Hey folks, I’ve been addressing a family medical emergency for much of the past week, and was unable to file my usual TechHive column in time for today’s newsletter.

Things are settling down now, and I should be back to a somewhat normal schedule next week, so hopefully I’ll have a couple of columns to share in the next issue. Thanks for understanding in the meantime!

Weekly rewind

The high cost of ESPN: The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand reports that ESPN will charge $25 to $30 per month for its standalone streaming service, citing “executives briefed on the discussions.” ESPN plans to launch the service—which, in contrast to ESPN+, will include everything from the ESPN’s cable channel—in 2025.

If that price sounds steep, consider the bind ESPN is in: Cable customers pay about $10 per month for ESPN even if they never watch it, but that audience is shrinking even as the cost of sports rights explodes. ESPN needs to charge more for a standalone service, but it also needs more sports to make such a service worthwhile. Marchand’s report is largely about ESPN’s attempts to negotiate with the NFL, NBA, and others in hopes of building a streaming hub for live sports.

More on Roku’s new terms: A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how Roku locked users out of their TVs and streaming players until they agreed to new dispute resolution terms. While my piece focused on the annoyance of having your TV rendered unusable, Consumer Reports did a great job explaining the new terms themselves.

Roku, like many companies, has long required users to waive their class action lawsuit rights and instead resolve their issues privately through arbitration. The new terms appear to be aimed at discouraging “mass arbitration,” in which plaintiffs’ lawyers flood a company with individual claims. This tactic can lead to high up-front fees for defendants, and some companies, such as Amazon, have gone back to allowing class action lawsuits in response.

As one lawyer told Consumer Reports, Roku’s new terms are meant to give it all the advantages of arbitration with none of the downsides. And because the only way to opt out is via snail mail, it’s probably going to work.

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More catch-up

Save more money

Annual subscriptions to Max are on sale through April 9, saving a little over 40% versus the monthly rate. That brings the price to $70 for a year with ads, $105 without ads, and $140 for the “Ultimate” tier that includes 4K HDR video. The discount should work for new, returning, and existing subscribers alike.

Given that Max is streaming all non-CBS March Madness games at no extra charge, my inner cynic wants to say that this is a way to lock folks in after the tourney ends. But it’s still a solid deal either way.

Other notable savings:

My newsletter reading revelation (take two)

Turns out I botched the link last time, so here it is again: A free issue of my Advisorator newsletter, covering my new newsletter reading setup, Apple’s new MacBooks, a quicker way to take selfies, and more.

Advisorator is my weekly newsletter for tech advice beyond the realm of cord cutting. Read the free issue and sign up to stay in the tech loop with me every Tuesday.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for bearing with me as I get back into the swing of things. As always, you can send cord cutting questions my way by replying to this email.

Until next week,

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