The Best Free Roku Channels

The Best Free Roku Channels

Here at Cordcutting.com, we think pretty highly of the current generation of streaming boxes, including the Roku 4. Roku and its competitors are great ways to organize your paid content subscriptions and get them all in one place. But Roku is about more than just watching Netflix and Hulu – its channel selection also features a small army of free apps, which will let you watch content without that monthly subscription fee.

There are a lot of free channels on Roku (including one for just about every church under the sun), but a few channels stand out from the rest. We’re counting down the best of Roku’s free offerings here. When we say free, we mean free: these channels are all free to download and free to use. A couple have paid tiers, but we evaluated only the free options when determining which channels made the list.

So dive in – and if we left out a favorite of yours, sound off in the comments!

 

Crackle

Crackle

Crackle’s ad-supported model is becoming more popular, with competitors like Tubi TV popping up here and there. Crackle has a small but solid little library of quality content, though the streaming quality is a drawback. Since the price is right, Crackle deserves a spot in your streaming rotation.

 

iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio

A couple of Roku’s music channels are free. iHeartRadio’s channel is unique in that it allows you to listen to traditional radio stations live. There are commercials, of course (it’s radio, after all), but you won’t have to pay anything to listen. Plus, you can create your own customized stations, very much like you can with Pandora.

 

NewsON

NewsON

NewsON has its flaws, but it’s a solid channel and won’t cost you a dime. NewsON offers free streaming of news channels from around the country, and if your local news station is one of the participating networks, it’s a great way to get live local news.

 

Nowhere TV

Nowhere TV

The Nowhere Man’s channels dominate any rational list of the best private Roku channels – including our own list. And the best of the Nowhere Man’s channels is Nowhere TV, which offers a ton of free streaming video on all sorts of different subjects. If you haven’t yet downloaded any private channels for your Roku device, it’s well worth learning how to do so. You’ll get more out of Roku when you take advantage of private channels, which are almost always free.

 

Pandora

Pandora

Pandora’s free online radio service is a nice way to turn your Roku into a juke box for a while. There are plenty of other quality music streaming services available, but Pandora has arguably the best free version. Pandora’s paid version ditches the commercials, but their free version is robust enough to make this list on its own.

 

PBS

PBS

Lots of television networks have their own Roku channels, but almost all of them make you log in with your cable provider in order to stream the content. Not so with PBS! You’ll get access to great documentaries and programming without having to pay a dime.

 

Pluto TV

pluto-tv-roku-channel

Like a few other channels on this list, Pluto TV is a free ad-supported content streaming service. But Pluto is very different from Crackle or Tubi TV – instead of providing on-demand streaming (like Netflix does), Pluto offers live TV (like Sling TV does). Pluto’s channels are assembled by its staff, and use free streams and internet videos, so you won’t get familiar channels like FOX or CBS. Still, Pluto does offer some great channels. You’ll even get live news and shows that originally aired on cable.

 

Popcornflix

Popcornflix

Not to be confused with the more extensive (and far less legal) streaming service Popcorn Time, Popcornflix is a free ad-supported Crackle competitor. As always, you get what you pay for, so expect a smaller content library. Still, with enough free streaming services on your Roku, you’ll always be able to find something to watch for free.

 

Roku Media Player

Roku Media Player

The Roku isn’t the ideal device for playing local content, but it manages the task fairly well. Just load some videos in the supported file formats (including .mp4 and .mkv) onto a USB stick and plug them into your Roku. Roku Media Player can also handle photos and music.

 

Shout! Factory TV

Shout Factory TV

Shout! Factory has the rights to some great shows, including the cult favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000. Shout! Factory’s content is available on Hulu, but it’s also available through their own free streaming service, Shout! Factory TV.

 

Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated

There are some great sports channels on Roku, but not that many of them are free. Sports Illustrated is probably the best of the free options. You can load up sports news videos on demand, and the channel will even play them all in a row for you, providing an acceptable substitute for your old cable sports news programs.

 

Tubi TV

Tubi TV

Like Crackle, Tubi TV is a free ad-supported streaming service. As you’d expect, the content library is nowhere near as large or as high-quality as Netflix’s, but there are still some gems hidden in there. Between Tubi TV, Crackle, and Popcorn Flix, there’s always something decent to watch for free.

 

Twitch

Twitch

Twitch is a must-have channel for e-sports fanatics. It offers free streaming of competitive and casual video games. Like YouTube, Twitch offers a premium tier, but if you can live with ads then you’ll never need to pay a subscription fee.

 

YouTube

Youtube

The original free streaming service! YouTube has since introduced a paid ad-free service called YouTube Red (read our review here), but we’re including it on this list because there’s just so much great content outside of the paywall. In addition to the usual user-generated YouTube content, there are a surprising number of feature films and TV show episodes available on YouTube.

 

Weather Underground

Weather Underground

Weather Underground (or simply WU) made our list of the best weather channels for Roku. And since it’s totally free, it belongs on this list as well! You can set up this channel with your address so that you can get local weather and weather predictions at a glance.

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

7 Comments on "The Best Free Roku Channels"

  1. Pluto TV takes FOREVER to load, especially on a Roku. But that’s okay. I prefer the free apps with no advertising (yes, there are a few). I pay for two quality, ad-free streaming services, and for everything else there’s Kodi, which runs on my other streaming box.

    Amazon Prime not only gives you access to some great video content, but access to a huge ad-free music library, which I use far more than any of my stream video services.

    In my streaming world, most ad-supported apps get deleted from all devices. They may be free, but I’m willing to pay a little to avoid commercial messaging.

  2. Hi Stephen, please check out The Autism Channel – free on Roku. We’d love to see you cover us. 🙂

  3. Douglas D Hagerty | December 8, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Reply

    Roku is cool. I am looking to Star Trek: Discovery, May 2017, and much much more.

  4. Thank you for providing this list. I just got a Roku and was confused over which channels are free and which require a subscription. Some pay channels were listed as free when they offer the first month free. Misleading. I currently stream Netflix, Amazon, and Acorn. I got a Roku because I was having a problem with Acorn. Now I just have to figure how to log in to Netflix on Roku. The picture is better on Roku than on my antenna TV. Streaming is so much better than cable. I will find your Facebook page and follow you.

  5. Please provide me with the list of free channels on Roku without buying a subscription.

  6. Shawn McGrath | January 9, 2017 at 8:55 am | Reply

    Dear Stephen, It’s great to have all the linked information. My version of Roku doesn’t have the channel store, so I have to put in codes to add the channels. Could you please post the site codes for you lists… Thank you kindly.

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