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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.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…It’s a Sky

SkyMohu makes great antennas to bring free OTA TV to your home. The Mohu Leaf was our first product and still one of our best-sellers. But our designers and engineers realized there was also a need for a whole-house antenna that could be mounted outside or in an attic. The Mohu Sky is the answer to that.  Like all of Mohu’s antennas, it’s a great looking answer to the  metal “lobster cage” design that is prevalent in the industry. In addition, because it is mounted higher it has better “line of sight” and can bring in better reception if your home is located in an area with terrain issues or between 50 and 60 miles from local television towers.

In addition, the Mohu Sky is multidirectional, meaning it does not need to be pointed in a specific direction to get reception. This allows the antenna to get reception from multiple TV towers. This is a huge benefit in the real world because in most areas different broadcasters use different towers. The Sky can also be connected to up to four TVs in one home without a loss of signal strength. Mohu’s 4-way Jolt acts as the “splitter” to split the signal and send it to different TVs. If your home had satellite or Dish TV in the past it’s possible that the coaxial cable used for that service is still in your house and then it’s simply a matter of mounting the Sky on your roof or attic and tying it into the existing coax line.

Leaf on wallIf that sounds too complicated, most regions have TV installers that will charge a fee but will get your Sky up and running. The Mohu website has the manual available for download prior to purchasing the Sky so you can see what’s involved. If you’re not ready to purchase a Sky, start small. Check out our TV For Free tool, which was recently updated with terrain data, and hook up a Leaf or Leaf Ultimate to your HDTV. Fall in love with the beautiful picture and when you’re ready for the Sky, we’ll have one waiting for you.

Families That Changed TV

By its broad reach into America’s living rooms, TV has the power to change our perceptions of the world. And in some cases, TV changed our world, either by Kennedy’s telegenic appearance in the 1960 presidential debates affecting the outcome of that election, or by watching Neil ArmstrongLucy-and-ricky take his first steps on the moon.

In a more light-hearted way the portrayal of TV families has changed over time. Leave it to Beaver was squeaky-clean in its portrayal of a “typical” American family where mom stayed home taking care of kids and the house and dad went off to work. Even I Love Lucy was edgy for its time, as Ricky Ricardo was Cuban and neither the Ricardos nor Fred and Ethel (their neighbors) had children. After the tumultous changes of the 1960s, TV branched out into showing different types of families, such as black families, single parent families, and even gay families.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 10.51.02 AMAll in the Family, a sitcom about a family was a perfect foil for the political tensions of the early 1970s. Archie Bunker, a blue collar, conservative workingman, cannot understand the changing world, especially the ultra-liberal beliefs and politics of his hippie-ish daughter and son-in-law who are living with him. That scenario was flipped in the 1980s with Family Ties. Michael J. Fox played Alex Keaton, the conservative Reagan supporting teenager who baffles his ex-hippie, free-loving parents.

The LA Times has put together a fun photo montage of 11 families that changed TV. All but two were on broadcast TV–and some still are–free to anyone with a Mohu HDTV antenna.


TV Industry Update

justice-dept.-logoOne of the latest developments in the Time Warner Cable/Comcast merger is that the attorney generals of several states, including Florida and Indiana, will be meeting with the Department of Justice to determine if the proposed merger violates US anti-trust law. The focus of the inquiry is on the broadband service that the combined company would provide. As it stands now, the merger of Comcast and TWC would control about 40% of the US broadband market and 30% of the cable TV market. As the internet grows increasingly important for both homes and businesses the attorney generals are concerned that too much market power would be held by one company, limiting competition and innovation and potentially raising prices.

In addition, Governor Cuomo of New York changed the mandate of the state’s Public Service Commission to give it more regulatory power over media mergers. The burden is now on the media companies to show how a merger is in the best interest of the public. So even if Washington okays the merger, New York may not follow along.

Channels is a Cord-Cutters “Dream Machine.”

Randy Drawas, Mohu’s Chief Marketing Officer describes Mohu Channels as a cord-cutter’s “dream machine.” And he’s really telling the truth. We just passed $100,000(!) on Kickstarter so we invite you to share this blog with your friends and family so more people can purchase Channels via Kickstarter. We had high hopes for Channels but the response we’ve received has just blown us away.

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 9.00.07 AMIf we take a look at the cord-cutting population there are three broad groups of cord-cutters and Channels, available on Kickstarter, has something for each one.

Over-the-air (OTA) only–These are our “Mohuligans.” They cut the cable cord, bought a Mohu antenna and never looked back. These Channels OTAfolks are happy with OTA content and watch their shows and sports on broadcast TV. Channels is the “dream machine” for them because it creates a channel guide for OTA content so no more looking around or channel surfing to find a favorite show. And by the way, we love our Mohuligans because they are the foundation of Mohu.

Broadcast TV Recruiting Star Talent

Hugh-Laurie-stars-in-Hous-001Broadcast TV is getting its share of brand name talent. As the networks put together their fall season pilots, the producers are looking for star power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Broadcasters have finally learned that they have to compete with cable and are getting more edgier and better material — and directors, including Lee Daniels.” This is great news for all the cord-cutters out there. Along with better material comes known talent. Some of the stars directors are looking at for next season are The Closer‘s Kyra Sedgwick, Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker,  and House‘s Hugh Laurie. Kyra Sedgwick and Mary-Louise Parker both appeared on cable but may be moving over to broadcast, once again demonstrating the power and reach of OTA television.

Even if they don’t sign on for a full series, many stars will be featured in a few episodes, or experiment with more “event” type programming–where they star in a short series, relying on their name power to bring viewers to the series. Hollywood Reporter quotes a talent scout as saying, “Everyone is fair game. TV has become so significant and it’s so much better than film — and there’s more money in TV than in features.”

Changes in OTA and Cable

Two big news items going on in the world of television are the impending Comcast purchase of Time Warner Cable and Aereo’s court battles.

no-comcast-twc-merger-300x300Comcast is planning to purchase Time Warner Cable for $45 billion pending regulatory approval. The purchase will give the combined company (yet to be named) about a 30% share of the cable TV market and 40% of the broadband market. In a letter to Time Warner consumers, the CEO assures current customers that, “The combined company will innovate faster and deploy even better products and features, including a superior video guide, faster Broadband Internet speeds and even more WiFi access points so you can access the Internet wherever you go.”

On the other hand, many in the media think otherwise. The Washington Post shares several concerns such as the merged company having the power to demand higher retransmission fees from broadcasters which could leave markets with network blackouts. Comcast/TWC will also have the power to raise rates since there is no competition in their markets. At some point, they may increase the number of cord-cutters as monthly rates increase.