How to Watch Live TV on Roku

How to Watch Live TV on Roku

We recommend: Try DIRECTV NOW for free.

Roku devices are among the most popular cord cutting tools around, and that doesn’t look like it’s changing anytime soon. Roku is a great way to organize on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, but what about live TV services? Do you know how to watch live TV on Roku?

If not, this is the guide you need. With its cable look-alike “skinny bundle” subscription services and many other less traditional live TV options, Roku has you covered. Here are a few of our favorite ways to watch live TV on Roku, including both private channels and fully supported Roku channels.

 

How to Watch Live TV on Roku

CBS News Live 24/7

CBS News

CBS News Live offers 24/7 streaming of CBSN, the dedicated news network from CBS. You can also stream on-demand content from CBS’s news programs, including the CBS Evening News. CBSN isn’t the most popular news channel around, but hey, it’s free! While other news services (such as Fox News) have Roku channels, few offer the live streaming that the CBS News channel does. Only CBS News Live 24/7 really lets you watch live TV on Roku, and for the purposes of this article, that’s all we care about.

 

channel PEAR

channel PEAR

This one is kind of interesting – channel PEAR is a “media platform” that works sort of like Plex or Kodi, only within the framework of Roku. By installing channels within channel PEAR, you can access live TV. channel PEAR is a private Roku channel, so just follow our step-to-step guide to installing private Roku channels. The code for channel PEAR is channelpear.

There are some pros and cons here. channel PEAR is free, but live channels have to be added individually through its interface. To do this, just navigate through their “Media Database” and select the channel you want to add to your personal channel listing. channel PEAR is not the most intuitive of these options, but it’s a powerful private channel.

 

DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW

DIRECTV NOW is one of the more recent skinny bundles to hit the market, but it’s more than holding its own against the established competition. For a while, DIRECTV NOW was not available on Roku. Mercifully, that has changed, and the improved platform support makes the service a great choice for users of all modern Roku devices. DIRECTV NOW sorts its content into tiers (as we’ll see in a moment, this is similar to PlayStation Vue and different from Sling TV). You can spend quite a bit on DIRECTV NOW’s biggest packages if you wish, but you’ll find that all of your options are pretty cheap on a per-channel basis. For more on DIRECTV NOW, check out our full review of the service (just note that our review was written before the service debuted its Roku channel). If you’re already convinced and want to try it yourself, start with the service’s week-long free trial.

 

fuboTV

fuboTV

fuboTV is the second of several skinny bundles that will make our list. fuboTV was once a soccer streaming service, but now it offers live streaming of lots of different channels – not just those that air soccer. It works very similarly to Sling TV and the rest of the skinny bundles. For $49.99/month, fuboTV will give you a sports-focused selection of live TV channels. The service still holds a special appeal to soccer fans, as it offers the best combination of soccer-focused channels of any skinny bundle.

 

League Sports Packages

MLB.tv

MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and NHL.TV let cord cutters watch live out-of-market MLB, NBA, and NHL games, respectively. The prices vary by league and package, but all full packages start north of $125/year. Some of these services offer cheaper one-team packages, too.

These packages are pricey, but they remain the best way to get live sports as a cord cutter. If you’re a fan of one league in particular, the league package is definitely the way to go. If you like a variety of sports and don’t want to pay the steep prices for these packages, check out some other ideas in our guide to cord cutting as a sports fan.

To grab these, just click to download MLB.TV, the NBA channel (NBA League Pass), and the NHL channel (NHL.TV) for Roku. You’ll have to set up a paid account to access the content.

 

Livestream

Livestream

Livestream is a popular live streaming platform used by companies like Spotify as well as by local news networks, sports broadcasters, and others. Livestream is free, and it’s available in Roku’s channel store.

Livestream’s content isn’t overwhelming right now, but it’s a solid option and particularly great if your local news station uses the platform. It’s worth downloading it and checking for good local and national content.

 

NewsON

NewsON

NewsON is a new service that aims to replace one live TV service that cord cutters previously had little access to: local news. It auto-locates the closest supported local news station and lets you play coverage on your Roku device. The best part is that it’s free!

NewsON, as we noted in our review, is by no means perfect. Among its flaws are its somewhat annoying interface and its limited selection of local news networks. If your local news station is one of the participating providers, though, this channel is worth your time. It’s an especially good option for cord cutters who can’t get good over-the-air reception in their location.

 

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue

PlayStation Vue is another great option for watching live TV on Roku. It’s a skinny bundle, and you can pay as little as $29.99 for the smallest of three basic packages. PlayStation Vue has a great channel selection and also offers a cloud DVR, a feature that its competitors are still in the process of catching up to (Sling TV has one in beta testing, while DIRECTV NOW doesn’t have this feature at all).

 

Pluto TV

Pluto TV

Pluto TV is a service that assembles online videos and streams into cable-like channels. Pluto TV is free and is available in Roku’s channel store.

You might know Pluto TV more for its channels full of aggregated online videos, but it also has some true live TV offerings. Pluto TV has Sky News, Newsmax TV, and MSNBC, among others. Unfortunately, news is the only live content on Pluto TV right now. Still, the content is great, and the other channels – while not traditional cable networks – emulate the experience of live TV in a really satisfying way.

 

Sling TV

Sling TV

Sling TV is an à la carte channel subscription service, the last of the skinny bundles we’ll mention here. At $20/month for the smallest of three basic packages, it’s also the cheapest. Additional packages are available as “add-ons” to your chosen base package for around $5 each. Like its competitors, Sling TV offers real cable channels streaming live. It’s totally legal and streams in reliable HD. You can check out Sling TV’s free trial here.

 

Tablo

Tablo

Tablo is an OTA (over-the-air) DVR. Its Tablo channel allows Roku users to watch live and recorded OTA TV through their Tablo device and antenna. Tablo is available in Roku’s channel store – The app is free, but you’ll need the $200 device itself and a $6/month subscription.

The Tablo device and app add DVR functionality to your OTA setup, but there’s no real difference in the live experience. You’ll still get whatever live channels you can pick up with your antenna, which will mean major networks, PBS, and Univision but no smaller network channels.

Please like us on Facebook to keep up to date on what's new in the world of cord cutting:

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.

97 Comments on "How to Watch Live TV on Roku"

  1. I know a private Roku channel where you get all the live TV channels and more for a small monthly fee. Email me for details 1iptvguy@gmail.com.

  2. Will I be able to get these channels Own-We-MTV-Bravo???

    • You can get a Bravo addon for Kodi. Not for Roku, yet.

    • Add private channel XTV with code XTVIPTV to your Roku. Although it lags every once in a while and some channels just don’t work at all, you have a choice of about 20 working cable channels to stream. It’s all completely free. It’s my favorite channel by far. (It also has on demand and 24/7 channels available.)

    • Can I get OWN.

  3. Sharon M Tetreau | April 16, 2016 at 3:25 am | Reply

    What I really want to know is can I get the local channels in my area.

  4. Sling TV is great but is very spotty lately. Service reloads a lot. Can’t watch a full program without reloading. Very unhappy. I canceled it after 1 year with them, as it’s gotten worse. Worst part is I turned on family to this service. They need to get it together.

    • I’ve decided, after two trials, that Sling TV isn’t worth it. The delays are ridiculous, especially on live TV, but also for on demand. I’ve just now dropped Sling TV for the second time. It suck via Roku 2 & 3 models, this much I know.

  5. The more that Sling TV improves, the worse the service is. You have to keep raising your internet speeds to keep up. Soon it will be cheaper just to go with satellite or cable because of the added internet charge!

  6. Every one I click is not in Canada.

  7. Friend just downloaded PS Vue and seems to love it! Gives you 3 plan options, highest one being $45, and you get 100 channels.

  8. I want TVA channel.

  9. Dominic Bisesi | July 21, 2016 at 2:17 am | Reply

    PlayStation Vue hands down over Sling TV except for ONE thing. Sling TV is portable, you can take it with you on vacation use on Roku Stick or equivalent in hotel or any TV anywhere with HDMI. Not so with PlayStation Vue. NOT portable and only one change of address and then they drop you. If they ever change that nonsense I’m in for life.

    • I have PSVue and a Roku Stick and take it with me all over the place, works just fine. The only time I run into problems is if I try to watch something on a computer outside of my home network.

  10. I use a Leaf Mohu antenna & get all major network channels & about 30 other useless ones for free. But I am trying to figure out how to get A&E and a couple others with subscribing to anything. Any hints?

    • Randy Stevens | August 5, 2016 at 1:14 am | Reply

      Do you really watch “A&E and a couple others” or just a few shows on those networks? It may be cheaper to just buy the seasons of the shows from Vudu rather than subscribe to the mini-bundles. I have 2 shows I watch on BBC America and I just buy the full seasons on Vudu. The shows even come with behind-the-scenes bonus clips that I normally would not see on the network.

  11. I would like a add-on or app that would allow me to view Investigative ID.

  12. I love my Roku. For live TV, check out USTVnow and xTV. Free cable and other great channels. I livestream my local news every night.

  13. PlayStation Vue is much better than Sling, more premium stations and sports for $40 a month (the top package), it’s well worth it and we are cord cutter oldies. Of all the services we tried it’s the best content, great picture, reliable, has DVR function included, you will not be disappointed. It makes Sling look like a Dollar Store.

  14. Yes DO try XTV which also has some live cable TV, USTVnow is crap compared to even the cheap Vue package, and is based in Pennsylvania where you get all Penn news and broadcasting not to mention USTVnow crashes a lot for days.

  15. I just added Nowhere TV, and there was a notice that said it will no longer be carrying local TV. 🙁

    Great article! Thank you so much!

  16. Skitter TV seems to be another option with a lot of live TV channels offered on the Roku. Just thought I’d mention it as you didn’t list it as an option in your article.

  17. We are paying a fortune for DirecTV! Like, we could get a new car for what we’re paying!!! I can’t take it anymore. We do watch a lot of Live TV and we use our DVR a ton. We have Roku and I really need input. PLEASE HELP!!!

  18. I’ve got PS Vue, and it’s great, but it doesn’t have BBC America. Sling has BBCA, but I don’t really want to pay another $20 a month for one channel.

  19. Been with PlayStation Vue for a while… I really really love it… Stay up to date with today’s TV… It asks your location so you can get local channels… Sling doesn’t do that.

  20. Betty Ann Burrell | September 29, 2016 at 11:50 pm | Reply

    Any service offer Fox News?

    • PlayStation Vue on a Roku offers Fox – that’s what made my decision to cut the cord. It works out great!

    • I said Fox and meant Fox News Channel.

      • Fox does not report real news.

      • Fox News (the only viable news) is available on XTV or Channel Pear.

        • CNN is also a viable news source, highly recommend you check it out.

        • Rainstormgal | March 1, 2017 at 12:12 am | Reply

          Fox News is on PlayStation Vue. I’m watching Fox News Channel live right now on my Roku via the free trial. I will more than likely order PlayStation Vue after my trial expires. PS Vue has 90% of the channels my family and I like to watch. Hopefully they’ll add more basic popular channels. If so it would be a winner winner chicken dinner IMHO. My fingers and toes are crossed.

        • Frank Sweeney | April 12, 2017 at 8:27 am | Reply

          FOX News is not real news. It’s news “adjusted,” for Republican viewers, who wear “Depends” and are mostly incontinent. These are people who don’t realize TRUMP is a fluffed-up, narcissistic douchebag, who wants to change the USA into a country that worships his way of thinking. Want better content? Get the Disney Channel. It’s more “Mickey Mouse” than even FOX is.

          • Mark Matthews | April 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm |

            Thanks for your “definition” of FOX News. Can you now supply a definition for MSNBC news?

          • Trust an apparent idiot to inject politics into a simple info request. Your brainwashing is complete.

    • Kenneth G. Shaw | April 14, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Reply

      You can watch the Fox News Channel FREE by the livestream of the Fox News Channel on YouTube & Lou Dobbs by some guys channel also on YouTube…

  21. This needs to be updated. TWCTV does NOT work outside of the home where the account resides. I have tried using my parents login at my house and it won’t let me. So password sharing is out on this one.

    • Cordcutting.com | October 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Reply

      Thanks for pointing out! We updated the article and added a couple of new channels (Livestream and Tablo).

  22. New app called View Local just came up on my Roku… What is this?

  23. PS Vue does have great packages compared to Sling BUT using on Roku is pretty much out of the question. The response time is literally 3-4 minutes, so good luck using it without a PlayStation. I’ve been keeping my eye on when the issue has been addressed because I wouldn’t mind switching Sling TV for PS Vue programming but not at the cost of that response time when I’m watching or want to change channels.

    • Idk what Tnisha is talking about, I have PS Vue on my Roku 4, and I have zero issues with it. Response time is very little, maybe a second after I click a channel the stream starts. Maybe you’re using a Roku 1 or an older stick?

      The only complaint I have about PS Vue on Roku is the fast-forwarding option in the DVR is hard to use because it doesn’t have a preview. Fix that and everything would be golden.

    • Rainstormgal | March 3, 2017 at 6:51 pm | Reply

      I’ve added PlayStation Vue to my Roku this week. I don’t own a PlayStation. I just have an LG Smart TV and PSVue is working perfectly fine on my TV. The response time is instant (1 second). It’s super fast. Maybe you should test it out on a different TV at your house, or a friends house if you only have one TV set.

  24. IS THERE ANY WAY TO GET HALLMARK MOVIES AND MYSTERY CHANNEL ON ROKU?

    • Hallmark and Hallmark movies and mysteries are available with Sling as a $5 add on package called Lifestyle.

    • I have a Roku TV. It has a lot of free channels, like Hallmark and Pluto, and many more for free MSNBC and CNN. And if you have an Amazon Prime, the movies are free.

  25. What about local channels 2,5,11, Hallmark, TBS, etc.? Please let me know.

  26. I have PlayStation Vue on my Roku and use it on 4 TVs – I believe Sling is $20 per TV unless they’ve changed their pricing since I inquired. For travel, you can use your phone or tablet as the 5th allowable device on PSV.

  27. Is Fox News live and offered live streaming?

    • Rainstormgal | March 3, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Reply

      Yes. I watch Fox News live on Roku via PlayStation Vue. I’m doing the PSVue trial and so far so good. My family and I really like it so we will more than likely keep it.

  28. Bought the new Roku Premiere. Can’t screen mirror from Android. Anyone have a fix for this? I understand older model Rokus have this option.

  29. You can get Hallmark show on Roku with the Feelin channel. It’s $23.00 a year.

  30. Hello, I’d like to know how to get Pi TV on my Roku 4. Thanks!

  31. You may try use Allavsoft to download CBS News video to MP4, WMV, MOV, FLV, AVI, etc.

  32. I have cable with my internet service and wondered if I can get all those channels if I hook up Roku. I only want Roku for Netflix.

  33. Can you get Heroes & Icons with Roku? WZME changed to Jimmy Swaggard and Optimum (cable in my area) does not air H&I now…

  34. Looking for live TV, email me for details (1iptvguy@gmail.com).

  35. Looking for free options for live TV channels, not having much success.

  36. I have a Roku Premier. How can I get free live and local channels on it? I would really appreciate some assistance.

  37. Sandy Ketzeback | January 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Reply

    I would like to get the TLC channel live, any suggestions?

  38. Karmell Harris | February 7, 2017 at 12:59 am | Reply

    Is it true that you can add (channels) networks (such as VH1, OWN, and Nickelodeon) to a jailbroken Fire Stick?

  39. Channel PEAR, Nowhere TV, and Pluto TV all suck on a Roku. Channel PEAR is almost unwatchable! The other two do not offer anything worth watching (Nowhere has almost no content). I would not recommend any of these!

  40. You can also watch FilmOn on the Roku device, and it’s free to install. Just use these codes to install and add these to the list.

    Channel code: NMEVA
    Channel code with guide: arteseafon

  41. Trying to locate the channel PEAR on my Roku but I can NOT find it. Help!

  42. I know of a private channel where you can get 200+ live USA channel, 80 Spanish channels, popular TV shows, and 800 + movies for a small monthly fee all you need is a Roku and internet connection if your interested email me at 1iptvguy@gmail.com. I’m not directing anyone to a website so I don’t get kicked off here so of you want to know email me.

  43. Mach TV.

  44. Is it possible to watch live You Tube on Roku?

    • Yes! I get it on mine. Go to Search on Home menu, enter YouTube, then follow instructions to install.

  45. Sling TV says it includes FOX & NBC in Sling Blue; but I subscribed & then they told me that FOX & NBC are not available due to my location. However I found a completely free app for Roku for NBC. The only way that I’ve found to get FOX is through Playstation Vue, but it’s too expensive. So what I wound up doing is downgrading to Sling Orange & adding the Hollywood Extras, which are EPIX movie channels. It’s still the $25 a month I was paying for Sling Blue, but it’s more of what I want.

  46. I’m in the Atlanta area. How do I get local channels?

  47. Sally Robertson | June 24, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Reply

    I received this reply about Livestream from Roku: Krista (freeformsupport).

    Jun 24, 9:23 AM PDT

    Hi there!

    Thanks for asking us about this. At this time, Livestream is not available in your geographic area just yet, but we’re always working hard to add more geographic areas in the future!

    Livestream is currently available in the following areas: Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. You must be located within each available station’s local viewing area and must verify your participating TV provider account for access to the ABC live stream in your area.

  48. Jamie Tyson | July 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Reply

    I have the new Roku Express Plus and have added XTv and the Channel Pear. I have the live cable channels but not consistently on a regular basis. The channels for these two apps are not always available. Is there another way I can get live TV on a more regular basis? Thanks.

  49. Mark Trovato | July 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Reply

    If you are looking for reliability and stability and value, it is PlayStation Vue. I, like you, did all research and just completed my 5 day free preview and for $54/month, I get over 90 channels, including all the NFL essentials, NFL Network, ESPN. For locals, I have a good indoor antenna. Works fine. You can stream up to 5 devices with Vue, nobody else offers that. In addition, they offer cloud DVR technology. The best part is: They also offer Red Zone channel for a separate subscription for only $39 for entire season. Sling does not offer Fox News channel.

    • Sling does have the Fox channel, not for all areas, though. I have the Fox channel on Sling, I’m in Florida.

  50. Is there an app or hidden channel to get Nascar, NHRA, and Indy Car? I have Sling and am sick of paying for Fox 1 and 2 and NBCSN. Anyone can help it would be appreciated.

  51. I just want to watch live NASCAR racing thru the year for free. Antenna TV has some shown on Fox and ABC, the rest are on cable channels?

  52. I have a Roku and some of them say may need subscription. So how do you get HBO and all those premium channels? You also need to have an internet connection. So if you drop cable and keep the internet connection, are you limited to a certain amount of data usage? I mean I have Charter and Netflix and can watch as much as I want without worrying about data. My favorite channels are the sports channels, BTN, ESPN, etc., Hallmark Mysteries and Murders, Chiller, SyFy, and more like that. What is the best way to go?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*