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HD Tech
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If Spectrum (or anyone) decides to sunset cable card devices, they must have data showing that a majority of their TiVo customers will just sigh and convert to using one or more cableco supplied set top boxes (and its monthly lease billing).

Or they're just being stupid. Sometimes it's difficult to tell. How can you assess the sanity of a service that keeps shedding subscribers and compensating to appease shareholders by raising rates on those who remain, driving even more of them away? I wonder if Netflix, who is now threatening to do the same, is paying attention.

Either way, if they dump cablecards I will no longer use their cable TV package for which I am currently paying about $150/month (plus $75 for Internet). I will keep the internet, but their $1,800 annual revenue from my cable TV use will be gone. I can get all the streaming services I can eat for $1,800 a year.

I've been staying with them mostly from inertia and the familiarity and ease for me and my family of having used TiVo products for about twenty years (currently a Roamio Pro and four Minis), but that would push me fully into the "I stream everything now" camp. I already own enough streaming hardware that I don't need to buy more (for now, of course).
 

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HD Tech
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It's called Spectrum Choice. It's not as good a deal as it used to be at $29.99. In my area, it's now $44.99 plus a broadcast fee. I believe you have to ask for it.
Thanks. The Spectrum 'broadcast fee' on the bill I just got is $21, so add that to $45 and at $66/mo it will cost close to what YouTube TV charges ($65/mo), and which seems a better choice overall - more channels and a 'cloud' DVR that seems to be OK, according to reviews.
 

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HD Tech
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Something to look at is Amazon Recast. It is a DVR for OTA with 4 Tuners. Antenna required. The TiVo OTA DVR is 2 tuners. It supports Alexa. You still need internet from someone. Just something to consider.
Thanks. Unfortunately, although I live in a major American city, I am in an RF-free bowl canyon where I have no off-air. Zero. I don't get TV, or FM radio, or cell service. I can get AM skip on summer nights where AM stations 1,500 miles away come in just fine, though.

It's kind of bizarre and limits my options, has made me a cableco slave for decades.
 

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HD Tech
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Well if that ain't something. I put a 20' tower in the front of my house for OTA. People said why! Well Google Earth said that is the only place that will work. The street light poll would have been the best but I figured the politics wasn't worth the effort. It is just a backup for when the cable goes out.
At one point I got so frustrated I hired an antenna expert to come out and try. He came with a 40 foot crank up tower, an enormous yagi, and a spectrum analyzer, and the only channel he could find was a 24 hour religious station about 40 miles away. This in an area that has about 45-50 off-air stations (if you count all the sub-channels).
 

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HD Tech
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My ex-wife switched over to TV Choice around 6 months ago. Cincinnati area. You have to threaten to cancel and ask for retention to get someone even knowledgeable about it. She has a Roamio with a cablecard and they were able to switch everything over during the initial call. The CSR handling the switchover was the most knowledgeable person about cablecards that I have ever spoken to at Spectrum. Bally RSNs were available in the package, but I believe that adds the additional fees. She choose not to get them. Her monthly bill with internet is $102 a month for 2 years, I believe.
I remember it was extremely hard to find the channel lineup as well. This was the link I used. Spectrum TV Choice is one of the dropdown options. https://www.spectrum.com/address/ch...spt_pro_0322&opredirect=choice-channel-lineup
You then pick your 15 channels from the list. It does include locals which are in addition to your 15 channels.
That link unfortunately didn't work for me. They wanted my address, then told me that address already had service, then sent me to a page listing what channels I was getting, and that was that.
 

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HD Tech
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Yup, I just got this email and I'm livid. I don't know what other choices are good or not good, but I need something other than just live tv. In addition, they didn't give an effective date for this. I have shows on both of my Tivos and don't know if they will just disappear or I can at least view them.

I feel like I need a lot of help with this. I do have a Spectrum store nearby. I don't get why they can't just continue with it.
When cable cards are no longer supported, your TiVo should continue to be able to play back already recorded content. But you can't use it to watch live TV or record anything more.

Some of your choices are:

-Get an antenna, watch live off-air TV only

-Get a Spectrum cable box/remote, continue watching Spectrum content. They also offer a DVR service.

-Get a streaming device (Roku, AppleTV4K, Amazon Firestick, etc.) and switch to subscribed streaming services. You need a decent Internet connection to do this.

-Some combination of the above

-Read books.

They're stopping cable card support because they can. It was forced down their throats and they never liked it because it cost them a lot of time and money to support the concept. Besides which, every TiVo was one less of their own cable boxes and remotes they could rent, and those devices are a license to print money. The basic cable box rents for $10/mo, and if you want a remote to actually control it, it's another $2.50/mo. So about $150/year rental for each TV/outlet on hardware that costs them maybe $75 in the volume they buy them. They couldn't WAIT to dump cable cards.
 

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HD Tech
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I just got the email as well. I think it's funny that they say they don't want the cable cards back. Doesn't say anything about the tuning adapter, though, which would be more of a hassle to return (our local Spectrum store closed several years back).

The Apple TV offer is interesting, especially considering this: How to control your Apple TV with a TiVo remote

Thankfully, when the time comes, I can just switch the Bolt to antenna, which is 80% of what we watch anyway. If it weren't for sports, I would've likely cut the cord a long time ago.
I had no idea the ATV4K was that versatile in terms of learning non-Apple remotes. Thanks.

In exchange, I'll point out a 'hidden' ATV4K remote feature I just love: You're watching a show, and miss a bit of dialog. Hit the mike button on the Apple remote and say "What did she say?" and the device will rewind 20 seconds, turn on closed captioning, play back that 20 seconds of rewound video, then turn off closed captioning. It's magical.
 

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HD Tech
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It would be helpful if people who got the email mentioned what part of the country or what state they live in. This may or may not be rolled out to major cities for a while.

But it is coming. I think most of us knew that when the FCC dropped the cable card requirement.
 

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HD Tech
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I think MLB or the broadcast rights holders are on the verge of offering team streaming subscriptions with no geographic blackouts, but I've been thinking of going to radio and internet updates once my Spectrum new customer discount expires anyway. I attend about 20 games/year in person so why do I need to pay for the broadcast rights on those?
Spectrum in Los Angeles has an exclusive on Dodger home games, and adds $8/mo to every single bill for it. It's not optional - you have to pay it even if you never watch it (like me). So another $100/year for something I don't need or use.

The financial model cannot continue to exist indefinitely with streaming being as good as it is.

They do keep raising their Internet fees as well. I'm now at $79/mo for 200/10 service that started at $49/mo. They have a semi-monopoly there, although some of the new 5G 'boxes' might offer some competition. I'll note that Verizon's offering in my area is $69/mo for 100/10 service, so not exactly competition.
 

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HD Tech
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I don't currently have Spectrum so that must be why it worked for me. May work for a close-by address if you know a place that doesn't have Spectrum. I did try it for my ex's address and got exactly what you got. Somewhere I have the channel list printed out. The new display makes it impossible to print or capture anything (at least for my skills)
OK, figured it out.

You can enter your current address, but to see various available channel packages, you have to click on "I'm a new customer at this address".

You can then select the package from a drop down menu. It's called Spectrum TV Choice.

It's a cable package, right, not a streaming package? So without a cable card enabled TiVo or one of their set top boxes, you would have to use the Spectrum App to stream the content?
 

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HD Tech
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DISH dropped ALL RSN's back in 2019 & has NO plans on bringing any of them back...so strike that off your options... ;)
Aside from which, DISH has a long history of battling over money with many content suppliers and kicking them off the platform, some of them never to return. Not my idea of a reliable consistent vendor.
 

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HD Tech
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I still feel like this is the single most poorly worded e-mail I have ever read...what is this suppsoed to mean:
"As we continue to upgrade our networks and technology, CableCARDs will not be compatible with future service upgrades for some time."

My cynical self says the vagueness is completely intentional...
Of course it is. Cablecos are shedding customers like crazy, and they understand their future is in supplying Internet as their main business model dies. They are panicked and doing stupid things.
 

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HD Tech
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For what it’s worth, I just got a cable card and tuning adapter without any issues from spectrum.
Since this is a Spectrum cablecard labeled thread...I've been with Spectrum and their cablecard since I bought my first HD set, a JVC DiLA set with a cablecard slot almost two decades ago. After that, two HD THX TiVos. Each two tuner THX device took two cards back then (no multi cards). The entire experience from then until now, including the transition to multicards and SDV and having to get the TA, has gone better than expected. They have a dedicated support line for cable cards and TAs, and it's not the usual desk jockeys reading from a script. Those people know their business, and never failed to remotely fix any issues I had. Many of them also used TiVos, which helped.

All that is to say that I have been a satisfied customer overall for decades. Their images get worse each year because they insist on ramping up their compression engine to be able to accommodate more shopping channels and foreign language bundles (which are HUGE moneymakers for them). But no matter how bad it got, it was still better than the unwatchable garbage DirecTV and DISH have been peddling for decades.
 

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HD Tech
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How can you all do that anymore unless you pay through the nose for AD Free Streaming.
You can make a choice to pay more for no ads, or less for content with ads. I chose no ads on the services where I had a choice. I do not subscribe to or use streaming services where there is only ad-based content available for now, although I'm considering YouTubeTV, which is ad-based only. I don't consider an extra $5/month to be 'paying through the nose'. You pay the $5/month extra per service, or you watch ads.

Shouldn't consumers unite to convince Congress and the Agencies to allow TiVo or similar to compete in the market as uniquely being able to capture cable or some stream tiles without ads?
Totally unrealistic. Never, ever going to happen.

And nothing is currently legally able to capture streaming content locally (at your house) from services where you have to pay for the stream.

But the good part is that you don't need your complex current setup to feed a bunch of sets. I have a Roamio and four Minis, and when I walk away from TiVo later this year, I can just put a $30 Amazon FireStick4K at every set and have the same content available everywhere. No recording of content, but most of it is always available so it's not an issue for me.
 

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Absolutely, if you want the best playback experience. Most streaming apps SUCK compared to playing a show from Tivo. Quickplay has been invaluable for me, frex, and I think that only some YouTube apps offer it across all streamers.
I agree that the ballistics in most streaming apps are garbage compared to any TiVo. And that the TiVo remote is, quite possibly, the best remote design ever seen.

But then there's the fact that proper streaming 4K images and multichannel sound are so vastly superior to the compressed to hell twenty year old codec HD crap that cable sends out, it's no contest at all if you want high quality pictures and sound. Spectrum's 10 Mb/s MPEG content is just incredible trash. That's not TiVo's fault, but in the end that's what TiVo users get to watch in many markets.
 

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What's interesting to me is that Charter seems to be implying that the only thing ending anytime soon is support for CableCARD --i.e. that they do NOT plan to get rid of QAM cable TV more broadly, and switch over to IPTV-only, as their Alaskan "cousin" GCI recently did in order to also make high-split upgrades to their data network. Charter says that the reason their high-split upgrades will eliminate CableCARD support is because it will eliminate the specific upper frequency that CableCARDs use for OOB (out-of-band) upstream communication. But they also raise the possibility that they may be able to simply shift that OOB frequency even higher after the high-split upgrade. In other words, Charter is saying "We may be able to bring support for CableCARD back in the relatively near future after initially dumping it."

While HDHomeRun CableCARD devices can apparently be software updated in order to use a hypothetical new higher OOB frequency in the future, it's unclear if that's possible for some, or any, TiVo DVRs. Frankly, I can't see why Charter would even bother to try and re-instate CableCARD support, given how few customers even use it. Based on the FCC's last public release of the numbers of CableCARDs in use a year or two ago, I calculated that they represented only about 0.5% of all eligible cable TV subscribers in the nation.

Perhaps Charter is simply raising that possibility to soften the blow in terms of the media coverage that they're getting now over yanking support for TiVo? As I say, it don't really see how it's in their economic interest to keep CableCARD alive, especially if it's not possible for TiVo DVRs, only other less-popular CableCARD devices such as HDHomeRun tuners.

And as I say, I have to wonder how much longer Charter will even support QAM TV more broadly. My guess has been that once they start getting big shipments of those new 4K HDR streaming devices in stock, from their new joint venture with Comcast -- which isn't expected until next year -- they'll go market-by-market handing and mailing those out to customers in order to get all their Spectrum cable TV subs switched over to accessing it via their IPTV app and then shut up QAM TV completely. Guess we'll see what unfolds in Charter-land next year...
The sad part is that if the current Spectrum app is any indication, their streaming video quality is going to be the same compressed to hell garbage that they're sending down the cable wire now. For people used to HD streams from real providers, their stuff looks like poorly upscaled standard def.

People are getting acclimated to high quality images from their streaming suppliers. If they don't up their game, Charter and Spectrum will become the new low rez side channels. Without the monopoly status they've enjoyed for decades, their TV offering will sink without a trace. They have no idea how to compete, and even less than that on how to compete on image quality. They are quickly going to settle on being just another ISP where in many areas they still have their monoply (but not for much longer).
 

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HD Tech
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Yeah. Similar situation, I think, at Comcast, where they provide all HD channels in overly-compressed 720p (regardless of whether the network offers it in 1080i). I think they use the same encodes for QAM vs. IPTV. YouTube TV is a step up and DirecTV Stream is a BIG step up in terms of HD PQ. But then no cable channel service can match the picture quality offered by direct-to-consumer on-demand services like Apple TV+, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, Paramount+ and Peacock, where a lot of their new originals stream in 4K Dolby Vision and even the HD stuff looks significantly better than the same show/movie on any live cable channel, regardless of provider.
Spectrum on the west coast is pushing out content at the original resolution, but is using terrible first generation MPEG compression from 2001, and no channel goes above about 11 Mb/s at 8 bits, which is horrendous with that codec. They could have gone H.264 (their cable boxes and the TiVos can accommodate that codec) and gotten far superior images at just 4-5 Mb/s but for some reason they don't.

The worst part of their service is where they compress the premium channels you pay extra for even harder, and HBO (for example) never exceeds 9 Mb/s which is just plain pathetic. Freeze any part of the red Marvel movie opening, and you could give a master class on what crappy 8 bit image macroblocking looks like. And they feed the same crappy images to their streaming app.

It's too bad that the best quality streaming images come from DirecTV Stream. I despise AT&T, won't give them a penny, so it's gonna have to be the slightly less hateful Google/YTTV that gets my money going forward. If I had off-air here (I do not) I would use that for the locals and not get that kind of 'cable' package at all. I have plenty of commercial free streaming content already.
 
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