Saturday, February 1, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #47

Hi, everyone !!

The MAJOR ROKU NEWS began this week with YET ANOTHER SIGN that the 'YouTube' channel, which is (currently) LIMITED TO 'Roku 3' ONLY, could well be about to make it's debut on some of the (ahem) "older" models in the Roku lineup. It was brought to my attention on 26th January, courtesy of Steve Bentley in West Yorkshire (via Twitter Feed: @SDB), that the 'YouTube' channel had just "appeared" in the Roku Channel Store selection of the "Official" Roku App for Android mobile devices but was not yet visible via the 'on-screen' channel store on his 'Roku 2' player. This made me wonder if it had also "appeared" on the "Official" Roku App for Apple iOS mobile devices and, on checking for myself, it turned out that it had. The only discernible difference between the Android and iOS versions of the 'YouTube' channel store entry on the apps was that the iOS version was labelled as (already) "Installed" and the Android one said "Launch". However, when I attempted to access the 'YouTube' channel on my 'Roku 2 XS' player (via the Roku Apps) the result was the same for both iOS & Android... nothing happened !!

Four days later, on 30th January 2014, I came across another intriguing comment on the "Official" Roku Facebook page, which had been posted there by Etan Balogh-Kerner who claimed to have had the 'YouTube' channel working on a Roku 2 XS for a few days, from around the same time as it had "appeared" on the Roku apps. Etan went on to say that, when the 'YouTube' channel "disappeared" from the Roku 2 XS, it was still showing as having been "installed" via the online Roku Account associated with the Roku 2 XS, even though it was no longer included in the list of "My Channels" on the player itself. This reminded me of my own experience when the 'BBC News' channel suddenly "appeared" on my Roku 2 XS last year, about the same time as it was added to my NowTV Box, only to "mysteriously" disappear again a short time afterwards. Roku opted for the now familiar corporate cookie-cutter response about 'YouTube' only being on Roku 3 players "at this time..." (blah, blah, blah) in response to the original comment from Etan but made no further comment when later asked if they had, "Any idea why it was available and working on my Roku 2 XS this past weekend?". You can read the whole exchange in this screenshot from Facebook:-

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

In the case of the 'BBC News' channel, it took a while before it was finally added to Roku UK players but, given the urgency for Roku to make 'YouTube' available on additional models, I'd say it's fairly safe to assume that we're almost there... when it comes to having the channel made available on all other Roku models that are (currently) available in the UK and although (last weekend) I speculated that we may even see it this week (and we didn't), I still get the feeling it's not far  off !!

Meanwhile, another channel that we've been crying out to have added to Roku UK players also took a step closer towards reality during the past seven days with THIS ANNOUNCEMENT from ITV and Sky that (as part of a wider agreement involving the new 'ITV Encore' channel) we can now finally expect to see an "Official" version of 'ITV Player' added to the NowTV Box. The aforementioned article (published by The Guardian) came about as a direct result of THIS PRESS RELEASE from ITV and A SIMILAR PRESS RELEASE from Sky. Perhaps significantly, if you recall an earlier announcement from Sky in respect of '4oD', the news also heralded it's arrival on UK Roku players. So, with that important precedent already set, it's probably safe to assume that we'll get an 'ITV Player' channel for Roku UK at (or around) the same time as it's added to NowTV Boxes later this year. So, all in all, it's been a pretty good week in terms of Roku-related news, don't you think ?!!

PLUS... DON'T FORGET:- there is still 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're 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 THIRTEEN 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, Games, News, Weather, Sport, Music, Internet TV, Food plus Special Interest 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 (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

FUNNY STUFF AND CHEESE..................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That whilst it remains possible to view a LIVE FEED of the 'Funny Stuff and Cheese' video podcast VIA THEIR OFFICIAL WEBSITE, when it airs MON-FRI at 5pm UK TIME, or ALTERNATIVELY ON YOUTUBE... it is not (currently) possible to view the live feed on Roku. Hopefully this will change in a future version of the channel but, for now, the 'Funny Stuff and Cheese' Roku channel serves only as a Video-On-Demand (VOD) Podcast Archive for past episodes of the show. Fortunately, the archive is kept reasonably up-to-date and you can usually view each episode on your Roku player a day or two after the live feed was originally broadcast. For some reason, not all of the past episodes have been added to the Roku channel but, if you'd like to check out the missing shows, you can access them VIA THEIR OFFICIAL YOUTUBE CHANNEL whenever you like. Meanwhile fans of the show can easily connect with the hosts of the show, Tom Cote & Renae Christine, VIA THIS LINK:- Funny Stuff and Cheese (Facebook)

THE BLAZE TV................COST: FREE (14-DAY TRIAL) + $9.95 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That CREDIT CARD DETAILS will be REQUIRED for access to the content on 'TheBlaze TV' Roku channel, even when taking advantage of the 14-day FREE TRIAL prior to starting a regular subscription. If you wish TO AVOID AN AUTOMATIC CHARGE, once your free trial period is over, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE FREE TRIAL ENDS by accessing your account online. For those who choose to continue with a regular subscription to the channel, in addition to the $9.95 MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION, there is ALSO a $99.95 ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION option. PLEASE BE AWARE that your SUBSCRIPTION WILL AUTOMATICALLY RENEW at the end of each subscription period UNLESS YOU CANCEL beforehand.

To get yourself up & running, you should first add 'TheBlaze TV' channel to your Roku channel selection [HINT: You'll find it in the "News, Weather, Sport" genre (i.e. category) of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store] and, once the channel has been launched, follow the on-screen prompts until you are asked to visit the website VIA THIS LINK and choose the subscription option that suits you best. Once your subscription is activated, click "Already a subscriber" on your Roku player to generate a unique code with which to link your subscription for 'TheBlaze TV' to your Roku (using the same link as before, for choosing your subscription option). After that, you should be able to watch all programming from 'TheBlaze TV' on your television by streaming the content via your Roku player. There is a handy PROGRAMME SCHEDULE available HERE if you'd like to know what's on but PLEASE NOTE that ALL TIMINGS ARE quoted as "EST", so you'll need to add five hours for the equivalent time in the UK (e.g. 11am EST = 4pm UK TIME, 5pm EST = 10pm UK TIME, etc). There are also some useful links to find information on each of the available shows (within the listings in the programme schedule) plus additional links to watch the show archive(s) online.

GAY LIFE TELEVISION PREMIUM.........................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- 'Gay Life Television Premium' REQUIRES a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION and, as such, YOU WILL BE CHARGED £1.49 PER MONTH UNTIL YOU CANCEL with each monthly subscription being NON-REFUNDABLE either in full, or in part. That said, for your money, you will gain access to a constant stream of LGBTQ content each & every day of the month. This will include THREE 24/7 BROADCAST CHANNELS plus 16 DIFFERENT ON-DEMAND SHOWS with new high-quality episodes being added weekly. If you would like a FREE TASTER of what is on offer, prior to subscribing, then I would suggest you add the 'Gay Life Television' FREE CHANNEL first which can also be found in the "Internet TV" category of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. 

CONSPIRACY HQ TV..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

COCONUT DODGE................................COST: £1.49 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- As with 'Somyeol HD'** (feat. in "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #41" last December) this game is currently ONLY AVAILABLE FOR ROKU 3 PLAYERS !!! The avid gamers among you may well recall 'Coconut Dodge' from it's previous incarnations on both iOS and Playstation, where is was named PSNStore's "2010 Game Of The Year". If you'd like to know more, you'll find a dedicated website for the game VIA THIS LINK and there's an opportunity to view it's many other accolades & press reviews HERE.

** UPDATE:- As of April 2014, the 'Somyeol HD' game has added support for the 'Roku 2 XS' player, whereas 'Coconut Dodge' remains only available on the 'Roku 3' model **

As you'll see from the channel description (via the Roku website), what you're getting for your money is a family-friendly 2D Platform Action Game in which you must help 'Clawrence' the crab to dodge falling coconuts & weave through airborne mazes, all the while playing beach ball "keepy-uppy", and collect giant, shiny treasures. There are a handful of screenshots in the Roku Channel Store details (on Roku 3 players) but, in my opinion, you'll get a much better feel for the game from this video:- 

HINT: If you happen to own a Roku 3 streaming media player, you could even USE THE NEW 'YouTube' CHANNEL TO WATCH THIS VIDEO on the big screen. If you launch the channel on your Roku 3 and perform a SEARCH FOR 'Coconut Dodge on the AppStore and PlayStation®Store' you should be able to find it easily enough. It's only 1m 27s long... so it won't take up too much of your time and, if you do decide to watch it on your Roku-connected television, you'll be able to see more clearly what the game will look like when it's up & running on the big screen before deciding whether to purchase it & give it a try for yourself !!

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

STREAMING WELL.................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

ZOOMIN GAMES.....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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

GIALLO ZAFFERANO..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

PLEASE NOTE:- That the 'Giallo Zafferano' channel on Roku players is an ITALIAN LANGUAGE cooking channel that has been OVERDUBBED IN ENGLISH. There is a huge selection of videos on offer, sorted into a variety of topics that are listed in English, as well as a 'Search' feature to assist you in finding the correct video for the recipe you have in mind... assuming you have one !!

THE FOOD CHANNEL..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

BROKEN FM...........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

MY DAMN CHANNEL...............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


Still, whether it's smart & funny videos of award-winning original web series from the best comedians, actors & musicians, or celebrity gossip & entertainment news, the most famous Italian cuisine (created to make every recipe simple & affordable to all), or great food inspiration (feat. the latest trends, the most compelling stories and original perspective on all things food related), information about your favourite video games (incl. top five game videos, game reviews, interviews with developers, retro gaming, indie game coverage & more), medical, lifestyle, pregnancy & parenting information, alternative rock radio, or videos examining conspiracies & other "weird" information from around the world (incl. films & podcasts from Rob Daven, Freeman Fly, James Jancik & more), premium 'Gay Life' television (feat. drag queens & other contributors from the LGBTQ community), live news info and entertainment courtesy of The Glenn Beck Program & other shows that you'll never find on mainstream media, or body-conditioning routines to help you build mental awareness, flexibility, muscle strength & endurance in the legs, abdomen, arms, hips and back, or (perhaps) even funny stuff, really funny stuff, random funny stuff, funny painful stuff, funny weird stuff, good clean funny stuff, lighthearted funny stuff, funny useless stuff, AND CHEESE... 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 I'm delighted to say that, for the second week in a row, we have again managed to exceed the number of new channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame (there were nine, in case you were wondering). This time around we had NOT JUST TWO... BUT, FOUR EXTRA NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store than there were in the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store. Even so... whether you're a UK Roku owner, or you happen to stream your Roku channels on the other side of "The Pond", it's far better to have SOME NEW CHOICES rather than none at all, as I'm sure you will all agree ?!!

That said, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the thirteen 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-five '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, this sustained lack of creativity is becoming even more of a problem as time (and tumbleweed) moves on...

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



As if any further proof were needed that the creative juices have all but dried up among the developers responsible for adding new channels to the massively depleted version of the Roku Channel Store that features on the NowTV Box... then, this has to be it !! Unless somebody can deliver the goods (and soon) then "Death Valley" could well be where the NowTV Box will end up. Although maybe it's the channel development team, rather than the streaming media player itself, that should be subjected to such extremes of nature. Who knows, maybe with nothing around them for miles to distract them from the task of creating some new channels, they might just be able to come up with something ?!!!

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 THIRTEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the twenty-seven weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX 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 ?!!!

Like I've said in previous weeks, it seems to be a case of one step forward and two 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 '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 ?!!

Sadly, this means that there is still a total of just 47 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 45 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 you settle-in for a romantic movie on Valentine's Day, 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 when 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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