The NASA Channel App On Roku Doesn’t Work And It Isn’t From NASA

Image courtesy of Yutaka Tsutano

Your best bet to see today’s total eclipse if you live in an area where it isn’t visible is to stream NASA’s cross-country broadcast. It’s available from some cable providers and to stream on your computer, but what if you want it on your TV screen and you’re a cord-cutter? Roku users might download a NASA channel available in their channel store, but they’re in for a bad experience if they do.

There are two reasons for that.

The channel doesn’t work: Consumerist’s tests and reports on Twitter and elsewhere online indicate that the channel doesn’t actually work. It shows six advertisements, then it stalls after loading 13%. We’ve found Twitter posts indicating that this has been a problem at least since April 2017.

The channel doesn’t come from NASA: After all, the space agency probably would have made sure its official channel was working before an event like an eclipse, which it expects 1 billion people worldwide to watch on its stream.

The agency does make its video feed available as an app for various mobile platforms, as well as Amazon’s FireTV and the AppleTV. However, the Roku app is from an independent developer selling ads against NASA’s content. When it loads.

NASA confirmed that it is not behind the Roku channel:

If you’re a Roku user and desperate to watch today’s awesome sky event, download the channel Pluto TV, where NASA TV is available as one of many options.

We checked with Roku to find out why this app exists, and whether it’s okay with developers selling ads against public domain government content (or no content at all) and will update this post if we hear back.

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