Streaming Sucks, for the Most Part

Yeah, I just said that streaming sucks. You got something to say about it? Oh! Hold on a moment. (Deep breaths.) Sorry about that! I guess I’m in a mood because of the bumbling ineptitude of some (not all) streaming service providers. Things that should (or seem) easy to fix continue to elude them as they keep making mistakes. This foolishness is beyond my capacity for patience, which I admit is a bit short to begin with. So, who are the losers and the winners this week? I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Amazon Prime Sucks Because…

… Their user interface is horrible. The service has like 400,000 movies and shows. (That number is a guesstimate.) For all of that content, Prime only manages to preview the same six shows (again a guesstimate) on your home screen. And it does this over and over again. And don’t even get me started on its broken browse function. It’s easily the worst of all the streaming services. Don’t believe me? Google it!)

Here are two more problems that Mrs. Buckler and I have experienced with Prime’s UI:

  • Prime Video titles won’t play.
  • Error codes such as 1007, 1022, 7003, etc.

Sure, there’s a process to fix all of this. We have to restart our device, make sure our web browser has the latest updates, blah blah blah blah blah. If that doesn’t work, there’s a process to correctly register your IP address, blah blah blah blah blah. Here’s the deal: when I sit down to watch a show, I don’t want to jump through these hoops. I want to watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it. I swear, Prime’s UI is so bad that I think the company inspired Hulu to improve theirs. Oh! That reminds me…

… Hulu Sucks, Too!

Why? Because they’re late with their new user interface rollout. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of listening to Stuart Sweet grumble and whine about the streaming service’s UI. His gripes are centered on what he perceives as its inability to find program listings in the menu, recommendations, or search system. I’ve already taken him to task about his “Hulu hate;” but lately, I’m wondering if the old curmudgeon has been right all along.

In January, Hulu promised streamers would get a new user interface (UI) sometime in the spring. Well, here we are in summer (finally) and the big green streaming service has announced that “part of” that update is starting to roll out. (That sucks!) This fancy new interface is supposed to bring a traditional grade guide to Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV. You’re also supposed to be able to go 14 days into the future to pick and record a show and to see what coming.

Keep in mind that this new guide is not live. (That sucks, too!) Some updates are and you’ve probably already noticed them. Like the “collections” feature, for example. Apparently, these offer recommendations on shows and movies based on your viewing history. Hint: The more you watch shows on Hulu, the better then recommendations get. (Frankly, Hulu should be thanking Stuart since he’s been suggesting this feature ever since I’ve known him!)

Netflix Stinks Because…

… They’re ruining streaming by dropping so much bad programming on the market. I already covered this when I talked about having too much to binge watch. (It’s a problem when two of your favorite series debut on the same weekend.) The thing is, you’d think that having too much to watch would be a good problem to have. For the most part, it is. But Netflix has more problems… many more problems.

So, what other problems does Netflix have? Well, there’s a hemorrhaging of some popular network TV series including Friends and The Office. These shows are leaving to find new homes on other network-specific services, such as AT&T’s upcoming Time-Warner streaming service. (Rumor has it this service could be called “HBO Max.”)

Let’s not forget Netflix’s recent price hike. Nobody likes paying more for the same service, and the “big red one’s” service hasn’t been up to snuff lately. Speaking of raising the rent, Netflix also charges an extra $2/month for a 4K plan. Too bad it hasn’t really delivered a boatload of but hasn’t delivered a lot of 4K content. Note to Netflix: if you want us to pay more, give us the value for our extra dollars. Remember, you’re not the only game in the streaming town!

AT&T Gets it Right…

… That’s right. Not all streaming service providers suck this week. AT&T is doing something awesome to bridge free local TV with streaming services. The communications giant plans to donate $500,000 to Sports Fans Coalition NY. This is the not-for-profit organization that runs Locast. This allows users to live-stream local broadcast TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, etc.) over the internet for free.

This donation is part of AT&T’s ongoing commitment to bringing free broadcast content to consumers. On May 30, 2019, they added the Locast app to internet-connected DIRECTV and U-verse set-tops. More recently, AT&T is adding more local ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates to its DIRECTV NOW service. Kudos to them for continuing to bridge the gap between streaming and free local TV, aka cord-cutting!

The Lights at the End of the Tunnel

I started out this post in a horrible mood but that dark cloud is starting to lift. With everything that it’s doing, AT&T has restored my faith in streaming service providers. Netflix has two redeeming qualities as well: Stranger Things season three (debuted July 4, 2019), and the seventh season of Orange is the New Black (debuts July 26, 2019). Having new seasons of two of your favorite series would put a spring in any streamer’s step. This doesn’t mean I’ll just forget about the mistakes Netflix, Prime, and Hulu, though. I plan to keep a close and watchful eye on these and other streaming service providers.