Saturday, November 9, 2013

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #35

Hi, everyone !!

Those of you who have been reading my 'Weekly RoundUp' posts over the last three months or so will be aware that I also include a small sub-section for the NowTV Box. Specifically, this is intended to provide details of any changes to the channel selection within the (somewhat reduced) Roku Channel Store that features on the streaming player from NowTV and to provide an ongoing side-by-side comparison with the full version of the Roku Channel Store as found on UK Roku players. As such, it does not cater to changes in channel content for any of the channels found in the ring-fenced version of the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box and nor does it cover any changes to the content of the NowTV channel (itself) which, if you weren't already aware, can be accessed via both the NowTV Box and on UK Roku players. However, since one of the issues I had been addressing with the NowTV Box was their need to add channels such as Sky 1, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts and Sky Living (which I thought would come by way of individual channels in the Roku Channel Store on NowTV Boxes), I feel it would be worthwhile to advise you of a MAJOR CONTENT CHANGE involving those channels, that took place within the 'NowTV' channel (itself) which, for some reason, does not feature in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. As per THIS ANNOUNCEMENT from the Official NowTV Blog, there is a fresh selection of TEN NEW CHANNELS that have been grouped together under the collective banner of an "Entertainment Pass", which can be accessed via the 'NowTV' channel (itself), for an introductory cost of £4.99 PER MONTH (valid until March 2014). For your information, the ten channels included with the "Entertainment Pass" are:-

  • Sky 1
  • Sky Atlantic
  • Sky Arts 1
  • Sky Living
  • Discovery
  • MTV
  • Comedy Central
  • GOLD
  • Disney
  • FOX

These new channels give access to both LIVE and CATCH-UP TV ON DEMAND content from no less than 8 out of the 10 'Most Popular' Pay-TV Channels in the UK, without a contract. Unfortunately, due to restrictions imposed with streaming rights, not all programming will be available. However, you can easily see which programmes are not going to be available by viewing THIS LIST which is set to be updated on a daily basis. DON'T FORGET: the 'NowTV' channel is available on UK Roku players as well as on the NowTV Box, so this is BIG NEWS for UK Roku owners, as much as it is for users of the NowTV Box. If you'd like to read more about exactly what is on offer via the new monthly "Entertainment Pass" on the 'NowTV' channel, you can do so VIA THIS LINK. Then, if you decide to give these new channels a try, you will find all of the content already included within the respective sub-menus of the 'NowTV' channel on your Roku player or NowTV Box. Provided that you are already registered for a NowTV Account then, to commence viewing and to activate your month-long "Entertainment Pass", you need only choose what you want to watch and then hit "Watch Now" to get instant access. JUST REMEMBER: unless you then go into your NowTV Account and make the necessary changes, the "Entertainment Pass" will automatically renew month after month. That said, there is no commitment, other than the month you pay for, so you can easily cancel at anytime. This will probably be most useful after 31st March 2014, when the £4.99 introductory price could well be increased, so it's worth keeping an eye on if you opt for a rolling renewal on the "Entertainment Pass". Of course, if you haven't yet registered for a NowTV Account on your UK Roku player you can easily do so by following the link (above) to "read more about exactly what is on offer" and then CLICK ON one of the LARGE PINK BUTTONS marked "Buy Entertainment Pass", or else by clicking on "Sign In" (at the top of the same page) and then on "Join Now" to get yourself signed-up.

Anyway, I thought it was worth mentioning as it's probably the most significant change content-wise to happen on UK Roku players, at least in terms of UK-specific (i.e. much needed / relevant) content, since the 'Demand 5' and 'BBC News' channels were added. Now all we have to wish for is that, if (and, hopefully, when) the '4oD' app is added to the NowTV Box, we also get a '4oD' channel added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store on the Roku box. That, together with other ESSENTIAL NEW CHANNELS such as 'ITVplayer' and 'Lovefilm', plus 'CatchUp TV' and maybe 'BlinkBox', is exactly what is needed to boost the value of the Roku streaming media player to a UK viewing audience. So, whilst there may not have been any NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box since it was launched, at least this marks a significant step in the right direction in terms of new content. So, if the folks at NowTV are reading this, I'd like to say a big "THANK YOU" for coming through on that promise and please, PLEASE... do whatever you can & help to get '4oD' onto UK Roku players in addition to the NowTV Box, whenever that may be.

Moving on, in addition to new channels, we've also had some more new readers coming to the pages of this blog. Once again there were many repeat visits from the various countries that I've mentioned in previous posts but, unlike last week, this time there was just one country that had not graced the pages of this blog until now. So, before we go any further with the current 'Weekly RoundUp', I'd first like to extend a warm welcome to those new readers from Cameroon, who each took the time to pay a maiden visit to these pages during the past seven days.

To those new readers, and to everyone else who continues to read my Roku-related ramblings here on this blog, I'd just like to say... "Thanks for stopping by" & long may you continue to do so.

Still, let's get on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time, there are TEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the past seven days. These latest additions to the Roku UK Channel Store provided FRESH CONTENT to the Film & TV, Internet TV, Special Interest plus Religion & Spirituality genres (i.e. categories).

In keeping with previous installments from the 'Weekly RoundUp' series, details of these new channels have all been listed below, together with links to obtain further information {by clicking on the channel name(s) beneath the respective channel icon(s) as pictured} and to read a 'Roku Guide' review, with an independent (as well as slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

OLD TIME RADIO USA...........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- The seasonal 24/7 broadcasting between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for which this station is perhaps best-known, will not begin until 3pm (EST) on the eve of Thanksgiving when there will be three hours of Christmas music ahead of the "official" annual return at 6pm (EST) with the now traditional broadcast of The Lux Radio Theater adaptation of "Miracle On 34th Street", featuring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne and Edmund Gwen. There will also be an hour of "Live" broadcasting set to include an "opening speech" (of sorts) by station owner, Barry Slinker, to welcome everybody to the 2013-2014 holiday season which begins on Wednesday 27th November 2013. If you would like to see further scheduling information, then I would suggest you read THIS ARTICLE which hints at what lies in store over the coming weeks and months, until the seasonal stream finally reaches it's conclusion at 6pm (EST) on 31st January 2014. For the time being, however, you will find the content of the 'Old Time Radio USA' channel is broadcast using a looped playback system meaning that, if you listen for prolonged periods, you are likely to experience varying degrees of repetition. Incidentally, all of the timings quoted as 'EST' are indicative of 'Eastern Standard Time' in the USA so, to calculate the equivalent UK timings, you will need to add five hours (e.g. 3pm EST equates to 8pm in the UK). To discover more about 'Old Time Radio USA', including their contact details plus links to their social network sites (i.e. Twitter and Facebook), you should visit their official website VIA THIS LINK.

ZONE OUT TV - HD..............................................COST: £1.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

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

PLAYCAST..............................COST: FREE + $2.99 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

N.B. Whilst the 'PlayCast' channel is FREE-TO-ADD to your Roku player, it requires that you first purchase a subscription plan (see details below) for the PlayOn software to use with your Windows PC in order that 'PlayCast' will function properly, as well as a one-time fee of $2.99 for 'PlayCast' itself. MAC users may be able to take advantage of the software, provided that they are running 'BootCamp' or 'Parallels' on their Apple Mac computer. If in any doubt, you are advised to read the FAQ's about Playon VIA THIS LINK for more information as to the requirements of the software. The subscription plans available start from as low as $6.99 PER MONTH for PlayOn, although there are options for both an ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION at $29.99, which can be cancelled at anytime, as well as a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION at $59.99 which is a one-time fee with no recurring charges that enables you to use PlayOn for as long as you'd like. Those of you who would also like to take advantage of PlayOn's ONLINE DVR software, 'PlayLater', to record unlimited online content for watching later (n.b. content can also be downloaded for watching offline) will find some very attractively priced bundles that include both 'PlayOn' and 'PlayLater' for only a fraction more than buying 'PlayOn' alone. The bundles start from as low as $8.99 PER MONTH for PlayOn + PlayLater, although (again) there are options for both an ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION at $39.99, which can be cancelled at anytime, as well as a LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTION at $69.99 which, like the 'PlayOn' plan, is a one-time fee with no recurring charges but enables you to use both 'PlayOn' and 'PlayLater' for as long as you'd like. Best of all though is that, no matter which of the available subscription plans or bundles that you opt for, there is a 30-Day MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE

CLASSIC REEL....................................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

IT'S SUPERNATURAL! NETWORK..........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

DOG TV ANYWHERE..............................COST: FREE + £9.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

N.B. Whilst the 'DOGTV Anywhere' channel is FREE-TO-ADD to your Roku player, there is a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION FEE of £9.99 which MUST BE PAID in order to access the content. There is also the option to pay a QUARTERLY SUBSCRIPTION FEE of £24.99 (equivalent to £8.33 per month) or an ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION FEE of £79.99 (equivalent to only £6.67 per month). No matter which subscription package you choose, however, PLEASE BE AWARE that, for 'DOGTV Anywhere', ALL SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE AUTOMATICALLY RENEWED UNLESS you have taken the necessary steps to ensure that YOU CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION before the renewal date. Either way, PRIOR TO WATCHING ANYTHING, you will need to VISIT the SIGN-UP PAGE for the 'DOGTV Anywhere' channel VIA THIS LINK. The registration process requires that you provide your first & last name plus an email address. In addition, you must choose a username and create a password (with a minimum of 6 characters) for your DOGTV Account, as well as providing your full postal address, as part of the 'Billing Address' information associated with your 'Payment Method'. Speaking of which, it appears that the only option for making payments is via PayPal so, if you haven't already got a PayPal Account, you'll also need to get one before completing the sign-up procedure for the 'DOGTV Anywhere' channel. Anyway, once you have subscribed, you will then need to ACTIVATE YOUR ROKU PLAYER by entering the UNIQUE 6-DIGIT ACTIVATION CODE which will be displayed on your screen when you first launch the 'DOGTV Anywhere' channel via your Roku player and click the "OK" button on your Roku remote to register. The webpage you must visit, in order to enter your unique access code, can be found HERE. You will know that the activation process was successful because the screen (containing the activation code) will be updated automatically so that you can then start watching 'DOGTV Anywhere' on your Roku.

CLASSIC CARTOONS..........................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

VOLUME TV NETWORK.........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


So, whether it's internet-based television featuring original series, movies & other ground-breaking programmes (via live stream as well as on-demand), a collection of old time radio shows dating back to the 30's, 40's & 50's (from the USA), or video ambiences for you to enjoy, relax, decorate or (perhaps) even sleep with, documentary films, religious programming, TV shows, memorable classic movies, cartoons & documentaries from the last 75 years, animated feature films plus HD, SD and 3D cartoons, the ability to watch virtually any video on the internet by casting it directly to your Roku or (perhaps) even television shows to help stimulate, entertain, relax & habituate dogs by exposing them to various movements, sounds, objects, experiences and behaviour patterns, we've pretty much got all those covered with these latest NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku UK Channel Store.

Anyway, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it doesn't quite the match-up to the sixteen channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame, I always think it's better to have SOME NEW CHOICES than none at all, don't you ?!!

Still, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the ten channels outlined above. If not, then you'll have to pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something more to your liking. Afterall, there's no point installing every channel because, as I've said before, when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku player, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


Meanwhile, for my last thirteen 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I have been suggesting we spare a thought for all the poor folk who handed over their hard-earned cash for one of those NowTV Boxes [Powered by Sky] which, as you may recall, have (so far) totally failed to live up to their full potential. Likewise, the original promise from NowTV of "more apps being continually added", is yet to be adhered to, since there still hasn't been a single extra new channel added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box since the product launched. As before, while time moves on so does the tumbleweed...

HINT: Click on the above image to ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!


By now, it's likely to be of no surprise to anyone that (as with EVERY WEEK since it was launched) there has (once more) been literally NO ACTION in terms of NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku Channel Store selection on the NowTV Box. What this means is that, over the course of the past week, NowTV have again produced a (NOT SO) GRAND TOTAL of ZERO NEW CHANNELS to add to their (already SEVERELY REDUCED) version of the Roku Channel Store as included on their NowTV Box. Meanwhile, the "Official" Roku Channel Store that features on all UK Roku players has added TEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things in perspective, in the fifteen weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-EIGHT EXTRA CHANNELS added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ZERO EXTRA CHANNELS being added to the Roku Channel Store on the streaming player from NowTV. That, surely, must tell you something ?!!!

As a direct consequence of this failure to add any extra channels to the Roku Channel Store, the SADLY FLAGGING "New" CHANNEL CATEGORY on the NowTV Box which, only last week, had dwindled to a count of two... is NOW DOWN TO JUST ONE CHANNEL, namely 'HooplaKidz', WHICH ISN'T EVEN genuinely "NEW" having been featured on the NowTV Box since it was launched back in July !! Now, I really don't mean to keep sounding like a scratched record but, if the NowTV Box is going to succeed, they really need to start adding those essential channels like 4oD (which they have already been touting around for several weeks now) to the Roku Channel Store on their NowTV Box but do it "NOW" and not "later this year". I mean, if they can't manage to add anything to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box in a little over three months, how do they expect us to believe they'll have a 4oD channel by the end of this year?!! I'm even starting to wonder why they bothered with a direct access button for "Apps" on their remote control, since they don't seem to be doing anything with that particular aspect of their streaming media player. The newly introduced "Entertainment Pass" for the 'NowTV' channel (itself) is all well and good (not to mention being a VERY WELCOME addition) but that content doesn't add to the selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, as I've said previously... if this lack of support for the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box continues, it will eventually be branded as the "NO TV BOX" as people become more disillusioned at the unfulfilled promise of the device & the associated lack of channel choice available on it. Seriously folks, do yourselves a BIG FAVOUR and spend the extra twenty quid or so to get a genuine original Roku LT streaming media player that will allow you to ACCESS NETFLIX plus many other film & tv channels (incl. NowTV) and give you more than 600 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM when compared with the NowTV Box. 


Still, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to come back in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp' and, 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 !!

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