Saturday, April 12, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #57






Hi, everyone !!



Well, if you're a fan of WWE in the UK and were hoping that you'd be able to watch Wrestlemania XXX on your UK Roku player during the past week then you will have been left disappointed, much like Gino Guillermo (Twitter Feed: @UKTechMan76) who was one of many UK Roku owners hoping to see Hulk Hogan hosting the event on 'WWE Network', not realising that the wrestling channel will not be added to UK Roku players until late 2014 / early 2015. Clearly this was more a case of "Woe, Gino" than "Woah-Oh-Oh Gino" and we hope that the lack of a 'WWE Network' channel on UK Roku players will not remain indefinitely. The current situation is most likely due to UK broadcasting rights being owned by Sky, whose 'Sky Box Office' was the only place you will have been able to watch Wrestlemania XXX in the UK this year. As Gino pointed out... "Sky is very expensive" and, like many UK Roku owners, he'd "rather wait for the app" to be added to UK Roku players. So for Gino's sake, and all other WWE fans in the UK, let's hope that happens sooner rather than later and then (maybe) we'll get to watch Wrestlemania XXXI on our UK Roku players in 2015 !!


Still, after the disappointment of Sunday night, it was nice to get some good news late on Monday thanks to Simon Scott (Facebook Page: Simon Scott) who, by informing Roku that he was about to cancel his pre-order for the new Roku Streaming Stick [Model 3500EU] (UK Version) in favour of a Chromecast, prompted a response which revealed an "earlier than expected" release date for the new device purported to now happen in the middle of the coming week. To confirm this, here is a partial screenshot from Facebook showing the brief exchange of comments between Simon & Roku:-



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



Having seen these comments I kept a close eye on the website for Media Streaming Market, HERE, who had originally published the release date as "April 21st", to seek confirmation of the change. However, by the time this 'Weekly RoundUp' was due for publication there had been no alteration to the date given. That said, late in the week, there was an update to the product page(s) for the Roku Streaming Stick [Model 3500EU] on both the 'Currys' website, FOUND HERE, and the 'PC World' website, HERE, which revealed the "Availability" of the device, via those stores, was now set for 18th April 2014. Again, I took a partial screenshot to confirm the information posted:-



ONCE MORE: Click on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!



If we then focus on the area to the right hand side of the page, below the green "Add to basket" button, and ZOOM-IN ON THE DETAILS we can see that 'Currys' and 'PC World' both have the release date set for this coming week and, even though Friday 18th April is not what I would refer to as being "mid next week" as quoted by Roku, it's still earlier than 'Media Streaming Market' implied:-



AS BEFORE: Click on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!



When I subsequently read, VIA THIS ARTICLE, on the 'TechRadar' website that there was to be an Amazon Kindle/Prime Event in London on Wednesday16th April, I did wonder if Roku had gotten wind of this happening and decided to announce the release date for the new Roku Streaming Stick [Model 3500EU] (UK Version) as "mid next week" in direct response to Amazon. Whether or not Amazon intend to announce the availability of 'Fire TV' for the UK market, or (perhaps) even that we are finally to get their 'Amazon Instant Video' channel added to UK Roku players, is something which remains open to speculation but, as 'TechRadar' said, "we're not holding our breath" and (after a month of waiting already), even if it means hanging-on until Friday for the Roku Streaming Stick to appear in UK stores, what happens on Wednesday may turn out to be of little significance.


Speaking of the "Fire TV" from Amazon, and it's much-touted "Voice Search" feature, Roku owners (in the USA, at least) may be interested to learn that (despite claims from Amazon, and some dodgy commercials featuring Gary Busey) you can talk to your Roku player, if you so wish, using either the Roku app for Android mobile devices or (indeed) an iOS device from Apple as I learned, IN THIS POST, from Reid Rosefelt. For evidence of the Android app "Voice Search" for Roku, I took this screenshot of a 'Customer Review' for the new Roku Streaming Stick [Model 3500R] (USA Version) from the Roku website:-



YOU GUESSED IT... Click on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!



Of course, unless Roku have managed to engineer a UK-specific equivalent of their built-in search function ahead of the UK release for their new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version), this will all be largely irrelevant to UK Roku owners. However one feature that certainly could be added to the latest Roku device, across all regions, is to make it compatible for use with the remote(s) for 'Roku 2' and/or 'Roku 3' models. This would allow the "private listening" function, currently only enabled on those two players, to be enjoyed by users of the new Roku Streaming Stick which, like the 'Roku 2' and 'Roku 3', already comes with a 'WiFi Direct' remote to avoid the need for line-of-sight use. Most, if not all, of the reviews that I have come across for the Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) have mentioned the lack of this "private listening" feature as a 'con', 'negative', or other comment 'against' the latest Roku device and, if Roku don't address this, I think it would be a huge mistake on their part. Furthermore, since they have already acknowledged (through both the Roku Forums and social media) that you can use the 'Roku 2' and/or 'Roku 3' remote(s) to "control" the new Roku Stick BUT the "private listening" feature won't work, it seems crazy for Roku not to enable "private listening" within the Roku Stick firmware and sell the 'Roku 2' remote as an optional extra for those who don't already have one. Should you, like me, believe this to be a good idea that you would like to see implemented... please contact the folks at Roku via their Twitter Feed: @RokuPlayer, their Facebook Page: Roku (Facebook), post a reply or even start a new thread on the subject through the 'General Discussion' board on Roku Forums VIA THIS LINK. This applies to Roku users IN ALL REGIONS so, if you're reading this in the USA or  Canada or Ireland, please join in and add your support for "private listening" to be implemented by Roku for their new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE !!


Needless to say... selling the 'Roku 2' remote as an "optional extra", for purchasers of the new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) here in the UK, brings us to ANOTHER ISSUE which really needs to be addressed by Roku and that IS WHERE TO PURCHASE UK ROKU ACCESSORIES such as spare cables, power supplies and the aforementioned remote controls. Anyone in the UK who has been unfortunate enough to need a replacement for any of those things may already have discovered (much to their disappointment) that the "Official" Roku Website which sells accessories online, VIA THIS LINK, to USA Roku customers DOES NOT SHIP ORDERS OUTSIDE OF THE USA other than to A.P.O. / F.P.O. addresses and that is of very little use to UK Roku owners. So what we need to happen is for Roku to AUTHORISE Media Streaming Market, who already handle all purchases on the "Official" Roku UK Website, TO SELL ACCESSORIES TO UK ROKU OWNERS via their existing UK-based website, FOUND HERE - not too much to ask, surely?!!


Anyway, let's press on with the details for the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time, there are NINETEEN 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, Internet TV, International, Food, Special Interest, plus Religion & Spirituality genres.


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:-







JOHN AT THE MOVIES..........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






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






ILY JESSICA OMG.................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH...........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






AFRICAN INFO MEDIA.............COST: FREE-TO-ADD + $12.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






LIVE WITH AARON & KELLY..................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






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






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






GRILL SERGEANTS............................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






CLOSE COMBAT.................................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






FIT FOR DUTY.....................................................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






TRINITY UNITED THUNDER BAY...........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






TELE DUNAMIS.....................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






UNA VOZ DE CONSUELO......................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






HIS RADIO.............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]






AUDIO SCRIPTURE ROKU...................................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






EUROCHANNEL.........................COST: FREE-TO-ADD + $7.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]






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






BLACKFLAG TV...................................................COST: £2.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]




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Anyway, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it doesn't quite the match-up to the twenty-one 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 nineteen 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 your Roku player, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!



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In the meantime, for my last thirty-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. It goes without saying that, from the lack of new channels being added, the (already) severely restricted 'Roku Channel Store' which features on the streaming media player from NowTV is becoming a "Ghost Town" for developers...





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

IMAGE SOURCE: coasterimage.com



As you can see from the above image... the signs are all there that, whilst the NowTV Box itself may be "Powered by Sky", the Roku Channel Store which features on the streaming media player from NowTV is becoming more of a "Ghost Town In The Sky" as demonstrated week-in and week-out by the lack of new channels added to it, plus the occasional loss of channels that were on it originally, and not forgetting all that tumbleweed blowing around in the absence of any other (channel) developments. In fact, as you may have spotted from the "Tumbleweed" sign in the above image, this photo was taken at an aptly named amusement park (which has long since closed and actually become the "Ghost Town" from which it took it's name) and in the background is the 'Tumbleweed' roller-coaster ride which can also be seen in greater detail, VIA THIS LINK, as part of a collection of "coaster" images that have been posted on the 'CoasterImage' website. Needless to say, the lack of new channels on the NowTV Box means the streaming media player from NowTV is far from being an amusement park for owners with the thrills being few & far between (in terms of channel additions) thus far. Let's hope the NowTV Box doesn't create a "Ghost Town in the Sky" business portfolio !!


Consequently, it's likely to be of no surprise to any of you that (as with EVERY WEEK BAR ONE since launch) 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 NINETEEN EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the thirty-seven weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO 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 '4oD' being  the one & only channel added to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box since it launched !! This week it was the turn of the 'Flixster' channel to up-sticks and leave it's original home in the "Film & TV" category to hide-out in the "Most Popular" channels, presumably preferring the (relative) obscurity of a twenty-five channel lineup to the company of just seven other channels with which it has shared a genre until now. At least the 'Havoc Television' channel (which, until a month or so ago, had been 'AWOL' for a very long time) and the 'VEVO' channel (which had been missing an "official" Roku Channel Store category on the NowTV Box for a similar period) have both managed to stay put for the past five weeks, having found their way back into the 'Music' genre (i.e. category) of the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. Likewise... the other channel lacking an "official" Roku Channel Store category on the NowTV Box for quite some time, namely 'HooplaKidz Rhymes', remains part of "Internet TV".


Whilst this means there are still 48 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels which (as I said before) keeps the overall total pegged at fifty channels (as there were at launch) let's not forget those last two are only there by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. If we then leave aside the "Most Popular" channels and any additional ones listed in "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 47 channels in total compared with 900+ 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 family movie over Easter, 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 850 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM when compared with the selection (currently) found on a NowTV Box.



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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 !!





2 comments:

  1. Thanks as ever for your highly informative and prescient blog! Any news of if/when ITV Player or 4onDemand might get added to Roku? I won't hold my breath with NowTV powered by Sky - I occasionally plug it in for a quick laugh at its' lack of channels but Roku is a firm favourite. Thanks and keep on blogging; we enjoy it.

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    Replies
    1. Hello again, Stephen !!

      Thanks (once more) for your kind words and for continuing to read my Roku-related ramblings on this blog. It's much appreciated !!

      Unfortunately, I cannot lay claim to being prescient about the arrival of '4oD' on your 'Roku 2' player. To be perfectly honest, until I get my hands on one, I can't even say if it's going to be on the new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) [Model 3500EU] which is available for purchase to UK Roku buyers this week. So, for now at least, you may have to keep using your 'NowTV' box to watch '4oD' content but, rest assured, as soon as I hear anything I'll be sure to inform you all via this blog and the companion Twitter Feed.

      As for 'ITV Player', whilst I don't have an exact date for you, the deal between Sky and ITV over the forthcoming 'ITV Encore' channel announced towards the end of January should mean it's coming sometime later this year. If you copy and paste the following link into your web browser, you can read all about the future plans for the "wider" agreement between them:-


      http://www.itv.com/presscentre/press-releases/itv-encore-launch-sky


      Although no mention is made of Roku, specifically, I'm assuming (given what happened with both 'Demand 5' and '4oD' before it) the addition of 'ITV Player' to the NowTV Box will also mean we'll get access to it via UK Roku players?!


      So, yeah... don't hold your breath just yet but (hopefully) at least one of the two (i.e. 'ITV Player' and/or the '4oD' channel) should be making an appearance in the Roku Channel Store on your 'Roku 2' sometime this year.


      As Roku, themselves, like to keep reassuring us... "Hang in there!"


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