Internet “nutrition labels,” lots of Roku news

This week on TechHive: “Broadband Facts” labels are here

Shopping for home internet service just got easier thanks to an overdue act of government intervention—at least in theory.

As of April 10, major internet service providers in the U.S. must provide “Broadband Facts” labels to prospective customers under FCC rules approved in late 2022. Modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” labels the FDA mandates for packaged food, these broadband labels must disclose typical download and upload speeds, full non-promotional pricing, data caps, and hidden fees as part of the sign-up process.

Given that cable companies lobbied hard against the new rules, I was curious to see how the labels would actually appear when picking an internet plan. While some ISPs have done a great job integrating the new labels, many of them aren’t embracing this opportunity for more transparent marketing and have tried their best to make the labels as inconspicuous as possible.

Read the full column on TechHive →


Weekly rewind

A whole bunch of Roku news: Roku announced a slew of product updates earlier this week, so let’s do a quick recap:

  • Roku’s Pro Series smart TVs are now available after being announced in January, starting at $900 for a 55-inch TV with a Mini-LED panel.
  • A new “Smart Picture” feature for Roku TVs will automatically adjust the color and backlighting based on what’s playing on the screen. If you already own a Roku-branded TV, you’ll need to enable the feature in settings first.
  • A “Backdrops” feature will display artwork on the TV when you’re not using it. It’s coming to Roku-branded TVs in the “coming months” and to streaming players sometime later.
  • Roku’s second-gen Voice Remote Pro has backlit buttons, a shortcut to Roku’s channel guide, 50% longer battery life, and—oh thank heavens—charging via USB-C instead of Micro-USB. On the downside, the headphone jack is gone. It’s a $30 standalone purchase for existing Roku players and TVs.
  • Roku’s “Save List” feature will soon indicate when the price has dropped for a movie on your watchlist, or when new episodes arrive for one of your saved shows. Seems like they listened to someone’s feedback.
  • Roku’s movie and show pages will soon include IMDb ratings and trailers.
  • Roku’s mobile app is getting dedicated Search and Account tabs, and the main screen will include a row for most-searched movies and shows.

Tubi’s takeover: When I wrote earlier this year about what comes after cord cutting, I speculated that free streaming services might overtake paid ones, as the latter becomes overburdened with price hikes, ads, and new viewing restrictions. Turns out it’s already happening, with the Fox-owned free streaming service Tubi accounting for more viewing time last month than both Peacock and Max in the United States according to Bloomberg.

While the Verge’s Emma Roth posits that this is all about background viewing—Tubi’s free streaming channels are more conducive to just turning something on while you do other things—that’s kind of the point: While subscription-based streaming services keep adding more points of friction, the free streamers are taking them away. That could be a problem for the former camp as they try to extract more money from their customers.

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Save more money

Photo by Joshua Peacock via Unsplash

MLB.TV is currently 35% off for military, government, first responders, and law enforcement. That brings the price to $97.49 for nearly an entire season of out-of-market baseball streaming. (Watching local games is a whole other story.) Thanks for the tip, Steve H.!

Other deal-related notes:


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Jared

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