Roku Rep Tells Me There Are Secret Limits To Netflix Streaming (Updated)

Update: A Roku spokesman said there is no limitation on Netflix streaming. His statement:

The statements made in the Roku post are incorrect. There is no limitation specific to Roku on what is streamed from the Netflix library. We offer whatever Netflix offers to consumers via Netflix-ready devices and a PC/Mac/iPad/iPhone.

This is more likely a connection error that existed between the Roku player and the Netflix server. I would presume it would clear itself up. Roku players, and other Netflix-ready devices occasionally have these issues.

Here’s the original post:

While Josh was streaming 30 Rock through his Roku via Netflix, he caught a plot twist that was more jarring than the announcement of the Kabletown merger: “Content unavailable,” the screen said.

Josh went online and chatted up a Roku rep we’ll call “Kevin” who said depending on the title, Roku players restrict the amount of content that can be streamed on Netflix. Josh says there’s no mention of the limit online or with his Roku paperwork.

An excerpt from the chat:

Kevin: Just now I inquired. Roku has limited access on certain titles.

Kevin: It may not play titles that can be played on computer through netflix.

Josh: I’m surprised to hear that. I don’t think it was mentioned in the marketing of the product. The image I got was that if I could stream it from my Netflix account, I could stream it on my Roku.

Kevin: I apologize for the inconvenience.

Josh: ok – thanks. But that means you can’t do anything about it?

Kevin: Yes, I apologize for that.

Josh: I just looked. On your website, it says, “Amazing Value. With Roku, you get FREE access to the entire Netflix streaming library if you have a Netflix subscription starting at $7.99/month. Plus, you automatically get the new Netflix experience, featuring browse and search. “

Josh: Note the words “entire Netflix streaming library”.

Kevin: Yes, I understand. Just now I inquired my supervisor. The roku player has limited boundaries.

Kevin: Can I help with anything else?

Josh: I guess not. I’m pretty disappointed that you are not delivering what you promised when I bought my Roku and you continue to promise. Don’t you think Roku should inform future buyers of this limitation?

Kevin: Yes, I will send your feed back to the concern department for consideration.

If you have a Roku, have you gotten similar error messages? I’ve gone 30 Rock crazy on my Xbox 360, and have never suffered such an issue.


Edit Your Comment

  1. kurtisnelson says:

    I seriously doubt there is a “concern department”

    • ARVash says:

      Can I work in the concern department? That sounds like an AWESOME job.

    • evnmorlo says:

      It’s located in a basement broom closet in the We Don’t Give A Shit Department’s skyscraper office building.

    • Leksi Wit says:

      Netflix is an excellent company with awesome customer service. He should just call the 800 number. I did twice: Once for my own account and once for an account I manage for an elderly person who does not have a computer. Out of all my CS experiences they rank #1 so far. I have never tried Roku chat, but this is definitely something the OP should call Netflix about on their direct 800 line.

      • Plasmafox says:

        His issue sounds like it’s with a third party web TV application, and not netflix himself.

        It’s possible the reason for the issue was a licensing problem with the makers of Roku. Which is ridiculous since they are simply providing access to another service which actually streams the content, but that wouldn’t stop a butthurt media company from throwing lawyers at them.

        • altfolk says:

          I’ve gotten “content unavailable” errors on my laptop before, I don’t think this is Roku only.

        • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

          Yes, but Netflix actively promotes the Roku device, even pushing it on their site. They could at least eliminate the issue being from their end in cases like this.

          P.S. I love my Roku!

    • Daggertrout says:

      It takes up the major landmasses of the Sirius Tau system.

    • smirkette says:

      It’s where they send you when you are disappoint.

    • shadmed says:

      There is, it’s also called executives and shareholders. The CEO is the main guy in it. The only time in recorded history when a complain has reached this department was with the iPhone 4 antenna problem. Other than that, complains never get there. Rumor says it’s because they mostly just ignore it.

    • ianmac47 says:

      No, maybe not, but there is a legal department where your lawsuits eventually will be dealt with.

    • stormbird says:

      Oh, no there is a Concern Department, right next to the Taking It Seriously Department. The Supervisor Will Call You Back department is around the corner on the left.

  2. ryder02191 says:

    A quick Google search on the topic shows that the amount of people with this same issues is approximately 0%. I get intermittent “Content Unavailable” errors as well; there’s no need to go customer service crazy at the first occurrence, since things are usually remedied within minutes.

    • kewlfocus says:

      This. A little bit of over reaction on the OP’s part. Yes, I’m blaming the OP. Everything you can stream on the computer you can stream on the Roku. Hell, it’s Netflix’s flagship player, they made an investment in the company to develop their first streaming box, so, I’m pretty sure it streams everything.

      • coren says:

        I’m not. He called to see what the problem was and Roku told him it was that there were unspoken limitations. Is Roku lying to him?

        • ryder02191 says:

          There’s lying and misunderstanding. Given that this is Phil, and the entire initialization and context of the chat transcript is cut out, it’s undoubtedly, 100%, no doubt a misunderstanding. If this story were true, there would be at least one other source on the internet corroborating it. There’s not.

          • Ilovegnomes says:

            Yeah, because if it is on the Internet, it must be true… and if it is not on the internet, it isn’t?

            • JoshF says:

              I’m the OP. My detailed reply to all of this hasn’t gotten past Phil’s filter yet. Here was my question: When I try to watch 30 Rock Season 3 on Netflix, it says content unavailable, but (1) All other Netflix content is ok, including 30 Rock Season 4, (2) until 2 nights ago, there was no problem with season 3, (3) I have the same situation when I connect using a different wireless network, and (4) I have no problem accessing 30 Rock season 3 via Netflix on my computer.

              Others have reported EXACTLY this problem–see the ROKU forums. It’s not my light usage of the ROKU that’s at fault, they have their own limit with Netflix, betcha.

            • Jerkface says:

              No, because multiple independent sources tend to be a good way of confirming things.

            • ill informed says:

              the roku box may not be able to play certain lies available on the computer

        • Chaosium says:

          “Is Roku lying to him?”

          Simple answer, yes. CSAs often lie to get people off the phone.

          • Mythandros says:

            Only if they want to get fired.

            Yes, we (I’m a TSR, not a CSR) do want idiots off the phone occasionally.. but we won’t LIE to do it.

            Unless you ARE a CSR that lies to their customers, don’t presume to speak for the CSR’s out there.

            Dumb troll.

          • coren says:

            And the truth “we experience occasional glitches, sorry for the inconvenience” would be so much harder?

          • hegemonyhog says:

            The truth: “Try again in five minutes, everything will be okay.”

            The lie: “We blatantly lied to you about our service, and you will not be able to watch what you want to watch, probably ever.”

            Yeah, that lie is going to get people off the phone (by which I mean webchat) sooner.

      • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

        Since our Wii has fit very well into its new role as “Netflex Streaming Delivery Device,” I have only seen DVD titles come up blank, but only, maybe, twice. I didn’t think anything of it, since I know things tend to come and go on Instant Streaming.

        I can’t blame the OP here because if something isn’t working, why wouldn’t you contact customer service? (That’s kind of their job, right?) However, and this is the big point you and Ryder are missing, is that the Roku rep is the one saying that there are things they can’t stream.

        Why would the CSR (or the supervisor) say that? That’s the part I find really interesting. Is it just the supervisor trying to brush the guy off the phone because it was probably just a burp in the Netflix service? Or, are there some restrictions that they know about that have not become public (for the tin-foil hat wearers out there)?

        • ryder02191 says:

          Until I know what the questions he asked the CSR were, then I’ll take the answer as meaningless and out of context.

          • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

            Fair enough.

            However, “Kevin: It may not play titles that can be played on computer through netflix” is interesting and it’s hard to imagine what other context it could be. (Does a Roku box have some limitations? Honest question, as I’m not familiar with them.)

            Also, what is meant by “Kevin: Yes, I understand. Just now I inquired my supervisor. The roku player has limited boundaries” (other than the amusing use of the phrase “limited boundaries”)?

    • Chaosium says:

      Yup. It’s entirely possible that the OP got lied to.

    • Qolotlh says:

      I’ve had one or two issues on my PS3 and it’s immediately fixed itself as mentioned below. Additionally Netflix sent me an email apologizing for the issue, how they know it was an issue and not a cancel operation on my end I don’t know, and offered a discount on the next month for my trouble! Sounds like a lot of steam to me from the OP and not a lot to back it up

  3. SkreanAme says:

    I know you can’t stream certain online content over the Roku on Hulu Plus but this is the first I’ve heard about Netflix doing that as well.

    • NotEd says:

      Yeah, I’ve run into the Hulu Plus restrictions too on certain programs. It is annoying when they tell you you have to watch it on a computer instead.
      Don’t they realize that many people watch Hulu on Roku so I don’t have to watch on my PC? If I’m sitting at my PC I am doing something also. When I watch TV I like to be a bit more comfortable or at least be able to multi-task by reading email or something.

  4. kathyl says:

    I get intermittent connection issues via my PS3, but they always shake out either by immediately trying again or by closing the Netflix application and reopening it. It would be a shame if the Roku box somehow gets stuck when it encounters an error and can’t reset itself to get past it once the connection blip is over.

    I mean, I just discovered that I like a show that’s in its sixth season and I watched the entire first five seasons of it over the course of less than a week. If there was throttling after a certain amount of content, I think I would have seen it during that period.

  5. dirtylurker says:

    I wonder if this is the same with netflix in blu ray players too? My PS3 does wonders!!!!!

    • GenXCub says:

      So far I haven’t had issues like the OP with my Sony Blu Ray player and netflix (granted I should just call it the Mythbusters box since that’s mostly what I keep in my instant queue). A couple of times when what I put in instant queue didn’t show up on my player, I just had to call them to reset my device.

  6. CompanyDirectory says:

    The author seems to be conflating “access to the entire Netflix streaming library” with a claim that there is unlimited access to the Netflix library. The former simply implies that anything one can stream on Netflix is available to stream through Roku. The latter would mean that one could do so in unlimited quantities.

    While I think they certainly should offer unlimited streaming on the Roku, the author clearly doesn’t understand the distinction between what he wants and what they actually offer.

    • Bix says:

      This is what Netflix offers. On every device (except for HD streaming on devices that aren’t HD-capable) as well as PCs and Macs. It seems like an issue on Roku’s end.

    • coren says:

      Where do they state the limitations on the service, then? It doesn’t seem like there are any…

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      I don’t have a Roku, but the only limit I know of with Netflix instant streaming is that you can only have so many titles queued up. (I think it’s 500.) If you feel like spending a month and watching your entire queue back-to-back, you can.

      At my house, Netflix Instant gets far more use than cable. Based on my personal experience, if there is a limitation (availibility versus amount) than I would guess that it is on Roku’s side. And if so, it sounds like it is not described well on their service contract.

    • MMD says:

      If those things are truly different, shouldn’t those differences be clearly stated by all parties?

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      I get what you’re saying. Even though those below you saying there aren’t these limits, if there were, what the customer is quoting does not preclude their existence.

  7. jayelle says:

    I have a Roku and an Xbox 360 and I have stream 30 Rock on both with no difficulty whatsoever.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Yeah I have the Xbox360 and the only problem I’ve had is that Netflix will reset the load quality because of download speed issues. Because my TV is HD/1080, the change is negliable so it’s really a non-issue.

      • dwtomek says:

        Just a random thought in relation to what you just said. I wish they would add a function to limit the load quality. During peak hours I usually get mid-level quality but it will often spike to a higher quality. I cringe every time this happens as I know it will soon fall behind and I will have to buffer again just to get back to mid-level. It’s so infuriating, and while I am aware that it is mostly an issue with my ISP at peak time, it’d still be nice to be able to limit what quality Netflix will stream to me.

  8. TehQ says:

    I have a Roku and have never run into this issue. Could be a connection issue or an error. I would contact Netflix.

  9. Abradax says:

    The concern department must take stuff VERY seriously.

  10. JoshF says:

    OK – I’m the “Josh” in question. To respond to some of these comments.

    1. I didn’t misunderstand what they offered. It has nothing to do with “unlimited quantities” or throttling or my own usage. I don’t use it that much, I am able to see Season 4, and I already saw the first 9 episodes of Season 3. Clearly the Roku licenses some quantity of something (instances of a given show per time period?) from Netflix, and they ran out of it.

    They paint themselves as a delivery system, they don’t tell you they can’t deliver what you have paid to have access to. When Netflix offers DVDs, you know there’s sometimes a short wait. Roku should make clear that the same thing is true of them. It is never true for Netflix streaming itself.

    2. There was no network problem or equipment problem, and that’s not what the rep said. All systems can fail. Rather it is Roku’s own licensed access to shows that I can stream on my computer perfectly well directly from Netflix.

    3. If you want to know about people with exactly the same experience, go to the Roku forums. Hunt for content unavailable, and you’ll see this complaint coming up, suddenly, exactly as it has happened to me (and especially involving 30 Rock, oddly).

    Here’ s how my chat started, btw, the start was edited out of Phil’s blog entry: “When I try to watch 30 Rock Season 3 on Netflix, it says content unavailable, but (1) All other Netflix content is ok, including 30 Rock Season 4, (2) until 2 nights ago, there was no problem with season 3, (3) I have the same situation when I connect using a different wireless network, and (4) I have no problem accessing 30 Rock season 3 via Netflix on my computer. This makes no sense!!”

  11. Sumtron5000 says:

    I just got a Ruko for Xmas; I had never even heard of it before. Consumerist relevance to my life for the win!

    • Geekmom says:

      Me too! I think Roku is the best Christmas present ever!

      I haven’t run in to this problem either and I’ve been streaming constantly for 2 days lol

  12. CBenji says:

    I have a Samsung BluRay player and I don’t have issues. Sometimes it stops playing and I have to restart it, but I think that is a connection issue. Sometimes I watch for hours.

  13. La Mareada says:

    Problems picking from Netflix library? No.

    More interruptions with Comcast connection while I’m streaming Netflix content since Tuesday after new FCC rules announced? Yes.

  14. Southern says:

    Of COURSE that department exists! It’s located on the same floor as the “We’re taking it seriously” department.

  15. Daggertrout says:

    I had an issue trying to play the first episode of Red Dwarf the other week. Started fine on my PC and PS3, gave me something like “content unavailable” on my 360 though.

    • Firevine says:

      Man, I love that show.

    • arachne says:

      It wasn’t the first episode, but I did get a “content unavailable” and I think a “try later” message the other day when watching Red Drawf. I immediately restarted the episode and it played through to the end. This was the first time I have see it, but I’m not a heavy netflix user, maybe a couple of times a week.

  16. Straspey says:

    I just Googled concern department and came up with this…(!)

  17. Chaosium says:

    “Roku players restrict the amount of content that can be streamed on Netflix.”

    So blame Roku, not Netflix. No other players have this issue. PS3? No. 360? No. Wii? No. Standalone TVs? No.

  18. zyphbear says:

    I have a Roku, a 360 and a PS3 all connected to my Netflix account and I have watched the entire set of 30 rock that is available on Netflix without issue. I have gotten that message every once in awhile, but then I choose something else and then when I am done with that, the original content is available again for the original item shortly after. It may be a simple issue of too many people watching the same content at a time, which exceeds the license that Netflix has. example: if 400 people are watching season 1, ep 5 of 30 rock and another 200 try to watch as well, but the license only covers for 500 at a time, then some of those people will get an error message.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      I think this is the most likely explanation. I also watched all of the 30 Rock episodes a while back with no problem. I’m guessing a lot of people may have gotten devices over the holidays. Couple that with a lot of people off work and home, and you might get times when the number of viewers on a popular show is too many.

  19. tz says:

    My roku is sitting in a box (I disassembled it to see if I could use any of the parts) – basically it started acting strange, and won’t find the network (The buttons won’t let me reset it, and the reset button doesn’t work). That and the website uses all kinds of strange flash and javascript (insecure), and doesn’t even work, well maybe except with an ancient version of IE under windows. They don’t tell you that you have to use their web site to activate or to do anything with the Roku. I got it because I didn’t want to use a computer, so when it died, I started the autopsy/dissection instead of reporting it, though I thought of vivisection earlier. I should also note my computers are more sophisticated, so I can get much better on the computer, I just wanted something simpler for my TV. They aren’t open 24/7 for phone, and when they are, it seems to be an Indian call center, the chat sounds like what I went through but using the phone.

    • ryder02191 says:

      Your incoherent rambling is missing a point.

      • Chaosium says:

        He sounds like your average Geek Squad employee, though.

      • Geekmom says:

        Seems like he just wanted to puff himself up and make sure everyone knows he’s smart enough to take apart a little Roku player and to assert he has a better computer than you.

        I doubt he even read the article.

    • faislebonchoix says:

      In other words, you’re a Linux user and you bought the Roku because Netflix won’t allow streaming on Linux. When your Roku died, you took it apart to try to fix it and couldn’t get it back together. My suggestion for you (and everyone else here) is to connect a computer to your TV for online video streaming. An OEM copy of Windows 7 Home Premium costs only $100 online and that’s all you need on the software side to stream Netflix.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        …except then you have to put up with Windows. An appliance will cost less than the relevant copy of Windows. Then you need a suitable PC to run it. Although chances are that you already have something connected to your TV that does Netflix.

        That’s the beauty of how Netflix has approached things.

        Roku is by far not your only option. Neither is Windows.

  20. kathygnome says:

    Great device. No problems at all. Works as described for Netflix and does a whole lot more.

  21. SlappyFrog says:

    I’ve watched 30 rock part way through on my computer and then finished watching the episode through Roku.

  22. kompeitou says:

    Roku customer service is a call center in India. Some of their reps will say anything to get you off the line. Their CS dept. service is horrible. I had a long drawn out terrible experience with them last christmas. Buy your Roku boxes thru Amazon. Better CS, and easier to return if there is any problems.

    I sometimes get “content unavailable” on certain titles… but its rare. I chalk it up to Netflix errors, not roku. I have even gotten unsolicited credit from Netflix because content I tried to get came back unavailable. The content eventually was available (the next day).

  23. Athena says:

    I have a Roku, and I have never had this problem.

  24. MyTQuinn says:

    This is a running joke between my friend and I…

    “Can I help with anything else?”

    Probably not, since you haven’t helped me with the first thing yet!

    • PLATTWORX says:

      Don’t ya love when a customer service rep is of NO help with the problem you called about but then cheerfully asks “Can I help with anything else?” when they did not help to begin with?

  25. gman863 says:

    Although I don’t own a Roku (why on this later), I have heard from multiple sources they are much better than most competitors’ “black box” streaming units. I also subscribe to several geek sites and have a feeling that – if what “Kevin” said was really true – the same Poindexters who exposed Windows Vista as crap and exposed the attempts being made to end Net Neutrality would have been all over any Roku/Netflix issues by now.

    Based on my experience selling, building and setting up PCs and smaller networks, the biggest issue people should be concerned about is that Roku and similar devices are not a true PC nor do they contain a true operating system such as Windows or Mac.

    Therein lies the issues; past, present and future. Aside from a true PC with a full version of Windows or Mac (and for uberGeeks, maybe a tricked out version of Linux), there is not a single device designed for all file formats, digital rights management (DRM) tools or new technologies (such as Google TV) that will or may appear in the future.

    Although a device that works with Netflix alone may be inexpensive, it carries a risk of becoming a paperweight if a newer service (such as Google TV) steals Netflix’s thunder. “Neutrality” is not a marketing point on these devices. A good case in point is Apple TV: It requires iTunes software to stream unprotected content from a PC and will not play “.wma” audio files which are becoming more popular. Short and sweet, if you buy an Apple TV box and have a Windows PC the “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” ad turns into a technological death match for less experienced users.

    My advice is to at least purchase a mini-pc system running Windows (basically a netbook size unit with a built in DVD drive and HDMI out). It is far more likely to be compatible with and stay compatible with all video services than the one trick pony models plus you can actually use it as a PC – just add a wireless keyboard and mouse.

    If you’re on a larger budget and want upgrades such as Blu-Ray and the ability to smoke your gaming friends on a 60″ screen, consult your neighborhood geek or IT guy and see if they moonlight. At current prices, the parts (including a stereo-style case, multi-core CPU, fast video card, copy of Windows 7, etc will run $500-$1000 depending on how crazy you get with either gaming or hi-def video editing).

    Breaking this down for those who don’t have a clue on electronics:

    * A Roku or similar device equals a Hostess Twinkie.

    * A mini PC equals fresh baked cookies.

    * A true Home Theater PC is the dessert buffet at the Bellagio.

    • kathygnome says:

      Roku is not netflix only. It has a variety of other “channels” including Amazon video, Hulu Plus, Pandora, TuneIn/Radio Time, and a variety of smaller “channels” usually from websites that offer video. There’s an open interface to create new channels and people have created unofficial channels for sites including YouTube.

      No, it’s not a PC, but it’s only $60 and uses a great deal less electricity than a PC. More importantly, it’s infinitely more convenient to use than a PC.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        A Roku is not more convenient to use. Infact it’s annoying and limited in many ways.

        A Roku is a lot more convenient to set up. You don’t have to build it yourself. That’s it’s key advantage.

        Although there are other better appliances if you are interested in streaming your own stuff from your PC to your TV. You don’t necessarily have to build your own box for that either.

        • gman863 says:

          You can buy pre-built PCs with HDMI out ranging from mini Atom-based systems (about $250) to full bore gaming rigs ($1500+).

          As someone who has moonlighted building and repairing PCs for ten years, there are several benefits to having a PC custom built versus buying one off the shelf.

          * A clean copy of Windows – no crapware, ads, etc. (the stuff Best Buy and other retailers offer to “clean off” your PC at the time of purchase for $69.95).

          * You get a DVD copy of Windows. Most pre-built ones have the restore files on the hard drive. If the drive crashes you don’t have to pay the manufacturer to send you a restore copy if the warranty has expired.

          * Upgrade and replacement parts are often less expensive.

      • gman863 says:

        If you’re comfortable with the limited options Roku offers and its limitations (both current and future), fine. It might surprise you how many people aren’t.

        I worked at a major electronics store when Roku (and similar devices from Netgear, Linksys, etc.) hit the market. The number of people who thought it would allow them to stream anything off the Internet was off the charts. Some people actually bitched about the device not allowing them to check e-mail or browse the Internet! If anyone asked prior to purchase, we were brutally honest: It will only do what is stated on the package; nothing more.

        Imagine dealing with about three retarded customers per shift who already bought the item, won’t accept an honest answer and keep asking how to get the box to do something it’s not designed to. Multiply this times 5 days per week and you hopefully now know why I refer to Roku as the digital equal of a Hostess Twinkie.

        As for using less electricity, the difference between a Roku and an Intel Atom-based PC is (at most) about 30 watts per hour of use. Based on three hours per day of use, this amounts to about twenty-five cents per month.

        • baquwards says:

          In my prep to cancel cable, I built a computer for the main home theater (first time ever doing anything like this). I wanted a “do it all” system. The basic computer was $300 adding a video card and tv tuner card brought it to around $450.

          I have also purchased Roku boxes for the bedrooms for their ease of use and compact size. The roku will bring adequate entertainment to the bedrooms. At $59 each they are a real bargain for what they are able to do.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Since tech is usually obsolete in a couple years, why worry that another service may overshadow Netflix? At $59.99, if that happens, there’s not much lost. I also use my Roku for Pandora (take advantage of the nice speakers on my TV), YouTube, and several channels that show web-created content.

      If some other service comes along, there’s a good chance Roku will partner with it. If not, I’ve had mine a year and it’s already paid for itself. I think you’re over-thinking this.

  26. Mozz says:

    I have 2 Rokus and have no problems at all. Go to their forums if you want to read up on some problems and solutions.

  27. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Face it, you were fed a bunch of bunk. I’ve come across this error a few times watching some of the more popular titles on Netflix on my laptop and having a conversation with Netflix, they indicate what someone else said – there are a lot of people accessing the same content. Just watch something else, then go back to what it was that wasn’t available.

  28. Pax says:

    Clearly, “Kevin” just didn’t want to bestir his ass to solve the problem, and whipped out the age-old “diversionary tactic” non-response.

    Methinks Roku should consider gifting “Kevin” with a Pink Slip, or at least the threat thereof, for Christmas.

  29. bwcbwc says:

    Posted after the update: “The roku player has limited boundaries…”

    Sounds like the rep is referring to region restrictions. That isn’t in conflict with the idea that Roku carries the entire Netflix catalog. The Netflix catalog has region restrictions as well. For example, even if you are a resident of the US, you can’t stream video to your laptop in Puerto Rico or any international site if you travel. Of course region restrictions were completely irrelevant to the OPs problem, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a helpdesk agent got the right answer to the wrong problem.

  30. dlwilliams says:

    I’ve the same ‘Content Unavailable’ problem with 30Rock, Season 3.
    I get ‘Content Unavailable’ message on ROKU while accessing Netflix.
    I can watch the episodes from Season 3 on my PC with ‘Watch Instantly’, but have gotten an error from Netflix/Roku for 3 days now.

  31. JoshF says:

    I’m the OP. Because the article didn’t have the question I asked the CSR, most readers misunderstood the issue, and Phil didn’t publish my comments from yesterday, which would have cleared up the misunderstanding. In any case, it’s not my usage that’s at issue, I don’t use it that much.

    And there is no “connection issue” between my ROKU box and Netflix, as the ROKU rep now says. Anyone can test it and get the same result (I’ve tried several friends in other cities). If you try to watch 30 Rock Season 3 on your ROKU today, and for the past about a week, you get “content unavailable”.

    And lots of people on the ROKU forum are seeing EXACTLY the same thing, with season 3 and sometimes other seasons of 30 Rock, and some other popular shows. Just search for “content unavailable”.

    Now the question is, if everybody has the same problem, what’s causing it. There would seem to be 2 possibilities:

    (1) ROKU has some limits on what, or how much, of the Netflix streaming catalog it is able to show anyone, like the ROKU CSR implied, or

    (2) There is some technical issue, like a corrupted file, that comes up periodically on the ROKU, for all users, like the Netflix rep I talked to this AM told me.

    So I wonder which it is?

  32. northwiz says:

    We have one Roku and two WIIs set up for Netflix. Season 3 of 30 Rock no longer plays on the Roku. It streams fine to the computer, plays fine on the WIIs. Season 1,2 and 4 of 30 Rock still play fine on the WII. And we had watched several episdoes of season 3 on the Roku – but now it’s just stuck for the last 5 or so days on “content unavaialble”. Re-registered the Roku – it did not help. I wonder if Season 3 of 30 Rock is bringing out a bug in the Roku.

  33. PLATTWORX says:

    I agree that “concern department” seems very odd. However, I am going to take that with a grain of salt due to the India call center.

    That said, it seems very odd the OP would be able to move fast enough in a live chat environment to either type or track down and copy/paste “”Amazing Value. With Roku, you get FREE access to the entire Netflix streaming library if you have a Netflix subscription starting at $7.99/month. Plus, you automatically get the new Netflix experience, featuring browse and search. “

    I suspect an edited chat log was sent to Consumerist. In these case, I think it may be best to pause to check with the company and wait for response before posting things like this to the site. Alot of damage can be done to a company when the claim being made could be 100% false.

    • JoshF says:

      Maybe this one comment will get through…I’m the original poster, and the nature of the problem here hasn’t been explained properly anywhere in this article, thus most people have understood it. Try to watch 30 Rock Season 3–it hasn’t worked for a week, and I’ve checked with others with very different connections from mine, same story.

      In any case, have you ever done an online chat? There was 10x the time I needed to search, copy and paste that phrase from ROKU website into my chat. Really. The only sense in which my chat was edited was that my original question, and some of the rest of the beginning and end were edited out by the consumerist.

  34. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I still want one. I’m fine with just using it to watch Netflix and whatever other channels it has (Hulu, etc.). I’m not ready for a blu-ray player or a PS3. This story is too muddled for me to think they suck just yet.

  35. baristabrawl says:

    I seriously bought an AppleTV.

  36. Jake B says:

    I’m bugged by the thought that broadcasting movies over the internet is bogging my more conservative, normal uses of the net. This is certainly an applications the internet architects never anticipated, the Sandvine Annual Bandwidth Report shows that Netflix streaming accounts at times, for 20% of the internet’s peak bandwidth, and growing as subscribers continues to rise (last I heard, anticipated to be 18 million by the end of 2010)

  37. smith186 says:

    If I had to guess, the CSR and their supervisor probably had a miscommunication. The supervisor likely misinterpreted the question to be “Why can’t I play anything Netflix has in their library on my Roku?”, which would include the non-streaming disc-only videos. I bet this is a very common question for the Roku CS line, and he immediately assumed this was the problem. The OP was getting an answer to a question they didn’t ask.

    A CSR with more experience with the product would probably have known this, but I’m sure that you’re dealing with a lot of seasonal workers right now. It doesn’t help that this isn’t really a problem with the Roku box itself, but (as mentioned by other posters) is actually something to do with the Netflix streaming systems.

  38. l3n says:

    Tech support folks are at the bottom of the food chain at almost any company. They are often temps, frequently ignorant, and suffer from frequent turnover. The job is difficult–listening to people berate and curse them all day. I wouldn’t trust what any tech support rep said to me on this or any ‘official policy’ topic. You could have called back five minutes later and gotten a completely different story from another rep.

  39. marlin1 says:

    30 Rock season 1 and 3 work on my Wii, but do not work on either Roku box I own (one I bought 3 weeks ago and the other at Xmas). Also, same problem with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Support told me to reboot and re-activate with Netflix, which is B.S. but jumped through the hoop with no success. I got plenty of hits on this on google and the roku forums. Does not appear they are operating their support out of the US.

  40. JoshF says:

    Thank you Marlin1!!

    Finally someone actually tried the experiment. And of course he couldn’t get some of the most popular shows, and got a lot of BS–his term–from ROKU who is blaming things like connections, or one’s own ROKU box, or whatever, without admitting that they can’t, for whatever reason, deliver some things they’ve promised to. After all this time, you’d think they would have fixed it if it were a technical problem, not a licensing problem.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if it all fixed itself on 1/1/2011 (as if some license quantity were renewed). Even if it’s a technical problem that stops everyone from getting these shows, why can’t ROKU admit it, rather than putting people through a lot of pointless, time wasting chasing around. Like the rep blaming “connections” in the update above (that’s not some underpaid CSR). Too bad, the ROKU is a great device, and its customers deserve better treatment.