The Olympics and Blaming Millenials

(Note: I’m not sure why these two articles bugged me so much. But they did.)

There was a somewhat poorly written (or, at least, poorly titled) article on Bloomberg (shocker) about the down ratings for the Olympics on NBC. In typical Bloomberg fashion, it’s a clickbait title (who can resist blaming millenials), as the article itself points out that it’s the 18–49 demographic that saw ratings down (with no breakdown inside that demo to determine where the real drop was).

And in the 18-to–49-year-old age group coveted by advertisers, it’s been even worse. That audience has been 25 percent smaller, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

In response, a millenial (presumably) attempted to defend his peers and lash out at NBC (though, really, it was more about the cable industry) and the inability for the cable/broadcast industry to meet the needs of cord cutters.

The issue I have with the article isn’t so much the argument. I agree that the cable and TV industries are going to have to change the way they think about the broadcast model. And, while it may not be changing as fast as we’d want, it’s changing incredibly fast!

Think about that ten years ago, being a cord cutter meant using an antenna, borrowing DVDs from the library, and maybe downloading a show from iTunes.

Today, you could conceivably use Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Sling TV, and iTunes, and probably cover everything except live sports. And ESPN may be going over the top in the next year. That’s progress.

The article, however, takes almost 1800 words to complain about how difficult it was to watch the Olympics online without a cable subscription and then complains about too many advertisements and the lowest common denominator announcing during the opening ceremonies, as if these are new things. And, while cord cutters are a growing audience, it’s still something like 80% of households who have cable. Cord cutters alone didn’t cause the audience to drop.

No, it’s not until the last segment of the article, which mostly hits on what I believe to be part of the real reason for the ratings being down:

It opened with Simone Biles and Co., but then, despite being filmed earlier in the day, inexplicably goes from the earlier rounds of Gymnastics to Swimming. Hours pass before we finally get to see the resolution to those Gymnastics rounds

The ratings were down because NBC couldn’t figure out how to show events in real time to both the East and West Coasts. With clips showing up online, on ESPN, on Twitter, the audience&emdash;millenials or not&emdash;couldn’t be bothered to stay up until 11:30pm ET to watch the gymnastics finals that had already happened that day. Or worse, for the half of the country on the West Coast, that had happened many hours before.

NBC’s real crime is not figuring out how to get more of the core live events in front of the audience when it was live. Live sports are the only thing left that really can keep audiences from cutting the cord, and NBC (while well intentioned with their wall-to-wall online coverage) forgot that.

In the end, Bloomberg incorrectly blamed millenials, and, in turn, millenials (or this millenial responded in the stereotypically myopic millenial way.

Apple TV on the Eve of tvOS 10

It’s been almost a year since I got the new Apple TV. We’ve been using it a ton lately, since network TV is in mostly reruns, and it’s a good opportunity to catch up on some shows and movies. When I got the Apple TV back in November, I mentioned three things that I thought would make a huge difference: an Amazon Prime app, a Comcast X1 app, and support for the iCloud Keychain. Well, none of those things have come true. But the last is almost coming true in tvOS 10.

iCloud Keychain support would make entering all the TV provider passwords easy. In tvOS 10, you’ll only need to enter the provider password once, and it’ll activate all of the TV apps you have access to. That’ll be surprisingly helpful and will reduce the number of times a password needs to be entered (or you hit one of those stupid activation screens) considerably.

Almost a year in, apps are starting to take advantage of the capabilities of tvOS. I plan to write about some of the apps that I’ve found really nice (and some that aren’t great) in the near future. If you want a preview, check out Fox Sports Go. It’s multiscreen live feature is pretty fantastic, and a perfect use of the Apple TV.

Improvements to Siri and the Apple remote have made the Apple TV much nicer to use since the launch. I find myself using Siri more frequently now, since it has a pretty high success rate of finding the show that I’m looking for, and dumping me one click from opening it. That’s useful, given that some of the interfaces (I’m looking at you, HBO Go) are pretty horrific for navigating around.

We use the Apple TV pretty regularly at this point, and I find new useful apps every week (Last weekend I discovered the awesomeness of the ABC app, if you can believe it. Schoolhouse Rock and Sports Night.). If it had Prime and Xfinity X1 support (which, in both cases, isn’t crazy, since I’m paying for subscriptions for both), we’d probably have the Apple TV on the first input of the TV.

Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, and a Regurgitated Potato Chip

Many of my favorite SNL sketches are Will Forte sketches. The Falconer time travel sketch, the ESPN Classic commentators, Tim Calhoun.

His humor and writing just hit me exactly right. Recently, with the SNL season wrapping up, UPROXX did an oral history of one of Forte’s weirder, funnier sketches “Potato Chip Thief”.

(It also includes the origination of Jason Sudeikis’ southern character who became the judge in “Maine Justice”, another one of the hilariously absurd SNL sketches of that cast.)

Solomon: That regurgitation of the potato chip is Will. It was one of those things where I think I said, “People are going to gag when they see this.”

Meyers: I think probably three or four years into my friendship with Forte, I realized there were certain things it was pointless to argue about.

Solomon: Will said, “I don’t care what kind of reaction we get. I just want a reaction. I don’t care if it’s laughs. I just want the audience to react.” And they did! If you listen to people in the background, they are like, “Oh my God.”

Meyers: It’s great because it’s 187 groans and two people who couldn’t be happier – and those are Forte’s people.


Apple TV and Xfinity Partner Program?

As I mentioned back when I got my new Apple TV, Comcast making it’s internet-based TV solution available for the Apple TV would be a huge win for everyone. It let’s Comcast keep their foot in the door with folks who are heavily invested in streaming media, and it gives Apple a solution for live TV on the Apple TV.

Comcast just announced their Xfinity Partner Program, which in theory, would allow Apple to deliver the app themselves, integrating the Xfinity on-demand library (and maybe even DVR and live tv guide) into the Siri voice search.

For folks who are already invested in the Comcast eco-system, but spend a lot of time on their Apple TVs, this could be a big win, eliminating flipping back and forth between inputs, and bringing Hulu, Netflix, and other streaming services into the same interface as your live cable. Hopefully, Apple sees the value here, as it could act as a gateway to get more folks into Apple TVs.

Two Wonderful Garry Shandling Tributes

I don’t remember where I came across these, but I didn’t have a chance to point to them. It’s a few weeks out now, but I find these to both be incredibly fitting and wonderful.

My own Garry Handling story is, I think, incredibly similar to many people’s. It’s Garry Shandling’s Show aired originally on Showtime, but ended up airing on Fox in 1988. I’m not sure how far in I discovered it, but I was 10 or 11, and I thought the theme song, breaking the 4th wall, and meta humor were just the funniest things I’d ever seen. I think it was probably the beginning of me recognizing what I really found funny, and that it wasn’t always the TGIF-brand family sitcom.

I remember setting my VCR to try to record as many episodes as I could.

(It was probably both It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and Sledge Hammer! that let me know my humor leaned a bit to the off-beat. Sledge Hammer! belongs on Netflix streaming.)

Anyway, I thought these two videos were really fitting, human tributes.

The 3 Things I Want for the Apple TV

I just posted a review of the Apple TV. There are a few things that I think would make the Apple TV much more useful to me.

Amazon Prime

There’s enough shows on Amazon that we’ll keep using the app on our TV until there’s an Apple TV version. Amazon should create a tvOS app, even though they won’t be able to sell things through the app. They probably won’t, just to be obstinate. Like not selling Apple TVs and Chromecasts.

But, if they build it, and have it integrated with Siri, the ability to quickly search across a number of services (iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, HBO) would quickly let me find movies I have access to.

Comcast Xfinity X1

We watch enough live TV (particularly sports) that cord cutting isn’t likely to happen any time soon. Losing NESN (the Red Sox), Comcast Sportsnet (the Celtics), and ESPN (for general other sports) just make it unlikely for us. That being said, the Apple TV is a much nicer device (so far) than the Xfinity X1 box (even though X1 is the nicest cable box I’ve ever used).

If Comcast were to make the X1 app for the Apple TV (like they have for the iPhone and iPad), the Apple TV would likely become our cable box. We could stream our DVR recordings via the Apple TV, tune to live programming, all while within the Apple TV interface and it’s ability to overlay Siri searches and flip back and forth between apps.

And, adding the Xfinity On Demand library into Siri search would give a really broad base of movies and TV shows to watch.

Again, Comcast won’t do it for the same reason Amazon won’t do it. But they should, as it’ll ensure that we’ll get value from our cable subscription.

iCloud Keychain

Setting up accounts on the Apple TV is a little painful. Especially when I’ve got those accounts setup on other devices and likely have their passwords sync’d with iCloud Keychain. Why the Apple TV can’t see that and automatically log me in is silly.

And, its still silly that when I turn on an app like ESPN, and it makes me go to an activate link (which is fine), that the Apple TV can’t see that, open and fill out the link itself (it has an internet connection), and then leverage iCloud Keychain to login to my cable provider.

This stuff should be brain dead simple. I assume its the sort of stuff that gets cut to get the device out as a 1.0, but I hope that these sorts of features show up in a future release.