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Todd Erwin

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More households are streaming than ever before, thanks to the convenience, quality, and nearly unlimited variety of programming offered. With that convenience, though, comes a multitude of mostly unnecessary frustrations for tech-savvy home theater enthusiasts.
A Crash Course on the History of Streaming
When Netflix began its streaming service in 2007, it consisted of mostly independent movies that no one had heard of and a small selection of older television shows, with the majority of that content in standard definition. Their service was, at first, only available on XBOX gaming consoles and through computer web browsers, and later expanded to Sony’s Playstation 3 console, internet-connected Blu-ray players, smart TVs, as well as Roku and Apple streaming devices. Netflix’s main competitors were Hulu (a joint venture of NBC, ABC, and FOX broadcast networks offering their prime time lineups the following day), Apple’s iTunes movie and TV on-demand rental and purchase...

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Neil S. Bulk

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Hulu – It is hard to believe that in 2020, a major streaming service like Hulu is still streaming in stereo audio on Apple TV devices, the only major device in which Hulu is not in 5.1 (despite the capability of streaming Hulu’s original content in 4K). Both Amazon and Roku support Hulu with 5.1 audio – boggles the mind.

This is so stupid. And get this, on my new Sony 4K TV, the Hulu app is also only 2.0 but if I Chromecast from the Hulu app on my phone or tablet, I get 5.1 audio. How can Disney get Disney+ so right and Hulu so wrong?

Lionsgate, Paramount, MGM, STX
These four studios are the last remaining holdouts with movie locker service Movies Anywhere. Basically, this means that any movies from these studios that you purchase or receive digital copies for can only be viewed on the service they were purchased or redeemed at. With movie code redemptions, this usually means either Vudu or iTunes/Apple TV.


Every year I think, "Maybe this year they'll sign on with Movies Anywhere." Here's to 2021!
 

Josh Steinberg

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Of the subscription services, the lack of 5.1 on Hulu on AppleTV is baffling. Hulu should be a service that has year-round appeal to me but because of this decision, I only turn to it when I have to, vs looking there for something to watch from the beginning. To me, that’s an even bigger failing at this point than the holdout studios from MA - which also makes little sense. I wish I could speak with the holdout studios to let them know that that is the only reason I am wary to purchase their titles digitally. As much as I think iTunes will be here indefinitely, I’m wary of making purchases that don’t go into the MA locker.

For all of the advantages digital offers, I think everyone shot themselves in the foot by not agreeing to one simple, easy to explain standard. It should’ve been as simple as with discs - “this disc has a DVD logo, it works in any DVD player, no questions asked”. If the studios had gone digital first rather than being dragged into it by the storefronts, maybe we would have had a better system. I think everyone would have been better served by a single storefront maintained by all studios that was easily accessible on any device.

Then again, digital purchases are a $3 billion a year business and subscription streaming is an $18 billion a year business, so maybe none of this matters in the long run.
 

Jesse Skeen

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The biggest problem with subscription services is the pandering to those with short attention spans, showing onscreen prompts to skip intros and recaps and then interrupting end credits. I get that people want to skip intros but they could easily just let them do that by hitting Enter and not showing a prompt onscreen every time. Likewise people who are too impatient to let the end credits play can already exit out at any time without anything appearing onscreen for those. This isn’t cable where everyone is watching the exact same thing at the same time, and schedules have to be adhered to.

Hulu actually respects end credits now at least with Autoplay turned off and has never done the “Skip Intro” nonsense, but they have always overlaid network logos onscreen constantly. Thankfully with Airplay enabled on my Roku, I can finally watch Hulu without the logos, and also watch Disney Plus without their annoyances. Browsing and playing from my iPhone isn’t ideal, but far preferable to being annoyed when watching content.

I’m still not entirely sold on purchasing movies this way, but having multiple outlets to watch them makes it easier if one of them messes up something. I watched a movie on ITunes recently that had unbearable edge enhancement, but switched to Movies Anywhere and it looked a lot better.
 

Todd Erwin

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If the studios had gone digital first rather than being dragged into it by the storefronts, maybe we would have had a better system. I think everyone would have been better served by a single storefront maintained by all studios that was easily accessible on any device.
I disagree somewhat. I think instead each studio would have had its own storefront or each studio would have its own SVOD platform (kind of what we are starting to see now with HBO Max, Peacock, and Disney+).
 

Angelo Colombus

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My first time streaming was with Netflix back in 2018 to see Welles's The Other Side of the Wind and had a pleasant experience and just last week joined Netflix again to see The Irishman and Mank with no issues and the picture looked great with both of them.
 

Adam Gregorich

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Excellent article! It's getting frustrating that I can't stream either Vudu or Peacock on my Fire Sticks. I finally broke down and purchased an Apple TV, but Between the UHD player, XBOX, Switch and Firestick on my living room TV I don't have an HDMI port available without installing a HDMI switch. Ugh.

Re the studios who don't participate in Movies Anywhere, I had an off the record conversation with one of the holdouts a few years ago and it was due to the costs. It was going to be over a million dollars to join (at the time, might be more now) and they just didn't see the value in the spend and couldn't justify the cost.
 

Todd Erwin

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It's getting frustrating that I can't stream either Vudu or Peacock on my Fire Sticks. I finally broke down and purchased an Apple TV, but Between the UHD player, XBOX, Switch and Firestick on my living room TV I don't have an HDMI port available without installing a HDMI switch. Ugh.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Vudu and FandangoNow in the future. Both services are now owned by Comcast, with FandangoNow the "parent" to Vudu. I have a feeling they will eventually merge into one service, as the costs to run two identical but separate companies must be astronomical. It is also strange that just before the merger, Amazon added FandangoNow (as a viewing only app) to their Fire TV platform.
 

Adam Gregorich

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It will be interesting to see what happens with Vudu and FandangoNow in the future. Both services are now owned by Comcast, with FandangoNow the "parent" to Vudu. I have a feeling they will eventually merge into one service, as the costs to run two identical but separate companies must be astronomical. It is also strange that just before the merger, Amazon added FandangoNow (as a viewing only app) to their Fire TV platform.
I'm already missing disc+digital on Vudu. They really should merge them now
 

Neil S. Bulk

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Some more annoyances with streaming.

Lack of sound options. For instance, I bought the Bond movies in 4K from Vudu. They are all 5.1 only. I prefer the mono mixes on the first 9 movies, but that's not an option here.

No consistent bonus features. For instance, I bought the Bond movies in 4k from Vudu. It's just the movies. iTunes has them for the same price now and they have extras. If MGM was a Movies Anywhere provider this would not be an issue.
 

Todd Erwin

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Hulu's stereo only format on Apple TV is maddening. And I think Sony's Crackle is the same. SONY!! 2020/2021 And they're still too lazy to make it happen on Apple TV. Shame on me for still paying for Hulu.

I rarely watch Crackle, and last time I checked it was stereo across all devices. I equate Crackle more to Tubi, though, rather than a Hulu or Peacock, so stereo audio on a completely free and ad-supported service is not that big of an issue to me.
 
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If it's not on Blu-ray or DVD, the hell with it. We're not streaming anything, More than 90% of the streaming services show nothing we like and mostly it's terrible quality. The costs are out of range for rural areas and the service sucks. It would cost us 200.00 a month just to get a few services and for that we can buy 10 discs, which we then own and can watch anytime we want. You can't do that with any streaming service. Amazon Prime lists free movies, we try to watch some of their older films and series and most of the time, we get a message that the show is not available, even though it's been listed for months. These services are pure crap. We'll never subscribe to any.
 

Robert Crawford

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If it's not on Blu-ray or DVD, the hell with it. We're not streaming anything, More than 90% of the streaming services show nothing we like and mostly it's terrible quality. The costs are out of range for rural areas and the service sucks. It would cost us 200.00 a month just to get a few services and for that we can buy 10 discs, which we then own and can watch anytime we want. You can't do that with any streaming service. Amazon Prime lists free movies, we try to watch some of their older films and series and most of the time, we get a message that the show is not available, even though it's been listed for months. These services are pure crap. We'll never subscribe to any.
This thread doesn’t exist for the anti-streaming crowd to post their disdain for streaming. There are other existing threads for that purpose.

Any further such posts will be deleted from this thread!
 

Chip_HT

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Digital ownership should be easy and just like physical purchases. I buy a movie or TV show and it goes into my library. It shouldn't matter where I bought it from or who made it. I shouldn't also have to worry about the difference between 4K/HD/SD. I should have one purchase and then it streams at whatever quality my device is capable of playing.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Yeah, I wanna be sold on streaming (to complement my disc collecting) as well, but so far, various aspects have been annoying/detracting to frustrating as mostly noted by others...

FWIW, just posted about my latest experience w/ playback flakiness over here...

Only watched first hour of WW84, which does look and sound great (the one small-ish artifact I noticed possibly due to my own specific setup notwithstanding)...

Hope they'll all get their act together more, especially for the digitals ownership side of the bizz, not just herd us all toward lowest-common-denom sorta subscription services (even though it's good to see some tiering for ad-free paid vs ad-subsidized services). I now definitely see myself indefinitely satisfiable w/ a combo of all 3, discs, digitals (ownership) and subscription that best suits my family's use case going forward even though I'm like many other HTF regulars who didn't want to consider digitals/streaming in the past... Just need at least the showstopper type issues and a few annoyances fixed...

Cheers!

_Man_
 
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Briton

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HBO MAX surround sound oddity
HI, just wanted to post my experience and see if others are having the same issue.
Got one of the new Chromecast with GoogleTV for Christmas. Of course the first thing I did with it was watch WW84. Sound defaulted to 5.1 and sounded great. However, every other thing I've tried to watch on HBO is only coming through in 2.0, even if it says it's available in 5.1
I can watch these shows in 5.1 on my Roku, and I can even cast them from my phone to the same Chromecast and they default to 5.1. But if I play them via the HBOMAX app on my Chromecast I only get 2.0
Frustrating and very strange that WW84 is the only thing that the app will let me play in 5.1!
 

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