Network - Wireless & Wired Connections

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TammyB
Level 7

HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

Has anyone noticed if your HSI providers are devising a way around our free Roku Streaming Channels?  I have a theory...I recently moved and subscribed to Suddenlink HSI for my internet provider in my home.  I have a Roku TV which I have had a few years now and all is great.  However, now that I've moved to a new state (Oklahoma) from Florida, we are experiencing some strange things.  For example:  on the History Channel, we can only view 3-5 episodes of a show before getting locked out.  Same thing for HGTV, NatGeo & FoodNetwork. Now this only happened after we had been using our new HSI service for 30 days.  So, all of a sudden we are having to authenticate and re-authenticate over and over to no avail.  This does not happen on the channels where no TV provider is required like Netflix or Vudu.  When we called Suddenlink, they said it might be an issue with Roku and suggested I deactivate my Roku account and reboot...I did not want to do that, so I did a factory reset on the TV itself...but this did not resolve the problem.   I called Suddenlink back and spoke to a different tech and he said their internet should be compatible with Roku.  I don't think the tech's have even caught on to this----It is our belief that the TV Cable providers are trying to get around Roku in order to sell you their TV service which means you are unable to watch your favorite Roku channels for free anymore.  Now if we are right...that's a slap in the face to Roku and they, along with us are the ones who will suffer.  We purchased Suddenlink here because they did not require a contract...I wonder how I am going to get around this?  I'm not a super "tekky" person, although I am not without skills.  Meanwhile, the bottom line is, now I can't enjoy some of my favorite streaming channels and that really really pis----s me off!  ROKU PLEASE HELP US!!!  ISN'T THERE SOMETHING YOU CAN DO???
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6 Replies
atc98092
Level 15

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

If they are blocking access to channels that you pay for and authenticate specifically with your Internet provider, they are probably breaching their contract with the channel provider. But if the channel provider (such as History Channel) doesn't have an agreement with your ISP, there's nothing you can do about that. As you say, channels that don't require authentication are working, so they aren't specifically blocking a Roku device from the sounds of it. Since I have no such subscriptions, I can't say if it's something that happens. There's maybe one possible workaround, but we aren't allowed to discuss it on the forum. 
Dan
Roku Stick (3600), Ultra (4640), Premiere (3920), Insignia 720p Roku TV, Sharp 4K Roku TV, Nvidia Shield, Windows 10 Pro x64 running Serviio and Plex on a wired Gigabit network.
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TammyB
Level 7

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

well how am i supposed to find out what the workaround is if we can't discuss it on the forum?
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Heyitsrick
Level 10

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

"TammyB" wrote:
well how am i supposed to find out what the workaround is if we can't discuss it on the forum?

Perhaps send a private message to atc98092?
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Community Manager
Community Manager

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

@TammyB

Channel authentication is managed by each TV provider and the network cable channel themselves independently of Roku. If there is an issue within their authentication systems, this may explain the issue you are running into when trying to watch channels. This is something that each channel provider and your TV provider will need to investigate within their web authentication systems. Channels specify their own different term lengths for authentication, so it's also possible that this may have something to do with what you are seeing. You'll want to follow up with any specific channel's support team directly to report the issue you are seeing with your TV provider credentials, and request that they take a closer look. 

I might also recommend removing any specific channel you're encountering an issue with, restarting your player from Settings>System>System Restart, then adding the channel back once more and authenticating again. In some cases, this may help resolve potential issues. 

Thanks,
Tanner
Tanner D.
Roku Community Manager
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TammyB
Level 7

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

Hi Tanner....thanks for your input.  Let me just say right now, I don't have the time nor the inclination to sit on hold over the phone for who knows how long contacting all these various channels and trying to explain this issue to them...that would take hours and hours.  Besides, I'm completely convinced not one of them would do anything to resolve the problem.  My previous experience is their answer is always, "call the other guy."

The bottom line is still the same and it is this: Roku customers are getting ripped off by internet providers by locking out the Roku streaming channels unless the TV cable package they provide is purchased.  I know this to be true because as soon as we purchased our internet provider's cable tv package, all of these problems of "locked out Roku channels" miraculously went away!  (We had no other choice to remedy this issue.)

I should think Roku would be highly upset about this practice and have the "cahunas" to get the FCC to look into the matter further, instead of laying all the resolution on the customer's doorstep.  Any other Roku user such as myself will most certainly be just as furious about this as we were when they run into this problem and figure out for themselves just what is going on within the IP world and Roku.  

Lastly, we absolutely did take all the other steps you suggested, all to no avail.  

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fluke
Level 10

Re: HSI PROVIDER LOCKS OUT ROKU

I so want to agree with your conclusion.  While I agree cable/Internet providers are behaving in a way that rips consumers off, I think in this case you might be attributing this the wrong way.

Roku provides a subscription activation code and gets back a response from the content provider.

HSI provides an account holder login confirmation along with confirming that the content provider is part of the service their customer subscribes to.

Once you are confirmed as authorized, the choice to cut off the premium content access is largely in the hands of the content provider.

Each of the channels you stated also have smart phone apps available.  I would recommend trying it on the smart phone and confirm the restriction of 3-5 episodes does not also take place on the smart phone app.

My best guess is that all three channels are using similar software for trying to combat account sharing.  Both HGTV and Food Network are owned by Discovery, Inc. and National Geographic is owned by Disney Corp.  In the case of Disney, their hate for account sharing is documented in a couple places including this Wired article:

https://www.wired.com/story/disney-streaming-account-sharing/

One possible reason you are seeing this problem now is if you have been sharing account information with someone else back in Florida.  It might be possible if you share the account with someone in the same state that you can fly below the radar of their anti-sharing system.  If it is the case that is what is triggering the problem, then the best solution might be to stop sharing your account.

If you aren't sharing your account, then there may be something else that is triggering the content provider restriction.  This might be related to HSI's network behaving in a way the provider didn't take into account correctly.  But I don't think it is something that HSI would have done intentionally.  You may want to contact each of the content providers directly to get assistance on why your Roku authentication state is being halted prematurely.  it is possible they will tell you to contact your service provider.  This doesn't mean HSI is to blame but does mean from a content provider's perspective their direct customer is the provider instead of you.  If that is the case, try to calmly explain again to HSI support what the issue is.  If they don't seem to understand, ask to have the issue escalated to a supervisor or tier 2 support person.  They should hopefully eventually be able to open a ticket with the content provider on your behalf to get the issue resolved.

Roku, for their part, is trying to help address this type of situation by giving the option to subscribe to premium channels through Roku's own Roku Channel.  This would allow you to stop treating companies like HSI as a cable company and only as an Internet provider.  This would eliminate middle man effect of  HSI misunderstanding the situation and pointing the finger at Roku.  But at the current time the 3 content providers you listed aren't on the list of 48 premium content providers the Roku Channel provides.  Also, the content providers will still reserve the right to enforce their terms of service against account sharing even if that sometimes means frustrating some customers due to false positives in detection.

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