Roku’s most aggravating update, movies on Apple TV+

The Roku update that made users fume

Quick heads up: Cord Cutter Weekly will be taking the week off next Friday, returning on March 22.

Over the weekend, I received a note from Joey Maggard, a longtime newsletter reader whose Roku TV had become unusable.

At issue were Roku’s new dispute resolution terms, which users had to accept before they could keep using their Roku smart TVs and streaming devices. Because Joey had lost his original Roku remote, he couldn’t accept the terms and switch inputs to the Apple TV box he usually uses. He eventually reprogrammed an old universal remote to control the TV, but the experience wasted a lot of time and left him feeling bitter.

“This is unacceptable behavior and people need to be warned not to buy a Roku TV if this is how they are going to treat their customers,” Maggard told me via email.

He’s isn’t alone in feeling jilted by Roku’s new terms, which also spell out how users can’t file class action lawsuits against the company. One complaint thread on Roku’s forums has roughly 400 comments, and similar threads abound on Reddit and Hacker News.

While some of the outrage stems from a misunderstanding—Roku’s terms have required users to waive class action and jury trial rights for years now—users also took exception to having their TVs held hostage by an agreement that in some cases they had no way to accept. The ordeal left some folks pining for dumb TVs that don’t put up a fight when you try to use them in the most basic way.

Read the full column on TechHive →

Weekly rewind

The Apple TV+ film infusion: Apple has added more than 50 licensed movies to its streaming service in the United States, among them Kill Bill (Vols. 1 and 2), Mean Girls, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, and The Wolf of Wall Street. But there’s a catch: Some of them are only available this month, and the rest will be gone by the end of April.

The big knock against Apple TV+ has always been its thin back catalog, which consists almost entirely of Apple originals. Perhaps Apple’s testing the waters on a broader library, which if it focused on feature films would be a page right out of the HBO playbook. That’d make sense as the service—with its focus on ad-free, prestige programming—is starting to resemble what HBO used to be.

Max’s password sharing crackdown: Max will be next in line to curtail account sharing outside the home, with plans to start some level of enforcement later this year. It follows Disney, whose crackdown will begin over the summer, and Netflix, which seems to have squeezed some subscriber gains out of its own efforts that began last year.

Full disclosure: I was wrong in predicting that Netflix’s own efforts would backfire, yet I’m going to predict that one of these other streamers will screw it up. Netflix’s gravitational pull remains unique in the streaming world (as seen in how it turns other services’ detritus into new hits). I’m confident that at least one of its rivals’ crackdown attempts will be so hamfisted that it merely drives more users to Netflix, piracy, or both.

Affordable connectivity at risk: The FCC has officially warned that its Affordable Connectivity Program will end next month absent new funding from Congress. The program, which launched in 2021 as an extension of an earlier pandemic support package, provided $30 per month discounts on home internet service for low-income households. The FCC stopped accepting new sign-ups for the program last month, anticipating a lack of funding, and a bipartisan bill to extend the program has yet to get a vote in the House or Senate.

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More catch-up

Save more money

Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Sling TV is currently offering four months of prepaid service to new subscribers for $140, which saves $40 off the usual price. Alternatively, you can still get Sling’s standard offer of half-off the first month. Both deals can be found on Sling’s homepage, and would give you TNT, TBS, and TruTV for the duration of March Madness later this month.

But college basketball fans should also note the alternative: Max’s B/R Sports add-on is still included with any Max plan, and provides live sports from all the aforementioned channels. Combined with free Paramount+ for CBS broadcasts, that’ll be all you need to watch every game.

Other notable deals:

My newsletter reading revelation

This week’s issue of my Advisorator tech advice newsletter is free for everyone! I wrote about my new newsletter reading setup, Apple’s new MacBooks, a quicker way to take selfies, and more. Check it out, and sign up to get more tech advice from me every Tuesday.

Thanks for reading!

As I mentioned earlier, there will be no Cord Cutter Weekly next Friday. We’ll be back to the usual schedule on March 22. Got questions in the meantime? Just reply to this email to get in touch.

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