Share a Referral Code and Watch Tornado Chasers for Free

You can now get a free 2013 Season Pass of Tornado Chasers via our new referral program.  Simply share your own personalized referral code/link and if $40 or more purchased from it you’ll get a free giftable 2013 Season Pass which you can apply to your own account or give away as a gift.

Here’s how it works in detail:

  1. Share your referral code/link over Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc.  (just don’t spam or do anything illegal or unethical)
  2. The person using your referral code will get 15% off their purchase in our On Demand store.
  3. Once $40 or more is purchased on your referral code you’ll get a free giftable 2013 Season Pass of Tornado Chasers.

You can access your referral code/link as well as monitor the progress of earning your reward on your promotions page.  You will also get an email notification when your reward is issued.

Promotions page

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Pre-order Tornado Chasers Bonus Episodes

We are releasing 7 bonus episodes cut from the 2013 Tornado Chasers footage.  These bonus episodes were conceived during our Kickstarter campaign as stretch goal rewards for our backers for putting us over our original funding goal.  We would now like to offer them to everyone at the discounted pre-order price of $9.  If you missed our Kickstarter campaign now is the chance to get this bonus content as the price will increase when the first bonus episode is released on 2/17/2014.

The following 7 bonus episodes of various length will be released during 2/17/2014 to 4/30/2014 with no particular release schedule:

  • 2 Behind-the-scenes Episodes
  • 2 Tornado Science Episodes
  • 2013 Tornadoes: Raw and Uncut Episode
  • Deleted Scenes Episode
  • Dominator Tech Episode

You will also be able to purchase these episodes individually as they are released but at a higher overall price.

Remember, If you are a Kickstarter backer with a Tornado Chasers 2013 Kickstarter Edition Season Pass this content is already included automatically you don’t have to do anything but wait for the notifications when each episode is released.  However feel free to order these bonus passes as gifts.

If you have any questions please contact us through our support portal.

bonus-promo

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On Demand: Chromecast Support Released

Today we released support for Google Chromecast, a $35 HDMI streaming device that allows you to stream video content from the web to your TV.

In order to stream Tornado Chasers to your TV via Chromecast you must be using the Chrome browser with the Google Cast extension installed.  You must also be on the same network as your Chromecast device and your device must be fully configured.

If you have everything installed and configured correctly you’ll see a Google Chromecast button appear below the media player where you normally stream an episode on the website, as shown below.

Launch Chromecast

When you press the  “Google Chromecast” button, the video will pause and the Cast extension will popup and ask you which device you would like to stream to (in case you have multiple Chromecast devices in your house).

Select Device

When you select a device the streaming will resume on your TV where you left off in the web player and the “Google Chromecast” button will be replaced with two buttons for controlling playback on your TV.  From those buttons you can pause/resume and stop casting altogether.

Control Playback

Future Improvements

The public release of the Cast SDK has only been out for a few days and as you can see the Google Cast Chrome extension is still in beta.  That being said, there is possibility that you may run into issues and if that happens please contact support.

This release unfortunately doesn’t include adaptive bitrate streaming but the quality is very high, around 5Mbps 1080p.  The media player library of the Cast SDK, which is required for adaptive bitrate streaming protocols, is at version 0.3 and still considered a beta release.  We weren’t able to get HLS working on it yet due to issues with the library but we are confident those problems will be addressed soon.

Once adaptive bitrate streaming is working the next logical steps would be to bring Chromecast support to our native mobile apps and create tighter integration with the web-based video player.

 

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February Instagram Photo Contest

Update: Contest Extended to March 7th 5pm CST.

Update: Snow Lizard has graciously offered to ship the case internationally.  The contest is no longer limited to US and Canada. 

We are running another photo contest on Instagram the entire month of February 2014, this time the theme is winter weather. The Instagram user with the best photo will win one SLXTREME 5 case from Snow Lizard Products.  The winner will be able to pick from the following colors: Black, White, Yellow, Orange, and Cammo. This case fits the iPhone 5 and 5S and is ruggedized, waterproof to 2 meters, doubles your battery life, and even has a solar panel for slow charging in an emergency. You can find out more about this case on Snow Lizard Products website. It’s retail value is $150.  The grand prize winner will also receive three Season Passes of the 2013 season of Tornado Chasers, these will be giftable.

Finally, the next four best photos will each win their owner a giftable season pass of the 2013 season of Tornado Chasers as a consolation prize.  However, only the one grand prize winner will win the case.

Here are the rules of the contest, please read them carefully (especially rule #3):

  1. Only photos posted on Instagram during February 2014 qualify.  We will choose the best Instagram photos each week and select the final winner from them.
  2. Photos must be related to weather or outdoors (ideally winter weather but all will be considered) and you must own the rights to the photo (we will ask for the original only to verify ownership).
  3. To be eligible photos must contain the exact phrase in the main caption/comment: #TornadoChasers winter photo contest by @reedtimmer and @snowlizard_gear
  4. You must follow the account @reedtimmer on Instagram (if you are a winner we will send you a private message via Statigram to collect your mailing address and/or tvnweather.com account email address)
  5. You can enter only three photos per day.
  6. You must be 18 years or older to win.
  7. Your photos must be public not private in order for us to judge them.
  8. Tornado Chasers Season Passes require a free tvnweather.com account.

Thank you and good luck!

slxtreme-5-5s-case-iphone-rugged-waterproof-solar-powered-battery

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TVNweather On Demand for Roku Version 2.0 Released

We have released a new version of our Roku app (aka channel) for TVNweather On Demand.  This update brings HLS adaptive bitrate streaming to the app as well as providing an updated user interface (screenshots at bottom).

Roku is another great way of bringing Tornado Chasers to the living room and although the streaming device landscape has changed greatly in just a year, Roku is here to stay so we want to make sure we are fully invested in the platform.

Even if you don’t own any Tornado Chasers episodes you can still install our Roku app and checkout the two free episodes we have available (one from each season) just to get an idea of the quality of our show and streaming.

Roku details screen

Roku episode list

Roku menu

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TVNweather On Demand for iOS

We have a released an iOS app that allows you to watch Tornado Chasers on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.  This app provides a simple native experience to browsing and playing episodes from your library.  Keep in mind this is a first release and we will continue to improve this app in the future, just keep an eye on this blog for announcements.

Since converting to HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) our streaming is now fully compatible with Apple TV so you can use AirPlay from either the On Demand app or Safari to stream videos to your Apple TV to watch them on your TV.  We have always felt that the best way to experience Tornado Chasers is in the home theater and this is why we have pushed to get them on devices like Apple TV and Roku.

TVNweather On Demand for iOS

Is an Android App in the Works?

An Android app would seem like the next logical step, however there is one challenge to creating an Android streaming app for our platform. Android does not support HLS natively across all versions in the wild so to get HLS working on Android we will have to use a third party library. The problem we are facing right now is that there are very few of these libraries available and the those that are come at an extremely high price that makes it unaffordable for our budget.

The good news is that we are talking with a company right now that is working to get our hands on an early beta of what will be a very affordable HLS library for Android.  There are also open source projects in the works, so regardless of which of these two come first, there will be a native Android HLS solution we can use soon.

We could create an Android app right now without HLS and thus without adaptive bitrate streaming but that would fail our primary goal of bringing adaptive bitrate streaming to Android. So there will definitely be an Android app at some point in the future but we have to wait until we are able to develop it with HLS.

Android Works in the Browser Right Now

Keep in mind that streaming on Android does work in the browser right now.  In fact this should work on not just Android and iOS but pretty much all smart phone browsers including Windows Phone and Blackberry.  You can view the mobile web section of our supported devices page for more details.

Google Chromecast

Regardless of the Android HLS hurdle we are still targeting other parts of the Google ecosystem.  We have developed Google Chromecast integration that allows you to stream Tornado Chasers on their affordable (~$35 USD) streaming device connected to your TV, again providing another way to get Tornado Chasers into the living room.  We are now just waiting on Google to move the SDK out of developer preview status. That means that right now it only works on our devices that our whitelisted for development, as you can see by the notice here.  As soon as Google releases the final version of the SDK we will make our integration publicly available.

Google Chromecast

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December Weather Summary

December of 2013 will be remembered for the massive ice storms that slammed the southern Great Plains through the Mississippi and western Ohio River Valleys to Great Lakes Region.  The first ice storm dropped 1/2″ to 1″ of freezing rain from Dallas-Fort Worth, TX through Paducah, KY and Evansville, IN, cutting power to hundreds of thousands.

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After a few weeks of relatively tranquil weather and even record-breaking warm temperatures on the East Coast of the U.S., the worst of the ice storms struck on December 21-23, this time over a much larger area from the southern Plains through the Great Lakes Region.  Southern Michigan through southern Ontario were some of the hardest hit areas, with 250,000 losing power for days in Toronto, making the December 2013 ice storm the worst to strike the Great Lakes since 1998.

Team Dominator covered the warm sector of this storm system, chasing tornadoes in northern Louisiana on December 21, actually observing the one tornado intercepted for only 3 seconds!  Here is the video from that storm chase, which shows very obviously how difficult the storm chasing conditions can be in “Dixie Alley” during winter – http://youtu.be/9pFBZDE23cY.  15 tornadoes were reported on December 21, including 3 fatalities, sadly, with a majority of the reports straddling the Mississippi River from just south of Memphis to northeast Louisiana.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 4.23.02 PM

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Message from Ken Cole, Executive Producer of Tornado Chasers

First let me thank you for watching and supporting our Tornado Chasers series this year. When we started shooting in early April, we had no idea such an historic tornado season awaited us. All of that changed on May 17th, and as you have experienced through the episodes, it’s been a life-changing year for all of us.

As you may have noticed, some of the recent episodes have been released after their scheduled dates. I understand that the wait is frustrating and we appreciate your patience as we put our full effort into the quality of these episodes. What started as a documentary about only Reed’s chase team has grown to include Mike Morgan and the KFOR team, Jim Cantore at The Weather Channel, Ginger Zee at Good Morning America, Tim and Paul Samaras, Carl Young, and several catastrophic tornadoes in populated areas.

A project of this increased magnitude requires a greater coordination between our small staff and all parties, and therefore a little more time to get it perfect for you. You have helped us so much through either backing via Kickstarter or purchasing the episodes directly. Because of you, it’s possible for us to create a documentary series with a scope beyond what anyone could have imagined.

There are three big episodes left in our main season, and here is the planned release schedule: Episode 10 (the Bennington, KS tornado) releases on January 2nd, Episode 11 (Part 1 of El Reno) releases on January 16th, and Episode 12 (Part 2 of El Reno) releases on January 23rd.

On behalf of our small but passionate production team, thank you for your time and please feel free to contact me through TVNweather.com, Facebook, or Twitter @kenergycole.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season,

Ken Cole
Executive Producer, Tornado Chasers

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Last Minute Gift Ideas

If you are still looking for gifts it’s not too late and we have a couple last minute gift ideas for you.  These gifts are perfect for anyone even mildly interested in weather and storms, science and nature, and the human struggles and reality of storm chasing. Best of all they are delivered via email so you don’t have to worry about missing shipping deadlines.

Idea #1, Tornado Chasers Gift Seasons

The first idea is to purchase gifts of Tornado Chasers via TVNweather On Demand which can then be sent to anyone with a valid email address. Our On Demand platform allows you to stream and download very high quality episodes from either season of Tornado Chasers. The 2013 season is still in progress, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving the best season of Tornado Chasers yet.  Your gift will be in the form of a season pass, similar to what you would expect with purchasing a season pass on Amazon or iTunes.  The season pass will allow them to have access to nine episodes immediately and they will get notifications for the next three episodes released in January.  The downloads are DRM-free so they can put them on any device they want and make as many backups as they would like with no restrictions on playback. We also have a dedicated Roku channel that allows you to stream them to your TV and our streaming is also compatible with Apple TV via AirPlay.

You can purchase the 2013 season, the 2012 season, or both and you can order multiple copies at once (you will be able to send out them separately later). If you are interested in exactly how the process works take a look at this blog post.  The receiver gets a nice email with the graphic below and instructions on how to active their gift, you can also customize the message as you would like.

Idea #2, TVNweather Merchandise Digital Gift Card

The second idea is to purchase a digital gift card from our Merchandise Store, these gift cards allow the receiver to purchase physical merchandise from our store such as hats, t-shirts, and posters. We offer very reasonable shipping options at cost and our dedicated fulfillment warehouse gets orders out the door very fast.

A TVNweather Merchandise gift card is the perfect compliment to a TVNweather On Demand gift of Tornado Chasers or as it’s own gift for someone who already has access to Tornado Chasers and would love a hat or t-shirt to go with it. Keep in mind that these gift cards can not be use on our On Demand platform and can only be used in the TVNweather Merchandise Store. To purchase gifts of Tornado Chasers see Idea #1 earlier in this post.

As a bonus you can use discount code DOMINATE to get 10% off of any TVNweather Merchandise order of $100 or more, so if you order a $100 gift card you’ll only pay $90.

TVNweather Merchandise Gift Card

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2012 Season Now Available in Adaptive Bitrate Streaming, Super HD

We have finished encoding the entire 2012 (first) season of Tornado Chasers in HLS adaptive bitrate streaming with the highest quality available being our 7mbps Super HD encoding.  There has never been a perfect time to go back and binge-watch the complete 2012 season of Tornado Chasers.

Our adaptive bitrate streaming works in any modern browser as well as mobile devices and allows the quality to dynamically adapt to your connection speed during the entire playback of the episode.  The default quality setting is Auto but you can change this to a fixed quality setting such as 720p HD for example, as shown below.  Keep in mind that once you change this to a fixed quality the streaming quality will not adapt to your connection speed until you change the setting back to Auto.

2012season-superhd

The 2012 episodes now have the Super HD quality available in the download options as well, so even if you don’t have a fast enough connection to stream 7mbps you can still enjoy the highest quality possible.

We hope you enjoy the upgrade and wish you happy holidays.

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