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

Cordkillers 134 – Deeply Regret Button (w/ Mulango Akpo-Esambe)

We now know the lifetime of a TiVo, Netflix comes to your hotel, a wireless antenna with fewer wires. With special guest Mulango Akpo-Esambe.

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CordKillers: Ep. 134 – Deeply Regret Button
Recorded:  August 22 2016
Guest: Mulango Akpo-Esambe

Intro Video

Primary Target

  • TiVo is cutting off support for its original DVR in September
    – TiVo will deliver a last download of guide data for its 1999 model TiVos on September 15th. Customers will get a $75 Visa gift card. The boxes will continue to work but will not have any guide data after September 29th. TiVo says there are still 3,200 Series 1 TiVos in active use

Signal Intelligence

  • Netflix is coming to more hotel rooms worldwide
    – Netflix partnering with Enseo (in-room entertainment for hotels)
    – Partnership expanded to any hotel under contract in a country with Netflix
    – Beyond pre-approved brands
    – Netflix app on TV or Netflix button on remote
    – Sign in with Netflix account, no Internet fees
    – Promises to wipe out login at checkout
    – Most-used channels in 19 hotel brands today (Marriott, Hilton La Quinta)
    – Hotels like it as a perk, and frees up wifi for other uses
    – Enseo’s system can also provide marketing messages

Gear Up

  • This wireless antenna may make cord cutting easier
    – WatchAir antenna streams to Smart TV (WebOS, Tizen, Android TV, Vizio), smartphone, tablet (ios, Android), Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV
    – Sends OTA signal over WiFi then to apps
    – Has a TV guide and 5 hours of recording (25 with SD Card)
    – Kickstarter promotion $149
    – Hopes to ship in October for $249

Under Surveillance

Front Lines

  • Here’s TV Networks’ Latest Scheme to Limit ‘Cord-Cutting’
    – Reuters has a story about how more networks are doing what they call “stacking” by making all previous episodes of a series available on demand to cable subscribers. 54% of people in one survey said they would not start watching a show unless they could watch all previous episodes. Comcast will offer full-season stacks of 60% of original scripted series up from 41% two seasons ago. A source told Reuters one network saw a 3-11% rise in ratings after offering stacked shows. 
  • How to see everything you’ve ever watched on Netflix and Amazon
    – Engadget’s Matt Brian has written up instructions for seeing your viewing history on Netflix and Amazon. Netflix history can be found in a section of Your Account called Viewing History. You can delete items to remove their impact on recommendations. Amazon buries it in Your Account under Personalization where you click Improve Your Recommendations and then choose Videos You’ve Watched. You can then rate shows to fine tune recommendations. 
  • Univision buys Gawker Media for $135 million
    – Univision doesn’t just run the top spanish-language channel in the US it also owns The Onion and The Root. And it has provisionally acquired Gawker Media pending the decision of the bankruptcy court. Gawker runs Gizmodo, Lifehacker and io9 among other sites.
  • Amazon brings free episodes of its Original Series to YouTube & Facebook
    – Amazon has begun posting pilot episodes from 10 of its shows on YouTube and Facebook Live. Shows include Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch, Red Oaks, and The Man in the High Castle.
  • HDHomeRun’s DVR app is ready for the Xbox One
    – HDHomeRun’s DVR software is a big hit with people looking for a replacement for Windows Media Center. It can now help folks who wish their Xbox could act as a DVR. You’ll still need HDHomeRun on a PC, Android TV box or NAS, but there is now an app for HDHomeRun on the Xbox One. 

Dispatches from the Front
Hi Tom and Brian

Take a listen / look at this:

It’s 80 min of TV themes performed by the Danish public service station’s classical band.

There is some Danish talking in between, but most series covered are ones I’ve heard you talk about on the show.

Maybe something for the cold open? Or as a link to the listeners.

BTW – this is why I’m happy that we in sunny Denmark have the license fee that everybody with a TV, radio or access to the internet has to pay!

Thanks for always great shows!
Your boss,



Hi guys.

I’ve now watched Jon-Claude Van Johnson and The Tick.I will watch I love Dick after work tonight.

My frustration with these pilots is not the content or format.I just don’t recall Amazon ever asking in there survey on what are your favorite shows ever? Then ask why these pilots are greater or worse then your favorite shows.

It just seems this kind of questioning sets these pilots up for failure as each one I’ve seen is slightly worse then say Battlestar Galactica. But it’s really unfair compairing a 30 minute pilot to a 4.5 season show for example.

I’m hoping somebody can reply and let me know if Amazon has asked this kind of question before in there pilot survey?

Long time Patreon Boss:
David from Fond Du Lac,Wisconsin asking



I was talking with a girl who works at Hulu.
She said they get to see the first preview of what they are doing for the Hulu Streaming Channel today.
She said that currently she knows it will have an online DVR, but doesn’t have the details yet as to if it will be any restrictions on what can be recorded or if time limits or such. But if it isn’t all easily integrated it would seem a non starter.

She was pretty open about this as there is so many press leaks…but just in case don’t mention my name if you say anything on the air. Not sure if she was speaking out of turn. 



Tom and Brian,

I am constantly scouring the net to find interesting tidbits on cord cutting and specifically OTT live streaming services. To compare the channels available I put the linked spreadsheet together. It needs a little more refining (cannot make out what networks some of SFN’s Faith based offerings are) but your viewers may find it useful. The link is public.

This is strictly a channel availability chart not a comparison of services

PlayStation Vue is still the best by nearly every metric I care about except mobility and the name (and lack of a desktop app). It is ridiculous they launched nationally with PlayStation in the name. Nearly everyone I speak too about it says “I might try it but I don’t have a PlayStation”. How about Sony Vue or just Vue? Or Sony Live Stream (SLS for short)? Or Sony Dream Stream? Anything without PlayStation in the name. Plus the integration into the PlayStation website makes it more confusing to the average user.

Very Respectfully,



Tom and Brian,
Comcast upped my rate again so it was time to go for the chicken challenge again. Long story short, I was successful but not in the way I imagined.
I started out calling Comcast and had no luck getting my deal back to what it was before. So, I did what any reasonable person would do in 2016… complain on Twitter about my bill going up. Imagine my surprise when the Comcast Cares account at replied me and asked I follow them so we could exchange DMs. Using an exchange of DMs I was able to get back to my previous deal and lock it in for 2 years. That included free HBO for another 2 years and then to top it off they added 2 years of Showtime for free as well.
Comcast justifiably gets a bad rap in regards to customer service at times, but their social media team was fantastic to work with. I just wanted to share another path for all your listeners to take to try and get a better deal via the Chicken Challenge. Twitter, who would have thought that would work so well?





When I decided to cut the cord, I called Cox cable and told them I was cancelling in favor of HBOGo and Hulu. They made me a deal in which I pay for a “starter pack” cable plus HBO and Starz, at $12/month, which made it cheaper for me to keep it than to have HBO alone.

The end result is that I never bothered to connect my cable box – by using mobile apps to stream the network shows (using my cable login), I get all of the current shows offered by Hulu and was able to cancel that as well.

Definitely worth the phone call. 


2016 Summer Movie Draft