TechTalk Live Cordcutting 101


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Whether you’re considering dropping cable television for good, or have already taken the leap, this presentation discuss the phenomenon of cordcutting. Librarian and gadget guru Mike Oetting discusses what to expect after canceling cable. He talks about how devices like the Apple TV and Roku set top boxes, in conjunction with Internet-based services like Hulu and Netflix, can help to fill the television content vacuum. Learn about the variety of programming available without cable TV, some of it exclusive to the Web.

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  • ----- Meeting Notes (11/4/13 18:14) -----See Interface Demonstration Notes:*Edited for length and to make less boring*Noise: clicking noise is my dog Mia, audio dropouts on Roku are due to my audio system.
  • TechTalk Live Cordcutting 101

    1. 1. TechTalk Live Cordcutting 101 Presented by: Mike Oetting Adult Services Librarian
    2. 2. What is cordcutting? Cordcutting refers to dropping your cable (or other pay television) service in favor of alternative sources of TV and movies. Similarly, cordshaving is replacing some pay TV services with other sources of content.
    3. 3. A Real Trend For years, cable TV executives have downplayed cordcutting as a phenomenon. In August of 2013, industry analyst (and former skeptic) Craig Moffett estimated that 911,000 households cut the cord over the last year, and that the pace is increasing. Source: Multichannel News
    4. 4. Cable? None for me, thanks. The Cord-Nevers There are also a group of young people who have never paid for television service. They are known as cord-nevers. Pay television companies are nervous about them, as future TV revenue streams are in jeopardy.
    5. 5. Why cut the cord? There are a variety of reasons you might consider it: • Making a statement • Saving money • Seeking specific channels, not bundles of channels • Trying to reduce your TV habit
    6. 6. The Post-Cord World
    7. 7. How do we replace pay TV content? • Physical Media • An Over-the-Air HDTV Antenna • The DVR Dilemma • An Emerging Antenna/DVR Solution • Streaming Video: • Hardware • Sources of Video
    8. 8. Physical Media Borrow, rent or buy discs. • HPL has thousands of DVDs and a growing selection of Blu-Rays. Free one week loan with your Library card. • Redbox rentals and Netflix subscription plans • Purchase physical media
    9. 9. Over-The-Air (OTA) HDTV Antenna • OTA antennas come in many shapes and sizes. • To use one, you’ll need a TV with an HDTV tuner (sometimes called an ATSC tuner). • Antenna placement in order of channel reception: 1. Rooftop 2. Attic 3. In-room The paper-thin Mohu Leaf antenna is designed to be unobtrusive indoors.
    10. 10. Over-The-Air (OTA) HDTV Antenna Use or to find the precise direction to point your antenna. For example, indicates I should point my antenna E by NE to get the most stations. Channels further from the graph’s center are harder to pick up.
    11. 11. The DVR Dilemma Simply adding an antenna doesn’t let you record programs for later viewing. Possible Solutions: • Tivo Roamio ($199 plus $14.99/month) • SimpleTV ($199 including 1 year service, $49 per year after that, or $299 with lifetime service)—you must provide an external USB hard drive. • Forthcoming Channelmaster K77 OTA DVR (pricing & monthly fees, TBD) • Home Theater PC with a large hard drive plus a digital tuner (e.g., HD Homerun).
    12. 12. An Emerging Antenna/DVR Solution Aereo ( Offers an Internet-based DVR with major TV network channels for $12/month. Coming to Chicago, but launch has been delayed. • A truly revolutionary service for cordcutters • TV networks are mounting vigorous legal challenges.
    13. 13. Streaming Video
    14. 14. Streaming Video Hardware: Media Streamers • Simple & inexpensive way to bring Internet-based video to your HDTV. • Most offer ―channels‖ like Netflix. • Channels do NOT typically include live feeds of major networks (e.g., NBC, FOX, etc.) • Devices connect to your home network (wireless or wired) with broadband. • Game consoles, Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players often have streaming video functionality.
    15. 15. Streaming Video Hardware: Home Theater PCs (HTPCs) • Powerful & expensive alternatives to media streamers. More complicated to set up. • ―Small form factor‖ computers like the Mac Mini (top) and ASRock Vision HT series are popular. These start at ~$600. • Use a Web browser or dedicated application like Plex ( to play video.
    16. 16. Streaming Video Hardware: Chromecast • A cheap ($35) way to get video from your phone/tablet/web browser to your HDTV. • Simple to setup • No remote – must use your existing device to control. • Recent iPads, iPhones and Mac laptops can do this with an Apple TV feature called Airplay.
    17. 17. Streaming Video Sources: Netflix • $7.99 per month. • Largest catalog of streaming TV and movies. • Dedicated mobile apps. • Some high-quality original programming (e.g., House of Cards) • More U.S. Subscribers than HBO as of late 2013 (30 MM vs. 28.7 MM).* *Source:
    18. 18. Streaming Video Sources: Hulu Plus • $7.99 per month. • Collaboration among major TV networks. CBS only offers older programs/episodes. • Has next-day access to many TV programs. • Has commercials and no way to opt-out. • Film buffs take note: Over 800 Criterion Collection films available on Hulu Plus. See for a list.
    19. 19. Streaming Video Sources: Amazon Prime Instant Video • $79 per year (about $6.38 per month). • An added benefit to free two-day shipping. • Some exclusive TV shows (like Downton Abbey) • In addition to Prime streaming, there are also shows available for purchase/download.
    20. 20. Streaming Video Sources: Apple’s iTunes Store • Can watch on an Apple TV, a computer or an iOS device. • Good selection of television shows for purchase. Also offers a ―season pass‖ option to purchase an entire season of a TV program. • Movies also available for rental and purchase. • Files are downloaded, not streamed.
    21. 21. Streaming Video Sources: What Streams Where? Also, try an iOS app called Luma.
    22. 22. Apple TV and Roku 3 Interface Demonstrations
    23. 23. Live Sports Woes Likely the biggest blow when you cut the cord. • Season packages can be costly (>$150 for NBA). • Season packages often suffer from local blackouts, so it works best if you follow out-of-market teams. Local OTA broadcast coverage can be a workaround. • Poor NCAA Basketball coverage except during the March Madness tourney. See for more information.
    24. 24. Summary of The Post-Cordcutting Experience • No magic bullet. Replacing pay TV requires a multi-pronged approach. • Some high-quality programming is available exclusively online (e.g., House of Cards on Netflix) • Can often get next-day access to TV episodes via purchase from iTunes Store or • Finding live sports is a challenge.
    25. 25. Trouble on the Horizon? • Usage-based Internet fees… no more flat rate service? • Impact of Aereo… no more free network TV using an antenna?
    26. 26. Cordcutting: The Dark Side
    27. 27. The Dark Side: Piracy The series finale of Breaking Bad was downloaded 500,000 times within 12 hours via Bittorrent*, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol. *Source: /breaking-bad-series-finale-breaks-records-for-ratings-and-piracy
    28. 28. The Dark Side: Circumventing Region Restrictions Some shows air in the US much later than their release in other countries. Some people use special services, (e.g. proxies and VPNs) to get around geographic restrictions. See for more information.
    29. 29. Why do people circumvent? Availability Source: Site accessed on 10/22/13
    30. 30. Why do people circumvent? Timeliness: Piracy is the only way to watch some current programs close to their original air date without a pay TV subscription.
    31. 31. Why do people circumvent? • Mobility: Many electronic devices like tablets and lightweight notebooks no longer have optical drives for playing DVDs, so people ―rip‖ movies to their devices for on-the-go playback.* • Convenience: To save time, some people download pre-ripped versions of movies or TV shows via Bittorrent to save time. * See for more information on DVD ripping.
    32. 32. The Dark Side: Consequences • Six Strikes: a system designed to give warnings to bittorrent copyright infringers. May also include temporary reductions in Internet speeds. ISPs include AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. • Lawsuits: MPAA and RIAA have a history of filing civil suits against alleged file sharers. • Possibility of criminal charges for copyright infringement and DMCA anti-circumvention provisions.
    33. 33. Questions?