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[Discuss] Aereo available in Eastern Mass, streaming TV sources

Daniel Barrett wrote:
> We have FIOS connected to the QAM tuner in our TVs. This yields about 100
> channels: PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Weather Channel, etc.
> No specialty channels like HBO.

Nor "extended basic" channels, like USA, TNT, SyFy, etc., I presume.

But I'm surprised to see the Weather Channel included. They must have a
bunch of other cable-only channels thrown in to fill up 100 channels.
Not bad for a $10 package.

If only you could then supplement them with a few extended basic
channels for another $10 or $15. But the cable companies are resisting
any sort of "a la carte" pricing model. It'll expose how much you're
paying for sports channels you may never watch.

>> Now that the FCC has ruled...I wonder how long you'll
>> be able to continue using this service without a converter box.
> Oh joy. ...maybe by the time the two free years are up, a better solution
> will exist.

I just heard today that Aereo is coming to the Boston market on May 15:

This company has been in the news this past year a lot. They came up
with a clever "hack" for of the copyright law where they have an array
of thousands of tiny TV antennas in their data center, such that they
can claim that they aren't copying the content of broadcasters, but
instead selling a service to rent access to an individual antenna to a

This loophole and the way they've implemented their DVR service are both
built upon prior case precedent. So far they've been prevailing in the
courts, despite substantial objections (as expected) by the major
broadcast networks.

FOX has famously threatened to pull all of its over-the-air programming
and switch to being a cable-only channel. (I wouldn't think their
affiliates would be on board for that, as it essentially cuts them out
of the picture, but supposedly they are. Or maybe they just recognize it
as an empty threat.)

The broadcasters aren't that concerned about not being paid by Aereo,
but they are fearful that cable companies will see Aereo's success, and
challenge the legality of the retransmission fees they currently pay.
These total in the billions, and make up over 20% of the broadcaster's

Aereo has a free plan where you get one hour of live TV a day. The paid
plans start at $1/day for sporadic use, or $8/month. Both come with some
amount of DVR storage.

I'm sure an outsourced DVR-in-the-cloud is ideal for most people, but
it'd be a downgrade from a MythTV system with many terabytes of storage
and real commercial skipping. It will be interesting to see if someone
builds a "virtual tuner" for MythTV that talks to Aereo.

Greg Rundlett wrote:
> I use Over The Air (OTA) digital TV, via a rooftop antenna that cost 
> me about $100.  Most are HD signals.

True. I bought one of these outdoor antennas when it was on sale for
under $20:

and have successfully used it in Canada to pick up stations 20+ miles
away. (I wouldn't say it's the highest quality construction, but good
enough to do the job, and should last if mounted in an attic.)

Tuning in over-the-air should be even easier in the Greater Boston area,
with the only cost being the up-front effort to install an antenna and
the modest antenna cost. (You might need a couple of antennas. One
pointed toward Needham and one pointed towards the Prudential, and a
signal combiner.)

> So, my free TV plus subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime work
> for me.

I've been trying out XBMC with a bunch of third-party plug-ins to get
Amazon Instant, Hulu, and a variety of broadcast networks bundled under
the "Free Cable" plugin.

I've yet to find anything I was looking for that was available through
Amazon Instant for free as part of my Amazon Prime subscription. I've
found shows there I was seeking (actually, they only showed up in a web
search), but they weren't included in the Prime bundle. Their selection
seems rather limited.

The "Free Cable" plugin "scrapes" the programming that broadcasters,
like FOX and NBC, make available through their web sites. I'm not sure
I've ever successfully watched anything through this. Many of the
scrapers seem broken.

I've probably had the most luck with the Hulu plugin. Though even there
I've ran across some shows which are free to stream on the web, but not
found via the plugin. What I don't understand is that I thought the
plugin was not using any official APIs and should appear to Hulu just
like a web user. Surprisingly the plugin does have settings where you
can actually set the number of commercial breaks, and quantity of
commercials shown per break, and yes, you can actually set them to zero.
(I don't mind having a few pre-roll commercials to give Hulu some fair
compensation for the service, but I set the mid-show breaks to zero.)

There are other plugins for PBS and CBS News that I've used a few times,
and they seem to work well. Others for YouTube and dozens of niche
services (TwitTV, Engadget, Wired, etc.).

I heard recently that Netflix will be porting its player to HTML5.
Depending on how the DRM side of that shakes out, that may make an open
source Netflix client possible, and lead to an XBMC plugin. Until that
happens, I have no interest in Netflix.

markw at wrote:
> ...have you looked at prime time TV lately? There is nothing on that's 
> really entertaining...

TV quality is in the eye of the beholder, but there is some consensus
among critics that the best stuff we see on broadcast today is way
better than in decades past. The premium cable channels have set a
higher threshold, that has spilled over to basic cable and broadcast TV.

Of course, you still have to be quite selective. Aggregate quality
across 5 nights of prime time, and sure, you'll get a pretty low quality

> ...the news is a joke, and there are so many commercials there is
> almost no actual show.

Agree on both points. Without a DVR to skip over irrelevant fluff news
stories or commercials, both are pretty unwatchable.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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