Solving smart TV problems, World Cup streaming guide

Omni Fire TV Edition television

This week on TechHive: Solving smart TV problems

Black Friday is coming soon, which means some of you probably have new TVs on the brain.

If your goal is to get a bigger screen or better picture quality, that’s fine. I’m not here to discourage you. But please—and I cannot stress this enough—don’t buy a new TV just to get newer smart TV software.

Instead, practically all your smart TV problems can be solved with an external streaming device, such as a Roku player, Fire TV Stick, or Apple TV streaming box. Plug one of these devices into your existing TV, and you’ll get a much better smart TV experience without tossing your current set.

This might be an obvious point for the tech-savvier among us, but I’ve heard from lots of folks over the years who’ve assumed they need to replace a perfectly good TV because of slow software, outdated apps, or weak Wi-Fi connectivity. While the TV makers might prefer that you do so, I assure you there’s a better way. Read the full column on TechHive.

Weekly rewind

World Cup streaming options: Since I’ve fielded some questions about this, and the “how to” articles on the web are often a letdown, here’s a quick summary:

  • Matches will air in English on Fox and FS1.
  • The cheapest way to watch is with an antenna (for Fox) and Sling TV Blue (for FS1). Sling costs $40 per month, and the first month is half off.
  • Any other live TV streaming service that carries both Fox and FS1 will suffice, including YouTube TV ($65/mo.), Hulu + Live TV ($70/mo.), FuboTV ($70/mo.), and DirecTV Stream ($70/mo.).
  • Alternatively, you can stream the entire tournament in Spanish on Peacock Premium, at $5 per month. The first four matches will be free.
  • For the patient: Tubi will stream World Cup replays for free after they air on TV.

Apple’s MLS pricing: In other soccer news, Apple will charge $15 per month—or $99 per season—for its MLS Season Pass when it launches on February 1. This won’t require a subscription to Apple TV+, but those who do subscriber will get a discounted price of $12 per month or $79 for the season.

MLS Season Pass will include live coverage of every game, both in and out of market, in a refreshing change to how sports streaming usually works. It’ll also include MLS Next developmental league matches and an NFL Redzone-style whip-around show on match days. For non-subscribers, Apple will reportedly stream a large number of matches for free.

Not to read too much into it, but this may give us a clue for how Apple would package NFL Sunday Ticket if it snags the rights next year, as rumored. Given the astronomical cost of those rights, selling the service on a standalone basis—with discounts for Apple TV+ subscribers—probably makes more sense than jacking up the Apple TV+ price for everyone.

New Hulu channels: Hulu + Live TV is adding 14 more channels to its $70 per month live TV package, most notably the Weather Channel and the Hallmark trinity (that is, the main channel, Drama, and Movies & Mysteries). The other channels are filler channels that are available for free elsewhere, such as Vevo Pop and Comedy.TV.

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Roku Streambar

The Roku Streambar has returned to last year’s Black Friday price of $80, down from the usual $130. This unusual device is both a soundbar and streaming box rolled into one. Plug it into your TV’s HDMI-ARC slot, and you’ll get Roku’s streaming interface along with better sound compared to TV speakers alone. Just note it that doesn’t support Dolby Vision HDR. My TechHive editor Mike Brown wrote a review a couple years ago.

Meanwhile, the Chromecast with Google TV 4K has fallen to a record low of $29, and also includes a free Funko Pop figurine for some reason. Read my review.

Other notable deals:

  • The Roku Streaming Stick is still on sale for $25, and the Roku Ultra LT is has dropped to $30. The latter’s worth getting if you want an ethernet jack.
  • The latest Paramount+ codes are TULSAKING, EARTHSPARK, STLD22, and ONTHECOMEUP. New and returning subscribers can use them to sign up for a free month, per my instructions.

Check out my big list of streaming deals for even more savings on streaming TV devices and services, updated every week.

Thanks for reading!

Quick programming note: While I intend to send a newsletter after Thanksgiving next week, it’ll likely be on the short side, with just a quick link to my TechHive column and some notable Black Friday streaming deals. I suspect it’ll otherwise be a slow news week anyway.

In the meantime, send me your cord cutting questions by replying to this email!

Until next week,

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