I wanted to post here because I think this problem might be on the way to being solved. Not, apparently, by either Roku (which has done little but finger point) and Google / Youtube (which... customer support.... yyyeeeah.) But users seem to have narrowed down something that seems to be related.
Specifically, googling for a solution again tonight, I noticed this other thread on the topic, and especially user "tgouws".
(The same user has also posted earlier on the current thread, but the issue is a lot clearer on this other thread I just pointed to.)
Basically, it has something to do with the YouTube account you're signed in with-- and specifically the number of playlists and / or saved videos you have in that account. The number of subscribed channels you have also has been mentioned / suspected but it doesn't appear to be clear that this is related too.
But, the important thing is, if you play random videos that YouTube just happens to be suggesting or pushing next in your feed, they generally play fine. But if you play videos that happen to be in your playlists, they can produce this error. At least, if you have more than some magical number of playlists.
In my case, the account we use with YT on Roku only has 15 playlists. But some of them have a ton of videos on them, and we also have some bookmarked playlists from other accounts.
To test, I tried playing a video that for whatever reason has halted with the "network error" all 3 times I tried to play it this evening. After reading the thread, I tried this:
- Switch to the "Guest Account" on the Roku YouTube channel
- Search for and play that exact same video
- It played through fine (!)
- Switch back to the account we usually use on the Roku YouTube channel
- Play that exact same video (which happens to be on a playlist)
- Sure enough, it conked out with the network error again (as it had earlier in the evening).
While I haven't yet tried this strategy long enough to be sure it'll work-- this isn't a lot of data-- it feels to me like this is likely to be a pattern. For my part I can probably get by with not using the specific account we were using. It'll be an inconvenience but not half as bad an inconvenience as having this darn error all the time.
I do have a question though. Other people who have talked about this error and the connection to number of saved playlists, have talked about having 100, 80, other large numbers of playlists. I only have 15. Could it be the number of videos saved across all your playlists, rather than the number of playlists per se? Or maybe nobody really knows yet.
In any case thank you to whoever figured this out (tgouws?) and I hope this pattern holds so someone (customers, I mean) can finally figure this annoying and disappointing issue out.
"The number of subscribed channels you have also has been mentioned / suspected but it doesn't appear to be clear that this is related too."
It might be, I don't have any playlists on my channel, but I do have around 30 or so subscriptions (maybe more, I haven't counted), and most of them have a lot of videos, the one odd thing I've noticed is that if I scroll through the subs fast it takes a while for YouTube to catch up, meaning if I scroll fast and then stop on a sub all the thumbnails remain blank while YouTube tries to load everything, and that's when the error occurs, but if I scroll through slow and let YouTube load everything in each sub the error doesn't seem to occur (it may have a few times, but not nearly as much when scrolling trough fast). So maybe the problem is how many videos are in playlists/subscriptions and YouTube is just having problems loading large playlists/subscriptions, at least on Roku.
All your observations are correct.
I only have 13 playlists and plenty of subscriptions and had the same problem.
I do not want to switch to a Youtube Guest account, since I pay for a YouTube Premium account. Aka for $10 a month I get no ads.
My Solution (or at least how resolved this issue). For $25, I switched to an Amazon Fire Stick (it was on sale).
I have not had this problem so far (several weeks) using the Fire stick.
I thought @siphon put down a great summary on this problem. All of my details match, timeframe, sporadic nature of the error, etc. The account that I play from does not have any playlists, however it has over 250 subscriptions. Some videos play and some will just keep crashing. In my opinion the problem appears to be worse during evenings - which made me suspect that it was my internet. Last night was particularly bad, prompting me to look it up on this forum and seeing that I am not alone here. It has been difficult to find a pattern. I actually considered that certain videos and creators were deprioritized by YT. Has anyone else experienced the issue more at night, or have any other patterns to look for. thanks for all the effort put in to this forum
The bit about scrolling and blank images being related to when the problem occurs, is interesting. User @tgouws said (in the other thread) <<I believe this is a memory handling issue either by Roku or the YouTube App.>> If there is a memory handling issue it's easy to picture how that could cause what you're seeing as well. I don't recall seeing the scrolling / blank images effect myself, but I'm going to be keeping my eyes out for it next time I'm on the Roku.
i see the scrolling issue. basically as i scroll through my 200 subscriptions, when i get to the later ones the thumbnails will be gray and I have to wait a bit before they populate. You can't select a video until they populate. So Im not sure how this would relate other than to show that there may be capacity or memory issues.
I just wanted to mention, based on @tgouws observations and others', I've been trying the strategy of using the guest account exclusively, and simply searching for the videos and playlists my daughter wants to watch.
I have yet to see the network error again. I'm playing playlists that for months I haven't been able to run for more than 10 minutes without hitting the network error.
So, it looks more and more to me like @tgouws is onto something.
That's not to say that we have a solution here. It's quite a loss not to have your user account info available to pick existing playlists from. Even @tgouws is using an Amazon Fire Stick to play YouTube, which I'd be doing too if I had gotten around to ordering one before the lockdown.
But it's something to go on for a frustrated end user like me. (It's also something to go on for the dev teams at Roku and/or YouTube/Google if they ever feel like fixing this for real.)
I guess we still don't know if this affects all devices & providers (ie, if someone has never seen this problem, if they logged in with a lots-o-playlists account, and played for a few hours, would they suddenly find they had the problem now.)
On related fronts...
Scrolling issue: I've looked for the scrolling error. I do see that sometimes the stills and names take a while to populate, but for whatever reason in my case it's actually rare and hard to get it to occur. I do have a fiber optic connection, and the Roku is wired. I haven't yet seen any connection to the network error, though I'm keeping an eye out for it.
YouTubeTV channel idea: I've also tried the often-suggested idea seen on this and other threads to install YouTubeTV as well, and / or install one or the other or uninstall them and power off in various sequences. I did try installing one of the variants of this suggestion, but at least having YouTubeTV on my Roku doesn't help. I wonder if in some cases it does actually work as a fix, but for artifactual reasons. You could see why this would work if you uninstalled YT, and then when you reinstalled it you didn't log back into whatever acct you were in before, or maybe if the YT TV channel isn't signed in, etc.
Use phone to push videos to Roku: Other users have said leaving the Roku YT channel on a minimal acct (or presumably Guest), and using one's phone or other device to make selections and push playlists to the Roku, seems to work. I haven't tried this myself, I've only been manually searching from the Roku itself, but as long as the pattern holds it seems like this ought to work.
Anyway, just thought I should give an update for the sake of any other users who have banged their heads on this problem and are still looking for a solution / explanation.
Just to confirm @siphon's observation about Youtube TV, I'm no longer subscribed, but when I was and had it installed I still saw the network error on regular YouTube at the same frequency as I do when it's not installed.