Saturday, May 13, 2017

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #218





Hi, everyone !!



If you've been following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels to this blog, over the past two months then you will (most likely) be aware that there has been a growing stock shortage across UK Roku retailers which even saw several companies, including Media Streaming Market (who were handling all sales from the UK RokuPlayer website), completely run-out of stock altogether, as can be seen from the annotated screenshot images of their websites which I also shared via social media:-








HINT:- Please CLICK on the above images TO ENLARGE THEM for easier viewing !!


Other Roku Recommended Retailers in the UK, including Amazon, Currys / PC World and Tesco have also been affected (albeit to a lesser extent) by the lack of supply across the entire range of latest UK Roku models (i.e. Roku Streaming Stick, Roku 2 [Model: 4205] and Roku 3 [Model: 4200]) all of which led me to speculate, again via social media, this could be an indication that we may be about to (finally) witness the launch for some of the newer Roku models here in the UK...






Of course, if Roku were to introduce some of the models from their current U.S. line-up to the UK, it would mean that UK Roku users may (at last) have some 4K-capable devices available for purchase. This assumes, of course, that the Roku Premiere / Premiere+ and/or Roku Ultra plus (fingers crossed) perhaps even a 4K Roku TV are among the new offerings for Roku UK shoppers to consider... which, funnily enough, is precisely what UK Roku user 'Vicci' [Twitter Feed: @Viccivicci] was wondering and (better still) led to the official comment from 'Roku Support' [Twitter Feed: @RokuSupport] that they "look forward to expanding" their presence "...in the UK soon!", as per the screenshot below:-







Precisely what was meant by 'Roku Support' when using the term "soon" is anybody's guess... and, on past performance, could even be an indication of months, rather than the (much-preferred) estimate of weeks (or even less) that most UK Roku users would wish for. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say that there will (most likely) be an announcement in June or July, prior to an "Official" release later in the year (possibly around September or October) although I hope to be proved wrong by Roku, with an earlier release date being more highly desirable and (possibly) even an absolute necessity, given the afore-mentioned stock shortages via UK Roku retailers across most of the product range at this time.


Meanwhile, as Roku look forward to expanding their presence in the UK, the reverse is happening in terms of the numbers for 'Roku Recommended Retailers' listed on their UK website. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you might recall that, in a recent 'Weekly RoundUp' post, I drew attention to the fact that recent zero stock levels of Roku media players at Media Streaming Market [aka Exertis UK Ltd] were impacting on any potential purchases made via the UK Roku website. I'm not sure if my comments carried any sway with Roku but, for whatever reason, the problem with the "Buy now" buttons has since been addressed so, instead of redirecting to Media Streaming Market, they now take you to the "Where to buy" page on the "Official" Roku UK website. This webpage has a list of 'Roku Recommended Retailers' which, only three weeks ago, still featured the option to buy any of the current UK Roku models from Media Streaming Market plus other UK Roku retailers:-





AS BEFORE:- Please CLICK on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!



However, during the past seven days since my previous 'Weekly RoundUp' post was published, there has been a change to the above list... whereby any reference and/or links to 'Media Streaming Market' have been removed, as evidenced by the screenshot below - taken on Thursday 11th May 2017:-






So, while we very much hope that Roku do (indeed) go ahead with expanding their presence in the UK by introducing new Roku models to these shores, it seems (for now, at least) the number of UK retailers through which to purchase any such new devices have become significantly reduced. You need only take a look at the list of 'Roku Recommended Retailers' from late September 2013, when the 'Roku 1' [Model: 2710] and original 'Roku 2' [Model: 2720] were launched, to see what I mean:-






With zero stock of UK Roku models available via 'Box.co.uk' and 'eBuyer', it is (perhaps) no surprise that they are no longer (currently) being listed on the "Where to buy" page of the Roku UK website... but, ironically, Media Streaming Market, have found themselves removed from the list of retailers in the exact same week that 'Roku 3' became available (once again) via their website after an absence of more than six weeks. Unfortunately, it appears that the (now somewhat dated) flagship Roku model in the UK is the only one you can purchase from Media Streaming Market [aka Exertis UK Limited]:-






However, if you are looking to purchase a 'Roku 3' at this time, I recommend you do so via 'Tesco' as they are (currently) offering this model for ONLY £69.00 - saving £10.99 versus other UK retailers - and it's a similar story for 'Roku 2' [Model: 4205EU] which is ONLY £54.00 from Tesco Direct - saving £15.99 versus other UK retailers - unless you would prefer to direct your business towards another 'Roku Recommended Retailer' in the UK, i.e. one of those with a price-match guarantee, such as PC World or Currys and Maplin... who, on verifying the price(s) from Tesco, should give you the same deal on either device that you would otherwise get if you were to purchase it at Tesco! ;-) :-)


If you're after a 'Roku Streaming Stick', there's (currently) a Wuaki TV UK promotion whereby you can purchase an 'HD' digital copy of "Pacific Rim" (2013) [dir. Guillermo del Toro] together with one 'Roku Streaming Stick' [Model: 3500EU] for ONLY £27.99 - saving £11.00 to £12.00 versus other UK retailers... plus, with an 'HD' digital copy of "Pacific Rim" thrown-in, saving even more! :-)






Though purchasers of the 'Roku Streaming Stick' can, thanks to the above Wuaki TV UK promotion, enjoy watching "Pacific Rim" to their heart's content... one thing they, along with every other user of UK Roku devices, will not be able to view is the latest "Twin Peaks Theme" which was added to the built-in channel store on all Roku USA devices during the past week. Developed by Roku, with a little help from their friends at Showtime, this latest Roku theme is FREE-TO-ADD for Roku users in the United States but (as per usual) not extended to UK owners of their streaming devices. Those of you hoping to see what you're missing can always check-out the recent 'Roku Guide' review for this new "Twin Peaks Theme" on U.S. Roku devices but, if you're in (or "appear" to be in) the USA, here is the icon to look-out for under the "Themes" category of the channel store on your device(s):-






While I appreciate that we do not "officially" get to watch the 'Showtime' channel in the UK, much of the programming (including the returning season of the "Twin Peaks" show) does come our way via channels such as "Sky Atlantic" which (in this case) will be bringing "Twin Peaks" to Roku devices in the UK thanks to the 'NowTV' channel (or, "app", if you prefer) for UK Roku devices. So, given that Roku UK users will be able to enjoy the show, why not let us install this free theme to go with it? Surely, it's not too much to ask for Roku to edit 'Channel Stores' and enable this theme for all regions and countries where Roku devices are supported? I mean, since it's free-to-add to their media players at the point of install, it's not like they'll be losing any money just for checking (i.e. "ticking", as we say in the UK) a few boxes... so, come on Roku, show the UK some love by giving us this theme! ;-)


Moving-on, from more Roku-specific matters, to other Roku-related news stories from the past week, there has been another press release from Amazon, this time announcing the arrival of a new benefit / service for Prime Members in the shape of 'Amazon Prime Live Events' which will involve a series of smaller capacity gigs (by largely heritage acts) made available exclusively to Prime Members. Here is a short promo video from 'Amazon Tickets' to give you a better idea of what to expect:-






As shown in the above video, the first of these events will feature Blondie, who are due to perform at the Round Chapel in London on 23rd May 2017… followed by Alison Moyet,  set to play at the same venue, on 12th June 2017 and then Texas, at the Porchester Hall in London, on 16th June 2017. After that, there is (currently) a delay of one month or so until, on 25th & 26th July 2017, Katie Melua will perform at Cadogan Hall in London… with other acts (to be confirmed) set to follow going forward.


As well as providing an opportunity for the lucky few to attend these concerts, Amazon will make the recordings available to all Prime Members to then stream for FREE via their 'Prime Video' service. If you would like to see what to expect, Prime Members can already enjoy previous Prime Live Events for FREE via the 'Amazon Video' channel on Roku devices, such as a Robbie Williams gig recorded Live at St. John's Hackney Church as evidenced by the promotional poster shown below:-






Or, if you prefer, there is also a concert by John Legend which was recorded at the Round Chapel in London and can (again) be enjoyed entirely FREE by 'Prime Members' thanks to the 'Amazon Video' channel on Roku devices. Here is another screenshot image of the poster for that event:-






Ideally, I would like to see Amazon make these concerts available to STREAM LIVE at the same time as the actual concert is taking place... much like 'Apple' have been doing over the years with their own live concert series. In this way, any 'Prime Members' who were unable to purchase a ticket and attend their chosen event(s) could at least watch it "live" by streaming it on their big screen via the 'Amazon Video' app for Roku (or other compatible devices). It's not the same as being there but, compared to watching it on TV after the fact through a Video-on-Demand (VoD) service, it's still a huge plus to stream it "live" in the knowledge that it's happening there-and-then in real time... much like the experience of live-streaming other events, be they sports, music, or otherwise, versus VoD.


For those wishing to know what's in the pipeline, there's a list of all upcoming 'Prime Live Events' available on the 'Amazon Tickets' website. Meanwhile, if you have any further questions, you can always reach-out to them through social media via their Twitter Feed: @AmazonTicketsUK where I'm sure they will be only too pleased to hear from you. You will also find various promotional videos and other clips on the "Official" Amazon Tickets YouTube Channel, if that's more your thing! ;-) :-)


Of course, never ones to rest on their laurels while the competition continues to make great strides forward, whenever there is an announcement from 'Amazon'... there is usually one from 'Netflix' not too far away (and vice versa) so it should come as no surprise that there was another press release by the ever-industrious folks at the 'Netflix' media centre - just as there is (almost) every week, of late! Anyway, this time the news concerns the creation of 400 jobs at its new European customer service hub that opened this week in Amsterdam. To complement the on-going expansion of their workforce in Europe, Netflix has also confirmed plans to announce at least six new European original projects before the end of 2017. The first, Dogs of Berlin, will be written, produced and also shot in Germany before launching in 2018. The second, a new French original called Osmosis, is expected to begin production in France during 2018. These two new European original series, along with other original series from Netflix will be made available to more than 100 million Netflix members around the world. Further highlights among the forthcoming European original series from Netflix include:


1. Marseille, first Netflix original series from France, now in production for a second season;
2. Golden Globe-winning The Crown (set in the UK), now in production for a second season;
3. Las Chicas del Cable, first Netflix original series from Spain, launched 28th April 2017, and already in production for a second season;
4. Dark, first Netflix original series from Germany, due to launch late 2017, and;
5. Suburra, first Netflix original series from Italy, due to launch late 2017.


One last thing I'd like to mention... following-on from the news, in my last 'Weekly RoundUp' post, concerning the removal of the official RT (Russia Today) channel from the Roku platform - I've since noticed that a lot more comments have been coming (mostly via social media) from Roku users in the United States. Having already provided several alternatives (including public and private apps) which will give Roku users (in all regions) access to news from 'RT', I thought I'd mention two more that are specifically geared towards Roku users in the U.S. First of all, you'll find a FREE Roku app called 'Pluto TV' which includes news from 'RT' that can be accessed via 'Channel 132' of their EPG. Then, for those who subscribe to 'Sling TV' on Roku, you will also still find news from 'RT' is carried via both 'Sling Orange' and 'Sling Blue' services... providing an additional PAID alternative. Should you wish to see which other news programmes are available to Roku users in the USA via 'Sling TV', there's a complete list of all the available news channels published online via the 'Sling' website. If, for whatever reason, those are not viable options for you... try the "Official" RT YouTube Channel, as it offers a FREE LIVE STREAM of all the news content broadcast by 'RT' in all Roku regions! ;-) :-)


All that remains now is to bring you the list of new additions... which, as has often been the case of late, once more contains a few more channels that, despite being new to UK Roku devices, are 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 these... 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 7th May 2017 and 13th May 2017:-







CUSS-FREE LIBERTY RADIO..............................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






INFLUENCE TV NETWORK.................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






NU TV NETWORK.................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






YVTV7 LIVE...........................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






TOAST TV LIVE 24................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






DRAW WESTERNS LIVE 24.................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






FREE MUSICAL MOVIES.....................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






FREE WESTERN MOVIES....................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






JACLYN LOVEY......................................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






VIBES...........................................COST: £0.69 (ONE-OFF PAYMENT) [Roku Guide Review]

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






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

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






DIARIO FEMENINO..............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






HOW TO MAKE EVERYTHING...........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






MATTHEW SANTORO..........................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






DRAWING WITH COCCINELLE..........................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






AIR HOCKEY FREE...............................................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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






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

***FILED UNDER: "WEB VIDEO" in the Roku UK Channel Store WHEN RELEASED***






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

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






DYNAMO ACTION 24 HOURS A DAY................................COST: FREE [Roku Guide Review]

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




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Anyhow, like it or not, that is your lot this week and, while it falls just short of sixty per cent of the thirty-two channels which made it into the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store in the same time-frame, it's still better to get these 19 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 nineteen "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-four 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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