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We’re big fans of Roku here at 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.

82 thoughts on “Best Free Roku Channels

  1. 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.

  2. Peter Matthysse says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. Rover says:

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

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Rick says:

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

  9. 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.

  10. FRANK says:

    How do I get Hannity on Fox?

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. Valley says:

    Can you get local stations with Roku at no charge?

  14. 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.

  15. Terry Jones says:

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

    1. says:

      The Roku Channel is free.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. Joyce Spivak says:

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

    1. says:

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. Anthony Oneill says:

    Roku killed off iStreamItAll. Bastards.

    1. Ben says:

      No, the government did that.

  22. 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.

  23. Matthew Bradt says:

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

  24. Liz McDonald says:

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

    1. says:

      Here’s how you can watch TLC without cable:

      And how you can watch A&E without cable:

  25. 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.

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