Commentary

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Most of the time when people talk about the fake news epidemic they are referring to fake stories about politics or medical studies. It has become an issue on Facebook and other social media sites and even a national news story. A real one. Fake news drives message boards, rumor sites and fuels blogs that have very little interest in reporting on anything that doesn’t show up in their inbox. In the home entertainment world, the results of poor reporting or fact checking are not going to topple a government or cause thousands to get sick. But you know what it does do? It hurts the credibility of those who work to do it right. In every industry.

I understand that not every story is the Watergate scandal but it is just embarrassing when a story breaks simply because nobody bothered to follow up with anyone of record. Recently there was a story bubbling up out of CES about a box “Made Just for Disney Content”. Heck, there was even a picture of it. One blogger on the show floor typed up a quick description of the device and of course the description was copied and pasted into dozens of “authoritative” sites without anybody really getting the story down. Why? Because just like other forms of electronic media it’s all about the clicks to most folks out there and not about telling a story or informing anyone. Shortly after the story began to grow legs the company that was featured in the bogus story reached out to say there is no Disney Streaming box coming, that the box was just a concept. A number of sites updated their info to say that the earlier reported information had been updated, within the story of course because you can’t miss out on those clicks. So there are still numerous headlines still proclaiming the Disney box aimed at kids etc. I won’t link to the stories, just google Disney Streaming Box and you will see what I’m talking about.

A few simple questions about the device would have stopped the bogus reporting from coming out. “Hey what is this thing?” “Is it part of a service?” “Why would Disney release its own box when their strategy is obviously all about distribution partnerships?” “Is there anyone who can tell me more about this thing?” Maybe ask oneself, why didn’t Disney break the announcement instead of waiting for someone to trip over it at CES?”

Reporting 101
Do you know how I confirmed that Amazon was working with partners to release new TV’s running the Fire TV OS? There were representatives from Amazon and the respective partner companies on site and I asked them to explain what was going on with the partnership. I got names, cards and recorded representatives on video in some cases. We all have this simple ability called asking questions and follow up questions. And just because we are reporting on tech does not mean that we have zero responsibility to know what we are talking about. In fact, so many people look to websites in order to learn about technology and trust what they read in print tech reporters can cost our readers time and money by feeding them nonsense without checking facts.

The blogosphere has got to grow up. Freedom of expression is important and using it correctly is more complicated than not shouting “Fire” at a movie theater. It’s about producing content that informs instead of confuses, It’s about headlines that actually represent the content that will be found in a story. Tell a story worth telling guys. Good reporting can be rewarded too. Not as fast as a slick, totally misleading headline can, but at least you will be doing a service and not degrading the tenuous reputation that the media clings to.

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In North Carolina there are 2 things you learn about snow. It doesn’t do it often and when it does it creates quite a stir. And when I say a stir I actually mean everything comes to a halt. This year it snowed while we were at CES and shut down a number of flights. So what to do? This is a case for making lemons into lemonade. First off I looked into hotel prices in the area and found as I hoped that when the show is not in town it is very very easy to get a good room at a great price. I had always heard of that with Vegas but have only been during CES. I can say that it’s true. So to the Luxor we went. Josette, who pounded the pavement all week and sat in on the conference circuit “encouraged” me to get tickets to Chris Angel. I have not been to a magic show since I saw David Copperfield in Raleigh when I was a kid and I had a great time.

I also have had multiple chances to invest in time shares……….I mean vacation ownership. These guys are around every corner. Just know that if you go to Las Vegas and a hotel employee says “we would like to hel you get great tickets to a show etc, it is the beginning of a pitch. I’ve never done a sales meeting with one, but I understand that many do and actually get the tickets and such. Just make sure you don’t get swept into something impractical.

The thing about Las Vegas though is this. It’s an upside down world. Advertisers sell things you would never see marketed anywhere else. And even pancakes and whiskey are sold with the indication of adult activities in mind in not particularly coded language. But the thing is, when you go to one of these you realize that it could not be held anywhere else. No city could cram so many people into a space this small and have enough room, rooms or transportation for them in one couple of square block area. The cities people are warm and inviting straight down to the public employees. The bus drivers told us how to get around, the charter/shuttle drivers and Uber drivers aside from one NOTABLE exception, were friendly and picked up very quickly. Just a tip though, if a driver calls and tells you to cancel a ride make sure you contact Uber right away and politely ask for a refund. Some drivers will scam you into canceling a ride and hope you don’t realize that you can still be charged for it.

If not Uber, the city busses a really great way to travel the city. there are transit employees all over the strip to help direct you were to go and there are also announcements on the bus to explain where to transfer to other buses there are $20 passes that are good for 3 days that can be a real lifesaver when you can’t walk anymore and need to get 6 blocks in another direction,

This place is not for everybody, but if you learn to embrace whichever part if its lure appeals to your sense of adventure pretty much anyone can have a good time unless you hate crowds. Find the gems like The Art of Music nestled in the shopping area between the Luxor andMandalayy Bay. They have autograpghed pictures of tons of actors and musical stars but also have signed documents from Abraham Lincoln, Robert E Lee, George Patton, Davey Crocket and more. Though I must say, I would not bring the kids, I mean really people.

So while I’m going to Carolina in my mind, for now, it’s whiskey tonight.

Right now there are three companies offering cable alternatives via live streaming services. Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now. All three services offer a similar group of channels at varying prices but no one service has really taken the market. There are a number of reasons why this has not happened from people’s lack of understanding as to what the services do to a reluctance to drop traditional pay services. But there are some things that providers can put into place that will take things to the next level. The service that can pull together these features first will have a big edge against the competition.

The Best Live TV Streaming Service Will Do These Things

What is the best way to cut the cord? There is not one actual answer to that question. Find a Facebook group on the subject, find a bulletin board on the subject and ask the question. You will get so many half responses from the names of programs that you don’t recognize to hardware that might be vaguely familiar and of course the suggestion of Netflix etc. As many people as there are there are that many suggestions. It’s like saying “How can I get rid of this cold”. The Perfect Cord Cutting Solution Does Not Exist.

Have you seen an advertisement from Sling TV lately? The skinny bundle’s marketing is understandably geared towards football, tis the season, but it does so in a way that makes the entire offering appear to be a sports app versus a collection of channels that includes sports networks. It also does not highlight the two choices and complexities of the program.

I almost never try to compare three things at once because I think that those stories often don’t educate people. But I decided to jump in and give it a shot after an email by a reader. What I have done with Roku 4 Vs Fire TV VS Apple TV is to try to take a look at the devices by focussing on what makes them unique as opposed to relying on buzz terms like ecosystem and focussing on the apps that they have. In this story, we focussed on the top set-top boxes (as far as hardware) from the top 3 players in the industry. It’s quite likely that the top selling Roku model may be the 3 or the quad core stick, but the Roku 4 is the most powerful. I hope this article will help you get to know the best and worst of the devices and help you find the one that is the best fit for your family.

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Roku's new rumored designations risk confusing customers going forward.

Which Roku Do I Need? Sellers, journalists and all of those in between get ready to deal with a very confused public. If the reporting of Dave Zats is to be believed and I see no reason not to at least take the info he published seriously, Roku has plans to launch five new models in the future. The multiple units model has served Roku well since the company first began to expand its offerings. But it may be time for Roku to rethink the way it rolls out its products in order to simplify the way it is marketed to the public.  

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Want to see the winners of the push to offer programming via OTT devices? Take a look at where you can find the most Hispanic programming. With Hispanic TV programming growing in OTT world programming options aimed directly at Spanish-

Roku has a number of free Spanish language channels.
Roku has a number of free Spanish language channels.

speaking populations could harness the power of the quickly growing population of immigrants from Spanish speaking countries, which according to US census data makes up 55 million people in the US. While it is important to understand that “Spanish Speaking” is not one blanket culture understanding how to reach it in a logical and sensitive way could map the future for those willing to make the investments necessary to embrace it.

In the past 3 months, Roku has rolled out a number of channels aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences. Religious channels The Spanish Church Channel and TV La Viña, News channel Noticias Orlando, Comedy channel EvelynRegly as well as Latino music and news

Sling TV's Spanish Language Site could give it an edge over competition.
Sling TV’s Spanish Language Site could give it an edge over competition.

channels CanalAmerica.TV  LaRadioPR Multimedia.

Sling TV, which is available on all of the most popular OTT platforms offers a vast number of inexpensive Spanish language programming options via its Best of Spanish TV including Univision and offers ESPN Deportes through its sports extra package. The service offers over 20 channels aimed at the audience and even has a Spanish language site that makes it easy for speakers to navigate and learn about the service. The forward thinking early push will likely pay off big time for Sling TV as it has a chance to be the go to for that demographic. Its main competition at this time, PlayStation Vue does not appear to be competing in this space at the time.

Hulu has long offered Spanish language programming and like Sling TV has its own Spanish language site to appeal to the community offering both programming from Spanish-language

Hulu's Spanish Language section is large and growing.
Hulu’s Spanish Language section is large and growing.

broadcasters and cable channels, as well as English-based programming, dubbed for Spanish.

The Hispanic community in the US is the fastest growing population in the country.  Being able to it where it is at the moment is going to allow the services that understand the audience to bennifit geatly as the diverse community becomes more economically viable.

Where Netflix to make a major investment in Hispanic language programming with a US based site that offered spanish lannguage films and TV shows as well as dubbed English based programming I think it would be a big hit. Media companies need to begin to focus on this community. A state with a population of 55 milion would be the largest population in the nation.

The FCC’s tougher rules on Net Neutrality were held up by a court decision by Washington DC’s Circuit Court. The Net Neutrality ruling stated that the current Net Neutrality laws are allowed within the authority of the FCC and that the FCC did not violate its mandate in making the order. Signalling perhaps that high speed Internet would soon be considered more of a basic utility than a luxury item. The Streaming Advisor is also of the opinion that the Internet is not an entertainment vehicle like digital cable but is instead intricately connected to our daily lives in the modern world in any number of ways. 

Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch appeared happy with the ruling quoted in a story by Multichannel News saying “We are pleased that the FCC’s open internet order has been upheld,” said Lynch. “We have long supported the FCC’s efforts to protect an open internet, which is essential for driving innovation and empowering consumer choice.”

Sling TV was not the only Internet-based video service weighing in on the ruling with raves. Netflix was also happy to see the courts rule in favor of the FCC. saying “Today’s appeals court decision underscores what’s possible when millions of consumers unite to be heard and government officials listen.” See the full statement by Netflix here.

This is not likely the last we have heard of this ruling. It will probably continue to work its way up the court system but a precedent has now been set that could be very good for cord cutters and streaming fans who want to have more choice in their home entertainment options. Of course not all parties are happy with the ruling as many in the ISP community and related industries rail that this ruling will hurt consumers.If you would like to see the other side of the elation check out this story by Fierce Online Media here

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Sometimes I feel like I am affected too much by horrible things that happen in this world and especially my home. After September 11th I found myself at a loss to care about anything around me which was problematic considering that I was in college at the time. All I could think about was young people like myself (at the time) starting their dreams in New York. I thought about people on internships and families on the observation decks. Too many images flooded my mind and all I wanted to do was sit in a daze to the point where people had to pull me out.

I found myself again in that state early this morning reading story after story on Google News, CNN, Fox News and other sources. Those who know me well know that this is often when I get research, writing and video work done. Again all I wanted to do was make sense of something senseless.

We will get back to the work of talking about cord cutting and streaming as the day moves on. There is news to report. While we should all avoid paralysis over the tragedy I hope that you will all keep the murder of the people in Orlando at the front of your mind and not only that learn what happened and how in full so that as we move forward as a country we know what to worry about and what is simply nonsense. Ignore rumors and hate speech that will likely show up on your Facebook feeds and be vigilant in sourcing information that comes across your various feeds. And most importantly think of what you can do to help others. If not in Orlando then those around you. Times like these challenge us to think about what country and community mean. Let’s find our better angels. God bless those who are suffering loss and grief and know that we are with you.

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