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We’re big fans of Roku here at CordCutting.com. In fact, we think you’re making an excellent investment when you buy either a Roku TV or Roku streaming stick. But we also know that your streaming budget isn’t unlimited. Sometimes, you just want to watch decent content without paying for it.

That’s where Roku’s free channels come in. These are free to both download and use. (Some of the channels also have paid tiers that you need a credit card to unlock. For the purposes of this list, we’re only judging those “freemium” apps based on the parts of them that you don’t have to pay for.) Here are the best free Roku channels.

Tubi: Best Ad-Supported

Tubi is a free, ad-supported streaming service that is available on a wide range of platforms, including Roku. Like most free services, Tubi’s library can be a little hit-and-miss. That said, Tubi has some hidden gems in its unusually large free library. And you can’t beat the price! As of this writing, Tubi’s ever-changing library includes highlights like “Troy” (2004) and “Cast Away” (2000). Tubi also includes movies and TV shows in Spanish. For more, refer to our Tubi review.

Crackle: Runner-Up

Crackle got its start in 2004, when it went by the name Grouper. From the start, it has been a place to find free movies and TV shows, though you will have to watch ads.

Most of the channels on this list contain at least some ads, though. Without ads, the channels wouldn’t exist. If you don’t mind commercials, you can use Crackle to watch movies like “Django Unchained” and the 2014 version of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” If faith-based programming is more your thing, there’s good news: Crackle has a whole section devoted to that.

The Roku Channel: Best Roku Exclusive

At the risk of being obvious, here it is: The Roku Channel. If you always skip it on your home screen, it’s time to take a closer look. For one thing, it has Roku Originals (many of which were purchased from Quibi when that short-lived streaming platform went under). But if stuff like a “Punk’d” reboot with Chance the Rapper isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of more established programming on The Roku Channel too.

If you enjoy classic TV, you’ll want to check out titles like “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Starsky and Hutch,” plus more recent series like “Cold Case” and “White Collar.” There are live TV options as well, including channels that only show music videos from the ‘80s and ‘90s. And don’t forget movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Rudy.”

Peacock: Best for Sitcoms

Peacock is what’s known as a “freemium” channel: You can get some things without needing a credit card, but there are other shows and movies that you can’t watch unless you upgrade to a paid tier.

So how’s the free tier on Peacock? It has some solid programs. For instance, you can watch almost the entirety of Peacock original “AP Bio,” though you will have to pay to watch the most recent episodes. And plenty of fans of “The Office” were sad when it left Netflix for Peacock; those fans will be happy to know that they can watch the first five seasons of the show for free (completists will have to pay for the rest).

If you want to go beyond the free tier and take a deep dive into the world of Peacock, our Peacock review can help.

PBS: Best Educational

PBS is one of those channels that exists for the public good, so it makes sense that its Roku channel offers plenty of free shows. If you want to watch recent PBS shows, you can do that with the PBS app. And PBS really puts the “public” in “public broadcasting” by not requiring any kind of cable login.

That’s right; all you have to do is download the PBS channel on your Roku, and then you can start watching your favorite PBS shows. After I picked my local PBS station, the channel even let me watch a livestream of that very station. It also gave me a webpage where I could make a donation. And like NPR’s pledge drives, I know PBS asking for donations is part of the deal at this point.

PBS Kids: Best for Kids

This is PBS for the younger set. Adults have documentaries about Sandra Day O’Connor on the regular version of PBS, but this version has shows like “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and “Arthur.”

In other words, PBS Kids is the perfect way to keep the little ones entertained while you do what you need to do. There’s even a livestream of kids programming if you (or your child) can’t decide on a specific show.

WeatherNation: Best for Weather

WeatherNation bills itself as “the number one weather app on Roku.” A large part of that is because of its simplicity. When you add the WeatherNation app, you just need to enter your ZIP code to get a live look at local conditions.

That’s not all you get, either: You can also get a look at any weather advisories in your area. If you’re planning on exercising outside, WeatherNation’s app will tell you if it’s a good day to do things like golfing, swimming, or biking. And if you want a more national outlook, you can tune into WeatherNation’s livestream.

The CW: Best for OTA TV Fans

Do you know how to watch your favorite CW show? One option is to tune into shows like “Stargirl” and “Riverdale” when they air live, but what if you don’t have time for that? The CW app is a good answer, and you don’t even need a cable login.

That’s right; there’s no need to prove you’re paying for a cable or satellite subscription. Just download the CW app, accept the terms and conditions, and start searching for your favorite shows.

Hoopla: Best for Variety

You probably already know your local library has more than just books, but did you know your library card can also grant you access to streaming movies and TV shows? It’s true, thanks to an app called Hoopla.

Using your library card in conjunction with the app, you can borrow up to several titles per month, depending on your library. (Our library offered numerous titles in which to choose from, including “13 Going on 30” and “Ex Machina” in the movies section. The TV section offered options like “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and, of course, “The Librarians.”)

NewsON: Best for Local News

Do you want live local news? Well, one way you can get it is by hooking up an antenna; however, that’s not your only option. That’s where NewsOn enters the picture. It lets you watch local newscasts from the big broadcast networks like FOX, ABC, NBC, and CBS.

This doesn’t mean you can watch a livestream of those networks anytime you want, however. You can only watch local newscasts, either live or on repeat. In other words, you can watch the 11 o’clock news at 11 o’clock, or you can wait and watch it at midnight. Either way, NewsOn is still a useful tool for catching up on current events in your metro area.

81 thoughts on “Best Free Roku Channels

  1. Peter says:

    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.

    1. Andy says:

      Roku needs a Ethernet connection to perform at its best. Pluto loads fast for me.

      1. Roseland Pete says:

        Andy, What type of Roku are you using? I just installed a Roku Ultra box using wireless and it works great. I read that the sticks are slow which is why I went with the box.

  2. Jeff Kasky says:

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

  3. Douglas D Hagerty says:

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

  4. Marilynn Tonn says:

    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.

    1. Harp says:

      Amazingly, the Pluto channel also lets me access all the antenna channels. I do not have to switch from Roku/Pluto to antenna to watch local news.

  5. Mary Ruff says:

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

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      Check this out: https://cordcutting.com/roku-channels/ …just click that “Free Channels Only” checkbox.

      1. Ben says:

        How do you use that list though? There are no codes listed in any of the text. You cannot click any links to any of the channels to add them either. Sure, it’s okay to see the listing but if there’s way to use it, what good does it serve?

        1. Ben says:

          Figured it out. Your site’s list repeats the one from rokuguide. The list there is usable.

  6. Shawn McGrath says:

    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.

  7. luke says:

    That’s it! Chromecast is better.

    1. D Will says:

      Why is this? Must be controlled with a computer or phone, correct?

  8. Mark Matthews says:

    For movie lovers check out the free channel “Countless Classics” with around 1,500 movies from the 1930s-1960s available for instant streaming. A lot of free classic TV content there as well.

  9. WL says:

    CBS is $5/month but offers live television as well as current and classic shows. It is our most used app! CBS News is separate and free and on 24/7 like CNN. We watch it every day!

    1. Celia says:

      My question is, when you watch a local news station, are you watching yesterday’s news? I am new and very confused by this. I would like to get Roku, but I also want to see today’s news today. Thank you.

  10. Jackie says:

    Is there any car race channels? If I have to pay for them, I will.

    1. slosada says:

      RedBull TV has WRC.

  11. James Trader says:

    I love motorcycle racing, what’s available in channels?

  12. James Trader says:

    What is available in motorcycle racing?

  13. Sherri says:

    Hi! I’m a 60 yr. old gramma who’s not very tech-savvy anymore. Can anyone tell me if a “TCL-Roku” television set is the most up-to-date Roku device out there? My awesome son upgraded me from the Roku box to the set, and I love it.

    Is there an upgrade from here?

    1. Mari says:

      Hi Sherri, I also have a TCL Roku TV. The TV is programmed to check for updates and when an update exists it will update on its own. So your device should always have the current, most up to date version of Roku. You can also check for updates manually by going into the settings and selecting system -> system update -> check now.

      Hope that helps.

  14. Dave B says:

    Here is the instructions on the Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000649851

  15. Timothy Tucker says:

    What channels do you get with just HDTV, no internet?

  16. Nancymwash says:

    Can I get MHz on Roku for free?

  17. Dennis says:

    Will Roku work on my new 32″ monitor?

  18. Michael Weldon says:

    Roku website says many free channels are not available in my area – odd, because they are on the internet and can be found with a PC.

    POINT – The Fire TV Stick allows selection via the stick, so going to a website is unnecessary – will Roku make their software as user friendly as Amazon?

    1. Timmy says:

      I have three firesticks and I wished I never bought one, they periodically lock me out of email. Now none of them work and I have tried new accounts just to be locked back out. Also my password always been the same but they all keep saying wrong password. Arg! Had to spend hours to get it fixed just to happen again

  19. Brookie York says:

    With Xtv gone, there’s not much to watch. Bring back Xtv, please.

  20. Bo Hart says:

    XTV was without a doubt the best channel Roku offered and they had to screw that up. So now we watch from the local antenna on the bedroom set.

  21. Darlene Solem says:

    Why can’t I get the Hallmark and Inspirational channel?

  22. Darlene Solem says:

    Why can’t I get the Hallmark Channel?

  23. Darlington Kapasu says:

    Can someone help me please? I need a free channel where I can broadcast my materials. Please there is so much to look through and finding it is very difficult.

  24. David says:

    Most of these free channels offer such B movies, the actual letter B is embarrassed to be associated with them.

  25. Betty P Nash says:

    Can I get a list of the Roku channels that are free, if possible? Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

    1. BJ says:

      Merry Christmas 2018, to you!

  26. Amanda says:

    What Roku is best right now? I just have Hulu on my phone and internet and Wi-Fi modem and a LG HDTV.

  27. Peter Matthysse says:

    Is “BNN” or Business News Network offered as a streamed option?

  28. Diane says:

    PBS Channel is not free. You have to be a paid subscriber to your local PBS station in order to watch anything other than promos.

    1. Eric Santana says:

      PBS is free, well in Chicago we get it for free. As it asks you to put in your zip code or state for it to broadcast your local PBS station.

  29. Rover says:

    NewsON is great for watching local TV coverage of weather events, and big news stories in their area…

  30. Del M Owens says:

    I just recieved a Roku for Christmas, and I need help from every angle. I am 75, and my cable has gone up 40 dollars in the last 2 months. Do I need to stay connected to the internet to use my Roku?

    1. Dunkle says:

      Yes, Del, your best connecting with an Ethernet cable, you still need an internet service provider (ISP) and a router. Can the person who bought you the Roku help you set it up?

  31. Larry Patterson says:

    I bought the Roku stick, tried to get it authorized and was told I had to pay them $100 just to turn it on. Sending it back.

  32. Pamela says:

    I have a Roku TV. I don’t know a lot about cutting my cable bill. $220 a month — I need to get rid of my cable. Can i get a list of free channels?

    1. Ben says:

      You’ll need to search for how to add channels using codes. There’s a good listing of free channels below, though.

  33. Rick says:

    I just got mine set up today… I’m very impressed.

  34. Zenya says:

    Being 70 years old, I want to watch oldies, like the Golden Girls, The Middle, etc. Can I see those on Roku?

    1. Mari says:

      Yes Zenya you can. You can watch The Middle for free on the ABC channel. And you can watch Golden Girls with a Hulu subscription. You’re also able to buy single episodes or whole seasons from apps like Fandango, Google Play, Vudu, etc.

  35. FRANK says:

    How do I get Hannity on Fox?

  36. Brian Sharpe says:

    Can I get soap opera for free if I sign up for CBS?

    1. Mari says:

      Soap operas are included if you sign up for CBS, Brian. But CBS is not free. Hope that helps.

  37. David B says:

    My biggest issue is I want my kids able to watch PBS/Disney, and “DVR/cloud recording” capability. It seems like Roku and YouTube TV would be a good way to do it. The only channel that doesn’t seem to be covered would be Comedy Central, but we can watch The Daily Show on their website through Chromecast. Thoughts?

  38. Valley says:

    Can you get local stations with Roku at no charge?

  39. Gary Cairns says:

    Is Spotify available for free and can the Spotify signal be connected to my smartphone?

    1. Mari says:

      Spotify isn’t available at all on Roku, Gary. But the availability of channels on Roku changes. I think you can check for specific channels on Roku’s website.

  40. Terry Jones says:

    I have a Roku Express. I wanna know what channels are free… And is The Roku Channel free.

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      The Roku Channel is free.

  41. Rick says:

    Will I get SEC Network on this device? I can’t stand my Fire Stick anymore.

    1. Mari says:

      Not for free but i think it’s available thru either Sling or DirecTV which are both on Roku.

  42. Bard Webb says:

    We have used Roku for 4 years as expats in Ecuador. Last month they dropped USTVnow. We can no longer access the US channels. USTVnow says just use your computer. That’s why we bought the Roku so we wouldn’t tie up a computer. What help is there for expats that live out of the US to receive US channels?

  43. Joyce Spivak says:

    We bought a smart TV. What do I need to set up Roku? Did I need extra equipment?

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      Yes, if your TV isn’t a Roku TV, you’d need to purchase a Roku streaming player.

  44. Alicia says:

    I am only looking for two channels, CNBC and FNC. Can I get these on Roku and if so are they free or is there a subscription fee? Also how much would that be.

    1. CDub says:

      No, they are not free. You’ll need a cable subscription for those. They may have their own apps that you can download to your TV.

  45. Rebecca Farr says:

    How do I find out if my local channels are free in my zip code? Zip code 23831. Local channels are CBS, NBC, ABC.

  46. Anthony Oneill says:

    Roku killed off iStreamItAll. Bastards.

    1. Ben says:

      No, the government did that.

  47. Rosie says:

    I have no problem getting my Roku channels to load. When I’ve a problem with an app, I send feedback and it’s quickly fixed. I also have the highest speed internet available in my area, which helps a great deal.

  48. Matthew Bradt says:

    CBS Sports HQ, kinda like ESPN News runs all day and is free…

  49. Liz McDonald says:

    I have the Roku and I love it, but is there any way I can get TLC and A&E?

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      Here’s how you can watch TLC without cable:
      https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch-tlc-without-cable/

      And how you can watch A&E without cable:
      https://cordcutting.com/how-to-watch-ae-without-cable/

  50. Carolyn Griner says:

    How does one get all the info on Roku? After looking at Jim Bakker show, I began to research and could not understand a thing. It looks like a massive puzzle and people saying that somehow channels get removed or change from free to pay for. Also I don’t see info for many other channels. There should a list of available channels without all those large color advertisements. There should be with each listing a site listing as well. What do I purchase for maximu8m channels? Also there should be a listing based on subject matter (catagories) IE; News, religion, sports, history, movies, games,animals, DIY, vacation, and of course you could have other catagories.

  51. Sally McBrine says:

    Where would I find religious stations on Roku?

    1. Stephen Lovely says:

      You’ll find lots in Roku’s Channel Store! https://channelstore.roku.com/browse/religious

  52. La says:

    Would you please provide a list of free channels that we can get through the Roku Premiere player?

  53. Martha Jean Short says:

    I got HBO NOW free for fr ee for a month and they charged me for this. I do not want to get this to pay every month. I told them on roku I did not want this. They told me it was free for a month. Th ey said ok. I do not want to rent this yet they charged me for HB0. so please cancel this.

  54. ken says:

    Add more faithbased channels to pluto.Or create a faithbased platform,thanks

  55. Mike says:

    Can you get a College Football Channel? For a specific team?

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