It looks like you may be able to check out Google’s Android TV soon. Since Xiaomi’s Mi Box was announced at Google I/O this year, multiple reports have speculated that the company’s set top box will be available for a sub-$100 price soon. It appears those guesses may have been true: some Mi Box units have been reportedly spotted at Walmart going for just $69.
@jasonhowell @androidshow @Ohthatflo @ronxo saw this Mi Box at Walmart today for $69. Was this released yet? pic.twitter.com/AsuNZeU5oJ
— George Garrett (@garrettdotcom) September 23, 2016
According to a picture posted by Twitter user George Garrett, at least three units of the Mi Box were just chilling out on a Walmart shelf. We don’t yet know exactly which outlet of the store this was. The Android-powered set top box will support 4K content at 60 frames per second, HDR video and Google Cast. The latter lets you stream media from your phone, tablet or laptop to your TV. Thanks to its onboard quad-core chip and graphics processor, as well as the Android TV 6.0 software, you’ll also be able to play games pretty decently.
The Mi Box will also ship with a Bluetooth remote control that will support voice commands, and a gaming controller will also be available for you to more intuitively play games with.
Xiaomi has yet to formally announce the Mi Box’s price and availability, and we’ve reached out to the company for comment. Until we hear back though, the picture seems to be genuine and may actually reflect the eventual price of the device. If so, it certainly is a more affordable option than Amazon’s Fire TV, the Roku 4 and the Apple TV, which could make it a compelling alternative.
Source: George Garrett (Twitter)
Reports surfaced in January that CBS and Time Warner were planning a streaming service for The CW network. So far, those plans haven’t come to fruition, but starting next week, it’ll be a lot easier to stream shows that air on the the channel. The CW’s series were already available for in-season streaming on the web and its mobile apps free of charge, but based on a tweet from the network’s Supergirl account, those shows are also headed Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku and Xbox next week. And they still won’t cost you a dime.
Details are scarce for now, but there’s a “Notify Me” page where you can sign up to be alerted when the new options go live. In addition to the rumblings about a standalone service for The CW shows, the network also recently revised how its content will hit other subscription services. All CW shows are getting pulled from Hulu in favor of the network’s own site and apps. The CW’s slate of fall premieres start October 4th, so being able to stream those shows on a variety of new devices couldn’t come at a better time.
Thanks to a retooled agreement with Netflix, that library will be the exclusive streaming home for the likes of Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin. CW shows will hit Netflix a week after the current season wraps up as well, a massive improvement from what used to be a wait of several months.
It will be interesting to see if CBS and Time Warner stick with the free offering down the road. CBS has it’s own paid streaming service, CBS All Access, that costs viewers $6 a month. At the end of August, CBS announced a commercial-free option for $10 a month. What’s more, All Access will be the exclusive home of the upcoming (and delayed) Star Trek series as well as a spin-off from The Good Wife.
Starting next week, The CW is available everywhere. Find out more: https://t.co/GKXJwFTYOZ pic.twitter.com/0Ia57HAvs5
— Supergirl (@TheCWSupergirl) September 19, 2016
Source: The CW (Twitter)
ESPN’s first experiment with drone racing coverage must have been successful, as it’s committing to robotic sports in a big way. The TV network has unveiled a multi-year broadcasting deal with the Drone Racing League that will have both ESPN and ESPN2 airing races in the Americas, starting with the 2016 season. The series broadcast kicks off on October 23rd at 9PM, and will spread five races over the course of 10 episodes. It all comes to a head with two DRL World Championship episodes on November 20th.
Drone racing TV is crossing the Atlantic, too. Sky has landed its own deal that will bring DRL competitions to TV this fall through the Sky Sports Mix channel, with a race coming to London in 2017. Austrian, German and Swiss fans will want to either tune into 7Sports’ channels or attend the first-ever DRL event in Germany next year. All told, drone races are about to get much more exposure — they’re not truly mainstream, but they’re getting much closer.
Source: DRL (PR Newswire), ESPN MediaZone
A few months after its White Paper, the UK government has published the first official draft of the next BBC Charter. The crucial document, which sets out the broadcaster’s funding, corporate structure and general approach to programming, comes with a few crucial changes. After all, it’s been a decade since the last Charter was drawn up — a lot has changed in that time, both politically and inside the media industry.
Protecting the licence fee
The licence fee is divisive among the British populace. Some see it as an outdated form of funding which penalises infrequent viewers. Others believe the mechanism is vital to the BBC’s success as a public service broadcaster, removing it from the whims of advertisers and giving it the freedom to take creative risks. The new BBC Charter will ensure the licence fee rises with inflation over the next five years, starting in 2017. The government believes there are “drawbacks” to the system, but admits it’s still the best way to fund the broadcaster over the next decade or so.
BBC to disclose staff wages
Gary Lineker, host of Match of the Day. Credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP
When the White Paper was introduced, it came with an explosive proposal: that the BBC disclose every staff member earning over £450,000. The hope was that such an order would make the BBC more transparent, exposing high-earners and how its money is being spent. Today, the Department for Media, Culture and Sport has gone further, dropping the threshold down to £150,000 instead. That means more presenters and journalists will be caught up in the public disclosures. The Guardian suggests the lower brackets could catch employees such as Fiona Bruce, Jeremy Vine and Claudia Winkleman, alongside larger stars such as Gary Lineker.
A change in governance
Under the new proposals, the BBC Trust will be abolished. The independent governing body will be replaced by a new BBC Board made up of 14 members, of which nine will be appointed by the broadcaster itself. The chair will be selected through a government-led process, while the final four will be chosen as representatives for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. In addition, the BBC will be held to account by Ofcom, the UK’s media watchdog. The regulator will review any proposed changes by the BBC to its core services, as well as complaints submitted by viewers.
A subscription service
It’s long been rumoured that the BBC wants to set up a subscription service. While much of its funding comes from the licence fee, it’s keen to look at alternate forms of revenue (consider the iTunes style BBC Store, for instance). A subscription service could be used to boost its commercial revenue, especially in markets such as the US. The new Charter states that the BBC “may develop, test and pilot such a service, with the approval of the appropriate Minister.” In the previous White Paper, the government stressed that a subscription model couldn’t be used to “top up” or replace any service already supplied by the licence fee. Such an offering would, therefore, need to offer entirely new features or content in the UK.
A radio switchover
Justin Bieber in the Radio One Live Lounge. Credit: BBC/Bryony Shearmur
Many people still listen to BBC radio the old-fashioned way. The government is keen for the industry to go digital, however, and leave the analogue airwaves behind. While a timeframe hasn’t been set for a switchover, the possibility is still very much on the table. In the new BBC Charter, it states: “The BBC must use all reasonable endeavours to co-operate promptly and in good faith with any department of the UK Government involved in the planning or implementation of a digital radio switchover.” A new agreement would need to be drawn up by the BBC and the government, setting out funding and signal coverage requirements.
Here’s a common scenario: You live in the UK and love The Great British Bake Off. One week you’re travelling abroad, either on holiday or a business trip, only to discover that iPlayer isn’t accessible. It’s a real pain, and the UK government knows it. To solve the problem it’s asking the BBC to look at whether “portability of on-demand programme services” would be possible for viewers who are “temporarily outside the United Kingdom.”
A verification system would be required, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has asked whether a similar system could be used to close the so-called “iPlayer loophole” in the UK. It’s all blue sky thinking at the moment, but it’s not hard to see where the government is going with this — tying the licence fee to your BBC ID would, theoretically, stop the people who currently watch iPlayer without a valid TV licence. The BBC’s findings will need to be submitted to the government before December 31st, 2020. (So don’t expect any sweeping changes in the next few years.)
The BBC’s response
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC. Credit: EON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, calls it a “hard won charter” that will support a “strong and creative BBC the public believes in.” He’s mostly in favour of the new BBC Board, after campaigning for a better split between BBC and government-appointed members. “The BBC is a public service broadcaster – not a state broadcaster,” he said. “I am glad they have reconsidered.” He’s less impressed with the decision to out staff members earning over £150,000, however.
“Our position on talent pay has not changed and all major broadcasters have questioned the merit of the proposal. The BBC is already incredibly transparent and we publish what we spend on talent pay – a bill which has fallen in recent years. The BBC operates in a competitive market and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love. Ultimately, the BBC should be judged on the quality of its programmes.”
The draft Charter will be debated in parliament this autumn. Once the finer details have been ironed out, it’ll be presented to the Privy Council — a body of advisers that help the Queen with political matters — for approval. The document will then come into force starting on January 1st, 2017.
Source: Draft BBC Charter
Vimeo and Lionsgate have announced a partnership today to offer nearly 80 of the studio’s TV shows for rental in over 150 countries. The roster includes Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, Casual, Weeds, Nurse Jackie and others. The service will go live on October 18.
The TV shows will be available simultaneously in 150 countries but there’s currently no word on pricing. Lionsgate also said that it would eventually start renting movies in the United States via Vimeo but didn’t share a date on when that would happen.
By securing this deal with Lionsgate, Vimeo is expanding its rather limited library of on-demand titles. Vimeo is dwarfed by video streaming juggernaut YouTube. But, by offering high-quality shows in over 150 countries at once, it could gain some additional market traction.
For the last year and a half, Sling TV has been gradually improving its cord-cutting TV service. Chromcast support, more channels and an updated interface have all made the streaming television solution better — but viewers on Windows have been stuck on the service’s original UI for months. Not anymore: Today the company launched a new, native Windows 10 app to save desktop users from obsolescence.
The new Sling TV app looks a lot like a slightly tweaked version of its Summer redesign. The content-centric UI still features a My TV section, with the ability to resume watching paused shows, and the more convenient browsing interface, but navigation has been moved to the left side feel more natural to Windows users. Live Tiles, Cortana voice search and touch compatibility for tablets are also baked in.
It’s a solid update — but it’s not mandatory. Sling TV says it will continue to support it’s legacy desktop app for users on older platforms and those who simply don’t wish to use the Windows Store. Sadly, that application isn’t getting a visual overhaul: It’s stuck with the same interface the service launched with over a year ago. Still, at least it’s an option.
Source: Sling TV
AT&T is pushing hard to get you streaming DirecTV on your smartphone. An update to the DirecTV iOS and Android apps mean you can now stream many more of the TV channels you can get at home. In The Verge’s testing, the only big exceptions were most local channels and a handful of sports channels like the NFL Network. Oh, and you now have an easy way to watch recorded shows — you can either download them to watch offline or stream them directly from your DVR.
The move isn’t completely surprising. DirecTV is gearing up to launch dedicated streaming services that won’t require a satellite subscription, and a large chunk of the provider’s existing selection will be available on mobile. It only makes sense to offer a similar mix to customers who do subscribe to satellite TV.
The update doesn’t come without some concerns. AT&T is also promising that DirecTV mobile streaming won’t count toward your data cap if you’re one of its wireless subscribers. While that’s good news if you like catching up on TV during your commute it’s also bound to raise eyebrows among net neutrality advocates. They’re concerned that exemptions like this may violate net neutrality by effectively punishing customers who prefer competing services.
AT&T tells us that it’s “not treating our services differently” than other data and is merely “saying thanks to customers” who use both services (you can read its full statement below). Other companies can do the same through the Sponsored Data program, the carrier says. However, there’s no denying it — this still means that you’ll have to limit your viewing for the majority of services that don’t participate in the program, like Hulu or Netflix, and won’t face that restriction with DirecTV.
“We are not treating our services differently from any other data. This feature is simply our way of saying thanks to customers that purchase both video and mobility services from AT&T. Other content providers can do the same thing through our sponsored data program.”
Via: The Verge (1), (2)
Source: App Store, AT&T
If you’ve been waiting your whole life for a TV that offers a 4K resolution, an OLED panel and Philips’ funky Ambilight technology, you’re going to love TP Vision’s newest 55-inch set.
The company is well-known for making Philips-branded TVs, and has gone a step further for its first model by integrating the ambient color-changing technology into the set too.
By using the “Philips Perfect Pixel Ultra HD engine” in combination with OLED pixels that have the ability to completely switch off, TP-Vision says the catchily named 901F delivers deeper, more accurate black levels.
Combine this with the Ambilight back-lighting effect on three sides of the TV and colors should look even more vibrant. It’s also trying to side-step the achilles heel of many slim, Smart TVs by providing a 30W 6.1 sound bar that integrates into the unit.
Keeping it all ticking along nicely, hopefully, is Android for TVs, which offers up the usual Google services and apps that you’d expect from any other Android device.
While TP Vision could win a TV buzzword bingo prize for this announcement, it neglected to say when the set will be released, where it’ll go on sale or how much it will cost.
CBS announced that its All Access streaming service was making the leap to Xbox One last week and now the network has another subscription option. If you like to watch the likes of Madam Secretary, Blue Bloods and more without the interruptions of commercials, you can pay more to get rid of them. CBS now offers a $10 monthly subscription that will allow you to stream all of that on-demand content commercial-free. That’s $4 a month more than the regular option that has been available since late 2014.
While paying monthly for a single over-the-air network’s shows may not be too enticing, there are a couple of originals that may get you to bite. The upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series will only be available on All Access alongside an unnamed The Good Wife spinoff. However, both of those shows won’t debut until next year. In addition to Xbox One, the CBS streaming service is available through Android, iOS and Windows apps or in your living room via Roku, Apple TV, Xbox 360, Chromecast, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.
Source: CBS All Access
File this one under “things we knew were happening but were waiting on official confirmation.” Surprising absolutely no one, Netflix’s ’80s-flavored sci-fi romp Stranger Things is getting a second season.
Since debuting on Netflix in July, Stranger Things has garnered quite the rabid audience with its quirky characters, eerie situations and the questions upon questions that have only snowballed since the first episode. It’s obviously a crowd-pleasing favorite, even though yours truly hasn’t seen over 30 seconds.
It looks like the teaser trailer might contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the first season you might want to exercise caution before watching it, even though it’s just a collection of text and what looks like episode titles. The next fleet of episodes is expected in 2017.