavy users and businesses which send huge amounts of data down their T3 cables, like Netflix and Goldman Sachs prefer open access, since it means it's not a cost past the capacity; if they get charged for shipping the data they must either charge their customers or cut their profit margins. People who go onto the Internet sparingly or have to provide the extra capacity to get it to their customers, like Comcast, prefer to charge extra for extra use.

Currently Open Access is mandated for another couple of years, but after that? It depends on the FCC or possible Congressional action.

Bob


OK, that's a help, thanks.
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Danny Burk

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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 3:42 pm

Don't forget that nothing is ever guaranteed to be available via future streaming. Rights to so-and-so film may expire and be unrenewed by its owner; they could decide to make a block of titles unavailable for a period of time; or they may simply decide that offering it isn't worth the time and expense. I'm not one who trusts streaming at all; I hang onto my hard copies and continue acquiring more whenever I can. Of course, this doesn't even touch the other issues raised in this thread, nor the fact that streaming adds a lot of compression and will most likely never look as good as a DVD nor blu-ray.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Jul 07, 2014 3:50 pm

Danny Burk wrote:Don't forget that nothing is ever guaranteed to be available via future streaming. Rights to so-and-so film may expire and be unrenewed by its owner; they could decide to make a block of titles unavailable for a period of time; or they may simply decide that offering it isn't worth the time and expense. I'm not one who trusts streaming at all; I hang onto my hard copies and continue acquiring more whenever I can. Of course, this doesn't even touch the other issues raised in this thread, nor the fact that streaming adds a lot of compression and will most likely never look as good as a DVD nor blu-ray.


Eek. I never thought of that.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostTue Jul 08, 2014 11:16 pm

I think we're talking about the end of Net Neutrality, right?

This is a good summary of the issue, from John Oliver's Last Week Tonight
on HBO:

http://youtu.be/fpbOEoRrHyU
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 3:47 am

Yep, Net Neutrality is another term for Open Access. It's probably the more au courant term, according to my sources in Cambaluc and Serendib. And while John Oliver makes some very good points, the real question is this:

When they raise your cost of Internet Access next year -- as they do every year; I get my increase attached to a non-explanation of what is always called something like "Cable Cost Reduction Act" out of Albany ...

Anyway, when they raise your cable cost next year and the year after and every year until you die, will the money go to Amazon.com or to Comcast? If it goes to Amazon.com, the direct cost of streaming will be marginally less expensive and Freddy will have marginally more reason not to hold onto old dvds. This is substantially the same argument as last year when Time Warner didn't carry CBS because CBS wanted more money from Time Warner for their shows. It's watching billionaires argue about who gets to pay almost sixty million dollars for an orange, 12-foot high, stainless steel balloon dog.

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgrefurl= ... =433&w=570" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

When I analyze these arguments in business terms, I try to figure if there is any corporate self-interest involved. Let's see. John Oliver's show appears on HBO, which is owned by Time-Warner, which has no interest in Time-Warner Cable since they spun it off last year or the year before. Time-Warner is a big content provider. In the absence of Net Neutrality, their profits would shrink, just like the other companies that Oliver cites as opposing changes.

How odd that these statements of principles and fairness for the little guys also happen to be principles that will profit Mr. Oliver's employers. Speaking as some one who has no dog in this fight, not even a blue, 12-foot high, stainless steel balloon dog

https://www.google.com/search?q=12-foot ... B948%3B766" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank

(yes, there are twelve of them. Collect them all! Trade them with your friends!). My costs are going to rise through the miracle of cost reduction legislation in Albany regardless of whether Time-Warner makes an extra half-billion or Comcast gets the boodle.

There is nothing wrong with taking a position that will result in your well-being. I am quite amenable to arguments of self-interest. I am, however, annoyed by people who insist that God wants them to have a bigger slice of cake.

Mr. Oliver is very funny. Even if he does lousy accents.

Bob
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 7:41 am

Bob, how do you make a balloon out of stainless steel?

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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 7:58 am

Jim Roots wrote:Bob, how do you make a balloon out of stainless steel?

Jim


My question is why one would pay almost sixty million dollars for one.

Bob
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 8:38 am

I believe the industry is moving as quickly as possible to streaming-only platforms. Dropping physical units like DVDs and Blu-rays will reduce costs significantly. The industry will also argue that the switch will deter piracy. What it will do is give the industry, whether Time Warner or Amazon or Google, greater control over how accessible content will be.

Back when he was making One From the Heart, Francis Ford Coppola dreamed about a time when there would only be one copy of a film. This would be beamed by satellite to individual theaters. A distributor like Emerging Pictures is already using a similar system in which it uses the Internet to transfer digital files of its features to theaters. Soon DCP's will be as obsolete as your VHS player.

In my experience streaming degrades visual quality. Sound too. To a generation weaned on mp3's and mov's played on smartphones, vision and sound apparently don't matter as much as availability. But then I don't like reading books on screens either.

I can't keep up with all the new delivery systems and six-second movies and YouTube channels, which makes me depressed. I feel like I knew exactly how things worked 25 years ago, and now I don't know anything.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 8:58 am

I wouldn't call young people spoiled, but think about the horror story of some of the poor prints we put up with forty or fifty years ago. The stuff that Swank offered under license was terrible and every Janus offering seemed to be far too dark and grainy. Of course we all prefer pristine copies, and there is no inherent reason why a streamed movie need be of lower quality; it's just a bigger packet of 1s and 0s.

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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 9:26 am

boblipton wrote:I wouldn't call young people spoiled, but think about the horror story of some of the poor prints we put up with forty or fifty years ago. The stuff that Swank offered under license was terrible and every Janus offering seemed to be far too dark and grainy. Of course we all prefer pristine copies, and there is no inherent reason why a streamed movie need be of lower quality; it's just a bigger packet of 1s and 0s.

Bob


I have not noticed much of a difference in quality between streaming and dvd, except in a few isolated cases. But to be honest, I'm not particularly enamored with blu ray or HD--I see the difference, but to me it's not enough of a difference to be worth what it cost me for the setup. That's a YMMV thing, I'm just not as critical about visual quality as others are. (OMG, look at the synchronized pearl clutching!) Maybe my taste was blunted because of all those bad prints we were ecstatic about for so long. I love my new Slim-o-Vision mainly because it takes up less space.

As to the providers having total control over what is available...well, they did before home video and I'm sure future pricing will reflect that.

Upshot is, Zen Master is holding on to her dvds, at least for now.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 10:15 am

I watch streamed programming on my video projector. It's on a big screen and the widescreen stuff is 10 foot wide. My experience is the major providers, Netflix, Amazon, HBO, PBS, etc the video looks excellent. When you get to the second tier providers, it can look very bad. Most of the PD sources tend to run 4x3 programming stretched to 16x9. Very low resolution also. I use a Roku 3.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 11:31 am

Keep in mind that there are different forms of streaming distribution models.

There's the Netflix, Hulu, Warner Archive streaming or Amazon Prime model of paying a set amount for "all you can watch". With those, they're more like having access to customized cable channels - the distributors (Netflix, Amazon) are licensing material from studios for a set period of time. Things will come and go, depending on the deals they can make. The studios will usually license packages of films or tv shows and not individual titles, so you'll see a whole group of things pop up or disappear at once.

Another model is streaming rental, usually paying a small amount for a 24 hour access window to a particular piece of content, something you see on Sony's Playstation store or Amazon. These services also let you "own" some titles. Again, things come and go on these services.

Many, but not all of the studios, have gotten behind a standard called Ultraviolet for streaming/downloads that you "own". The idea here is that you can get an Ultraviolet download as a bonus with a dvd or blu-ray or purchase it outright. Once you purchase it, the license is carried across different Ultraviolet vendors - Vudu and Flixster being the most common - and is a more permanent ownership option.

At least some of the studios are understanding that some video enthusiasts want an option that makes purchase of a favorite movie in streaming/download format more attractive. Ultraviolet is a way to overcome the way that films come and go from different services. It's a way for them to maintain DRM on the content and sell video content without maintaining inventory, while still allowing more permanent "ownership" for consumers.

Purchased downloads are still a tough sell, though. An Ultraviolet download in hi-def from the major services will set you back anywhere from $13.99 to $17.99 or even more for a vintage title, the same price you'd pay for a blu-ray of a similar catalogue film. There are many desirable vintage films available for streaming purchase in hi-def that have never been released on blu-ray and might not be, unfortunately.

I'm taking a wait and see attitude, using streaming services as a supplement to my video collection, purchasing some that are available in hi-def, but not released on blu-ray, if they're more obscure and don't stand much of a chance of getting a blu-ray release. If I have a film I care about, I'm not getting rid of the physical media if I've got it. A service like Netflix or Warner Archives Streaming is a good way to check out titles you want to see, but not necessarily own, or a way to audition something you might add to your permanent collection.

I think eventually the same thing will happen to movies and tv that's happened with the music business. Works by major artists stay in print on physical media, but more esoteric titles have gone either to print on demand or download purchase only.

A good example would be the Monkees catalogue - Rhino is in the process of releasing all of their albums as collectable box sets with three or four cds containing outtakes and extras. The word from the company is that will probably be the last release of all of the group's albums on physical media, though some of the more popular albums by the Monkees might stay in print on cd as single disc releases.

Consider a cult movie like "The Loved One" by Tony Richardson. Warners released it on a pressed dvd several years ago, but that's out of print and it's only available now as a print on demand dvd. They also have a hi-def version available on Ultraviolet-Vudu, but no plans for a blu-ray release.

Or look at John Frankenheimer's "The Train" with Burt Lancaster. That one is out of print on dvd, but MGM licensed it to Screen Archives entertainment for a limited run blu-ray release. It's available for streaming download and purchase from Amazon in standard def format or for rental only in hi-def from Vudu. Streaming will be the only option for getting that movie at a certain point.

I watch streaming video from Vudu on an Epson projector with an 80" screen. Generally, the quality can be excellent - not quite as sharp as blu-ray, but quite good. That being said, it depend a lot on the title. I checked out "The Knack...And How to Get It" recently, for example, and that title has some dirt and scratches - you can tell MGM did a hi-def transfer and didn't do any digital restoration on it. Some of the 30s titles that Warner Brothers has on the service, like Queen Christina, look like they were sourced from a lower generation print while others look like they were sourced from negatives.

I keep telling myself, "Be thankful for what you can access and what it looks like. Never forget the days of 16mm prints and VHS..."
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 11:31 am

I'll grant you John Oliver's accents (and impressions for that matter) are pretty awful, but I still think he's pretty funny and like a lot of what he has to say.

I watch both stuff streamed from regular websites (my TV set is connected to my computer via HDMI) and I also watch streams on Roku on my set. The can all look pretty sharp as far as image quality and visual detail; the thing that I've found to often be a problem is the motion...not sure how to explain, but though everything moves at the right speed, of course, to stay in synch, the image looks sort of like some of the frames are being skipped when I'm watching a website. It's especially noticeable with fast action or a moving camera. When I watch Roku that's not a problem, everything looks fine, and of course they are both going through the same internet router, so it's not my web speed. Maybe I don't have enough memory on my computer, I'm not sure. Problem with Roku is I have an older model and it doesn't have captions for any channel except Hulu, and with my old ears and the complex sound mixing of some more recent movies, I find I often need the captions.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 12:13 pm

The first thing I did when I got my Roku was to sign up for the Warner Archive channel. I ended up cancelling it after about 3 months because not only did I have almost everything they offered in my DVD collection, but the video quality was also lousy. I sent them several emails trying to find out how to improve it that went unanswered. The only one that got any action was my request to cancel my service. They cancelled it without even trying to talk me out of it.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 12:27 pm

Jim Reid wrote:The first thing I did when I got my Roku was to sign up for the Warner Archive channel. I ended up cancelling it after about 3 months because not only did I have almost everything they offered in my DVD collection, but the video quality was also lousy. I sent them several emails trying to find out how to improve it that went unanswered. The only one that got any action was my request to cancel my service. They cancelled it without even trying to talk me out of it.


I would actually like to try Warner Archive, because I don't really have anything I could dignify with the term "collection," but as far as I know they haven't yet offered a SmartTV app.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 3:04 pm

To build on Danny's point, there's not just a risk of streaming providers yanking something you wanted to watch from their streaming services. Also be aware that 'buying' something in the online age is a misnomer. When you 'buy' a film from Amazon, the natural tendency is to regard it just like a physical purchase. If I buy a DVD, I receive the ability to play it in perpetuity, presuming I don't break or lose the physical object.

In fact, under Amazon's terms of service, they reserve the right to remove an item that you have already 'purchased' at their discretion - not just from their shop, but from whatever device you downloaded it onto. There can also be restrictions on your ability to watch a movie on different devices (or a limited number of different devices onto which you can transfer it), which means that if your TV or computer breaks down, your film collection could potentially go with it. Their definition of a 'purchase' may be fake, but your money wasn't.

So yes, my recommendation would be to hold onto the DVDs for the moment.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 3:24 pm

How do you watch pictures on a computer without them stopping and that little "clock" appearing? To me it's like trying to watch something in serial form. Sometimes with You Tube I can watch something right through - but after a while, say I'm on to my seventh or eighth selection - and it conks out. Nah, give me a DVD and I don't have this problem! :D
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 3:45 pm

Jim Reid wrote:The first thing I did when I got my Roku was to sign up for the Warner Archive channel. I ended up cancelling it after about 3 months because not only did I have almost everything they offered in my DVD collection, but the video quality was also lousy. I sent them several emails trying to find out how to improve it that went unanswered. The only one that got any action was my request to cancel my service. They cancelled it without even trying to talk me out of it.


I love Warner Archive Instant. I stream via a Roku 3 and a JVC projector to a 8.5-foot-wide screen (it's shaped 4x3 so it fills the whole thing) and the quality is excellent, including the HD, even though my DSL connection isn't particularly speedy. When I compare their HD to a WAC disc I happen to have, the HD is clearly superior. I like being able to watch things I might be interested in without having to make a blind buy of the DVD.

I know some here also report getting excellent quality from WAI while others don't. There are so many variables in streaming it's well-nigh impossible to say what the cause is with any one person's problems with quality.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 4:03 pm

Paul, my issue was I could get every other channel perfectly. I would really like to have WA so I may give it another try at some point.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 4:13 pm

Jim Reid wrote:Paul, my issue was I could get every other channel perfectly. I would really like to have WA so I may give it another try at some point.


You've probably done this, but have you checked to make sure your Roku 3 is registered with WAI as a 3 box and not a 1 or 2? I started with a 1, then when I found it didn't get the HD stream I switched to a 3. When that still didn't get HD, the problem went away once WAI de-registered the 1.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostWed Jul 09, 2014 4:15 pm

Paul Penna wrote:You've probably done this, but have you checked to make sure your Roku 3 is registered with WAI as a 3 box and not a 1 or 2? I started with a 1, then when I found it didn't get the HD stream I switched to a 3. When that still didn't get HD, the problem went away once WAI de-registered the 1.


My first Roku was the 3, but it's always possible it got registered incorrectly. That would explain it.
I will check it out. Thanks!
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Re: The future of streaming

PostTue Dec 09, 2014 4:49 pm

Here's a CNET article on HBO's cable cord-cutting:
http://www.cnet.com/news/cord-cutters-h ... f-thrones/" target="_blank

Oh, PS: Now that I have the roku, I have streamed a few things from Warner Archive--it looked fine to me.
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Re: The future of streaming

PostTue Dec 09, 2014 7:03 pm

I dropped the Warner Archive for a few months.
Then they sent me an offer for 6 months at half price so I re-signed up.
Everything's looking fine now. All I need is enough free time to actually watch some of it!
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Re: The future of streaming

PostThu Feb 12, 2015 3:08 pm

I just cancelled Warner Archive last night. I was reluctant, but very disappointed that they currently are streaming only 3 films from the 1920s. If that trend continues, my biggest reason to have it - availability of silents - is gone. I have kept Fandor, which I continue to recommend, I went through my Fandor queue late last night and added a lot of films, silent and other, I want to see.

Not to get too off topic, but I just subscribed to Sling TV. It doesn't have any movie channels - I asked them to consider TCM, but no idea if they will - but I am strongly considering downgrading my cable to "starter" or basic service since TWC keeps upping my rates for the same service. If it doesn't work out, I could always go back, but $120 a month for TW is ridiculous (even with internet) in my opinion. Sling TV at least supplements the broadcast channels for $20 a month over Roku.
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Frederica

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Re: The future of streaming

PostThu Feb 12, 2015 3:20 pm

Roseha wrote:I just cancelled Warner Archive last night. I was reluctant, but very disappointed that they currently are streaming only 3 films from the 1920s. If that trend continues, my biggest reason to have it - availability of silents - is gone. I have kept Fandor, which I continue to recommend, I went through my Fandor queue late last night and added a lot of films, silent and other, I want to see.

Not to get too off topic, but I just subscribed to Sling TV. It doesn't have any movie channels - I asked them to consider TCM, but no idea if they will - but I am strongly considering downgrading my cable to "starter" or basic service since TWC keeps upping my rates for the same service. If it doesn't work out, I could always go back, but $120 a month for TW is ridiculous (even with internet) in my opinion. Sling TV at least supplements the broadcast channels for $20 a month over Roku.


I'll check out Sling, thanks. I have a hard enough time keeping up with what I've subscribed to now, though. I subscribed to Acorn ($5 per month) to get a few later seasons of UK television shows I hadn't yet seen, but didn't plan to keep it. Then the rat-bastards started streaming Time Team and now I'm well and truly caught. I am the biggest Phil Harding Fangrrrl.
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Frederica

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Re: The future of streaming

PostMon Feb 16, 2015 1:19 pm

The Best Lesser-Known Services for Legally Streaming Movies and TV.
http://lifehacker.com/the-best-lesser-k ... 1686068241
Fred
"Every revelation you make is an illusion; so far, no one has succeeded in knowing you. Your white pumps literally go with any outfit."
Kim Kierkegaardashian
http://www.nitanaldi.com"
http://www.facebook.com/NitaNaldiSilentVamp"
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