Random Thoughts streaming media TV

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad (Streaming) World

The movie, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (1963) – currently not streaming for free according to JustWatch – tells the story of a group of money-hungry folks who hear about a treasure buried in California. They jump into their cars, as Buddy Hackett says, “Every man for himself” style, and proceed to drive for the money, everyone else be damned.

Taking this movie plot as a metaphor for the streaming media industry today seems as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Everyone wants your money, and everyone is sending you on a wild chase to figure out where to spend it.

As someone who is researching “cord-cutting” and at the same time, trying to figure out the best package for my cable watching, I can tell you for sure that the streaming industry is more fragmented than ever.

BTW, caveat- this is a stuck-at-home-pandemic-style and have lots of time and money problem. This is not everyone’s problem. If it’s yours, let’s proceed. (Also, I haven’t even scratched the surface of  “you can find it online if you look hard enough,” nor will I in this piece.)

Defining the Problem

Say, for a moment, you want to watch a film. Maybe its’ something you’ve seen before. Or perhaps it was one recommended on one of your favorite podcasts, like the Wingman Daily “lo-fi movie countdowns.” Where is your movie playing on streaming?

That’s ok, I’ll wait.

Assuming you didn’t pick “Frozen” or “Avengers,”  you’ve probably realized, hey, I don’t know if my choice is on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ or on-demand on one of the channels my cable company allows me to call up and, if I’m lucky, says “Free-to-me.”

You Call that a Solution?

The good news is, there’s a website/app for that. JustWatch allows you search for a movie title, and figure out, yep, it’s on Hulu and think to yourself, “guess I should have paid for Hulu.”

The fact that JustWatch has to exist says a lot about the world of streaming today. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE JustWatch. It’s the Google of ‘where do I find that movie.’ But *why* do we need a site to tell us the other sites where we find the things we want to watch? (In the old days this was called “TV Guide.”)

In theory, your FireTV or Apple TV or Roku could just find you the think you want to watch (and take a cut when you subscribe to see the thing.) As the comedian would say,  “If it really was a “Smart” TV it would know where my movie was, am I right?” <rimshot>

But none of the devices I have (a smart tv, fire stick, google stream by Verizon) do this well, that I know of (open to feedback of course.) We’re in a fractured world now. A lot like when people thought “AOL was the internet” since certain things only existed there, while you could get lots more out on the wide open net.

Your Mission, Should You Decide to Accept it…

To see the absurdity of how fragmented streaming actually is, let’s look at a few movie franchises with 6 or more movies to find where we can watch them (all data as of today.)

Star Wars Saga (11 movies)

  • Obviously you can watch all of them on Disney+
  •  Attack of the Clones, Last Jedi, Force Awakens, Rogue One, Solo – TBS or TNT on demand, and SlingTV

At least this one is easy – if you want to watch ’em all, Disney+

Fast and the Furious (8 movies and 1 spin-off)

  • THE Fast and the Furious – HBO/Now/Max, Direct, Sling or USA on demand (but not on my cable system)
  • 2 Fast, 2 Furious – HBO Max, HBO, Direct, Sling or USA (but not on my cable system)
  • Tokyo Drift – Sling and USA, but not the others
  • Fast and Furious (no THE to slow you down) – Sling, USA
  • Fast 5 – Nowhere for free – try the library, maybe they have the DVD
  • Fast 6 – Peacock or Sling
  • Furious 7 – Fubo, FX Now and Direct TV
  • Fate of the Furious – Sling, FX Now and Direct TV
  • Hobbs and Shaw – HBO/Max/Now and DirectTV

So, if you want to watch cars so fast they accelerate to hyperspeed with some NO2, you’re going to want Sling, mostly.

Mission Impossible (6 Movies)

  • MI 1 – Fubo, FX Now, DirectTV
  • MI II – Fubo, FX Now, DirectTV
  • MI III – Fubo, FX Now, DirectTV
  • MI Ghost Protocol – Prime, Hulu, DirecTV or Epix
  • MI Rogue Nation – Fubo, FX, DirectTV
  • MI Fallout – Prime, Hulu, DirecTV or Epix

Imagine: “Your mission, Mr. Phelps, is to steal your cousin’s Prime password so we can watch 2 of the 6 movies without spending $128 a year for Prime. Should you or any of your cousins be caught, the secretary will deny knowledge of your jail-broken fire stick. This blog will self destruct in 5 seconds…

But I Just Want to Watch TV…

Now, imagine you’re a less obsessed human, who “just wants to watch TV.” You don’t love a $70 or $90 option for TV channels, 800 of which you are not going to watch. But you would like to get some movies. Well, $6.95 here, $4.95 there, $15 here (thanks HBO) and suddenly you have a lot of movies, but no live TV.

If you want to rid yourself of the 800 channels you don’t like but keep those ones your family “needs” to see, there’s also not a great choice. This Streamable piece does an ok job. $30 for Sling, but you don’t get some local TV. $65 for YouTube TV, but suddenly you’re basically paying $70 for TV again, only with fewer channels and a lag when you change them.

If you just want local TV, get an antennal. (Of course if you’re like me and an antenna won’t pull in all the stations due to your location in the hills, you have to get creative.) If you live in 1 of 26 TV markets, and you want TV without an antenna, you can try Locast. At least until they get sued out of existence for showing you the same stuff on line you can get with an antenna. Oh, and then you have to watch Live. If you want to *record* your locast, and you have an old PC around, and you want an afternoon’s project, look at ChannelsDVR. Though I hope you don’t want to watch Channels on your fire stick, since the app is $24 and you don’t know if it will work. Sigh.

You can’t buy your cable channels cafeteria style. And if you’re trying to be an innovative company and pick out only the good ones, like T-mobile tried to do, you’re going to get the smackdown from the lawyers.

So, for now, our family will probably settle for a cable package and a few streaming services. And maybe a cousin’s password if we need to watch that one thing…

Random Thoughts

Why Missing My Goal Was Awesome – BikeMS NYC 2019

I just attended the award ceremony for BikeMS 2019, and for the 6th year I’ve made the top 200 fundraisers. Each year I try to exceed both my dollar goal and my ranking from the previous year.

While it’s “not a contest” there’s a certain push in raising more money – it’s more dollars for research, and just a little closer to a world free of MS.

I set myself a high goal this year and thanks to all of you, I achieved beat it with $3,785. That’s incredible, and a testament to how much my friends and family have supported this ride each and every year. I can’t thank you all enough for your monetary and moral support.

However, I didn’t achieve every goal. Last year’s $3,500 fundraising total was enough for #94 in the top 200, but this year’s $3,785 only got me to #96. For a moment, I was disappointed, but then I realized this was awesome! Why is not making a goal something to celebrate?

It just means that other people raised EVEN MORE this year. Setting the bar higher, raising more money across each team means the whole event is more successful, and that everyone is working harder to raise money for this cause. So, I may have failed to ‘advance in rank’ but the top 200 is working even harder, and it gives me even more excitement about the 2020 ride. Fundraising starts in a few weeks. Get ready to rock BikeMS NYC 2020!

Blockchain Business marketing

Understanding the Blockchain Marketing Landscape

Most people in the marketing, technology or social media worlds have seen the Marketing Technology Landscape graphic. This super-large graphic shows over 5000 players in the marketing tech landscape. 

Jeremy Epstein, former Sprinklr executive and current Never Stop Marketing president, has built a version of this graphic for the blockchain marketing world. The BlockChain Marketing Landscape is an eye-opener, even with fewer than a hundred or so companies on it. It shows the initial, growing stages of a future marketplace, and the potential for a transformation in the way marketing technology works in the future. 

Blockchain Marketing Technology Landscape
Click to see the full version at Never Stop Marketing

I believe Jeremy is onto an important trend here, and this Venture Beat piece seems to agree.  I’ll be watching as this chart grows and looking for interesting companies who can help me and my efforts to communicate more effectively with supporters, advocates, and others in the nonprofit world. 

If you’re brand new to the concept of how blockchain can help marketers, Never Stop Marketing’s CMO Primer for the Age of Blockchains (which includes forewords by the CMOs of Nasdaq and Dun & Bradstreet) highlights how multiple functions of marketing including loyalty, customer experience, and brand may be impacted. 

You can also listen to this interview about PR and the Blockchain with Phil Gomes and Shel Holtz on For Immediate Release from 2015, and this more recent one from September, 2017 about marketing permanence




Learning Random Thoughts

What Will You Do in a Crisis?

Howard Greenstein on WABC

In 2006, I was running management programs at NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (now NYU SPS). A new program we were rolling out was “Emergency Management and Disaster Recovery.” I wanted to learn more on the subject, and was invited to FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Maryland for a conference of educators.

I can’t say I remember everything about that conference, but one speaker stood out. I distinctly remember Ted Buffington’s talk about what happens to people in an emergency. Most people’s response during a crisis is to either Focus, Fold or Freeze™, according to Ted (who owns that trademark). The framework is simple. When something serious happens (fire, terror incident, someone is choking or has a heart attack) are you going to be the person that focuses on what to do and how to help? Will you panic and fall apart – fold? Or will you be a “deer in headlights” waiting for the inevitable?

Emergency workers are trained to focus. You don’t want your police, firefighter or EMT unsure of what to do when disaster strikes. We trust these professionals to have great training, and we respect their ability to help us when we need it. I met lots of incredible people who had saved countless lives at the FEMA training conference.

I don’t recall doing any special training with Ted, but that framework of the mind always stuck with me. What would I do in a crisis? Would I run or freeze? Or could I focus and figure out the situation, and do the right thing? Last month, I found out the answer.

I became a “local town hero” by helping a man stuck on active train tracks out of his car. I witnessed a car swerving off the platform onto the ground-level train tracks at Suffern station on March 16th. This man should never have been driving on the platform but he was confused and went right past the ticket vending machines onto the tracks. I had no idea when the next train was coming. The person inside was unable to open the driver-side door since his car was too close to the concrete platform. While calling 911 and then NJ Transit, and asking people on the platform to watch out for me, I ran out onto the tracks and helped him out the passenger side. The whole time I was conscious of the possibility of a train coming. Got my pulse rate up for sure!

Car on Train Tracks

He was an older gent, and I helped him out of the car, across the snow on the tracks, and onto the platform, and right to a Suffern Police Department officer. (You can see my footprints in the snow between the tracks in the picture above.)

Thankfully, the next scheduled train was 25 minutes later – but there was every possibility that equipment was being shifted or a freight would go by. Kudos to Suffern Police for being there in about 30 seconds (no joke) and to NJ Transit (1-888-TIPS NJT – they say it on every train ride, I actually had to call it!) for stopping the trains. You can watch the TV coverage of this here via WABC 7 NYC.   

People keep coming up to me to ask about this. I can’t explain it other than to say, I was there, and I wasn’t going to watch something terrible happen to this old man. Sure, I called 911, and I had people looking out for me. But when it came down to it, I focused, made a plan and helped a person in danger. Now I know. The police, fire services, and EMTs are heroes who face danger constantly. I was glad I could pinch-hit till they arrived.

When trouble happens, will you focus, or fold or freeze? Ted has some good, but older, resources on the To Achieve site

fun geeky

One More “One More Thing”

Apple TV

On September 9th, Apple will have a big event in California. Everyone’s expecting a larger iPhone and people are laying good odds on an ‘iWatch’ to be released or at least teased.