Roku has always offered one of the best streaming experiences for cord-cutters and now there’s one more way to get access to its services. TCL just released some new budget-friendly 4K TVs which have Roku hardware built-in.
Most people who bought a Roku, did that because they wanted broader options than just Hulu and Netflix. They were probably looking as the Roku box or TV to be their cord cutting savior, giving them a vast array of free and low cost channels that you can pick a la carte.
If that was your thinking, you were right. But with so many choices how do you know which ones to pick?
Here’s our top list of downloadable channels for Roku, as of August 2017. We decided not to include what we felt obvious front runners, you won’t find options like Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, DirecTV Now, HBO Go/Now, and Sling TV. We also excluded rental services like FandangoNOW and Vudu. We’re really trying to highlight what we feel are the hidden gems on the service.
Pluto TV: Your cable company’s Set-top-box replacement
Those transitioning from cable or satellite service may find Pluto TV to be the easiest solution for the changeover. Pluto TV offers a vast array of channels in various categories like news, sports, comedy, geek and gaming, chill out, entertainment, life and style, curiosity, movies, and music and radio. It also offers more than 75 live TV stations. There is original programming and some known channels like CNET, CNBC, Fear Factor, and Anime All Day. Fans of movie commentaries will love this service, as it has a channel dedicated to Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and another one focused on Rifftrax. This free alternative to cable may give users their TV fix. For a free, ad-based service it is surprisingly robust.
Movie Junkies: Crackle & Popcornflix
Crackle and Popcornflix are both pretty similar in style. They both offer free movies, with Crackle offering slightly better, bigger budget movies. One must take into account though that free in the world of streaming comes with a catch. Both services require users to watch ads throughout the movie. Annoying though it may be, free movies are still free movies. There is a decent selection of classics to keep you busy for hours upon hours. In addition, Crackle has exclusive original movies and series, including Startup, Snatch, and Super Mansion.
Sport Junkies: NBA TV, MLB TV, & NFL Sunday Ticket
Cutting the cord doesn’t mean losing out the best sports packages If you are willing to dish out money, you can get out of market games for the NBA, MLB, and NFL on Sundays. The catch with the NFL package is that you will miss the prime-time match ups on Sunday, Monday or Thursday night but you get all the standard early games on Sunday. These sports packages are pricey but considering how much you are saving by not paying for traditional services, it might be worth it.
News Junkies: Sky News & Reuters
Both Sky News and Reuters are free channels on Roku. Sky News offers live broadcasts for the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. It also allows you to watch on-demand content.
Reuters takes a unique angle for their app. It basically asks you how much time you have to watch with choices of 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. After you select the time length, Reuters will allow you to select an option and channel and setup your personalized stream. That way you can get the day’s most important headlines, regardless of how much time you’ve got.
PBS & PBS Kids
Originally we were trying to stay away from “local channels” but PBS deserves to be on here because it is free and pretty cool. Unlike many channels on Roku, PBS stands out because it is entirely free.
It doesn’t even have advertisements!
That is a true rarity in today’s streaming world and so it deserves to have a slot here on our list. You can watch most of PBS’ catalog, both from the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as content from the PBS Kids channel. This allows your kids to watch their favorites like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George, all ad-free and at no cost. They do run their usual “brought to you by…” segment, but it’s a small price to pay. From adults to toddlers, PBS will have a little something for everyone.
The TV world is changing. Traditional service providers and TV channels are finally starting to modernize to capture the traffic and flexibility people want out of streaming services. As you can see from our list, there are a good number of channels that can bring you almost anything you are looking for. Every day there is more and more content.
If you are feeling really adventurous, do a Google Search for “hidden Roku Channels” and discover the TV underworld of non-publicized channels.