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Level 9

FREE programs do not play on Roku Ultra

After 2 months of trying to view FREE programming on this Roku Ultra, I've determined that the problem is 100% with Roku. I think it's about resource allocation. In an effort to gain market share before the big guys start really competing, Roku mgmt probably thinks they need to put everything into marketing. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing number of users mean the servers are overwhelmed regularly, especially during US prime time hours. Solution is to prioritize PAID content over FREE content with possibly another tier for TRIAL content. This theory is based on my experience. Yesterday was revealing.

John at Roku called me in the morning about one of my MANY ongoing issues with Roku. He helped me get my Apple TV+ trial subscription squared away. Then, I asked him about the problem I've had viewing ANY FREE content. While he was on the line, I tried to view 2 or 3 channels that I have been unable to view in the past. They all seemed to work. I was amazed, but I was puzzled as to why all of a sudden they worked. The difference could be that I've always tried to view them during prime time hours in the past, and this was the morning.

Last night, I wanted to see FREE content that had loaded properly in the morning test. First, I tried the Roku Channel. Clicking on Play, Roku Channel reported "retrieving at the bottom of the screen. After 15 seconds or so, it went back to the page I was on. Clicking on the Play button again produces the same result. This goes on forever. The program never plays. It's a loop. I've seen it too many times. But I did not give up. I tried to play several different programs. The result is always the same. Very frustrating. This is why I've never seen ANY FREE content on the Roku Channel. But I did not give up.

I decided to try PBS where I had finally been able to see a couple shows one afternoon for the first time earlier in the week. Some Roku CSR had tried to tell me PBS was a paid channel in a long waste of time chat before. I was sick of trying unsuccessfully to watch a Nova show. Goes to show how knowledgeable they aren't. Click on Play - "Your program will begin after this message. Loading..." at bottom of screen. Then, "ERROR - Sorry, this video is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later." Same thing happens with every so-called FREE program on PBS.

Well, Peacock has some decent free content so I went there. Click on Play - spinning yellow circle in the middle of the screen on solid black background. Goes on forever or until you back out. Happens on every so-called FREE program.

How about the CW for a little Penn & Teller magic? Click on Play - "Video Error - malformed data. Press * to dismiss." That's all you can do for every so-called FREE show there.

Xumo had loaded properly when on the phone that morning. I decided to try to play "Alien Mind Control" because maybe that's what's going on here. Click Play - "Your program will start after these messages. (Uh-oh, sounds familiar) Then, "Error - The content you selected is currently not available. Please try again later." Oddly enough, it turns out none of the so-called FREE content is available.

This is taking a long time. I had actually been able to see something on Tubi once but it was not in prime time. Since I was tired of this nonsense (I've been thru this a number of times before), I figured I would see what Tubi has for free right now. "Weird or What" sounds good - Click Play - "Your program will begin after these messages." Say it ain't so! But no error message this time. Instead I'm transported back to the tubi logo as if I never even tried to view a show. Very funny - "Weird or What, eh? Only thing is it's the same on all tubi content, which is supposedly 100% FREE.

On to Filmrise for a good free movie: "Memento." Click Play - "Your program will begin shortly. Loading - 99%." Then it goes blank for a few seconds. Then, "Your program will begin shortly.  Loading - 99%." Endless loop. Happens on every so-called FREE movie on Filmrise.

How about PLEX? They have some free content. I'll try just about anything now. Click Play - Yellow spinning circle in middle of black screen. "99%" in the middle of the circle. Sometimes it slows down like it's really going to start or give me an error. But it doesn't. It just keeps going. Get a snack. Go to the bathroom. Check email. 20 minutes later - Still going like the Energizer bunny. No program ever appears. Same for every FREE content item on PLEX.

I know, VUDU loaded properly when on the phone with Roku in the morning. "The Contract" sounds kinda interesting. Click Play - "Ad 1 of 3 00:19" appears at the bottom of the blank screen. It's locked up. Happens on every so-called FREE program on VUDU.

You know, there seems to be a pattern here I could try some others that supposedly offer FREE content but I've been at this longer than any movie I might want to watch and all I've done is get more and more frustrated and steamed at Roku. Well, the only FREE TRIAL I have going right now is Apple TV+. I might as well see how that goes. Click Play - Bingo! Works perfectly.

Thus, it is determined that TRIAL is prioritized above FREE. It may be the same priority as PAID. The theory is laid out for Roku to disprove or confirm. Please test for yourself as well. My connection is good to strong at all times so please don't try to blame it on that. This is Roku.

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