Weekly output: ATSC 3.0, password managers, AT&T TV, ShowStoppers TV, CDA 230, CES recap, 8K TV, TV tech at CES (x2)

Although my Google Maps timeline shows no evidence of CES having happened over the past few days, my calendar and published work (in addition to the posts below, I wrote an extra recap Saturday for Patreon subscribers) leave no doubt that I spent this week “at” this year’s digital-only edition of this trade show.

1/12/2021: ATSC 3.0 backers tout brighter prospects for NEXTGEN TV, FierceVideo

I revisited a subject I covered at CES 2020 for my fave trade-pub client: an upgrade to broadcast TV that might reach more viewers’ homes, especially if TV manufacturers would stop ignoring it.

1/12/2021: Password Managers, U.S. News & World Report

My second project for U.S. News followed the outline of the guides to local Internet providers I helped write a few months ago; after editors analyzed third-party reviews to rank the companies involved, I provided my own context in a profile of each. I thought I knew this category before, but after researching Bitwarden, Keeper, LastPass, Dashlane, 1Password, LogMeOnce, NordPass, KeePassXC, RoboForm, Sticky Password, McAfee True Key, and Zoho Vault (plus head-to-head comparisons of 1Password vs LastPass, Dashlane vs LastPass, and Dashlane vs 1Password), I think I have a much deeper grounding. In the bargain, this work reminded me that I’d been neglecting some useful features in my own password manager, 1Password.

1/12/2021: AT&T TV NotNow: Telco Giant Reshuffles Streaming Services, Forbes

AT&T closing its AT&T TV Now streaming-TV service to new subscribers and making AT&T TV its core video service looked like a welcome stab at simplicity, but then I checked out the fine print in AT&T TV’s two-year-contract option.

1/13/2021: ShowStoppers TV, ShowStoppers

As I did last summer, I emceed the product presentations of three tech companies at an event hosted by the PR firm that, in the Before Times, helped organize my trips to IFA and a few other tech events. Unlike last summer, one of these firms wound up not presenting because they could not get their audio working.

1/13/2021: Special Broadband Breakfast Live Online Town Hall on Section 230, Broadband Breakfast

Twitter’s overdue decision to boot Donald Trump off the service led to this online panel about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that lets online forums remove content that’s legal but “otherwise objectionable.” My fellow panelists: Ranking Digital Rights’ Jessica Dheere, the Cato Institute’s Will Duffield, the Computer & Communications Industry Association’s Ali Sternburg, and tech lawyer Cathy Gellis, with Broadband Breakfast editor and publisher Drew Clark moderating our conversation. The next day, Broadband Breakfast’s Samuel Triginelli wrote up the conversation that you can also watch in the embed below.

1/14/2021: Afternoon Learners SIG, Washington Apple Pi

I joined this meeting of one of WAP’s special interest groups via Zoom to share my thoughts on CES. We lost a good 10 minutes to audio glitches that I couldn’t hear but my audience could, so I stuck around for an extra 10 minutes.

1/14/2021: If You Want To Watch 8K Video On Your 8K TV, You May Have To Record It Yourself, Forbes

Yes, I remain deeply skeptical of 8K TV, even if Samsung’s newest line of smartphones can record in the format.

1/15/2021: Yes, you can have — and deserve — a bigger TV. That’s the theme on display at CES trade show, USA Today

No CES is complete for me without a state-of-the-TV piece. My industry-analyst friend Carolina Milanesi provided an opening quote that was more colorful than usual for this type of story.

1/15/2021: TVs at CES, WLW

This Cincinnati radio station had me on their afternoon drive-time show to talk about TVs. I flubbed a question from the hosts about the price for a 70-inch 4K TV: Because I hadn’t thought to leave a browser tab open to any retailer’s TV listings, I had to try to remember the prices I’d seen at Costco three weeks prior and then overshot the going rate by about 50 percent.

Updated 1/18/2021 to add links to my Patreon post, three other posts in the U.S. News password-manager guide, and Broadband Breakfast’s video and recap. 

Streaming-TV sites still need some design work

This year’s version of the “what regional sports networks will shut up and take a cord-cutting baseball fan’s money” story was not like the last three. I wrote it much later in the year, it’s at Forbes instead of Yahoo, and it finally brings good news for Washington Nationals fans.

But the process of researching which streaming services carry which baseball RSNs was as annoying as ever, thanks to these companies not fixing the user-interface problems that gummed up last year’s work.

AT&T TV Now: The channel-finder page of the streaming service formerly known as DirecTV Now requires third-party cookies for reasons unexplained, ensuring it will break in Safari and Firefox. You can search by Zip code but then often must choose a county inside that Zip, a detail no other streaming service requests. AT&T also has yet to update this site to include the four sports networks (for the Nats, Orioles, Rockies, and Pirates) that it just added, much less the Seattle RSN it soon will offer.

This site does, however, get one thing very right that its rivals don’t: It inventories the teams featured on its available regional sports networks.

FuboTV: This sports-oriented streaming service has a simple channel-lookup page that you may not know exists, as neither its home page nor its support site seem to point visitors to it. Too bad, because it’s a model of simplicity: Type in a Zip code, and it lists the local channels first, identifying both broadcasters and regional sports networks with a blue “Local” tag. Fubo also lists the RSNs it carries nationwide in a tech-support story that seems to be regularly updated, but neither that nor the channel-finder associate networks with their core teams.

Hulu + Live TV: You can’t miss the channel-lookup interface here, since it’s waiting behind a “View Channels In Your Area” link on this service’s live-TV page. Plug in a Zip code and you get a clean listing of channel icons, with “Live Local Channels” at the top. Unfortunately, they’re all shown only as icons, without any pop-up text to identify the more cluttered graphics among them, and it’s up to you to remember which RSN features which sports franchise.

Sling TV: Sling charges just $30 for the basic service (one good reason why I’m a subscriber) and apparently isn’t too concerned about getting people to buy up to a higher tier to watch pro sports. Seeing what regional sports networks you might get that way requires clicking around a support site that keeps pointing you to a now-useless “Game Finder” page (well, useless unless you had not learned that the coronavirus pandemic has made a mess of every pro sports league’s schedule). The link you actually want, “Finding Your Game On A Regional Sports Network,” clarifies that Sling only carries three such networks, the Comcast RSNs in the Bay Area and Washington, what I like to think of as the Other Bay Area. 

YouTube TV: Google’s streaming service doesn’t make you search hard for a channel lookup–the form is right on its home page and is automatically populated with the Zip code for what Google thinks is your location. Click the big blue “Submit” button or type in a different Zip code before confirming that, and you get an improved version of Hulu’s interface that labels channel logos with their names. But as at everywhere but AT&T TV Now, you still have to look up which RSN carries which teams.

I would like to think that these sites will do better and ease the 2021 version of this work. But in case they don’t, I finally took the time to crate a spreadsheet (the Forbes post features a cleaner, searchable version) that I can update whenever these services add or drop a channel. I hope there’s more of the former happening than the latter, so that when I’m looking at the prospect of a 162-game Nats season next spring I won’t be limited to one service carrying those games.