Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #210





Hi, everyone !!



Following on from the revelation, in my previous 'Weekly RoundUp' post, that there will soon be an "official" channel from 'TVPlayer' on UK Roku devices... another BIG NEWS story came our way this week when Scottish Television (STV) published their own "official" app for 'STVPlayer' to the Roku UK Channel Store. This means that (in terms of UK Roku-specific applications) almost all of the main broadcast television providers (with the notable exception of 'UKTV' - hint, hint!) now have a streaming service available through UK Roku devices, which is GREAT NEWS for owners of any such Roku-branded media player(s) looking to stream any such content here in the UK! :-)


Not so fortunate, however, were users of (ahem) "Roku Powered" (bit of a misnomer, if you ask me) streaming media players from 'NowTV' who (so far, at least) do not have access to the 'STV Player' app on their NowTV Boxes (smart, or otherwise). This is despite having the other UK CatchUpTV channels (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 [formerly 4oD], and My5 [formerly Demand 5]) available to install via the built-in "App Store"... that (currently) still offers a paltry 51 Roku apps, versus the much larger selection of some 3,600+ which feature in the "Channel Store" on UK Roku devices.


As tough as that may be for (some) owners of 'NowTV' boxes to face-up to, the bitterest pill they had to (collectively) swallow during the past seven days was having "Developer Mode" disabled on their devices, thanks to a software update from 'Version 7.0 Build 9620' to 'Version 7.5.3 Build 4068' that began rolling out this week. Here's a screenshot of what 'NowTV' had to say about it:-




HINT: Please CLICK on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!



Of course, the major consequence of this latest action by 'NowTV' to "improve the service" as well as to "safeguard the device from piracy" is that all "unofficial third party" (i.e. side-loaded in Dev Mode) software and/or apps (e.g. PLEX, Roku Media Player or the "unofficial" FilmOn app by Ryan Cullen) will be disabled (and removed) and you will not be able to re-install them going forward post-update. Naturally, this has caused outrage among the 'NowTV' user community... many of whom had decided to purchase their 'NowTV' devices to use as a cheap 'PLEX' client for streaming media on their TV. If you have been affected by this, and would like to voice your opinion on the negative effect of this 'NowTV' software update, then I advise leaving a comment - via the dedicated discussion thread for this topic - on the 'NowTV' community forums.


Those wishing to read more on the subject should see the recent news article, published via Engadget, which offers a little more insight on the subject. There was a subsequent update to this news story, written by Jamie Rigg [Twitter Feed: @jmerigg], which offered a potential workaround... however, having mentioned it via social media, I was contacted by independent Roku developer Ryan Cullen [Twitter Feed: @artesea] who informed me that this particular solution was unlikely to work. There have been one or two (less than desirable) suggestions made for anyone who'd like to use their device for PLEX alone (provided it has not yet received the software update) but for the majority of NowTV Box users I'd say the best course of action is to upgrade to a fully-fledged Roku device. Doing so will mean that, instead of losing access to 'Developer Mode' plus any apps you used to side-load onto your NowTV device(s) via that method, you can get all of that plus another 3,600+ apps to choose from! :-)


In other PLEX-related matters, a recent article by 'AFTV News' on the subject, revealed that the beta testing of "PLEX Cloud" has ended and the service is now available to all 'PLEX Pass' subscribers. Of course, the main advantage of this is that you can host all (or part) of your personal media library in the cloud... without needing to run a local Plex server. The downside is having to pay for cloud storage through Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive to take advantage of what "PLEX Cloud" has to offer. Since the cost for this can soon escalate, based on the amount of data stored, it’s probably not a viable option for those with massive media libraries who would benefit more from having unlimited storage. That said, it is a useful additional feature that can be "unlocked" by anyone choosing to pay for a Plex Pass subscription... and, if used wisely for easy access to select titles only, could well be a cost-effective way to stream from anywhere without the need to configure routers & home networks. As you might expect, the "PLEX Cloud"service can then be used to view your media via the 'PLEX' channel on your Roku streaming media player. If you'd like to read more about the availability of the "PLEX Cloud"service you can do so, via a dedicated post, published through the official PLEX blog.


Another massively popular Roku channel that has been featured in the news a lot lately is 'Netflix', and the past week has proven to be no exception, with several news stories emerging specific to the service. Following on from the news, in my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #208", that Netflix would be investing an incredible $1.75 Billion dollars across multiple European productions... it's clear that the company has high expectations for their growth in this part of the world. However, judging by a recent report from Rethink Technology Research it now seems that European growth forecasts for Netflix could be larger than expected.  The report, highlighted in a subsequent article published by 'MultiChannel', argues that the rise of paid OTT in Europe could see subscriptions hit a total value of €8.1 Billion (£7.02 Billion) by 2021, with Netflix being the biggest beneficiary having an anticipated 45 Million of the estimated 62 Million total OTT subscribers expected at that time.


Meanwhile... as Netflix continues to "cop a deaf-un", as we say in these parts, over repeated requests from subscribers to stop the awful "auto play" feature which has been ruining the Netflix browsing experience for many in recent months, they decide to test a couple more new features to "improve" the service. Fortunately... the first of these, as reported in a recent article by 'The Verge', sounds like it might prove to be quite popular when binge-watching TV shows. The idea is that, to avoid watching the same introduction over and over, when watching multiple episodes of the same show... you hit a "Skip Intro" button to bypass the opening credits. The other change being proposed is, in my opinion, rather more "...meh" since the idea is to replace their (current) star rating system with an alternative type of scheme which is based on a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" choice by the viewer. According to another report, published in a separate article by 'Variety', consumer testing has (so far) shown that the "thumbs" system has resulted in a 200% ratings increase (i.e. the total number of ratings given by users) versus the "star" rating method. Perhaps, if the numbers of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" votes were shown against each title, I could learn to live with it... but, personally, I'm happy with the current "star" ratings system and (as with my feelings over the "improvement" to add auto-play while browsing) I'm inclined to say, "If it ain't broke... don't fix it!", when it comes to leaving ratings.


Thankfully, aside from raking-in the money and (often unnecessarily) tweaking their user interface, Netflix continues to invest in quality content... and in that respect, as per their latest press release, they intend to complete, restore, and release an (as yet) unfinished film co-written and directed by Orson Welles. The film, "The Other Side of the Wind", takes a satirical look at Hollywood through the story of a legendary film director, attempting to make a comeback with one last masterpiece. Work on the project began as far back as 1970 but remained incomplete at the time of the director's death in 1985. Starring no lesser acting talents than those of John Huston, Peter Bogdanovich, and Dennis Hopper (among others) having made the investment it now falls on Netflix to complete the task and produce a final version for release. To this end, they have brought-in the original consultants who worked with Orson Welles on the film back in the day. Whether it will match-up to earlier works by the legendary director remains to be seen but it is clear that Netflix hopes to make a good go of it!


As in other recent 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I'm going to ask you to refer back to the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels for details of some special offers which may also be of interest. If you somehow missed it, the deal on 'Roku 2' [Model: 4205EU] which I've been sharing repeatedly for the past couple of weeks is still available via Maplin at only £49.99 - which is equivalent to a saving of £20.00 on this UK Roku device - and well worth a look, if you're not interested in the additional features (private listening, motion control for gaming plus "point anywhere" WiFi Direct operation) provided by the enhanced Roku remote supplied with the flagship 'Roku 3' [Model: 4200EU]. I also posted details of access codes to some more private channels (again, available in all regions) among the bits & pieces shared via Twitter... so, as always, it's worth checking my tweets for extra treats! ;-)


As with last week... the list of new additions again starts with two channels that, despite being new to UK Roku devices, are not listed in the "New" category (i.e. genre) of the Roku UK Channel Store. Being a blogger, I love discovering apps like these... because they illustrate precisely why it's worth reading the 'Weekly RoundUp' posts on this blog. Any Roku users who simply rely on whatever they see listed under the "New" category in the built-in channel store of their streaming media players (to identify the latest apps for UK Roku devices) risk missing-out on channels like this altogether. Other websites offering Roku channel listings will base their contents on the Roku USA Channel Store, which means they also include apps that are unavailable to Roku UK users. So, if you really want to know what's available to UK Roku users channel-wise... be sure to read this blog every week! ;-) :-)


Before I run through those new channels... a brief reminder that UK Roku users are still subject to restrictions (imposed by Roku) and (bizarrely) remain unable to access the channel descriptions from the web store on the Roku (USA) website. That said, the majority of text in those web listings can also be found within the individual descriptions from the built-in "Channel Store" (accessed via "Streaming Channels" from the main menu) on all Roku devices and, together with the associated screenshots (where available), should give a pretty good indication of what those channels are about.


My advice to any UK-based readers of this blog is to ignore the links below (and to the left of) each channel icon shown here and (instead) rely on the link to the right (below each channel icon) which (where available) will redirect you to an 'Roku Guide' review for additional details on that channel. As it stands, the links below (and to the left of) each icon are (currently) only of use to readers of this blog from the USA. This means that Roku users from the other "supported" regions of the world (i.e. Ireland, Canada, France and Mexico) are, like those of us in the UK, unable to browse the Roku Web Channel Store - which for now (at least) remains an exclusive privilege of Roku users in the USA. :-(


Hopefully Roku will (one day) wake-up to the fact that improving the experience for users in "other" Roku "regions" is just as important as it is for those who buy & use their products in the U.S. and denying access to the Roku website does not help the end-user experience for those of us (outside the USA) who wish to browse the web channel store. Meanwhile, that which Roku (apparently) doesn't want UK Roku users to see on their website (i.e. the list of new channels) is regularly summarised on this blog in my 'Weekly RoundUp' posts. So, without further ado, here's my 'Weekly RoundUp' of the few new Roku channels which were released between 12th and 18th March 2017:-







THE SWEET SPOT.................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "SPORTS" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






IMMERSION IN NATURE..............................COST: £2.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "LIFESTYLE" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






ST PATRICK'S DAY SCREENSAVER.........COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "SCREENSAVERS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






THE AUTO CHANNEL - TACH LIVE..................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "LIFESTYLE" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***

PLEASE NOTE:- That, for some (as yet) unknown reason, "The Auto CHannel - TACH Live" appears to have escaped the attention of the folks at 'Roku Guide' who (thus far) have not published any review for this latest release from the app developers at 'Vidillion, Inc'. Needless to say, once the details of any such review have been made known to me, I will add the "missing" link to this article. Meanwhile, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that may result from it's absence.






IBN....................................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***

PLEASE NOTE:- That, as with "The Auto CHannel - TACH Live" above, this 'IBN' channel appears to have escaped the attention of the folks at 'Roku Guide' who (thus far) have not published any review for this release from the app developers at 'trueGOD Television Networks'. Needless to say, once the details of any such review have been made known to me, I will add the "missing" link to this article. Again, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience that may result from it's absence.






WORLD VIDEO BIBLE SCHOOL........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






SALSA TV...............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "MUSIC" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






JACY TV.................................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






GIZZY GAZZA.......................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "PERSONAL MEDIA" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






M3U PLAYLIST PLAYER.....................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "APPS" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






GRIND CITY RECORDS.......................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "MUSIC" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






RIVER OF PRAISE................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






STV PLAYER.........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "FILM & TV" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***


PLEASE NOTE:- That, since this "STV Player" channel for Roku streaming devices has not (yet?) been made available via the Roku USA Channel Store, there is no web channel store description on the Roku website... which means that clicking on the link provided above will (instead) redirect you to the official UK website for 'STV Player' from where further information can be obtained. Should you have any questions, comments, or suggestions pertaining to this new 'STV Player' channel on UK Roku devices, or other aspects of their business, I'm sure that the folk from 'Scottish Television' who developed the 'STV Player' channel will be only too pleased to hear from you. For those who prefer the "old-fashioned" way(s) of getting in-touch, you'll find both postal and email addresses for 'STV'... as well as various phone numbers, on the 'Contact Us' page, published via the official website for 'Scottish Television' [aka 'STV', to you and me]. Meanwhile, those wishing to connect with them via the more "current" means of social media can do so via their official Twitter Feed: @WeAreSTV or else, through their FB page, at:- Scottish Television (Facebook) ;-)

ALSO:- For similar reasons to those given for the lack of a web channel store description, there is also (currently) no active link to any 'Roku Guide' review of the "STV Player" channel. Furthermore, it is unlikely that we will ever see an 'Roku Guide' review of the (currently) UK-only "STV Player" channel for Roku devices.

AS A BONUS:- For those times when, for one reason or another, you find yourself with no Roku device close-to-hand... there are FREE MOBILE APPS FOR iOS PLUS ANDROID DEVICES that can be downloaded from the respective app stores, at no cost to users, via the links shown below:-


FREE DOWNLOAD:- Of iOS app for Apple mobile devices (from the 'iTunes' App Store)

PLUS

FREE DOWNLOAD:- Of Android app for mobile devices (from the 'Google Play' Store)


FINAL THOUGHTS:- It may have been a long time coming... but, this official "STV Player" app for UK Roku devices will be none the less welcomed by Roku owners in the UK - especially those living north of "the border", since it will provide access to content from Scottish Television (STV) that was previously inaccessible using the 'ITV Hub' channel [formerly known as the 'ITV Player' channel] and that is really great news! :-)

Hopefully, this will provide further encouragement (not that it should be needed) to both 'UKTV' and 'TVPlayer' who have both been slower than most to develop apps for the Roku platform in the UK. That said, despite 'UKTV' revealing they still have "no plans" for a Roku app, we recently received confirmation from 'TVPlayer' that an official Roku channel was imminent... and, all being well, you should see one listed on these pages within the next few weeks - fingers crossed! ;-) :-)







VIRTUAL IRISH PUB............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "LIFESTYLE" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***




*********************************************



Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, although it's barely more than fifty percent of the twenty-seven channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store in the same time-frame, it's better to get these 14 NEW CHANNELS than none at all... as I'm sure you agree?!


In any event, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the fourteen "public" channels outlined above... or else from the "private" channels, whose access codes were "gifted" to you via the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels to this blog, at various points throughout the last seven days. However, if you didn't find anything to add to your Roku channel selection from the assortment of channels on offer this week, you can always pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something more to your liking. After all, there's no point installing every channel because, like I say... when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS!




*********************************************



As mentioned previously, you can expect my usual summary of all the goings-on (or not) in the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store that features on NowTV Boxes to follow in the near future. Meanwhile, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to check my earlier posts (as mentioned before) for all the new additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in each of the one hundred and thirty-six preceding weeks and then come back again in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp'. However, if you can't wait that long, remember you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) throughout the coming week, by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku-related (here in the UK) is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).



Until the next time, then...



That's all folks !!