Roku 'box' Usage info

to help access video and audio
content via the internet ---
and TRY to avoid cable-TV-channel
commercials that are
growing like cancer

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Around 2013, I was getting supremely perturbed by the amount of my time that was being wasted by the growing number of minutes per hour of commercials (advertisements) that were being blasted at me from various 'channels' provided via my cable TV provider.

Around 2010, I could 'surf' through about 10 channels and the majority of the channels would be showing 'content' rather than advertisements.

But, by this year (2015), when I 'surf' through about 10 channels, a majority of the channels are showing advertisements --- frequently 7 or 8 out of 10.

    It is really bad late at night --- when entire hours on many, many channels are devoted to non-stop 'paid programming'.

    If you did a statistical study, you would probably find that over 70 percent of the total late-night hours on the cable channels are consumed by advertising.

After seeing the same insurance, automobile, drug, toiletry, etc. advertisements, each for the umpteenth time, it is/was just ridiculous how much of my time is/was being wasted --- either

  1. waiting for the 'content' to come back, or

  2. (nowadays) immediately reaching for the remote to TRY to find a channel showing some 'content' --- content that I would want to watch.

'Content that I would want' narrows down the chances of a 'surfing-hit' considerably --- because I rarely want to watch 'reality' shows, voice/dance/talent competitions, bachelor/bachelorette/survivor/gladiator shows, crap-for-sale shows, tax-exempt-preachers-trying-to-sell-me-holy-water, and quite a few more 'junk' categories of shows.

It would help if 'a la carte' cable channels were implemented/dictated --- in place of the inflexible 'packages-of-channels' system that is unloaded on us now. Then I could eliminate at least 50 to 75 percent of the channels that I need to surf through. Then I would not have to pay for those unwanted channels --- and I would not be forced to involuntarily support them with my monthly cable-package fees.

  • To find more information on the 'a la carte' cable television issue, you can try a WEB SEARCH on keywords such as
    'cable television a la carte plans'

  • To find more information on the 'a la carte' cable television issue as it relates to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), you can try a WEB SEARCH on keywords such as
    'cable television fcc a la carte'

The end result of the current cable-channel mess is a combination of wasted time on (1) advertisements AND (2) on 'surfing for desired content'.

And here is another infuriating aspect of this whole deal:

Ninety-nine percent of the ads are a complete waste on me.

For one thing, many of the ads are for feminine products. I am male. I have no desire for the hair and skin products that they are advertising repeatedly. I will NEVER buy any of those products. So why should I have to sit through those entire ads. (Tina Fey, you are dead to me.)

Another example: Many of the ads are for insurance.

    (Geico, your little green gecko was cute back around 2010, but after thousands and thousands of those ads, no matter how clever they are, the sight of that gecko just makes me want to tell Warren Buffet where he can stuff that little lizard --- and help him do it. Progressive Insurance. You are just as bad. Flo, you are dead to me. You too, Warren.)

I have no desire for the insurance products they are advertising repeatedly. I will NEVER buy any of those auto/home/life products. I am satisfied with my home and auto insurance. So why should I have to sit through each entire ad --- thousands of them --- repeated over and over and over and ...

Another example: Financial products like debt-consolidation and reverse-mortgages. NOT INTERESTED. Why should I have to sit through those ads --- thousands of them --- when there is no way that I am 'in the market' this year, and almost certainly not in any other year. (Fred Thompson, you are dead to me.)

And there are lots of other examples: Almost any drug ad. If I don't have any of the symptoms that the drug is supposed to hide (and, less likely, cure), then why should I have to sit through the ad --- and its long list of disturbing side-effects at the end of the drug ads.

I AM NOT GOING TO BUY AN ADVERTISED DRUG --- not the day that I am exhibiting NO SYMPTOMS --- and probably not even if I were on my deathbed with those symptoms (because the drug is almost never a 'cure').

And ED (Erectile Dysfunction). Proud to say that I don't have it. Those ads are a total waste on me.

    If ED ever became an issue with me, I would resort to internet porn before I would use those drugs. I would be willing to bet big money that FDA studies would show that internet porn is more effective than those drugs.

    Give me my life back, ED ads!

    (By the way, Congress. Stop paying for Viagra and other 'male enhancers'. And don't pay for condoms or other birth control --- for men or for women. The sex act is not a life-threatening condition. It is a discretionary act. Boys and girls can pay for their own entertainment. 'Uncle Sugar' does not have to reimburse men for the cost of their erection-making drugs. That is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.)

I will stop here rather than going on with the other ads that are wasted on me --- ads for automobiles, ads for unaccredited-fake-universities, and so on.

    You know how you tell a 'real' university? --- It has a football or basketball team and it has a math department that awards degrees. Save us all a ton of taxes, U.S. Congress. Quit giving taxpayer money (and legal indemnity) to these fake 'institutions of higher learning' --- and their banker co-conspirators.

What's the television situation in other countries?

Around the early part of 2015, I ran across the fact that Australian TV programming does not 'match up' well with U.S. 'ways', because their 'channels' have about 30 percent less advertising per hour than U.S. channels do.

If I ever return to this page, I will try to add more information of this type to this section. In the meantime, here are some sample web searches that can be done to research the 'humongous amount of TV ads in the United States' issue.

The kind of television that I would like to see:

Of course, I would like to see no commercials at all on the cable TV channels --- FOR WHICH I AM PAYING A VERY HEALTHY MONTHLY FEE. But I don't expect that to happen in my lifetime.

    In my naive days, back in the days when cable TV was just starting up (the 1980's), I thought 'What a great idea!' We can get a cable TV subscription --- and because we are paying a monthly fee, there will be no commercials.

    Boy, was I wrong. Furthermore, the number of minutes-per-hour of commercials keeps creeping up with each passing year --- similar to the way the cable company, every few months, tries to sneak another increase into our cable TV charges by various techniques --- like 'Oh, that channel-package/feature/service/pricing was offered on a promotional basis. The promotion period has expired.'.

    Well, my patience with the advertisements (and with having to constantly monitor the items on the cable bill) has expired.

    I keep telling my wife that I am willing to cancel our cable TV subscription. Maybe one of these days her interest in 'Dancing with the Stars' and 'Dance Moms' will wane, and she will let me cancel cable TV.

I grant the fact that there will be no elimination of commercials on cable channels in my lifetime.

But probably most of us have seen an alternative that is probably a glimmer of a brighter future:

Probably most people have seen a YouTube movie which is preceded by an ad --- BUT a little 'button' appears on the ad, and within a few seconds of the start of the ad, the button says 'Skip Ad'. Click on the ad, and you can immediately start watching the video.

What I am saying here is that this is a glimpse of a future in which either

  • cable companies implement 'interactive programming' through the 'cable box' attached to the TV --- and whereby a click on a 'skip-ad' button on your cable remote will allow you to skip an ad within 3 seconds of its start time

OR (failing that)
  • we all get TV through the Internet, which is already equipped to handle 'interactive programming' and a 'skip button'.

Either 'skip-ad' implementation would drastically reduce wasted time on ads that are of no interest to the viewer.

Heck, even the 'Wolf of Wall Street' knew that if a person was not interested in the pen he was trying to sell, within the first several seconds or so, it was time to 'pack it in' and go on to the next sucker or potential victim/customer.

So television advertisers, how about giving it a rest? Stop blasting ALL of us with many minutes of useless advertising and taking the risk of making a non-customer of many of us --- for life.

Some of the current TV-viewing alternatives:

Some readers of this page may say "I already have a solution to the problems you are mentioning" --- "I have a TIVO box" or "I have a DVR".

Yes, you have probably found ways to make that work quite adequately for you. And I probably should try one of those 'solutions'. But ...

There are a couple of things I do not like about those solutions:

  • It adds another layer of technology and hardware and complexity (and expense) over the cable provider's TV service.

  • It typically requires more time spent on researching the times when programs start and end --- and programming and maintaining those start-end times --- than I am willing to devote to such tasks.

To me, the best solution that I have seen so far is getting TV programming (and additional video and audio content) through the internet.

And the way that I experienced that was by buying a 'Roku 3' box (for $99 at Target) and attaching it to my home router via an ethernet cable.

    (I prefer the higher reliablity and higher speed of the ethernet cable --- versus use of the wifi option of my router. I have found wifi in my house and with my router to be rather 'flaky' when I used it with a laptop computer in my house.)

I find that I can find more 'content' than I can ever watch via the YouTube, WatchESPN, and Netflix 'channels' on the Roku menu system.

    My wife had an existing Netflix DVD subscription which we upgraded to include internet streaming.

    Since I do not feel a need for 'same-day' viewing of most TV channel content, I think that I can tolerate the delays in availablity of content via some of these internet TV channels (like WatchESPN and YouTube).

    Futhermore, I think I can tolerate the lack of 'high definition' viewing in many of these sources of content. I do not need to see a comedian or a university lecture in high definition.

I avoid Hulu, because it prefixes all its 'content' with ads --- so it is just as bad as cable TV --- and it is bound to inject more ads over time, just as cable TV providers (or their 'channel-providers') are doing.

If YouTube, WatchESPN, and Netflix start injecting too many 'unavoidable, more-than-3-seconds' ads into their content, I will just 'pack it in' and start

  • going to the local university library,
  • reading more books,
  • doing more programming projects on my computer(s), and
  • (if there is time left over) doing more projects around the house.

For now (the 2015-2016 timeframe), I plan to learn more about using Roku in anticipation of 'cutting our cable TV cord'.

Following is a place for me to collect links that provide info on how to avoid all those freakin' ads on cable TV channels.

Some links to info on Roku:

The following sections are links to local PDF files (or 'external' web pages) with Roku usage info.

When/if I use Roku more and more, I may return to this page to update it with links to more info.

Bottom of this page of
info on Roku usage.

To return to a previously visited web page location, click on the Back button of your web browser, a sufficient number of times. OR, use the History-list option of your web browser.
OR ...

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Page was created 2015 Sep 12.

Page was changed 2015 Sep 24.

Page was changed 2019 Jan 07.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)