Major Roku outage left smart TVs unusable - here's a workaround for next time

The Roku remote in someone's hand
(Image credit: TechRadar)

On Wednesday evening users found that their Roku devices were rendered unusable due to a severe outage.

While some people only experienced minor problems other disgruntled customers shared reports on social media that their smart TVs were completely useless throughout the three-hour-long issue. 

These users complained that not only were their Roku smart TVs and streaming boxes unable to perform online functions but their ability to use their screen’s offline tools and HDMI ports was also taken away. 

Roku acknowledged the fault on its community website at 5:15 PM PT on Wednesday (01:15 AM GMT / 11:15 AM AEST on Thursday) saying: “Roku is aware of an issue reported by users who are unable to access some Roku services.”

Three hours later, at 8 PM PT, the issue was marked as resolved and it appears that users are indeed able to access the Roku services once again.

As of right now, Roku has yet to explain what caused the outage in the first place. We’re currently unsure if this was a one-off problem or a persistent concern. We’ve reached out to Roku to find out more and will update this post with its comment if we receive one.

Roku workaround

If we are faced with another outage in the near or distant future, there is a way to ensure that your Roku TV can at least perform some basic actions.

As highlighted by users on the Roku subreddit, your best option would be to factory reset your smart TV and set it up in Store Mode to turn it into a ‘dumb TV’.

The easiest way to reset your Roku display is with a button you can find on the back of the TV - Googling your specific TV model or referring to the manual will help you find where it is exactly. 

Then during setup, you’ll want to select the option for shops (meaning, retail outlets that sell the TVs) rather than for a home TV. This choice is typically made early on in the setup process. Doing so lets you use the TV’s HDMI ports while it is offline.

Once it’s set up you’ll also want to use the System menu so that you can deactivate the disruptive promotional messages that will play every so often.

Just remember that once the outage is over, you may want to pull your TV out of factory mode and back to full smart TV capabilities, which may require another reset and setup routine.

Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use this workaround, but if there is another Roku smart TV problem you'll at least have some way to keep yourself entertained while a fix is developed.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.