Saturday, May 10, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #61

Hi, everyone !!

When editing my list, of "25 Most Popular Channels" from the Roku UK Channel Store, last weekend I made the SHOCKING DISCOVERY that the 'Angry Birds' game channel, which previously held a "Top Ten" position for quite some time, had suddenly been REMOVED FROM THE CHART for no apparent reason whatsoever. I subsequently posted a tweet that I was "livid" about what happened (by way of reference to the name of the channel) but what really bothered me was how an (obviously) very popular channel (that is still available for UK Roku owners on supported devices) could be plucked from it's perch (if you'll pardon the pun) while the 'Crackle' channel (which is not available to UK Roku owners or, indeed, on any other device in the UK) moved closer to the top of the tree as a direct consequence of what happened with the 'Angry Birds' game channel !!!!!!!!!!!!



The answer may lie in the fact that the news broke just prior to that happening, VIA THIS ARTICLE, of how the net profits of Rovio, makers of 'Angry Birds', were halved from €55.5m in 2012 to just €26.9m in 2013, as the company invested in new games, it's 'ToonsTV' cartoon network, and the upcoming "Angry Birds" feature film. Maybe someone got the jitters as share prices fluctuated when the financial results were announced? Who knows?! Whatever the reason, though, the fact remains that a channel (i.e. 'Crackle') which should have been removed from both the list of "25 Most Popular" channels and the "Film & TV" category of the Roku UK Channel Store when it stopped being supported in the UK on 1st April 2014 somehow, bizarrely, remains there... when another channel (i.e. 'Angry Birds') that is still available in the UK and has enough ratings to have remained in the 'top ten' of the "25 Most Popular" channels has, equally bizarrely, disappeared from the chart !!

Turning our attention from the "Most Popular" channel category to the "New" channels that have featured in my 'Weekly RoundUp' of latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store over the past few weeks... anyone reading those posts cannot fail to notice that there were rather a lot of (ahem!) "local" news channels added to UK Roku players in that time. Now, with all of those news channels being "local" to cities in the USA, you may well feel that they are of little use to UK Roku owners... however, if you are ever going to travel to the United States, or (per chance) discover some "breaking news" from a particular region of the USA, then having the facility to access the latest "on-the-spot" information (be it news, weather or general interest) could prove to be more of a valuable resource than you may otherwise have thought. Then of course there's the US diaspora who, while they may now be living & working in the UK, might like to catch up on events "back home" and for whom these channels could provide a vital link to their individual region(s) of the United Sates of America. If you couple those recent additions to the "News, Weather, Sport" genre of the Roku UK Channel Store with the many additional local news channels accessible through the likes of existing Roku public channel '8ctave HD', DETAILS HERE, and one of my personal long-time favourite Roku private channels 'Nowhere TV', FOUND HERE, then you have more than two thirds of all the US states covered as far as local news goes. What this means is that there's lot of local news channels available on Roku players and, luckily for us, Tom Roth (publisher of the  'Roku Guide' reviews linked to from this blog) has produced a handy summary of what's available, IN THIS ARTICLE, on his website. The great thing is that he's listed the channels alphabetically, first by state and then by city, so it's really easy (not to mention quick) to find local news content for the particular city and/or state that you wish to access. Thanks for that, Tom... and if, like me, you feel this list will make a handy resource for you (at some time in the future) then I wholly recommend that you bookmark it for easy reference - you never know when it might come in handy !!

Anyway, aside from rounding-up all the local news content on Roku, Tom has also just published details of some ROKU PRIVATE CHANNELS that he's added 'Roku Guide' reviews for. There's five private channels featured in the article, FOUND HERE, but (unfortunately) not all of them have been made available for UK Roku owners. Addressing them as per the order they appear in Tom's article, the first one 'Tiny Desk Concerts' from NPR is relatively new still, having only just been released, but (sadly) it's not (yet?) available in the UK... although, having said that, I did request that they extend their Coverage Area to include the UK as well so, hopefully, we'll be able to add it to UK Roku players sometime in the (not too distant) future?! Another private channel that I've contacted several times already, with regard to extending their coverage to UK Roku owners, is 'Red Bulll TV'... however, as yet, I've had no reply on the subject and nothing (it seems) has been done about it on their part. This I find particularly frustrating, since 'Red Bulll TV' is already available in the UK on Apple TV and via selected Smart TV's & other devices, so why the long delay in adding it to UK Roku players I don't know?!! Essentially, all they need to do is edit "Channel Stores" in their Roku channel package, then submit a new version of the channel, and (once approved by Roku) their 'Red Bulll TV' channel would be available on UK Roku players. In theory, as well as (occasionally) in practice, this can be done in less than 24 hours - if they bothered themselves to do it - and there was me thinking 'Red Bulll TV' was all about action... well, apparently not (in the UK, at least) !! Needless to say, if & (hopefully) when they do get the hint and pull their finger out on this one, I'll let you know about it.

Still, enough about private channels that are not available in the UK at this point in time... instead, let's get on with providing you with some links for a few that are available in the UK for immediate use with your UK Roku players. The first of those, 'Hockey Streams', is actually a subscription channel (as well as being a private channel) so, if you wish to view the content, you'll need to stump up the readies in order to watch all of the ice hockey streams on offer. The price, in real terms, for fans of the sport ranges from around £5.00 (British Pounds) per day to the equivalent of about £75.00 for a whole year. That said, there are also options to pay weekly, monthly, quarterly and bi-annually at varying prices with details (in US Dollars) quoted in the 'Roku Guide' review for the channel. Next up is a private channel which has been around for quite some time and some of you may even have come across it already while searching online over the past couple of years. The channel I'm referring to is 'Justin.TV' although I should (perhaps) point out that this is an "unofficial" channel that was not developed and (consequently) is also not supported by the people behind the '' website. From my own ongoing experience of using this "unofficial" 'Justin.TV' private channel for Roku, I find the 'Search' function built-in to it behaves in a somewhat "hit & miss" fashion and is (therefore) hard-to-use as a standalone channel on Roku, unless you are prepared to browse endlessly or just "take a chance" on one of the first results you find (although, occasionally, something of interest can & does turn up this way). Your best bet, if it's feasible for you, is to first narrow your search as much as possible via the official site (using a computer or tablet, etc.) and then use those results as the parameters for your secondary search via the "unofficial" 'Justin.TV' private channel on Roku. One word of warning... at peak times, when demand on the servers is at it's highest, the streaming quality via this "unofficial" private channel can suffer rather drastically, to the point where it can (sometimes) border on unwatchable. Bearing that in mind, I would try & limit your use of this channel to more "off-peak" viewing. At least... that has been my experience of using it so, until an official 'Justin.TV' channel is created for the Roku Channel Store, it would appear that this is the best that we can hope for from the "unofficial"private channel for Roku. Last up, and the third private channel to feature that is available to UK Roku owners, comes a rather specialist private channel best suited to goat-loving Roku owners. It's basically a single live stream composed of footage from several web-cams which run 24/7 (incl. the use of night-vision technology) showing the day-to-day lives of a pair of goats with the channel called, appropriately, 'Goats Live'. Again, this is a relatively new private channel and has only been released in the past couple of weeks. In fact, those of you who follow the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels may even have spotted my recent tweet giving details of the access code for the 'Goats Live' private channel. For those of you that don't yet "follow" (i.e. subscribe to) the Twitter Feed, it's well worth doing so... as, when I do come across private channels that are available in the UK, I often publish details there first. As it happens, there was one such tweet about a new private channel for fans of 'HipHop' music, which I posted on Twitter during the past week. In case you missed it, the channel is called 'Beat Street Music Video Show' (ACCESS CODE: WelcomeHomeMedia) and, although the channel is (currently) still in the 'Beta' testing stages, UK Roku owners can add the channel and view the first episode (c. 38 mins) of the show already. The show itself is presented by Marcus Banks (Twitter Feed: @MBanks914), and primarily features new HipHop videos from upcoming artists although (at the request of the developers) I've been asked to point out that, even though it's (primarily) an American music video show, UK fans of the genre can expect to see established artist Melody Keys featured on the channel too. 

If you're new to Roku and don't yet know what a "private channel" is, or how to add one to your Roku streaming media player, then I'd also recommend that you read another article, FOUND HERE, which was published earlier this year by Tom Roth on his 'Roku Guide' website.

Moving on, in addition to new channels (be they public, private, beta or otherwise) as well as soon-to-be (?) former channels, we've also had some more new readers coming to the pages of this blog. Once again, there were many repeat visits from various countries that I've mentioned in previous posts but on this occasion, as with last week, there was just one country that had not featured previously. 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 Morocco, who each took the time to pay a maiden visit to these pages at some point during the past seven days, or so.

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.

Before I press on with revealing the latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, from this past week, I'd like to remind you of AN AMAZING OFFER for Roku owners IN ALL REGIONS, which comes courtesy of 'AirCastLive' mobile video & photo sharing service. Details of this FANTASTIC BARGAIN were first made available, VIA THIS TWEET, on the official 'AirCastLive' Twitter Feed and subsequently posted (with currency conversion) for the benefit of UK Roku owners via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels. Those who take advantage of this opportunity will get FULL ACCESS to the 'AirCastLive' channel FOR FREE... yes, that's equivalent to a SAVING of £2.99 (British Pounds) or $4.99 (U.S. Dollars) for the following Roku app:-

AIR CAST LIVE.............................COST: FREE (NORMALLY £2.99) [Roku Guide Review]

BUT HURRY.... this OFFER ENDS ON 15th MAY 2014 so, if you don't want to miss out, be sure to act fast because there's ONLY A FEW MORE DAYS TO GO before it's over !!

PLEASE ALSO NOTE:- That the 'AirCastLive' channel for Roku is designed to work in conjunction with the 'AirCastLive' app for either iOS (version 4.3 & later) or Android (version 2.2 & up) mobile devices. The idea being that you use this device combination to implement a mobile video and photo sharing service for your HDTV, incorporating mobile, web and TV applications, to record videos and take photos which can then be viewed (via Roku) on your television, as well as shared with another user's TV anywhere in the world, using the built-in "AirCast It" feature. You can easily DOWNLOAD these FREE APPS for your particular mobile operating system VIA THESE LINKS:-


Once installed, whether it's Mobile-to-TV, or TV-to-TV, 'AirCastLive' helps you capture, save and share all of life's moments on the largest screen in the house (even if it's not yours!). Imagine capturing that special moment and then immediately sending it from your mobile device to another family member's TV in a different town or county, or (perhaps) even in a completely different country?! Essentially, with 'AirCastLive' we can now say that TV-to-TV photo & video sharing has truly arrived and that this marks ANOTHER  HUGE STEP in the way we interact with our televisions... all of which stems from a simple & yet, A GREAT CONCEPT... I'm sure you'll agree?!!

Meanwhile, if you'd like to discover more about 'AirCastLive', you can always visit their Official Website which you will find VIA THIS LINK and where you can watch a video "Introducing AirCastLive", to learn more about exactly "What is AirCastLive?", if any of the above is unclear. Those of you wishing to connect with the developers of the 'AirCastLive' channel for Roku can do so using their Twitter Feed: @AirCastLive or else get social via: AirCastLive (Facebook).

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 FOUR NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the past seven days. These latest additions to the channel line-up have provided us with FRESH CONTENT in the Film & TV, Internet TV, 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 with an independent (slightly more expansive) assessment of each one:-

SPACE...........................................................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

INTO THE SUNSET - WESTERNS..................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

SPACE TV....................................................COST: £0.69 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

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


So whether it's space exploration, gazing at the stars, learning about the cosmos, zoning-out to the gorgeous colours and shapes on offer from the hundreds of outer-space programs available to both mystify and inform you, or fulfilling your cowboy fantasies as you ride-off "into the sunset", thanks to another FREE-TO-ADD and FREE-TO-VIEW channel showing many classic Hollywood Western movies & more, or (perhaps) even some other kind of heavenly experience, courtesy of a 24/7 live-streaming channel chock full of religious offerings with the singular goal to reach souls... we've pretty much got all of those bases covered with these 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 six 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 four 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 !!


In the meantime, for my last thirty-nine '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. As usual this continued failure by the so-called "developers" at NowTV to add any new channels means that the feeble excuse for a Roku Channel Store as featured on the NowTV Box remains pretty much devoid of (new) content, with the symbolism of it's vast emptiness captured in black & white by the photograph below...

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


It is (perhaps) fitting that the source of the above image was the 'GhostWorks' studio since the developers responsible for adding to the channel store on the NowTV Box have produced nothing but "ghost works" for months on end themselves! However... if you read the original article that the photo appeared in, FOUND HERE, you will soon discover that the image was used (in that instance) as a symbol of the ability to overcome an ever-changing environment and adapt to a perpetual state of change by gathering resources along the way... much like the early settlers in the town of Twisp (the basis for the article) who took on obstacles and adapted to the rough frontier lifestyle. OK, granted, you could (again) draw parallels between NowTV channel developers and cowboys (as I have before) but one thing that doesn't hold true about the channel store on the NowTV Box are the "ever-changing environment" and "perpetual state of change" references which, while true of the channel store found on all original Roku players, can certainly not be applied to the streaming device from NowTV!!!!!!

Perhaps the channel developers for the NowTV Box should take heart from the "conclusion" to the 'Twisp' article and see the tumbleweed as inspiration for new ideas and innovations. That way, we might actually see a second new channel added to the selection on offer in the channel store... thus, doubling the number of new additions since the product launched and providing me with another opportunity to use a photograph of fireworks instead. We can but live in hope that day will come !! 

Meanwhile, 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 FOUR EXTRA CHANNELS during that same period of time. To keep things firmly in perspective, in the forty-one weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FOUR 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 '4oD' channel which, like 'Flixster' before it, decided to up-sticks and leave it's original home in the "Film & TV" category to hide-out in the "Most Popular" channels, presumably (also) preferring the (relative) obscurity of a twenty-five channel lineup to the company of just six other channels with which it had shared the genre since the 'Flixster' channel went into hiding. Perhaps worse still was the loss of 'MLB.TV' from the "News, Weather, Sport" category which, unless you added it previously (in which case you'll find it under 'My Channels' in the menu), you will not (currently) be able to add to the channel selection on your NowTV Box. Some cynics might say that this was down to the extortionate cost of a NowTV 'Sports Day Pass' at £9.99 for only 24-hours of viewing. Maybe they considered 'MLB.TV' to be too much of a threat with it's FREE "Game Of The Day" and banished it from the channel selection?! Whatever the explanation, it's one more reason for choosing an original Roku player over the streaming media device from NowTV because all UK Roku models, you'll be pleased to hear, still have the 'MLB.TV' channel available for baseball fans. As far as the channel selection on the NowTV Box goes... the best I can say is that at least the 'Havoc Television' and the 'VEVO' channels (which had both been missing an "official" Roku Channel Store category on the NowTV Box for a very long time) have managed to stay put for the past nine 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".

Sadly, this means there are now just 47 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels which (unfortunately) means the overall total is now down to only forty-nine channels (even less than there were when the product was launched in July 2013). Plus, 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 45 channels in total compared with 950+ 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 the summer holiday period begins, 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 both the 'Plex' and 'YouTube' channels readily available via the channel store and will give you more than 900 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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