Cordkillers 138 – Can’t Beat That With a Roku Stick w/ Hammond Chamberlain

Why cord-cutting will save you money, CW aims at cord-cutters, and the new 4K Rokus are here! With special guest Hammond Chamberlain.

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CordKillers: Ep. 138 – Can’t Beat That With a Roku Stick
Recorded:  September 27 2016
Guest: Hammond Chamberlain

Intro Video


Primary Target

Signal Intelligence

Gear Up

  • Roku’s new players start at $30, and they make 4K and HDR cheaper
    – Roku announced a new line of players. The Roku Express costs $30 with a faster processer than the previous streaming stick or Roku 1. The Roku Express+ is $40 and includes composite cable inputs. Both have the stick form factor. The Roku Premiere is $80 with 4K support at 60fps, faster quad-core processors and dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. The Premiere+ is $100 and supports HDR, ethernet and microSD. It also has the headphone jack on its remote. The Roku Ultra is $130 with 4K HDR plus optical audio, USB, voice search and a lost remote button on the box. Roku’s universal search works across 100 services now. The models are available for preorder and ship October 9th.

Under Surveillance

Front Lines

  • This is the 4K Google Chromecast Ultra
    – VentureBeat has images they say are of a new Chromecast to be announced at a Google hardware event on October 4th. The Chromecast Ultra would be capable of 4K and cost an alleged $69. It would run the 1.21 firmware which is now in beta. 
  • Plex partners with Amazon to launch a hardware-free media server, Plex Cloud
    – If running your own PC server has kept you from discovering the joys of Plex, we have good news. Plex Cloud in partnership with Amazon Cloud Drive will let you host your files remotely. You can add files to your Amazon Cloud Drive from any device then stream using the Plex app. You’ll have to pay for the Plex Pass to take advantage of the service which is $60 a year, but that gives you unlimited storage. You can sign up for the beta at
  • AT&T to launch DirecTV Now streaming video service before 2017
    – AT&T’s Randall Stephenson announced the company’s DirecTV Now service will launch before the end of the year. DirecTV Now will provide more than 100 premium cable TV channels over the Internet in the US. The service will allow two streams per household with more streams possibly available for purchase. AT&T may also bundle wit with wireless or broadband Internet service. No other details were given. Stephensnon says the company is 90% done with deals for content. Bloomberg reports on sources saying AT&T plans for its upcoming streaming TV service, DirecTV Now, to be its primary video platform within 5 years. 
  • AT&T to launch DirecTV Now streaming video service before 2017
    – ReCode reports its sources say Verizon is in advanced talks to acquire video startup Vessel. Vessel is run by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. Vessel has been allegedly working on a new product described as “Snapchat-like,” with image filters and other features. Recode’s Peter Kafka points out Verizon has listed video among the main reasons for acquiring AOL and soon Yahoo.
  • Netflix Targeting 50% of Content to Be Original Programming, CFO Says
    – Netflix CFO David Wells told an audience at the Goldman Sachs conference Tuesday that Netflix is on track for half its content offering to be made up of Netflix originals within the next few years. Wells said not every show needs to be a home run either saying they can live with singles and doubles. This is a baseball metaphor which means not every show has to be a huge hit. Wells also said of customers who cancel Netflix, between 33% and 50% eventually return to subscribe to the service.

Dispatches from the Front

The Canadian streaming service Shomi which was launched officially in 2015 by cable giants Rogers and Shaw will close down on November 30th and Rogers estimated a $100-140 million investment loss on their 3rd quarter earnings.

According to Toronto’s Solutions Research Group (SRG) the services of Shomi and Crave (Bell Media) had one seventh the subscribers of Netflix. As a Rogers Cable Internet customer it was added as part of my tier with no apparent price increases, so I’m sure many of the subscribers they had may not be actively contributing to revenue.

This was the service where I watched shows like Mr. Robot, Last Man on Earth, Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the original seasons of Black Mirror. Not sure if another provider will then pickup the streaming rights to these shows or I will have to look to iTunes for purchasing them.



Hi Tom and Brian,

A few months ago, I sent in my review about Playstation Vue service. I wasn’t thrilled with it at the time, especially the DVR functionality, so I cancelled it after the free trial.

A few weeks ago I decided to give it another shot. In Chicago we now have access to CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox and the DVR functionality has greatly improved and I am thrilled by the progress made in just a few months. Last week I unplugged all my cable boxes in preparation of the conversion and my family was on board.

Today, when cancelling my Comcast service I thought I would do a little research for your show and cancelled using their online chat service. It was easy, I didn’t have to deal with the retention department and it was actually a pleasant experience.

If listeners are looking for a non-stressful Comcast cancellation experience, the chat service is the way to go.

Love the show.

John from Chicago



Hey guys, it’s your boss.

I got bored tonight and decided to do the chicken challenge with Directv. My bill had crept over $125/mo (TV only) and I had the family convinced that sling or PlayStation vue were viable. I managed to get $50 off my bill, so I stayed. However, in looking for negotiation leverage I peeked at the intro prices for the various packages and found that they were darn close to the full rates for ongoing customers.

Select $50 new —> $51.99 existing
Entertainment $55 new —> $61.99 existing
Choice $60 new —> $74.99 existing
Xtra $70 new —> $81.99 existing
Utlimate $75 new —> $91.99 existing
Premier $125 new —> $144.99 existing

I find it interesting that the bottom has such a small gap in the new subscriber’s and existing. I have two wild speculations about this: first, cord cutting has made the customers at that price point need ongoing low prices, so the difference has reduced – not the top tier is $20/mo more. Second, I believe that they make up a lot of the price difference in hardware. Part of my agreement was $30/mo off for hardware. So in 2 years, that bill jumps up because of the devices and not the service. This artificially makes all the plans look cheaper, because none of them are possible without the box.

Speaking of boxes, Directv isn’t offering the GenieGo anymore, and my rep said that it was because they were preparing a streaming-only service. He said a lot of things, though, so I would only use random service rep’s word as the basis for wild speculation.

Keep up the good work.




For this fall seasons there are all of the CW shows that I love and I want to show support. I am a cord killer and let’s say I have a system to get TV. However for these shows I want to do the most that I can to show my support. Bryan since you have had a network TV show what things make a difference for TV execs?





Cordkillers 136 – Netflerks w/ Dan Benjamin

Netflix asks FCC to crack down on data caps, CBS All Access adds a commercial free tier, and do you still care about a new TiVo model? With special guest Dan Benjamin.

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CordKillers: Ep. 136 – Netflerks
Recorded: September 12 2016
Guest: Dan Benjamin

Intro Video

Primary Target

  • Netflix asks FCC to review data caps
    –  Netflix has filed a request with the FCC to add data caps to its annual review of telecommunications deployment (usually focuses on availability and speed)
    – Netflix: “the Commission should hold that data caps on fixed-­line networks ­­and low data caps on mobile networks­­ may unreasonably limit Internet television viewing and are inconsistent with Section 706.”
  • FCC changes cable box rules to please industry, gets blowback anyway
  • Comcast to FCC: Your set-top box plan is illegal
    – FCC modified cable set-top box rules adopting most of the suggestions from Cable industry
    – original plan allowed third-party software
    – Industry proposed provider-made software for linear and on-demand content only in HTML5
    – FCC changed to provider software but requires recording functionality and support of non-HTML5 if used by a “widely deployed platforms, such as Roku, Apple iOS, Windows and Android.”
    – operators with more than 1 million subs must comply within two years. 400K- 1 million 4 years. below 400K exempt.
    – Standard license for software to be used by all operators
    – Comcast to Ars: “empowers the Commission to hand over to a third party [pay-TV companies’] rights to the proprietary technologies and service that make up their apps,”
    – Wheeler also wrote that all copyright and licensing agreements will remain intact, since “the delivery of pay-TV programming will continue to be overseen by pay-TV providers from end-to-end.”
    – NCTA: ” “Programmers today do not pool and offer uniform rights across all platforms and uses.”
    – Final vote scheduled for September 29
    – SUMMARY UPSHOT: FCC will let cable companies write the software apps but require DVR functions and a single license for the software. Cablecos. are upset most about the license because they think it will threaten licensing deals for shows.”

Signal Intelligence

  • CBS All Access commercial-free option costs $4 more a month
    – CBS All Access – exclusive future home of Star Trek: Discovery in the US — will offer a commercial free version of the service for $10 a month
    – Current offer is $6 a month
    – Also coming to Xbox One
    – SUMMARY UPSHOT: CBS first big service after Hulu to offer a commercial-free tier.

Gear Up

  • New TiVo Bolt+
  • TiVo’s new interface will cut down on channel surfing
  • TiVo is working on a network DVR that’ll broadcast to your non-TVs
    – Rovi completed takeover of TiVo
    – New TiVo interface
    – Centered around surfacing what you want to watch rather than just showing everything that’s on.
    – FCC filing from TiVo describes a networked OTA DVR similar to Tablo or (codenamed Mantis)
    – HOWEVER – Today TiVo announced an update to the Bolt, called the Bolt+ for $499 (+$200 over orig)
    – Can record up to 6 channels at once (2 more than orig)
    – 3TB hard drive (vs. 1 TB orig)
    – Glossy black
    – No HDR yet could come in update. (does do 4K just like original Bolt)
    – On sale Thursday Sept. 15

Under Surveillance

Front Lines

Dispatches from the Front
Hey guys,

Just listened to this past week’s show and wanted to add some points about your experiences with NBCs coverage of the Olympics.

Admittingly, I tend to live in the NBCSN app for most of the year because they have exclusive rights to English Premier League soccer, but I found that the NBCSN app did most of the things you were saying they should for the Olympics.

The app on my phone updated and added the Olympic rings in the icon. When I opened it, it gave me the chance to select Olympic events, athletes and/or countries I wanted to track.

Then I would receive live notifications each day telling me when an important event was about to start and give me the option to just click on it to go to the live stream and watch.

I would get what seemed like at least a dozen notifications a day that included my preferences and other random events it considered note worthy (so for example “Watch the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt run in the 200m semi.” And so on)

One complaint though is that most events tended to be a raw feed. If it made the primetime broadcast, that would be when you would get the actual commentary or special athlete profile segments. During the day, if it was not something broadcast on live TV it was just the event with sounds from the venue.

Aside from the Olympic stuff…wanted to offer a tip for Premier League fans. All games are broadcast on TV, but depending on the cable company some games are in SD. However in the app, all games are HD. There is also a RedZone like, app only channel called Goal Rush. This shows the game of the day live and cuts to big plays and goals in all of the games. Definitely great if you have a fantasy team.

Byron NYC



Hey Tom and Brian,

Wanted to throw a quick comment (non-advertising related) regarding your discussion on The Departed. The movie, despite being often as “original” or a “masterpiece”, is not original. The movie itself is a remake of the 2002 award-winning film “Infernal Affairs” from Hong Kong (the true “original” has a prequel and sequel as well, of which portions were incorporated in the American remake). I don’t believe it’s on Netflix though it’s available for rent and purchase on Amazon.




Hey Cord Killers,

What would be the best way to watch The CW without cable? I’ve used the Xbox app but it’s not that great, & the app has adds. Would you recommend buying an HD antenna, or buying season passes for the DC TV shows on Amazon?

If antenna is the better route, what brand would you recommend?





Hey guys,
You keep saying that Netflix has the new star trek discovery show for everywhere but the US…well you forgot about Canada. Bell Media outbid Netflix, will air the premiere on CTV and then the rest on the SPACE channel. Which you need cable for!!
They say it may be available “later” for streaming. Space also got the entire star trek back catalogue that will just air…on cable…not streaming

Man…Bell sucks.





Hey Brian and Tom,

On your recent discussion of how to retain your in country Netflix experience while traveling, my solution has been to use a VPN tied to my home router. I run Tomato on my Asus router (because I’m a geek) but I’m wondering if the router vendors are starting to include VPN software as well. I had no issues traveling to Europe or South America and keeping my home version of Netflix.

Granted, roll your own VPN is probably more complicated than most are interested messing with, but the router vendors might have an opportunity to differentiate their product for the globetrotting public.



Cordkillers 135 – Gideon’s HDMI w/ Justin Robert Young

Tom shares his tips for cordcutting direct from Japan, Neilson says more people are watching TV, and a bunch of new apps! With special guest Justin Robert Young.

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CordKillers: Ep. 135 – Gideon’s HDMI
Recorded: August 29 2016
Guest: Justin Robert Young

Intro Video

Primary Target

  • Discuss getting your content while traveling.

Signal Intelligence

Under Surveillance


Front Lines

Dispatches from the Front

Hello Cordkillers,

I’m an idiot. I plunked down $99 for NFL Game Pass. I cut the cord this month. I got rid of Dish network since they were still fighting with Scripps which would affect my ability to record/watch the Hawks. I decided to sign up for PlayStation Vue (saving about $100 a month). That got me all the cable channels I wanted and most of the network shows on demand. The missing piece was how I was going to watch my beloved Seattle Seahawks. So I signed up for the 7 day trial of NFL Game Pass. I used it to listen to the last half of last weeks Vikings game on my phone. I read all the fine print and a few reddit threads and thought I understood what I was getting. So tonight I got home after date night with my wife, ready to watch the Cowboys game. Booted up my brand new PS4 which I got so I could run the NFL app and get better performance with PS View than I had on my PS3. I open up the NFL app and pull up the game. I can’t watch the 30 min cut version due to “broadcast restrictions” (hey it’s 10:30 PM and I just wanted to get the highlights before bed).I pull up the full game and I have no choice of broadcast team like I did when I listened to the radio via the phone app. So now I have to watch the opposing team’s commentators. I’m going to have to call to see if this is the way its going to be during the regular season. I can’t even fast forward through the stupid “We’ll be right back after this commercial break” nonsense that stays on the screen for what would have been the entire live commercial break.. I’m so disappointed.

I know NFL Network will be coming to PS View but I don’t think that will give me access to all the full games, just the Thursday night games and the RedZone highlight versions of each weeks games. If any of the Cordkillers can give me any advice that isn’t “go to a sports bar” or “watch it live over the air” I’d love to hear it. I’ve actually backed the antenna/DVR project you discussed in the last episode but that won’t be out in time for the season.

Pity me,
Keith in Kent





Brian and Tom,

I like to live in the past.

I didn’t see a single Olympic event without a spoiler and I’m rocking a 5 year old phone with no alerts. I check the news every so often though and that’s my downfall. Is there hope for people like me? Do I need to buy a bunker from that guy selling seeds?

Here’s an idea for anyone in the media distribution industry – how about news without sports? Bit like ESPN in reverse.

I know lots of people couldn’t care less about stick and ball. How are sports spoilers any different than CNN announcing “New Star Wars out this week: Han Solo died. You’ll never guess what comes next”?








Tom, Brian, and Bryce

I would like to add an idea to the reason for the name change of the new Anne series. In part it might be to distance the new movie from the Sullivan Entertainment versions.

There are two different fandoms those that love the books and those that love the Sullivan produced TV. Sullivan TV has controlled the visual media of the Intellectual Property since 1985. After the first mini-series he paid less attention to the original work than Michael Landon did to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. At least Landon kept the story in the same time period, even if he did call Plum Creek the Prairie. Sullivan time traveled Anne and Gilbert from the early 1900’s to 1940’s and had Gilbert serving in WWII. In “reality” Anne and Gilbert’s sons (like LM Montgomery’s sons) served in WWI as very very young men. This very much irritated fans of the books. I can watch the first miniseries with pleasure but three sequels make me want to throw things at the screen. Many book fans refer to the last three mini-series/movies as really horrible fan fiction. The character and place names stayed the same (except when they go off to WWII), but the heart was hollow and contained nothing of the original.

I think in a way the Sullivan series sanitized drama that was considered too adult like Anne’s daughter being stillborn, parents having to send children off to war and those children dying, very young by today’s standards teens getting married or engaged because the boy was going off to war, for the more acceptable hero goes to fight the Nazi’s story they told. There is also a character in Rilla of Ingleside (WWI book) that stands on the back stoop and repeatedly calls Americans especially President Wilson cowards who are letting other people fight and die for them. I’m guessing that might not go over so well with some people. Anne of Green Gables is often on the banned book list because of its how adoption is shown in the book. Adoption in that time period was about getting cheap labor (room/board no money maybe allowed to go to school) for a farm or house not forever families. The story of the abuse Anne suffered before Marilla and Matthew and the story of other abused orphans is horrible it is also based on real stories of that time.

I’m looking forward to the new movie. I hope it is more true to the source material.

(Texas Teacher)


2016 Summer Movie Draft