ASPENSMONSTER

June 19, 2015

Experiments in Blocking Ads on the Twitch Roku App

Filed under: Uncategorized — aspensmonster @ 12:03 am

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Wow. So I haven’t written anything for this in ages it seems. I can’t say I have much content to give, but I recently acquired a Roku. It shows ads. I’m not down with appliances I own doing things I don’t like. So I looked into ad-blocking, and sure enough, Reddit has the answer:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Roku/comments/2qiqvn/blocking_advertisments_on_most_roku_devices/

It involves network-level blocking. Not the best approach, but until pervasive rooting efforts are underway for the Roku it’s better than nothing. I utilized the following regex to block the mentioned URLs at Layer 7 on my Mikrotik router device-wide on the FORWARD chain:

^.+(cloudservices.roku.com|doubleclick.net).*$

This will surely have a performance impact, so I’m looking into restricting the packet body check to just the MAC of the Roku. Will update if I figure that out.

After restarting the Roku, sure enough, the irritating-ass adverts to the right of my home screen were gone. However, I then noticed that I couldn’t watch any streams from the Twitch app. Any attempt to load a stream –any stream, no matter the viewer count or relative obscurity of the title– was met with a black screen and “Retrieving…” text for approximately 30 seconds, followed by a return to the Roku home screen. It was as if the Twitch app had simply crashed.

I was able to isolate traffic on my network and confirm that it was the Roku hitting the firewall rule when attempting to watch the stream. I’ve got work in the morning, but I’m making it a weekend project to figure out if there’s a way to get ad-blocking working in the Twitch Roku app (and perhaps other apps as well), and perhaps on the Chromecast as well.