Seeking even more ways to cut the cord and say adios to your pay-TV provider? You may need look no further than your phone.
The Flipps TV app can deliver more than 100 channels of content to your iOS or Android device, most of it for free. And if you own a smart TV (or even an above-average-intelligence one) you can watch all of that at home on the big screen.
CEO Kosta Jordanov says Flipps works with more than 250 million connected televisions worldwide — everything from Internet TVs to sets connected via the Xbox One or Apple TV. (Sorry, no Roku or Amazon Fire TV.)
The app is available in a free version that’s supported by mobile and video ads, and a $3 HD version that skips the mobile ads but attaches video ads to some content.
Last week Flipps TV announced that it had registered its 10 millionth download from the iTunes and Play stores. There’s no reason not to join the crowd and try Flipps. Whether it’ll be enough to wean you from Comcast or DISH depends on how obscure your video tastes run.
On the Flipps side
I gave the Flipps app a workout using an Xbox One, an Apple TV, and a connected LG HDTV. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it works as advertised (mostly), and that the content available is better than I had anticipated.
As soon as I installed Flipps, it prompted me to sign in using my Facebook account and share what I’m watching with the world. (An option that fortunately you can skip. Do your friends really need to know you’re watching Hoedown Throwdown on Wrestlicious?) Signing in also allows Flipps to offer recommendations based on what you’ve already watched.
It then asked what screen I wanted to watch stuff on — the little one in my hand or the big one in front of me. When I chose the big screen, it beamed the show to my set (though it sometimes took more than three minutes to buffer full-length movies).
The exception, though, is Apple TV, which Flipps accesses via Apple AirPlay. I had to launch the video first, then tap a button onscreen to display it on my set — kind of how Google Chromecast works, only I didn’t have to plug a dongle into my TV’s HDMI port. That little trick was not at all obvious.
Worse, once I did that, my iPad or iPhone was captive for the duration of the video. If I switched away to send a text or read an email, the video stopped playing. That’s a limitation of Apple’s AirPlay and not the app, Jordanov says.
Another downside: Mobile ads appear each time you pause a video in the free version, and the pre-roll video ads attached to some content are unskippable. I got my fill of ads for One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, thank you very much.
Content is king
But the big question with every one of these cord-cutting options is always content. Flipps’ selection of more than 100 channels is better than you might expect, but it’s unlikely to replace HBO, ESPN, or other cable staples in the hearts of most couch potatoes.
If you’re willing to pony up $50 for an annual subscription to Wibi.tv you can get recent first-run films like Life of Pi, Gravity, and The Hobbit. Wibi also lets you watch nine movies every week for free (but it picks the movies, not you).
Free movie services include Crackle, Osiris Entertainment, and Kit Parker Films, which feature titles like The Mermaids of Tiburon, The Slime People, and The Bride and the Beast. Yes, it’s a B-movie bonanza. Dig deep enough, though, and you will unearth some gems — like some early Jackie Chan movies, back when he was more limber and had ridiculous hair.
Aside from movies, there are dozens of music video channels, mainstream news (CNN, New York Times, BBC), old cartoons, educational programs (National Geographic, NASA), lifestyle content (Glamour, Cosmo, Maxim), fitness shows, and sports — of a sort.
Sorry, sports fans — don’t get too excited by the logos for the NFL and Major League Baseball. The football show is just talking heads jabbering about pigskin politics. The baseball programming is mostly college games, and the basketball channel offers pro hoops highlights and some live games, but they’re from the NBA’s D (development) league. If your sports tastes are more extreme and less mainstream, however, this may not bother you.
Tune in, turn on
New app, same old problem. Until cord-cutting apps give you access to real sports, news, and other live events, the cable/satellite cartel will continue to dominate your choice of video entertainment. But Flipps makes a pretty good supplement to getting all your eye candy over coax or from a dish in the sky.
Heck, even if you shell out for the HD version and Wibi.tv, and you only watch it on your mobile device, you still get an amazing amount of content for about $50 a year, and you get to watch it just about anywhere. That’s a deal any couch potato will dig.
Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.