Three Netflix changes to expect
Plus: Free soccer streaming and a cheap Chromecast
This week on TechHive: Netflix DVD’s demise (and alternatives)
Netflix delivered some bad news to DVD and Blu-ray diehards on Tuesday, announcing it will mail out its last discs on September 29.
You might chuckle at the notion that Netflix’s DVD rental service lasted this long in the first place, but optical media can still be a useful tool for TV viewing. Netflix’s DVD catalog is broader in some respects than the company’s streaming offerings, and Blu-ray in particular looks and sounds better than overly-compressed streaming video. Both DVDs and Blu-ray discs also work offline without any arbitrary playback restrictions, and if you’re not skittish about skirting copyright rules, you can rip DVDs and Blu-rays to fill up a personal media server.
So partly to satisfy my own curiosity, I decided to see if any Netflix DVD alternatives still exist. As it turns out, there are still plenty of other ways to get what your optical media fix.
Netflix’s password sharing update: In other Netflix news, the company has delayed the its password sharing crackdown in more countries—including the United States—until later this quarter. Netflix originally planned to roll out new location restrictions and “paid sharing” plans in Q1, but now points to “learnings” from its initial test markets that it wants to implement first.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Netflix’s testing phase has been messy, with unclear guidelines and new rules that can hinder legitimate use. When the crackdown does reach the United States, I expect it to be a bit more permissive than what Netflix has been testing so far, even if it does allow some password sharing to slip through.
Netflix’s ad-supported upgrade: Okay, one more story out of Netflix’s earnings report. The company is upgrading the video quality on its $7 per month ad-supported plan from 720p to 1080p, and it will allow two simultaneous streams instead of just one. The changes are rolling out now in Spain and Canada and will reach 10 more markets (including the United States) later this month.
In an earnings call, Netflix said its ad-supported plan already brings in more money per subscriber than its basic plan globally, and more than its standard $15.50 per month plan in the United States. That’s similar to what we’ve seen from Hulu and its ad-supported tier. From Netflix’s perspective, the more eyeballs per home it can get on those ad-supported streams, the better.
CBS’s free soccer streams: Earlier this month, CBS launched a streaming soccer channel called Golazo, which you can watch for free through CBS Sports or Pluto TV. I didn’t pay it much mind at the time, because most of these free sports streaming channels serve up nothing but talking heads and old game replays. But here’s a refreshing change: Golazo will air the UWCL semifinal and final live starting this weekend. More of this, please.
DirecTV Stream’s Fire TV tie-ins: Got a Fire TV device and DirecTV Stream subscription? You can now tune to live channels using Alexa voice commands on your remote, with commands like “tune to ESPN.” DirecTV Stream also ties into the Fire TV’s “Live” tab, which pulls channels from various streaming sources into a single grid guide. Fire TV already offers similar integrations with YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Philo, so it’s nice to see one more provider get on board.
Netflix botched its “Love is Blind” livestream event.
YouTube clarifies some Sunday Ticket details, including DVR use.
The Reds may start streaming their own games within a few weeks.
Apple tests split-screen viewing for its sports streams on Apple TV boxes.
Save more money
Need of a cheap streaming player to plug into an old TV? The Chromecast with Google TV (HD) has returned to Black Friday pricing of $20, down from the usual $30. At this price, it undercuts other cheap streamers such as the Roku Express and Fire TV Stick Lite, and it offers a helpful menu for finding things to watch. I reviewed it last fall over at TechHive.
Other notable deals:
The latest Paramount+ codes are STALLONE, FATALATTRACTION, and NWSL2023. Learn how to avoid paying for Paramount+ with these codes.
Peacock Premium still offers a year for $20 with code N2TEWDZZ.
See more ways to save on the Cord Cutter Weekly website.
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Until next week,