I’ve been wishing for the confluence of streaming services and social layers for a long time. With new services like Scener and Netflix Party, it’s finally happening. Although it’s not quite what I was looking for, these services are a welcome addition to the streaming video experience.
Netflix Party, Scener, and You
Netflix Party and Scener are extensions that work on top of streaming video services. Both add video and text chat windows to video. Netflix Party works with Netflix (duh), while Scener works with a number of streaming video services. Scener also has the added distinction of being officially supported by HBO Go and HBO Now.
These services aim to offer an experience that’s akin to watching a movie or television show with friends, sans physical presence. This is especially welcomed during a global pandemic, when social distancing and stay-at-home practices are strongly encouraged. Video calls through Facetime, Zoom, etc. are great, but watching movies and TV with your nearest and dearest takes it to another level.
If you’ve ever dreamed of starring in your own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or you simply miss watching TV with your friends, Netflix Party and Scener are worth checking out.
Last week, I made the decision to cut the cord and cancel my AT&T U-Verse TV service. The recent launch of HBO Now and the fairly recent launch of Sling TV precipitated the change. With those two streaming television services, I have access to Game of Thrones, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, ESPN, and the first few rounds of the NBA playoffs — vital parts of my TV consumption. My existing Netflix (comp account) and Amazon Prime subscriptions already provide a great selection of movie and television content. HBO Now and Sling TV give me even more to choose from — certainly more than I need. When you add up all the subs, it’s still cheaper than my monthly U-Verse TV package.
One week in and I’m a happy camper. The Game of Thrones premiere streamed without a hitch, I’ve got my weekly dose of John Oliver, my lunchtime break of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption continues, and I get to watch NBA games. While people had problems with Sling TV during March Madness and some people had issues with Game of Thrones on HBO Now last night, those services have been working flawlessly for me. I’m getting almost all the content I want and saving money!
Of course there are things that I’ll miss. Chief among them is live boxing. Unfortunately, HBO Now doesn’t feature the network’s live sports broadcasts. Showtime also has a bunch of live fights that I’d like to see. Since I’m no longer a U-Verse subscriber, I won’t have access to boxing pay-per-view events. Hopefully a solution will present itself in the future. For now, I’ll just have to go to bars or make drop-in visits to friends with cable in order to enjoy boxing. Keep in mind that all of this was expected. Being a hardcore boxing fan is really expensive. You need a cable or satellite subscription, premium networks, and pay-per-view to follow the sport live.
Cutting the cord has been liberating. It’s cheaper and (for the way I like to watch television) better. Yeah, I’ll be lumped in with those Silver Lake hipsters that love to brag about how they cut the cord years ago, but it only made sense for me now. Game of Thrones has been my favorite TV show for the last four years and there’s a bunch of other HBO content that I love (despite the presence of the wretched Olivia Munn). HBO Now gives me all of that. With baseball kicking off and the NBA playoffs starting, this is my favorite time of the year for sports. Sling TV has me covered. Watching TV solely through streaming services is less expensive and kind of cool in that “Hey, look at me! I’m a futurist!” way. For my television habits, Netflix and Amazon Prime were a great start, but HBO Now and Sling TV sealed the deal.
I know that RPadholic Smartguy has cut the cord. Care to give an update on how your experience is going? For you other guys and dolls, what would it take for you to cancel your traditional cable service and go full streaming? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!
Microsoft has rolled out a bunch of new apps for Xbox 360, including one for the outstanding HBO Go service. Available to HBO subcribers, HBO Go allows viewers to stream a ton of movies, television shows, and sports events. In the past, the network has allowed HBO Go users to catch early episodes of its original programming. In short, this service completely owns.
I use HBO Go on my iPad all the time. In fact, it’s probably my favorite app for streaming video, beating out Netflix, Crackle, and all those other pretenders. It offers a large library of excellent movies. It offers every episode of some of the best HBO original shows (Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, etc.). It also offers loads of great HBO Boxing fights. As an HBO mark, I’m thrilled that the service is now available for Xbox 360.
How about you guys and dolls? Are you psyched that HBO Go can be experienced on Xbox 360?