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Celebrity Cyber Report – LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Dave Chappelle, Kanye West

LeBron James

YouTube has added another big name to its Red subscription streaming service. NBA legend LeBron James will get executive producer credit for “Best Shot,” an eight-episode documentary covering a high school basketball team. The team is being mentored by former NBA star Jay Williams. “Best Shot” follows the players struggles with life’s everyday challenges while simultaneously chasing their hoop dreams.

The documentary will be directed by Michael John Warren. Warren has impressive credentials and is best known for his documentaries on hip-hop stars Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj. No date has been released for “Best Shot” so look for it on Red sometime in 2018.

Dwayne Wade

Another NBA star showing up on streaming media is James’  teammate Dwayne Wade. Facebook is offering a reality based show with the NBA star.  The show, which premiered on November 20th,  gives fans a look inside the star’s daily life.  Entitled “BackCourt” cameras follow the three time NBA champion as he travels to Europe for fashion events, attempts to master golf all the while managing his business interests.

Wade will be joining other pro athletes with Facebook programs to include Lonzo Ball of the L.A.Lakers and his family,  and Raider’s running back Marshawn Lynch.  Episodes of “BackCourt” will air on Mondays.

Dave Chapelle

According to Variety comedian Dave Chappelle’s third Netflix special, “Dave Chappelle: Equanimity,” is set to debut on the streaming service on New Year’s Eve.  This is Chapelle’s first exclusive comedy special for Netflix. Last year Netflix announced that Chapelle would perform three specials for the channel.  The first two performances, released in March, were  shows performed at Austin City Limits entitled “Deep in the Heart of Texas” and “The Age of Spin: Live at the Hollywood Palladium.” Both were previously un-released performances. 

In addition to Chappelle’s specials, Netflix is rumored to have dropped $40 million for the rights to two Chris Rock specials.

Kanye West

Rapper and all around attention getter Kanye West is taking his business empire into cyber space. According to reports West’s business people recently filed a trademark for a new service called “Yeezy Sound.” “Yeezy Sound” is intended to do everything from stream music to broadcast television.

“Yeezy Sound” trademark statement reveals the service will offer “streaming music, audio, images, video, and other multimedia over the Internet, mobile devices, wireless networks, and other computer networks and electronic communication networks.”

Essentially Kanye is getting into the merciless combat that is fought among the likes of  Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube. Other services from “Yeezy Sound” will include “providing online chat rooms, online electronic bulletin boards and community forums” allowing fans and other users to communicate.

Kanye is known for his ego and grand aspirations. “Yeezy Sound” is no different. It appears that the bruising he is sure to receive in the music streaming game is not enough. “Yeezy Sound” will also seek  “broadcasting of cable television, television and radio programs” as well as “video streaming services via the Internet, featuring independent films and movies.” So it seems he is also picking a fight with heavyweights Hulu and Netflix. Good luck brother!

Your Cable Box is About to Die

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Courtesy: BrandonSigma

Cable television has been under relentless pressure for quite some time now. More and more Americans are simply cutting the cord. Tired of the high cost of cable programming bundles and equipment rental many people are finding streaming to be a better option. This fact is especially true for black people, who according to Pew Research watch more television than any other group.

The Internet and streaming media services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have shown American television watchers there is a cheaper, easier and more convenient way to watch television. 

A new survey from ComScore revealed that among 18-34 year old viewers 24 percent don’t subscribe to a traditional pay TV service. This is a prime demographic for advertisers. Of that group nearly 46 percent of those viewers never had cable to begin with, while the rest simply cut the cord. And the number of Americans moving away from cable television has been steadily growing since 2009.

Now the F.C.C. has turned up the heat on cable companies further by deciding to kill the cable box as we know it.

On Wednesday the Federal Communications Commission announced a proposal that would allow cable and satellite subscribers to pick the devices they use to watch television. Currently nearly all cable customers must rent those set top boxes from their cable companies and pay, on average, $231 a year for these devices. Looks as if those days are coming to an end.

The move would save the consumer plenty of money because they would pay a one time price for the new device. The move would permit tech companies like GoogleTV, Amazon and AppleTV to expand their footprint in the television markets by introducing technology that blends television and Internet. As you can imagine the television industry has fought this move for some time.  The reactions to the announcement has been predictable. Technology companies love it. Cable television hates it.

With a focus on improving the overall television experience the  F.C.C. is looking to remove a prime source of consumer complaints; the set top box, cable company restrictions and expensive long term contracts.  Tech companies like Apple and Amazon make devices that connect to televisions and have new interfaces, but they provide streaming Internet video and do not replace the cable box. Many blue ray disc players and gaming consoles also provide streaming entertainment. The objective is to blend these devices into a more streamlined device that does it all…for less.

F.C.C. Chairman Tom Wheeler said; “It’s time to unlock the set-top box market. Let’s let innovators create, and then let consumers choose.” Wheeler  wrote of the proposal on the technology news site Recode. According to the F.C.C. prices for other consumer technology such as smartphones has been on a steep downward spiral while estimates for set top box and other cable technology devices rose 185 percent over 20 years.

Opponents of the proposal believe that the industry was already providing more streaming options. The opponents said that F.C.C. intervention was not needed to spur innovation.

Cable companies have been slowly coming to the realization that streaming media is taking over and have been trying to adjust. Last November Time Warner Cable began a trial offering of cable television lineups through devices made by Roku. Charter Communications also offered its subscribers streaming TV through a Roku App. Cox Communications, an Atlanta-based cable company, allows customers to view programming through TiVo.

Television networks like HBO, Showtime and CBS recently introduced new offerings of à la carte offerings allowing customers to subscribe to an individual network without paying for the traditional full cable bundle.

Advocates believe that if the F.C.C. announcement is approved, consumers will see immediate savings.  Consumers could begin using just one device to access video content whether its video streaming online or cable television.

President and CEO of Consumer Reports, Marta Tellado,  said the changes were long overdue.

“With the ever-increasing price of cable and all of the advances in technology,” she said, “why should consumers have to keep renting a set-top box?”

 

 

Cable Television is Feeling The Heat

Slide1There is not a single black person who has not waited half a day for the cable technician to show up at our house; if they showed up. And who hasn’t put up with poor customer service and high cable bills for channels we don’t watch? You know the package where you get the two channels of you want and fifteen channels of crap! We have paid enough and put up with enough.

Video streaming is what’s happening now. The number of people dumping cable televison, or cutting the cord as some call it, is growing. Research conducted by TiVO subsidiary Digitalsmiths shows that 8.2 percent of former cable TV subscribers have cut the cord. That’s up a full percentage point from last year.  Another 45.2 percent reported having reduced their cable or satellite TV service during the same time frame. A practice known as cord shaving. These stats are putting huge pressure on the cable television industry.

Cord shaving consumers are chosing to go with smaller pay TV bundles. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video are becoming the video entertainment of choice. Why? Convenience is the first thing that comes to mind. Anywhere, anytime is a very appealing option. Second is the cost, streaming video services are significantly cheaper than cable television. Third, the shows people know and love are there for the viewing. And finally, cable customer service sucks!

Cable companies are feeling the heat. Verizon FIOS is the first major cable provider to go for the ala carte menu. They now allow cable customers to pick and choose what channels they want to pay for. But in defense of the cable companies they were in a bad position. Many media companies demanded that if the cable company offers one network they had to offer all of them. The result was expensive cable bills for the consumer.

Cable companies are also offering you that DVR thing that costs you so much a month to use but never own. Welcome to the age of the Internet, video streaming, on demand, wherever we want it. NOW! Its becoming obvious that the cable television business model is slowly dying.

Many people are worried about their Internet service and live programming like sports. But that is no longer a concern either. Keeping basic cable and Internet has always been an option. And new streaming services like SlingTV from DISH Network will provide ESPN and ESPN 2 for just $20 a month. You can get other ESPN channels for just $5 more.  And lets not forget that live sports will eventually become a regular part of the streaming media package. Yahoo will stream a live NFL game on October 25th. Its a sign of things to come. Other interesting services that are coming into the marketplace include HBO’s new service HBO Now. This allows you to stream HBO programs and movies as a stand alone service.

But lets get back to the cost of cable television. It is not unheard of for cable bills to be as high as $200 a month. African-Americans need to look at their bill and really make some hard choices about their cable package.  Black families can get an idea of the money they may save by using the interactive calculator provided by MarketWatch.com.

According to the survey 15.3 percent of consumers are planning to either switch, change, or cut the cord completely to cable television service.

Streaming media services offer original programming that is recieving high acclaim. Orange Is The New Black is an extremely popular program that is only available on Netflix. One of the most popular shows in the history of telelvision, Seinfeld, is now available on Hulu Plus. Another one of televisions hottest shows, Empire, is also streaming on Hulu Plus.

Cutting your cable may be a no brainer for some people. For others its a decision that may take some thought. But the bottom line is cable television is being threatened by a new technology with better choices and convenience.  Cable televison operators are fighting to stay in the game but its not looking good. I can take my tablet, laptop or cell phone anywhere and watch whatever I want, when I want.

Cable Television: Are Black People Paying Too Much?

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Is that cable television bill really worth it? Black people sometimes pay too much. Sometimes by design, sometimes because we don’t explore all our options. So take a close look at your cable television bill and ask if it is really worth it. Television has changed so much in the last three years, thanks to the Internet, that you can probably shut off or at least reduce your cable television bill significantly. Let’s look at the options that can save you a lot of money.

You could just dump your cable altogether. Just get the basic channels and call it a day. But I’m willing to bet that will still cost you just shy of $100 a month. And you will probably miss some of your favorite shows that are only on cable.

Here is better option, Netflix. If you own a smart television, a television that is capable of internet connection, you’re on your way. Netflix is only $7.99 a month and you can pretty much watch whatever you want when you want on whatever device you have. Netflix offers a huge library of films and television programs and they have not ignored the African-American market when it comes to selections. You can find Tyler Perry movies and programs, stars like Kevin Hart and other popular programs like Breaking Bad. Do the math; $7.99 is a lot cheaper than the $200 a month you might be paying for premium cable.

Another popular choice is Hulu.com. This service also offers great programs that include The Voice, new programs like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rake and yes, Scandal. You can try both Netflix and Hulu free for a trial period.

Another way to lower or eliminate that cable bill is to use devices like Chromecast or Apple TV. Both are network appliances that enable you to download content from the Internet including Netflix and Hulu. These devices are inexpensive one time purchases. How much are you paying each month to rent multiple cable boxes and DVR’s?

These services and devices do have a drawback. You probably won’t get to watch live sports and ESPN, NFL and NBA networks are not available. And we know missing the Final Four is not an option!  So some basic cable may be necessary. But again, I am willing to bet your television expenses will drop considerably.

The growing trend is television on demand. It makes sense; people are demanding more flexibility.  Black people should explore these services and devices  and keep some of that money in our pocket. I am not going to say that you will find everything you want but you should find plenty of viewing options and some you have not considered. You will discover that your television watching habits will change more to your liking. You might be surprised to find that you can subscribe to multiple services for much less than your current cable bill.

Now You Know

Why the Net Neutrality Ruling Will Affect African Americans

Image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

There are a lot of African Americans who haven’t heard of the net neutrality ruling or heard about it and don’t believe it will affect them. The ruling is about money and how much you pay for your Internet service. That affects everybody.

The term Net Neutrality simply means that all data traveling over the Internet is the same and is treated the same. Data travels over the Internet in what are called packets. According to net neutrality all packets are the same. So, all data is the same regardless of the sender, recipient, content, platform, application, equipment, and modes of communication. Now you know what net neutrality is.

African-Americans, like most Americans, get our Internet service from our cable or phone company. Many people pay for the famous bundle. This service allows you to get the big three, cable, Internet and phone for one price. Now that net neutrality is changing so will your bill for that bundle

The FCC was sued in federal court by Internet service provider Verizon. Verizon argued that the FCC regulations preventing the company from charging different prices for different services are invalid. The court agreed. Now you know what happened.

The result was the rule preventing broadband providers from slowing down or blocking certain traffic was invalid. This means companies like Verizon, Comcast and others could block certain traffic if they wish and charge for higher speed services. The rule also required that companies using fiber optic or other cable treat all traffic the same and reveal their network practices. All these rules were thrown out by the court.

The impact on black people is easy to understand. The era of an open and free Internet may have come to an end. The result may be that the commoditizing of entertainment and information that was at one time free or cheap.  Companies such as Netflix and Hulu may raise their prices because the Internet Service provider (Comcast, Verizon et al.) are going to charge them more. This may also include online gaming, and targeted websites such as those for the Black and Latin American community.

But the FCC has not thrown in the towel. According to the Washington Post the FCC is re-writing the rules that will prohibit cable providers from blocking or slowing down Internet traffic or charging higher prices for high speed content.

Chairman of the FCC, Tony Wheeler, has stated he will not appeal the courts’ ruling but instead sees the ruling as an invitation to re-write the rules so they conform to communications laws.

In a statement Wheeler said; “I intend to accept that invitation by proposing rules that will meet the court’s test for preventing improper blocking of and discrimination among Internet traffic, ensuring genuine transparency in how Internet Service Providers manage traffic, and enhancing competition.

Breaking It Down

 In my opinion this was a set up from the beginning. How does this happen that the FCC loses a ruling that allows it to control how Internet traffic is regulated? Well first of all the head of the FCC used to work for the same companies that won the ruling.  Tony Wheeler is a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless companies (Comcast, Verizon, et al). So is it a surprise that he’s not going to appeal?

Yes, he is going to re-write the rules but you can forget the old Internet. This guy is no friend of free and open Internet. I’m betting the new rules will allow the cable companies and Internet Service Providers to charge what they want for Internet service, watch and see.

Soon you will be seeing what is being called the “cablelization’ of the Internet. This is Internet service where certain traffic is blocked or slowed because the website won’t pay for the faster service or to be preventing from crossing the last mile to your home. The last mile is a term used to describe the final stretch of wire that brings Internet service into your home.

I see a day where certain websites are charged because they do not have the minimum traffic that makes it profitable for the ISP to carry them. That means some minority focused websites may be dropped. Think African-American or Latin news sites. I know this sounds blatantly racist but these companies are not looking at race as a basis for what they charge. They are looking at hard numbers. If they can carry only web services and websites that are paying or main stream sources of information then it’s all about profit. The rest be damned! Maybe the consumer will be put in a position where you can choose Google or Yahoo services or both for a higher price. It’s called tiered pricing and you’ve seen it already with your cable television bill.

Basically the Internet service provider will give better service to those web services that pay for it and leave consumers in the lurch for their desired content. I fear that is what is going to happen and a lot of consumer groups agree with me…or I with them.