Saturday, November 16, 2013

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #36

Hi, everyone !!

Not that it has much to do with Roku (at this moment in time, anyway) but, nevertheless, I was intrigued to see that LoveFilm finally did an about-face and have updated their iPhone / iPod Touch app to permit movie-viewing on those devices, as opposed to only being able to manage your LoveFilm account with them (i.e. add and remove DVD's / BluRay Movies for the 'by post' element of their service) which was previously the case. Better yet, they have also enabled AirPlay in the enhanced app, permitting wireless streaming from iPhone / iPod Touch to BIG SCREEN TV's via Apple TV, with the ability to minimise the app whilst continuing playback through the Apple TV box. There are one or two other added benefits, which you can read about in THIS ARTICLE which was published on the 'VOD Professional' website yesterday. Meanwhile those of you with a LoveFilm Account that own either an iPhone or iPod Touch (running iOS 6.0 or later), and who would like to try this new app for yourselves, can check it out USING THIS LINK via the iTunes App Store preview.

Referring (once again) to the afore-mentioned article from 'VOD Professional', it is not without a certain sense of irony that Simon Morris, Chief Marketing Officer at LoveFilm, said: "...with AirPlay support, viewers can benefit from the big screen experience", given that the exact same "big screen experience" used to be enjoyed by UK Roku owners (via the 'LoveFilm Player' channel that was once available in the 'Plex' app) which employed certain aspects of the original LoveFilm streaming app for iPad. The experience was, admittedly, rather short-lived and not without a few minor niggles but IT WORKED and I can't help but wonder that, if LoveFilm had given Roku support (instead of updating the software so that IT STOPPED WORKING via the 'Plex' app), we might still have been enjoying LoveFilm on UK Roku players to this day. Still, if LoveFilm can finally catch on to what the viewing public demands AFTER FOUR YEARS of actively avoiding it then maybe, just maybe... we might eventually persuade them to clone the 'Amazon Instant' channel (as can be found on USA Roku players) to make an 'Amazon LoveFilm Instant' channel for UK Roku players. Seriously, the major development work has already been done on this by Amazon in the USA so why on earth they can't make a few tweaks to it and provide AN ESSENTIAL CHANNEL for streaming their service through UK Roku players is completely beyond me?!! Given that both 'Amazon Instant' and rival streaming service 'Netflix' can co-exist happily on Roku in the USA, as well as many other similar services (e.g. Hulu, Vudu, Blockbuster... and the list goes on), I see no reason why they cannot sit side-by-side on UK Roku players too. Even if Amazon UK comes out with it's own streaming media player, as was the case with the NowTV Box, they could still have an 'Amazon LoveFilm Instant' channel on UK Roku players in the same way that there is a 'NowTV' channel (or 'app', if you prefer) found on the Roku streaming media player in the UK. In other words, LoveFilm... "enough already", let's see some action (unlike on your blog, with no posts since June 2013) and start being pro-active, instead of re-active, to the demands of the media streaming public in the UK and get your service onto Roku players in the UK... ARE YOU LISTENING, LOVEFiLM ??!!!!!!!

I hear a lot of talk from people about the 76, 465 titles available from LoveFilm BUT, what a lot of people tend to forget (or, perhaps, don't even realise), is that THERE ARE ONLY 3, 856 TITLES which are actually AVAILABLE VIA LOVEFiLM INSTANT as of the date of this post (SOURCE: Compare that with the fact that THERE ARE ALREADY 3, 468 TITLES which are ready to be streamed instantly and AVAILABLE VIA NETFLIX in the UK (at least, according to my SOURCE: Netflix UK - Complete List). So, bearing in mind that Netflix are still relative newcomers to the UK media streaming market, it would seem that LoveFilm have been resting on their laurels for just that little bit too long and, if they don't act fast, they may well find themselves chasing the game a lot more than they already are. Let's not forget... NETFLIX IS ALREADY AVAILABLE ON ROKU in the UK, whereas LOVEFiLM IS NOT (for now, anyhow) so they need to take notice of what their competitors are doing and (at the very least) match it by offering their service(s) to the same audience (i.e. UK Roku owners) who have already shown their interest in streaming movies by VOTING FOR the NETFLIX channel in sufficient numbers that it has maintained it's position AS THE #1 APP in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store for more than eighteen months !! Now, if LoveFilm don't think that statistic merits a small investment on their part into an (as yet) untapped & untested marketplace (which has been pleading with them to do something about it for almost two years) then I think they'd best throw in the towel because LoveFilm and Roku UK are a match made in heaven !!

Oh, before I forget, NETFLIX have made a few headlines of their own during the past week with the announcement that they are rolling out a NEW USER INTERFACE to multiple devices. The rollout is worldwide and started on Thursday 14th November 2013 but could take up to two weeks before it is installed on all applicable devices. As with the announcement for the LoveFilm app (above) there was an article published about it on the 'VOD Professional' website which you can read VIA THIS LINK. Roku, themselves, were not shy about sharing the news that they would be among the first to enjoy this "New Netflix Experience" (if you'll pardon the familiar-sounding turn of phrase) either, when they published THIS ARTICLE via the Official Roku Blog on Tuesday 12th November 2013. They even included a short video (1m 25secs) "Introducing: A Brand New Netflix Experience On  TV's", that came courtesy of the good folks at Netflix, which is worth a quick look. Perhaps the most exciting news to come out of it for Roku owners is that we're finally going to be getting 'Netflix Profiles' added to Roku 3 streaming media players with older models, i.e. Roku 2 XS / Roku LT (hopefully) getting the update sometime in the near future. There was also great news for Roku 3 owners with the Netflix app installed on their smart phones or tablets because, thanks to the update, you'll be able to browse on those devices and then start playback on your Roku 3 automatically. You'll even be able to pause, fast-forward or rewind whatever you're watching via the 'Netflix' Roku channel right from the Netflix app on your device. Add to that the fact that the updated 'Netflix' channel also brings their "Just For Kids" feature to Roku for the first time and you'll begin to realise that there is more to this new-look 'Netflix' channel on Roku 3 than first meets the eye. Let's just hope the other UK Roku player models also get to benefit from this update sometime soon !!

Moving on, in addition to new-look channels and new apps, 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, as with last week, there was one country that had not yet 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 Azerbaijan, 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.

Anyway, 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 FIFTEEN 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, News, Weather, Sport, Food, Special Interest, Screensavers & Apps 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 (where available) with an independent (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

DRIVING SPORTS TV...............................COST: FREE / PREMIUM [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That whilst you can access the 'Driving Sports TV' video podcast and several other videos FREE-OF-CHARGE, without even registering or linking your Roku player, you will need to take out a subscription to gain full access to all of the content. Fortunately, if you are interested, there is a 30-DAY FREE TRIAL available so that you can TRY-BEFORE-YOU-BUY and then make your decision as to whether you opt for an auto-renewable $2.99 PER MONTH subscription or save a few dollars and go for the $29.99 PER YEAR single-purchase deal, instead. Those of you who would like to subscribe, and get complete access to all of the broadcast shows & special features on car-culture and automotive how-to's, can FOLLOW THIS LINK to get registered. If you're still unsure there is a short promo video for 'Driving Sports TV', as well as links to their Official Website plus Facebook & Twitter pages, included amongst the details in the 'Roku Guide' review (see link above).

XMAS AT THE DRIVE-IN................COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

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


SCIENCE FICTION...........................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

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

N.B. Since this channel does not currently feature in the Roku (USA) Channel Store, the link above is for the Official Website of TVida TV. It may further interest you to know that the "TVida TV" channel features a selection of 100% evangelical programming which can also be streamed worldwide via their website. The content of the "TVida TV" channel includes Portuguese-language programming such as 'Vida News', 'De Bem com a Vida' and 'Foco BĂ­blico'. To read a brief description for each of these shows and to view the TV SCHEDULE for "TVida TV", you should follow THIS LINK.

If you happen to be among the Brazilian diaspora currently living in the UK, the "TVida TV" channel will provide a valuable source of Portuguese-language religious programming. Moreover, Roku owners from any of the other hispanic communities in the UK could also benefit from watching this channel, which has now been broadcasting in the USA & Northern Mexico since 2005 and prides itself on being the first Portuguese-language TV channel on American soil. Perhaps best of all, however, is that the "TVida TV" channel is both FREE-TO-ADD and FREE-TO-VIEW on your Roku player, so you can access all this content without paying a penny !!

Meanwhile, if you'd like to communicate with "TVida TV", you can use their CONTACT FORM which also includes details of their phone number(s) as well as both their email and postal addresses.

Lastly, and no doubt due (again) to the fact that the "TVida TV" channel has not yet been added to the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store, there is no Roku Guide Review available. If & when this situation changes, I will add a link to this post.

HEBRAIC ROOTS NETWORK - LIVE.................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

BEST COOKS......................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

SMART WOMAN....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

SMART SENIOR......................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

TEEN GALS..........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

SMART MAN........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

CHRISTMAS.....................................COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

RADAR HD........................................................COST: £2.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

SADDLEBACK CHURCH......................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


So, whether it's a non-stop winter wonder screensaver channel, streaming season-pleasin' Christmas classics 24-hours a day, or assorted SD and HD classic science-fiction movies, hours of commercial-free horror & drive-in holiday programming, special interest channels geared towards teenagers, smart men, smart women & seniors each designed to entertain, inform & educate on their individual topics of interest, free and/or premium access to original enthusiast automotive shorts, motorsports & driving entertainment, a selection of tasty & trustworthy recipes for all occasions from the best chefs and home cooks, a premium rotating slideshow of HD Christmas greetings, assorted religious programming, a choice of 7 roaring fireplace scenes complete with soothing festive audio soundtracks,  or (perhaps) even full-screen, high resolution U.S. & worldwide satellite radar weather images, we've pretty much got all of those bases 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 nineteen 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 fifteen 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 fourteen '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 (yet again) 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 once more 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 FIFTEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things in perspective, in the sixteen weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-THREE 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 ?!!!

Having mentioned in my previous 'Weekly RoundUp' from last week that the SADLY FLAGGING "New" CHANNEL CATEGORY of the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box had dwindled to a count of JUST ONE CHANNEL, namely 'HooplaKidz', we have since discovered that particular channel is no longer featured on the streaming media player from NowTV. In it's place is another channel, 'Havoc Television', that appears to have been plucked from it's usual position in the "Music" genre to fill the void in the "New" channel category left by the newly AWOL 'HooplaKidz' channel. Like it's predecessor, the 'Havoc Television' channel ISN'T EVEN genuinely "NEW" having also featured on the NowTV Box since it's launch back in July of this year !! In fact, with the loss of the 'HooplaKidz' channel, the NowTV Box has taken yet another positive(?) step towards actually  becoming the "NO TV Box"... having already parted company with the 'WatchIndia TV' channel (another of the fifty channels which featured at launch) around seven weeks ago, as well as the 'EWTN Europe' channel which also vanished a little over two weeks back. This means that, as of this moment in time, there are only 46 CHANNELS featured in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' channel itself, which is on the box by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box, making a paltry 47 channels in total, compared with 650+ in the channel store on Roku player in the UK !!!

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 get those essential channels like 4oD (which they've already been touting around for a month or so) and start adding them to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box BUT ensure they 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 just under four months, how do they expect us to believe they'll have a 4oD channel by the end of this year?!! I'm still wondering why they even 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 anyway. The recently introduced "Entertainment Pass" for the 'NowTV' channel (itself) is all well and good (not to mention being a VERY WELCOME addition) but... like I said before, that content doesn't add to the selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, as I keep saying... 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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