Tag Archives: Netflix

Are There Too Many Streaming Services?

By Tracey Dowdy

With Disney’s recent announcement of a November launch date for Disney Plus, have we hit peak streaming service or, at the very least, are we at risk of streaming service overload?

For years, we dreamed of an a la carte approach to programming – a great “unbundling” of movies and TV shows – but with the Disney juggernaut entering an increasingly crowded field of streaming services, the cost of accessing all your favorite programming is creeping steadily closer to being at par with the cable services so many of us have dropped.

To be fair, Disney Plus – at least for now – is just $6.99 a month, or for a discounted annual fee of $69.99. The service will offer programming and original content from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, and will include content from Fox, including all 30 seasons of fan favorite, The Simpsons.

Once upon a time, cord cutters had two choices – Hulu or Netflix. Today, when deciding what subscription service best meets their needs, consumers have to wade through content libraries on Sling TV, Amazon Video, HBO Now, PlayStation VueFubo TV, Apple’s recent addition to the list, Apple TV+, and countless more. Once you’ve drilled down past what content is available, you’ll need to determine if they offer live TV, how long after airing on network or cable TV is content added to the streaming service, is there quality original content, and if they allow extra third-party streaming content. It’s enough to make your head spin, and your wallet groan.

My family currently subscribes to Hulu ($12 a month), Netflix (just jumped to $15.99 a month), and Amazon Video ($10 a month as part of my Prime Membership), and HBO Now ($15 a month). Adding it all up, even without the cost of Sling TV (another $25) which we’ll need to watch hockey and football, we’re up to $78 a month – tell me again how cutting the cord is saving me so much money?

The issue is exclusivity – where we once paid a cable or satellite provider like Verizon, Comcast, or Direct TV one price to access all our favorite shows across networks and movie studios, with the rise in streaming services, content has been restricted to specific providers. For example, Disney has pulled all its movies from Netflix, as well as content from Marvel and Nat Geo/National Geographic Channel.

Who knew so many streaming options would have us longing for the halcyon days of cable TV?

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

First Looks at Disney Plus

By Tracey Dowdy

Back in December 2017, Disney announced plans to launch their own streaming service, one that would rival the content library of the current industry leader, Netflix.

Disney has steadily pulled its content from Netflix and with their March 20, 1019 merger with 21st Century Fox, as well as their recent acquisition of a controlling stake in Hulu (a 60% share), they’ve become a streaming service behemoth which will no doubt have a significant impact on Netflix’ bottom line.

On April 11, 2019, Disney gave us our first look at what’s subscribers can look forward to as well as pricing information.

With Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Disney, and National Geographic the service’s marquee properties,

Disney promises a significant library of content for subscribers who can expect 7,500 television shows, 500 films — including 100 recent movies (“recent” means has yet to be defined) and 400 titles from their archive — as well 25 original series by the end of its first year. Then, by the time year five rolls around, Disney has promised at least 50 original series, 10,000 past TV episodes, and 120 recent films.

One of the most significant announcements – possible through its acquisition of Fox – is that they’ll stream all 30 seasons of The Simspons. Family-friendly Fox content will stream on Disney Plus, while content directed at adult audiences will likely be funneled to Hulu.

All of the Star Wars movies will be available on Disney Plus by the end of the first year, as well as eighteen Pixar movies including all of the studio’s animated shorts. The rest of Pixar’s content library will be available down the road. Disney has promised Toy Story 4 shorts and a Monsters Inc. series is in development.

The Disney Plus app will be available on PlayStation 4 and Roku devices, but Disney hopes to have it available across platforms including smart TVs and mobile devices by the time they launch in November, or shortly after that.

As for cost, Disney Plus will cost $6.99 a month (or a discounted rate of $69 for an annual package) for North American subscriptions. Europe and the Asia-Pacific market will get it in Disney’s second 2020 financial quarter. As an incentive for potential subscribers, Disney is considering a special bundle of three of Disney’s streaming services — Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Disney Plus — into a single package.

Disney Plus will launch on November 12, 2019.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

 

Streamline your Netflix Streaming

With Netflix recent announcement that prices will jump this month, it’s more important than ever to make the most of your subscription. It’s the fourth time they’ve raised prices, the last increase just over a year ago.

Did you know there are several keyboard shortcuts when watching Netflix on your laptop?

  • Toggle pause/play by hitting the Space bar or Enter
  • Jump ahead/back 10 seconds by tapping the Right/Left arrow key
  • Fast forward/rewind by holding down the Right arrow/Left arrow key
  • To start watching at any spot in the program, hit the Space bar or Enter
  • You can raise/lower volume by using the Up/Down arrow keys
  • Mute/unmute by hitting the M character key
  • To go to full-screen mode, hit the F key

You can delete your viewing history by following these steps. Not only will it delete any embarrassing binges, if it’s a show you didn’t enjoy, or if someone else used your profile and you’d prefer to not have that genre recommended, erasing your history will ensure your suggestions aren’t cluttered with things you don’t want to see.

Streamline your search by taking advantage of sites like A Good Movie to WatchFlixable and JustWatch. If you’ve ever been lost down the rabbit hole of thumbnails or spent more time searching for a show than actually watching one, you’ll love thank me for introducing you. Each of these sites sort through the vast catalog of programming using filters that make it easier to find something you’d want to watch.

Take advantage of Netflix hidden cache of genres and categories. Use this list to drill down and find specific categories using codes like 12339 for Baseball Movies, 48744 for Classic War Movies, or 75930 for Werewolf Horror Movies. To use, in your internet browser, type in the following URL: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/####. Replace the “####” at the end of the URL with the code for whatever subgenre you’re looking for. The hack doesn’t work on your game console or smartphone unless you access Netflix through a web browser on the device. Alternatively, you can use a Chrome extension to search for programs. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

Binge Watching May Be Harmful to Your Health

By Stacey Ross

A few months back, my in-laws encouraged my husband and me to enjoy a date night, so we dropped the kids off at their grandparents for our “night on the town.” But instead of dining or taking a moonlight stroll on the beach, we made a beeline for the living room (how exciting, right?) and binge watched House of Cards. And oh, was our “fix” worth it!

Netflix, LoveFilm, Hulu — all coveted examples of on-demand and instant-gratification entertainment that can tempt our willpower yet, on the other hand, give us the opportunity to indulge if we darned well want to! And, thanks to our mobile devices, we don’t even need to be at home for our fix (I mean our movie marathon fun!).

What are the risks?

However, according to a new study, spending hours in front of the TV may pose a health risk. Research published in the Journal of American Heart Association found that adults who watch TV for three or more hours a day can double their risk of early death compared to viewers who watch less TV.

“Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality,” Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors.”

The study, surveying over 13,000 adults, found the risk of death was two times higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of TV a day. Clearly, it supports The American Heart Association, which recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week with a mix of moderate to high muscle strengthening two days a week.

Just keep movin’!

So, yes, I got the bug, but it doesn’t have to be that bad! Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Downtown AbbeyStar Trek (any version), Mad MenDoctor Who … the list of the most popular shows that people binge on can also serve as incentives for better exercise plans (not counting those trips to the refrigerator!). The shows can wait for your health, in other words!

We are all good, so long as we get up and keep moving, and keep in mind that a sedentary lifestyle is the issue at hand here, not watching excellent entertainment!

So the moral of the story: Grab some organic snacks and some iced tea and enjoy the luxury of really good home entertainment, but keep on movin’, too! In the words of House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey: “There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.”

Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.