Bye Bye Blockbuster: Closing All Stores by Early 2014

blockbusterDish Network, who operates around 300 of the Blockbuster stores announced today that it will close all of the video rental chain’s remaining U.S. stores, as well as it’s DVD by mail business by early 2014 attributing the move to more consumers switching to streaming and other digital alternatives.

“This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment,” said Joseph P. Clayton, Dish president and CEO. “Despite our closing of the physical distribution elements of the business, we continue to see value in the Blockbuster brand, and we expect to leverage that brand as we continue to expand our digital offerings.”

However, stores that operate as licensed franchises will be able to remain open and operate under the Blockbuster name. Blockbuster by mail will end in December.

This move probably makes Netflix, Amazon and Redbox very happy, and we suppose they will be offering specials soon to gather up as much of the old Blockbuster customers as they can. Were you a Blockbuster Subscriber, in store or by mail? Will you switch to another provider? If so, which one? Let us know in the comments below!

Flashback Friday? Time Warner Cable vs. CBS

Update (Aug 4, 2013): CBS has released a new official statement regarding negotiations with TWC

There are no negotiations taking place at this time between CBS and Time Warner Cable. Before the
deadline on Friday we asked TWC to continue the negotiation while our programming was still on the air
in consideration for our viewers. They rejected this request and told us that they’d have more leverage
against us if they took us off their service. This is hardly a sign that they care about their customers as
they claim. We remain ready to negotiate in good faith when they are.

As many Time Warner Cable customers already know, especially those who watch Big Brother and for the past few episodes, have seen the scroll at the bottom that you might lose your CBS channel, TWC and CBS are currently in the struggle of re-negotiation of their fees. Specifically, CBS is asking for a new contract with higher re-transmission fees for Time Warner Cable to broadcast their content.

Why a “Flashback Friday”? Because how many times have we seen this happen? Eventually it does resolve itself, the loser ALWAYS the TV Subscriber no matter which side gets their way really. Higher fees always means higher fees for YOU, not for the cable company. No negotiation means we lose our channels and somehow, still get a higher cable bill? (That one I haven’t quite figured out yet.)

Now, I’m not going to take sides between CBS/Time Warner Cable. Really, you can insert anyone in that equation. FOX/Comcast. Viacom/Dish. You get the picture. It’s constant and the only losers are us. We lose in price or we lose our favorite channel. It sucks quite frankly.

Now I used to, in another life, work for the cable company. Yes, I took your calls that the broadcaster told you to make to “tell us to keep” their channel, or of course the calls the Cable Company told you to make to “Not give in to their demands!” I remember specifically the fight between Fox and Time Warner Cable. We had to be staffed on New Years Eve of all things to take those calls. Why? Because the contract was going to run out at midnight. You have NO IDEA how much fun it is to answer the phone right before Midnight on New Years Eve to someone yelling at you (as if you are in on the negotiations) to keep their Fox on the air. Really, it’s kind of a joke. Do these callers really think we have any say? Do they not understand that whatever the cable company bends to on price just gets passed on to the consumer? Sigh.

It’s okay to make the call and let them know you prefer to keep/discard the network, but PLEASE realize the person you are talking to has no control over it and be human… And please, please, please find something else to do on New Years Eve.

But I digress… back to the reason I am writing this.

Another thing those callers don’t realize… In all the uproar over CBS maybe pulling their channel, or Fox, or NBC, or ABC etc. etc. Those channels are FREE OVER THE AIR CHANNELS. Yes, you do NOT need Cable, Dish, DirecTv, FIOS, etc. to see these. You just need a trusty antenna that you can purchase, or better yet, make your own for REALLY cheap! You may also need a converter box ONLY if your TV is older. And by older, I mean grandma’s TV… Ok, maybe mom’s TV or that weird retro Uncle you have that lives in a friends basement. Basically, if you have a digital ready Television, you can get those channels free. If you purchased your Television after 2004, more than likely it’s digital ready. If you purchased your TV after 2007, then it HAS to be digital ready by law, so no box needed.

ku-xlargeAnyway, I thought I would pass this info on about the ALMOST FREE antenna that you can make yourself. You know, DIY. Even if you have cable, satellite, fios or what not, it’s actually kind of a nice thing to have anyway. There are SO MANY over the air digital channels that you aren’t getting with these companies, and why shouldn’t you? They’re FREE. If you have a Tivo, you can even record from them. Many are in a really crisp HD too. So whether you are a cord cutter or a full fledged subscriber, why not give this a shot? Did I say free? (Well, almost free anyway. At least it’s without the monthly cost.)

Now some say that this DIY antenna is actually better than some of the more costly purchased ones. I will leave that up to you. Also note, I can’t take credit for this… this is someone else’s love child, I’m just sharing the wealth. This one was adopted from someone else (who she credits) by Holly Mann (and made pretty with paint to make it wall hang-able, if that’s such a word) and is reported to work really well. To view the instructions on how to make this, go HERE.

While you’re at it, you can also check out what channels should come in for you OTA (Over the Air) by your Zip Code HERE. (Keep in mind that many of these channels have more than one channel included. Meaning you may see one channel as “4-1” but there may also be a “4-2” and “4-3”. The last time I checked in my area there were at least 8 different PBS channels each broadcasting something different.

So good luck! If you decide to make one of these nifty things (which I will do soon too and will update with how it goes) let us know below in the comments how it turned out! Did it work? Did it fizzle out? Did you do something different that made it better? Keep us updated!

Oh and, of course, join us in the FORUM one of these days. You will be glad you did!



Streamers and Instant Watchers Unite!

With the interest in streaming TV Shows and Movies picking up, and Televisions, boxes and gaming systems joining the wifi train, I thought it a good idea to post the “what’s new” and “Coming soons” in Instant TV. Here at YakkityYaks, you will find the coming soon to Netflix (with the dates) and any big news in the instant streaming world, I will also let you know.

I joined the masses not all that long ago, and told my cable company to come pick up their equipment, leaving me with a Tivo and Netflix. Sure, I still have to pay the cable bill, but not nearly the amount they are used to getting out of me each month. Each “DVR” box of theirs costs close to $20 (the box, the remote, and the “dvr service”) and the movie channels between $10-$15 each. Canceling those has since saved me $67! (I had two of those DVRs and two movie channels.) I am paying for the Tivo service, and Netflix however, which adds up to about $20 per month, so add that, and I saved close to $50. Now, eventually, I am planning on doing away with cable all together and just going back to antenna, AND porting over my home phone to Google (for a one time $20 fee) but that’s a whole different story… we will save that experience for a later date.

There are so many ways now that you can get the stream to your television, you probably already own something that will do it for you. The cable companies are definitely falling behind in this arena. It seems to me that they really need to just give in to this new revolution, and provide this access themselves. Instead, they are fighting it more and more each day. This is precisely why you hear and read about cable companies trying to charge you for bandwidth use. They want to have the ability to raise your rates if you are a streamer, hoping people will drop it. With 3g, 4g and fios entering the markets soon, it is just another mistake the cable companies will make.

The news coming from the cable heads are downplaying just how many are leaving as of late, but the numbers are high. It has been reported that people that have dropped cable have not picked up elsewhere. The growth in Satellite has not kept up with the numbers cable have lost. The News and the big television providers have said it was “because of the recession.” Yes, I do believe that may be a piece in the puzzle. People just can’t afford nor justify the high rise in television costs, while most of us remember it being free. People are irritated with channels going black in negotiations when if they were attached to an antenna on the roof, it would still be on, and free. People are sick and tired of the infomercials that show ALL NIGHT. People are getting tired of the rhetoric provided on the cable “news” shows, which have become, not news at all, but all commentary shows. People are tired of the quality of programming put on by the bigger cable channels. (Think MTV Skins.) The list goes on. People are leaving the TV providers in droves, and the providers keep telling themselves it’s the recession.

Well, keep telling yourselves that guys, while I watch the newest releases on Netflix.

Stay tuned to YakkityYaks where will begin providing a calender for new Netflix Instant Watch Releases, plus any news in the Instant Watch arena.

Anything else you would like to see? Please let us know below or in the forum HERE!

Fox v. Cablevision – Lose/Lose?

Since this is “Random Thought Thursday”, I thought I would throw in my own .02 cents about the fight that continues between Fox and Cablevision.

I myself used to work for a cable company not horribly long ago, in the customer service department. When it was our turn in the “Fox” hunt, we got calls ranging on both sides of the issue. The error in customer’s thinking, however, is that no matter how you feel (Give in/Pay out) is that it’s the customer who is losing this war, on both sides of the aisle.

Many customers would call in just to scream “If you lose FOX, I will cancel my service!” Well, here are the inside tips of what you can do as a customer:

1. First, STOP DOING THAT!! They are customer service, they don’t really care if you cancel, and are not part of these big “corporate head” negotiations, so seriously, stop yelling at them. They don’t lose money if you cancel. The company, yes. Them, no. They are also not in charge of any little button that turns a channel on or off… So cut it out! If you want to cancel, just say you would like to cancel and be done with it. Threatening a Customer Service Rep with cancellation does nothing, even IF FOX’s advertising is telling you to do so. FOX even has a phone line set up for you to call, and then transfers you over to your cable/satellite/phone company to yell. Give me a break. Just stop. There is absolutely NOTHING customer service can do for you, other than cancel… if that’s what you really want, hang on the line and do so. Don’t just call to threaten it, because they really, really, REALLY don’t care.

2. You can leave the service and go elsewhere where FOX resides happily… until of course, a couple of months roll by, and it’s your turn in the negotiation barrel. At that point, hopefully you aren’t now stuck in a contract with this new provider, since you cancelled your cable with the other company that has no contracts… in which FOX is now “happily” back on.

3. If the one channel you are unhappy with losing on your television is just a broadcast channel (ie, your local Fox Channel) then you can hook up a digital box, sold pretty cheap at any electronics store, and still get that channel, free. Yes, free. How are any of these channels able to swipe them off the air in a negotiation dispute when it’s already free? I have no idea, but they do, just to tick you off.

And most importantly… 4. Stop letting FOX, or whatever channel is doing the negotiations this time around hold you hostage. If they get what they want, you better believe your bill is going up. Heck even if they don’t get what they want, they will still get more money in the end, and your bill will go up. The cable/satellite/phone companies that are in the TV business are not going to lose profit on behalf of Mr. or Mrs. Customer. It WILL get passed on to you. Thus starts the cycle at the beginning of the year, when you receive your rate increase letter from your provider, of you calling up and yelling at customer service again, and AGAIN, they are NOT in charge of the rate increases, so STOP DOING THAT! In fact, as a previous customer service representative, AND a customer, we LOATHE the increases. It just means that we have to pay a higher bill AND get yelled at by customers every day at our job. If you don’t like the rate increase, call and cancel, downgrade, or just don’t call. It does nothing but cause an agent that can do nothing about it, grief. Know that causing an agent grief does absolutely nothing to cause the money makers grief, AND, know the representative is now REQUIRED to try and upsell to you. So if you don’t like that jargon, just don’t call.

In a time when our unemployment is so high, and money is so tight, television should not cost $100-$200 a month, and yet, we pay it loyally, month by month by month. Yes, technology is changing on the horizon, and more and more people are turning to internet streaming for their viewing pleasure, but until the masses stop letting these companies (The media heads AND television providers) get away with this overpriced garbage, it will just continue. If FOX gets what they are asking, which they came close with Dish and Time Warner Cable not long ago, you better believe NBC, CBS, ABC, Viacom, etc. are next. It’s only fair to them right?

Now I am not so bold as to tell anyone to stop watching TV. I gotta have my must watched list as much as the next girl, but man oh man, if they are asking too much, tell your provider that you are NOT willing to pay the price, and let them go. Besides, you can always catch the episode you missed nowadays on HULU or the networks website.