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Am I a Cord-Cutter?


Am I a Cord-Cutter?

Cord-cutting is a growing trend as cable bills continue to rise. Many consumers don’t know if they are good candidates for cord-cutting and Mohu is here to help sort that out.

shutterstock_cord_cutting1. Can you get good over-the-air (OTA) reception at your home?

Use our TV for Free tool to determine what stations you can get with a Mohu antenna. Keep in mind that metal can block signals so make sure you aren’t surrounded by skyscrapers, aluminum siding, or even the metal mesh that holds stucco together.

2. Does your TV have a digital tuner?

Most TVs made after 2009 have one. If you aren’t sure, check the manual. If you have an older TV, you can buy a digital converter at Best Buy or another electronics store. It will cost about $60-$80 but will convert your OTA digital signal to an analog signal so the TV can get reception.

money3. Do you feel like you are paying too much for cable?

It’s sort of an obvious question because we all feel like cable costs too much, it’s just that we’ve gotten used to paying for it and thinking of  it as a “necessity.” Well, time for a shift in thinking because cable is not a necessity. Consider how many channels you REALLY watch and whether you can get them OTA or their content via a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu+. The average American only watches 8 channels and over 90% of the top rated TV shows are OTA. So the chances of you getting what you want to watch via a combination of OTA and a streaming service is pretty good.
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ABC vs. Aereo


The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in ABC vs. Aereo. There are two main issues that the Court will need to address. The first issue is whether or not the re-transmission of OTA content constitute a “public” or “private” performance. The second issue is murkier, and concerns the future of “the cloud” where data and entertainment content is moving.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. came down hard when he told Aereo’s lawyer: “Your technological model is based solely on circumventing legal prohibitions that you don’t want to comply with.” In summary, copyright law allows for the private use of the broadcaster’s airwaves. For example, it’s completely legal to hook up a Mohu antenna to a television, or even a Sky to four televisions in one home because that use of the airwaves constitutes a “private” performance (even if you have friends come over to watch the Super Bowl). However, the cable companies pay approximately $3 billion a year in retransmission fees to the networks because their capture of broadcasts and sending them to million of customers is a “public performance.” Aereo claims its performances are “private” because each customer (who pays between $8-$12/month) is assigned a tiny antenna to digitally capture an OTA broadcast and store it in the cloud. The “owner” of that antenna then has the content streamed to a tablet, smartphone or computer.

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Cutting the Cord–One Month Later

Mohu has a guest blogger today. Last month, Michelle–a friend of Sarah’s–wrote her experience about cutting the cord. She’s back with an update.

cutting-the-cord-cord-cutting-mI was a little nervous when we started our cord-cutting experience and there have been a few glitches with the cable company, but overall I’m really happy with our experience. I found out, very painfully, that the cable service didn’t terminate the day I called to cancel, though they did cut the signal immediately. The date of termination happened when I returned my boxes and remotes to their over-crowded office. I waited for over an hour to return them and saved the receipt and they STILL sent me a bill for $90+ that includes some sort of late fee. I haven’t paid the bill and called them to inform them that I am no longer a customer so we’ll see what happens.
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OTA Show Update, Part 2

Mohu’s antennas–from the tiny Metro to the rooftop Sky–bring cord-cutters great over the air television for free. Here are updates on two new action-packed mid-season dramas.

nbc-crisisCrisis (NBC, Sunday, 10:00 ET ) looks promising. Clearly, something big is happening when a busload of children, including the president’s son, are taken hostage while on a high school field trip. Washington DC is a rich backdrop to fame, money and power. And who doesn’t like bashing rich parents?  The LA Times review, written after two episodes and several plot twists, says, “In the first two episodes, the plot turns and turns again, and the motivation for what is clearly a very elaborate crime becomes murky to the point of nonsensical. Fortunately, the motivating force (and the show’s tag line) — How far would you go to protect your children? — is easily understood.”

Some of the high schoolers are typecast–the vulnerable alpha girl, the scholarship kid. And there are some unexplained plot elements–how did the FBI know about the kidnapping when the bus was in a part of West Virginia with no cell phone reception? Suspend your disbelief but pay attention to the plot twists and turns. With Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and Dermot Mulroney (August: Osage County, Jobs) NBC has added some star power to this mid-season drama.
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Mohu Goes Metro

leaf metroWelcome to the Mohu Leaf Metro!  The Leaf Metro is the smallest size possible for delivering high quality TV reception. Borrowing from the same advanced U.S. Military technology built into the Leaf family of antennas, the Leaf Metro reaches out in a 25-mile radius to capture the most popular TV shows, news and sports, on both network and local television in full 1080 HD, enabling consumers to watch their favorite broadcast TV without a cable subscription.

“We believe in designing high-quality products tailored to the needs of those who are using them. The Leaf Metro is an ideal option for our urban customers, many of whom are young, on a budget, and have limited space,” said Mark Buff, president and co-founder of Mohu. “We’re bringing them a product that’s even smaller, snazzier and more affordable than our top-rated and especially popular Leaf 30 and Leaf 50 HDTV antennas, while delivering the excellent performance that is Mohu’s standard.”
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Comcast, Cable, and Customer Service

comcast2Comcast executives appeared before Congress earlier this week as part of the process to get their merger with Time Warner Cable approved. What does this all have to do with a start-up antenna company in Raleigh, NC? According to the Washington Post, Comcast’s Executive Vice President David Cohen admitted to the Senate that, ”It bothers us we have so much trouble delivering high quality of service to customers on a regular basis.” The larger issue is that Comcast doesn’t seem to want to improve, and if it gets enough market power, it won’t have to.

One answer is that for cable TV, consumers have more choices than they think they do. The cord-cutting Leafmovement may be small, but it is growing steadily, and growing faster than expected. Cord-cutters meet their content needs via a mixture of  free and paid streaming content, often paired with an antenna to bring in OTA broadcasts. The recent success of Mohu’s Channels on Kickstarter and the incredible engagement we had from the cord-cutting community shows that cord-cutting is real and here to stay. We at Mohu want to hear from customers because without the passion and engagement the cord cutters bring to our company, we wouldn’t be able to provide new and cutting edge products.
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OTA Shows Update Part 1

Let’s take a look at how two new OTA shows are performing: Cosmos, and Surviving Jack. They are available OTA for free with a Mohu antenna. In a future blog post we’ll take a look at how  Crisis and The 100 are doing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.55.34 AMCosmos (Fox, Sunday at 9 ET) was meant to be “event programming.” At this point, Fox will let the show run for its scheduled 13 episodes and then take it off the air in June. For many mainstream reviewers, Cosmos is a hit. It’s visually stunning–using special effects to explore both the outer reaches of the universe and tiny strands of DNA. After a few episodes the narrator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, seems to have hit his stride in his story telling and his goal of making science available and accessible to all viewers. Many of his detractors believe that the show undermines their religious beliefs regarding creation, evolution and God.
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Fun and Free Web Content

Fans of The Big Bang Theory might be wondering what they are going to do once the show goes on summer break. Thursday nights will seem empty without Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj and the rest of the gang. But viewers can catch old episodes on CBS’s website while they wait for the next season.

But instead of watching actors play physicists (and rocket scientists, and neurobiologists) on TV, why not learn a little about it yourself? (Disclaimer: Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler is a neurobiologist in real life). No more plowing through weighty physics textbooks, learning calculus on your own. The engineers who are working on Mohu’s Channels (still available on Kickstarter until tomorrow), have, in their spare time, found a few YouTube channels that will delight your inner mathematician and physicist.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.47.18 PMNumberphile is a YouTube channel that has all sorts of fun facts about…numbers. There is a section devoted to Pi, including calculating Pi using hundreds of real pies. Another section is devoted to prime numbers. Targeted to non-mathematicians, Numberphile entertains as the enthusiasm of the real mathematicians featured in each segment spills over to the viewer.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.48.46 PMMinute Physics’s videos are longer than a minute, but always a feature a fast talking narrator using a marker, white board and cartoons to illustrate the concepts he’s explaining. Topics range from time travel, the big bang (the real one, not the show), and why the solar system is flat.

These channels have playlists or are easy to surf. And when Channels is introduced, put these in your channel guide and enjoy on your TV in HD. And don’t worry, the 8th season of The Big Bang Theory will be here before you know it.



Channels’ Open Ecosystem

Mohu Channels has a truly “open ecosystem” because it is running on Google’s Android operating system. In simplest terms, that means that an app channel guideavailable on Google Play can become a channel on Channels. Amazon’s newly introduced Fire TV will have a much more limited selection of apps because it runs on a modified version of Android.

Two items obvious missing from Fire are HBOGo and Vudu. Most cord-cutters do not have access to HBOGo because they’ve canceled their cable subscriptions, but they may have friends with usernames and passwords to HBOGo, especially if they need to keep up with Game of Thrones. And unlike Netflix or Hulu+ which require monthly subscriptions, Vudu has great content and it runs on a “pay as you go” model, allowing movie rentals and purchases, and individual purchases of TV episodes.

The other advantage to Channels’ open ecosystem is that you can customize your channel lineup via the Google Play store. Pandora or Spotify are commonly used music apps. And then there are the less obvious ones, like Zillow if you are house hunting, or travel apps to help you plan your next vacation.

Because Channels also contains a web browser, it becomes open to everything on the web–that’s an open ecosystem! So you can watch broadcast websites, Vimeo, your Facebook feed, or a school’s snow day announcement on your TV.

Channels OTAAnd finally, there’s the OTA part of Channels. The Leaf antenna that is part of the Channels experience is small but mighty. It brings viewers all the great OTA content that is available for free from your local TV broadcasters.

OTA-OTT-WEB. That is an open (and as free as you want it to be) ecosystem.

Channels is available on Kickstarter until Thursday, April 10.


Free Streaming TV

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 10.07.57 AMYou’ve cut the cord, installed a Mohu antenna, canceled your cable bill and perhaps even given up your cherished DVR. Your TV landscape has changed and you have more money in your pocket. Life is pretty good. But you might have missed an OTA episode because you weren’t home. Fear not, the internet can rescue you.

Most OTA networks have websites where you can stream the previous five episodes so you can catch up on anything you have missed. From the CBS, NBC, and CW websites you can stream the most recent episode plus the previous four episodes. And in a new twist, the networks are starting to embrace binge-watching. NBC is selectively airing full seasons to date of a few episodes and has a library of classic shows you can stream for free. CBS also has a “catch-up  marathon” for select shows.

PBS has a variety of content on their website and a PBS kids app for their children’s programming. ABC and Fox “lock” some of their most recent episodes for eight day following their air date. “Unlocking” the newest episode requires a cable subscription, but you can watch older episodes and catch up  as the newer ones become unlocked. The bottom line is, they’re free.
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