Sunday, July 27, 2014
Streaming TV: Moving Beyond Cable
We purchased a Roku 3 box this weekend. It can receive a wireless internet signal and gives instant access to the three major streaming TV/Movie suppliers (among many many others) for television viewing: Netflix, Amazon TV, and HuluPlus. I updated our home architecture as shown in the above diagram to incorporate Roku. It took 5 minutes to install. Pretty simple!
I've talked to several people about going this route, and some have heard that local TV news is not available going this route. That is somewhat, but not entirely, true. One of the default channels on Roku is LiveStream which provides free streams to about 100 TV news stations around the United States. In my area (San Diego), it currently offers Fox 5. This list is constantly expanding and I would not be surprised to see multiple stations from San Diego covered within a year or two. To me, this is not a big issue anyway because I don't watch nightly news on local stations, and during emergencies I can catch their video streams via my computer on their websites. That's what I did during the May 2014 San Diego fires when I still had cable!
Also, Roku offers the ability to connect to private channels and some of these also offer access to local news. When managing your Roku account on the Roku website, there is a place to enter the access code for any private channel you want to access and it gets loaded into your channel choices. I found a private channel that offered more San Diego local channel choices. If you search for "Roku private channels" on the internet, you'll see many lists of private channels that can be added to your list of channels.
And in reality, Roku offers what cable companies don't in terms of local news: access to live local news broadcasts from around the country. As far as I know, most cable companies only offer local news channels that are local to the cable subscriber.
Another thing we love about Roku: it is very clear what shows/movies are free and what will cost us money. It is clearly stated with each show. Also, in order to purchase a show, we must enter a PIN before our account gets charged. There are many levels of safety built into the system...very nice!
We're pretty excited about canceling cable and going this new direction. We've been playing with Roku all weekend and love being able to watch what we want, when we want. Cable dictates when a show is available for viewing. True you have a little flexibility with a DVR, but Amazon/Hulu/Roku seems to give us even more freedom.
We think the tide is turning and it will just be a few years before there are more folks streaming TV than there are getting it over cable. We hope this blog entry helps you understand better one path for doing just that. If you have any questions leave us a comment and we'll try and answer if we can.