No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

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No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby skdier86 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 5:47 am

Am I the only one who feels more than a little disappointed by purchasing the ROKU 1 device within the last year only to learn that the "coming soon" for closed captioning really meant "coming soon on new hardware"?
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby Gilgamesh » Mon Jul 25, 2011 6:28 am

There are already many threads addressing your question but I will give my answer here.

I do not know if you are the only one but I am fairly sure you are in the minority.

Most people realize that Roku and NetFlix never promised captions or 5.1 audio on the existing platform and any reasonable reading of the press releases or the boards like this one would clearly show that.

The price of any of the Roku boxes is/was extremely low so even if one became completely obsolete after a couple of years it would still have been a good deal; but that has not happened. Rather the boxes have gained much functionality over the time we have had them so the promise of the boxes has more than been fulfilled.

The new boxes have greater functionality than the older ones but that is generally true for all consumer electronics.

Do I wish that Roku had informed everyone of their plans? Yes. But I understand that the sharing of information along the way can cause even greater problems for a company that holding their cards close to their vest. Companies that leak development information and then cannot produce the product are usually accused of producing "Vapor Ware" and that is more deleterious to a company's image than any mistaken belief in future features could ever be.

In this case Roku has behaved VERY honorably and with dignity and they should be lauded rather than condemned.

I will be, and have been, critical of Roku when they deserve it but, in this case, I am totally on their side.

The only thing I would have liked is for the two lower units to have a wired Ethernet port even if it drove costs for each unit a bit higher. But that is minor and the caption/5.1 ability has been added to all the new units.

Some will feel slighted by the nature of the release but I, and I believe most others, are delighted by Roku's new releases.

Of course I still would like to have a model that does my cooking and housekeeping but that will have to wait for the next generation of boxes.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mkiker2089 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:03 am

Actually Gilgamesh, I think you are in the minority. I imagine most Roku owners who haven't decided to throw it away for the new one are a little disappointed. We also know that subtitles are fully supported on the Roku but Netflix has chosen not to implement them. However being that there is another thread for this perhaps discussion should be taken there. Shawn wants all differences between the boxes talked about viewtopic.php?f=28&t=41511
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby Mark12547 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 9:59 am

Gilgamesh wrote:Most people realize that Roku and NetFlix never promised captions or 5.1 audio on the existing platform and any reasonable reading of the press releases or the boards like this one would clearly show that.


Someone already posted a link to the Netflix blog from February 24, 2011, that mentions CC: 30% of Netflix Streaming Content Has Subtitles; 80% By End of 2011. In it is this statement:
Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix wrote:We expect that Roku and Xbox 360 will support subtitles later this year.


At that time I was unaware that a major new model was coming out so, naturally, it sounded like "Roku" meant the existing Roku hardware, though I am aware that sometimes new features do require new hardware.

However, over the years I have learned that, when shopping for features, make decisions on features the products currently have, not on what they may have in the future. Even the wiggle word "expect" tells me that Neil Hunt isn't saying closed caption on the Roku by the end of the year is a foregone conclusion.

My reading of the messages and what announcements I have seen lead me to conclude that closed caption are available on the Roku 2 (as per http://www.roku.com/netflix-partner) and there is no clear statement that excludes the possibility that closed caption will later be added on to the "Roku 1", though there is also no clear statement that explicitly states it will be added, either.

A bigger concern of mine, since CC is not a deal breaker for me, is whether my 3-year-old Roku Netflix Player will become obsolete in a few years by having the streams it understands be abandoned by Netflix. I have seen the box move from its original streams to "advanced" streams and only time will tell if a software upgrade in the future will allow it to use the newer streams.

However, I have gotten three years and two months of good use out of the box, money well spent, IMHO, and, if it should become obsolete for my purposes, I'd probably buy a Roku 2 (or a Roku 3 or Roku 4) to replace it.


ETA: "newer streams" instead of the "adaptive streams"--got reminded that a sticky thread states that the "Roku 1" doesn't support the newer encodings. From Roku 2 Netflix features and previous generation Roku players
RokuTom wrote:Unfortunately, these new encodings will not be supported on previous generation Roku players. We try to ensure that new features in a channel are supported on all previous generations of players. However, this is not always possible.


This still doesn't exclude the possibility of adding CC to the "advanced streams" that the "Roku 1" uses.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jlsoaz » Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:56 pm

Mark12547 wrote:
Gilgamesh wrote:Most people realize that Roku and NetFlix never promised captions or 5.1 audio on the existing platform and any reasonable reading of the press releases or the boards like this one would clearly show that.


Someone already posted a link to the Netflix blog from February 24, 2011, that mentions CC: 30% of Netflix Streaming Content Has Subtitles; 80% By End of 2011. In it is this statement:
Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix wrote:We expect that Roku and Xbox 360 will support subtitles later this year.


At that time I was unaware that a major new model was coming out so, naturally, it sounded like "Roku" meant the existing Roku hardware, though I am aware that sometimes new features do require new hardware.

[...]



Hi Mark:

I have been following the Roku-Netflix/Amazon/Other CC/subtitle issue for some years, but have recently not had time. Gilgamesh was mistaken in their statement in my view: I did not at all expect that the Gen 1 Roku would be excluded from carrying the most recent Netflix CC's, nor am I aware of any statement anywhere which led up to that. The last I discussed this a couple of months ago, the schedule was that closed captions/English Subtitles would be available for Roku and a couple of the last hardware platforms sometime around now. I dropped netflix though and so have not been as in-tune with this issue in the last couple of months. From catching up with a bit of reading on this board, the latest seems to be that it'll never be available on version 1.

I believe the response a few years ago from Roku rep(s) on this board when Version 1 first came out was that, basically, cc was a function of the streamer and that the Roku was capable of handling it. It sounds like, over time, there has been some modification in that response.

I would like to know as to what went on behind the scenes in this matter, but anyway, I just wanted to mention that, no, in my estimation it was not widely understood that a new purchase of new Roku hardware would be necessary to run CC/English Subtitles.

Technology development I guess can be cruel and difficult. However, it would be good to get more information from Roku. I'll also maintain my working hypothesis that Netflix has not in all ways been that fair toward Roku, though it's difficult to say. What I can say with greater certainty is that Netflix, Amazon and others have taken too long on this overall issue. Netflix only moved on the issue overall after years of foot-dragging and then being publicly shamed on the matter. However, in the end, it may benefit them compared to others at least to have got going. Has Amazon moved at all on the issue? I don't know yet.


Mark12547 wrote:
RokuTom wrote:Unfortunately, these new encodings will not be supported on previous generation Roku players. We try to ensure that new features in a channel are supported on all previous generations of players. However, this is not always possible.


This still doesn't exclude the possibility of adding CC to the "advanced streams" that the "Roku 1" uses.
[/quote]

Some decent sleuthing. I do hope you're right and maybe Gen 1 users can use this. I'll also speak to a hard-of-hearing friend as to whether the Gen 1 box I gave her will ever be of much use.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mommom » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:22 pm

""Actually Gilgamesh, I think you are in the minority. I imagine most Roku owners who haven't decided to throw it away for the new one are a little disappointed""

Really?You think that the majority of the million or more owners of Roku 1's are disappointed because of no closed captioning?I don't think so.I think the majority of Roku 1 owners don't even think about closed captioning.I hate it,it irritates me by being in my field of vision.My deaf in one ear and hearing impaired in the other DH hates it too,for the same reason.He would much rather turn up the volume and drive me crazy that way. :lol: I think that it is an important option for some users,but I think that it is a minority set of users.That being said.How do you blame Roku for a Netflix decision to only implement streaming on Roku 2 ?
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mkiker2089 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:43 pm

If you are refering to my post I don't think I ever blamed Roku solely. Roku and Netflix both mislead customers in this one but the brunt of the blame lies with Netflix. Roku most likely couldn't warn people due to contractual obligations. As has been said hundreds of times, the Roku1 supports subtitles Netflix only needs to send them.

As far as the number of people wanting the ability to turn captions on, it's more than a minority. Don't mistake something you personally don't like as something that others won't like as well. We aren't talking open captions where people are forced to watch them. We are talking about a choice. Even if you only use them to get one line that was mumbled it's better than cranking the volume and waking the neighbors. At most I would think people would want them just out of compassion for those who NEED them. Some people don't have the luxury of turning the volume up and some people lose hearing in ranges so that turning the volume up may not be appropriate. I have several family members who have lost the upper ranges and can't hear the beeping sound that digital watches, coffee makers, and other things make. Others lose hearing in mid to lower ranges which is right where human speech often falls.

I also think that many Roku2 owners don't really care what happens to the Roku1 and that's where a lot of the resentment we saw last month was coming from. However it's a dead horse at this point so it may as well be dropped. No amount of frustration will force Netflix's hand on this one. They either will or they won't.

edit--

I just wanted to add that the Logitech Revue and the Roku1 seems to use the same "advanced" stream and the Revue supports subtitles as does the Boxee which I'm told is also on the same platform. The subtitles are there but I'm not sure what technical limitation prevents them from being turned on in the Roku1 interface. the fact that legacy streams like this have them is a good sign however.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby destruk » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:59 pm

I thought a minority was less than half. I doubt more than half of roku's customers care about closed captioning, or Roku and Netflix would have had it years ago for everybody.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby mkiker2089 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 5:10 pm

destruk wrote:I thought a minority was less than half. I doubt more than half of roku's customers care about closed captioning, or Roku and Netflix would have had it years ago for everybody.


Technically yes but I think the implication of minority is "insignificant amount". Perhaps I wasn't clear on that.

As far as them adding it due to numbers, Netflix has no need. People will buy a different box. Netflix has them hooked. Someone once compared Netflix to heroin. At the end of the day Netflix doesn't care who is a Roku customer, who bought a new Roku2, or who bought something else. They only see the end result.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby traal » Thu Aug 11, 2011 5:25 pm

destruk wrote:I doubt more than half of roku's customers care about closed captioning, or Roku and Netflix would have had it years ago for everybody.

If Roku sells a box that excludes a certain class of people (deaf people, in this case), then is it any wonder why that class of people doesn't make up a significant proportion of Roku's customers?

There's little incentive for Roku to add closed captioning to the old boxes, because those boxes have already been bought and paid for. Worse, the new boxes give existing customers who would like closed captions (and I'm one of them) an incentive to give Roku more money, and that provides a disincentive for Roku to add support for closed captions on the old boxes.

Perhaps a "code bounty" could convince Roku/Netflix to support closed captions on the old boxes. I'll pledge $10.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby destruk » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:00 pm

But the old boxes can support subtitle (SRT) files - it's the next best thing to true closed captioning. Trouble is Netflix isn't going to invest any time or effort adding the SRT to the stream information for Roku to make use of it.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jlsoaz » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:27 am

Gilgamesh wrote:

"Most people realize that Roku and NetFlix never promised captions or 5.1 audio on the existing platform and any reasonable reading of the press releases or the boards like this one would clearly show that."


I can't speak to the 5.1 issue, but on the caption issue, I think this is a mis-framing of the issue at best. Roku folks if I recall correctly said here and there over the years that their first platform would support closed captioning, and we have seen closed captions work, on demand, through Hulu, and perhaps other places. I don't recall anyone from Roku raising the possibility of having to buy new hardware to get captions from Netflix, and if they did, I think it was obscure or non-known by many of us. The schedule that seemed to be followed by Netflix mentioned platforms and did not seem to raise the issue of buying new hardware. The claim that Roku did not "promise" the Netflix captions would work on the first version of their hardware is really not to the point... some of us read the statements from the last few years and concluded naturally that we were waiting for netflix captions on version 1.

At some point the Roku folks I guess had a choice to make which was whether to publicize what they knew of Netflix's plans or simply not give a heads-up to their customers. They seem to have chosen the latter, perhaps bound by non-disclosure agreements or some business judgment-call involving standing by a business partner. As I've said before, there is a question as to whether Netflix has treated Roku fairly, though I guess there is probably some decent explanation of things somewhere.

As to me, I got rid of Netflix for now, a few months ago, (but not Roku) so the bigger question will be if-when Amazon and others will bother with captions.

On the overall matter of worrying about whether a majority or minority of people were disappointed, and related questions that have come up in other discussions as to whether a majority or minority of forum participants or Roku users are interested in captions, I think that's not to the point. Different users and buyers and forum participants are interested in different things. Some decent number of Roku users may not particularly care about a feature (such as captions) but this does not mean that the feature is not important to those who do. For those who do care about a feature, this is a good place made available to us by Roku (thank you Roku people) to discuss things. Sometimes those who don't care about a feature will interject into the discussion and question not only the level of importance of the feature but the value of even discussing it.

The answer is that this is a place for us to discuss things, and further that while there are those who don't see the feature as important, this will always happen with all features.... there will always be various groups who see it as important or less important. Yes, quantifying those proportions is of importance for some Roku business considerations. On the other hand, the basic principle is that this is the place to talk about them, including even features which may not be widely valued.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby xackley » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:18 pm

If roku displays support for the Roku 1, I would consider purchasing from them again.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=17354&hilit=closed+caption

Postby RokuJamesL » Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:26 pm
This is the last thing we are going to say on this subject because it's been answered multiple times previously.

From a technical standpoint, closed caption technology is pretty much standardized across the vast majority of consumer electronics devices, whether it be a DVD player, TiVo, generic DVR, satellite receivers, etc. The Roku player would function pretty much the same way. I don't know the gory technical details, but I am sure a Google search on how DVD players do closed captions would sufficiently explain the process. If Netflix encoded the movie streams with CC data, from our standpoint, that functionality would be enabled in a software fix.

As for the whys and hows Netflix encodes their streams, Roku cannot comment on the technical aspects of this because that is THEIR DOMAIN. How "easy" or "hard" it is for them to do from a technical standpoint is not something we have insight into. We can make an educated guess, but from a partner standpoint, it is not our place to do that.

Again, just to make things as clear as possible, the Roku Netflix Player CAN support standard closed captioning data streams, which we would enable via software. How, why, when streams are encoded are exclusively Netflix's domain, which we are not privy to.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby jlsoaz » Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:43 pm

Thanks, that's quite a good link to see for this discussion.

xackley wrote:If roku displays support for the Roku 1, I would consider purchasing from them again.

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=17354&hilit=closed+caption

[...]


In addition to that quote from Roku James, it also had this, though I don't know if it's useful to understanding the technical situation now, three years later.

RokuTaylor wrote:Caption data would most likely be stored in the streams or a separated data fie in the form of the text, along with control code data such as when to place it on the screen, for how long, at and what location (etc.) Basically the same or similar to the way Closed Caption caption data stored. The player hardware and base software is capable of supporting this in some form. As James said, Roku would still have to add the feature support to actually handle the exact method of data delivery and make it work on the application software.

The Roku player could interpret the data and render captions on to screen, or it could pass that along to the TV's Closed Caption decoder, or both. It depends on a lot of issues.

I think it's less likely that the captions would be pre-rendered in to alternate video streams, more like some of the DVDs you mentioned.
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Re: No Netflix Closed Captioning for ROKU 1 Owners

Postby essence » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:24 pm

Yes, Gilgamesh, I as well would think you are in the minority. I purchased my Roku in June 2011 without realizing that it did not support subtitles. So I twittered Roku, and the reply was that they were working on it. Sure, the moment we purchase technology, we are behind. But the Roku 1 not supporting subtitles is not the same since the technology has been around so long. Roku is just catching up, and so I would expect them to provide a software update for Netflix subtitles instead of having us purchase a brand new machine. I am a Mac person. I don't have to buy a whole new laptop to take advantage of most updates. I just buy the newest OS. Come on, ROKU. We have been faithful in launching your success. Don't leave us hanging. You WILL lose supporters. I need a second device for another TV, but will jump the ROKU ship over this and purchase another brand of streaming device.
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