Sluggish Roku menu navigation. It’s true. We bought a 65″ super cheap TV and sometimes navigating through the Roku menu is like walking through quicksand.
There is a reason for this — and it’s not entirely Roku’s fault — or is it?
Scanning reviews for inexpensive smart TVs from Roku-powered brands including not just TCL, but also Hisense and Westinghouse, a theme emerges. Users seem to complain about a preponderance of product defects, like cracked screens, as well as an overall feel of cheap build quality. That’s what you get with cheaper consumer electronics. But a more common theme is an overall sluggishness of the Roku OS on these sets.
We had been using Chromecast with Google TV until recently when the remote crapped out and we were unable to re-pair it. Can use phone as a remote, but decided to switch to the Roku Smart TV instead. The main reason we were using the Chromecast was to get HBO Max but that channel has been available on Roku for awhile.
Apparently, we’re not alone in experiencing technical issues with the new Chromecast.
Again, this little streamer was doing great in October, but the software experience has fallen apart in the months since, causing the hardware compromises Google made regarding the storage, RAM, and USB-C port to be more visible than ever. If you’re using the Chromecast with Google TV with a 1080p TV and don’t mind using 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi, you probably aren’t seeing much of any issues, but the more advanced your TV and your network setup, the less likely you are to have a good time here.
Am sure we’ll try and update and repair the remote again someday, but for the time being, just less hassle and easier to stick with Roku again. The only channel we have to switch away is for Peacock, since we have the separate Flex box. If we wanted to go through with the effort of just adding the Peacock app we could have all the channels on Roku — which would be best for convenience.
After a few months using Chromecast, I prefer that menu to Roku. Liked the recommendations and layout a little better. We’ve been using Roku for a long time, though, so that’s a familiar menu system.
One disturbing thing I’ve noticed about our smart Roku TV is it seems to suffer a lot of latency issues. Despite having high speed internet and being plugged in via ethernet, not sure why the latency is there. This wasn’t present with our Roku 3 streaming device. It’s noticeable and annoying.
Roku and WarnerMedia have reached an agreement for the distribution of the HBO Max on the Roku platform — nearly seven months after the streaming service launched.
HBO Max will be live on Roku effective tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 17, the companies announced. The deal gives the streaming service coverage on all major over-the-top platforms.
This will end a long and quite unnecessary conflict that Roku should have resolved on day one when HBO Max launched. They had to make this deal, regardless whatever spin is put on it. HBO has been around forever and has quality streaming content, especially with the plan to day-and-date release all 17 theatrical movies in 2021 on HBO Max.
Glad to see this get done. Thank you HBO Max and Roku!
Recently, we couldn’t pass up buying a 65″ Onn Roku-powered Smart TV from Walmart for $238 USD. Our family bought four of them at that price (one for each son + us). There are some crazy good deals going on for TVs, for those looking to upsize, replace or add to an additional room. We’re not active TV buyers, having last bought a TV almost 10 years ago (our last set was a good one, what can we say?). Our 3D TV is still doing well and we’ll use that in another room.
Anyway, Roku OS 9.4 has offered up some additional features, including themes with custom sounds and beta support for voice search — a feature we use frequently on Chromecast TV.
Roku OS 9.4 offers up some interesting new features, but some of those will depend on what kind of Roku device you’re using. Overall, Roku is promising improved performance across devices, including faster startup times, load times for top channels, and more. And the company’s various streaming devices and smart TVs will also get access to updated theme packs to add a bit more variety to your menus and home screen. Those theme packs showed up in version 9.3, but this update adds some sound effects to enhance the experience.
Despite having a Roku smart TV (first ever for us, btw, our son has had one for awhile) and having a separate Roku 3 device, we have been using the new Chromecast TV lately instead. Like that it seems to do a little better job searching across all streaming platforms, like JustWatch.com. It’s not quite as effective as that tool and a part of me roots for Roku to get it together.
Roku should have had comprehensive multi-platform streaming voice search working a long time ago. I think they got a little too tied up in advertising and selling viewer eyeballs and less focused on improving the technology. This is dangerous in the tech sector if you take your eye off innovating too much, somebody else comes in and pulls the rug beneath your business (and later buys you out).
The other part of Roku that bugs me is not cutting a deal with HBO Max yet.
The news earlier today that HBO Max and Amazon finally reached a deal for their Fire tablets and sticks is encouraging..
Sure, we can blame WarnerMedia/HBO, but Roku should have gotten the deal done for their customers. If you visit the Roku support forums you’ll see many others with this same perspective. If you develop your business plan as an aggregator, your job is to work with as many streamers as possible. I can understand limiting some types of content, perhaps the hardcore adult stuff needs to be segregated into password protected areas and for legal reasons, but there is no reason not to have a major mainstream streaming channel like HBO Max not working on day one. Here we are many months later and still no functionality, save for a small few workarounds. Unacceptable.
Going to try and keep happy thoughts on this one that Roku gets this done very soon. WarnerMedia seemed fairly confident it would happen by year end. That’s going to be here soon…
WarnerMedia has been steadfast believing that a deal would get done by the end of 2020 with Amazon Fire and Roku. Good to see that Amazon has inked a deal first and their Fire TV and stick users will be able to stream HBO Max starting Tuesday November 17, 2020.
The companies announced this morning HBO Max would begin to roll out to Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire tablets on Tuesday, November 17. This will expand HBO Max’s potential reach to “tens of millions” of Amazon device customers, WarnerMedia said.
And yes, we’re aware there are some workarounds, like using Apple Air2Play and casting from an iPhone or Tablet, but there are a lot of ifs, ands and buts to make that work. Roku needs to ink a real deal and fire up the HBO Max app that we all know is already made and waiting to be activated on Roku.
Despite whatever this means for Roku, it’s good news and we’ll take it. HBO Max should have been available from the start on Amazon and Roku, but one down, one to go.
Apparently, Comcast’s threat to pull 45+ channels from Roku was enough ammunition to get Roku back to the bargaining table. Roku customers were already setting the community section ablaze with complaints about missing streaming channels.
…that advantage breaks down when its demands are too steep to get high-profile services like HBO Max and Peacock to sign up. The company may be overplaying its hand here, and a number of its customers are frustrated at not having access to the apps, especially Peacock, which is free.
Good news, in the final moments a deal was reached and there’s already a Peacock app, albeit a private channel as of this writing, available on Roku. The app will switch to public soon, but you can access it by following the instructions linked below.
To add the channel, start by signing up for a Peacock subscription. Then, login to your Roku account andclick here to navigate to the Peacock Roku channel. If you’re prompted to enter a code, enter PEACOCK. The channel will be installed on your Roku device and you’ll be able to sign into your Peacock account to start streaming.
It’s been a little while since checking on the status of HBO Max and Peacock making a deal with Roku.
No deals have been cut yet, which would be the biggest and good news, but for those who want a recap on the history, here’s where all three sides appear to stand as of this writing. We will even slip in some bonus coverage on DC Universe at the end.
So far, Roku is refusing to cede ground on deal terms to add WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock to its popular streaming platform. Roku’s standard ask is 20% of subscription fees and 30% of ad inventory on partner channels. That ad split has been a nonstarter for Peacock, which is loading 5 minutes (or fewer) of advertising per hour. WarnerMedia, meanwhile, wants to retire the legacy HBO service sold through The Roku Channel to have HBO Max available as a standalone app, at which Roku has balked.
If these numbers are accurate, and we cannot independently verify, they do seem business adverse for HBO Max and Peacock. They’re great for Roku, of course, if they can cut this kind of deal.
What do you, friendly readers, think of these terms? Are they fair and reasonable? Should HBO Max and Peacock pay to access the playing field Roku and Amazon have developed (reportedly 70% of all streamers use Roku or the Amazon Fire stick).
The most positive news we’ve seen come about since the launch of both platforms, is the belief that the Q4 2020 holiday season would put the most pressure on a deal. It remains to be seen just how much of a holiday season there will be in light of the pandemic, but subscribers can keep hoping that someday HBO Max and Peacock will be on Roku and Amazon Fire stick.
Just speculation on our part, but we believe HBO Max is more poised to cut a deal before Peacock, bearing Comcast has their own network of Cable, albeit they are battle scarred with the reduction of cable TV subscribers cutting chords and going to streaming. Comcast isn’t as likely to want to cut as deep into their nascent streaming efforts as WarnerMedia would likely be with HBO Max, since they are consolidating and even offering to offload some of their subsidiary projects like Crunchyroll:
WarnerMedia is looking to offload Crunchyroll, its anime subscription-streaming service — with an asking price of at least $1 billion — as parent company AT&T seeks to pay down debt, sources tell Variety. One of the potential buyers is Sony Pictures Entertainment, which operates the competing Funimation service.
Perhaps we’re in the shrinking tiny minority that wants to see DC Universe land on solid ground (it’s a weak movie and TV streaming service, admittedly), at least with it’s excellent comics-only subscription service, but Jim Lee remains the most optimistic public speaker (see: Jim Lee on DC Universe: “It’s definitely not going away”).
Our guess is that September 12, 2020 for the second leg of DC FanDome we’ll hear more about what’s happening. Hopefully that’s when we’ll find out Harley Quinn the animated series is renewed for season 3.
Somewhat ironically, DC Universe is and has been available on Roku. Crunchyroll, too.
When you think about having more stuff plugged into your TV — and you aren’t a hardcore techno nerd (like me!) — vs. buying a smart TV which has the stuff built-in aesthetically it’s a no brainer: buy the smart TV.
And that’s exactly what most people are doing.
Smart TV adoption is up to 54% in the U.S., according to Parks Associates, vs. 47% a year ago. Meanwhile, U.S. adoption of HDMI-connected streaming devices from brands like Roku, Amazon and Apple has only reached around 42%.
This is the Roku trojan horse: start out as the default. It’s the same strategy for Microsoft Windows on PCs and it’s replaying the narrative in the streaming world. Roku needs to get their UI at the very least as an option in as many TV sets as possible.
And, to date, they have.
Here’s another thing to consider: how often do people buy new television sets? It’s been something like 10 years since we bought ours. It’s getting near time for us to buy a 4K TV. Or maybe we skip 4K and go straight to 8K. We just love our existing 3D TV not to want to trade up.
When did you buy your last TV?
I think buying a TV, unless you want to stay bleeding edge of tech, is about as frequent as buying a new car. In our case, we buy cars only when we have to — when the repair bills don’t make sense or when the car outright craps out. TVs aren’t quite the same, but we remain very loyal to our older 3D HDTV.
In 2014 Chinese electronics manufacturer, TCL, didn’t think that much about sharing in the value of including Roku with their TVs. Their 2014 deal astonishingly included $0 for them to include that with their TVs.
Now that they have over a quarter of all the smart TV market, TCL wants in on the Roku market.
Sensing a missed opportunity, TCL has been working with other TV software providers to capture more customer revenue. In March 2020, the company announced a target of “profit from value-added Internet services exceeding 50%,” sending Roku’s shares down 5%.
For those who haven’t been following the kerfuffle, Roku and Amazon for their popular Fire stick believe they have the upper hand being that they serve as gateways to some 70% of the streaming households. HBO Max and Peacock feel they deserve to get the same treatment as Netflix, despite HBO roots as starting as an add-on premium service and Peacock being new. I left out Quibi, but they also aren’t on Roku or Amazon Fire stick.
Why do I think Roku will cave? Because they need HBO more than the reverse. HBO has been making original content since the 70s, long before anybody even knew what Roku was.
As for Peacock? They are big enough to go it alone for awhile. I’d think it’s more likely they cut a deal with Roku before HBO.
Quibi? Dart throw, it’s anybody’s guess where they land. My opinion only, but I don’t think Quibi is even in the discussion a couple years from now. Somebody bigger will likely buy them (Apple, perhaps) for their originals and creative pipeline, axe the nonsensical 10 minute clips and the company will be a historic footnote.
Back to this TCL deal. This is bad news for Roku. They cut a very smart deal in 2014, but doesn’t sound like they can benefit the same way from that any longer.
If you needed any more proof that “free” sells in the streaming space, Peacock, the only major contender streaming service that offers a free version already has 10+ million subscribers.
More than 10 million households have signed up for Peacock, the new streaming service from Comcast’s NBCUniversal. The media giant shared the update in its second-quarter earnings release, and management had much more to say about the early results during the accompanying conference call.
“Not only are more people signing up than we projected, but they are watching more frequently and engaging much longer than we projected,” Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, told analysts.
Speaking of earnings calls, Roku is scheduled to deliver theirs Wednesday 8/5, and some analysts are predicting — gasp — no profits.
The average estimate right now is for revenue to come in 25% stronger in Q2 2020 than it did in Q2 2019. Despite this sales growth, however, analysts predict that Roku’s losses will only increase — more than quintuple, in fact, to a loss of $0.51 per diluted share.
I probably shouldn’t get started on companies that don’t make profits being popular, but it concerns customers. This week Sprint is going the way of the dinosaur, as it was gobbled up by another company. Maybe that will be the future for Roku someday.
(this gets me thinking about who might want to buy them … hmm)