NHL.TV blackouts are stupid, un-American, and anti-consumer

I signed up for NHL.TV again. Unlike past seasons, this time I chose the monthly plan. I’ll end up paying more for the 2018-19 season as a whole, but this gives me the flexibility to cancel before the 19th of each month. This ability will come in handy if I find myself not watching it, something I’ve been known to do when it comes to paid streaming services.

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This is what normal human beings pay. I am not normal.

I’m paying $16.24 a month for NHL.TV compared to the $24.99 normal human beings pay. They gave me a discount because I’m a veteran and I signed up with ID.me, a free service that confirms a person’s military service and then provides a way of getting discounts with various vendors. It’s one of the few perks I get serving close to ten years in the Air Force. That, and a VA loan.

Blackouts are terrible and should be outlawed

NHL.TV blackouts are stupid, un-American, and anti-consumer - Bent Corner

One of the drawbacks of NHL.TV is you cannot watch live games in your geographic location. That means I cannot watch live Washington Capitals games. Thanks to the NHL’s blackout rules, I have to wait a whopping 48 hours to watch a Caps game. To get around this issue, I could get a subscription to Yonder. It allows you to change your geographical location to get around those pesky blackout rules. The only problem is I have a Roku connected to the living room TV and Roku is the only streaming device that doesn’t work with Yonder.

Blackouts are stupid and un-American. I’m paying for a premium service albeit at a discounted price. I should be able to enjoy all the premium service I’m paying for. I don’t even get the TV channel Washington Capitals games are normally shown on. Even though I pay Dish extra to get local channels, the local sports channels are not included. It get access to the local sports channels, I have to pay for a national sports package filled with channels I don’t want and would never watch.

Cable and satellite will soon join Toys R Us in the ash heap of history

NHL.TV blackouts are stupid, un-American, and anti-consumer - Bent Corner

Eventually, we will all get our TV programming from streaming services. The current system is dusty and antiquated. The cable and satellite providers insist on bundling channels together, making consumers pay more for the product they really want. It would be like going to the store because you wanted to buy a new shirt. To get the shirt in the size you need, you’re told you have to buy not only the shirt, but a pair of pants, a pair of shoes, a tie, and a pair of socks. You can only buy the shirt in a bundle. When you try to explain to the store clerk the pants, shoes, and socks aren’t the correct size and you don’t wear ties, you’re told unfortunately they don’t sell shirts individually.

You walk out of the store with the shirt you need, but also with pants, socks, shoes, and a tie you don’t want or need.

Most if not all TVs sold today are so-called smart TVs. That just means you can watch streaming services on them without having to use an external streaming device like a Roku. I’ve never understood how that makes a TV smart. I can remember when you could buy 19″ CRT TVs with a built-in VCR. I don’t remember anyone calling those smart TVs. The thing is, those were just as smart as today’s crop of smart TVs.

NHL.TV blackouts are stupid, un-American, and anti-consumer - Bent Corner
An old-school TV with a built-in VCR.

The point is, TVs today and in the future are built to stream. Eventually, they won’t even have a coax input connector protruding out the back. For me, that day cannot come soon enough.

I signed up for DirecTv Now

I signed up for DirecTv Now, the online streaming service from AT&T. I got the “Go Big” plan for the promotional price of $35 a month. It will eventually convert to $60 a month, but my subscription is locked in for $35 a month as long as I keep it. I also added HBO for another $5 a month.

It has a lot of channels I cannot get through conventional cord cutting means. Most of the network channels on the Roku require you to log into your cable or satellite TV provider to prove that you are authorized to have access to this content. Being that I don’t have a cable or satellite TV account, this can be problematic. It means you have to find someone who does have a cable or satellite TV account but doesn’t partake in streaming. It’s not too difficult, but it can be a pain in the ass.

With DirecTv Now, I will no longer need to borrow anyone’s streaming rights. I’ll have my own.

The only problem, so far, is that I can only watch TV on my computer. We have three TVs, two with Roku and one with built-in streaming apps. DirecTv Now is not compatible with Roku. They say they will be sometime in 2017.

The good news is that they offer a free fourth generation Apple TV device is you pay for three months up front. Apple TV is compatible with DirecTv Now.  The problem with that is according to an email sent to me after I signed up, I can expect to receive the Apple TV in two to three weeks. That’s a long time not to be able to stream content to your TV.

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The $39.99 Amazon Fire Stick.

To make up for the delay in getting my Apple TV, I went to Amazon and purchased a Fire Stick. They’re only $39.99, and unlike anything made by Roku, they’re compatible with DirecTv Now. I’ll need one anyhow for the second TV if I want to watch DirecTv Now on it.

I have an Amazon Prime account. One of the features of such an account is that they ship my purchases to me with two-day shipping for free.  That said, I ordered it yesterday, and I will not be receiving it until December 28.

I’m assuming Jesus’ birthday has thrown a monkey wrench into the finely tuned gears of the Amazon’s shipping system. Of course, the man known as Jesus born over 2,000 years ago in Roman occupied Palestine wasn’t born on December 25th. Why let the facts get in the way of religion?

I’m happy to get away from Roku. Not only are they not fully compatible with Funimation, but I also hate how they’re constantly changing my background screen. They most recently overrode my settings to show a Christmas theme. I don’t want to see Christmas on my TV. I hate Christmas. If and when there is truly a war on Christmas, I’ll be one of the first volunteers to enlist and request to be sent to the front lines.

Funimation Roku app will not allow streaming of TV-MA programming

The Funimation Roku app, FunimationNow (version 1.0 build 110) will not allow me to stream TV-MA rated content. I can watch such content on my computer or on my Xbox One, but not on any of my Roku devices.

When I try to watch a show that’s rated TV-MA, I see a blue screen with the words, “Sorry! This video contains mature content.”

I contacted Funimation support because that is what it said to do in their online FAQ when presented with this error. The person from Funimation emailed me back asking what device I was using to stream programming to my TV. When I told them I was using the Roku, this was the response:

Hello Rick,

Thank you for contacting Funimation Support.

We apologize that your premium subscription isn’t allowing you to view TV-MA content through our new app.

We are aware of some issues with our newest apps and we’re working with our Development Team to get this fixed as quickly as possible.  We have escalated your account to our Development team for review, and we’ll contact you as soon as we hear any updates.

In the meantime, you can still enjoy your full Funimation subscription on our website or through one of our current/legacy apps.  We appreciate your patience as we work to get this resolved and we apologize again for the inconvenience.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions.

Thank you!
Funimation Support

So there seems to be a problem with the Roku app. That would have been nice to know sooner. Before this email, it didn’t even occur to me to try watching streaming content on my computer or my Xbox One.

This is beyond annoying considering that I’m paying for a Funimation premium account, and because their app for the Roku isn’t working correctly, I can’t use their service the way I want to. I want to watch anime on the TV, not the computer. One of our TVs has an Xbox One, but I despise the interface on the Xbox One. It’s overly complicated and using the controller as a remote control leaves a lot to be desired. It times out after so many minutes.

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The Funimation app on Roku will not allow me to watch Attack on Titan because it’s rated TV-MA.

FunimationNow is the only app on Roku, so Michael’s advice on using a current/legacy app is not very helpful. I don’t even know what that means, current/legacy. Aren’t they the opposite of each other?

I just want to watch anime in English on my TV like a civilized person. I’m more than willing to pay for the privilege. Is that asking too much? I think not. Granted, my life-long appreciation of Japanese culture should have prompted me to learn the Japanese language, making Funimation and it’s extensive English dubbed library an unnecessary thing to have access to. In my defense, I’m incredibly lazy, and I’m not even as fluent in the English language as I really ought to be. I still don’t quite understand when to properly use the words who or whom. Not really.

Goodbye Dish, I’m cutting the cord

We currently get TV through Dish. To save money we have the cheapest plan they offer, the Flex Pack. The base price for the Flex Pack is $34.99. It’s limited in what it offers. For instance, it includes CNN, but not MSNBC or Fox News. It also doesn’t include any local channels. For that, it costs an extra $10. The local channel pack for the Washington DC area includes:

  • CBS
  • NBC
  • ABC
  • Fox
  • Univision
  • Ion Television
  • Telemundo
  • Unimas
  • PBS

Three of these local channels are Spanish language channels, a language I do not speak or understand. I live in Hagerstown, Maryland. I don’t live in Juárez, Mexico.

Missing from the local channel pack are the local sports networks, MASN and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Currently, I’m unable to watch the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals, the Washington Capitals, The DC United, or the Washington Wizards. To add those local channels, I would need to upgrade from the Flex Pack to at least America’s Top 120 Plus just to add the Multi-Sport package. When you have Flex Pack or even America’s Top 120, the ability to add the Multi-Sport package is grayed out.

Here is what it would cost to make the switch:

Goodbye Dish, I'm cutting the cord - Bent Corner

This means that if I wanted to watch the Washington Capitals, my local hockey team, I would need to pay an extra $38 a month.

That’s ridiculous.

It gets worse. It would actually be cheaper to buy a year of NHL.TV.  I could then watch every NHL game in full HD on my TV, computer, iPad, or iPhone. I could watch games live or later at my convince. I could choose the home or away TV coverage. With my military discount, a full year of NHL.TV would cost $90.97. It would pay for itself in less than three months.

The only problem is that Washington Capitals games would be blacked out. The reason? Because the Capitals are my local hockey team, I can only watch them on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. It’s a channel Dish doesn’t consider a local channel. I would only be able to watch Capitals games on NHL.TV 48 hours after they originally aired.

The cable and satellite TV industry is an anti-consumer racket. I’m more than happy to pay for the TV I want to watch. What I resent is being forced to pay for channels I don’t want or need.

Consumers should be able to pick the channels they want without being forced to pay for other channels they don’t want. Instead of including three Spanish language channels in my local TV package, Dish should include regional sports channels. Do they not understand what the word “regional” means?

Because of this regressive way cable and satellite TV providers deliver content to consumers, I’m going to become a cord-cutter.

A cord-cutter is a person who doesn’t have a satellite or cable TV subscription. It shouldn’t be that hard to make the switch. We already watch a lot of our TV shows on Hulu, streamed to our TV through a Roku device. The problem is, we have channels on Roku that we’re only allowed to watch because we pay for Dish. Before accessing some channels on the Roku, you have to log into your Dish account and activate an access code.

There’s ways to get around that. I need to familiarize myself with those ways.


Dish dropped NFL Network too?

Not only has Dish dropped the CW Network and WGN America from its lineup of programing, they’ve also dropped the NFL Network.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The NFL said Dish is the first distributor to drop the channel in its 13-year history. If the dispute isn’t resolved in the fall, Dish will also no longer carry the NFL’s RedZone service, which is a specialty channel that carries live action of all games every Sunday throughout the regular season.

Evidently Dish got rid of the NFL Network sometime last month. I didn’t realize it until yesterday while going through the channels. If they continue with this retarded game of chicken into the NFL season, it’s going to be their undoing. One of the main reasons I went with Dish was because they included the NFL RedZone channel in their basic sports package. To get RedZone on DirecTv, I would need to pay for the entire NFL package which included every out-of-market game. I didn’t want every out-of-market game. I just wanted to watch RedZone.

I’d like to cut the cord entirely and just switch to streaming. The problem is, a lot of the networks that offer content online make you go through either local cable, Dish, or DirecTv before you can stream. For example, before I could stream CNN Go on my Roku devices, I had to activate it through Dish. Without an active satellite or cable account, you can’t watch CNN through a streaming device. I should be able to pay a couple bucks a month for CNN without going through a gatekeeper.

America is a great country.

Verizon DSL has finally fixed its slowdown issue

We have working Internet. Finally. On Friday, someone from Verizon must have finally fixed the issue at the central office. When we got home from work Friday evening, I did a speed test, and it was in the high 6 Mbps range, an acceptable rate for a DSL connection. I streamed a movie on the living room TV, and there was no buffering. We watched programs on Hulu Plus for a good amount of time yesterday and the episodes loaded fast and once they began, there was no buffering.

Exactly like it should be.

I don’t understand why Verizon kept jerking us around. First they said our modem was bad. I went out and bought a Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600, and swapped it out with my old one. Same thing. They then said the problem was with their central office, where the copper phone line from our house connects to the Internet. They said they would have a tech go out last Monday to fix it.

Monday rolled around and instead of the tech going to the central office, they came to our house when we were not home and said everything checked out OK.

Everything was not OK. We got home Monday, and it was just as bad as it was before.

We contacted Verizon tech support again. The tech support person in India said the reason our Internet was so slow was because we were using a third-party modem, one not from Verizon. I explained I purchased the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 because they said our original modem was bad. I specifically asked if I could use a third-party modem. The person from Verizon said I could.

I offered to reconnect the original modem if the new modem was the problem. The guy in India told me that the original modem was probably bad, but the current slow down issue was caused by a modem that didn’t come from them.

It was kind of funny that the symptoms were exactly the same.

The Verizon agent said he was sending out a new modem free of charge, and he promised, guaranteed even, that it would fix our problem. Who does that? I do telephone tech support for a living, and I would never promise or guarantee something is going to solve an issue. There are just too many variables in place.

You never know something is going to fix a problem until you do it, and the problem is gone.

Sometimes one problem is masking another problem. You can fix one problem, only to discover two other problems that you could not detect because of the original problem.

The new modem arrived, and surprise, surprise, the problem was still there.

I connected the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 back up. Since I paid $100 for it, I wanted to actually use it. Instead of contacting Verizon tech support in India again, we made plans for going to Antietam Cable on Saturday to sign up for cable Internet. I didn’t want to, but I felt like we had no choice.

Then, on Friday, our Internet began working. Our trip to Antietam Cable had been averted, at least temporarily.

The reason I don’t want to go with Antietam Cable is because it would mean disconnecting Dish Network from the cable drop in the computer room and using it for the internet. I’d rather not do that. We have a TV mounted on the wall above the treadmill that we can watch while getting our steps in.

Not being able to watch TV while you exercise sounds like a living hell.

If I were starting from scratch, if I didn’t have the Internet and had to choose between Verizon DSL and something else, I would go with something else. The only thing worse than having to talk to someone in India when something you’re paying for isn’t working correctly is when the person in India doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Actually, there are worse things than having to deal with incompetent tech support in the land of spices and gods with many arms, having full-blown AIDS or being forced to go to a Jimmy Buffet concert readily come to mind, but why subject yourself to unpleasant things if you don’t have to?

Life is a series of choices. Choose smartly, don’t choose Verizon DSL.