Saturday, January 18, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #45

Hi, everyone !!

The week began well for the 'AirCastLive' channel on Roku player when it finally got a permanent home in the "Photos & Video" genre (i.e. category) of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, after initial worries that it may disappear from UK Roku players altogether once it's stint in the "New" channel category was over. Anyway, no need to worry on that score because the problem has now been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved. That said, what a difference a day makes... because following on from the above good news for the 'AirCastLive' channel came some POTENTIALLY DEVASTATING NEWS, not just for Roku owners but for the future of internet media in the USA and around the world, VIA THIS ARTICLE from Alex Kane (published by ''). In short, the question was raised: "Did a Federal Court Just Kill the Open Internet?", when regulations for "Net Neutrality" set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were effectively struck down by a federal appeals court. The long-term effect of this decision could be that the internet, for some if not all of us, becomes something more akin to cable television. Hardly surprising (perhaps) when you consider that the lawsuit was brought on by Verizon who, along with other big internet service providers (ISP's), want to create a "tiered internet" where their "preferred content" loads faster while competing services (which could conceivably include Roku content providers) load at a slower rate. Obviously, the idea of "Net Neutrality" giving all consumers equal access to content on the internet in any way they want, with no limitations from ISP's, had proven to be too much of a bitter pill for them to swallow with people "cutting the cable" and choosing to stream shows via the internet rather than pay increasingly exorbitant fees for cable television. Still, this decision by the appeals court must have put a smile on the faces of those at Verizon who were desperate to prevent "Net Neutrality" from being enshrined in law. If any readers of my blog from the USA would like to protest this decision, and get the FCC to launch a renewed push for "Net Neutrality", the group 'Common Cause' is starting a petition to demand just that. There is further information on this in the aforementioned article by Alex Kane so, if you don't want to wind up with huge bills for the internet (as happened with cable television), I suggest you find the link to the petition from 'Common Cause' via the article on '' and sign-up to protect the freedom & openness of the internet so that it can remain the transformative and uncensored force that it is !!

Such was the impact of the above ruling that Netflix shares were impacted on the stock market when the news broke. Fortunately, there was some better news for Netflix UK when it emerged that their streaming service had overtaken the number of titles offered by UK streaming rivals Lovefilm Instant for the first time since Netflix launched in the UK. Personally, I'm delighted for Netflix because their approach to this has been spot-on in my book. Not only do they have a presence in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, which (of course) Lovefilm do not, but they have grasped the fact that people want to stream media instantly via the internet these days and not wait around for an often scratched and/or unplayable DVD or BluRay disc to arrive in the post, as was my own experience of Lovefilm when I tried their service. What's the point of bragging about 77,000+ titles when only 3,726 (as of now) are available for instant streaming?!! All that suggests to me (based on my own experience) is that there are 73,000+ titles I cannot stream instantly and WORSE STILL, until Amazon UK gets their act together sufficiently to clone the 'Amazon Instant Video' Roku channel that is (already) available on Roku USA players & create a 'Lovefilm Instant' Roku channel for UK Roku players, NONE OF THE 3,726 TITLES THEY DO HAVE CAN BE STREAMED VIA UK ROKU PLAYERS !!!!!!!!!!! Demand is such from UK Roku owners and potential purchasers of UK Roku players that, if it were available, a 'Lovefilm Instant' Roku channel would almost certainly have a permanent place among the 25 "Most Popular" channels in the Roku UK Channel Store, so why Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, doesn't step-in and sort out whoever is behind this lack of vision at Amazon UK is beyond me??!!!! Surely, if Jeff Bezos can persuade the Ecuadorian Navy to airlift him by helicopter from the Galapagos Islands to get his kidney stones seen to (AS PER THIS 'CNN' NEWS STORY), he can manage to get a 'Lovefilm Instant' channel into the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store??!!!!

Switching topics from movie streaming services to music streaming services, for a moment, the next MAJOR NEWS came courtesy of Spotify who announced, VIA THIS ARTICLE, that they have now removed the cap on streaming time for account holders using Spotify FOR FREE across all platforms. The end result is that you can now listen to your favourite songs, as many times as you like, for as long as you want, with no time limits imposed on you. This led to the suggestion by 'Mashable' that 'Spotify', along with USA music streaming service 'Pandora', were bracing themselves for the arrival of the new 'Beats Music' online music streaming service, as explained IN THIS ARTICLE by Jason Abbruzzese. However... WHAT ROKU OWNERS WANT TO KNOW, at least as far as 'Spotify' is concerned, is WHY IS A SPOTIFY PREMIUM ACCOUNT MANDATORY ON ROKU when you can access 'Spotify' for free on just about every other device known to man?!!!! Seems like this one qualifies as both a #RipOffBritain tactic as well as #RipOffRokuOwners - PLEASE ADDRESS THIS ISSUE !!

Moving on, to another pet peeve of mine when it comes to certain paid content on UK Roku players, I'd like to point out something that really got me fuming during the past week. Now, those of you who follow the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels will already have been made aware (on more than one occasion) of my feelings surrounding the OUTRAGEOUS PRICE-POINT of the 'NowTV Sports Day Pass' at AN OUTLANDISH £9.99 PER DAY which, quite frankly, is ridiculous and (as far as I'm concerned) should be referred to some sort of official governing body for review. This was made worse still by the discovery that Roku USA owners have access to THIS CHANNEL from 'Dishworld Sports' at a much more reasonable rate of just $10.00 PER MONTH (i.e. £6.00 per month, to you and me, in British Pounds). For that, they get to watch LIVE Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 matches PLUS many other world sports VIA THEIR ROKU PLAYERS !!!!!!!!! Looks like another case of #RipOffBritain as well as #RipOffRokuOwners (at least in the UK) - ARE YOU LISTENING 'NowTV Sports' ????? IF SO, PLEASE ADDRESS THIS ISSUE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, speaking of 'NowTV'... there was an update to the software running on NowTV Boxes, during the past week, as evidenced IN THIS THREAD from the 'NowTV Community' pages. As you will gather, from the title of the thread, it changed from Software Version 4.9 - Build 8067 to Software Version 4.9 - Build 8506 and that happened on or around 16th/17th January 2014. Essentially, what 'NowTV Community' member 'Flibblesan' says (concerning the light on the front of the box) appears to be correct because the same thing was apparent on my own NowTV Box. However, another change which came about as a result of this update was that the BLUE STRIPE across the top of the 'Home Screen' on the NowTV Box HAS NOW BEEN REPLACED BY A BLACK STRIPE which was presumably to make it tie-in with the 'NowTV' channel icon being changed from blue to black recently. Unfortunately, these were the only obvious changes (at least to me) and, all things considered, it's not much of an improvement. The dimmer light was far more welcome than the new brighter version and (personally) I preferred the blue stripe on the home screen and the blue channel icon to the black ones. The only positive I take from this is that they have actually done something with the NowTV Box, which is more than can be said for the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store that features on it, as you will soon see when you read my summary of NEW ADDITIONS for the NowTV Box towards the end of this blog post. Can you guess how many channels they added this week ??!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was also AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT from the 'GTVHacker' team this week, concerning a patch from Roku in an attempt to "fix" any rooted Roku players which had been modified prior to the current software update from Roku which disabled the root process. If you happened to miss the details for this, they were published in my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #43" as part of the introductory paragraph to that post. Here is a screenshot of what the 'GTVHacker' team had to say about this latest patch from Roku via their Twitter Feed:-

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

As can be seen from their tweet, their advice for anyone with a rooted Roku player was to disconnect it from the internet immediately, to prevent the patch (applied using the 'GTVHacker' memory patching module) from disabling the root. However, unless you heeded the 'GTVHacker' warning in time, or caught one of only half a dozen retweets on the subject (including one from yours truly), or better yet... if your rooted Roku was left disconnected from the internet or from mains power since performing the root, then the chances are that the patch from Roku will have been applied by now. For those of you who are lucky enough to have avoided this latest patch from Roku, the advice from the 'GTVHacker' team is to await further announcements from them on the subject, while they plot their next step(s):-

They have since discovered that this latest Roku patch utilised their open telnet server to execute commands on the rooted box(es) via the screensaver app. Some of you may have noticed the addition of a "Roku Enhanced Screensaver" which (apparently) is what contained the "payload" to "kill" all of the "rooted" boxes. However, it seems the 'GTVHacker' team were undeterred by these events and will press on regardless so, for those of you looking to track their progress, I'd suggest you follow their Twitter Feed: @gtvhacker for further updates on the subject. Hopefully we'll get to see 'XBMC' or something equally exciting running on a rooted Roku player one of these days?!!!!

In other EXCITING ROKU NEWS this week I discovered, courtesy of a tweet from Ian Heathcock (@HeathcockIan) on Twitter that, whilst we do not have access to the 'VUDU' channel on UK Roku players, WE CAN USE THE 'Flixster' CHANNEL FOR the playback of 'UltraViolet' CONTENT. Apparently, this all came about thanks to the latest update to the 'Flixster' channel on Roku and the GREAT NEWS is that Roku owners with an 'UltraViolet' Account can now link it to their 'Flixster' Account and then playback their movie collection on a Roku player via the 'Flixster' channel !! Here's how the conversation went, confirming 'UltraViolet' support via 'Flixster', on Twitter:-

Aside from that, we also had confirmation from Roku, during the past seven days, that it's a priority "to make 'YouTube' available on Roku 2, Roku 1 and Roku LT players this year!", as evidenced in the following screenshot from Twitter:-

PLUS there is a chance for you to WIN ONE OF TEN 'Roku 2' PLAYERS by voting in the Guardian Film Awards 2014 and you can access the voting form VIA THIS LINK but be sure to submit your entry by no later than NOON on 16th FEBRUARY 2014 in order to qualify. You'll find details of all the other prizes available, as well as confirmation of the rules, by following the above link. GOOD LUCK to anyone that enters... let's hope that both the '4oD' and 'YouTube' channels have been added to the 'Roku 2' player by the time you get your prize, if you happen to be a winner !!

Anyway, let's now press on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time, there are SEVENTEEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the past seven days. These latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store provided FRESH CONTENT to the Film & TV, News, Weather, Sport, Music, Internet TV, 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:-

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

SPIRIT TELEVISION..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

BLACK BELT TV....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

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

CROWN ENTERTAINMENT....................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

COOL GUYS..........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

GOOSEBERRY PATCH..........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

TARLA DALAL........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

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

AMATEUR KITCHEN..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

BOOKING HUNTER................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

MY FAVORITE MOVIES.........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That, for some (as yet) unknown reason, the 'My Favorite Movies' channel was not featured among the LATEST ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in the "New" category, as you might expect. Those of you wishing to sample the hundreds of vintage movie delights (or otherwise) of this FREE-TO-ADD and FREE-TO-VIEW Roku channel will (currently) only find it among those channels listed under "Internet TV" and should seek it out there, if you wish to add it to the channel selection on your Roku streaming media player. Since it does have a permanent home in one of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store genres, however, I will be including it in my Roku UK Channel Store listing for that category, from the next update.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE:- That, there is an active link to add the 'My Favorite Movies' channel to USA Roku players within the official Roku (USA) Channel Store description (again, via the above link). That said, you may well find it among the channels listed under "Movies & TV" (as per the Roku USA Channel Store description) on US Roku players or (failing that) you could well come across it under "Internet TV", as it was here in the UK, but (either way) it might be worth having a quick look in the Roku (USA) Channel Store (on your Roku player) for the 'My Favorite Movies' channel before you go to the trouble of logging-in to your Roku Account online to add it. Of course, I'm sure this was merely an oversight (in both cases) and may even have been added to Roku players in Canada and/or Ireland as well. So, if you happen to be in one of those Roku regions, it's probably worth having a look for the 'My Favorite Movies' channel there too.


Still, whether it's trying out easy Indian vegetarian recipes from one of India's most trusted names, or the family-friendly, quick, simple & budget-oriented recipes from "the 2 moms of Gooseberry Patch" in Ohio, or fast, easy and fresh recipe ideas, feeding tips & menu planning for babies, toddlers & big kids, or finding more great recipes for food & drinks, making meals healthier and cooking with the kids, creating "food memories" for the future via shared memories of the past, or catching-up with the latest stories from inside one of the USA's most powerful newsrooms, courtesy of The Washington Post, or enjoying a world of martial arts programming & entertainment via a dedicated channel (feat. movies, sports, MMA, martial arts news & more), religious programming, or entertaining, informative & family-friendly content that won't leave you embarrassed in front of the kids, taking a video tour of the world via a free travel search engine chock full of travel tips & deals, or learning at your own time & place via easy-to-follow video lessons in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Civics, Economics & more, becoming more civically-engaged, helping to build a more just, equitable & sustainable society via free-speech television, watching a range of personalised on-demand channels that cover a wide range of subjects to meet your interests (incl. food, games, style, comedy, workouts, gadgets, entertainment, education, fitness, health & more), enjoying 24/7 music videos (feat. the likes of Switchfoot, Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, The Newsboys & many more), lightening your day by watching videos of hilarious, daring & unbelievable pranks, or (perhaps) even walking a mile in the shoes of a NowTV Box owner, by spending some time on the lookout for tumbleweed, amidst the 'Desert Beauty' of a Roku screensaver... we've pretty much got all those bases covered with this latest batch of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" 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 twenty new 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 ?!!

That said, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the seventeen channels outlined above. If not, then you'll just 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 Roku player, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


Meanwhile, for my last twenty-three '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 has been ONLY ONE NEW CHANNEL ADDED to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box SINCE THE PRODUCT LAUNCHED. Moreover, as we've now come to expect, whenever time moves on so too (it seems) does the tumbleweed...

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


PHOTO CREDIT: 'Blowin' In The Wind...' by Al Swasey

N.B. If you'd like to purchase the ORIGINAL FULL (UNCROPPED) VERSION of the above photo, it's available from the 'Fine Art America' website VIA THIS LINK where you'll also find many other fine examples of this type of work. Those wishing to connect with the photographer directly can do so easily via his website (see link in photo credit) where there is an email CONTACT FORM available.

As you can see from the above photo, it looks like dark times ahead for 'NowTV', or maybe that should be dark "skies" (sic)?!!  One thing is for certain, if this CONSTANT LACK OF NEW CHANNELS persists, people will not get enough mileage out of their NowTV Box(es) compared to other media streaming devices (did someone say "Roku"?!) and could easily abandon the product completely. The plain facts are spelled out in black and white, every week, right here on this blog. What is it going to take before somebody at NowTV acknowledges that there is a problem, takes ownership of it, and actually does something about it?! Surely given that the NowTV Box is "Powered by Sky" (dark or otherwise), and Sky already has 'ITV Player' on it's satellite platform, it ought not to be too difficult to extend that partnership to include the streaming media player from NowTV? At least that would be a significant statement of intent for the future !! Come on people, let's do something about it... NOW !!

Meanwhile, it's likely to be of no surprise to any of you that (as with EVERY WEEK BAR ONE 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 a further SEVENTEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the twenty-five weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FIVE EXTRA CHANNELS added to the Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ONE EXTRA CHANNEL being added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. That, surely, must tell you something ?!!!

As I keep saying, it seems to be a case of one step forward and three steps back when it comes to the meagre selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store which features on the streaming media player from NowTV. To illustrate my point... from the moment that the NowTV Box was launched, they have managed to completely lose 'EWTN Europe', 'WatchIndia' and 'USTV Now', with 'HooplaKidz' plus 'VEVO' electing to hide out in the "Most Popular" channels category and 'Havoc Television' going completely AWOL from the channel store all together (although it will still be listed among "My Channels" if you happen to have added it previously)... presumably they all went into hiding from the embarrassment associated with the lack of channels in their original channel store categories on the NowTV Box - and who can blame them for that, poor things ?!!

To make matters worse I discovered, during the past 7 days, that the "New" category (in which the 'Facebook Photos & Videos' channel had been the "Last Man Standing" for several weeks) has now disappeared from the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store altogether. Fortunately, the 'Facebook Photos & Videos' channel did not disappear along with it and can still be added to NowTV Boxes via the "Photos & Video" category. However, there's no denying that this is a sorry state of affairs for the company which promised "more apps being continually added" from the get-go and (so far) has failed to deliver on that promise... unless you are prepared to accept that the addition of just one new channel in six months counts as "more apps being continually added" to the Roku Channel Store on NowTV Boxes which, as I've already mentioned, I do not...

Sadly, this means that there is still a total of just 46 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels, but (let's not forget) they are only there by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, leaving aside the "Most Popular" channels and any additional channels listed under "My Channels" (as I do with my channel count for the Roku player), when it comes to the actual Roku Channel Store categories on the NowTV Box, there remains no more than a paltry 44 channels in total, compared with 750+ in the channel store on UK Roku players !!!

Bearing this in mind... whilst the NowTV Box won't exactly leave you out-of-pocket, if you are after a streaming media player which can genuinely boast of "more apps being continually added" and is a lot less likely to leave you wanting by the time that the January sales have ended, then I strongly advise you to 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) as well as having the 'Plex' channel readily available via the channel store and will give you more than 700 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM compared with the selection (currently) found on a 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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