“Cable TV Will Die”: Altice USA CEO Talks About The Future of Cable Companies, Broadband, and Wireless

In a bold move, Altice Chairman Patrick Drahi vowed that Altice USA would rival Comcast and Charter as one of the three dominant U.S. cable providers and become an even greater force on this side of the pond than it is in its native France. This came after the company acquired U.S. cable companies, Suddenlink and Cablevision.

Six years after, Altice USA has a mere 5 million customers. That’s not even close to how many their major competitors have! Altice has just announced its acquisition of Morris Broadband which will give them 36 thousand more customers. But that’s still a far cry from their arch rivals’ 31 million users.

CEO Dexter Goei spoke to CNBC about how Altice USA’s rapid expansion is being hindered, why he believes cable and wireless will eventually merge in the U.S., and when it might be time for Americans to say goodbye to their beloved cable T.V. service.

(We have edited this interview for clarity and length.)

Alex Sherman, CNBC: Altice Chairman, Patrick Drahi, announced that their company would have an “open boulevard ahead of us.” This was following the deal Altice completed buying two U.S. cable companies: Suddenlink and Cablevision, which he said would make them as big as Time Warner Cable by acquiring five more small operators. It’s over five years now. How many customers do you guys currently serve?

Dexter Goei, Altice USA CEO: We only have about five million customer relationships.

So you have about five million subscribers? While that’s a lot, you’re not as big as Time Warner Cable; they were at 12 million back then. It appears that Patrick’s comment about Charter and Comcast not being able to buy anything else is no longer irrelevant. Did anything happen between then and now?

The reality is there’s been nobody selling, and we haven’t had a chance to show our skills on something of significant size. The most considerable transaction that has taken place is Cable One’s couple billion dollars acquisition, and that was specific to places that we’re not in.

Why? What happened? The machine to consolidate just seemed like it stopped? I remember Charter bought Bright House and Time Warner Cable, and you guys bought Suddenlink and Cablevision within a couple years of each other. But then the consolidation suddenly all came to an abrupt halt with no explanation. Why did that all happen?

I cannot tell exactly, but it’s no secret that the cable companies have been in business for a long time, and we’re not even talking about their icky-uncle type of ownership. The people who own these other conglomerates, like Cox Communications or Charter Spectrum/Comcast Corp., are families with decades’ worth of experience within this industry!

And it’s about the same thing nationwide. People have held ownership for 10, 20, 30 years, and many of them say they are not interested in selling because they like their businesses too much or it’s created a lot of value. They’ve been pioneers in their respective communities for a long time, and they plan to continue doing what they do best – providing cable services. Your local cable company is an invaluable mainstay of the local business community. What if you’re not looking to make a quick buck and don’t know what else to do with your money? These businesses are generating so much free cash flow that they can sustainably pay out dividends of three or four hundred million dollars every year without issue. So, yes – it’s possible for them to sell at five billion. For us, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.

 The owners are still the same as five years ago. Wasn’t this clear to you then?

We believed that if everyone were selling, we would see a follow-through of more asset sales. But then it stopped abruptly.

We succeeded in getting Chuck Dolan from Cablevision to sell. At the time, it was an asset that everyone had been trying to get for years, and finally, we managed to! Time Warner came up on sale, but because our company still hadn’t dealt with U.S. regulators yet, they dropped us in favor of another buyer. We saw three sizeable assets come onto the market: one mega-asset (Time Warner) as well as two smaller ones (Cablevision and Suddenlink). We were able to scoop the smaller two.

Now that your offer to buy Atlantic Broadband out of Cogeco was turned down, what is your next move? Obviously, they were not interested in a deal, in line with what you just said.

The company is focused on organic operations, including building out our footprint and upgrading our fiber-to-the-home. We also plan to look for smaller M&A opportunities as long as there are no larger ones available. In the absence of that, we’re putting all of our free cash flow back into buying back our shares since we’re still trading at close to a 10% free cash yield. We have our debt complex currently trading in the 3s. So we’ve got kind of an interest rate difference between our cost of debt and how much goes into current investment projects. We’ll continue to buy up shares and retire them for more. We have also looked at other types of business like wireless or ad tech companies. When it comes down to what is best with our capital investment opportunities, M&A always looks good but only if there are exciting options on the table for us!

 The wireless world is becoming more and more competitive. It’s been beautiful to see the evolution that Altice has made in Europe, as it owns both cable and wireless assets in this region. In fact, they are one of the only companies with these two business lines within a single organization! This begs an important question: will we ever see such changes happen here?

I’ve been speaking out about it for quite some time now. There’s no reason not to: strictly on an operating synergies level (from what I understand), in terms of both capital allocations that can result in higher returns overall and also by way of brand recognition benefits. It’s also ultimately about the clients. When they get more products or services from one provider, they’re less likely to switch providers because their stickiness is better than ever before! That’s why cable companies are entering into the mobile business scene as well.

But we have all gone into a mobile business that might not be as attractive, but it does offer many benefits. Renting someone else’s network will always provide reduced economics when compared to owning and operating one of your own networks. So, this is something you can expect us to push for as we go on — if it doesn’t happen sooner, then it’ll later.

The next wireless race is underway with all the major players in the game. AT&T has been focusing on building out more fiber, while Verizon’s focus seems to be expanding fiber even for their 5G aspirations. T-Mobile also wants a piece of the pie. They have an excellent mid-band strategy that would make them an ideal partner for any large cable operator looking into purchasing spectrum or assets from other companies.

How do you feel about the regulatory environment in America? Do you think there is a chance for one of those deals to go through, with T-Mobile as the smaller company. Could Comcast and Verizon be allowed to merge if they really wanted it?

No one knows absolutely what the future will reveal, but we should all be prepared for anything. So, I’ll make any predictions about M&A.

I do not think the antitrust division should be concerned with strategic transactions between companies that have different services. I can’t imagine why they would care in a situation like this, and frankly, it seems to me as if their attention might better be directed at other areas of concern.

What I do know is that strategic transactions involving different services should be allowed by the antitrust division. Obviously, if the Fios element of Verizon were to merge with Comcast, in certain regions, it would not go well for them from an antitrust standpoint. Yet, I know there are buyers for those assets, ourselves included, and likely Charter and other people!

You need not be a simpleton to understand the benefits of taking Verizon wireless and Comcast fixed. The regulators should see this as an attractive option for better performance and pricing, which would benefit consumers immensely!

With only five million customer relationships, it’s clear that Altice USA has yet to make waves across the country.

We are huge proponents of wireless, and we have a lot to offer in this arena. But if there was the opportunity to acquire a national provider, that would be another investment thesis all by itself!

While it is clear that we could have some synergies, the suggestion of acquiring a mobile or trying to merge with another company would be based on our belief in being able to do something better with it as we move forward.

I see what you’re saying now. So you’re saying that the acquirer will be the parent Altice?

That’s correct. It is our opinion that consolidation of the wireless industry would be a good idea, and we think it’s possible to do it in such a way where there are still enough players for competition. Whether that be with T-Mobile or the major telecom providers joining forces to create one big powerhouse of national coverage across all states and territories in America!

I’m confident that we will see consolidation among both fixed and wireless providers. There is already a lot of it in every other developed country, so I don’t know why the U.S. would be an exception to this trend! Still, you never can tell the exact way things will turn out.

Those not familiar with cable operations will love to know what has been Altice’s strategy within that footprint. So can you tell us? I know Altice has invested a lot in its fiber network. This is because it gives the company potential to offer high-speed internet and other services over that network, not just cable T.V. Why is this such an effective investment for you?

Every two or three years, DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) HFC networks undergo an upgrade cycle. Several updates are made to both the software and hardware of the networks to accommodate a rise in internet speeds on demand and allow for faster speeds than 1 G.B. downstream, as well as symmetric upload and download. These upgrades occur as needed because consumers will always need speedier download and upload rates. You cannot get such on cable today.

We have been and are still rolling out in our sister companies throughout Europe — France, Portugal, and Israel are just a few of the countries — fiber to the home. Fiber is currently the best technology available for fixed-line broadband in terms of upload and download speeds. Fibre has the best response rates due to its top-of-the-line engineering and physical properties. The U.S., on the other hand, still relies on much slower copper cables which are no match for modern-day needs like fiber high-speed internet connection speeds.

Cable companies are often accused of being greedy, but the truth is that they can’t just keep prices low. The content providers like MSNBC and other channels don’t feel obligated to reduce their costs for cable subscribers; when these networks charge more money per person, we have no choice but to pass it on with a price increase—and all in good faith since customers need high-quality video too!

You may not be happy with how your company is doing, but don’t blame CNBC.

Ha, OK.

But then a lot of customers are calling in for their bill issues or network problems they’re experiencing because of weather-related congestion and usage-related traffic jams. And many of these are not issues from the cable companies.

Irrespective of what it is, the service you receive on cable networks can be shaky. And so, one of the most prominent cost elements is all that servicing and repairing required after a call to customer support. Sometimes service people have to visit the technical side two or three times before they can fix what needs repairing and maintain expensive networks. All of these adds to and increases the cost of operations and maintaining cable networks.

What if we could create a network with speeds that go up to 10 gigabytes per second? That would be super awesome! It also means fewer people will call in for service, and the ones who do come into your house won’t have muddy boots on. Imagine how much capital expenditure you’ll save by not having to pay so many technicians coming out all the time.

So we can see that there are some underlying factors about the ROI in this equation. There’s not just one way to make a successful investment; you need something with more potential and higher speeds which is why our company has been focusing on fiber optic cables for homes as opposed to cable television networks. With about 20% of the Optimum footprint already fiber to the home, we know that’s where most people want their data. We can sell it better than cable and get you gig speeds much more quickly – all over HFC with DOCSIS! It’s the best technology. And I think we know that our customers will love it too because of how much better their experience is going to be with us for all those reasons – not only so they can enjoy a great product but also since there’s never any need to call and talk about your cable company. The customer response has been incredible. I think we’ll be proven absolutely right relative to the investment cycle going forward.

 As the network continues to be upgraded, have you considered a trading multiple for pure-play cable companies that seem fair? This is meant to help in adequately judging the cable companies against each other. Currently, they are all over the place.

In my opinion, the most prominent factor in determining how well a company is operating is penetration level or rates. With lower market share levels, there’s more room for growth and greater potential upside without being as threatened by competitors from all angles. We’re competing majorly with Fios, a competition many cable operators don’t have. The competitive landscape – those you’re competing against – is crucial and plays a significant role.

In the future, it has been predicted that 90% of people’s households will have broadband. Today, most homes with a connection are connected by 60-70%, and only 20%-30% still use DSL or never had a fast internet service provider available to them at all.

The increasing trend of data consumption will continue to be a large part of the service consumers rely on. The penetration levels are only going up as more and more people become interested in broadband providers, which means that if household formation continues at its current rate, there is potential for even higher subscriber numbers than before!

Also, due to the pandemic, people have been regularly upgrading to higher bandwidths (or internet speeds). You’re probably not immune either. I’m sure that you’ve upgraded your speed since then too. I’m also sure there’s one household or family member of yours that has gotten access to a faster internet connection these days than they did before things got bad.

The future is bright for broadband. It will continue to grow and be more accessible as time progresses, requiring only a few minor adjustments along the way; namely better connectivity speeds, which are already in progress. With the internet continuing to advance and develop, more connectivity is needed for computers. A good upload speed will be required in order for households to take full advantage of Zoom’s video conferencing with friends or family members who live far away from each other. The future looks even brighter than ever!

Moving on to something subtly different, what are your thoughts on the recent movement to hold cable companies accountable for misinformation on their network potentially? I’m interested in hearing more about what you think of this concept.

I’ve got my personal views, but I’ll keep them to myself for now. From a business standpoint, our customers require and request certain content from us – some of the names mentioned in this letter are precisely that kind of content. And so we’re providing what they want: an increasing amount of channels like these ones! We don’t force people into watching it if they don’t want to; however, those who do enjoy these kinds will be happy with their options as time goes on.

You’re discussing Fox News, Newsmax T.V., One America Network…

That’s correct. We understand that a lot of names were spoken about in the press, but we want to make sure our customers are happy. If they don’t like this type of content or other channels, then they can disconnect from us and do something skinnier or just stick with Netflix/HBO Max for now. This is not really a battle geared towards companies like ours, so I hope it doesn’t happen anytime soon. Consumers make the choices by themselves and are voting with their feet and wallets today. And if someone in government thinks otherwise, they should speak to the right person about it- not us!

 Let’s talk about linear cable’s future for a minute. Will there ever be a time where Altice does not offer linear cable T.V.?

For sure! The story is always the same. Every year, things just seem to get worse for us content creators and distributors. Since we’ve been speaking, since I’ve known you over the last five years – it’s still a constant struggle with price levels on our side of content continuing to rise while eyeballs continue to fall when they’re spread across larger bundles that don’t offer as much value-added services like H.D. or 4K streaming options.

The long-term outlook for cable providers and fiber companies is still strong as broadband continues to be a market they can capitalize on. However, the video solution has two different types of customers, making it difficult to provide an offer that will resonate with both groups.

The equation played out quarter over quarter in public markets remains true – but only if you’re invested in either broadband or one of the firms providing this service (cable company/fiber). The pure video option does have its drawbacks because there are truly 2 different sets of subscribers: those who want high-speed internet at all costs and just need basic television, whether live or streaming; then we also have people who watch everything from Netflix to their favorite sports games online via subscription services like ESPN.

It’s common knowledge that anyone who has been a subscriber for more than three years is profitable because video cable bundles still provide value. However, there are those who have only subscribed for less than three years, and they’re unprofitable to the company.

Cable television has been around for decades, but the landscape is quickly changing. As more people sign up and attach rates on gross adds continue to decline, then how can you protect your long-term customers who are really just enjoying still having a cable bundle? I’m confident that we can find ways to work with our partners in the content world to make a smooth transition from cable T.V. over time. This way, we don’t have as much economic play and can avoid diminishing returns- which means more for us. But in the end, most content will be consumed over broadband. As people abandon cable bundles, everything is going to the OTT world via broadband connections–by definition!

So at this point, I have to ask, is it compulsory that I have to provide bundles too? Out there, there are already many people who do it. In my opinion, it’s only a question of time before cable operators in general start to rethink whether or not they are all meant to be in the video business.

 If you’d allow me, I want to ask that question in another way that’s slightly different from the previous one. Do you foresee a time when conventional cable television will be obsolete?

Yes. Definitely! This is the future, and it will be everywhere soon enough. Everything will be IP-based, but that also leads to a whole lot of different choices. What cable is simply doing right now is collecting and organizing all the channels (everything) available on OTT services to make them more accessible to viewers so that they can choose what type of shows (content) they want from lots of different options.

With the ever-changing technological advances, you’re able to aggregate your favorite entertainment apps on a single platform. You can already see this happening with Samsung T.V.s, which have loads of different branded apps, including Netflix and Hulu! Having all these options is fine, but it also means that switching between them gets old quick because every time I want my showtime fix, for example, I’m forced to leave where I currently am in order to go back into T.V. Land or whatever app has what’s coming on next. Once you’ve got all the content ready and aggregated up nicely so they’re looking just like how cable providers bundle on T.V.s, then that interactivity shouldn’t be much different than if someone were doing it for an over-the-air broadcast. It doesn’t matter who does the bundle because it could just be your set-box provider or your smart T.V. provider.

So are you saying this idea that some media executives have, the one where there is a floor just below 50 million subscribers? You’re saying that’s nothing but fantasy?

Absolutely! Because I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who’s under 30 and has a cable video connection. Can you name any you know?

 I can’t!

That’s right. And it’s only a matter of time. All day long, I’m surprised at my kids, at how they’re able to spend 10 hours a day on their iPhone? And their response is, “Daddy, that’s our life.” They didn’t go out in the woods and build bricks or castles, so now everything is on their phone. People grow up with specific influences around them from media to friends while at school-kids can get away with anything these days because of social media! Technology is evolving rapidly, and the way we consume information has changed drastically in just ten years. The evolution will continue to change what people are used to seeing every day.

It might be excused that this change to streaming is good news. I, however, see a scenario where media companies end up with worse financial results in the new world of streaming than they did during cable’s reign. What do you think about the transition? Is it suitable for the industry?

Listen, I don’t run a media company today. However, there is some truth in what you say, and it makes sense to me too. But when people start getting valued on an OTT subs basis instead of affiliate fees coming from cable operators who are returning less money than before – psychologically, this doesn’t make sense for them.

With the help of a new OTT platform, distributing content may be easier than it is now. However, as people start to become more and more selective in what they watch on T.V. due to all these different streaming options available today, I think we’ll see some traditional companies lose out because viewers will leave for other services with their habits intact. People are going to say it’s not worth paying for these networks. They’ll say, “I don’t need Peacock or CBS All Access.” There will be people who subscribe, but there will also be those that refuse altogether. We shall see what the future holds!

The markets have been crazy for growth lately. But in a couple of years, as all this settles out, there are going to be some winners and losers emerging. Actually, there already are. My household is just the start – people want Netflix or Disney+ because you’ve got children, but do they need Hulu? HBO Max? Discovery+ and Peacock, too? I reckon my kids don’t want that!

I can’t watch my favorite show anymore without the kids yelling at me to change it. They know I enjoy HBO Max and their children’s programming isn’t that great.

I agree with you completely. Our children are going to be the ones holding their wallets in 20 years, and they’re not going to want things to run any other way but how THEY like it!

The big 3 wireless operators in this country have been touting their 5G products as the actual competitors to cable broadband. Do you feel threatened by them, and are they a real threat to your dominance?

I don’t believe that that or that 5G is a problem. I think it’s complimentary, and people want better or faster internet connections inside the home as well as outside of their homes.

You can’t have a wireless connection without some kind of fixed-line. It doesn’t matter if it’s 5G, 10G, or 20G. The fiber optic wire is what ultimately connects you to the World Wide Web, and this guarantees that your data will be transferred in one way or another.

If wireless still has to connect through airwaves to fixed-line, it will be less efficient and robust than a fixed-line connection. Not only does this create problems with speed, but you also have to pay more for the service. You will never get the same quality and speed as a full end-to-end fiber connection, not just because of performance or bandwidth but also due to price. Wireless may seem like a bargain, but it comes with hidden costs that are not worth the savings. If everyone had unlimited data and it was never throttled, we would be in a world of trouble. The wireless infrastructure may not even hold up to the amount that people are using now!

So, you need both – 5G and broadband. With 5G, your driving experience will be safer and more efficient, thanks to the increased data connectivity. When you’re commuting or are out and about, the need for 5G connectivity isn’t as huge. You only really want to be connected when driving with your phone in a car mount. Apple car play will work really well. But as long as you’re driving, you’re not necessarily going to be interacting, right? And you don’t have much time for a commute too. Then the second you step into the office, you switch over to a fixed-line network. Without a doubt, people would subscribe to 5G service; they want better and faster wireless capabilities than what is currently available. However, I do not believe it will replace cable in any way nor be able to compete with it.

Cable companies are becoming more and more diversified with their services, branching out from cable to telehealth, home security systems, and more. I’m curious if you think there’s an unexplored or moderately explored business that could work nicely with the industry?

For many years, large corporations like Google or Apple attacked your living space through apps, services, and more. When you consider wireless providers, they are invading all aspects of a consumer’s life – both inside and outside their homes!

Speaking about the cable companies or fixed-line companies, they’re attacking the home from inside your walls. You start with their T.V. service and move to owning broadband for all of your internet needs. What else can they do?

The world is becoming smart. Even your fridge and coffee machine are talking to you now, with the ability to do telehealth seamlessly from home! Is there anything left that doesn’t? And all of these are dealing with broadband.

And it’s clear that, where we stand today, yes, telehealth is something to be reckoned with and home security as well. I think that it’s time we turn our attention to the smartness of consumer goods. Why are we not also in this space?

This is why I believe that everything converges between technology companies. Companies such as traditional tech, wireless, and fixed-line all have an audience in the home area with different pieces of their pie. But there’s no reason for them not to be able to own more slices of these pies!

What are the best ways for investors to play cable? There is a lot of talk about towers, fiber providers, and operators themselves. But what’s really going on with these investments outside of Altice, which you have vested interest in? Investors should be able to make smart decisions by reading this article because it provides the correct information they will need when it comes time to invest.

You know I have to tell you what my opinion is about this. But there are some things that will stay true for a long time going forward, and one of them is broadband connectivity. It continues to grow in popularity while cable companies continue dominating market share by providing the best possible home internet service available anywhere! This trend should only increase as people want better speeds and newer technology on their phones/laptops, etcetera, so they can enjoy more data-intensive applications like video streaming or online games without dropping out because of slow connection speed.

The same can be said about wireless too. But there’s a significant difference, and it is that with wireless, your phone only lasts about 2-3 years before it’ll need to be replaced again. And this costs around $1k if buying the higher-end models! Secondly, while 4G and 5G or even 3G are different, their differences are not so profound that they warrant significant price improvements. In fact, the competition in wireless has become more competitive than ever before, instead of less competitive.

As a result, we’ve long been supporters of fiber-to-the-home, and we are firm believers that this type of infrastructure will continue to be the best for consumers. We appreciate the attractive economic free cash flow yield, which is predictable and continues growing year over year as well.

The predictability and growth of free cash flow is a unique story. And that’s the phenomenon the cable and fixed-line industries are experiencing today.

Original article on CNBC can be found here.

Categories TV

Spectrum TV Choice Review

Many cable TV customers are cutting the cord, and instead choosing to use streaming services. This means that cable companies are seeing their business decline steadily, which has caused Charter Communications to rethink services and begin offering an à la carte type of service.

NBC Spectrum TV ChoiceSpectrum TV Choice is their latest offering. It provides local, live television channels, and allows you to choose 10 additional cable channels for under $30 per month. The service does not require a cable box or a contract, so this gives you the freedom to watch Spectrum TV Choice using an Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, or any other television that’s connected to Wi-Fi.

So, what’s the service all about, and is it worth it? We’ll discuss everything you need to know, and then you can decide if it’s right for you.

Can Anyone Subscribe to Spectrum Choice TV?

Unfortunately, this service is only available to current Spectrum Internet customers.

What is Spectrum TV Choice?

Spectrum TV Choice is a live TV streaming option that’s available to those who subscribe to Spectrum Internet. It gives you a channel lineup that’s trimmed down at a lower monthly cost. When you sign up for the service, you receive access to all local, live channels, and then get to choose 10 cable channels. The price is between $25 and $30 per month.

Pricing and Packaging for Spectrum TV Choice

Currently, Spectrum is offering an introductory rate of $24.99 for 24 months. After the two years, the price is subject to go up at least $5.

Here’s a look at the channels included with every plan:

  • Major networks such as NBC, ABC, Fox, CW, and CBS
  • 10 cable channels of your choice – there are almost 80 to choose from
  • Educational and public access channels such as C-SPAN and PBS
  • The News 1 channel from Spectrum
  • Shopping channels such as HSN and QVC
  • Music channels
  • Depending on where you’re located, you may also get digital subnetworks like Bounce and MeTV
  • There’s also an option to add Showtime, Starz, HBO, The Movie Channel, etc. for $7.50 each, or all of them for an additional $15 per month.

So, what are the cable channels you can choose from? Well, Spectrum TV Choice offers most of the major sports channels such as FS1 and ESPN, popular entertainment channels such as HGTV and AMC, and all major cable news networks. Spectrum has the complete choice list on their website where you can view it based on your specific location.

Is Spectrum TV Choice Good for Everyone?

TNT Spectrum TV ChoiceUnfortunately, the à la carte lineup won’t work for everyone’s needs. For those who love sports, you cannot add regional sporting networks or league-specific channels such as MLB, NFL, or NBA. Other entertainment channels such as DIY and Nick Jr. are also unavailable.  Essentially, Spectrum is offering less than one-third of its cable channels with this streaming service. So, you have almost 80 channels from which you can pick 10 channels unless you’d like to upgrade to a better bundle.

How Do You Sign up for Spectrum TV Choice?

Signing up is easy. If you are not already a Spectrum TV customer, you can simply log in to their website and select “Add TV”. You will then have the option to choose “Spectrum TV Choice” from the list of available plans. They will walk you through a menu where you’ll choose your 10 cable channels and decide if you want to select other premium networks.

The only issue is that people who already subscribe to one of the Spectrum TV packages may have a problem switching. If you are unable to make the change on the website, it’s best to call the Customer Care Center at 1-855-345-0208, and they can help.

Is there a Contract or Other Fees?

Perhaps the best advantage to Spectrum TV Choice is that there is no contract required. You can cancel whenever you want. So, regardless if you move to an area the service is unavailable, want to save money, or would like to try other streaming services, you can cancel at any time with no cancellation frees.

Cable TV providers charge a fee for receiver boxes and DVR service. Spectrum does this too, but their cost is actually fair.

It’s a great idea to invest in the DVR service package if you’ll be placing a TV receiver in any room in your home.

What’s the Cost to Add DVR Services?

FOX Spectrum TV ChoiceOne of the drawbacks to Spectrum TV Choice is that you do not receive DVR service included. Spectrum does give you the option to rent a DVR box if you don’t want to use their apps, but just a single box costs around $20 per month, two boxes are $35 per month, and each additional costs $7.50. This means the hardware could cost you more than the service itself.

If you do not wish to add DVR, Spectrum gives you access to an on-demand catalog, but the selection is not always the greatest. You’ll find that some programs include every episode On Demand, but other programs will have only the current season available. Keep in mind that these programs do have commercials that you are unable to fast-forward through. So, without a DVR you may find that some shows disappear, and you won’t have the ability to skip ads.

How Does it Work Without A Cable Box?

Spectrum TV Choice is cheaper than a regular cable bundle, and additional savings come from not having to rent the cable box. So, how does it work? You simply download the Spectrum app on Apple TV, iOS, tablets, smart TVs, or any Android device, and this allows access to both live and on-demand services.

AMC Spectrum TV ChoiceYou also have the ability to watch the service on a computer by logging into the Spectrum website. Though, it is easier to watch the service on apps because as long as you’re at home, the apps will notice that you’re a Spectrum customer by your internet connection, and thus you won’t have to worry about logging in.

Spectrum’s app allows you to browse a grid-based channel guide, look through their menu of on-demand programming, choose favorite channels for quicker access, search for programs by name, and even add shows to a “watch list”.

Apple TV and Roku both support universal search, so you can look for shows by using the remote to each of these devices.

Are There Any Downsides to the App?

There are a few limitations and annoyances you should be aware of:

  • The video quality is limited sometimes. You’ll find that some channels offer 30 frames per second, while others are a bit better at 60 frames per second.
  • Using the service away from your home is limited. You’ll find that some live channels will not work on your mobile devices, and the app doesn’t work on some televisions.
  • Possibly the most annoying is that you will see listings from channels you aren’t subscribed to within the on-demand menu. You may have to scroll a lot to find programs you can access.

There are few things in life that don’t have at least some disadvantages, as you can see this streaming service has a few. However, the good news is that you can access individual network apps by using your Spectrum TV Choice account. You’ll still have access to networks such as Fox Now and ESPN, and even better is that these apps support higher quality videos.

Quick Look at the Pros & Cons of Spectrum TV Choice

So, to wrap up everything we’ve discussed, and to make your decision easier – here’s a look at the pros and cons of this service.

Pros

  • It is a good price for the mix of cable and local channels you get access to.
  • It includes public access channels and live PBS that other more expensive TV bundles exclude.
  • Supports universal search on devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and even Apple TVs app.
  • There are no contract or cancellation fees
  • No need for a cable TV box
  • You have the option to add on other premium channels such as HBO, Startz, etc.

Cons

  • The DVR service is expensive to add on
  • You cannot choose more than 10 cable channels, and some popular networks are missing
  • Apps can have poor video quality, there are restrictions for use when you’re not at home, and there is lots of locked content.

In conclusion, Spectrum TV Choice is a great option for those who want to save money and still have access to live, local channels. Let’s face it, the other big-name streaming services don’t allow you to watch local channels, this means you miss out on certain programming and local news. While the service does have a few drawbacks, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Call the customer service center at 1-855-345-0208 and add Spectrum TV Choice to your Spectrum Internet package today!

Top TV Shows to Binge Watch During Quarantine

From Netflix to Hulu, Prime, cable TV, and everything in-between – we all have our methods for escape through entertainment. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis and worldwide implementation of quarantine, people need a distraction now more than ever. Luckily, with all the different cable and streaming platforms available today, there is plenty of new entertainment out there to satisfy and quench your thirst. From action to comedy and horror, let us explore the best TV shows to binge during the quarantine.

Comedy TV Shows

The Office

The OfficeWith big stars like Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, and Rainn Wilson, it is easy to see why The Office is so undeniably popular. Filmed in the style of a documentary, this deadpan comedy series offers viewers a look into the fictional paper company, Dunder Mifflin, and the lives of its relatable employees. With an over the top take on the American workplace, this show is light-hearted and easy to binge while relaxing or even working from home.

Space Force

Space ForceAlso starring Steve Carrell with backup from John Malkovich, Space Force is another American comedy series created by the infamous Greg Daniels. Space Force premiered in May 2020 on Netflix and presents a comedic take on Trump’s pitch for a sixth branch of the military based in Space. Politics aside, with an all-star cast in tow, this is the perfect comedy show to binge with little effort.

Bojack Horseman

Bojack HorsemanFor those of you that are fans of adult animation, Bojack Horseman is a great cartoon found on Netflix. Following the life of failed horse actor Bojack Horseman and his diverse cast of friends, this show has it all. Starring the legendary voice talents of Will Arnett and Amy Sedaris, this show spans six seasons and handfuls of slapstick storylines that ultimately garner adoration for the various misfit characters on the series.

Horror TV Shows

The Fall

The FallIf you are a fan of the darker side of Hollywood, both Netflix and Hulu have several worthy contestants in terms of binge-worthy TV shows. The Fall is both an Emmy and Golden Globe winner starring Gillian Anderson (X-Files) as a detective superintendent in charge of tracking down a dangerous serial killer. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Jamie Dornan plays the main protagonist, carefully plotting a grizzly murder spree while under close investigation. While the Fall is suspenseful, it does not resort to blood and guts to get a rise from the audience. All in all, this British-Irish drama provides a thrilling and chilling experience that is hard to stop watching.

Dexter

DexterUnlike the last show on our ‘horror’ list, Dexter takes no mercy on the audience, presenting blood, guts, and gore galore in nearly every episode. The story itself follows a blood-spatter analyst who works for the police force by day, only to track down and eliminate those he deems deserving in his spare time. With a cast of lovable characters, this show strikes a deep chord with its fans, providing a story like no other. Spanning over five seasons, these hour-long episodes will help consume your free time with exciting, highly suspenseful content.

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill HouseIf you are a fan of haunted houses and stories of paranormal events within families, The Haunting of Hill House is sure to quench your desires. Based on the Shirley Jackson novel of the same title, this creepy slow-burn of a story will have you on the edge of your seat. Beginning with a family that renovates homes for a living while inhabiting them, the children are almost immediately plagued with ghosts of the past. In the spirit of avoiding spoilers, there is not much more we can reveal about the story. However, with a whole lot of twists and turns, this show left audiences both nervous and excited for a second season.

Drama TV Shows

Ozark

OzarkStarring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney, this is one drama you do not want to miss – especially if you are a fan of Breaking Bad. The story revolves around an all-American family that gets sucked into the crime-related drama of a Mexican drug cartel. From their relocation to their intricate but illegal business set-up, Ozark does not lack in quality storylines or lovable characters with which the audience can relate. So far, there are three seasons available on Netflix, with at least one other confirmed season on the way.

The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella AcademyAre you a fan of comic books? If so, Netflix’s Umbrella Academy is a reliable option, both in terms of storyline and quirky nerd culture. Created by Gerard Way, this group of lovable misfits offers audiences a look into an impending apocalypse with actresses Ellen Page and Kate Walsh. This American superhero series was created for Netflix and developed by Jeremy Slater, featuring a unique superhero story with a family of dysfunctional, adopted heroes seeking vengeance for their father’s death. The Umbrella Academy offers comedy, suspense, and a whole lot of quirky superhero personalities.

Shameless (US)

ShamelessThis family drama is perhaps unlike any others on the air today, with a cast of relatable characters each dealing with their own plight on the southside of Chicago. Led by their alcoholic father, the Gallagher family does everything they can to keep their heads above water, sparing no laws or morals. While this selection is very much a family drama, it also offers up plenty of laughs, surprises, and more serious themes along the way. With children spanning from the age of six to thirty, Shameless touches on real-life family issues with far-out themes that are both relatable and hilariously entertaining.

The Act

The ActFound exclusively on Hulu, the Act is a seasonal anthology series that depicts the true-life tale of mother-daughter Dee Dee and Gypsy Blanchard. The pair are famous thanks to their twisted Munchausen by proxy relationship and the inevitable murder that would ensue as a result. Gypsy’s quest for independence and love leads her down a dark road that completely redirects her fate. Ultimately, this show is not for the faint of heart, presenting some hard to watch scenarios that will chill you to the bone.

Beating Quarantine with Bingeworthy Television Series

Quarantine is hard—there are no two ways about it. Life as we know it has all but comes to a grinding halt. Naturally, this pandemic has us feeling stuck, lost, or otherwise without work or entertainment. Luckily, between Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spectrum TV Choice and Disney+, there is always a new TV series worth checking out, depending on your personal preferences. Are you bored and in need of some fresh entertainment? In the end, any one of these shows is sure to grab and hold onto your attention until the very end.

Better Call Saul: A Staple of Television Entertainment

If you are a fan of popular crime dramas and dark comedies, then chances are that you have already binge-watched AMC’s “Better Call Saul” and maybe even rewatched the whole series another time over! Over its five-season run, “Better Call Saul” has proved to be a series worthy of a large audience’s attention.

Better Call SaulWhat makes “Better Call Saul” a staple of television? Debuting on February 8, 2015, “Better Call Saul”, captured the attention of many, as it was announced to be a prequel to AMC’s critically acclaimed, fan-favorite show “Breaking Bad.” The show, being referred to by some critics as a prequel measuring up to its predecessor, has also received critical acclaim, known for exceptional cinematography, phenomenal character development, and superb acting.

With episodes running just around an hour each, “Better Call Saul” is a show determined to capture and hold onto the attention of its viewers, exploring the constantly evolving question, who is Saul Goodman?

The Appeal Of Saul Goodman

“Better Call Saul” follows lead protagonist Saul Goodman, portrayed by Bob Odenkirk in a prequel series to that of “Breaking Bad,” in which he enters the criminal underworld, more specifically drug trafficking. The show explores his slow transformation into the persona known as Saul Goodman. The audience follows his journey as he lives by his ideals that nice guys finish last and both the positive and negative side effects he faces as a direct result of this mindset.

Better Call Saul Season 2It is apparent from early on in the shows running that our lead protagonist and anti-hero Saul Goodman is not heading to a very pleasant end, however, the show seems more concerned with developing why this is. In many ways, the show highlights exactly why our protagonist deserves less than the usual amount of empathy, a clever creative choice for the protagonist of a show which tends to lend itself to a quite unique tone and point of view for audiences.

Adding to the character’s appeal, Saul Goodman does not accept this title willingly until the near end of season 4! His true identity of Jimmy McGill truly steps out of the limelight at this point as we are formally introduced to the new permanent persona of Saul Goodman. From this point on the show opens the floodgates to endless attention-grabbing opportunities that are sure to hook people in for many episodes to come.

“It’s Jimmy’s thorny relationships… that made up the most involving elements of Better Call Saul’s sorrowful, emotionally knotty, fantastic follow-up season,” MTV’s Inkoo Kang expressed when speaking about season two.

Exceptional Reception

Deemed by many as an exceptional and in the eyes of some, one of the best prequel series to date, “Better Call Saul” was a smash hit to many audiences since its initial debut in 2015. Receiving an impressive rating of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, season one was definitely off to an amazingly well-received first season.

Contrary to many other shows, “Better Call Saul” has only improved these, already impressive ratings as the next two seasons saw the same score on Rotten Tomatoes, followed by 99% for its fourth season and a stunning 100% perfect score, based on 24 reviews, for its fifth season. Audiences were and still are raving about this revolutionary show and its masterful execution of creative, riveting concepts.

“The new season proves Better Call Saul remains one of the finest shows on television” NPR’s Eric Deggans explained, “with visually ambitious storytelling used to depict complex characters headed for a tragic end.”

Better Call Saul Season 4The show’s astonishingly developed characters create an immersive experience, unlike any other show, with lead Bob Odenkirk giving an indescribable depth to his portrayal of a character who can be described as quite unorthodox at times. The show is known for taking audiences on an emotional rollercoaster as, more often than not, the audience will receive a painful loss for every victory Saul Goodman receives.

As Ben Travers from indieWire perfectly puts it, “All of these consistently astonishing formal touches combine to create a value that outweighs the pain,” later referring to the show as “a double-edged sword of reward and loss.” 

Some critics have even expressed their preference of “Better Call Saul” over its predecessor “Breaking Bad!” As stated by Tim Surette of TV Guide Magazine, “It’s time that we really consider that Better Call Saul is equaling the quality of Breaking Bad, and in some ways doing even better”

Better Call Saul Awards And Nominations

2015

  • 2015 American Film Institute Awards – Televisions Programs of the Year
  • 5th Critics’ Choice Television Awards – Best Actor in a Drama Series
  • 5th Critics’ Choice Television Awards – Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
  • 31st TCA Awards – Outstanding New Program

2016

  • 68th Writers Guild of America Awards – Episodic Drama
  • 20th Satellite Awards – Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film
  • 7th Critics’ Choice Television Awards – Best Actor in a Drama Series
  • 2016 American Film Institute Awards – Television Programs of the Year

2017

  • 21st Satellite Awards – Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film

2018

2019

  • 35th TCA Awards – Outstanding Achievement in Drama
  • 45th Saturn Awards – Best Action-Thriller Television Series

Takeaway

The amount of recognition this show has received is a direct result of the creators’ abilities to craft a uniquely compelling story and deliver it to audiences in an interesting way. There is not a reasonable doubt in anyone’s mind that this show is clearly beloved by many and there is definitely no question as to how it has received the success it has achieved in its five-season run thus far. “Better Call Saul” has left an impression on American television and is sure to remain as a staple for what amazing, well-delivered storytelling is and always should be.

Categories TV

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – Most Heartwarming Scenes

Warning: SPOILERS for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

NBC’s newest comedy-drama Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist offers a clever and quirky reimagining of the musical genre. After an earthquake disrupts her MRI, computer coder Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy) gains the ability to perceive the thoughts and feelings of those around her. Instead of just hearing what people are thinking, however, Zoey sees these people reveal their secret selves through elaborate song and dance numbers that only she can see and hear. Now essentially trapped in a musical, Zoey must figure out how to live with her new gift.   

Jane Levy Stars In Zoeys Extraordinary Playlist

It sounds ridiculous – but show creator Austin Winsberg know how to approach the bizarre premise from an angle that offers plenty of laughs and more than a few tears. While most of the musical numbers are upbeat and hilarious (seeing Zoey’s co-workers faun over a legendary tech genius by serenading him with a rendition of “Jesus Christ Superstar” is particularly funny) the show makes time for quiet, emotional moments as well.  

Musical numbers are meant to evoke strong feelings, after all, and after only three episodes, the show already contains plenty of tear-jerking scenes to get the audience emotionally invested in its tuneful cast. Here are the most heartwarming scenes (to date) from Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.             

Max Chats with Zoey’s Paralyzed Father (Episode 2)

Despite the show’s musical premise, not all the emotional scenes require the actors to sing. In the pilot episode, Zoey discovers her co-worker and best friend Max (Skylar Astin) is secretly in love with her. Uncomfortable with this revelation, Zoey starts avoiding him but has to deal with Max when he shows up unexpectedly at her parents’ house one night.

Max surprises Zoey, however, when he reveals he didn’t come to see her but drop off some food for her father. Mitch Clarke (Peter Gallagher) is dying from a neurological disease that’s left him paralyzed and unable to speak. However, Max still remembers Mitch’s kindness, something he never got from his own father. Touched, Zoey invites him in and sees Max chat with Mitch, who’s unable to reply but glad for the company. It’s a heartwarming scene – and there’s a look Zoey gives Max that indicates she might be seeing her friend in a new light.        

Zoey’s Office Crush Reveals He’s Depressed (Episode 1)

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist NBCWhile Zoey initially viewed the spontaneous musical numbers around her as an annoyance, she realizes how perceptive her gift can make her one night when she sees her office crush Simon (John Clarence Stewart) break into song. Although Simon always puts on a happy face for his co-workers, his musical number – Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” – reveals he’s actually in a lot of emotional pain.

Concerned, Zoey approaches him and discovers Simon’s dad recently killed himself. The two bond over their shared tragic experiences with their fathers, although Zoey also learns Simon is engaged, complicating her feelings for him.         

Mitch Sings to Zoey (Episode 1)

By far the most talked-about scene in the pilot episode of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist occurs when Zoey, unable to cope with the changes in her life, turns to her father for help. Heartbroken that Mitch can’t talk to her, and not sure if he even knows that she’s there, Zoey turns away – only for Mitch to suddenly stand up and sing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” to her. It’s an amazing moment that shows Zoey that her father is still with her, he loves her, and her previously unwanted gift allows them to communicate.           

Mitch Reaches Out to His Family (Episode 1)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist New EpisodeWhile Zoey’s newfound ability to connect with her father through song is touching, what happens next is arguably more powerful. After learning her father is aware of his surroundings, Zoey convinces her family to take him sailing. Everyone is apprehensive about taking Mitch outside, but once on the boat, Zoey’s mother Maggie (Mary Steenburgen) admits being on the water brings back a lot of good memories. To everyone’s amazement, Mitch makes a supreme effort and manages to take Maggie’s hand in his to show he feels the same way.

For a show that’s regularly fast paced and over-the-top, the scene is remarkably quiet and gentle – focusing simply on the family’s expressions as Mitch reveals he’s still there. It’s a moment that manages to connect with any audience member who’s had to deal with an aging parent or family crisis.  

Zoey Helps Her Mother Deal with Her Frustration (Episode 3)

The first two episodes dealt primarily with Mitch’s frustrations with his condition. However, the third episode flips this by examining how his illness affects those around him – particularly his wife. When Zoey sees her mother sing a heartbreaking rendition of Al Green’s “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” she realizes how stressed her mother is from having to constantly take care of her husband.

This leads to a heartfelt intervention by Zoey and her brother who offer to spend more time taking care of Mitch so Maggie can take care of herself. “I love your smile,” Zoey tells her mother. “But only if it’s real.” Mitch himself chimes in by typing his wife a short message: YOU’RE AMAZING. LET THEM HELP. on his laptop. It’s a remarkable display of love and support that shows how important the Clarke family dynamic is to the show.   

Zoey Motivates Her Boss (Episode 3)

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist Season 1One excellent aspect of the show is its ability to take cliché characters and showcase their hidden depths through song. Zoey’s boss Joan (Lauren Graham) comes across as a typical hard-nosed, ball busting career woman in the pilot. And on many shows, that’s exactly how she’d remain. However, in the third episode, Zoey discovers Joan is in a toxic relationship with her husband, a narcissistic tech genius who uses his star power to gain leverage over Joan’s company.

While Zoey tries to maintain a professional distance from her boss, thanks to her musical power, she’s constantly reminded of Joan’s pain. Ultimately giving her boss a chance to vent her problems, Zoey finds herself unexpectedly bonding with Joan and motivates her to take charge of her own life. When Joan finally leaves her husband and decides to promote her company on her own – breaking into her version of Katy Perry’s “Roar” – the audience is firmly on the side of this previously unlikeable woman.

Fans of musical theatre know that the song and dance numbers are more than just eye and ear candy. They give characters a chance to be almost painfully exposed on stage as they belt out their greatest hopes, fears, and insecurities. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlisttakes full advantage of this by allowing Zoey and the viewers to see the cast at its most vulnerable – and relatable. It’s an approach that promises plenty of emotional drama as the series explores how far it can take its musical premise.    

Categories TV

The Blacklist Is Renewed For Season 8 At NBC

If you are a long time fan of one of NBC’s most popular shows “The Blacklist”, then today is your lucky day! The well-known series has just been renewed for its eighth season with talks of plans for the show’s future spanning much further than just one season.

The Blacklist TV Series James Spader“Congratulations to our incredible cast, producers and crew, all of whom continue to reach excellence week in and week out” Lisa Katz and Tracy Pakosta, Co-Presidents of Scripted Programming at NBC Entertainment, expressed. “We couldn’t be more excited to continue Red and Liz’s story into season eight.”

This jaw-dropping, highly anticipated news was announced to the cast and crew of “The Blacklist” while they attended their 150th episode celebration. A video posted to the NBC twitter account NBC Entertainment (@nbc) perfectly captures their reaction to the wonderful news.

“The Blacklist” Beginnings

“The Blacklist,” starring James Spader as a high-profile criminal by the name of Raymond ‘Red” Reddington, alongside a rookie FBI profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen, played by Megan Boone, follows the duo’s search for the world’s most dangerous criminals, informed by a list that has recorded documentation of these elusive individuals spanning over the length of many years.

The Blacklist Season 8Red, a former U.S. Navy officer, now a high profile criminal, who for years has alluded law enforcement’s attempts at his capture, voluntarily surrenders himself to the FBI and forms a bargain to be granted immunity from his prosecution in exchange for his extensive knowledge surrounding the elusive criminals on the list and more importantly their whereabouts.

The show was met with instant success upon its release in September 2013. Its first season received many strong reviews from a large number of critics, scoring an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes! Unlike the majority of shows, “The Blacklist” continues to deliver unexpected plot twists and compelling plot lines that are sure to entice even those who claim to not be fans of the crime drama genre.

“The Blacklist,” is built upon a shining supporting cast with popular well-known names such as Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen, Parminder Nagra as Meera Malik, Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper, Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai, Mozhan Marno as Samar Navabi, and Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma. Each individual makes up a key part of “The Blacklist” universe and helps form the show’s appeal.

Audience Perceptions

“The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star” Robert Bianco of USA Today expressed. Continuing to deliver strong ratings well through season seven, it should come as no surprise that executives at NBC have made the decision to continue following the universe of these compelling, thrilling stories into an eighth season.

The Blacklist TV Crew“It’s due to the brilliant cast, crew and our writing staff, led by Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath, who commit to unparalleled creativity. Wait until you see what’s in store for season eight.” Chris Parnell, Co-President, Sony Pictures Television teased. “The Blacklist continues to tell exciting and imaginative stories”

With the current hiatus continuing into March 20, 2020, fans, filled with anticipation for the return of their favorite, beloved show, are sure to be more than enthusiastic about this news. “The Blacklist is back in top form with fresh dangers that put Red on the ropes while giving James Spader room to shine” reads the consensus. David Wiegand of San Francisco Chronicle commented about the show describing that “You think you know the situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout [the] episode.”

Awards and Nominations

This one of a kind crime drama, that has taken millions by storm, has earned its spot in receiving a number of various prestigious accolades. In 2014 alone, the show won “Top TV Series” at the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards as well as Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Miniseries, or Movie at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Other nominations for the show include, but are not limited to:

  • 2014 – Golden Globe Awards – Best Actor – Television Series Drama – James Spader
  • 2014 – People’s Choice Awards – Favorite New Television Drama – The Blacklist
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Best Non-Romantic Cliffhanger
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Funniest Moment in Drama
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Weakest/Most Divisive Twits
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Best Final Shot
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Most Likely to Earn Someone An Emmy Nomination
  • 2014 – Entertainment Weekly Season Finale Awards – Biggest Regret That I Didn’t See It, I Just Heard Or Read About It
  • 2014 – Saturn Award – Best Network Television Series Release – The Blacklist
  • 2014 – Saturn Award – Best Actor in a Television Series – James Spader
  • 2015 – Golden Globe Awards – Best Actor – Television Series Drama – James Spader
  • 2015 – Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series
  • 2016 – Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards – Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Miniseries, or Movie – The Blacklist
  • 2016 – Screen Actors Guild Awards – Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble – The Blacklist
  • 2017 – People’s Choice Awards – Favorite TV Crime Drama – The Blacklist
  • Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards – Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Miniseries, or Movie

With its easy access availability of seasons one through six now available on Netflix, there is no excuse to not be caught up and ready to watch season eight live when it premiers! The premiere of season eight is expected to be one of the most viewed the show has yet to see with the massive amounts of devoted Blacklist fans craving the next bit of the show’s lore.

With so many lingering unanswered questions and so many unfinished plotlines, such as uncovering the true identity of lead role Red, many fans speculate that “The Blacklist” won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and for very good reason. Season 7 left viewers on the edge of their seats and season 8 is sure to do the same if not far much more!

Categories TV

6 Best Taboo Sex Scenes in “Riverdale”

For a TV series based on a wholesome, all-American comic book, “Riverdale” has offered audiences multiple risqué sex scenes in virtually every episode. Many of these scenes not only gleefully play with the places its teenage cast can engage in sexual acts but also who their erotic activities are shared with. On that titillating note, here are the best taboo sex scenes from “Riverdale.”  

Archie and Ms. Grundy have sex in her car (Season 1, Episode 1)

Right from the start, “Riverdale” promised it would deliver something very different from its comic book source material when its pilot episode establishes that 16-year-old Archie Andrews is sleeping with his music teacher Geraldine Grundy (Sarah Habel). In the very first episode, the two are seen going at it hot and heavy in the backseat of Miss Grundy’s car while a summer storm pours outside.

Geraldine Grundy and Archie having sex in the car

To make things even more taboo, it’s later revealed that “Ms. Grundy” is actually a woman named Jennifer Gibson who changed her name to flee an abusive relationship. She also regularly seduces and preys on younger men as she continues having sex with teenage boys after ending her relationship with Archie. She’s a far cry from the strict, elderly schoolmarm of the comic books, but Archie certainly doesn’t seem to be complaining.      

Betty seduces Chuck Clayton then nearly drowns him (Season 1, Episode 3)

Sweet girl next door Betty Cooper always seemed so gentle and kind – until she discovers sports star Chuck Clayton has been spreading nasty rumors about Veronica Lodge after one date. Furious, Betty convinces Chuck she wants to be a “bad girl” and invites him over to a friend’s house for some quality time in the hot tub. She then greets him dressed in a black bob wig and lingerie… and from there, things get really crazy.

First, Betty drugs Chuck’s drink to make him more forthcoming. Then she handcuffs him to the hot tub. Next, she threatens to “boil him alive” in the bubbling water unless he records a confession of what really went on between Veronica and him. Still not willing to stop, Betty pushes Chuck under the water and threatens to drown him unless he apologizes. Finally, she pours maple syrup over his head. It’s a disturbing, sexual, and weirdly ridiculous scene – and just the beginning of the really strange scenes from “Riverdale.”      

Betty's Hot Tub Transformation Riverdale

Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz have lesbian bondage sex (Season 3, Episode 15)

Lesbian sex scenes aren’t nearly as taboo today as they were when they first graced television scenes – but this sex scene between Cheryl Blossom and Toni Topaz had a lot of build up behind it. Originally antagonistic to Toni, a member of the Southside Serpent gang, Cheryl eventually opens up to Toni and even confesses a past attraction to another girl. The two end up beginning a relationship, threatened by Cheryl’s conservative family. Nevertheless, sexual tension between the two keeps growing, leading to one boiling sex scene in the third season episode “American Dreams.”

After casing and breaking into La Bonne Nuit, Cheryl gets cornered by Toni. Staring her girlfriend right in the face, Cheryl asks if Toni is going to “cuff her.” A very steamy sexual encounter follows – complete with blindfolds, bondage, and intercut scenes with Archie in a bloody boxing tournament. Shockingly, one of the hottest “Riverdale” sex scenes later ends with Cheryl and Toni breaking up. The show is anything but predictable.

Cheryl Blossom Toni Lopez Lesbian Bondage

Archie and Veronica have sex in the shower – after his father is shot (Season 2, Episode 1)

The scene’s taboo nature stems not from the location of the sex act, but the timing. At the beginning of the episode, Archie takes his father to the hospital after Fred Andrews is shot in the season one finale. Fred’s injury is very messy and Archie ends up covered in his father’s blood. After his father is out of surgery, Veronica and Archie go back to Archie’s house where Veronica suggests Archie take a shower.

As Archie scrubs his father’s blood off of his body, Veronica inexplicably decides to join him in the shower, leading to a (literally) steamy sex scene where Veronica leaves her pearl necklace on and Archie continues letting his father’s blood flow down the drain. Viewers were likely left at a loss as to whether this scene should be considered disturbing or titillating. Knowing “Riverdale,” it’s probably both.

Archie and Veronica Shower Scene

Archie and Veronica have sex in a prison locker room (Season 3, Episode 5)

If nothing else, Archie and Veronica prove they have a very powerful “anything goes” attitude in regards to where they choose to have sex. So, when Archie gets sent to prison after being wrongfully accused of manslaughter, he naturally gets a visit from Veronica Lodge. “Disguised” in a blonde wig, Veronica finds Archie in the prison locker room cleaning up after participating in the warden’s underground fight club. Informing him that she has friends who snuck her into the prison, Veronica then tells her boyfriend they have twenty minutes together. Determined not to let any of that time go to waste, Archie picks up his girlfriend, slams her against the lockers, and proceeds to do what comes naturally.   

Betty performs a strip tease in a biker bar – in front of her mother (Season 2, Episode 8)

Betty Cooper has always been a supportive girlfriend. So, when she learns that FP, the father of her boyfriend Jughead Jones, will be having a motorcycle retirement party, she decides to send him off with a personalized striptease dance. Apparently, a sexy pole dance is the unofficial initiation for any woman who wants to join the biker gang, and Betty is nothing if not accommodating. Donning some sexy lingerie under her usually conservative outfit, Betty gets a recording of “Mad World” ready and proceeds to entertain a gang of rowdy bikers.

What makes Betty’s dance insanely taboo is that her audience includes her boyfriend, her boyfriend’s father… and her mother. Alice Cooper is clearly shocked by her daughter’s performance – but FP ends up thanking Betty for performing at his retirement party and the biker audience gives her a round of applause. “Riverdale” adults may have some deviant tastes… but at least they’re supportive.

With “Riverdale” now entering its fifth season, fans can likely expect even racier, steamier, and sexier content as future storylines attempt to surpass the already over-the-top sex scenes the show has already offered. The “anything goes” mentality of “Riverdale” may shock some viewers who are only familiar with the comic book version of Archie and the gang – but it’s a huge draw for fans of the compulsively watchable television series.  

Categories TV

7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Cut the Cord on Cable TV

People consider cutting the cord to cable television for two main reasons. The first is because they had a bad experience with a cable provider. The second is because they are trying to cut down on monthly expenses. Both are valid reasons, but there are several things you should consider before you decide to cut the cord for good.

Best Collection of TV Channels

Cable TV HD Channels There’s no denying that Spectrum TV Packages have the best collection of TV channels, like HGTV, History, Bravo, AMC, and more. If you cut the cord, you may have to give up some of your favorite shows. Not to mention, you’ll have to give up those late nights channel surfing. You know, those nights where you just want to shut off your brain and flip back and forth between Pawn Stars and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns?

Bundled Pricing

Cable providers shine when it comes to bundling. You might be considering cutting the cord to cable because you find yourself streaming Netflix or Prime a lot of the time. But you’re probably streaming those platforms using the high-speed internet that is bundled with your cable. If you cancel your cable, you will lose the big monthly savings you are receiving through bundling.

If you aren’t bundling your Internet with your cable, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking for cost-savings every month, you should start there. Cable providers have really upped their game when it comes to Internet speeds. Spectrum Internet Plans start at a very impressive 100 Mbps and offers download speeds of up to 940 Mbps!  You never have to worry about buffering with even the most basic plan. But you’ll see the most value when you bundle with cable.

In-Home Entertainment

Cable TV PPV EventsIn addition to bundled pricing, you should consider the value of in-home entertainment. A family trip to the movies easily costs close to $100 these days. Going out to eat can be even more expensive. If a movie On-Demand or pizza in front of your favorite show keeps you home one extra day a month, you’ve made your money back.

Custom Packages 

Many cable providers give customers control over the channels they are paying for. Customers can customize different cable plans to get all their favorite channels without having to buy the biggest plan. Oftentimes, just adding a couple of channels to the most basic plan can meet all of your entertainment needs. You can even add premium movie packages or specialty sports packs to the most affordable plans.

Negotiable Pricing

Cable TV DealsA lot of people reach to cut the cord as soon as their promotional period is over. After the standard 12-month period, your cable costs can increase substantially. But cable providers leave wiggle room in their pricing. They don’t want to lose you as a customer and will work with you to give you the most entertainment value for your budget.

The cable industry is also very competitive. While your cable provider will try to negotiate to keep you as a customer, competing cable providers will try to steal you away. So, if you want to save money and you’re unhappy with your cable provider, talk to their competitors. Competitors offer all kinds of incentives to switch to their service.

Sports, Sports, Sports!

You’re not going to find Sunday’s big game on Netflix. Hands down, cable TV still has the stronghold on sports coverage. Sports packs give you access to premium regional and international sports networks. Whether you want to watch college ball, international soccer, or never miss an NFL game, cable TV has you covered. You can customize your cable plan with various sports packages.

 Special Live Events

Cable TV On Demand HDIf you’re a red-carpet junkie or a fan of Holiday specials, you’ll need to think twice before canceling your cable. The Grammys and Oscars are at home on cable tv. A lot of Christmas and New Year’s specials are only found on cable as well. A lot of people forget to consider this seasonal entertainment when deciding to cut off their cable. They don’t realize their mistake until it’s time to watch them again.

Pay-Per-View and New Movies

Let’s be honest, most Netflix movies are pretty terrible. And while Prime Video has better movie options, they charge for all of the best ones. Cable TV offers a wide range of movie channels and packages. Often, the newest box office hits are available on cable first. Pay-per-view options also give you the best movies at a great price.

Speaking of Pay-per-view, don’t forget about boxing matches and MMA events. These special events are also available on cable.  Don’t lose your status as your friends’ hero if you can’t host fight nights at your house anymore.

On-Demand and Streaming

Cable TV BundlesCable providers aren’t stuck in the stone age. They have jumped on the streaming bandwagon and offer great streaming options. You can find hundreds of On Demand movies and tv episodes that you can watch anytime and anywhere. The apps work on virtually any smart device, and you can stream on multiple devices at a time.

Most cable providers also have their very own App, like the DIRECTV App. You can stream On-Demand shows, watch live TV, and even watch your DVR recordings. It gives you all the flexibility of the top streaming apps with the added perk of having full access to your recordings. It’s a win-win.

Should I Cancel Cable TV?

Cutting the cord isn’t going to save you as much as you might think. And there are always other cable providers who would love to bribe you to join their service. Most importantly, there are other cable providers who can provide the customer service you deserve.

Netflix and other streaming options still have big holes in their entertainment platforms. And, of course, you can’t beat the value of bundling high-speed internet with cable. Before you give up your favorite shows and channels, consider the above reasons to stay.

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Categories TV

The Most WTF Moments of Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” That Nobody Saw Coming

HBO’s “Game of Thrones” continues to be one of the most entertaining shows on TV. The show’s creators have not been afraid to kill off some of our favorite characters, and the many plot twists related to the Lannisters, Starks and other family dynasties of Westeros can be head spinning. Alliances keep shifting overnight, and nobody is really safe. With that in mind, here are some of the most WTF moments of Season 7 of “Game of Thrones” that nobody saw coming.

#1: Arya poisons the Freys in an act of coldhearted revenge

Remember back in Season 1 when we thought young Arya was going to be sweet and pure? Well, something clicked on inside her when members of her family – including both Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark – were slaughtered at the infamous Red Wedding. Ever since then, she has vowed to wipe the Frey family off the face of the Westeros map. At the end of Season 6, for example, she cut the throat of Lord Walder Frey and displayed her willingness to exact coldhearted revenge.

And things get nasty real quick in Episode 1 of Season 7, when the entire Frey clan has assembled at the site of the original Red Wedding. “Lord Walder Frey” hands out wine to everyone gathered in the hall to celebrate – and, of course, within minutes, everyone is clutching at their throats, vomiting blood and keeling over. They’ve been poisoned! At this point, “Lord Walder Frey” rips off his mask – and it’s actually Arya! She has just used a death mask to impersonate her most hated rival, using that as a way to get her highly anticipated revenge against the entire Frey clan.

#2: Olenna Tyrell gets her sinister revenge on the Lannisters

We always knew Olenna Tyrell was bitter and scheming. They don’t call her the “Queen of Thorns” for nothing. But we had absolutely no idea of just how cold she was until Episode 3 of Season 7. The Lannisters have just destroyed her home at Highgarden and killed all of her men. She has nothing left, and implores Jaime Lannister to let her die quickly by ingesting poison in a glass of wine.

However, as soon as she drinks the wine, she turns to Jaime with a maniacal glint in her eye and tells him that it was she who had poisoned his son Joffrey. Not only that, she tells Jaime that he should tell Cersei this as well. If you’re going to die, it’s best to take down everyone else around you as well! In Westeros, revenge is a dish best served cold.

#3: The full-on spectacle of fire-breathing dragons attacking

Season 7 was the season that the dragons came fully into their own as stars of “Game of Thrones.” For years, we’ve seen the dragon eggs, and heard all the dragon prophecies. Now, they are coming true! Episode 4 was just epic, with a battle scene unlike any that we have ever seen on “Game of Thrones.” Daenerys swoops down on the back on a dragon, and the mighty Dothraki army marches on the Lannisters. There’s chaos, fire and destruction everywhere. And just when we think that these dragons might make Daenerys invincible, Bronn almost manages to take down one of these fabled beasts with a scorpion bolt crossbow. That’s not a good sign for the dragons – and we quickly find out why in Episodes 5 and 6.

#4: Viserion dies and is resurrected

We’ve already seen the fire and fury of the fire-breathing dragons. We’ve seen all the destruction and chaos they can cause – and then the unthinkable happens – Viserion goes down in battle, the victim of the Night King. He used an ice spear, so Viserion dies.

But the action doesn’t end there because the Night King wants Viserion to fight on the side of the White Walker army. So he resurrects Viserion, ensuring that he can spread death and destruction on the armies of the North. The scene where the dragon’s eyes open back up will chill you to your bones. The eyes are blue, and it’s clear what has happened – Viserion has been resurrected as part of the evil White Walker army! From now on, it will not be Daenerys who controls him, it will be the evil Night King.

#5: Littlefinger dies a horrible, wretched death at the hands of the Starks

For the first six seasons of he show, Littlefinger has been a lying, conniving and manipulative force. Deep down, he has always coveted the power of the Iron Throne, and he has done everything in his power to control the destiny of the throne. Some have considered Littlefinger to be the greatest player in the Game of Thrones.

So it was only natural, given the inherent dynamic of the show, that he must die a horrible, nasty death. The ones who make it happen are Arya and Sansa, who plot to kill Littlefinger. By the end, he is groveling on his knees for mercy, but they don’t care – Arya cuts his throat with a dagger. The full range of emotions on display here is just terrifying.

#6: The Wall protecting the North falls

If there was a way to end Season 7, it was this – the collapse of the Wall protecting the North from the White Walkers and the Night King. And the way it happens is just epic – you have the marching army of the undead headed to the Wall, and then out of nowhere, the Night King flies in on Viserion. The dragon is breathing blue hell-fire everywhere it goes, and the Wall falls. You know what happens next – the army of the undead now has full access to all of Westeros. It’s time to be very afraid.

As a result, Season 8 is going to be even more epic. Will Jon Snow and Daenerys be able to combine forces to hold back this mighty army? Who will finally win the Game of Thrones? Season 7 just showed us how crazy things can get on “Game of Thrones,” and it looks like Season 8 is once again going to deliver everything that we’ve loved about this show with plenty of action-packed adventure and drama.

TV Review: HBO’s “The Leftovers”

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HBO’s “The Leftovers,” which recently completed its third and final season in June 2017, continually challenged fans to figure out the true meaning of the show, especially when each new episode seemed to challenge what we thought we already knew. Even when you didn’t actually know what was happening in the show, though, it was clear that you were watching great TV. As one TV critic suggested, HBO’s “The Leftovers” will go down as a “masterpiece” and “one of the all-time greats.”

HBO’s “The Leftovers” was a grand attempt to make sense of this world

The reason why “The Leftovers” was so challenging to watch – and why so many dedicated fans have created “explainer” YouTube videos trying to sort out all the clues and signs – is because the HBO show was really an attempt to make sense of this world that we live in. Why did “The Sudden Departure” take place – and how should humanity try to make sense of its aftermath?

In the show, viewers are seemingly given two very stark choices: either you are on the side of science and rationalism, or you are on the side of faith and mysticism. The cult-like Guilty Remnant, of course, was the belief in faith and mysticism that many adopted to help make sense of why 140 million people died with no apparent reason. It all had to be part of a grand design by some higher being, right?

If you think about it, this is the same choice that has been faced by humanity throughout civilization – do we trust our scientists and rational thought, or do we trust our prophets and organized religion? Somehow, we need to decide on how and why this world was created, and what are the rules for its existence. So you either believe in the Big Bang and the birth of the cosmos developing according to scientific principles, or you believe that the Earth was created by a higher being, with man being made in the image of that creator.

For that reason, so many fans have speculated that Kevin Garvey, Jr. – the protagonist at the center of “The Leftovers” – might be a symbol for the messiah that people are waiting for. Is he a Christ-like figure? Was he meant to die in order to prevent a further apocalypse? So many questions like that have been asked by fans and ardent viewers of this show.

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HBO’s “The Leftovers” kept challenging our notions of “normalcy”

In the wake of the Sudden Departure, in which 140 million people disappeared without a trace, the goal of humanity was to restore some sort of normalcy in the world. And, yet, again and again, the show’s writers kept us searching for that elusive normalcy. Things continued to happen for inexplicable reasons.

The show reminded us that everyone wants to feel “in control” of their own life. Normalcy, then, can be defined as a condition in which we feel like we’re in control, that the Earth is not tottering away in some random direction that we can’t grasp.

And, again, “The Leftovers” resonates so strongly with viewers because, often, the world seems to be losing its sense of normalcy, and that’s when people struggle the most. During the Cold War, for example, people accepted as “normalcy” the fact that two great powers could destroy themselves overnight in a matter of minutes with nuclear weapons – and that it was perfectly normal to keep building more and more of those weapons. Our new normalcy is that an extremist radical might walk down any street in the West and try to blow us up.

In “The Leftovers,” one of the major themes seems to be that “you can lose anyone at any time.” Again and again, we are reminded of that in the show. Over the course of three seasons, it is this sense of loss that continues to stay in our minds and imaginations. We’re shown that characters can’t trust their emotions, and they can’t even trust the way their senses perceive the world around them. So they want an explanation, or something to hold on to, even if the option is not a good one. That is why people embrace false prophets – they are simply looking for an answer.

Along the way, “The Leftovers” made us question the difference between “death” and “departure.” A death gives you a sense of finality, a way to get closure. A departure, on the other hand, is not about finality because there is an expectation of a return. For every “departures” lounge, there is an “arrivals” lounge. And so, by naming the global cataclysm “The Sudden Departure,” the characters in the show told us that they were unwilling to accept the loss of their loved ones as an act of finality. There was a chance that they would return.

HBO’s “The Leftovers” was a brilliant rumination on religion and cults

It’s hard not to bring religion into the picture when analyzing “The Leftovers.” The cult-like Guilty Remnant is surely one of the most memorable creations on TV. In fact, the Guilty Remnant (or just “The GR” for true fans) was such an indelible part of the show that when HBO threatened to terminate the show, fans dressed up in all white just like the members of the cult, created signs similar to the ones created by the GR, and marched on HBO headquarters in New York City.

And there were so many great scenes that made us re-think everything we thought we knew about organized religion and cults. The two, in many ways, are the same. And we see that in “The Leftovers” – the same people today who might join a church and attend service on Sunday are also the same people who might panic and join the Guilty Remnant.

And the show did not waver in taking on concepts like purgatory, resurrection, the after life, or the feeling that someone must eventually suffer for all of our sins on this Earth. It made us realize that part of what makes us human is the fact that we must grope with “loss” in our lives.

**

Through it all, HBO’s “The Leftovers” gave us some brilliant flashbacks, many of the completely without dialogue – like the flashback in Season 3 of the impending apocalypse in the year 1844. The show gave us some completely unexplainable signs, symbols and clues – and asked us to make sense of it all. Were the flashing red traffic signals some kind of sign sent from above – or just a random, unexplained occurrence?

And here’s the thing – even after watching all three seasons, and then re-watching them again, it might just be the case that your analysis of what it all means will change again. That’s the mark of a great show, and one that has elements of true profundity. It’s clear that HBO’s “The Leftovers” was one of the best TV shows ever.

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Categories TV