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Channels brings Khan Academy to Television

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Channels brings Khan Academy to Television



Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 11.41.07 AMKhan Academy was founded in 2006 by Salman Khan who started tutoring a cousin remotely using Yahoo! Doodle. After creating a few videos he decided to move them to YouTube. Today, Khan Academy’s mission is to “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. All of our resources are completely free forever, regardless of whether you’re a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology.”

So why is this so important? The videos are hosted on YouTube and are free to anyone, anywhere, who has a computer or tablet and an internet connection. Most of the courses are pre-college and allow learners to take ownership of their education. Khan Academy is designed for computers and tablets, but with Mohu’s Channels, the lessons can be streamed directly to a TV, turning the TV into a vehicle for learning and the living room into a lecture hall.

The premise is simple. Khan Academy hosts, via YouTube, hundreds of mini-lectures on math, history, finance, Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 11.46.10 AMeconomics, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and computer science. One of the simple, but most innovative features of many of the videos is that they abandon a traditional “lecture” format and instead the instructor walks the student through the  problem solving process using just a dark screen, colored “markers” and a voice-over. Listening and watching the instructor demonstrate his thought process (and make mistakes in real time) is less daunting to the viewer and the colored markers make the lectures more engaging.

Khan Academy also includes test prep for several standardized tests including the SAT. The latest development for Khan Academy is its partnership with the College Board to create free online test-prep materials for the redesigned SAT which debuts in 2016. With parents paying up to $900 for test preparation classes this next step could help close the income gap  among students often seen in standardized tests.

In future blogs Mohu will feature the weird and wonderful content available on YouTube. And with Channels coming out soon all this content can be streamed directly to your TV.







Mohu Antennas Love May Madness



May is a great month for watching OTA TV with a Mohu antenna (and be sure to check out our new Leaf Metro). May is “sweeps” month where the broadcast networks show the season finales of their “regular” season shows. But viewers won’t be stuck with a summer full of re-runs because the networks are also introducing new content in May.

crossbones-s1-keyart-xl1NBC is banking on some serious star power. John Malkovich stars as the pirate Blackbeard in Crossbones–The new legend of Blackbeard (Friday, May 30, 10/9c). Set in the Bahamas in 1715, Blackbeard tries to steal a chronometer from an English ship which has the potential to change seafaring and commerce. But the English aren’t giving in so easily and it’s up to the viewer to determine who the villain is–Blackbeard or the English. John Malkovich is outstanding as the villain in this YouTube trailer.

NBC_Rosemarys_Baby_miniseries_posterIn addition,  Zoe Saldana stars in NBC’s two part miniseries Rosemary’s Baby (May 11). In a new twist on Ira Levin’s 1967 thriller, Zoe Saldana and her husband Guy (Patrick J. Adams) leave New York City for a new life in Paris. At first, their arrival in Paris seems surrounded by good fortune. But when Rosemary becomes pregnant, she starts to believe that things are not what they seem and their new neighbors may have dark motives for her baby. Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Wire, Treme) directs this two-part psychological thriller. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

These shows and other great content are available free, over the air with a Mohu Leaf, Curve or Sky antenna. Broadcasters are producing great content for every night of the week and there’s no need to spend $70-$100 a month for cable. Join the growing numbers of cord-cutters and ditch your cable!







Cord Cutters Should Have an Antenna



wralweather1Cord cutters who rely solely on streaming content should strongly consider adding an HDTV antenna to their homes. The recent outbreak of severe weather across the Midwest and Southeast United States led to flooding, tornadoes and the deaths of more than 30 people. Fortunately, improved radar systems and early warnings allow people enough time to find shelter. The early warnings are often broadcast over local networks’ news channels and without a TV antenna such as a Leaf or Curve, viewers may not get the warnings about nearby storms.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 8.59.13 AM

Storm clouds near Mohu

Fortunately, the severe weather mostly bypassed Raleigh (the home of Mohu) but for two days our local stations broadcast the locations of heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, flooding and  tornadoes. We were definitely aware of what was going on, and had a tornado or flood come, we would have had time to prepare. Two nights ago, while watching OTA TV, the screen had a ticker running along the bottom updating viewers of where the storms were and their severity. Other stations broadcast the weather alerts directly from the National Weather Service.

The bottom line is streaming content is a great way to cut the cord. But Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime and the rest cannot replace broadcast TV especially in times of emergencies and bad weather. It’s also possible to get warnings on a smart phone, but they are often not as detailed as a real-time weather forecast.

On a happier note, an antenna is great to watch TV content in real time, especially broadcasts like the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and season finales (coming soon in May) and not have to wait to stream it from the network’s website or another streaming provider.







Industry Updates–Streaming Content Gets Big



Lots of changes took place in the TV/streaming content industry in the past few weeks. Let’s pause and look at what has happened.

Supreme CourtABC vs. Aereo–the Supreme Court heard this case on April 22 and the public can expect a ruling in June. Mohu covered it in an earlier blog. Two issues are at the core of the case. The first is does Aereo’s “re-transmission” of OTA content constitute a public or private showing? If it is a public showing, does Aereo owe retransmission fees to the broadcasters? The second issue is murkier and relates to storing items in the cloud. The Supreme Court Justices are more concerned with items in the cloud and the impact their ruling will have on other cloud-based content–anything from iTunes to DropBox.

Netflix is Moving to Cable–Netflix has long lived on computers and streaming devices and, along with an HDTV antenna, is cord-cutting staple. However, according to the Washington Post, Netflix signed a deal with three small cable companies (RCN, Atlantic Broadband and Grande Communications) and will become a cable channel on their TiVo DVR boxes. Viewers will need a separate Netflix subscription to watch Netflix content. However, this is the first time Netflix has explicitly put its content on a cable box.

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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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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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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.

 







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