Tired of chasing cable TV

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 24, 2011, 9:35 PM | comments: 2

We don't really watch a ton of TV, but what we do like, we tend to be fairly religious about watching. As I've mentioned a bunch of times over the last six or seven years, I've been a huge fan of BeyondTV. Two things make that app badass: You can throw as many tuners as you want at it, and it finds the commercials so they're super easy to skip with a single button press. Over the years, I've been able to use it with DirecTV, analog cable, over-the-air ATSC and Clear-QAM digital cable. The company that makes the software seems to be focusing on some kind of "enterprise" recording appliance, but the app still gets free program data, has a Web-based app for remote scheduling, etc. In other words, it has done everything that "new" products do for many years.

But here's the problem today: Comcast keeps fucking with the channel assignments. The physical channel numbers on digital cable have nothing to do with those the cable box presents to you. So channel 105 could actually be 34-5 or something equally as meaningless. The box maps the numbers for you. However, BeyondTV has to know what that mapping is, so it can match the knowledge that 30 Rock airs on 105 at a certain time, so make the tuner look for it on 34-5 or whatever. That works great until the cable company shifts stuff around, seemingly for no reason. Comcast has done it twice since we moved three months ago. The shitty cable company we left never did, and neither did Time Warner when we were in Brunswick.

Of course, the other huge plus when we were in Cleveland was that I could very easily receive over-the-air signals, which are less compressed, and never move. With three tuners that can receive those signals, I never missed anything. Now I live behind hills and mountains, and while I haven't tried, I'm guessing (maybe incorrectly) that those signals are not easily attainable. I suppose I should try, just for fun.

In any case, I decided not to be angry about this latest channel shift, and instead added almost everything we missed last week to my Hulu queue, and we'll try watching stuff this way for awhile. Heck, if they deliver a player for Xbox, as they indicate on their site, I'd be quite happy to pay up the $8/month for their "plus" service. I'd be even happier to ditch cable TV entirely, as several of my friends have already. BeyondTV is running on a computer hooked up to a TV, so it's kind of already "there." Hulu doesn't cover CBS, but I don't watch anything there anyway (though Diana does... NCIS).

The honest truth is that the only reason I hold on to cable TV is to use it as a discovery mechanism. Its commercials tend to be what leads me to find new shows. That's why this Hulu experiment will be interesting, because it may reveal new means of discovery.



January 25, 2011, 6:54 AM #

Roku has Hulu Plus. It's a pretty attractive option, especially now that it's dropped to $59.


January 25, 2011, 9:07 AM #

I can probably wait for the Xbox version to be released.

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