Aereo And Net Neutrality, And What It Means To Cord Cutters


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There has been a lot of news lately over Net Neutrality ending and Aereo going to the Supreme Court.  Both of these issues revolve over one group of people who are fed up with paying for stuff, the cord cutters.  Cord Cutters are people who end their subscriptions to cable and only get high-speed internet to stream their favorite shows.  These people get Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, and even Aereo, and only depend on their high-speed internet and an antenna to get their shows.  The cable companies are losing subscribers and are trying to do anything to reverse this trend.  And if the cable companies get their way, soon we will be forced to get cable to watch our favorite shows, whatever we like it or not.

Let’s start with Aereo going to the Supreme Court.  This Spring, Aereo and ABC will plead their case in front of the justices.  The case which is called ABC, Inc., et al. v. Aereo, Inc. will determine the future of broadcast TV as we know it.  Aereo is a service where tiny digital antennas are placed in various major cities around the country.  The service allows users to watch their local stations via the internet and even record their favorite shows to watch at any time.  As soon as the service launched, broadcasters immediately sued Aereo claiming the streaming of television content violates copyright laws.

Also in conflict, is live sports programming on the broadcast networks like the NFL and MLB.  People with Aereo can stream their games for free over the internet from anywhere in the world.  Which causes conflicts with TV Blackouts, and ad revenue.  If Aereo wins this case, the sports leagues have said they might move to cable.  Which means a lost to cord cutters, and for cable subscribers, in the form of extra fees.  And think about this, if Aereo wins, cable and satellite companies could stop paying fees to the local TV stations for carrying their channels, and just use the Aereo service model instead.  This means during severe weather outbreaks in Alabama for example, you might no longer see coverage on TV.  Because the local TV stations might cease to exist.

So what happens if Aereo wins their case?  With no more court challenges, Aereo will expand quickly.  And the broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and others will be left with a burning question.  Do they pull off broadcast TV and go to cable, leaving broadcast TV stations high and dry?  If the major networks leave Broadcast TV and go to cable, many local TV stations will simply close down.  Why, because without good programming, they can’t make ad revenue.  This means no more James Spann on our TV screens during tornado outbreaks, unless he moves everything online.

If the broadcast networks win the Supreme Court Case, Aereo will be forced to pay a lot of money and close down.  And the executives up in New York City will pop open the bubbly and celebrate!  Because the networks will not lose any more ad revenue.  And people will be forced to hook up an actual antenna or subscribe to cable, to watch their favorite shows.  Which equals subscriber fees coming into their coffers.  The broadcast networks prefer to keep everything the same, without things changing, and they hope The Supreme Court will rule in their favor.  So this Supreme Court case will be interesting to watch, all cord cutters are hoping Aereo wins this case.

Also in the tech realm, is Net Neutrality.  Since the 1970′s, providers like AT&T and others have been barred from blocking or degrading whatever is transported over their lines.  But with the recent ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit, Net Neutrality is dead, at least for now.  This means all internet providers can do whatever it likes to content moving across their networks.  If it wants, it can make a blog (like Geek Alabama) that criticized its latest policies unreachable, or block customer support of rival companies, or destroy Netflix by slowing its data to a crawl, making movies impossible to watch.

The end of Net Neutrality is also bad for all bloggers and small business owners on the web.  Companies like Amazon.com will be able to pay big bucks to internet providers to make sure their website loads fast and is reachable.  For small businesses and bloggers who mostly don’t have a lot of money, too bad!  The internet companies could slow you down to a crawl and make you suffer.  And websites like Google and Facebook could even force internet companies to pay them, or block their websites from that internet provider.  Just like what you see with the cable TV providers.

This is really what is going to happen if Net Neutrality does not come back.  And it mostly involves you, the cord cutters.  Cable and telephone companies will force streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others to pay extra to provide their websites to their internet customers.  When that happens, Netflix, Hulu, and the other streaming websites will be forced to pass along the costs to their customers.  So in theory, the cord cutters will soon be paying the same amounts to Netflix and Hulu, as if they were paying for cable.  It could even get to the point where subscribing to cable could be cheaper than cutting the cord!

With Aereo and Net Neutrality, the big issue is getting people to watch those pesky commercials and pay those extremely high fees so the TV providers and networks can make even more money.  And this is where people get fed up.  People are getting tired of paying for higher bills to watch their favorite TV shows and movies.  If Aereo is forced to close down, and Net Neutrality forces Netflix and Hulu to charge more for their services, people will find a way to watch their favorite shows, by any means necessary.  If that means pirate torrents are the ways for people to watch their shows, then that will be the way.  People are clever, and they will gladly take advantage of Hollywood and companies so they don’t have to pay more money!

I believe Net Neutrality is going to be coming back before the internet providers get their ways.  Either the FCC or Congress will pass rules or legislation to stop internet providers from being picky.  If that does not happen, you will see the internet rise up, like the recent SOPA protests.  And may websites, including Geek Alabama, will go dark to protest the end of Net Neutrality.  It will happen, and I think the internet will win once again!

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Sunday Discussion: The End of Blockbuster Video and Video Renting


Geek Alabama Discussion

Technology has advanced so much in our world that a staple in the video business world is winding down operations.  Blockbuster Video announced they would shut down most of their remaining 300 Blockbuster stores – down from 9,000 or so about a decade ago.  Around 50 stores not owned by the company would stay open in Texas and Alaska.  But I would not count on them remaining open for long.  A few years ago, Dothan based Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video had around 4,700 stores in North America.  But all of their stores closed down in 2010.  And now, Blockbuster Video is about to join them.  Yesterday was the last day anyone could rent a video from them.

I have very vivid memories of video renting.  When I was younger, my parents would often take me to the local mom and pop video renting place to rent some great movies.  Most nights were often a movie night, and I loved watching movies.  Sometimes we got a special treat and we rented some video games, that was fun!  Today, the same video renting places that I often went too are all closed down.  And soon just about every video renting place will cease to exist.  It’s horrible that all the people in these closed down stores will be without a job.  But just about everyone saw this coming from a mile away!

Today, technology such as digital streaming and downloads from Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu Plus, have mostly killed the video renting business.  The only video renting business you will still see is those Redbox and other kiosks where you can rent DVD’s and video games for a very affordable price!  These options have made the brick-and-mortar video stores like Blockbuster literally obsolete forever.  You still might see a brick-and-mortar video renting place in rural areas where broadband service is still very slow or not available.  But in urban areas, you can forget about it!

Blockbuster tried to branch out to and compete with streaming and mail-order content, but the competitors were already in the game with better selections and better prices.  Even after most of the stores close down, Blockbuster will still offer streaming services, but many people have been burned by those late fees in the past and can not trust Blockbuster for anything.  I for one, will not miss those video renting stores and I will always get my movies via streaming services.

Why don’t I like video renting stores you ask?  Because a lot of bad things could happen.  For example, you only get to rent that brand new release for one night.  What if something happened where you don’t have the time to watch that brand new movie?  You never know if an emergency or car trouble could ruin your night.  That’s a couple of bucks down the drain.  And what about while in the store.  I am sure you don’t want to run into someone who you don’t want to see like a former lover or even an enemy.  What if you are getting a movie title that is not for your demographic and your co-worker sees it while you are checking out.  The next day at work is not going to be fun.

And then there are those late fees.  Most people will drop their movie in the return box instead of entering the store.  Sometimes the worker forgets to scan the returned movies and bam, after closing, if the movies have not been scanned in, you have to pay a late fee.  I am the kind of person who does not want other people to see what I am getting.  No matter if I am in a Wal-Mart or in a video renting store.  So I am glad there are renting options available.  I could either rent from Netflix, Redbox, on even on YouTube.  And that means no one will know what I am watching.  That’s great for me!

Today, I could also go down to the local store and buy a great movie for a couple for bucks!  Have you seen those bins where you look though and find a great movie for cheap?  It’s getting cheaper to buy a movie outright.  And I like that!  Today, we are entering an era where our consumption of film and other such content is radically changing.  Streaming content, digital downloading, and portable multiple platform access to content provide all of us with an ease of access, a quality of product, and a level of interaction that is amazing and impressive on every level.  More and more people are going to get their movie fix with these options.  And 20 years from now, newer people will never know what a video rental store is.  It’s like the other products that have disappeared because technology got better.

Blockbuster is about to go away forever and the brick-and-mortar video renting businesses will go away as well.  I am not going to miss them, you should not miss them as well!

 

My Top Blunders of 2011


We all have seen and heard some very crazy things in 2011.  From Charlie Sheen doing one of the worst career moves ever.  And Netflix doing one of the worst business moves ever.  2011 has been a good year watching other people doing stupid things.  Here is my list of the top blunders of 2011.

Charlie Sheen Blunder:

Charlie Sheen did one of the worst things in 2011.  He taunted Chuck Lorre and eventually got fired from the very popular show “Two And A Half Men.”  So what did he do next; he went crazy.  He tried hosting his own web show which was not good at all.  I remember the viewer count dropping like a rock during the web show.  He promoted the word “winning” but was actually losing.  And what is Tiger Blood all about?  Oh well; he is enjoying the $25 million settlement from Two And A Half Men.  Winning!

NFL NBA Lockouts:

Seriously; you all can not find ways to split millions of dollars equally between the owners and the players.  2011 almost went down as a bad year for pro sports.  If you had the NFL and the NBA not playing their seasons; what would sports fans do instead?  Try a new hobby or learn a new skill.  What would ESPN do to fill their schedules with no sports to show?  Luckily none of those things happened.  But one always has to wonder?

Bank Fees:

Over the year 2011 Bank of America and other big banks thought about charging a monthly fee for people using a debit card.  Hardly anyone uses checks anymore and many stores do not take checks anymore.  So the banks thought about being more greedy and sticking it to the customers.  But then something happened; the customer stood up and said enough!  Social media blew up and people demanded the banks not charge any new fees or they would leave.  And the banks gave in; a great victory.  Now Verizon Wireless wants to get into the fee game.  Let’s see how long it will take for Verizon to change their minds.

Anthony Wiener and Herman Cain:

This has been a great year of political blunders.  The two famous politicians with the most problems were Wiener and Cain.  They both committed the same crime.  They thought by doing sexual stuff they would get further in their careers and life.  Anthony Wiener snapped pictures of his junk and put the pictures on the web for everyone to see.  Herman Cain thought he could date and love many women and his career would further even more.  This is a great lesson for everyone.  Doing sexual stuff in public will make you a fool and bring you down.  So just don’t do it.

Kim Kardashian:

Here is more proof the the people in Hollywood are making our youth more dumber.  Kim was only married for 72 days and the wedding was showed on TV.  But the marriage started to break down and it was all recorded to be shown on TV as a junk reality show.  Even worse the ratings for the show were very high.  Looks like many people do not have anything better to do.  This is another lesson for everyone.  TV will not make you famous; it will make your life a living hell.  And your break down will be showed on TV for everyone to make fun of.

Netflix; News Corp.; Blackberry:

This has been a bad year for business.  But some companies wished that 2011 never happened.  Netflix charged more for their services and tried to split of an new company Quikster.  News Corp. had their huge scandal cover up revealed.  You know snooping on people’s phone calls will only lead to big trouble.  And Blackberry had huge outages across the planet.  Many companies are hoping for an better 2012 and company decisions that will not cause customer revolt on social media.

Facebook:

Facebook was in the news for much of 2011.  Much of that was not good news at all.  Facebook had major privacy issues and had sexual images cycling through the news feeds.  Also some users do not like some of Facebook’s new features such as timeline.  So will other social media sites like Google + or Twitter take over and gain new people?  We will see in 2012.

Penn State Scandal:

This was the other huge sports story in 2011 that will harm the university for decades to come.  A huge cover up of sexual activites in a locker room shower was exposed.  And now the entire university has been blown up.  Many top officals of Penn State have been fired or quit and some are now sitting in jail.  There has even been suggestions to change the name of the university.  Another great lesson for everyone.  If you know of something bad happening; report it!