Channel Issues & Questions

Help & troubleshooting for channels on your Roku device, including adding/removing channels, logging in to, authenticating, or activating a channel, channel-specific playback issues, assistance contacting channel publishers to report issues, and adjusting channel-specific settings.
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kharrisma
Level 7

Cable-cutters be advised:

Hi forum folke,

Like a lot of other people, I gave cable the boot due to it's rapacious business practices, and instead purchased a Roku streaming device.  Was quite happy with it, until I started running into channels like "The History Channel," and now "NatGeo," that won't play unless you tell them who your "Provider" is, and log in through them to watch.

The long and short of it is: just because you see it listed as "available" in the channel store (or whatever they're calling it these days,) that doesn't mean it's available for you to watch.  Some of these "offerings" require a cable subscription in order to watch them.

I don't understand WHY Roku shows these channels as if they were available for watching through a streaming device, when in fact they're NOT... unless you have a cable subscription (which kind of defeats the whole purpose of buying a Roku in the first place, doesn't it?)  Why would somebody with a cable subscription buy a Roku in the first place?  You've got cable... you've got internet... what's the point of having a Roku at all in that situation?  I don't get it.  I really thought that Roku had positioned itself as "The answer to cable"... but maybe I just got the wrong impression.  If so, they've certainly changed their tune.

So anyway, prospective cord cutters: know that Roku is not a direct replacement for cable.  It's better than nothing at all (especially with broadcast TV all but extinct), but there's still a bunch of "pay-for" (which I have no problem with at all... I pay for several channels now), and other stuff that you can't watch at all unless you do in fact still have cable.  I just don't think that cable-only content has any place in the Roku lineup.  OR, if it does, why it isn't segregated into a 'cable-only' or 'cable subscription required' area.  I'd happily pay for either of these channels (or any channel I like enough to be willing to pay for,) but that's just not an option here.  Cable, or nothing.

I'm beginning to think that they're just all in bed together... given cables' deep pockets, they probably just quietly bought Roku, left it mostly alone to appease cable haters like me, and just as quietly started adding their 'cable-subscription-required' content.  And no, I'm not some conspiracy-theory nut... I just for the life of me can't understand why I'm seeing things in the Roku that I can't watch unless I ALSO have cable.  And if I had cable, why would I have a Roku?

Rant over.
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29 Replies
DBDukes
Level 9

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

"kharrisma" wrote:
...
Like a lot of other people, I gave cable the boot due to it's rapacious business practices, and instead purchased a Roku streaming device.  Was quite happy with it, until I started running into channels like "The History Channel," and now "NatGeo," that won't play unless you tell them who your "Provider" is, and log in through them to watch.

The long and short of it is: just because you see it listed as "available" in the channel store (or whatever they're calling it these days,) that doesn't mean it's available for you to watch.  Some of these "offerings" require a cable subscription in order to watch them.

I don't understand WHY Roku shows these channels as if they were available for watching through a streaming device, when in fact they're NOT... unless you have a cable subscription (which kind of defeats the whole purpose of buying a Roku in the first place, doesn't it?)  Why would somebody with a cable subscription buy a Roku in the first place?  You've got cable... you've got internet... what's the point of having a Roku at all in that situation?  I don't get it.  I really thought that Roku had positioned itself as "The answer to cable"... but maybe I just got the wrong impression.  If so, they've certainly changed their tune.

You can use streaming services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Philo, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, and others as content providers. It doesn't have to be cable.
"kharrisma" wrote:
...
I'm beginning to think that they're just all in bed together... given cables' deep pockets, they probably just quietly bought Roku, left it mostly alone to appease cable haters like me, and just as quietly started adding their 'cable-subscription-required' content.  And no, I'm not some conspiracy-theory nut... I just for the life of me can't understand why I'm seeing things in the Roku that I can't watch unless I ALSO have cable.  And if I had cable, why would I have a Roku?....

Those apps, by the way, are under the TV Everywhere section. That is, an extension of your cable/satellite/streaming service. Maybe you aren't familiar with what is meant by "TV Everywhere," but now that you are...
DBDukes
http://www.dbdukes.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Roku Premiere+ (3921)
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Miami_Son
Level 7

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

If you subscribe to a streaming service with the channels you want (I use Playstation Vue) you can indeed cut the cable or satellite cord. Many people use a Roku for accessing free content (there's tons of it) or simply to access Netflix and Prime. I started with one and once we found a service we liked I got 5 more for various TVs throughout the house. You have to get used to the way it does things as it is not as simple as changing channels on a TV connected to an antenna, but once you do it works fairly well. My costs went from $160 a month with DirecTV to only $53 a month with Vue. I don't count the Comcast internet because I was already paying for that and would need it anyway. There's still a few hiccups, but my subscription gets me access on all my devices anywhere I go, which is a major plus. All in all, the Roku does what I need it to do. YMMV.
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DBDukes
Level 9

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

^ Exactly! Better description than what I had.
DBDukes
http://www.dbdukes.com/
Roku Ultra (4660)
Roku Premiere+ (3921)
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ghb51
Level 8

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

So anyway, prospective cord cutters: know that Roku is not a direct replacement for cable........




........at the moment. When I got my first Roku in 2009 the only available streaming content was Netflix, and it was just beginning and only had about 50 movies at the time, all of them B horror movies form the 50's. 8 years later and look at all the options now, Netflix is huge, Hulu, Sling, YouTube tv and other channels that have already been pointed out, HBO now has an option to subscribe without cable, so does ESPN and even the cable channels themselves have apps so you can get a Roku to put in another room instead of paying a monthly fee for another cable box. Streaming on devices like Roku is the future, even cable companies know their days are numbered, Spectrum offers a streaming only package now, so yes, there are still channels that require a log in with a cable provider but it's just a matter of time before that changes.

edit - of course if you're under the impression that buying a Roku/Apple TV/Amazon Fire will mean you don't have to pay for content at all, then no, that's never going to happen, if you want content you have to pay for content, streaming devices *change the way* you pay for that content and will ultimately make content more affordable.
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nocable
Level 7

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

I don't think that there is a way to control your Roku settings so that Roku ONLY displays channels that are completely free, with no outside subscription or fees required. That said, many channels on Roku offer a combo of "free" and subscriber programming.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Ultra & 3600
SPECTRUM - 100/10 Mbps

Favorite Roku Channels:
WEATHER4US
PLUTO TV
YOU TUBE
PLUTO TV
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optikhog
Level 7

Re: Cord-cutters be advised:

"nocable" wrote:
I don't think that there is a way to control your Roku settings so that Roku ONLY displays channel that are completely free, with no outside subscription or fees required. That said, many channels on Roku offer a combo of "free" and subscriber programming.

...and it clearly notes in the description of each channel if a subscription is required.  It's right there on the screen.  Not sure why the OP is promoting conspiracy.
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kharrisma
Level 7

Re: Cable-cutters be advised:

The OP is not promoting conspiracy.  The OP just thinks that there's something amiss about a device that was created for streaming internet content is offering "cable subscription required" content.  As I said, what's the point of having internet, cable, AND Roku?  It's like going through a middleman to buy your groceries... it just ain't necessary, and is even foolish.  Anything that's available to stream via internet, you can already do with your computer.  Why would you need another piece of hardware so you can do the same thing with it that you already can do with your computer?  And if for some reason you just *have* to watch internet content through your 500" TV, there's always a $6 HDMI cable.

I think Roku is tacitly putting itself 'out there' as a device that will enable people to tell cable to kiss off... when in fact that is not the case at all.  It IS true to a large degree, but not completely so.  And I agree with ghb51 that streaming is the wave of the future, and I'm quite sure cable is aware that their greed has brought about their own demise... which is why I would not be surprised in the least to learn that "cable" actually owns Roku and is putting "cable-subscription-required" content into it.  Note that I'm NOT saying that this is a fact; I'm not even suggesting that it might be; I'm simply stating that it would be no surprise to me to find that this was so... because it would certainly go a long way towards explaining why an internet-streaming device would have "cable-only" content in it.  Makes no sense, otherwise... at least, not to me it doesn't.  YMMV.

@optikhog:  Yes, it does state "Subscription required," or "additional fees may be required," or something to that effect on many channels... and I do indeed pay for several of these channels.  TANSTAAFL (google it.)  Note though: nowhere... I'll repeat: nowhere.. does it say that you must have a cable subscription in order to view this channel.  You find that out only when you try to watch it.  NatGeo actually lets you watch about an hour of programming before they boot you out and want to know who your "provider" is.  That would be called a "misleading practice" in my book.  If a cable subscription is required to view the channel, it ought to say to right up front, so you don't waste your time and wind up frustrated and disappointed... and angry at being jerked around yet again, this time by Roku instead of cable (which most of us have learned to expect from them.)

I will freely admit that this whole thing is the result of my own expectations going into it: I fully expected that anything I saw on offer in the Roku service would be available for my viewing, either free or on a pay-for basis.  But, that's not the case, is it?  They show content that you can't watch for free and you can't pay for, either: you have to subscribe to the "services" of a "provider"... i.e., cable (or it's equivalent.)  Which is "pay-for" of a sort, I know... but that's not the point here.  Why offer stuff that you have to pay somebody else for to watch?  It's misleading and confusing and irritating, at least to me it is.  Hence the post.  I'll consider it a lesson learned.
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atc98092
Level 13

Re: Cable-cutters be advised:

Not trying to slam you about this. I understand your expectations. However, it's not under Roku's control how the channels offer the content. Yes, it makes perfect sense to allow a standalone subscription to any and all services. But it's up to the service provider to offer it. Roku is only the hardware supplier, and with a couple of exceptions does not create the channels or offer content themselves. The Roku Channel is one exception, in that it's their channel and they offer the content. And that one is completely free of charge with minimal advertisements. Another is the Roku Media Player. It offers no content, but is a simple interface to stream your own media from a DLNA media computer on your home network. Again there's no charge for that. 
Dan
Nvidia Shield, Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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Re: Cable-cutters be advised:

"kharrisma" wrote:
As I said, what's the point of having internet, cable, AND Roku?  It's like going through a middleman to buy your groceries... it just ain't necessary, and is even foolish.  

No, it's really not.  But as you don't seem to understand how Roku channels work I wouldn't expect you to understand that there are many ways people use them.
SoundBridge M500 (retired), PhotoBridge HD1000 rev. B (retired)
Roku 2 XS (retired), Roku XD (retired)
Roku 3 x2, Roku 2, Roku Ultra
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