Saturday, May 20, 2017

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #219





Hi, everyone !!



Before I go any further, I'd first like to take the opportunity to wish each and every Roku user from all countries and/or regions a "HAPPY STREAMING DAY!" because this post is being published on the 20th May which, as you may (or may not) be aware, was designated by Roku as "Streaming Day" to mark the anniversary of the day in 2008 when the Netflix player (aka Roku streaming media player) was first introduced to the world... and, nine years later, now here we are - still streaming like crazy!






Unfortunately, while Roku were keen to encourage UKCanadian and USA streamers to "Join Roku in celebrating National Streaming Day all week long!" they were not as eager to share their latest theme for 'Streaming Day' with Roku users from "other" countries and regions outside of the United States. So when they issued a call to action, via Twitter, for Roku users to "RT if you love the National #StreamingDay theme on your #Roku streaming devices!"... I was quick to point-out that those of us in the UK with Roku devices would sadly not be able to answer that call:-






My comment seemingly struck a chord with other UK Roku users, prompting a direct response from one 'Col B' [Twitter Feed: @colb1895] making it clear, in no uncertain terms, how he has been left feeling as an Roku UK user by Roku's apparent disregard for all people from this country who have invested in their products over the last five years, as evidenced by the screenshot below:-






And, as 'Col B' says, "let's face it"... that's not the sort of "testimonial" which Roku should be aspiring to in the UK, or any other Roku "region" / country where their devices are sold. When it comes to a free theme such as this, which Roku themselves have developed, how hard is it for them to simply check (i.e. "tick" as we say in the UK) a few boxes & extend it to all users of their devices, regardless of where they're from? Sadly, this sort of thing is becoming more and more frequent over time... with no "Mother's Day" theme for the UK being one of the more notable instances year after year. You'd think with all the £MILLIONS invested in Roku from Sky (a UK company) that we deserve better than that... and, when you add to that the lack of support for new Roku models in the UK over the last couple of years (i.e. there has been no 'Roku 3' [Model: 4230] with "Voice Search" functionality; no 'Roku Streaming' Stick [Model: 3600] with faster processor; no 'Roku 4' [Model: 4400] which was introduced in October 2015 and discontinued a year later with no UK release in that time, as well as; no 'Roku Express' [Model: 3700] or 'Roku Express+' [Model: 3710] plus, not forgetting; we've had no 'Roku Premiere' [Model: 4620] or 'Roku Premiere +' [Model: 4630], and; no new flagship 4K-capable 'Roku Ultra' [Model: 4640], with the icing on the cake being that not one 'Roku TV' model has been marketed in the UK despite dozens of different televisions and millions of units being sold in North America during that time period). So, come on Roku, when is the UK going to start seeing more of a return on our collective investment in your products over the years? Let's hope it's soon! :-/ :-|


Meanwhile, with no "Streaming Day" theme for 2017 outside of the USA, the best that I can do for my fellow UK Roku users is share the image used by Roku to promote it in the U.S. :-






Although (as yet) unfamiliar to UK Roku users (save for the information available online) the TV in the above screenshot shows the User Interface (UI) incorporated into 'Roku TV' models in the U.S. but, despite "being discussed" by some manufacturers for a UK release, we have yet to see any of our retailers selling televisions with the Roku OS built-in to them. Bearing that in mind, one wonders if the availability for pre-order of Element Amazon Fire TV Edition 4K UHD Televisions in the USA during the last seven days could indicate further bad news, in terms of potential lost revenue, for Roku if those 4K-capable televisions (with built-in Fire TV OS) are available to UK customers of Amazon before we even get a sniff of a 'Roku TV' in this country!?!! Granted, they will not even ship in the U.S. until 14th June 2017... but, with competition so fierce among the rival manufacturers, surely it is unlikely to be too long before we start seeing them made available for purchase via Amazon UK!?!! Having already broken the news as to the availability of these Amazon Fire TV Edition televisions from Element (via Twitter) it also led me to speculate (again, via social media) as to whether Roku might lose-out to Amazon over sales of 4K-capable TV's in much the same way as they did by not introducing any 4K-capable Roku STB's (Set-Top Boxes) or Roku Streaming Sticks in the UK, while the competition (i.e. Amazon, with their 'Fire TV' set-top box, and Google, with their 'Chromecast Ultra' device) stole the march on them with their own 4K-capable products:-






Of course, aside from 'Amazon Video', another streaming service through which UK Roku users would benefit by having 4K-capable devices is 'Netflix' and, much like any other week of late, there has been another press release from those ever-industrious folks at the Netflix Media Centre in the last seven days. This time, the news concerns the return of "Arrested Development" for a fifth season, with series creator Mitchell Hurwitz confirming that it will feature the entire regular cast, including: Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Portia de Rossi, David Cross and Alia Shawkat. According to the press release, the new season will premiere exclusively for Netflix members worldwide in 2018.


Also coming soon from Netflix is a series based on "The Witcher"… with Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s fantasy franchise being brought to life as an english-language drama series. For those who may not be familiar with it, "The Witcher" is a New York Times bestselling book series that has also already inspired the hugely popular CD Projekt Red RPG franchise, a popular video game series, which has since been translated into over 20 languages. Known collectively as "The Witcher Saga", Sapkowski’s eight novels and story collections center on "witchers" - hunters who develop supernatural abilities at a young age to battle deadly monsters - and, according to the press release, Netflix will develop and produce their new show based on these books. Other than what is already known from the press release, no release date, casting, or further information is available at this time.


Another news story which (to a greater or lesser extent) can be applied to both 'Netflix' and 'Amazon' customers involves the recent revelation that Netflix are to start blocking rooted/unlocked devices from accessing their service. In a report by Corbin Davenport, published via the 'Android Police' website, it was revealed that Netflix has started showing up as 'incompatible' on the Play Store for rooted and unlocked Android devices. Apparently, the app itself continued to work fine, leading some (including Corbin Davenport) to think it could have been an accident. However, Netflix has since confirmed that blocking modified devices from downloading their app was intentional. For those who are interested, the full statement from 'Netflix' can be read in Corbin's article (see link above). In a further update to the 'Android Police' article, it was revealed that the situation is actually much worse than at first thought and Google is now giving app developers the option to prevent rooted devices from installing apps across the board. The advice from 'Android Police' for anyone with a blocked device is to follow the Pushbullet channel for Netflix on APKMirror (click the 'Pushbullet' button on the 'APKMirror' page) so that they can continue to receive updates outside of the Google Play Store. Luckily, the news is better for 'Amazon' customers... with confirmation via 'AFTV News' that rooted Fire TV Set-Top Boxes and Fire TV Sticks are not yet(?) affected by this change but, if you do happen to own one of those (rooted) Amazon streaming devices, I'd recommend keeping an eye on the 'AFTV News' website for further updates on the situation from Elias in the coming weeks.


Of course, one particular sub-set of streamers who know all about the woes of using rooted devices is those with 'NowTV' subscriptions... and, unlike most weeks, there was an announcement from 'Sky' during the past seven days to say that they have just extended their long-standing partnership with NBCUniversal. As a direct result of this agreement... the good news, for those who subscribe to the "Entertainment Month Pass" from 'NowTV', is that both 'Syfy' and 'hayu' (NBCU International’s service for all-reality programming) will be coming to 'NowTV' in 2018. Granted it's still a fair way off but, for a service whose own-brand devices have suffered a lot of bad news lately, it will (no doubt) come as a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for those who continue to use them. For me, though, the far more interesting news story pertaining to 'NowTV' this week came about during the Connected TV World Summit 2017 in London on Wednesday/Thursday 17th-18th May 2017:-






Those of you who follow the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels for this blog may recall my excitement on Wednesday morning when I first shared an image via Twitter that suggested 'MUBI' might soon be about to launch on 'NowTV' boxes. This came to my attention thanks to a visual aid used by Martina Storti - Director of Strategy & Proposition for NowTV at Sky UK - during a session on content aggregation, where it was revealed that Sky / NowTV are in the process of aggregating more content apps on NowTV Boxes. One app icon which caught my eye (in the bottom right-hand corner of the grid) was for the 'MUBI' streaming service - as evidenced by the screenshot below:-






As can be seen from my annotated comments which were added to the original photograph, there is reason to suggest that (if it is coming to 'NowTV' devices) there is a good chance that we will also soon have access to 'MUBI UK' on Roku streaming media players in this country. Especially since 'MUBI' has already approved a Roku channel for the United States which brought 'MUBI USA' to the platform back in December 2016. Further evidence linking 'MUBI' to 'NowTV' and, by association, to Roku devices in the UK came with the discovery that, only two months prior to the launch of the Roku channel for 'MUBI' in the U.S., both Gidon Katz (NowTV) and Efe Cakarel (MUBI) were at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) Show in Amsterdam. Was this meeting, which took place in September 2016, the moment when the possibility of adding 'MUBI' to 'NowTV' devices was first suggested? Maybe the discussion pictured below led to what we now see in the image above!?!! ;-) :-)






Despite the negative results from my recent online polls (via Twitter) about the standard of customer service from 'MUBI', I am still very keen to try out the service if and when it does come to Roku in the UK because, as a huge fan of film across the decades, I like the unique approach taken by the service to bring high quality cinema from across the board to those who enjoy streaming them. With any luck, we won't have to wait much longer until we see the following channel icon among those listed in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and in the 'App Store' on 'NowTV' devices! :-)






Anyway, that's about all the Roku-specific and/or Roku-related news which I've managed to find for you this week. All that remains now is for me to bring you my summary of all the latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, so that you can see if there's anything worth adding to your own (custom) selection of streaming channels. As has often been the case of late, the list (once again) begins with a channel that, despite being new to UK Roku devices, is not listed in the "New" category (i.e. genre) of the Roku UK Channel Store. Blogging specifically about Roku streaming devices & other Roku-related matters, I love discovering apps like this... because they illustrate precisely why it's worth reading my 'Weekly RoundUp' posts. Any Roku users who simply rely on whatever they see listed under the "New" category in the built-in channel store of their streaming media players (to identify the latest apps for UK Roku devices) risk missing-out on channels like this altogether. Other websites offering Roku channel listings will base their contents on the Roku USA Channel Store, which means they also include apps that are unavailable to Roku UK users. As always... my advice, if you really want to know what's available channel-wise, for owners of Roku devices in the UK is be sure to read this blog each and every week! ;-) :-)


However, before I run through the new channels, a reminder that UK Roku users are still subject to restrictions (imposed by Roku) and (bizarrely) remain unable to access the channel descriptions from the web store on the Roku (USA) website. That said, the majority of text in those web listings can also be found within the individual descriptions from the built-in "Channel Store" (accessed via "Streaming Channels" from the main menu) on all Roku devices and, together with the associated screenshots (where available), should give a pretty good indication of what those channels are about.


My advice to any UK-based readers of this blog is to ignore the links below (and to the left of) each channel icon shown here and (instead) rely on the link to the right (below each channel icon) which (where available) will redirect you to an 'Roku Guide' review for additional details on that channel. As it stands, the links below (and to the left of) each icon are (currently) only of use to readers of this blog from the USA. This means that Roku users from the other "supported" regions of the world (i.e. Ireland, Canada, France and Mexico) are, like those of us in the UK, unable to browse the Roku Web Channel Store - which for now (at least) remains an exclusive privilege of Roku users in the USA. :-(


Hopefully Roku will (one day) wake-up to the fact that improving the experience for users in "other" Roku "regions" is just as important as it is for those who buy & use their products in the U.S. and that denying access to the Roku website does not help the end-user experience for those of us (outside the USA) who wish to browse the web channel store. Meanwhile, that which Roku (apparently) doesn't want UK Roku users to see on their website (i.e. the list of new channels) is regularly summarised on this blog in my 'Weekly RoundUp' posts. So, without further ado, here's my 'Weekly RoundUp' of all the new Roku channels released between 14th May 2017 and 20th May 2017:-







SANDALS CHURCH.............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***







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

***FILED UNDER: "RELIGIOUS" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






HAPPYKIDS.TV 3D................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "KIDS & FAMILY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






PROPERTY CANADA TV.......................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "TRAVEL" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






PLAYMIGO.................COST: FREE (n.b. requires companion mobile app) [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "FILM & TV" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***

PLEASE NOTE:- That, in order to cast media to your television using the 'Playmigo' channel on your Roku device, you will need to cast the content from Playmigo-enabled apps on your mobile device. If you read the 'Roku Guide' review (see link above) you will see that it makes reference to mobile apps for both iOS (Apple) and Android devices... but, during my own attempts at downloading them, I was only able to find a link to the "Playmigo Demo" app for Android devices from the Google Play Store. If anyone would like to try it out, here is the link you will need:-


FREE DOWNLOAD: Of Playmigo Demo App for Android Devices (from the Google Play Store)


Unfortunately, the official website for 'Playmigo' was still "under construction" when I first visited in the hope of finding more information... but I'm including the link so that you can check for yourselves from time-to-time in case there's an update to the "Coming Soon" banner that (currently) greets any visitors to the site. Those wishing to dig deeper into the workings of 'Playmigo' can always pay a visit to their GitHub Page where you'll find more information on it's media casting capabilities.







MY MUSIC...............................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "MUSIC" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






GO FLOW STREAMING TV.............................COST: £1.49 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "FILM & TV" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






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

***FILED UNDER: "KIDS & FAMILY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






SODERE...........................................COST: FREE + $9.99 (MONTHLY) [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "FILM & TV" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






IRMÃOS PIOLOGO................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "COMEDY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






GUAVA JUICE.........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "SPECIAL INTEREST" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






CHEF DE MI CASA................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "FOOD" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






HAPPYKIDS.TV FRANÇAIS.................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "KIDS & FAMILY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






THUG LIFE VIDEOS..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "COMEDY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN FIRST RELEASED***






CUENTA CUENTOS BEATRIZ MONTERO.........................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "KIDS & FAMILY" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






EL ANTI NOTI........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

***FILED UNDER: "NEWS & WEATHER" in Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***




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Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot this week and, although it only amounts to two-thirds of the twenty-four channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store in the same time-frame, it's still better to get these 16 NEW CHANNELS than none at all... as I'm sure you'll agree?!


In any event, hopefully everyone in the UK with a Roku player managed to find something they like within the sixteen "public" channels outlined above... or else from the "private" channels, whose access codes were "gifted" to you via the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels to this blog, at various points throughout the past few weeks. However, if you didn't find anything to add to your Roku channel selection from the assortment of channels on offer this week, you can always pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something more to your liking. After all, there's no point installing every channel because, like I say... when it comes to adding new channels to your Roku, IT'S YOUR CHOICE and, as with all things Roku... THE CHOICE IS ALWAYS YOURS!




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As mentioned previously, you can expect my usual summary of all the goings-on (or not) in the (severely restricted) Roku Channel Store (aka "App 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 earlier posts (as mentioned before) for all the new additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store in each of the one hundred and forty-five 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 !!