Top 10 most watched of the week (sports): LeBron vs. Heat brings NBA back to the list

Your 10 most watched programs of the week on Slingbox, sports edition, were as follows. Check after the list for a few quick thoughts on this week’s most watched live sports:

1. NFL: Bengals vs. Steelers
2. SportsCenter
3. NFL: Cowboys vs. Redskins
4. NFL: Lions vs. Packers
5. NFL: Chargers vs. Chiefs
6. Liberty Bowl: Texas A&M vs. West Virginia
7. Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. USC
8. NBA: Cavaliers vs. Heat
9. NFL: Raiders vs. Broncos
10. Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Clemson

A relatively diverse final week of the year saw our standard complement of NFL games, a smattering of college bowl games, and an NBA game. On the NFL’s last week of the regular season, plenty of Slingbox users were watching the NFL live on their phones, tablets and laptops. The most popular game of the week was the Steeltown showdown that saw Pittsburgh defeat Cincinnati 27-17 to claim their first AFC North title since 2010.

We also saw three college bowl games on the lower half of the list; college football is sure to make a bigger impact on our numbers next week when the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl host semifinal games for the College Football Playoff. And this week we also saw an NBA game for the first time since the first week of the season, when LeBron James’ first game back with the Cavaliers, against the Knicks, appeared. This time Lebron was also involved: Plenty of Slingbox users watched James play (and lose to) the Miami Heat for the first time since heading back to Cleveland.

We’ll be back next week with another set of top 10s.

9 astonishing international hotels (that you can watch your Slingbox in)

When you’re on vacation, you might just want your hotel to be a place to sleep. But you also might want your hotel to be an experience in its own right. The ones on this list will definitely deliver on that count, but no hotel is going to deliver the exact same TV experience that you have at home. With Slingbox, you can watch 100 percent of your home cable or satellite TV, with no restrictions, anywhere in the world — which would definitely come in handy if you want to watch the NFL internationally on your laptop, tablet or phone, catch the Lord of the Rings marathon while hanging out in a Hobbit hole in New Zealand, or access The Little Mermaid on your DVR while you rest under the sea in an underwater lodge.

La Villa Hamster, Nantes, France

Have you ever dreamed of living as a pet hamster does? We all have, right? Well, the dream was reality at this suite in western France. With a water tube, hay bed and, yes, a functional human-size running wheel, La Villa Hamster contained everything necessary for a complete rodent-life fantasy. Unfortunately, it closed in 2012.

Giraffe Manor, Karen, Kenya

Built in 1932, this ivy-strewn brick mansion was meant to look like a Scottish hunting lodge plopped into the heart of East Africa. Today, the Manor is situated on a wildlife preserve in which giraffes regularly poke their heads into windows asking for treats. The operation of Giraffe Manor as a hotel benefits the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.

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Palacio del Sal, Uyuni, Bolivia

Maybe you buy salted caramels just to lick their tops. Maybe you cleanse your palate by chugging a bottle of soy sauce. Maybe you’re the “Salt Vampire” from the Star Trek episode “The Man Trap.” Bottom line, if you love salt, then you’ll love the Palacio del Sal (“Palace of Salt”). The hotel, which is conveniently located next to the world’s largest salt flat, is constructed entirely of salt blocks, and yes, that includes the furniture.

Null Stern Hotel, Teufen, Switzerland

When it comes to hotel ratings, the star system is a fickle thing — for years “five-star” was considered the gold standard, some hotels have even claimed to deserve six or seven, and you generally can’t trust any of it because these are self-given designations. No advisory body administers hotel stars, but we can at least all agree that more stars are better. Tell that to the proprietors of Null Stern — which literally means “No Stars.”  Situated in a former fallout shelter, with no windows or walls between rooms, I’d say it lived up to its billing. Unfortunately the Null Stern closed in 2010.

Jumbo Hostel, Stockholm, Sweden

You’ve heard of the jet set, but this probably wasn’t what you had in mind: At Arlanda International Airport outside Sweden’s capital, you can stay in a hostel housed inside a disused 747. Resting on steel-clamped landing gear firmly tethering it to Earth, Jumbo Hostel carves 79 rooms out of the chassis of the world’s largest commercial plane model. Don’t expect your own bathroom or shower — unless of course you’ve booked the premium “Cockpit Suite,” which comes with a view from the windshield and the (presumably disabled) throttle as decoration.

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Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida, United States

Named for Jules Verne, this hotel might not be 20,000 leagues under the sea, but it is 21 feet under. Don’t think about staying there unless you hold scuba certification, as that’s the only way to get to the lodge’s front door. Fun fact: Before its conversion into a hotel, Jules’ underwater habitat was situated near Puerto Rico and known as the La Chalupa Research Laboratory.

Hobbit Motel, Otorohanga, New Zealand

After six movies and nearly a decade and a half of pop culture domination, the line between New Zealand and Middle-Earth has blurred in the minds of many. If you don’t believe it, watch Air New Zealand’s safety video:

The Hobbit Motel, on New Zealand’s North Island, exists to continue that confusion with rooms carved out of the sides of hills, in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien’s greatest creation.

Karostas Cietums, Liepaja, Latvia

If the Null Stern is a zero-star hotel, Karostas might actually deserve a negative rating. As much a historical reenactment/haunted house as it is a hotel, at this former prison you’ll enjoy all the comforts Soviet prisoners did, like sleeping on a wooden slab and being screamed at by guards.

Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea

Under construction for 28 years and counting, the Ryugyong is one of the biggest symbols of North Korea’s highly questionable budgetary priorities. And I do mean big — at 1,083 feet, the pyramid-shaped structure is taller than all but eight skyscrapers in the U.S. After numerous false starts, the massive hotel has still never opened, so don’t expect to be watching your Slingbox from the Ryugyong anytime soon.

598px-Ryugyong_Hotel_-_August_2011“Ryugyong Hotel – August 2011” by Joseph Ferris III – http://www.flickr.com/photos/josephferris76/6116220635/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ryugyong_Hotel_-August_2011.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Ryugyong_Hotel-_August_2011.jpg

Top 10 most watched of the week (entertainment): A Christmas Story dominates Christmas

Your 10 most watched programs of the week on Slingbox, non-sports edition, were as follows. Check after the list for a few quick thoughts on this week’s most watched home entertainment:

1. Today
2. Good Morning America
3. A Christmas Story
4. The Big Bang Theory
5. Family Guy
6. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
7. Pawn Stars
8. NCIS
9. SpongeBob SquarePants
10. Friends

During Christmas week, how do people use Slingbox the most? Is it to watch local news internationally while on vacation? To watch their shows abroad? To watch sports while traveling? All those might be true — but it seems nothing is as popular as tuning in to the yearly marathon of 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story.

So what were people watching when they weren’t watching Ralphie be told he’ll shoot his eye out? Similar things to what we’ve seen in recent weeks — Pawn Stars again proved popular, Friends reruns continued their surprising (?) strength, and again it was morning shows sitting at the top of the heap.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our sports top 10.

Top 10 most watched of the week (sports): FIFA Club World Cup brings back summer memories

Your 10 most watched programs of the week on Slingbox, sports edition, were as follows. Check after the list for a few quick thoughts on this week’s most watched live sports:

1. NFL: Broncos vs. Bengals
2. NFL: Colts vs. Cowboys
3. NFL: Seahawks vs. Cardinals
4. SportsCenter
5. NFL: Eagles vs. Redskins
6. NFL: Chargers vs. 49ers
7. NFL: Chiefs vs. Steelers
8. NFL: Titans vs. Jaguars
9. FIFA Club World Cup
10. NFL: Lions vs. Bears

Slingbox is the best way to watch football live online, which is why every week during fall we see our sports list dominated by the NFL. With the college football regular season over, this week was even more NFL-heavy than usual. The most popular game this week was the Monday night game between Denver and Cincinnati, which resulted in a 37-28 Bengals victory which clinched a playoff berth for Marvin Lewis’ team.

But watching football anywhere also applies to association football, and we got an interesting appearance in the top 10 from the FIFA Club World Cup, the final of which took place in Morocco last week. Real Madrid defeated San Lorenzo 2-0 to win the tournament (which has only existed since 2000) for the first time. This brought back memories of the World Cup in Brazil this summer, which was one of the biggest events for Slingbox watching we’ve ever seen, and might foreshadow something similar when the Women’s World Cup in Canada happens next summer.

We’ll be back next week with another set of top 10s.

Slingbox M1 chosen one of CNET’s 5 best Apple gadgets of 2014!

Every year Brian Tong, host of CNET’s Apple Byte vlog, chooses his five favorite products that work with iPhone or iPad. Slingbox definitely qualifies via our Slingplayer for iOS apps, and the Slingbox M1 was featured in his recently-released top 5 for 2014.

Tong described his M1 purchase as “one of the best investments I’ve ever made,” and obviously, we agree. He’s also running an Apple-themed giveaway contest, and (inadvertently?) promoting healthy eating simultaneously, by asking people to send in pictures of them eating an actual apple to either @briantong on Twitter or theapplebyte@cnet.com. He’ll give away an M1 (as well as everything else on his list) to the submissions he deems most creative.

Thanks for the holiday-time love, Brian!

Top 10 most watched of the week (entertainment): Family Feud (and hopefully not family feuds) is popular during the holidays

Your 10 most watched programs of the week on Slingbox, non-sports edition, were as follows. Check after the list for a few quick thoughts on this week’s most watched home entertainment:

1. Today
2. The Big Bang Theory
3. Good Morning America
4. SpongeBob SquarePants
5. Family Guy
6. Friends
7. Pawn Stars
8. Criminal Minds
9. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10. Family Feud

Some usual suspects in the pre-Christmas week — we know that lots of Slingbox users enjoy the it because it lets them watch their kids’ shows, and the continued presence of SpongeBob probably reflects that — to go along with some somewhat more unusual choices.

Again, like last week, Friends reruns are showing remarkable strength — is there something about the holidays that puts people in the mood for late-’90s sitcoms? Pawn Stars, despite being one of the most popular shows on cable, doesn’t often make much of an appearance on our list, but it did this week. And Family Feud made a rare appearance for a game show on the top 10. Hopefully the show’s title doesn’t reflect what your holiday gathering will be like this year.

Lots of people will be going on trips this upcoming week, so it will be interesting to see how Slingbox users’ viewing habits change when they access their shows from a vacation home, hotel, or elsewhere. We’ll be back tomorrow with our sports top 10.

Slingplayer comes to the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick!

You’ve probably seen those commercials with Gary Busey, being as Busey-like as possible, using Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. He makes such points as how much more useful the Fire TV Stick is than a seashell:

As of today, the Fire TV products can boast yet another feature that seashells don’t have: a version of our Slingplayer app! Along with Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV, this adds another option for our customers who want a way to watch their home TV content on a second TV, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection.

Like all Slingplayer products, our Fire TV app lets you access your home cable or satellite programming, live or recorded, with no restrictions whatsoever. Whether that means setting up a Fire TV at a vacation home in another country, bringing a Fire TV Stick to a friend’s house if you want to watch a game on a channel only you get, or simply setting up a second TV in your own home, this is another way that Slingbox lets you maximize the value of the TV you already pay for.

The Slingplayer for Fire TV app is compatible with the Slingbox M1, Slingbox 500 and Slingbox 350. With sufficient bandwidth, the app is capable of delivering an HD picture, and it does not require a phone or tablet app to control set-top box commands — the Fire TV remote is all you need for it. The Slingplayer for Fire TV app is available now, for free, in the Fire TV app store.