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The best Roku channels (or apps) to watch on your new streaming device

From the free channels to the premium services, here's what you can download on your Roku device.
By
March 13, 2022
roku channels on tv

Let’s say you have bought, or received as a gift, a new Roku streaming device or a new big-screen TV with the Roku OS installed. What do you start watching? There are thousands of Roku channels that you can download, but most of these Roku apps are not worth the time.

Thankfully, there are still quite a few great Roku channels that you can find that will be well worth your time, and in some cases your money. Here are our picks for the best Roku channels you can currently watch. Some of these Roku apps will require paying a monthly and/or a yearly fee. Some of these channels are actually hidden from view. However, there’s a surprising amount of great Roku apps you can download and watch for free.

Read more: Best Roku deals

What are Roku channels and what’s the difference between channels and Roku apps?

Roku channels are basically the company’s name for Roku apps. Even Roku’s own support page states, “Channels are applications for your television.” So when you download one of the thousands of Roku “channels” on your set-top box, streaming stick or smart TV, you really are downloading one of the many Roku apps.

Now that we have that out of the way, Roku channels allow you to access tons of streaming services on your Roku OS device. While there are a few Roku apps that do other things besides stream video or audio, including a very small selection of simple games, the vast majority of them are made for streaming content.

Free Roku channels

Most of the Roku apps you can download offer streaming video content for free. However, since there are literally thousands of them, here’s a quick list of the best free Roku channels you can download and watch right now.

What happened to the “hidden” Roku channels?

Until March 1, 2022, a few Roku channels were not available to be downloaded via the normal methods of searching or browsing for them. They could be accessed if you had a special code, which you could then type into the My Account section of the official Roku site. Typing in the code allowed the app to be automatically downloaded and added to your home screen. That option has now been done away with by the company. In its place, Roku has a new beta channel system, which allows app developers to release early versions of their Roku channels to up to 20 users. That will allow developers to test these apps before they go public.

Best Roku channels

Here’s a look at the absolute best Roku apps you can get right now:

Roku channel

roku chanel
Roku

Price: Free

We start our list by checking out Roku’s own content channel. It offers tons of free streaming movies and TV shows, plus some live TV news, and sports channels as well. You will likely find a great movie or show to watch. In addition, you can sign up for other premium services in the Roku channel, like Starz, Showtime, and others. You can even watch selected episodes from these premium services for free via the channel. 

Roku is planning to expand its free channel with original content, which will be offered under the Roku Originals brand. It’s already added some exclusive movies and TV shows, including the spy drama Cypher. In the summer of 2021, it started adding content from the shut down streaming service Quibi, including some series that were made for the service but were never released. Finally, Roku recently bought the rights to all of the previous and current episodes of the long-running home renovation series This Old House.


Netflix

netflix roku
Netflix/Roku

Price: Starting at $9.99 a month

Netflix started the video streaming trend, and it remains the biggest premium service with over 200 million subscribers worldwide. The Netflix Roku channel allows you to access the service and all of its exclusive series and movies, with tons more original content being added every month.

Netflix icon
Netflix
Netflix is still the leading premium streaming service, with over 200 million worldwide subscribers. It offers thousands of movies and TV shows to binge watch, including its always growing list of original films and series, including Stranger Things, The Witcher, Bridgerton, and many more.

Disney Plus

disney plus roku
Disney/Roku

Price: $7.99 a month

While it doesn’t have a ton of original content (yet), Disney Plus has lots of great classic and more recent movies and TV shows from the vast Disney library (with a few 20th Century Fox titles thrown in for good measure). The family-friendly service is slowly building up its original content library, include the first two seasons of the hit Star Wars show The Mandalorian. 2021 will be an even bigger year for the service, with several Marvel Cinematic Universe series debuting, and much more. It’s a must for your Roku channels list. It’s easy to add, manage, and cancel, too.

Disney Plus comedy movies section stock photo
Disney Plus bundle
 

Hulu

hulu roku
Hulu/Roku

Price: Starting at $6.99 a month with a free trial

Hulu has been around for almost as long as Netflix. Its main attraction is that it has a number of current broadcast network TV shows from ABC, NBC, and Fox. New episodes are available the next day after they are broadcast on their respective networks. You can also watch lots of classic and more recent movies and TV shows, and you can stream a number of original movies and series, including the Emmy-winning drama The Handmaid’s Tale. You can also sign up for Hulu Plus Live TV, which offers lots of live streaming cable TV channels, plus cloud DVR, for extra fees.

Hulu Logo
Hulu
Hulu offers not only thousands of movies and TV shows to stream, it also has original shows and films like The Handmaid's Tale. You can upgrade to Hulu Plus Live TV to get live channels, including your local stations.
 

Amazon Prime Video

Best comedies on Amazon Prime Video featured

Price: Included with Amazon Prime at $14.99 a month with a free trial

Amazon Prime’s streaming video section lets you stream thousands of TV shows and movies, including original series like the hit superhero show The Boys. Amazon also offers a limited number of live sports events that will only be available on Amazon Prime Video.

Prime video logo
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video offers access to thousands of movies and TV shows to stream. That includes great original shows and movies like The Boys and The Tomorrow War. You can also sign up for other premium services within Amazon Prime Video.
 

HBO Max

hbo max roku channel
John Callaham / Android Authority

Price: $14.99 a month

One of the most recent of the Roku channels is HBO Max. You can watch nearly everything from the HBO pay cable channel library, plus lots of other stuff, including shows like Friends and Doctor Who. You can also watch a growing number of original series and movies, including Raised by Wolves and The Flight Attendant. Best of all, in 2022, you will be able to watch all of the Warner Bros theatrical movie releases just 45 days after they debut in theaters.

HBO Max logo
HBO Max
HBO Max is your home for Warner Bros-made movies and TV shows like The Lord of the Rings, the DC Comics superheroes, and more. It's also the home for new and original movies and shows available nowhere else.
 

ESPN Plus

espn roku
Disney/Roku

Price: Starting at $6.99 a month

ESPN remains the biggest name in TV sports coverage. The ESPN Roku channel lets you watch live sports from football to NBA basketball to MLB baseball and more. In addition, you can sign up for ESPN Plus for an extra fee for access to even more sports shows and coverage. You can even give a gift card to friends.

 
 

Pluto TV

pluto tv roku
Pluto TV/Roku

Price: Free

Pluto TV offers hundreds of its own channels to watch. ranging from classic TV to live news programs and much more. The service also has lots of shows and movies to stream on-demand. Best of all, Pluto TV is completely free (supported by ads).


Paramount Plus

paramount plus roku
ViacomCBS

Price: $4.99-$9.99 a month

Previously launched as CBS All Access, Paramount Plus has a ton of content from the Viacom CBS library of television shows, along with movies from Paramount Pictures. You can watch every Star Trek TV episode, along with shows from Comedy Central, VHI, MTV, Nickelodeon, and more cable networks. The service is also beefing up its exclusive original shows and movies, including revivals of classic kid shows like Rugrats and iCarly. Prices begin at just $4.99 a month (with ads) or $9.99 a month (without ads and the addition of live-streaming the CBS network).

paramount plus from Impact
Paramount Plus
Paramount Plus includes thousands of movies and TV shows from CBS, Showtime, and Paramount Pictures. It also includes new and original movies like The Good Fight, Infinite, and more.

Apple TV Plus

apple tv plus roku
Apple/Roku

Price: $4.99 a month

The folks in Cupertino are in the streaming movie and TV business with Apple TV Plus. It offers a small but growing number of (mostly) original content. Including acclaimed TV series like The Morning Show and Ted Lasso. It also has a few original movies like the recent WWII drama Greyhound. Apple TV Plus is on Roku and other major streaming devices. 

apple tv plus logo 1
Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus has quickly become a major player in the streaming game since its launch in 2019. Its slate of original programming includes shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Foundation, and For All Mankind as well as movies like The Banker, Greyhound, and Palmer.

Tubi TV

tubi channel
Tubi

Price: Free

Like Pluto TV, Tubi TV is completely free to stream as one of the Roku channels. It also offers up recent and classic TV shows on-demand, and that includes movies and shows that are not available for free on other digital stores and streaming services.


Philo

philo
Philo/Roku

Price: Starting at $25 a month with a free trial

There are many internet-based live TV streaming services, including Hulu Plus Live TV, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and others. One of our favorites is Philo, which lets you stream over 60 live TV channels, plus cloud DVR support, for just $20 a month.

philo logo
Philo TV
Philo TV offers up over 60 live streaming TV channels for just $25 a month, with a seven-day free trial. You also get unlimited cloud DVR support for up to one year
 

BritBox

britbox channel
Britbox

Price: Starting at $6.99 a month, with a free trial

The TV shows and TV movies made from across the pond are some of the best around. BritBox lets you watch some of the best BBC and ITV shows, including classic Doctor Who and, more recently, Downton Abbey. You can even watch news programs and UK soap operas the day after they are broadcast in Britain.

britbox logo
BritBox
BritBox is a streaming service formed by the BBC and ITV networks that offers UK-based TV shows, soap operas and more.

Spotify

spotify
Spotify/Roku

Price: Starting at $9.99 a month, with a free trial

Some Roku channels offer more than video. You can also listen to music and podcasts on your Roku devices. That includes the most popular streaming music service, Spotify, which serves up your favorite tunes and podcast.


YouTube

youtube tv app
YouTube

Price: Free, with Premium option at $11.99 a month.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget about YouTube as one of the many Roku channels. Yet, it’s also perhaps the biggest free streaming video service, with tons of great content to access from its millions of content creators. Plus, if you sign up for YouTube Premium, you can ditch those annoying video ads.


Peacock

peacock
Comcast/Roku

Price: Free, with premium options starting at $4.99 a month

Here’s another recent entry in the many Roku channels that are available; Peacock joined Roku not that long ago, after reaching a deal in fall 2020. Peacock offers viewers a way to stream content from NBCUniversal’s TV shows and movies, and much of that content is available for free. Peacock is also the exclusive streaming service for the US version of The Office.

Peacock logo large
Peacock
NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service offers a lot of great movies and TV shows to stream on demand, along with live news and sports. Best of all, you can watch lots of its content for free, or watch all of it with a paid subscription starting at just $4.99 a month.
 

Discovery Plus

discovery plus hgtv
Discovery

Price: Starting at $4.99 a month, with a free 7-day trial

The new kid on the block offers tons of reality and documentary series from the Discovery family of cable channels. You can also watch a growing number of Discovery Plus original shows and specials, including spin-offs of popular shows like 90 Day Fiance, and much more. Learn how to get Discovery Plus on Roku here.

Discovery Plus
Discovery Plus
The streaming service offers on-demand TV shows from the Discovery lineup of non-scripted TV channels, plus exclusive shows.

Rifftrax

rifftrax roku
Rifftrax

Three former members of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett), formed Rifftrax over 10 years ago. Since then the trio, along with some friends, have continued to riff over bad movies and shorts with hilarious results. The Rifftrax channel allows you to watch a small selection of their work for free, but for the price of $5.99 a month, you can watch hundreds of movies and shorts being riffed, with more being added every month.

Other FAQs

Q: How many Roku channels can I have on my account?
A: In theory, you can have as many Roku apps on your account as you want. In practice, if you have a lot, you may sometimes see channels take time to load since your device has a limited amount of storage space.

Q: Do Roku channels get removed after they launch?
A: This does happen on occasion. For example, the official Twitch Roku channel was removed years ago. More recently, the Spectrum TV and YouTube TV channels were removed for new Roku users for several months before they were both put back in place. If you happen to have a removed Roku channel still installed, keep it there. If you delete it from your account, you won’t be able to download it again.

Q: Do roku channels cost money?
A: Some do, some don’t. Most Roku channels are completely free to download and add to your device and only cost money to activate a subscription. If you want to make sure you don’t make accidental purchases, you can set a Roku PIN to require a passcode.


Those are our picks for the best Roku channels for your new streaming purchase or gift. Of course, there are plenty of other channels to check out, and we will update this list when new ones are released.