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Entertainment

Spring and the return of a "Zero TV" home

In the past, I would find myself sitting on my couch during a beautiful spring & summer day and using the excuse of a baseball game on TV to avoid chores or yard work. Today, I didn’t do that. I was doing yard work, on a beautiful spring day, and enjoying every moment of it while listening to the Red Sox on the MLB At Bat 2013 iPhone app.

The benefits of canceling Cable TV for a second time, joining a rapidly growing group of friends and colleagues in my generation, are really starting to show in small ways. In the morning, I seem to have more time to relax before heading to work. At night, I’m usually listening to music with my wife, perhaps watching an episode of The West Wing on Netflix, or devouring books like I used to back in high school.

This is a small step for me to become more minimalist with my life. A little less clutter, frustration (those awful Cable TV boxes), and entertainment on demand the way I want it (instead of being spoon fed it) really seems to be helping me out.

Broadcasters should be worrying about “Zero TV” homes big time.

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Entertainment

How could I get rid of cable TV?

My earlier post on using Netflix on my cable TV has gotten me thinking. Realistically, how could I realistically ditch my Cable TV bill and use just Internet streaming, over-the-air TV signals, and DVD rentals? A move that could easily save me $60 a month.

After some careful consideration, I think the following would need to happen:

  1. Access to live streaming video of sporting events. There is some moment in this direction with ESPN360.com, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, NHL GameCenter Live, etc. In fact, outside of NFL Network broadcasts, I do not think any NFL games are available online. In order to cut the cable bill, I would need to be able to access live streaming of my team’s games, no matter where I am located. I am willing to pay for it too.
  2. A well designed and reasonably priced HD device that allows for streaming feeds from multiple providers while also allowing me to use my local content. What I envision is a meld between a Roku player, Boxee, and AppleTV.
  3. Live news feeds when needed. Obviously watching the 24-hour news networks is like asking for your brain to turn to mush, but for live breaking stories or even as general background noise for an hour, they cannot be beat. While some occasionally offer live feeds on their sites, I do not see any permanent live feeds available…yet.

How are we doing so far?

#2 you can argue is pretty close to being accomplished. If Apple were to come out with AppleTV version 4 with “app” support that allowed Netflix, Pandora, MLB.TV, etc. to create apps that run on the AppleTV, that would clinch that part for me.

That would also open the door for #3 to occur and potentially, #1 once a big enough market can be generated for someone (my money is on MLB.TV) to remove blackout restrictions. In fact, MLB appears to be moving in that direction already with deals with the Yankees and Padres to stream in-market games.

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Netflix on PS3 a sign of things to come

Over the weekend my wife and I decided to start our Netflix subscription again. During the spring, summer, and fall we are just too busy to watch movies and much TV, outside of Red Sox games that are on practically every night. We usually just place a hold on our Netflix subscription until winter comes, when the bad weather forces us to stay inside and we have lots of time for movies, TV shows, etc.

Yesterday we received our Netflix streaming disc for my PS3 and a DVD. The DVD remains in its envelope, unopened, thanks to how fantastic the Netflix streaming works on the PS3.

Last night my wife and I watched the first 6 episodes of The Office over the Internet, in HD, on my PS3 for just our $8.99 Netflix subscription. The quality was stunning for internet streaming and it started up within a minute after some quick buffering. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference between watching a HD episode of the office streaming or on our regular Comcast HD channels. It seriously looked like a HD show, no pauses for buffering, no moments of digital blocks appearing on the screen, nothing.

I am seriously impressed and love the direction Netflix is going with Internet streaming. I hope this means in the near future I can get my live sports in HD via streaming of my local teams. MLB.TV works, but still has blackout restrictions so I can’t watch the Red Sox via streaming. Fix that and I cancel cable TV.