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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Level 8

Channels Do Not Play

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Hello, I seek to understand how Roku and its channels work.

Below are three channels that do not work on my 5 brand new Roku devices, all updated with the most current software.  I seek understanding on HOW to use Roku, without being forced to perpetually fix its problems which I did not bargain for as I paid for these devices with my hard-earned money.

 

QUESTION: How do I use the three channels, indicated below with detailed observation points, all of which are clearly available on Roku, and, clearly do not work?

 

1) Channel: Amazing Tales - Starts Up & Closes Down after flashing a screen with the following text: Roku Channel Development Tools Supplied By Instant TV Channel; Obviously, no channel version or software version is available with the described behavior of this channel.

 

2) Channel: OTR Now Radio Program - Starts Up & Closes Down after flashing a screen with the following text: Roku Channel Development Tools Supplied By Instant TV Channel; Obviously, no channel version or software version is available with the described behavior of this channel.

 

3) Channel: Wild West OTR Channel - Starts up - Displays at the top right of the screen two white triangles with the Wild West OTR Channel icon in between them; a search icon and an About icon are displayed, nothing else; About icon: Channel version: 1.2.3, GC 3.4.21  Software version: 9.30 - build 4194-50  

     NOTE: The behavior of this channel is exactly the same as many other Roku channels.  

     Is it the case that Roku intentionally advertises a countless number of channels knowing that hundreds &

     hundreds do not work?  (This is a serious question.  Previously, I could turn on my TV set and it worked.  Now, it

     looks like I have unknowingly entered into a situation whereby I am forced to perpetually fix Roku problems, a

     proposition that I did NOT bargain for when I paid my hard-earned money for 5 Roku devices.  If the channel is

    available for download on Roku then I should be able to use it.  PERIOD.  HARD STOP.  NO Excuses of why it is

    OK that channels do not work.)

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Level 17

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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@Williamt100 wrote:

Probably the developers of these channels failed to keep up with changes required by the new Roku OS or terms of service? Or perhaps their servers are no longer supported?


I agree these are likely possible causes.

Hopefully this longwinded response will help @WebCrawler understand some of the underlying issues.

The first thing people need to understand is that each streaming system runs on its own variation of operating system software. Channels that want to have a presence on Roku have to have apps that are written to run on the Roku system. The only channels Roku themselves create and maintain are The Roku Channel (and even then they're dependent on the sources of the material they are relaying to do it right) and the Roku Media Player. For the rest of the channels their owners themselves create, release, and maintain the different versions of their channels that run on the various streaming platforms they want to be on.  This is no different than computer software companies having to release different versions of their programs to run on iOS, Windows. Linux, Android, etc. or game providers having to release different versions of their games to run on various gaming systems.

Roku provides information to developers about how channels need to be programmed to run on the Roku operating system, but it's up to the developers to implement the code.  They make information on their upcoming operating software updates available to developers, but the developers have to be diligent and keep their channel apps up to date.

Instant TV Channel, mentioned in the first post, is an online service that most anyone can use to create a channel that will run on Roku, which is why you see their notice on many of the "lesser" channels.  Instant TV Channel also needs to keep their service up to date with Roku operating system changes, and resulting changes in Instant TV Channel may need to implemented by the channels already created via their system.

Sometimes channels are just abandoned by their creators and Roku changes that affected them can create problems that never get fixed.

This isn't to say that Roku isn't capable of screwing things up.  Documentation of the changes may not reflect unrealized effects of their update. They certainly can have bugs in their own code, and there have been some whoppers. With the bewildering number of possible combinations of channels and users' systems that must be checked (e.g. Roku model number, astounding numbers of channels from different sources each with its own programming quirks, was a system like Instant TV Channel used to program the channel and what version was used, etc.) it's impossible to test them all before Roku operating updates are released so it's inevitable that problems are going to get released to the field. Many are quickly fixed by updates the channels make or release of incremental builds of the Roku software, but some will take longer.

And then there's the distribution network used by the channel to distribute their programming. Many use different servers for requests coming in from Roku than, say, Apple TV or Chromecast and sometimes problems with a server can affect streams sent to one streaming system and not affect other streaming systems.

Edit: Oh, and as for how to find ways to contact the owners of individual channels, some will have their own websites with contact links or forms.  Others may list contact information in their pages in the roku.com channel pages.  For the rest there are some limited feedback options if you press the * key on your remote while the channel's square in the Roku channel grid is highlighted, but I don't know if that goes to Roku, the channel, or both.

  • Roku Streaming Stick +, 3810X, Ser YH0059427035, wifi - Samsung UN55ES6100
  • Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi - JVC EM37T
  • TCL Roku TV 43S425/C107X, Ser X000001R60KV, wifi

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Level 8

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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Another Observation Point

 

Channel: Serial Film Central Free Movies - Channel Error (91-39cb98b6) "Sorry, this channel is temporarily unavailable.  This may be caused by a slow internet connection. If your internet connection is ok, please check with the channel owner for more information."

"Temporarily" has been one month.  How long does "temporarily" last on Roku?

1) The convenient internet connection excuse: "This may be caused by a slow internet connection." 1) I am able to watch other channels using Roku via my internet service AND I am making this post on Roku's website via my internet service; therefore, I do not understand how Roku believes that my internet service is the root cause of the issue.  2) All of a sudden our internet has become slow causing the problem on this channel, but, ONLY on this channel while all other non-Roku devices are working beautifully well on the internet as are 4 other Roku devices playing other channels.

2) Exactly & Precisely, HOW are we to execute upon,"please check with the channel owner for more information."?  Specifically, what are the steps we take to do the "check"?

 

AGAIN, I am seeking to understand how to use Roku.  It states that my internet may be slow, but, only on this channel with no other non-Roku devices being impacted and with my other 4 Roku devices working well with other channels.  Then I am to "check" something out, but, I am not provided instructions on how to do the "check".

 

Please "teach me to fish".  I want to use Roku, not fix it.

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Level 8

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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Another Channel That Will Not Play

 

4) Channel: Crime Fighter Detectives - Starts up - Displays at the top right of the screen two white rectangels with the Crime Fighter Detectives channel icon in between them; a search icon and an About icon are displayed, nothing else; About icon: Channel version: 1.2.2, GC 3.4.21  Software version: 9.30 - build 4194-50

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Level 7

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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AMAZING TALES and OTR both used to work fine on all my ROKU devices (all model 3's).  They stopped working with the same symptoms you're describing a few months ago.  I have not been able to get any resolution to the problem either.  FYI, they both still work fine on my laptop, so they channels per se. are still operational, it's some kind of interface issue with ROKU.  

I certainly understand your frustration.....I used to turn on AMAZING TALES and leave it as background entertainment as I worked, and I really miss it.  

I wish us both luck!

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Level 10

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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Yes, I too have encountered this problem with the FilmOn TV channel, and several others dating from 2016 (too many to list).

Probably the developers of these channels failed to keep up with changes required by the new Roku OS or terms of service? Or perhaps their servers are no longer supported?

Roku 3500X
Roku 4400X
Roku 4661X
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Level 17

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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@Williamt100 wrote:

Probably the developers of these channels failed to keep up with changes required by the new Roku OS or terms of service? Or perhaps their servers are no longer supported?


I agree these are likely possible causes.

Hopefully this longwinded response will help @WebCrawler understand some of the underlying issues.

The first thing people need to understand is that each streaming system runs on its own variation of operating system software. Channels that want to have a presence on Roku have to have apps that are written to run on the Roku system. The only channels Roku themselves create and maintain are The Roku Channel (and even then they're dependent on the sources of the material they are relaying to do it right) and the Roku Media Player. For the rest of the channels their owners themselves create, release, and maintain the different versions of their channels that run on the various streaming platforms they want to be on.  This is no different than computer software companies having to release different versions of their programs to run on iOS, Windows. Linux, Android, etc. or game providers having to release different versions of their games to run on various gaming systems.

Roku provides information to developers about how channels need to be programmed to run on the Roku operating system, but it's up to the developers to implement the code.  They make information on their upcoming operating software updates available to developers, but the developers have to be diligent and keep their channel apps up to date.

Instant TV Channel, mentioned in the first post, is an online service that most anyone can use to create a channel that will run on Roku, which is why you see their notice on many of the "lesser" channels.  Instant TV Channel also needs to keep their service up to date with Roku operating system changes, and resulting changes in Instant TV Channel may need to implemented by the channels already created via their system.

Sometimes channels are just abandoned by their creators and Roku changes that affected them can create problems that never get fixed.

This isn't to say that Roku isn't capable of screwing things up.  Documentation of the changes may not reflect unrealized effects of their update. They certainly can have bugs in their own code, and there have been some whoppers. With the bewildering number of possible combinations of channels and users' systems that must be checked (e.g. Roku model number, astounding numbers of channels from different sources each with its own programming quirks, was a system like Instant TV Channel used to program the channel and what version was used, etc.) it's impossible to test them all before Roku operating updates are released so it's inevitable that problems are going to get released to the field. Many are quickly fixed by updates the channels make or release of incremental builds of the Roku software, but some will take longer.

And then there's the distribution network used by the channel to distribute their programming. Many use different servers for requests coming in from Roku than, say, Apple TV or Chromecast and sometimes problems with a server can affect streams sent to one streaming system and not affect other streaming systems.

Edit: Oh, and as for how to find ways to contact the owners of individual channels, some will have their own websites with contact links or forms.  Others may list contact information in their pages in the roku.com channel pages.  For the rest there are some limited feedback options if you press the * key on your remote while the channel's square in the Roku channel grid is highlighted, but I don't know if that goes to Roku, the channel, or both.

  • Roku Streaming Stick +, 3810X, Ser YH0059427035, wifi - Samsung UN55ES6100
  • Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi - JVC EM37T
  • TCL Roku TV 43S425/C107X, Ser X000001R60KV, wifi

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Level 18

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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@makaiguy wrote:

The only channels Roku themselves create and maintain are The Roku Channel (and even then they're dependent on the sources of the material they are relaying to do it right) and the Roku Media Server.

I have to take exception to this statement.  Many channels use Roku's Direct Publisher method.  It's similar to the Instant TV approach in that a channel can be created without writing any code.  In the case of Direct Publisher channels the code is developed by Roku.  There's also a large number of channels that are based on samples developed by Roku often with little to no change, so it could be argued that Roku developed the code for those channels as well.  And of course there are many screensavers developed by Roku.  However, code is only half the story.  Poor server implementation can cause as many problems as code issues.

Any channel that isn't kept up to date with updates to the firmware can't be blamed on Roku.  Developers are responsible for ensuring that a firmware update doesn't break something in the channel.  Roku isn't going to go back and test every channel with every firmware update and I wouldn't expect them to.  The developer for a channel is listed in the Channel Store, although I don't know how easy it is to actually contact the developer.

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Level 17

Re: Channels Do Not Play

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Thanks for the clarifications.  I was not aware of Roku's Direct Publisher.

I find this quote from the Direct Publisher page you referenced to be quite telling (emphasis added by me):

  • Automatic updates: Focus on building your brand and creating quality content. Direct publisher channels all share the same code base, which is maintained and updated by Roku. New features introduced to the Roku Platform are automatically added to Direct Publisher channels, ensuring your channel stays fully optimized.

So it sounds to me that any changes in the Roku operating system that introduce problems in a Direct Publisher produced channel are on Roku's head to fix. 

Edit: Or does that just mean that Direct Publisher will be kept up to date but the apps created will only be assured of being up to date at the time they are created and the creators would need to return to Direct Publisher to have their app rebuilt after Roku changes occur? 

VERY INTERESTING!

  • Roku Streaming Stick +, 3810X, Ser YH0059427035, wifi - Samsung UN55ES6100
  • Roku Streaming Stick, 3600X, Ser 5S56D8240827, wifi - JVC EM37T
  • TCL Roku TV 43S425/C107X, Ser X000001R60KV, wifi
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