Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Using Roku outside the USA

Roku launched in the USA back in 2008. It was a Netflix streaming box. In 2009, it became more that a Netflix streamer, and allowed other apps and services. Then Roku expanded outside the USA, partnering with NowTV in the UK, as well as with other companies. Roku is now sold directly in a number of countries. But not all. Not by a long shot.

Roku is sold and supported in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Peru

That's it. Seventeen countries.

What happens in those countries? Well, the device works, but many apps don't. And, since the purpose is generally to run apps, then severely limits the use of the device for most people outside the supported 17.

How is it determined which apps are supported and which aren't? Roku leaves it up to the app developer. For example, Netflix supports their Roku app everywhere. But Amazon won't support its app outside the Supported 17 countries. While you can use Amazon in, say, Spain, you can't use the Amazon app for Roku in Spain.

Why would a country limit their apps? Netflix doesn't, so why do Amazon, Disney, and others? I don't know for certain, but probably because people are jerks. Let me explain.

First, people are jerks. You've met people, so you know what I'm talking about. And how that figures in is this way. If Roku isn't supported, but a service supports their app, they may worry about being held responsible for supporting the entire device. The way to avoid some jerk trying to hold them accountable for a device they didn't build is to not offer the app where the device itself isn't supported.

Roku isn't alone in this regard. Other platforms have certain apps that are only available in certain areas. So, if you do travel with your Roku or other streaming platform, you may encounter some issues that impact your Streaming Life when you travel out of country.

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