Roku TV Channels & The Roku Channel: Everything you need to know

Roku TV Channels, THE Roku Channel, and everything you need to know about Roku content
roku tv channels and the roku channel
Updated: 19th Jul 2020
Published: 8th Oct 2020
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By Rohan Tandon

Rohan is a passionate tech journalist with a degree in English literature. He's worked as a commissi Read More...

Roku is one of the most popular budget-friendly streaming devices available and it has a streamlined and lightweight operating system. Roku is known for having one of the widest content libraries among all streaming platforms, with thousands of Roku TV channels.

Some Roku TV channels are free, and some are paid. However, one of the most popular Roku TV channels is The Roku Channel — Roku’s native streaming channel with ad-supported content.

While competitors like Amazon and Apple have also released native platform (Amazon Prime and Apple TV+), they focus on premium paid content. Amazon Prime charges a yearly subscription fee for its collection of movies and TV shows. Apple TV+ charges $50/year only for its original programming, and you have to rent or buy the rest of the available movies separately.

The Roku Channel stands out refreshingly amidst such premium heavy-hitters. Sure, Roku isn’t really known for its original programming, but it’s ideal for those who want to access content without paying for yet another streaming platform.

However, people often confuse Roku TV channels with The Roku Channel. This confusion gets exaggerated even more when you add premium subscriptions within The Roku Channel.

I know it’s pretty confusing, and that’s why I’ve written this piece. In this article, I discuss The Roku Channel and Roku TV channels, where you can access them, and everything else you need to know about the Roku content ecosystem.

Roku TV Channels

Roku TV channels are basically apps. Other streaming devices, like Fire TV and Apple TV, call them apps, while Roku calls them channels. On Roku, you can download and install channels for various streaming platforms and TV channels, such as Netflix, Hulu, ABC News, and many others. As such, Roku TV channels are basically apps that guide you to another streaming platform or service.

roku tv channels


Roku’s Network TV Channels

Roku has apps for free network TV channels, such as ABC, CBS, and FOX News Channel. However, Roku’s collection of network TV channels is considerably limited. If you want to access a wider range of network TV channels, you’ll need to do so through other streaming platforms carrying that network.

For example, Hulu+ Live TV and YouTube TV are two of the most popular streaming services for ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS. In this case, Hulu+ Live TV and YouTube TV are the Roku TV channels carrying the necessary network channels.

Roku’s Cable TV Channels

Cable TV channels are networks like HBO, ESPN, TBS, HGTV, and AMC. You will also need to download Roku TV channels carrying content from these networks, such as Hulu TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Fubo TV, and others.

The cost of a subscription to these Roku TV channels differs, so you’ll have to find one that includes all the necessary networks at a reasonable price.

The Roku Channel

In addition to the channels mentioned above, you can also download various other Roku TV channels for different types of content. One of the most popular Roku TV channels (or apps) is called… The Roku Channel. And that’s precisely where the confusion comes in.

The Roku Channel is just one among thousands of Roku TV channels on the Roku platform. However, unlike most other streaming platforms, The Roku Channel has free, ad-supported content. You don’t need to pay a cent for access to its library of content. We’ll discuss The Roku Channel in detail later.

Roku TV Channels List

The following is a quick overview of the top Roku TV channels for different types of content:

  • Movies and TV Shows: The Roku Channel, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, VUDU, Disney+, HBO NOW, PBS, Hulu TV, Sling TV, M-GO, Crackle TV, etc.
  • News: FOX News, The Blaze, CBS News, Weather Nation, Sky News, etc.
  • Sports: NHL Game Center, MLB.TV, WatchESPN, WWE Network, NFL Now, ESPN+, UFC Online, etc.
  • Internet: Vimeo, Break, YouTube, etc.

add roku tv channels and apps

How to Add Channels to Roku TV

  • Tap the Home button on the Roku remote.
  • Navigate to Streaming Channels and open the Channel Store.
  • The Channel Store features a list of new and popular channels, arranged by categories and genres. You can browse through the grids or enter a channel’s name in the search bar.
  • You can tap the OK button to learn more about the channel, including its rating and screenshots.
  • Tap the button Buy $X.XX to purchase the channel’s subscription. Depending on the channel, you may get a free trial before being charged.
  • You may have to enter your Roku PIN.
  • If your payment information isn’t updated, you may have to update your payment details before installing the app.
  • Following this, you can access the channel and all of its programs, from the Home screen.

The Roku Channel

As mentioned previously, The Roku Channel is one of countless channels, or apps, within the Roku platform. The Roku Channel is an app that gives you access to over 10,000 movies and TV shows for free. It is a completely free, ad-supported streaming platform, which means you have to merely tolerate some ads.

You’ll have to create an account, but you don’t need any subscriptions or fees. All you need is a Roku streaming device, Sky Q box, mobile app, or web browser.

The Roku Channel has a wide selection of content across various genres and age groups. There are categories for top movies and TV shows, family-friendly programming, cooking shows, sports, news, and more. You’re sure to find relevant content, regardless of your interests.

There’s only one catch — you won’t find the latest releases on The Roku Channel. You will mostly have to settle for blockbuster hits from yesteryears.

The Roku Channel’s Premium Subscriptions

The Roku Channel also includes some subscription services that you have to pay for.

You can subscribe to premium TV channels through The Roku Channel, such as HBO, Starz, Epix, Cinemax, Showtime, Fandor Spotlight, Smithsonian Channel Plus, and others. As of now, The Roku Channel includes over 25 premium partner channels.

Now, you may ask yourself why you’d subscribe to these channels and programs through Roku? Why not subscribe to these channels through their independent platforms?

The biggest advantage of premium subscriptions is convenience. If you subscribe to all of these channels separately, you’ll have to pay for them separately every month. Furthermore, all of these channels will appear in your streaming platform as separate apps. If you want to find programs, you’ll have to independently launch the various apps to browse content.

Roku TV channels streamline the process. Once you subscribe to your chosen TV channels on The Roku Channel, all of their programs appear in the same app. As such, you can easily browse through them in a single, convenient interface.

Another great advantage is that you can pay a single collective bill for subscriptions and enjoy uniform account management. Pricing for premium subscriptions is similar to the pricing for these channels through other platforms, like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others. Some of the premium subscriptions, like Showtime, Epix, and Starz, provide 30-day free trials.

There’s one significant catch — these subscriptions can only be accessed through The Roku Channel. You can’t access them through their independent apps and interfaces.

How to Watch The Roku Channel?

The Roku Channel can only be viewed through a few specific platforms — the Roku streaming device, the Roku mobile app, and the Roku web browser. The Roku Channel’s streaming app is only available on Roku streaming devices. As such, if you want to watch it on other streaming devices, like Apple TV or Fire TV, you’ll need some workarounds.

On the Roku Streaming Device

Roku is one of the leading companies for the development of budget-friendly streaming devices. As of now, there are four active Roku streaming devices — Roku Express, Roku Premiere, Roku® Streaming Stick™+, and Roku Ultra.

The best and most convenient means of watching The Roku Channel on your TV is through these Roku streaming devices. The Roku Channel is available, by default, on all of these streaming devices. You can simply navigate to the app and enter it to access all of The Roku Channels’ free content.

On the Roku Mobile App

You can also watch The Roku Channel on your smartphone through the Roku iOS and Android apps. While The Roku smartphone app is meant to be used as a remote control for your Roku streaming device, you can also access The Roku Channel on your smartphone without the streaming device. This allows you to watch The Roku Channel’s free content on-the-go.

roku mobile app

On the Web Browser

You can watch The Roku Channel on your iPad, smartphone, laptop, or other devices through the web browser as well. Once you go to The Roku Channel, you have to create an account or sign in to get access to the entire library of free content. You can do this even if you don’t own a Roku streaming device.

On Other Streaming Devices

The Roku Channel is only available on Roku streaming devices. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it on your TV through other streaming devices. Since The Roku Channel is also available as a smartphone app and website, you can watch it on other streaming devices through some workarounds.

The following are workarounds on how to watch The Roku Channel on other streaming devices:

  • Apple TV: If you have an Apple TV, you can use AirPlay to cast The Roku Channel from your iPhone to your TV.
  • Fire TV: If you have a Fire TV, you can go to The Roku Channel’s website through the web browser app and watch free content.
  • Chromecast: If you have a Chromecast, you can cast or mirror the screen from your smartphone, playing The Roku Channel on either the smartphone app or the website.

Roku TV Channels FAQs

Are Roku TV channels free?

Roku TV channels are apps for various streaming platforms and TV channels available on the Roku platform. As such, some Roku TV channels are free and some aren’t. Examples of paid subscription-based Roku TV channels include Netflix, Hulu TV, and Amazon Prime Video. Examples of free Roku TV channels include The Roku Channel, FOX News Channel, and CBS News.

Does Roku have TV channels?

Yes, Roku has several broadcast and network TV channels, including ABC, FOX News Channel, CBS, and others. If you don’t find a TV channel you’re looking for, you can also access it through subscriptions to other streaming platforms, like Hulu+ Live TV and YouTube TV.

How do I program Roku TV Channels?

  • Tap the Home button on the Roku remote.
  • Navigate to Streaming Channels and open the Channel Store.
  • Tap OK when you find a channel you’re interested in.
  • Download or purchase the channel, depending on whether it’s a paid channel.
  • Enter your Roku PIN, if applicable.
  • You can now access the Roku TV channel from your home screen.

How do I remove Roku TV Channels?

  • Tap the Home button on the Roku remote.
  • Navigate to My Channels.
  • Navigate to the channel you want to remove and tap the options button (*) on the Roku remote.
  • Select Remove Channel > OK.


Navigating Roku channels can be a little confusing. But Roku is still less confusing than some other platforms, like Apple TV and its entire ecosystem built around the names Apple TV and Apple TV+. However, I hope this article has clarified the difference between Roku TV channels, The Roku Channel, and premium subscriptions to channels within The Roku Channel.



During the completion of Roku setup, the user is also asked for the subscription plan. If the user wants to update the Subscription plan he could update it following the prescribed guidelines and if the user wants to take the trial of one month then also he could follow the onscreen guidelines to apply one. Even after the setup process the user could take the subscription plan using the Roku login window.