Saturday, September 12, 2015

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #131

Hi, everyone !!

In a week which saw another "Special Event" from Apple - at 6pm (UK time) on Wednesday 9th September 2015 - in which we were (finally) introduced to the fourth generation 'Apple TV' device, it was hardly surprising to learn that most of the "new" features stemmed from existing capabilities found on both the Roku range of streaming media players as well as 'Fire TV' devices from Amazon. Of the few "unique" improvements to the new 'Apple TV', most came by way of new functionality for the remote control supplied with the Apple device. Most notable (for some) would be the touch-sensitive pad built-in to the new 'Apple TV' remote allowing the user to navigate the user interface (UI) with simple taps, swipes & thumb presses resulting in far fewer button "clicks" being needed for general operation. Somewhat ironic then that the other main improvement(s) to the 'Apple TV' remote came courtesy of some extra buttons, not found on the previous minimalist input device for the streaming media player from Apple. Those unique to the new 'Apple TV' and (thus far) not featured on any of the rival devices from either Roku or Amazon include "+" and "-" buttons for controlling the volume plus another "Source" button to switch inputs on your television. This may well impact on future sales of 'Sideclick' remotes for the new 'Apple TV' device, although owners of earlier generation models and those of us with Roku and/or Amazon devices can still "add" this functionality, thanks to Sideclick!

The remaining additional button, found on the new 'Apple TV' remote, is an "Search" button - or, in the case of Apple devices, more likely to be referred to as an "Siri" button - which although, in and of itself, it does not appear to offer anything not already found on Roku / Amazon remotes... this is where the incredible search power of "Siri" really stands out and (potentially) puts the new 'Apple TV' search capabilities way ahead of those for Amazon 'Fire TV' devices and/or Roku streaming media players as things stand. Sure, Roku may (currently) have more "Search Partners" than Apple does on 'Apple TV' but this will surely change over time now that 'Apple TV' has it's own tvOS with an App Store geared towards streaming media entertainment and a multitude of app developers well-versed in adding "Siri" functionality to their apps. Add to that the extended search capabilities that come with "Siri", like searching for an particular TV episode featuring an individual "special guest" appearance by an actor and then (having found it) being able to navigate to the scene which features that guest star, as well as narrowing down "Search" parameters within your initial "broad" search terms - simply by asking "Siri" - and it becomes clear that both Amazon and Roku will need to focus even more on this aspect of their streaming media players if they are to raise the bar ahead of any future devices from Apple!

Meanwhile, whether it was to highlight the strength of their own "Search" in the knowledge that Apple were likely to add a similar feature to the new 'Apple TV' or simply an (unfortunate) coincidence, Roku chose this past week to make a song & dance, IN  THIS POST, via the "Official" Roku Blog about the fact that there are now 20 "Search Partners" whose results feature in "Roku Search" on Roku streaming media players in the USA. Unfortunately, from a UK perspective, this merely served to highlight our own lack of Roku UK "Search Partners" whose results feature in "Roku Search" on UK Roku devices!

When Roku CEO, Anthony Wood, made it known publicly - HERE - in a special announcement on 6th April 2015 via the "Official" Roku Blog that, "Participating channel providers will be announced in early May" as UK 'Search Partners', you'd have been forgiven for thinking those channels might well include the likes of Netflix, NowTV, Sky Store, CinemaNow (UK), Sainsburys Entertainment, Google Play Movies & TV, plus (perhaps) even some of the UK CatchUpTV services which have consistently proven "Most Popular" among UK Roku owners. Then "early May" came and went without so much as a whisper or a hint from Roku as to who these "Participating channel providers" might be... so, when it was (eventually) announced by Clive Hudson (Vice President & General Manager for Roku Europe) on 25th May 2015 - VIA THIS ARTICLE - that "Initially Netflix, Snagfilms and Popcornflix will be featured in Roku Search" it was a bit of a let-down, to say the least! Things have since gone from bad to worse with results from "initial" Roku UK "Search Partner" and participating channel provider, Popcornflix, still missing from "Roku Search" in the UK - yes, incredible as it may seem, FIVE MONTHS AFTER THE ORIGINAL ANNOUNCEMENT, the "cross-platform" feature ROKU SEARCH ONLY OFFERS RESULTS FROM TWO CHANNELS IN UK: Netflix & Snagfilms - as the following screenshot from my own UK 'Roku 3' device clearly illustrates:-

Quite why 'Popcornflix' should remain absent from "Roku Search" in the UK so long after it's "initial" implementation is anybody's guess... with the mystery further deepened by the fact this Roku "Search Partner" is already an participating channel in "Roku Search" for devices in the USA, as the following list - published via the "Official" Roku Blog on 8th September 2015 (see link above) - clearly shows:-

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

Aside from 'Popcornflix', plus (of course) 'Netflix' and 'SnagFilms', a closer look at the above list of "Participating channel providers" for "Roku Search" in USA reveals several other Roku channels that either already are, or could / should be, in the Roku Channel Store on UK Roku devices and that, as a result, would make ideal candidates to also feature as part of the Roku cross-platform search in UK:-

Of the five channels highlighted above, both 'CinemaNow' and 'Met Opera On Demand' are already available in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and, consequently, I see little or no reason for those two Roku channels not to be featured "Search Partners" on UK Roku devices as well! When it comes to 'Roku Recommends', being developed and operated by Roku themselves, not only should that already be available to Roku owners in the UK via the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, but also... it could then be featured "Search Partner" on UK Roku devices! Even if some of the content / channels featured on  'Roku Recommends' are not (yet) available on UK Roku devices, it would be very easy to have the presenter mention this (or else, add it by way of on-screen graphics) to clarify matters for Roku viewers in the UK - or, better yet, develop an UK-specific equivalent of 'Roku Recommends' with an UK presenter and featuring such  content / channels that are available on Roku devices in the UK! The same could be said for 'M-GO', that also has very close ties with Roku themselves, which - with very little content pruning / development - could easily be a part of the Roku 'Homescreen' experience on UK Roku devices, offer content licensed for UK viewers, and (if added) become another string in the bow of UK "Roku Search" which is currently more like a broken rubber band than a bow of any sorts!

The fifth channel outlined above is 'Amazon Instant Video', the lack of which is probably the biggest bone of contention among UK Roku owners - bearing in mind it has been available as a channel on Roku devices in the USA since before the streaming media players even came to the UK at the start of 2012 - and, regardless of who is responsible for it's absence from the Roku platform in the UK (be it Sky - as major stakeholders in Roku - or even Amazon themselves), it remains notable by it's absence as the following comments, posted by UK Roku users, on the "Official" Roku Blog ably demonstrate:-

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

For the record, the above comments were posted in response to the original announcement from Roku CEO, Anthony Wood, about the introduction of "Roku Search" on UK Roku devices. Irrespective of their timing, their feelings surrounding the lack of 'Amazon Instant Video' from the Roku platform in the UK have held true since day one (c. January 2012) and will doubtless remain so until this situation has been properly addressed by all parties concerned. You would think, as Amazon UK stand to profit more by having an 'Amazon Instant Video' channel on UK Roku devices (via the increased uptake in Prime Membership and additional sales of pay-per-view (PPV) content through 'Amazon Instant' that would be a direct result of this) the reason for the continued absence of  'Amazon Instant Video' from the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store is not down to Amazon UK - if it is the decision of those in charge at 'Amazon Video UK' (formerly 'LoveFilm' in UK) then they need to wake-up and smell the coffee, because Roku UK is a (potentially) rich and (as yet) untapped market for them! If, on the other hand, it is due to the involvement of Sky within the Roku ranks... I would urge Roku to seek investment from elsewhere & buy-out whatever stake in their company is owned by Sky and send them packing because, while I can respect their decision as to which channels they deem appropriate for their own 'NowTV' boxes, I do not think they should prevent a channel such as 'Amazon Instant Video' from becoming an option for UK Roku owners on what was always intended to be an "open" platform!

In the meantime, while we continue to wait for 'Amazon Instant Video' to be added to the Roku UK channel selection, one of the cheapest options to obtain this movie streaming service (by other means) for UK Roku owners remains the 'FireTV Stick' from Amazon. Priced at £35.00, it comes highly recommended as a means of not only adding 'Amazon Instant Video' but also for the ability to easily side-load 'KODI' (formerly 'XBMC') for streaming your own media, as well as that available from the multitude of plugins on offer. Better yet, if you happen to also be in the market for another ISP, there is an offer from 'Fuel Broadband' to get a FREE 'FireTV Stick' + FREE UNLIMITED BROADBAND for 9 months (as part of a 12-month contract) + 30 DAYS FREE 'AmazonPrime' MEMBERSHIP when you sign-up. Confirmation of this offer was posted via their Twitter Feed (@Fuel_Broadband) earlier in the week, as per the following screenshot:-

Full T&C's are available via the 'Fuel Broadband' website, FOUND HERE, but you will need to act swiftly because THIS OFFER IS ONLY AVAILABLE UNTIL 30th SEPTEMBER 2015 and, with only a further 3-month commitment (at a cost of only £5.00 per month, plus line rental) after your trial period of 9 MONTHS' FREE UNLIMITED BROADBAND has ended, it's a great way to obtain access to 'Amazon Instant Video' for a minimal outlay! Take a look at the banner advertisement from the 'Fuel Broadband' website if you need any more incentive to GET A FREE 'FireTV' STICK !!!!!!

Anyway, before I proceed with listing the current crop of new channels (plus providing links to their associated reviews) for this particular 'Weekly RoundUp'... a brief reminder that, whilst I had hoped I'd be able to catch-up on the missing Roku-related news from this blog in recent weeks, all the extra work I've been burdened with of late means it remains unlikely that I'll be fully caught-up anytime soon. Until I do find the time... my one saving grace is that (as mentioned previously) I have somehow managed to remain up-to-date with all the latest additions to the "New" category of the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and will endeavour to flesh-out what's missing ASAP! Admittedly, there are quite a few articles that I need to catch up on but, rather than post links for individual weeks, I'll simply refer you back to my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #78", which contains all of the pertinent information you might need when researching back over the items in question. Again, I'm sorry this has dragged-on (far) longer than anticipated, and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you, but (all being well) things will be back up to speed soon!

As mentioned earlier... all I can offer you for now is a summary of the latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store from the past week. As with my other recent posts, you can expect any additional Roku-related news from the last seven days, along with details of any changes to the channel selection found on NowTV Boxes, to be added at some point in the near future. As for "mending" all of the "broken" links from previous 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I still can't put a time-scale on how long that is going to take but (like I said before) if you "copy" the existing link(s) and change the "http" prefix to "https", as well as removing the "forward slash" between 'channels' and '#!details', so that "channels#/!details" becomes "channels#!details" in each weblink, you should find that they will all work for you and redirect to the new-look version of each individual channel description. As with the last forty-four 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, every link from this week (plus all future posts) will use the new format, so it's only those from 'Weekly RoundUp #1' up as far as 'Weekly RoundUp #86' which you'll have to amend... at least, until I can edit/repair the links for you !!

Still, with all the "missing" Roku-related news (and links) yet to follow, let's now press on with the current 'Weekly RoundUp' of NEW ADDITIONS to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This time there are SEVEN NEW CHANNELS which have been added during the preceding seven day period. These latest additions provided FRESH CONTENT in the Movies & TV, Comedy, Fitness, and Religious categories. Specifically... this means there have been no less than FOUR EXTRA CHANNELS added to the "Religious" genre, plus a further ONE EXTRA CHANNEL in each of the "Movies & TV", "Comedy",  and "Fitness" categories, among the selection of new channel choices which have been introduced to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store during this past week. 

In keeping with previous installments from the 'Weekly RoundUp' series, details of these new channels have 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:-

MY CROSS WAY MINISTRIES.........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


PERSPECTIVE TELEVISION NETWORK.......................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


FUEGO FITNESS TV...........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


PLEASE NOTE:- That, due to the fact this 'Fuego Fitness TV' channel has yet to be added to the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store, the link provided above will instead redirect you to the website of 'Fuego Fitness TV' where further information about the channel and additional links to social media can be found. Likewise, there is (currently) no active link to an 'Roku Guide' review for this channel. Should this situation change, I will post the "missing" links here, just as soon as the details have been made known to me. Meanwhile, apologies for any inconvenience caused by their absence.



PLEASE NOTE:- That, while the 'Queer Cinema Entertainment' channel is FREE-TO-ADD to your Roku device(s) and does contain a limited amount of (ad-supported) FREE-TO-VIEW content, there is also the option to take out a PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP subscription for $5.99 PER MONTH which gives you FULL ACCESS to the entire video-on-demand (VoD) library. Whether you watch for free, or sign up for a premium account, you get full access across all of your devices. So, if you have a mix of Android, Roku and/or Apple devices, they will all work with your one premium account, just as they will all work (in a limited capacity) for those who choose to watch for free. For ease of reference, I am posting the relevant links for FREE DOWNLOADS of the 'Queer Cinema Entertainment' apps below:-

DOWNLOAD FREE iOS APP: via iTunes UK App Store (n.b. requires iOS 7.0 or later)


DOWNLOAD FREE Android APP: via Google Play Store (n.b. requires Android 4.0 and up)

Those wishing to get social with the folks behind 'Queer Cinema Entertainment' can do so easily, via either their Twitter Feed: @Queer_Cinema or their Facebook Page: Queer Cinema (Facebook).

SO... WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?! Queer Cinema Entertainment offers a finely curated selection of independent, international LGBT cinema by exciting new filmmakers from across the globe. From quirky romantic comedies, to engrossing dramas, to compelling documentaries and shorts.

Queer Cinema Entertainment is your place to discover the very best in LGBT entertainment!

You'll get unlimited movie viewing on almost any internet-connected device, including iPhone, iPad, Roku players & Android mobile devices, with more to come! Basic users watching FREE MOVIES are able to view a limited library of titles, where movies are STREAMED IN SD ONLY, and the app and movies are accompanied with a variety of ads. While the Premium Service requires a subscription, remember... upgrading to premium lifts all restrictions and removes all ads, giving you FULL ACCESS to the entire 'Queer Cinema Entertainment' library, and offers STREAMS IN FULL HD, not forgetting there will also be ZERO ADS, and all for ONLY $5.99 PER MONTH!

PAYMENT & CANCELLATION:- Payment will be charged at confirmation of purchase & your subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is turned off at least 24-hours before the end of the current period. What this means is that you can expect your account to be charged for renewal within 24-hours prior to the end of the current period, and for the cost of that renewal to be made known to you, unless you have already cancelled. Subscriptions may be managed by you and auto-renewal may be turned off by going to your "Account Settings" anytime after purchase, although no cancellation of the current subscription is allowed during the active subscription period.



REMNANT SEED MINISTRIES.........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


ONE PLACE.........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]


THE ANTHONY CUMIA SHOW............COST: FREE / $6.95 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]


PLEASE NOTE:- That, while 'The Anthony Cumia Show' channel is FREE-TO-ADD to your Roku device(s) and does contain a LIMITED AMOUNT OF FREE CONTENT, there is also the option to take out a PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP subscription for $6.95 PER MONTH which gives you FULL ACCESS to the entire video-on-demand (VoD) library. In addition to the monthly subscription option, there is the choice of paying either $32.95 FOR SIX MONTHS or $59.95 PER YEAR to save money.

TO SUBSCRIBE:- You must first register, VIA THIS LINK, and once you have become a subscriber to 'The Anthony Cumia Show', you gain exclusive access to view & listen to over 350 hours of original, live & archived content which is only available to subscribers, plus get notified of periodic updates to the website, enabling you to interact and experience the show in a whole new way.

Those wishing to get social with the folks behind 'The Anthony Cumia Show' can do so easily, via their Twitter Feed: @TheCumiaShow or their Facebook Page: Anthony Cumia Show (Facebook).

SO... WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?! The Anthony Cumia Show is an online talk show hosted by Anthony Cumia, co-founder and former co-host of The Opie and Anthony Show. The show and its paid-subscription platform - SEE WEBSITE - launched in the summer of 2014. Combining news and pop culture with guests from the world of comedy, music, movies and television, The Anthony Cumia Show offers a unique and uncensored perspective of what’s happening in the world. Previously, the show has featured such guests as Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, "Stuttering" John Melendez, Rob Bartlett, Robert Kelly and Ron Bennington. For more info, visit their website (see link above).


Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, whilst it doesn't quite match-up to the eight channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame, it's better to have this choice of 7 NEW CHANNELS than none at all, don't you think?!

Meanwhile... hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the seven "public" channels outlined above... or else from the "private" channels, whose access codes were "gifted" to you via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog, at various points throughout the last seven days. Even so, if you didn't find anything to add to your Roku channel selection from the assortment of channels on offer this week, 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 like I say... when it comes to adding more new channels to your Roku, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS !!


As mentioned earlier in this post, you can expect my usual summary of all the goings-on (or not) in the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store that features on NowTV Boxes to follow in the near future. Meanwhile, whether you happen to own a Roku player, a NowTV Box, OR BOTH, as I do... be sure to check my previous posts (as mentioned above) for all the new additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in each of the fifty-eight preceding weeks and then come back again in seven days' time for my next 'Weekly RoundUp'. However, 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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