The Best Television Sports Packages

Sports. We love them. By we, I mean Americans. But really, I could mean the entire globe. Indeed, love of sports might be one of the few things that every continent can still agree on. That, and the new “Star Wars” movies are pretty cool.

Sure, the sports we like might be different. A matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots means less than nothing to the people of India. On the flipside, one of the biggest causes of brain aneurysms in America is trying to understand the rules of cricket (source: the Sam Joseph Journal of Medicine).

Regardless, there’s no segment of the globe you can visit where you can’t find rabid sports fans. And it’s a great time in world history to be a rabid sports fan.

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Directv Genie or Dish Hopper: Which DVR System is Right for You?

When I was a kid, I used to have a collection of these things:

You might ask, “What on earth is this? What am I supposed to do with this?”

First, congratulations on your youth. Enjoy it, it doesn’t last forever. But to really answer your questions, this is a video home system (VHS) tape. If you wanted to watch your favorite movie in 1997, you had to use one of these. Or if your favorite movie in 1997 was “Titanic,” you actually needed to use *two* of these because the movie was too long to fit on one. And the movie’s length would also be extended by five minutes, as you would you have to rewind it from the last time you watched it.

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Directv or Directv Now: Which is Best for You?

It’s not often that you find a situation where an individual or an entity is competing with itself. Seems a little masochistic, doesn’t it? Is it any different from punching oneself in the face?

However, such internal competition isn’t that unusual in the business world. Sometimes a corporate entity will alter its product slightly in order to integrate itself into a newer market.

That is essentially what’s going on with Directv at the moment.

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What You Need to Know About Dish Anywhere

There used to be a time when you had to watch a TV show when it was scheduled to be on the network schedule, or you wouldn’t get a chance to watch it all.

True story, and it wasn’t even that long ago. Certainly within my lifetime.

Yes, there were reruns and syndication, but for the most part, if you wanted to watch the new “Seinfeld,” you better be in front of your television set at 9:00 EST on Thursday. I suppose you could have recorded it on a blank VHS, but you would get the surrounding programs as well. Have fun guessing where your show is while wearing down the rewind/fast forward buttons.

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The Departing Cast Members of “Saturday Night Live”

When it comes to the amount of seasons, it’s incredibly rare for a television series to make it to double digits. Even some of the most legendary shows didn’t even come close.

Seinfeld? Nine seasons. The Sopranos? Six. Breaking Bad is destined to be a television classic, yet it only ran five seasons.

When a show *does* make it to ten seasons, that really is a special achievement.

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Movies Based on TV Shows That Bombed at the Box Office

Right now, the American economy is relatively healthy. More accurately, it’s consistently growing. Of course, these statements are a little general; economic stability varies from industry-to-industry. For example, it’s a great time to be in the appliances/electronics business.

On the other hand, Hollywood is experiencing a downturn.

That’s not to say the film/TV business is on the verge of collapse or anything. It *is* to say, however, that box office returns are down. Not just a little either; enough that studio executives are reportedly alarmed.

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The Most Watched Series Finales (And How Fans Reacted)

Spring is here. That means flowers. That means picnics in the park. That means the baseball season is throwing out its initial pitches. That also unfortunately means a lot of shows are going on hiatus. For some shows, it’s not a hiatus at all. It’s a final goodbye.

In terms of television, April/May is when most shows wrap-up their seasons. May is a particularly important month for networks, as finale season coincides with sweeps, the time when networks set their advertising rates based on the ratings for the month.

So if May means it’s starting to warm up outside, the shows are heating up as well.

Many of the highest rated broadcasts in television history happen in April and May. Here are the ten highest rated series finales of all-time.

Note: Obviously there will be spoilers here, but all of these shows have been off the air for at least ten years, which in my opinion is enough of a reasonable length of time for the “spoiler” tag to be irrelevant.

#10, Frasier

Frasier series finale

On May 13, 2004, 33.7 million people tuned into see Dr. Frasier Crane deliver his last radio address at KACL. The episode ran an hour, as opposed to the usual 30 minutes. I was supposed you need a little bit more time when you are trying to incorporate a marriage, a childbirth, and a major relocation for the main character in one episode. This is one of the most lauded and beloved finales on the list. It was sentimental, yet it didn’t sacrifice the wit that made the show so popular for so long.

#9, Home Improvement

Home Improvement series finale

On May 25, 1999, 35.5 million people tuned into one last episode of “Tool Time.” The finale had some key moments in Improvement history. Al and Trudy got married. Tim ends his show, and moves with wife Jill to accommodate her new job. And most importantly, it is *finally* revealed that Wilson, the neighbor who could barely see over the backyard fence, has an entire face!

#8, Family Ties

Family Ties series finale

On May 14, 1989, 36.3 million people tuned into to see Alex P. Keaton say goodbye to his family before heading to New York City to work on Wall Street. The episode was heavy on the emotion, but was also a good summation of the show’s themes from its seven season run. Specifically, the goodbye scene between Alex and his more progressive mom Elyse effectively highlighted the show’s idea that despite differences in ideology and values, family ties us all together.

#7, All in the Family

All in the Family series finale

On April 8, 1979, 40.2 million people tuned into check in with the Bunker family. By the last season, the show was starting to run on fumes, and ratings were down from previous seasons. But that didn’t matter for the show’s sendoff, because former fans wanted to say goodbye to a show that was a cultural shape-shifter for the first few seasons. It is impossible to write a history of American television without devoting an entire section to Family which was the first show to regularly introduce controversial and uncomfortable topics to primetime television, and in the form of a sitcom, no less.

#6, The Cosby Show

The Cosby Show series finale

On April 30, 1992, 44.4 million people tuned into hang out with the Huxtable family one last time. The episode saw Theo graduate from NYU, and Theo trying to make sure his father Cliff doesn’t invite every person he’s ever even looked at to the commencement ceremony. The content of the episode itself is fairly unremarkable in hindsight, but fans were treated to an emotional tribute to the cast immediately afterwards.

#5, Magnum, P.I.

Magnum, P.I. series finale

On May 1, 1988, 50.7 million people tuned into see the final exploits of Hawaii’s best–and most mustached–private investigator. The finale was used as an effort to tie up loose ends. The identity of Robin Masters was finally revealed, and Magnum reunited with his long-estranged daughter… and then joins the Navy again. Magnum was one of the biggest hits of 1980s television, and although the fandom is much more muted, there’s no denying Magnum’s influence on modern television. There would be no CSI or NCIS without it.

#4, Friends

Friends series finale

On May 6, 2004, 65.9 million people tuned into see the six friends go their separate ways after a decade. The show was predictable in some ways (of course Rachel was going to get off the plane for Ross), unpredictable in others (twins for Chandler and Monica!). Ultimately, it’s hard to say this was one of the show’s better episodes, but it was a sweet, endearing wrap to a show that was always there for us.

#3, Seinfeld

Seinfeld series finale

On May 14, 1998, 76.3 million people tuned into see their favorite eccentric characters… go to jail? This is certainly the most divisive episode in the top ten. But should it be? The show’s core value proposition for its entire duration was the fact that it was “about nothing.” Did the characters need an emotionally satisfying conclusion? Didn’t people love this show *because* the characters were transparently awful? I mean, what’s the deal with the reaction this episode?!

#2, Cheers

Cheers series finale

On May 20, 1993, 84.4 million people tuned into the place where everybody knows your name and all your troubles are the same. Cheers is easily one of the most influential and heralded sitcoms of its or any era, so it should be of no surprise that the series finale got such a high rating. The fact that this 98 minutes instead of the ordinary 30 minutes pointed even more to the fact that this was a television *event*. Was it any good? Depends on what era we’re talking about. Initial reaction was mixed, and usually cited the extended the running time. But more than to 20 years later, the episode is frequently included in “best moments of television” lists. That might be more of a nod to the show in general though.

#1, M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H series finale

On February 28, 1983, 105.9 million people tuned into see the medical unit go home. That’s 21.5 million more people than watched the Cheers finale. In fact, if you look at the 20 most watched individual television programs of all time, only one of them isn’t a Super Bowl. That one exception is the M*A*S*H series finale. Yes, the show was *that* popular. You can say that this was at a time when competition on television was much lower, and you would be right. It’s hard to imagine any individual episode of a show right now even coming close to 105.9 million viewers. What’s even more astonishing is that few people in that high number were disappointed; the M*A*S*H finale is widely regarded as one of the best episodes in television history.

The Best Anti-Heroes of Television

For a long time, American television was obsessed with heroism. If the show was broadcast before the late 90s, you can usually count on the fact that the main character was going to be a heroic, inspirational figure. There were tons of medical shows that featured doctors who managed to save yet another life every episode, and cop shows that told stories of police officers always doing the right thing in the face of danger.

That era of television isn’t necessarily over. There are still plenty of shows with do-gooder protagonists, and there will always likely be a place for those kind of shows. However, over the last 20 years, audiences have been slowly introduced to a new kind of main character: the anti-hero.

The concept of the anti-hero is simple: it’s a central character who displays characteristics that aren’t always pleasant and heroic. This archetype has long existed in theater, film, and literature, but it’s still relatively new in television. Here are examples of some of the most interesting anti-heroes found on modern television, and why they fit the mold.

Gregory House, “House”

Dr. Gregory House fulfills the archetype of the hero *and* the anti-hero. Throughout the series, he makes it a mission to save the life of every patient that comes in front of him at all costs. That may sound appealing, but the operative term here is “at all costs.” Those costs often come at the expense of the patient and the patient’s family. House will open metaphorical wounds in the family. He will lie to his patients and ethics boards. He might even break into a patient’s house. Oh yeah, and he’s hardly above spewing harmful racial and gender stereotypes to his employees.

Gregory House

That said, he saves lives, and even though he may turn his patients against him during the process, they are typically grateful by the end, as it’s clear that no one else would have gone to the lengths that House would.

Tony Soprano, “The Sopranos”

Tony Soprano may not have been the *first* anti-hero on television, but there’s no question that he was the first one to become a cultural reference point. Soprano, a godfather of a prominent mob family in New York and New Jersey, is a complicated man. He loves his wife; he also cheats on her regularly. He adheres to a strict moral code that mandates he protect those in his community; he also kills and assaults people.

Tony Soprano

The show does its best to portray Soprano as sympathetically as possible, and does it well. It’s clear that he’s something of a reluctant boss who inherited the family business because he literally knew nothing else during his childhood. It’s also clear he is in a maelstrom of emotional turmoil, as evidenced by the fact that he is in therapy for the duration of the series. But if you’re going to say none of that excuses decapitating someone over a horse, it’s hard to disagree with that.

Carrie Mathison, “Homeland”

The anti-hero trend on television has been largely placed upon male characters, and this has been a source of criticism for television critics. The trend is slowly starting to change though, and that’s in large part thanks to Homeland. Carrie Mathison is an intensely dedicated CIA agent who is the only person who suspects a recently returned prisoner of war of a heinous crime. She makes it her life’s purpose to reveal the truth.

Carrie Mathison

Of course, when you dedicate yourself so fully to a single purpose, you may be willing to bend some pretty important rules to fulfill your goals. Carrie engages in illegal wiretapping and she regularly undermines her superiors. She also hides a debilitating medical condition. It’s clear that Carrie means well, but it’s also clear that she does plenty of damage in the process.

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards”

If you’re cynical about modern American politics, then it is a safe bet that House of Cards is one of your favorite shows, and there is *no one* more cynical than the show’s protagonist, Frank Underwood. At the beginning of the series, Underwood is betrayed on a promise that he will be given a cabinet position in the administration of the newly-elected president. Rather than take his losses, he, um, makes other plans. He doesn’t set his vengeful eyes on only the person who took his job; he sets them even higher.

Frank Underwood

Throughout the series, we see Underwood’s intellect and unquenchable thirst for power on full display, and there is little that he won’t do on his march to American history. If you don’t already watch the show, you might be wondering what his sympathetic and redeemable qualities are. Here’s the thing: people who *do* watch the show are wondering what those may be as well.

Walter White, “Breaking Bad”

At the beginning of the hit AMC show, Walter White is a mild-mannered teacher with a loving family. However, he is diagnosed with cancer in the first episode. If this show had premiered in 1988, the show’s storyline most likely would have probably had Walter make amends with other family members while he valiantly fights his ailment. But in 2008, the show’s creators thought a, um, different approach was called for. Mainly, Walter starts distributing methamphetamine and developing a criminal empire.

Walter White

Walter keeps some of his lovable dad characteristics for the first couple of seasons. After all, the reason he starts engaging in criminal activity is to raise enough money to leave for his family when he dies. But greed and hunger for power start to blind Walter as the series goes on, and the formerly polite chemistry teacher becomes “the one who knocks.”

3 Ways Cord Cutters Can Catch NFL Action This Season

Traditionally, one of the biggest downsides of over-the-top and streaming TV (such as Roku, Playstation Vue, etc) has been the lack of live NFL coverage. Most of the NFL broadcasters – such as FOX, CBS and NBC – do have their own app you can install on Roku and the like, but they all require you login via your cable or satellite provider to access the feed. Well, with the On Demand tide slowly turning, you now have plenty of new options…

Sunday morning/afternoon games via a local antenna or Sling TV: NBC & FOX

1. Antenna – if you’ve already cut the cord, the easiest (and cheapest) way to get TV into your home is with an HD antenna. Nowadays, they come in crystal clear 1080 HDTV and can be smaller than the size of paperback. The main caveat here is reception. The closer you are to the broadcasting tower, the more channels you’re likely to get (use Mohu’s zip code tool to search your area). Obviously, the big upside here is 0 recurring cost; most HD antennas go for $40-$100…thereafter, it’s all gratis.

2. Sling TV – if an antenna doesn’t fit the bill or you’d rather have everything in your OTT box, Sling TV gives you access to NBC and FOX with their $25/mo Sling Blue package.

Monday night games via Sling TV or PlayStation VUE: ESPN

Usually featuring a pretty good pair of teams or a rivalry grudge match, MNF is the venerated staple of the NFL week. When it transitioned from ABC to ESPN in 2006, it nudged out folks that didn’t have basic cable or satellite. It was equally as frustrating for cord cutters as well. Well, thanks to Sling TV’s inclusion of ESPN (in their base plan, Sling Orange, for $20/mo), you’ll never be clueless at the water cooler come Tues morning.

Thursday night games via Sling TV or PlayStation VUE: NFL Network

The NFL just recently announced a licensing deal with Sling TV that adds the NFL Network to its lineup. Part of the $25/mo Sling Blue plan, the NFL Network broadcasts EVERY Thursday night game (the NBC and CBS co-broadcasts about half of those games). So, in addition to the solid new and analysis on the NFL Network, you’ll get your fill mid-week NFL action.

Conclusion

On demand and OTT TV have come a long way over the past few years. Sports and NFL coverage is just another way folks are filling in the previous programming gaps. Of course, if you’re a true NFL or fantasy football junky, you might need a bit more game coverage. That’s where DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket may fit it. Either way, enjoy all the hard-hittin’ action this year!

Google Nexus Player appears to have yielded to Chromecast

From all reports, it appears the Google Nexus Player has sung its last tune. Having been pulled from most retailer locations a few weeks ago and no longer available from Google directly, for now, it appears Google is content to allow Chromecast to take the lead in their TV/living room-integration efforts.

Too bad, too. The hockey puck-shaped Nexus Player always worked easily and reliably in our tests and, other than the lack of 3rd party developer integration, seemed to be a worthy contender to Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Google’s fourth attempt at capturing your attention in the living room, it featured Android TV, voice search and plenty of app/games to satisfy most (rabid and niche :)) needs. One thing it did do was cement Google’s ability to design a functional and user-friendly TV program/app guide… Android TV was probably our favorite part of the Nexus Player and has recently been successfully integrated into 3rd party TVs, so if you were a fan, expect its market share to grow in the coming months.

But, as far as the Nexus Player goes, if you own one, enjoy but you’re unlikely to be able to upgrade or do much with it once its technology becomes obsolete (in a couple years or so). Its upstart counterpart, the Google Chromecast, is a solid alternative if/when you decide to switch. The little dongle that slides into your TV and lets you cast just about anything (radio, movies, TV programs, etc.) from your mobile device to your TV, has become quite the sleeper hit in cord-cutting circles.

Either way, keep an eye out for Google’s next foray into the living room. If we’ve learned anything over the years, they’re uber resilient in both technological advancement and market timing. In my opinion, the Nexus Player was a stepping stone to the next big (TV) thing from the folks at Google.