Solved: Youtube on Roku (Updated 8/8/2013)

VideoBuzz is now opensource and can be installed using a script.  More here.

YouTube is a popular channel on OTT streamers.  Roku has never officially supported a YouTube channel, but there are a number of private channels that support it.  One of these has been removed.  The VideoBuzz channel has been ‘voluntarily’ removed from the list of Roku channels.  VideoBuzz was unique among Roku YouTube channels in that it was simple to install, easy to use, and worked.

Why did Roku VideoBuzz Roku pull the channel?  No one knows.  Roku won’t say, but the mods and VCMs on http://forums.roku.com claim that there was an IP issue…

There’s been a fair bit of speculation about VideoBuzz and the reason it is being deactivated. I want to take a moment to elaborate:

Every developer agrees to abide by the terms of the Roku developer agreement when creating a developer account. Among the requirements in the agreement, we require that every channel publisher must have the appropriate rights or permission to distribute the content within their channel through Roku. Other requirements include written authorization is required for channels with international or foreign language content. Channels that violate the developer agreement are subject to deactivation, though typically we do give them a chance to come back into compliance (or prove they are not violating it) before acting on it — we do realize that it can be a complicated world when it comes to rights for content. Sometimes we’re made aware of channels through formal notices (e.g. DMCA takedown notices or cease and desist notices) and other times we are notified more informally. Since we respect all content owners’ rights, we have to take each notification seriously and explore it for violation. Regarding VideoBuzz specifically, we don’t believe that today a Roku channel can stream from YouTube without violating YouTube’s terms of service (at least specifically section II paragraph 14 of the YouTube Developer TOS).

That’s not really true.  It can’t be.  The mods and VCMs have been promoting the use of Plex as an alternative…

Plex on Roku, out of the box, won’t receive YouTube. If the user modifies the setup to enable it, neither Plex nor Roku is at fault. They took deliberate steps to prevent YouTube on Roku through Plex, and the user subsequently took deliberate steps to enable it.

Playon also streams YouTube to a Roku (right out of the box without the user deliberately doing anything except installing server and channel) — despite the fact that mention of the channel can get you banned from the forums.

There is the issue, here is the solution…

You can download the VideoBuzz source and run it as a side-loaded channel on your Roku.  The code is FREE.  They ask for a donation for $1 to $15, but if you email them, they will send the source for free.  Source code and instructions can be found here…

Run a server.  Playon and Plex stream YouTube to your Roku.

Playon is the easiest solution — install the Playon server, install the Playon Roku channel, and you are done.  The Playon server can be found here.  The Playon channel for Roku can be installed here.  Instructions for installation are here.  Piece of cake, right?  Roku streams at 480p, so, if high resolution is your thing, playon may not be for you.

Plex is a more complex solution, but supports HD streaming.   Install the Plex Media Server and install the Plex channel on your Roku.    Once Plex Media Server is installed, click on the Plex icon in your taskbar. Click on Preferences then go to the myPlex tab and create a Plex account using an email address and password.  Click on the Plex Server Home button, scroll down to the channels section, click the + button, click More, click All Available Plugins, scroll down to the bottom, click the YouTube icon, and click the Install button.

Think this is a lot of work?  Don’t want to run a PC server 7×24?  Maybe you do not want a Roku at all.  The SMP-N200 and just about every other streaming media player or blu-ray player will stream YouTube.  But if you already have a Roku and happen to have a computer on all day anyway, these servers will stream YouTube to your Roku.

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14 comments on “Solved: Youtube on Roku (Updated 8/8/2013)

  1. Nice summary. I am trying the PlayOn free version from your link and cannot find where you connect to YouTube. It appears to only connect to local media files on your computer, not online content. Am I missing something? The paid version has a channel line up that includes it. Is that what you meant?

    • Looks like their site has been updated. Let me check to see what the story is with the free version. I’ll post a followup to this and update the blog post if appropriate. Thanks for letting me know something has changed.

    • They discontinued Playon Lite and launched an even liter MyMedia server. The new server only serves local media files — no youtube, no hbo go. Kind of a shame. Some good news. If you want to stream YouTube to a Roku, the mediabuzz can be had for free. Register with them and request the code. The form asks for a donation of $1-$10, but if you do not want to pay anything, just send a note and they will email the source code to you at no charge.

  2. Pingback: Do you Roku?

  3. The Roku streams media files on the internet. It does not have any kind of web browser. You do not need any PC to use the Roku to access media files. Once you have registered your Roku, you can turn off your PC and add channels and watch programming via the Roku itself.

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