/ Technology

Why do my favourite smart TV apps no longer work?

Why should you have to buy a new TV or computer every few years just to keep using favourite apps and software? It’s a question I raised a year ago on Convo and it seems the industry still hasn’t got the message.

A number of you angrily complained on Which? Convo this week after finding that the YouTube app no longer worked on your TV. Tim Debagio said:

‘The convenience of YouTube on my TV was a major buying point. I bought the television for a reason and the manufacturer isn’t fulfilling its side of the bargain.’

Why has YouTube app stopped working?

Google has stopped supporting the YouTube app on devices that date from 2012 or earlier. This means it may not work on TVs that are just three years old. Those affected include some Sony and Panasonic smart TVs, PVRs and Blu-ray disc players. Apple devices that can’t run iOS 7 or higher (including the iPad 1 and early generation Apple TVs), and older Google TV boxes, including Sony ones, are also included.

You can still get YouTube on these devices in different ways, including through the web or mobile site. But the app is more convenient and many owners have complained to us about losing it. Nick wrote:

‘I am dismayed to see that the YouTube app has been stopped on my Panasonic PVR. This makes the Panasonic smart-TV offering even more pathetic than it was already. The only useful app left is BBC iPlayer (and Netflix for those prepared to pay).’

We challenged Sony, Panasonic and Google over the decision to drop the app. Google says the change is because it has updated the YouTube software to make way for new features. But why should that come at the expense of older products that are still in perfect working order?

Older products should matter, too

The advent of ‘smart’ products, heavily reliant on online services or software, has seen a worrying trend of older devices being left behind in the rush for what is flashy and new.

The products that have just lost the YouTube app are just three years old. The TVs could keep going for two or three years, maybe longer, and many owners are understandably disappointed. I’ll keep pushing manufacturers and app providers to do better in future.

There have been more than 200 comments to my original Convo post on the subject of disappearing apps and features on older products. Wavechange says:

‘Here’s a question that could be put to the major TV manufacturers. I would like to buy a smart TV that has features that will still work in ten years, a reasonable working life for a TV. Can I be sure that if I buy one of your TVs it will meet this requirement?’

Have you had problems with apps such as YouTube that have stopped working on your smart TV? Let us know your experience, including how old your TV is.

Virendra says:
10 May 2017

Recently (May 2017), You Tube app stopped working in my LG TV purachased in Oct 2012.

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Bill says:
12 May 2017

I have the 42LM6700 and when I pressed cast to TV on my phone the message came up that youtube support will end soon. I’m not buying a new TV as this one is still perfect. I suppose I could buy a google chrome USB adapter thing or change to vidme etc as youtube is going down the gurgler anyway…. Still, not happy as this TV will last quite another few years. Then there’s always HDMI through my laptop or other PC source…….. The list is not exhaustive

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Stuart says:
9 November 2017

Can not get live stream on my Sony tv4k 65 inch what is the problem with it please

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All conned again by the manufactures to buy a smart TV which they stop supporting things on it to make you buy another with up to date things .Gimmicks are used everywhere to get you to spend on new or unnecessary things you probably not use after trying them once Is not the £1000 Apple phone the latest one

keith says:
28 June 2017

hi my 60 inch lg smart tv only had it 4 years everything worked fine loved my music on youtube its all i lived for you could play anything you liked on it, youtube disappeared yesterday absolutely gutted is there any way round it to get it back

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As Duncan said, get a nice cheap Roku box – or equivalent.

My Sky NowTV Roku box is ideal for free access to both YouTube and BBC iPlayer. I think it cost either £10 or £15 at most. It also gives me the option of subscribing to Sky on-demand services, but my choice is not to take up that option.

Full Android TV boxes are also available, for example the Greatever OTT HiBox 4K that I now have cost me £10 secondhand. It is somewhat underpowered in terms of speed, so I wouldn’t rate it as being worth very much more than that, but it does give much greater functionality than my basic Roku box.

n d says:
12 July 2017

Tubio app on your mobile device to cast to LG SmartTV when TV’s “SmartShare” (tv app) is enabled. it’s better than now defunct (June 2017) Youtube App.


AW says:
18 July 2017

Recently (June 2017), You Tube app stopped working in my LG TV which I’ve bought new in May 2013.
So I’ve tried to use the TV’s browser to access Youtube. The browser works in principle. But when trying to run Youtube with the TV’s browser it says the browser is too old.
And this even though I’ve run a SmartTV update last week.
Also, because Video Downloadhelper stopped working some time ago for most videos, I have no more way to watch youtube videos on my TV.
I hate it.

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Saadya says:
14 October 2017

My Phillips Smart TV is a 2015 manufactured TV. Youtube app stopped playing on it one day ago. I started using the Youtube app a year ago. Not sure if this newer model also comes with this problem…I can’t afford Cable and refuse to pay for junk shown on it, and I only used Youtube app on my TV for its convenience and listened to my favorite songs and music on it. It stinks if the app won’t work anymore.

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A computer with a HDMI port , A HDMI cable, a HDMI port on your television and then any thing that on your computer screen appears on your TV Even some small tablets have a HDMI port of micro or mini size My grandson puts YOU TUBE on a 8″ tablet but watches it on my television

…amongst other devices, my TV now has a nice cheap s/h Dell Inspiron 545 quad core desktop PC hanging off it. It’s bulkier than a Roku box though…

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Jack says:
3 December 2017

I have a Panasonic 42 plasma Viera that cost me £1150 back in 2011. It’s barely used and still functions perfectly apart from virtually none of the smart apps appear as they’ve been discontinued!
I will either just keep it plugged into the PS3 which thankfully still works, or buy a google chromecast.
It’s all about getting people to ditch perfectly functioning products and buy new ones, which destroys our planet in the process!

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Andrea small says:
19 February 2018

I have a Panasonic and now Youtube no longer works even though the TV is fine. I do not have the funds to buy a new TV and why would I when the one I have works in every other respect. I am very very disappointed and frankly I would think more about how long the software will last and less about the brand next time.

Andrea, you add YouTube to any TV by buying a nice cheap Roku box (or similar) as an add-on.

In my case I now do this via my Panasonic DVD player, which offers both YouTube and Netflix.

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If we can assume that no-one is going to tackle the TV industry over making and selling TVs that lose their smart features perhaps we could ask Which? to test the Roku and similar devices.

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I’m not sure TVs as such will be around for that much longer, frankly. I can see them becoming simply displays, to which we’ll attach whatever boxes we want.

Perhaps Which? should mention the availability of these boxes each time they review smart TVs. I recall when you started mentioning the Roku box and have mentioned them to people with smart TV problems.

Why do we tolerate companies producing and selling TVs that may lose their functionality after a couple of years? Much has been written about the need for washing machines that are reliable and repairable, but I think it would be easier to focus on the problem with smart TVs.

Ian – Using a screen in the same way that we have used computer monitors for years is the obvious solution, but I suspect that this could impact on sales revenue. We can but hope.

may says:
12 April 2018

I bought a sony bravia tv in January 2017. 2 weeks ago youtube stopped working. why, andwhat can I do about it.

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Rightmove has been broken for a couple of years – they must’ve updated the engine on their website which didn’t percolater through to the TV front ends.

Generically, who is responsible for updating Apps on TVs.. is it TV manufacturers or App sponsors? I’d have thought the latter.

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Thanks Duncan. So, if I read you right, (for one example) EITHER Rightmove provided an SDK to TV manufacturers’ App designers which they have failed to continue to support OR the App designer reverse-engineered the (then) website.

If the former, then the owner of the domain (in this instance Rightmove) should sort it out as having been silly, and if the latter, the TV company should do so for having been cheapskates in the first place and not sought an SDK from the owner of the domain. And whichever it is, I think there is a possible campaign for the consumer somewhere in there…

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May, if it was sold to you as a smart tv and you were particularly needed to watch youtube on it, then you should have grounds for complaining to the retailer that your purchase has not been “appropriately durable” with regards to the expectations of uk consumer legislation.

Hence, if you haggle, you may eventually get some recompense.

My own c.2011 Sony Bravia TV lost its useful “smart” abilities after a few years. Since, then I’ve used it in conjunction with a succession of cheap add-ons. Currently, my new-ish Panasonic BluRay player lets me access youtube and netflix; previously I’ve also used a Sky NowTV roku box and or various computers (big, medium and tiny) to also act as internet clients.

Wilco – but later. May even rekindle it.

Maybe Which? should ask manufacturers how long the smart features of their TVs will remain active and put this information in the next report on TVs. If I was in the market for smart TV it’s a question I would be asking retailers.

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I appreciate the reason, which you have explained before. The first step is to let the public know that there is a reason and yes it would be useful to know the background.

Here is a Which? article on buying TVs: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/televisions/article/how-to-buy-the-best-tv/how-to-buy-the-best-tv It states: “Since a TV is a long-term purchase, it’s important to put the research in beforehand – but luckily we have you covered.” Smart features are mentioned but I see no indication of the fact that they may stop working before the TV is very old. I think it would be relevant to mention this problem and include a link to related articles on (1) our consumer rights when a TV loses smart features and (2) what workarounds are available, such as connecting an external box. Here is a relevant article that already exists: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/internet-tv-boxes/article/how-to-buy-the-best-internet-tv-box

The next step is for Which? to criticise planned obsolescence.

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It’s now four years since Which? raised the problem, Duncan: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/smart-tv-software-support-commitment-issues-bbc-iplayer-netflix/comment-page-3/#comment-1404927

I don’t think the best solution is just to tell us which smart TVs are current ‘Best Buys’. If consumers’ associations in Europe and elsewhere pulled together and lobbied government to put an end to unnecessary waste we might get somewhere.

I don’t feel that my purpose in life is to serve the needs of industry.

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It’s struck me that TV manufacturers dropping features from sets they make is not hugely different from Which? dropping its email service. After all, if we follow Which?’s example Terms and conditions can be changed at any time, so even if a TV is sold with the promise it will do something at the point of sale we know full well from Which?’s own performance that there’s no guarantee it will continue working.

Rewording the main thrust of the topic header very slightly and we have this:

“We challenged Which? over the decision to drop the email service. Which? says the change is because it has to update the email software to make way for new features. But why should that come at the expense of older products that are still in perfect working order?”

Perhaps we need a topic on organisations making promised they fail to keep?

I have repeatedly suggested Which? and its European counterparts worked together on common causes – whether products (say smart tvs, product safety, durability), services (like banking), consumer protection, waste – and shared the resources and costs on better testing of products common throughout the EU. Is it a result of Which?’s commercial approach that this does not seem to happen? Which? have never really replied to us on this question.

Let’s not forget that it is the companies that make the products that are responsible for smart TVs becoming dumb and producing products that are less durable and repairable than in the past. Profit seems to be all that matters, and that is what must change.

This discussion was started by contributor May saying that her TV has lost a smart feature within 14 months of purchase. Perhaps we should be shaming manufacturers, possibly all TV manufacturers.

This sounds about right, no different than developers not supporting phones after a few years… welcome to 2018 where everything is throw away and we all keep digging ourselves into debt to keep up with new technology

John Lefebure says:
29 August 2018

I have a Panasonic Smart TV which is about 3-4 years old and Youtube is no longer working. I contacted Panasonic and here is the reply I got: –

Hi John,

“Thank you for taking time to email Panasonic Australia.
The YouTube App service on the ET60 series is currently in the process of being terminated and your TV
model is not on the list.
We suggest we perform the Shipping Condition to initialize all settings.
Please go to Menu > Setup > System Menu > Shipping Condition.
Hope this fixes the issue but feel free to reply here once the issue isn’t resolved.”

I followed their instructions and the Youtube still does not work.
Very very very upsetting and unethical for Google to say they no longer support Youtube for my so called “smart tv”. Don’t you just love the world we live in?

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Fk this is not right is there any point in buying a new one

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kevin murray says:
11 September 2018

i have 42 inch hitachi smart tv though not that smart its been playing up with youtube for a year and a half, now it wont play youtube at all , its only a couple of years old plus wont play netflix DO NOT BUY

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That’s not surprising, Kevin, although very disappointing. We’ve actually taken a look into this issue further if you wanted to read more on it: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/missing-smart-tv-apps-catch-up-on-demand/

Wednesday, 18 March 2015 Harvey Norman Australia Panasonic TV 42 TH42AS640 $649 I could access youtube without problems till 12/9/2018, now when I click on video nothing happens. It does not open and play, any suggestions?

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Tamplar says:
13 September 2018

I paid about £600 for a Panasonic Viera Smart TV hoping it is a very good choice for me (£720 in total which includes 5 year cover) what was the point of the app stopped working a year or 2 later. All my kids ever watch was YouTube. I would say buy cheaper smart TV if you need to be forced to buy a new one every few years. Or buy a £20 Android box to make all your old TVs smart. I’m never buying from Panasonic ever as they used to be my first choice with products. They lost a good customer. I’m going with cheapest Chinese brands. Also I believe Samsung works better with apps (that’s my opinion as I have tried many different TVs).
I have tried:.
Sony Bravia
Panasonic Viera
Samsung Smart
Argos Value (cheap but worked).
And now I’m looking to buy either Hisense with 2 year warranty included and is cheap or Medion with 3 year warranty included from Aldi (3 year free cover and cheap price gives you a little peace of mind).

Tamplar, as some others have already done, you may find that very cheap TVs can be a false economy, if they give poor picture and sound quality and don’t last long.

As built-in YouTube players never seem to work for more than about three years, it does make good sense to watch YouTube (and other streaming services) off a plugged in “other device” – for the ultimate in power and flexibility, a decent media PC makes is a good candidate “other device”.

Andrew Tweedie says:
13 September 2018

Have a 2015 panasonic TV and youtube has suddenly stopped playing. Will load but won’t play. Netflix still operated ok so issue seems to be with the TV. Anyone have advice about this?

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I have a Panasonic Viera TV and the same problem occurred yesterday. I fixed the problem by resetting the TV:
Menu > Setup > System Menu > Shipping Condition
I hope this works for you also.

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My Panasonic Vieira smart TV 5..6 years old can no longer link into YouTube what a con

Sony Tv I bought 3 years ago with internet apps like youtube and netflix. I use youtube and netflix the most and just yesterday youtube stopped opening to search it just freezes on opening logo and never shows a sign of opening???

Hi Catmando, sadly and as noted above, your experience is typical.

I think paying extra for smart TV features that stop working after a few years is very poor value for money.

Although plugging in additional devices can remedy these defects, it is still a poor show that folk need to do that after only a few years.

My ex-smart c.2010 Sony TV also suffered a similar fate after about three years. In my case, I actually have three different devices connected that can all access YouTube and Netflix. I can even browse the ‘net and post on Which Conversation from two of them, so that’s an upgrade relative to what my Sony TV originally could do.

Given the widespread nature of this issue, I wonder if Which? has recently tested or surveyed the available options for “re-smarting” older TV’s?

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We have a ‘smart’ TV that is now pretty dumb. We never used its ‘smart’ features in the first three years after we bought it but now that more and better content and streaming services are available it would be a good idea to smarten it up a bit – just to get Netflix really at the moment.

I have not seen a Roku box but I have seen a Roku stick advertised. Are they one and the same? Or is one more advanced than the other?

Actually the Sony smart TV turned out to be a bad buy because we had to get a sound bar quite soon afterwards in order to get decent sound quality, and there is now distracting lack of synch between the pictures and the sound, so I am reluctant to throw good money after bad with more devices just to make a poor product marginally better. A new unsmart TV with decent loudspeakers and a Roku box/stick might be the best option.

I don’t understand the lack of synchronisation, John. I have a small HiFi rather than a sound bar and it’s fine. If there are different connection options you could compare the results. I’m using an optical connection.

I am going to try resetting the sound bar system to the manufacturer’s or default settings and start again. I think we might have fiddled about with it too much. There is also a sub-woofer which can be adjusted independently of the sound bar so taking it all back to basics might be the best way forward. The first job is to make the TV smart again with a plug-in device of some sort.

It seems to be a recognised problem and if this document is not relevant it may be easy to find one that is: https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/support/articles/00198068 Best of luck.

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Our Panasonic Viera 32inch, we bought from Argos back in Nov 2013 and we spent £370 just stopped YouTube service in December 2018, the only two apps we use are Netflix and YouTube, this TV set is perfect size for us and works great apart from not having YouTube now and that was the main reason we liked it! We have a DVD, BluRay and Sound system Panasonic however we won’t buy a single piece of equipment from Panasonic ever again.

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Caroline says:
26 January 2019

Panasonic Viera, 5 years old. YouTube just stopped working.

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Pamela larney says:
7 February 2019

I am very disappointed with my panasonic smart tv the tv itself is lovely but why its called smart is beyond me lots of my apps have just disappeared may ass well get rid of internet and use mobile.only useful app on tv is bbc i player im wondering when that will disappear.i feel iv been well and truly conned

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