Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

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Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby moroboshi » Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:49 am

As an early adopter of Roku in the UK, and someone who watches a lot of streaming video, I thought this little box would be an ideal solution. However, since launch there has only been one app/channel launch which specifically targets UK customers with high end content - Sky's NOW TV.

That's it, one channel...!

Sometimes a provider with an international presence will also make their channel available to UK consumers, has happened recently with Spotify. Other times though, they will remain US exclusives, such as with Amazon Cloud Player. How much work would it have required to make the Cloud Player US app work with Cloud Player UK accounts? Half an hour perhaps?

The list of missing UK services is still large, and I think at this point it can be safely said that they will never appear on UK Rokus. Amazon's LoveFilm, Channel 4's 4OD, ITV's Net Player, and Channel 5's Demand 5 are all essential services in the UK, and yet none are on Roku, despite the head Roku UK guy promising that UK Roku customers would get all the major catch-up services. Lies, lies, lies.

Compare the Roku (£99) with the Xbox 360 (4gb £140) and the differences are stark. Putting aside the fact that one plays great games and the other doesn't, comparing the streaming services available makes for interesting reading.

Xbox - LoveFilm, Netflix, NOW TV, Xbox Video, Blinkbox, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, CrunchyRoll, Demand 5, 4OD, YouTube, Napster, Xbox Music, Last FM, VEVO, and Crackle.

Roku - Netflix, NOW TV, BBC iPlayer, CrunchyRoll, Spotify, VEVO.

The only service Roku has which Xbox doesn't (of any note), is Spotify.

So given the near total lack of new channels for UK customers (I'm obviously excluding the tide of ultra low end dreck which floods the UK channel store from America, of which 99% is offensive supernatural/religious nonsense), I'm going to say it - Roku is a dead platform in the UK. They came, they didn't really try, they died.

And rumour has it, the next Xbox, due at the end of 2013, will come in two flavours, one of which will a cut down streaming box.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby KennyJ » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:40 am

I believe most of the Roku channels are developed by the service providers. Certainly, Roku probably works with some of the big players to get channels on the Roku -- but Roku will not develop a channel without the permission of the content owners/service providers.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby moroboshi » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:57 am

Sure, but then why aren't they hammering on Amazon's door with a big pile of cash begging them to develop a LoveFilm app/channel?

Content devices need content. Without them, they're utterly worthless.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby mhcannes » Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:58 am

1. ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5, have ploughed millions into Youview. Why on earth The UK allowed content providers to be so closely aligned to an IPTV platform is beyond me.
2. Xbox live required to get any of the channels you mention is an extra £30 a year (minimum)
3. The NOWTV forum is full of issues from people attempting to use the Xbox to view films. Perhaps there is technical merit in having a bespoke IPTV box such as Roku.
4. Sky have invested in Roku and perhaps it is a little early to write them off so quickly.......

I do agree that IPTV is a mess in the UK, say compared to France which has applied sensible controls, but to me at least Roku is only helping here and should be encouraged.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby moroboshi » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:01 am

The problems with the Now TV app for Xbox can be easily fixed, - they're just slopping coding from Sky. The Xbox is ridiculously over-powered for video streaming, it could decode many 1080p streams simultaneously if anyone wanted it to.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby kc8pql » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:35 am

moroboshi wrote: The Xbox is ridiculously over-powered for video streaming, it could decode many 1080p streams simultaneously if anyone wanted it to.

Exactly,and overpriced for just streaming. That's where Roku comes in.
Be patient. When I bought my first box four years ago it had one channel.
UK developers need to build UK specific channels. Roku charges them nothing, and they are free to motorize (or not) their channels any way they wish.
All they need is rights to their content.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby moroboshi » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:42 am

What would be the incentive for a UK provider to build a Roku app? Roku is difficult to buy in the UK, and is barely advertised at all. I've never seen any sales figures, which in itself speaks volumes.

Amazon have LoveFilm apps for Kindle Fire, iPad, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, and a bunch of Smart TVs. There's no way to know if those platform holders paid for app development, but there can be no doubt they're hugely more successful platforms than Roku is here. The Apple TV receives even less support here, but is at least available in every Apple store, and will pull in the Mac and iOS crowd simply by it being another Apple device.

Unless Roku do a complete 180 degree shift and actually spend some money here on advertising, distribution, and content, it stands zero chance of survival. Actually I think even if they did that, they'd still be a dead platform. Games consoles just do so much more, and for only a small premium over a Roku. It won't be long before the base Xbox is as cheap as a Roku, and of course, there are still rumours of Apple finally taking TV seriously. If I was working for Roku in the UK (do they even employ a single person here?), I'd be packing my stuff into a box and clearing my desk.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby kc8pql » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:44 am

I've never seen any sales figures, which in itself speaks volumes.

4 million+. Probably closer to 5 million by the end of the Christmas buying season.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby moroboshi » Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:50 am

Sales figures in the UK please, if you have them. International sales will be totally irrelevant for UK only streaming providers.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby castalla » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:00 pm

kc8pql wrote:
moroboshi wrote: and they are free to motorize (or not) their channels any way they wish.
All they need is rights to their content.


What has the internal combustion engine got to do with this discussion?

Whenever I've discussed the Roku or even demonstrated it to friends and colleagues - the general reaction is ... so what? We can get all those services on our PC or tablet ... followed by 'Does it have 4oD, ITVPlayer, etc.???'. Errr, no. Shrug of shoulders as conversation turns to something different.

Until Roku realise the UK audience is very different from the fragmented and tethered cable US audience, then they're going to have problems flogging the box n the UK (nevermind the rest of western Europe).
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby stoney1973 » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:09 pm

moroboshi wrote:As an early adopter of Roku in the UK, and someone who watches a lot of streaming video, I thought this little box would be an ideal solution. However, since launch there has only been one app/channel launch which specifically targets UK customers with high end content - Sky's NOW TV.

That's it, one channel...!

Sometimes a provider with an international presence will also make their channel available to UK consumers, has happened recently with Spotify. Other times though, they will remain US exclusives, such as with Amazon Cloud Player. How much work would it have required to make the Cloud Player US app work with Cloud Player UK accounts? Half an hour perhaps?

The list of missing UK services is still large, and I think at this point it can be safely said that they will never appear on UK Rokus. Amazon's LoveFilm, Channel 4's 4OD, ITV's Net Player, and Channel 5's Demand 5 are all essential services in the UK, and yet none are on Roku, despite the head Roku UK guy promising that UK Roku customers would get all the major catch-up services. Lies, lies, lies.

Compare the Roku (£99) with the Xbox 360 (4gb £140) and the differences are stark. Putting aside the fact that one plays great games and the other doesn't, comparing the streaming services available makes for interesting reading.

Xbox - LoveFilm, Netflix, NOW TV, Xbox Video, Blinkbox, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, CrunchyRoll, Demand 5, 4OD, YouTube, Napster, Xbox Music, Last FM, VEVO, and Crackle.

Roku - Netflix, NOW TV, BBC iPlayer, CrunchyRoll, Spotify, VEVO.

The only service Roku has which Xbox doesn't (of any note), is Spotify.

So given the near total lack of new channels for UK customers (I'm obviously excluding the tide of ultra low end dreck which floods the UK channel store from America, of which 99% is offensive supernatural/religious nonsense), I'm going to say it - Roku is a dead platform in the UK. They came, they didn't really try, they died.

And rumour has it, the next Xbox, due at the end of 2013, will come in two flavours, one of which will a cut down streaming box.


+1 Its been argued here before, which only resulted in people being receiving bans and warnings because the Roku People of Good Streaming Taste complained about the Roku being criticized.

Had the Roku since UK launch, and apart from Plex and the BBC iPlayer channels, there's no point owning it in the UK.
And if you make any sort of noise about the lack of content the Roku People of Good Streaming Taste just tell you to buy something else or create the channel yourself.
The UK Roku had promise when it launched, sadly it looks like all the promises were just marketing smoke and mirrors, with no substance.

Only reason I still have the Roku is because I've had three of the main alternatives, Xbox/WD TV Live/Boxee Box, and the one thing Roku has over them is stability. The boxee and Wd tv Live were buggy and had deal-breaking issues. The Xbox was good but had a loud fan and was a pain when streaming local content. Luckily the Plex App on the Roku works well. No thanks to Roku though, seeing as its a third party channel.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby DBDukes » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:27 pm

stoney1973 wrote:...Only reason I still have the Roku is because I've had three of the main alternatives, Xbox/WD TV Live/Boxee Box, and the one thing Roku has over them is stability. The boxee and Wd tv Live were buggy and had deal-breaking issues. The Xbox was good but had a loud fan and was a pain when streaming local content. Luckily the Plex App on the Roku works well. No thanks to Roku though, seeing as its a third party channel.

All the channels are third-party channels. Roku doesn't do content. Kinda like Sony, RCA, LG, or whoever your TV maker is, they don't do content, they do devices that allow you to see content.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby stoney1973 » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:38 pm

DBDukes wrote:

All the channels are third-party channels. Roku doesn't do content. Kinda like Sony, RCA, LG, or whoever your TV maker is, they don't do content, they do devices that allow you to see content.



True, I guess what I should actually say is that other manufacturers are better supported by third parties, either because of a bigger customer base or because of incentives. Unlike Roku who promised other Catch-up/On-Demand channels when they first released their devices in the UK, but have failed to deliver. Obviously Roku haven't realised that the more QUALITY channels that are available, the more people will actually buy the device. Instead of releasing the device to a market and letting it twist in the wind.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby trekkeriii » Sun Dec 23, 2012 12:47 pm

Here's how it is with channel development, content access, etc. Regardless of what country you are in, you have to convince the content providers/channel developers that developing a channel is going to make as much or more money than what they make now. It's the way business works. Some people argue companies are "greedy", but then how are they supposed to stay in business if they give everything out for free and not make money off of it. This is why cable networks in the USA haven't jumped on a la carte model yet for Roku and like devices, this is why channel developers haven't worked on Roku channels in UK (or other countries), yet.

Roku has to present these companies with this argument, and you're right, sales figures in the UK specifically would help with the presentation. It took 4 years for Roku in the USA to get 600+ channels (I had only three channels when I first got mine). It's only a matter of time before UK, Canada, Ireland, etc. get the same number of channels with the same amount of content.
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Re: Is Roku now abandonware in the UK?

Postby castalla » Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:01 pm

It's only a matter of time before UK, Canada, Ireland, etc. get the same number of channels with the same amount of content.


.... I can't wait. 100s of channels of crap and religion. Big deal.
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