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Why Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ won’t work on old Roku devices

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If you have an old Roku device plugged into your TV, you probably won’t be able to watch Netflix on it anymore. 

The company, which specializes in making cheap streaming devices to watch streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu and CBS All-Access, has announced that “technical difficulties,” will prevent the old units from working with Netflix, as of Dec. 1st. 

Translated, that means the fourth quarter and holiday season are upon us, and it’s time for you to buy some new products and keep the cash registers ringing. Or, new devices have better technology, and it’s time to get with the program. 

An early edition of the Roku playerRoku Express, 2019 edition

This isn’t dissimilar to Apple’s approach with iPhones. Even if the consumer expectation is for them to last forever, the truth is, the time frame is just six years. Apple each year discontinues support for the latest new iOS to older phones. Last year, it was the 5S, and this year it’s the iPhone 6, which was first released in 2014. 

Microsoft is discontinuing support for the Windows 7 operating system in January for software first released in 2009. Like Apple, Microsoft says it needs to move people to newer software for better security, and “so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences.”

Windows 10 starts at $139, while iOS is free. 

Roku devices are not, but they’re dirt cheap. 

New models start as low as $29.99. The Express plays back in HD only, the Premiere ($39.99) also plays in 4K and HDR, and Stick ($59.99) has greater Wi-Fi range. 

The 2019 models are way smaller than they were back when the $99 originals were released but can’t connect to old TVs that require more than an HDMI input. Roku says the new units have way more power, load content faster and have a prettier user interface.

More:AMC Theatres is bringing the movies to you with new on-demand streaming service

More:Streaming showdown: How to decide what’s best for you

Speaking of Roku, this has been a big week for streaming. 

Netflix, the company whose videos won’t play on old Roku devices, said that some 64 million people watched the hit “Stranger Things” in July. That’s not a typo, it’s 64 million people. On a streaming network. 

The highest-rated TV broadcast ever was a Super Bowl game from 2015, with 115 million viewers. “NCIS,” TV’s top-rated network TV show, averages around 12.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen. 

Apple, which is set to launch its answer to Netflix, Apple TV+, on Nov. 1, put streaming front and center this week, with a huge premiere party, it’s first-ever, for one of the eight TV+ series set to debut on Nov. 1, the space race set drama “For All Mankind.” 

Apple went all Hollywood on this one, renting the Village Theater in Westwood, seen in Quentin Tarantino’s recent “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” when the actress Sharon Tate goes to watch herself in a Dean Martin movie. 

The maker of iPhones and Mac computers handed out mini champagne bottles and glasses for guests to bring to their seats and handed them swag bag afterward with freeze-dried ice cream, reports USA TODAY’s Carly Mallenbaum. 

Apple had a “cocktail attire” dress code for the party, highly unusual for a Hollywood premiere. “It was different,” she says of the party, thrown by the firm known for its “Think Different” ad campaign back in the 1990s. 

And finally, speaking of Apple, no, Apple TV+ will not play on the old Roku devices either. You’ll have to upgrade. 

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Perhaps get a new phone with that, too? 

Joel Kinnaman and Kelly Gale attend World Premiere of Apple TV+'s "For All Mankind."

In other tech news this week.

Google’s Pixel 4: The company unveiled a slew of new products this week, including the Pixel 4, a new edition of the Mini connected speaker (now called the Nest Mini) that has a wall mount, and updated Google Wifi mesh router, with a lower price and a built-in Mini. If you’re having a hard time keeping up with Google’s name changes, yes, it’s the Nest Mini, but the flagship product is still called Google Home. This week Google also discontinued its Daydream virtual reality viewer. 

Zuck says he doesn’t want to be the tech police. The Facebook co-founder said it’s not the role of tech firms to decide what is truth and what is fiction. “I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true.” And speaking of the social network, the company released version 2.0 of its poor-selling Portal, the video chat device that puts a Facebook microphone and video camera into your home. The new edition is $20 cheaper and can show video or photos in horizontal or vertical modes. 

Netflix isn’t worried about the competition. In announcing its earnings, Netflix said the coming “Streaming Wars,” with Disney and Apple will be “noisy” but it’s not concerned, saying it doesn’t believe it will lose many subscribers with the new entrants. What do you think readers? Will you give up Netflix for Disney+, or just have both? 

The new Google Pixel 4 phone is on display during a Google product launch event called Made by Google 19 on October 15, 2019  in New York City. - Google unveiled its newest Pixel handsets, aiming to boost its smartphone market share with features including gesture recognition that lets users simply wave their hands to get things done. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo by JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1LG1EQ

This week’s Talking Tech podcasts

Facebook Portal review. I weigh in on what’s good about the new units and all those bugs. 

Google’s Motion Sensor. Ed Baig joins the podcast to talk about that wacky new feature of the Pixel 4 phone, a sensor that lets wave to turn it on and off. 

Netflix’s $64 million question. Those giant-sized Stranger Things ratings. 

Roku. The old vs. the new. 

Talk to face-to-face with Mom from miles away.

Readers!: 

Follow me on Twitter, @jeffersongraham

Listen to the daily Talking Tech podcast, on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Subscribe to the Talking Tech texts, http://www.projecttext.com/jeffersongraham

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