A Penguin on the Telly

Is the U-verse television slate compelling? U-400 pipes in 417 channels:

  • 47 are radio stations

  • 242 unique channels after excluding duplicates, eg, TMC, TMC - West

  • 58 duplicates are HD versions

  • 20 duplicates are non-English carrying the same programming

  • 6 are AT&T promotional channels

  • Many channels are empty, eg, 21 regional ESPN are blank unless a game is playing

With a DVR, the need for "Channel" and a duplicate "Channel - Timezone" seems unnecessary, especially for channels that hold pre-recorded programming. Watch 'em when they show up in the list.

Video on Demand (channel 9999) has selections for recent movies at $4 per rental. Adult hardcore entertainment is available at $7-12 per rental (people still rent pr0n?); about 12 channels have softcore "after dark" programming. Approximately 2/3s of VoD programming is re-plays of CineMax, HBO, SHO, and other pay channel programs that are not in the current air schedule. "Hundreds" of movies are available.

The competition: the Internet and Netflix Watch Now! service. "Top Gear" is on BBC America, but is also seen at www.surfthechannel.com and in the Torrent; the Stig's white uniform looks sharper on TV, but the program is entirely watchable online. Netflix Watch Now! has 10,000 films (many awful, but no charge) and more online daily. Coupled with a rental rate of about $2 per movie ($16/month, watch 8 DVDs/month) for the huge DVD-by-mail catalog.

The one compelling reason is live sports. Regional college and pro games make it tempting to the sports fan, but even with picture in picture and channel swapping, how much can you realistically watch in a weekend as you hunker down in your man-cave? (Correct answer: all.)

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