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If you’re one of the millions of people who have made Roku the most popular streaming platform in America, then you’ve no doubt seen The Roku Channel. It’s built right into the list of channels that appear on your Roku’s home screen when you turn on the TV. But if you’re not sure what exactly it is that The Roku Channel does, that’s OK. We’re here to give some answers.
Roku itself calls The Roku Channel “your home for free and premium TV.” OK, that’s a little helpful, as it tells you that The Roku Channel offers both paid and free content. But what kind of content does it offer? And where is this content coming from?
The Roku brand is quite recognizable by now. But The Roku Channel is still a bit of an enigma. Just call us Nancy Drew, because we’re here to help you solve the mystery of The Roku Channel. Keep reading for all the details.
Roku is a free streaming app that lets you watch both live and on-demand content.
If you want the former, you’ll find it in The Roku Channel’s live TV “channel guide.” The Roku Channel’s live TV experience feels a bit like flipping through cable channels. What kind of channels are on The Roku Channels’ version of live TV? There are a few well-known brands, but not all of them are the “real” channels that you’d find on cable. For example, NBC offers “NBC News Now” on The Roku Channel, but you won’t be able to get MSNBC or CNBC. Other live TV options include TMZ, USA Today, Stadium, People TV, Cheddar, and Pet Collective.
The Roku Channel’s live TV content has ads, as does most of the on-demand content. The available on-demand TV shows are a real grab bag, much like they are with Crackle, a comparable service that’s also free. There are episodes of TV shows that aired last week, right alongside shows that aired 50 years ago. The Roku Channel’s selection includes the following:
What about movies? They’re on The Roku Channel as well, although the selection doesn’t seem to be quite as robust. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see:
The premium channels are available for an extra fee. Those include Epix, Starz, Shudder, and Showtime.
The Roku Channel is a Roku product, so there are a couple of obvious answers here. This channel is built right into both Roku-branded TVs and Roku streaming sticks. But there are other options as well, so here’s a full list of devices that are compatible with The Roku Channel.
The Roku Channel is free! There’s a ton of channels you can watch without paying for anything. You can even watch The Roku Channel online without logging in, just in case you want to try it out without buying a Roku TV or device first.
All Roku-branded content is free on The Roku Channel. In most cases, watching movies and shows from networks like Showtime and Starz will cost you a little money. There are a few free episodes of premium shows, though. That’s an effort to get you hooked enough to subscribe to whatever service carries the show regularly.
As we’ve mentioned already, The Roku Channel itself is free. It aggregates content from other places, then sells ads and makes it all available to viewers. So there are no real deals except the kind you can get if you purchase other channels through The Roku Channel.
For instance, The Roku Channel was heavily promoting the Epix channel at the time of this writing. It offered 3 months for 99 cents. Or you could bundle Epix and Showtime together for $12.99 a month. There was also a 30-day free trial of Showtime, though that’s far from the only way to get a Showtime free trial.
The Roku Channel does not have a free trial per se, but there is a way to watch it without first purchasing a Roku product. You can go to The Roku Channel’s website and start watching content online. You don’t even need to create an account to sign in; just click on the free program you want to watch.
Of course, The Roku Channel is free on all devices. Your only cost will be the device itself.
Good news: The Roku Channel has no contracts to speak of! As mentioned above, it’s free. You may want to set up a Roku account if you’re interested in purchasing a premium subscription at some point, but it’s by no means required.
There’s no real way to cancel The Roku Channel. That’s because The Roku Channel is free — there’s nothing to cancel! If you sign in to watch The Roku Channel, you’ll be using a Roku account (the same one you’d use with your Roku devices). You can close a Roku account on Roku’s website.
Now, the same isn’t true of any premium TV channels you buy through The Roku Channel. If you buy Showtime through Roku, for instance, you’ll also need to cancel it through Roku. You can do that by opening The Roku Channel, then navigating to the premium channel you’ve purchased. Press the * button on your remote to pull up the options menu. One of your options will be to cancel, so do that. It’s that easy to cancel something via The Roku Channel. As a bonus, it also works if you’re still in your free trial period and haven’t officially been charged for a channel yet.
By now, we hope you have a better understanding of just how The Roku Channel works and the type of content it does and doesn’t offer. But there’s a lot more to Roku than just The Roku Channel. Our Roku review can tell you why it’s one of our favorite streaming devices on the market right now. Once you’re done reading that, you can just go to the handy dandy CordCutting.com search bar and type in “Roku” to get more articles about the service.