Seattle Locast rollout shaky at best

Discussion in 'Internet Streaming Services' started by 1948GG, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Nov 5, 2019 #1 of 15
    1948GG

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    Last weeks adding of Locast to the Seattle DMA finally gave me a chance to see the service up front, and will divide my review into two parts, first the Seattle rollout and their 'national' software that runs their system.

    The local rollout was frought with many technical problems, which should have been corrected on the spot by their installation crew, including a couple of apparent defective reciever/encoder boxes which unfortunately included the CBS affiliate (and it's subchannels) over an NFL weekend. This resulted in a veritable flood of complaints which overloaded their 'ticket' complaint system which as if this date has not been cleared.

    I'll assume that they installed their equipment in the Westin telco hotel in downtown Seattle, a facility I was in and out of for some 30+ years, and has more national and international fiber connections than one can count, along with near perfect line of sight to the local broadcast towers from it's 34 story height. It appears they waited until monday morning to either swap out the defective equipment (having gone 'live' the previous wednesday/thursday) or rebooted them (what, no remote ability to do either?).

    Some updated software work was also done to their grid guide, that should have been done in advance to the rollout. More work needs to be done to make it more 'user friendly' and obvious, unless one knows the local channels and capability by memory or wiki, it is more than a bit confusing. Hopefully, this will be rectified in the coming week, I'm not going to add my comments to their overloaded complaint system, but what did they expect from a highly tech savvy population?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  2. Nov 5, 2019 #2 of 15
    NYDutch

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    How much have you donated to Locast to help them improve the service and response times? ;)
     
  3. Nov 5, 2019 #3 of 15
    1948GG

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    I donated quite early after the initial rollout in New York and Boston, and wrote a quite lengthy dissertation on how they could improve the service, in particular the addition of all the subchannels, as reciever/encoder combinations with multichannel support were available at a price point minimally above that of single channel units. Not long afterwards they upgraded the cities to include all if not most of the subchannels; good deal!

    I've been dealing with digital video since the pre-mpeg2 days, and was recalled from retirement by my company to help set up teams over two years ago for the fcc 'repack' that's still underway. Tons of fun. Another idea I had was a dvr add-on to locast, I believe that offering it would generate much more revenue than their operating costs. We shall see.
     
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  4. Nov 5, 2019 #4 of 15
    NYDutch

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    Locast can easily be integrated with Fitzy and their $5/mo DVR service...
     
  5. Nov 5, 2019 #5 of 15
    1948GG

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    Expensive and kludgy. Even at 1/10 the cost it would be overpriced. Data storage in any 'cloud' is so cheap these days it's jaw dropping. I save some 7+TB a month and it costs <$20 *mostly transmission costs* and if I stop adding anything my monthly cost is zero yet the retrieval cost is pennies at best even if it sits there for months or years.

    I don't expect locast to offer such a deal, but $5/month should get one 500 hours of HD storage good for 30 days at a minimum. Look at youtubetv, and figure out how they bundle 'unlimited' storage for 8 months. I have trouble figuring that one out, with a $50/month 70+ channel package. The trick is scalability, the larger things get the cheaper it is.
     
  6. Nov 5, 2019 #6 of 15
    NYDutch

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    I'm sure Locast is more concerned with expanding their market count and resolving their legal issues at this point. Once those issues are dealt with, then they can look at adding features. Including a feature like DVR service as a premium for a higher donation level might make sense at some point.
     
  7. Nov 5, 2019 #7 of 15
    1948GG

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    Which is exactly why they need to crunch the numbers right now, and strike while the iron is hot. They are up against a government licenced monopoly (with a guaranteed profit margin) just like the cell companies v. The telcos were at the beginning. The difference today is the tech required to provided this enhanced service has a very low entry cost, and in fact can be outsourced to a separate company that takes the Capitol investment risk yet provides the added income stream they will need to fight those entrenched companies, and provide expansion funds for the future.

    If they arn't thinking about this right now as we sit here they may be headed down the road to ruin as these multi-trillion dollar behemoths swung their sights on them.
     
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  8. Nov 5, 2019 #8 of 15
    James Long

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    I'm confused ... it sounds like people are describing a commercial business. Locast is a non profit. The more "commercial" they become the harder it will be to overcome their legal issues.
     
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  9. Nov 6, 2019 #9 of 15
    NYDutch

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    I agree with you, James, it isn't good for Locast to look too commercial. I think offering premiums at higher donation levels is an accepted practice though, one that's commonly used by local PBS stations and other non-profits in their fundraising efforts. Holding off until the legal issues are resolved would likely be a good idea though...
     
  10. 1948GG

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    'Holding off' until legal issues are resolved is a death knell. The broadcasters can, as I pointed out are government approved/licensed monopolies, simply box them into a legal corner until, quite literally, hell freezes over while they shop around for some judges they can 'convince' to rule in their favor.

    The pbs 'premium' levels that my inbox keeps getting subscription requests for is a perfect analogy, a streaming service that provides top access to programming. Btw, now that pbs is inking deals with the streaming companies (youtubetv up first) I'm wondering if they will lock up these companies from DVR'ing their content; bet they will, although Comcasts streaming service that carries all the dma broadcast channels (including two pbs channels with their 5+ subchannels in my dma) doesn't but their dvr is so constricted (20 hours total) that trying to save anything for more than a couple weeks is almost impossible.

    But I told locast that if they thought offering a dvr service might be a bit too close to the edge, then ink a deal with a company like Fitzy to do it on the side. Give them some decent programming support and upfront cash infusion to fix some of their rough edges, and it's a done deal. Have them give locast 'subscribers' special low cost deals and it's done. Separate company, so you gave them a heads up on interfacing with your system, just like some of the other streaming vendors.
     
  11. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

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    Fyi, the reciever/encoder supplying kiro7/cbs is still having ongoing problems, freezing and/or blanking both the main channel and both subchannels. I also caught the unit pixilating all 3 channels yesterday, interesting as the kiro broadcast antenna is <2 miles from downtown on Queen Anne hill. The unit got reset this morning around 7am after being locked up most of the night. Hopefully they have a replacement somewhere in the overnight shipment que.

    Back to freezing with audio/video out of sync about 20 minutes later. I'm sure if the tech is on site they're wondering where the fedex/ups folks are (been there done that!)
    Unfortunately, still going on at 12:50 this afternoon, with the subchannels also either hiccuping or completely locked up.
    So now it's 7 days that kiro7/cbs has been unwatchable, heavy pixilization/freezing/blanked out. I'll keep checking every few hours, also watching the other channels.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
  12. 1948GG

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    As of this morning, kiro7/cbs and it's subchannels appear to be operating okay, no pixilation or other nastiness. Checked all other channels and no problems. Have noticed that with the android app when starting ip a stream there is a small mini-skip about one second in, that glitch is not repeatable in the roku app, so it appears to be isolated to android.
     
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  13. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

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    Okay, noticed this evening channel changes are being made. When they rolled out, none of the (2 or 3?) Shopping channels were not there as were the couple of Spanish language ones and a couple of religious as well. Okay, no big deal, but again this evening the one religious channel they did have on was replaced by one of the Spanish ones. Wondering if the they had to swap things around to get kiro7/cbs working, and if they intend to put all those shopping/spanish/religious channels up...? Will have to take a look at sf and la and see what they've done there.

    Fyi, the removed channel was Daystar, replaced by Univision, along with it's subchannel 'stadium' (also carried by fox/13; daystar had no subchannels).

    Okay, a quick look at la and I count as least 4 spanish channels (one would figure), 2-3 shopping channels and 2+ religious channels in addition to the usual network and independent stations. So it will be interesting as to how many seattle locals will actually end up on the service.

    Fyi, I finally recieved a response (after over a week) to my initial report in their complaint system, which said in short they don't have any problems; well yes, after a week of time to fix things, no confirmation that they had problems that they 'fixed'. So I guess they won't be saying anything about changing up the lineup either, typical programmers never saying they are working on things, making changes, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019
  14. 1948GG

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    Fyi/update: Locast added a 'Report a Problem' sticker thing to the program listings, but not to the channel listings. The difference? The channel listings brings up the full daily program lists on the android app; on roku the program listing is whatever one is 'homed' to on the grid guide.

    The addition is on both the roku and android app.

    It might have been better if the grid guide allowed one to bring up additional info on the station; I wish they would more properly identify them by listing underneath the proper atsc ID like 4-1 or 4-3 etc. Not simply repeating the base ID like 'nbc' or 'comet'. Just a thought.

    They made more changes today after I noticed the 'report a problem' add. It now takes two 'ok' clicks on roku to get the 'watch live' actually streaming. Also, once streaming, if one presses any of the navigation button on the roku remote, the 'report a problem' tag comes up.

    For a service that's been running for months in ny, boston, and la one would have thought things would have been more completely thought out by this point in time. Guess not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  15. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

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    These two rounds of user interface changes with roku's have already degraded the usability of the service. If they do another round of 'improvements' it will be approaching unusability, just like the outsourced programmers did with psvue, which resulted in a mass exodus of subscribers.

    I had to go back in youtube and rewatch several earlier postings on locast to refresh my memory of what the roku UI was in the beginning with Seattle, and I must figure the other cities are still running, but don't know.

    In short, it's now taking 4 clicks to bring up a program, and 2 just to bring up the program description, where it used to take one and then just another to view the next description, not 3+ going back and then forward again.
     

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