Vanished No More: Roku Streaming Sticks Back In The UK

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After a perplexing absence that left Roku enthusiasts across the UK fuming, the popular streaming sticks are finally making their way back to shelves.

This return marks the end of a mysterious period of scarcity, during which Roku devices vanished from both online and high-street retailers (for several months), sparking widespread speculation and concern among the British public.

While the Roku Express 4K remains somewhat elusive, other models have now become readily available at major retailers.

But are Roku’s sticks falling behind the newer models from competitors like Amazon’s Fire TV?

Roku’s UK Journey

Since 2002, Roku has been at the forefront of the streaming revolution, offering a range of devices that transform traditional TVs into Smart TVs.

Roku streaming sticks express express 4k stick 4k

While Roku has never been as popular as Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks in the UK, it has certainly carved out a niche for itself with its streaming sticks.

In the UK, Roku offers the Roku Express, Roku Express 4K, and Roku Streaming Stick 4K, each catering to different needs and budgets (see our detailed Roku comparison guide), as well as the Roku Streambar, which combines a soundbar with a streaming device.

These devices have been lauded for their simplicity, affordability, and the vast array of streaming services and apps they offer access to, including Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney+, ITVX and countless others.

Roku TV Logik Currys

However, in a rapidly evolving market where competitors like Amazon refresh their lineup with new models every year, Roku’s approach appears more conservative.

Despite the Roku Streaming Stick 4K’s popularity for its user-friendly interface and reliable performance, the lack of frequent hardware updates (it launched back in 2021) has left it feeling somewhat behind the times.

This has become increasingly apparent as Amazon continues to introduce updated versions of its Fire TV Stick – such as the 2nd generation of the Fire TV 4K and the Fire TV 4K Max sticks late last year.

Roku’s operating system is also considered somewhat conservative, but many consider that a good thing, as it remains simple and easy to understand and use.

Roku What To Watch on TV
Roku’s What To Watch

However, last year, Roku introduced one of its biggest interface updates in years: a new, more personalised ‘What to Watch’ section.

The Disappearance Act

The saga began around December 2023, when Roku’s streaming sticks started to become hard to find.

This shortage was particularly noticeable in the lead-up to the holiday season, traditionally a peak time for such gadgets.

Roku acknowledged the issue, citing low stock and shipping delays, and promised a resolution in the New Year.

However, as weeks turned into months with no sign of replenishment, Roku users grew increasingly frustrated, voicing their discontent on social media and reaching out for answers.

Sad couple in TV store

Roku’s communication during that period was focused on assuring customers of a forthcoming resolution. When Cord Busters checked with them again, Roku attributed the delay to shipping issues.

This vague timeline did little to quell the growing speculation among Roku’s UK fan base.

Theories ranged from the anticipation of new device launches, given the ageing lineup, to a shift towards promoting Roku TVs (they’re now sold in supermarkets!) over standalone streaming sticks.

Roku Polaroid TV new in ASDA
Roku and Asda’s Polaroid TV

The lack of concrete information led to a flurry of guesses, with some wondering if Roku was facing larger, global tech industry challenges that affected its production and distribution capabilities.

The Return of Roku’s Sticks

However, despite all the speculation and theories – and without much fanfare – Roku’s sticks are finally back in the UK.

Yes, the exact same models we know and love.

While the company has not provided a detailed explanation for the prolonged absence, the focus is now on the future and ensuring that customers can once again enjoy Roku’s wide array of streaming services.

The Roku Express 4K’s continued scarcity suggests there may still be lingering supply chain issues – but even it can be found in some stores.

Roku Express 4K box

Nevertheless, the availability of Roku’s streaming devices is a positive development for UK viewers, as the Fire TV and Roku’s user experiences are quite different – so having the choice is important.

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