HBO gets smart about Game of Thrones, Comcast com-blocks Sling TV, and why the Xbox won’t be your cable box.


CordKillers: Ep. 82 - S-M-R-T SMART!
Recorded: August 3, 2015
Guest: Iyaz Akhtar


Intro Video 

Primary Target

  • HBO is selling 'Game of Thrones' S5 downloads earlier than usual
    -Season 5 of GoT available for download before DVD/Blu-ray, August 31 (preorder AMZN, Vudu, Itunes, Google Play for $39)
    - Includes extras
    - Discs don’t come until March 15
    - Been on sale in Australia since it finished airing
  • HBO says 'Game of Thrones' will be at least EIGHT seasons
    - HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Television Critics Association “Seven-seasons-and-out has never been the [internal] conversation. The question is: How much beyond seven are we going to do? Obviously we’re shooting six now, hopefully discussing seven. They [Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are] feel like there’s two more years after six. I would always love for them to change their minds, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.”

Signal Intelligence

  • Comcast's NBC refuses to air commercials for Sling TV
    - Sling bought ads on all major network sin 8 cities.
    - Comcast-owned NBC affiliates rejected the ads (including in New York and LA)
    - Sling CEO Roger Lynch wrote: "Comcast has a demonstrated history of shutting down ideas it doesn’t like or understand, predictably to its benefit and at the expense of consumers.”
    - Is seeing ads for Sling really a consumer benefit?
    - Should Comcast be required to run the ads? Would it be different if it was DirecTV?
    - What’s the real reason? Don’t forget Comcast licenses some of its networks to Sling TV

Gear Up

  • Xbox chief doesn’t see 'as much value' in TV cable box features
    - Phil Spencer speaking with the Verge about Xbox
    -"We've been thinking a lot about over-the-top and over-the-air conent and the aggregation of all your content in this un-bundled world"
    - On cable box: “I’m not sure we have as much value to add there…”
    - "I think there are natural features that you could see where an Xbox could do a good job helping, especially in a world where you have video sources from all over the place.”
    - "We see what people do on the box and we know making advances in the entertainment space is important. You'll hear more from us soon actually about that."
    - Microsoft has a Gamescom announcement at 10 AM Eastern Tuesday. 

Front Lines

Under Surveillance

Dispatches from the Fronts
Hey Tom and Brian,

I was just having a quick look on eBay to see if anyone was selling an Amazon Fire Stick for cheap, but found a load of sellers listing a modified Fire Stick loaded with Kodi and plugins like iVue that enable people to stream premium channels for free. They're selling them at around £25 profit.. some have sold over 500 units (a tidy £12,500 profit!).

Isn't this illegal - i.e. selling it like that, not using it when you've bought one?

I'm all for killing the cord, and don't mind if people want to side load this stuff themselves, but blatantly selling them like this for that price & in such quantities feels wrong to me.

What do you guys think?


Hey crew I just setup my Xbox One to do remote play from outside my home network using

This got me to thinking this just made Xbox one a great sling box replacement if you run your TV through Xbox one like you Tom. Only thing a bit annoying is having an Xbox controller around to navigate the Xbox one interface remotely.

- Jack

Hello Tom and Brian

I just wanted to add my two cents into the discussion you had about JT question -"Is there room for the movie collector in the cordcutting world?"

Not all movies are available digitally yet

Two, Not all services have a full catalog.

Three, access to quality. Not everything is available in true HD (Stefano from Italy wrote in with the same concern about image abnd audio quality)

Four, there is a sense of control. The sense that you have easy access to your media when the internet is down or that pay streaming service that may or may not be there for the next 5 to 10 years. The sense of security that you don't have your credit card number on services that got hacked.

- David form Riverside, CA

Hey guys, I love the show. I just want to let you know about a really good documentary that I found on Netflix called "Lost Soul: the Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau". The documentary explores how the director had been fired and replaced in the middle of production, the script was rewritten on the set and it's two leads didn't get along with each other. Did you know that Brando didn't even bother reading the script at all? His lines were fed to him through an earpiece. Val Kilmer didn't get along with anybody on the set. There were even long periods where the extras and staff were coked up and having sex with each other because there was nothing else to do, seeing as how both leads refused to leave their trailers.

I was gobsmacked when I watched this, thinking that these were all professional people being well paid to make a movie, where the two lead actors and the director apparently didn't give a damn.

Best regards,
- Isaac in Madison

I did it I cut the cord with Dish Network, they at first offered me $30 off a month, then in a last ditch my current services (which are pretty low) for $33 a month for a year. But I could not be swayed I think Cable and Sat are aging technologies, I use Hulu and Netflix and Plex for everything else and am perfectly happy. Thanks guys for keeping up the good work



2015 Winter Movie Draft


AuthorTom Merritt

Movie Draft Update, BoJack Horseman S1, Mr. Robot (103-104), True Detective (206), Rick & Morty (201), The Shield (608)

00:53 - Movie Draft Update
04:19 - Feedback 
12:34 - BoJack Horseman S1
16:59 - Mr. Robot (103-104)
20:35 - True Detective (206)
28:50 - Rick & Morty (201)
34:50 - The Shield (608)

AuthorBryce Castillo
2 CommentsPost a comment

Do TV executives have cool heads or heads in the sand? What should movie collectors do for collecting movies?

CordKillers: Ep. 81 - Bleep, Click, Bought
Recorded: July 27, 2015
Guest: None

Intro Video 

Primary Target

  • TV executives: the threat of cord-cutting has been overhyped 
    -Where is the head: Coool or in the sand?
    - Experts on a panel on the future of TV at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen
    - Amy Banse of Comcast Ventures: “I personally believe, and also by looking at our own statistics, that the volume of press around cord cutting doesn’t quite match reality.”
    - George Liavkoff, president Hearst Ventures: “Cord-cutting is a great ‘story. But I think it’s over-reported. A la carte purchasing of channels—and not taking most of them—is a far more interesting area.” Comcast Stream as an example.
    “It turns out the killer app is television.”
    - Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer of Comcast Cable on Comcast Stream: “It will be successful if we can surgically go after those that don’t already subscribe to cable.”
    - Joe Marchese, president of advanced advertising products for Fox Networks Group, pointed out that Internet access still requires cord.
    - Dave Morgan, founder and CEO of Simulmedia: Judge Judy draws more total audience ad minutes than all of YouTube in a single day. “There’s an enormous opportunity not only in terms of what’s coming. But what we’re sitting on top of right now.”

Signal Intelligence

  • Verizon TV will focus on live events from HuffPo and sports
    - During quarterly earnings Verizon gave details on upcoming video service (Result of buying OnCue from Intel)
    - Content based on “live news clips based on sports and events.” Vice, DreamWorks TV and from AOL: Huffington Post & Tech Crunch.
    - Bundling content with phone plans
    - Not much content from traditional TV
    - Late summer
    - Side note: unrelated to mobile
    - FiOS TV customers selecting packages with fewer channels.

Gear Up

  • Nintendo's awkward TVii service will shut down on August 11th
    - The Nintendo Wii will not be the one box you need for everything
    - TVii service will shut down August 11
    - Don’t remember TVii?
    - Channel guide on Wii U Gamepad
    - Second screen interactivity like comments
    - Used ir blaster to control TV
    - Included major streaming services
    - Laggy and lacked support

Front Lines

  • Comcast may be chatting with new-media firms to snag younger users
    - The WSJ says Comcast has been talking with Vice, BuzzFeed, Business Insider and Vox about partnerships and acquisitions. For example Comcast could convert one of its NBCUniversal cable channels to a Vice channel.
  • YouTube hires MTV's Susanne Daniels to head YouTube Originals
    - YouTube has hired Susanne Daniels as Vice President of YouTube Originals. Daniels was the president of programming for MTV and has led programming for Lifetime and the WB. She also played a PBS Panel Moderator in the series finale of the Office. Side note, Nickelodean was doing a casting call at VidCon, YouTube's home turf.
  • Disney CEO says ESPN will eventually be sold straight to consumers
    - Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC this morning that ESPN will one day be sold directly to consumers like HBO. Then he stood high in his sadlle, rattled his saber and shouted “BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY!” Actually he said it would be like five years away or so.
  • NBA will let fans watch individual out-of-market games for $6.99
    - Starting next season the NBA will let US viewers buy access to individual games for $6.99. That gets you the ability to watch on your phone, tablet, PC AND participating cable or satellite provider. Oh and the game has to be out of market and not televised nationally.
  • Netflix Upgrades Its TV Apps To Save You A Few Clicks
    - Netflix updated its Smart Television apps for the first time since late 2013. Now when you select a title it will start playing while displaying title, description and episode number while you confirm your choice. Netflix says it provides a “more immersive and cinematic experience.”
  • Cisco sells set-top box business to Technicolor for $600 million
    - Cisco bought Scientific Atlanta in 2005, when it was the ruler of cable boxes. Now Cisco is selling the set-top box portion of their business— or the “customer-premises equipment business” as it is called. Paris-based Technicolor is buying it for $600 million. 
  • AT&T has the FCC's permission to buy DirecTV (update: done)
    - The FCC approved the merger of AT&T and DirecTV. Among the conditions, AT&T agreed not to use data caps to discriminate against competing video services.

Under Surveillance

Dispatches from the Front

Question here that I'd love for you to talk about on the show. I used to be a movie collector. In the 90's and early 2000's there was something incredibly gratifying about owning that DVD package. The Lord of the Rings extended editions. The Blade Runner Directors Cut with a 5 hour making-of documentary. They really gave me a sense of ownership. And they were worth owning.

Those days seem long gone in this streaming world, however, and I just cannot grapple with investing in Bluray knowing physical media's days look more numbered every year.

So now I struggle to figure out a few things when it comes to ""owning"" a movie collection: Which digital service makes the most sense to invest in for the long haul (mainly between Google Play and Amazon, since I'm an Android user)? Or is the very idea of owning movies becoming silly when I can rent just about anything the moment I feel like watching it?

Is there room for the movie collector in the cordcutting world?

(I should mention, the idea of buying and ripping Blurays sounds incredible unappealing and tedious to me)

Look forward to the show every week! I official cut the cord 2 months ago and haven't looked back.

- JT




An anonymous boss throwing a crumpled up Filet O Fish sandwich wrapper with a secret message at us regarding whether Hulu would add a commercial free level: "If you look at the current name change of getting rid of Hulu+ you might be able to read the tea leaves, I say no more' 



Reporting in from Charlotte, NC. Competition works! With google fiber soon on it's way a call to timer warner customer service got them to match the 70 a month rate for internet only for the 50 meg down and 5 up for a year. Down from 110 a month. Love the show keep up the great work.
Patreon supporter,
- Jeff




I was listening to the caller who was denied service because he took his Playstation with him to his beach house. The question of the service rep of "You wouldn't take your cable box to the beach, would you?" made me laugh.

Before cutting the cord I was a Dish Network subscriber. Our DVR would usually have hours of content we hadn't watched yet.
Whenever we would go on vacation we would take our dish receiver with us just so we could watch recorded shows offline.
So my answer to the rep would be "Yes, we would take our cable box with us!"

- Scott from Houston


2015 Winter Movie Draft

AuthorBryce Castillo

Hulu may contemplate an ad-free tier, Judge gives Internet TV hope, Slingbox giveth and taketh away.

Download audio

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CordKillers: Ep. 80 - Sit or Get Off the Pot, Hulu
Recorded: July 20, 2015
Guest: Andrew MayneEklund

Intro Video 

Primary Target

  • U.S. judge says Internet streaming service should be treated like cable
    - US District Judge George Wu in LA ruled FilmOn X entitled to compulsory license for streaming broadcast TV network
    - (Compulsory license allows small cost carriage of must carry sytations. Stations who opt for retrans consent no longer    must be carried but have to negotiate in “good faith” for retrans costs)
    - An immediate appeal to 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals was allowed
    - Injunction against FilmON left standing
    - Feb. 22, 2011 - District Judge Naomi Buchwald granted an injunction, shutting down most of the broadcast stations carried by Ivi
    - Same right Aereo was denied in Manhattan Federal Court October 2014
    - FCC launched comment period Dec. 18, 2014 on reclassifying OITT as MPVD
  • Password Sharing: Are Netflix, HBO Missing $500 Million by Not Cracking Down?
    - A report from research firm Parks Associates estimates services like HBO Go will lose up to $500 million worldwide to people who share login information. 6% of US broadband households use a service paid for by someone outside the house. Services like HBO and Netflix responded to the survey with a collective “yeah we know.”

Signal Intelligence

Gear Up

Front Lines

Under Surveillance

Dispatches from the Front

Hey Tom and Brian. I am still a few weeks behind so I don't know if you have mentioned this or not yet.

The people of sideclick have re launched their product. They are only $13,000 away form their $80,000 goal, and they have 27 days left at the time of writing this.


- Savo in silly Schenectady NY. 



Please understand that live TV is essential to a sports fan! I know you two are not. With, basketball, hockey, soccer, golf and football, the major broadcasters like NBC, ABC, CBS & ESPN, make billions, not to mention billions more for teams and players. Then add in endorsements,etc. You are happily ignoring a huge segment of your own potential market.

Please get someone on your podcast who is tech savvy and is a sports lover.

- Don



Hey guys, it's your boss here. Last week you asked for an "anti-Plex opinion" ... I am not that "anti-Plex opinion", but I'm going to share my insights, anyway. :)

In my opinion, Plex is really good at one thing: managing libraries of locally-stored, non-DRM'd content. ...

What Plex does not do is Live TV or PVR functionality, or any streaming service or web site. Yes, there are "Plex Channels" that will give you content from the web, but in my experience they are very glitchy and rarely work, probably because they're almost all scraping web content, making them very prone to breaking. When they do work, figuring out what content is actually available on the channel is worse than figuring out what's available on Free Hulu, and the experience will make Brian's Grandmother a very sad panda!

TL;DR - If you have a large library of local media, Plex is awesome. For everything else, Plex is pain.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for making my favorite podcast every week! Keep up the good work!

- Stealth Dave


2015 Winter Movie Draft

AuthorTom Merritt