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Archive for the ‘Little Thoughts’ Category

What’s wrong with NFL Sunday Ticket?

September 15, 2013 2 comments

DirecTV and EA partnered together this year to offer one free year of NFL Sunday Ticket on PC, Tablet, and Mobile with the purchase of Madden25.  This means those of us without DirecTV as our primary MSO can get access, but not on the big TV screen where you want it.

But there are many ways to get Internet delivered content in the living room, right?  So how do you do that with the online versions of Sunday Ticket?  Good luck.

PC with HDMI connection.  This should be a no brainer, but the website is notoriously failing.  If you can get past the “come back later” message and actually log in, all you get is a spinning “loading” message.

I’ll try again in the afternoon when there are fewer games and maybe less load on the system.

UPDATE: Still no luck in the afternnon.

iPad with Airplay to AppleTV.  Should be an elegant “it just works” solution, but even though there is an Airplay button on the iPad app, it doesn’t work.  Maybe it’s because my iPad is a generation 1 and can’t get the latest iOs (and is generally crashing all the time) but when I press the button I only get sound on the TV, the picture stays on the iPad.

Android with Chromecast.  The new kid on the block.  The app works fine on my Droid 4, but it does not support Chromecast yet, and probably won’t any time soon.

Is this all intentional?  I wouldn’t be surprised.  Clearly we value getting video on the bigger screen more than the smaller ones, so it’s to be expected we will be asked to pay more for that privilege.

Anyone out there with online-only NFL Sunday Ticket getting it to work on their TV?

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My Disney Smart TV apps

September 13, 2013 Leave a comment

I went dark on this blog when my work projects started to ramp up.  Everything I wanted to write about was too close to what I was doing and I didn’t want to be in a conflict of interest.

I’m breaking the blog-silence today with this brief shout out…

I’ve been gratefully employed for the last few years building video streaming apps for Disney on the Roku, Xbox, and Yahoo platforms.

You can learn how to get them here:  www.disney.com/smarttv

If you’re a fan of streaming apps as a developer, a user, an industry observer or whatever… let me know what you think.

How many times can I pay Major League Baseball?

June 10, 2010 2 comments

Four.  Four times is the answer.

Let me back up.  MLB.TV is a great product.  Major League Baseball is by far ahead of the other sports leagues in terms of non-traditional distribution, and their business model is also setting the new standard, which is: you pay for stuff.

The age of “The Internet = Free” is ending, as I wrote about in There’s a Charge for That? and Will Google TV Destroy TV?

How I came to pay MLB four times for the same thing serves as a fine example of how this new world works.

It all started in 1976 when my dad took me to see Mark Fidrych pitch for the Detroit Tigers.  Ok, that’s going back a little too far. 

I grew up in and around Detroit and Chicago and have a split loyalty between the Tigers and the White Sox.  (screw the Cubs)  Now living in Los Angeles, I signed up for the MLB audio only service “Gameday” a couple years ago so I could stream radio broadcasts of my teams.

Gameday was $15 for the season and AUTO-RENEWED every year. 

That was fine for 2008 and 2009, but as spring of 2010 began and I was surrounding myself with media devices like the iPod Touch, PS/3, Roku, and iPad, pure professional curiousity dictated I experience the audio service, now renamed “At Bat”, on all my various devices and probably upgrade to the video service (MLB.TV) that added live streaming video.

My 2010 At Bat had already auto-renwed, so there’s the first $15.

When I went to download the At Bat iPod Touch app I found the free version did not work with the audio package I already paid for.  To get At Bat audio on the iPod Touch, I had to buy the premium app for $15.   So that’s two times I’ve paid for the audio.

“They are two separate products,” someone from MLB told me.

And of course, if you try going to the web version on your iPhone browser, it redirects you to a page advertising the app.  Nice try buddy.  (and the web version requires Flash, which wouldn’t have worked on an Apple device anyway… are you getting the picture?)

[more below the graphic]

This directly reverses the models that have been more common to this point of digital rights and subscriptions existing “in the cloud” allowing a single paid product to be enjoyed on any device.  This is how Netflix and Amazon do it.  You subcribe or purchase once and any device you log in to gives you access to the rights that exist everywhere.

But this is the new new media of 2010.

Then I find the same deal is in place for the iPad version of the At Bat app.  Unlike many other apps where buying one gets it on both the Pod and the Pad, not so.  A third payment of $15 gets me the iPad version.

Finally, I decide I want to “upgrade” my account to include the video.  Thankfully, this upgrade does apply to all devices, no need to purchase three separate video subscriptions. 

However, there is no “upgrade” path from my initial web only audio “At Bat” to the full “MLB.TV” which includes video AND AUDIO.  I was only able to purchase it at the full price of $100.

Had I not had my original Gameday account on auto-rewew, I would have gained web access to the audio feeds by virutue of my MLB.TV purchase.  However I was unable to apply that $15 against the new $100 purchase (I called MLB twice to try, and the very nice people on the phone told me versions of “hmmm, good question… maybe… let me ask…  I’ll put in a ticket…  It should offer you that option when you purchase…  you can cancel your audio and REQUEST a refund, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get it…”)

None of that came to pass, so finally I broke down.  My time was worth more than the $15 I stood to recover and I figured I’d get to be indignant about it in a future blog post, so I went ahead and bought the $100 package, my fourth purchase of the right to stream audio from MLB this season.

Annoying as it is, these guys know what they’re doing.

Despite all that, I still ended up missing the controversial Galarraga Perfect Game because I had to go to the dentist.

Go Tigers!

iPad week in reviews – Part 3: There’s a charge for that?

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Continuing from iPad week in reviews – Part 2

One of the most interesting and apparent aspects of the iPad is how much you spend AFTER you get one.  Much has been written about the hopes of the content and publishing industries that the era of “the Internet is where you get stuff for free” is over.  Everyone sees what happened to the music industry in the last decade (which is that Apple took it over but at prices many feel are too low) and the question is how to avoid the same happening to movies, tv, print, sports and the rest.

Clearly coming out of the gate the play is to see what the market will bear by holding a firm line.  In this world, you have to pay for stuff.

Time Magazine

Time Magazine April 12, 2010 (time.com)

The $4.99 app is getting hammered in the app store reviews, people assumed they were getting a subscription or something like the FREE New York Times app that would be updated continually.

Instead, Time is taking the route of selling a single issue in a slick digital frame. There are very few ads, which somewhat justifies the cost, but that could also be simply that only a few advertisers bit.

The ads they did have were interactive in their way, although the video performance on the ad I tried was poor, it stuttered and quit and I lost interest quickly. That could have been due to my network, but it’s a problem.

I bought the first one out of novelty, I doubt I’ll buy another.

Major League Baseball

Also getting a lot of negative reviews on pricing.  I’ve already paid $15 for audio streaming of any game I want. (I follow the Tigers and White Sox but live in LA) I can get that on the web, but now to get access to the same content I’ve already paid for on the iPad, I need to pay another $15 for an app? And if I want it on my iPod Touch I need to pay again for it there?

And of course if I try to simply browse to the website in the iPad browser to redeem what I’ve already paid for, bzzzt, redirected! (somewhere deep in the terms of use I expect the lawyers snuck the language in to allow that, and it would have required Flash anyway which, oh coincidence, is not available on the iPad)

I did go ahead and bite on this because I can and I’m a fan, but it will be interesting to see how this stance plays out in the market. 

However I attempted to “upgrade” my audio only subscription to the video subscription rather than buying a new full price video subscription (which also includes the audio portion).  It’s not easy.  They clearly want to charge me a fourth time for something I already have, and to avoid that requires phoning them and waiting for the issue to be escalated.  It’s been four days so far and it’s still not working.  And I’m not the only one, see this post about struggling to upgrade GameDay Audio to MLB.tv.

App pricing

Apps are going for much higher rates than typical for iPhone apps.  $9.99 seems to be the norm, rather than $.99 as you see on the smaller platforms.

With Apple’s closed development platform, exclusion of Flash, proprietary everything and massive buzz making marketing, the play is clearly to hook users into a premium environment with few options and generate the necessary critical mass to make it the only tablet/reader game worth playing in.

Apple has been succesful so far with the iPhone and they’re on their way again with the iPad.  HP and Google are expected to enter the market with their own devices with open environments.  The question is whether they’ll be able to match the Apple buzz factor, create an app market, and gain significant market share.  The second question is do enough people really care, the tablet market is unproven and may only appeal to a niche audience.

What do you think?

Why I bought an iPad

April 4, 2010 1 comment

Whatever the opening weekend sales figure is for the Apple iPad, it will be greater than I had expected by one: Mine.

I have been a vocal iPad doubter. My Facebook status the day of the January announcement was “iYawn.”

Late in the afternoon Saturday however, I found myself calling local stores to check on their stocks. When I found the Apple Store at The Grove still had plenty, I couldn’t stop myself.

It’s exactly what everyone describes, it’s a consumption device. I am not writing this article on it, that would be insane. Even in landscape mode when the keyboard is its biggest, I have to use a hybrid touch type and hunt and peck method and look at the keys, not the words, so it is not a writing tool.

I watched some videos on ABC and Netflix, and ok, yes you can watch videos, but I already have a TV and it does a much better job. I may use it to edit my Netflix instant queue.

There are already more scripts inside the tablet than seen here cluttering up my floor.

You can browse the web, it’s not bad, but it’s hardly the greatest web surfing experience of all time or however Apple’s breathless PR was putting it. In portrait mode the text on my favorite sites is too small. I miss mousing over a link to see where it’s going first and right clicking to open in a new window then using alt-tab to switch between windows. That’s still a better experience for how I consume.

What put me over the edge was reading.

In particular reading scripts. As a writer, actor, director and producer, I need to read scripts. I don’t read enough.

Film scripts are easily available as pdf files, but sitting at a pc scrolling through a pdf is not a good way to spend the two or more hours it takes to read, you really want to curl up on the couch and get lost in it.

So you can print it, but printing is a hassle. Even with a decent laser printer and bulk purchased three hole punch paper, printing a hundred and twenty pages takes some time and attention. Then you have all this paper (dead trees) that you have dedicated to a script that you may not like, may not decide to pursue, and may not even finish. Then you’ve got to either recycle it (don’t even think of just throwing it away), shred it if it’s senstive, or store it somewhere in case you want to revisit it.

Reading a script on the iPad

This picture wasn't posed, those are actual piles of scripts lying around.

The iPad (or any tablet really) offers a nice solve. I picked up the $0.99 GoodReader app which is now iPad optimized and loaded several pdfs into it and voila, I’m sitting on my sofa reading a script and did not have to commit the environmental and psychic load of printing it.

Also the New York Times app was nice to use, I may move some of my morning reading from my pc to my sofa.

I remain skeptical of the world changing hype, but if it does nothing more than make reading scripts convenient enough that I no longer have any excuse not to, it will have been worth the price. (I got the cheapest one)