We recommend: Try Sling TV 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 can it really replace live TV?
Sure it can – you just have to know how to use it. Whether you want a legitimate subscription service or are looking for a DIY live TV streaming solution, Roku has you covered. Here are 13 ways to watch live TV on your Roku, including both private channels and supported Roku channels.
What it is: CBS News Live 24/7 streams CBS’s news network, CBSN, around the clock.
How to get it: CBS News Live 24/7 is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: This channel 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.
How to get it: 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.
Pros and cons: 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.
What it is: CNN’s Roku app includes live news broadcasts for subscribers.
Price: You’ll need a cable login to access the 24/7 stream.
How to get it: CNNgo is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: CNNgo is a good app, but like too many other live TV apps, it will want your cable login. There doesn’t seem to be a way to log in using your Sling TV credentials. If you’re a cord cutter who is not a password sharer, this one isn’t for you – but you can still stream CNN live through the Sling TV channel (more on that in a moment).
What it is: 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.
How to get it: fuboTV is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: fuboTV is a solid service, but it’s fairly pricey for what it is. With that said, 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
What it is: MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and NHL.TV let cord cutters watch live out-of-market MLB, NBA, and NHL games, respectively.
Price: Varies by league and package, but all full packages start north of $125/year. NBA League Pass and NHL.TV offer a cheaper one-team package, and reports say that MLB.TV will soon follow suit.
Pros and cons: 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.
What it is: Livestream is a popular live streaming platform used by companies like Spotify as well as by local news networks, sports broadcasters, and others.
How to get it: Livestream is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and Cons: 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.
What it is: 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.
How to get it: NewsON is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: NewsON is a fairly new channel, and as we noted in our review, it 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.
What it is: Nowhere TV is one of the best private channels available for Roku. It offers multiple live channels, including everything from C-SPAN to Adult Swim.
How to get it: Nowhere TV is a private Roku channel. The code is H9DWC. To install it, just follow our step-by-step guide to installing private Roku channels.
Pros and cons: Nowhere TV is free and works well, but it doesn’t have quite the channel selection that some of its competitors do.
What it is: Pluto TV is a service that assembles online videos and streams into cable-like channels.
How to get it: Pluto TV is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: You might know Pluto TV more for its channels full of aggregated online videos, but it also has some 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.
What it is: Sling TV is an à la carte channel subscription service.
Price: $20/month for the smallest of three basic packages, with additional packages available for around $5 each
How to get it: Sling TV is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: Sling TV impressed us when we reviewed it, but its worth noting that its Roku app is still a little shaky. Your mileage may vary. Sling TV has the advantage of firm legal footing. Channels include ESPN, ESPN2, AMC, and TBS.
(We recommend: Try Sling TV’s free trial.)
What it is: PlayStation Vue is Sling TV’s primary competitor and another great option for fans of OTT skinny bundles.
Price: $29.99 for the smallest of three basic packages.
How to get it: PlayStation Vue is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and Cons: PlayStation Vue is a little pricier than Sling TV, and doesn’t allow for as much customization in your channel lineup. However, it streams more smoothly and includes a DVR feature.
What it is: 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.
Price: The app is free, but you’ll need the $200 device itself and a $6/month subscription.
How to get it: Tablo is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and Cons: 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.
What it is: WatchESPN is ESPN’s own streaming service, featuring content from the ESPN family of channels.
Price: You’ll need a subscriber login to get access. Sling TV’s $20/month package is your cheapest option.
How to get it: WatchESPN is available in Roku’s channel store.
Pros and cons: WatchESPN is a top-notch streaming service, and ESPN has a ton of content. Unfortunately, you’ll need to be an ESPN subscriber to get access to the live content. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go crawling back to your cable company, though – Sling TV’s basic package includes ESPN and ESPN2, and therefore includes WatchESPN access.
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