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The best free Roku TV channels

(present count: 158)


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Introduction and caveats:

Every channel in this list can be used to view significant amounts of content or information for free, but is often laden with commercials. Several channels push their paid version hard enough so that if you're not careful you or a guest could accidentally subscribe to them. I make this easy to avoid by setting my own Roku account to require a PIN entry before allowing any purchases to go through. Nobody here has my PIN but me, and I've seen nothing yet I'd want badly enough to pay for it (we already had a Netflix account prior to getting our first Roku). So just make your own PIN a requirement for buying anything too, and you'll automatically be protected from such hard sells and inadvertent purchases.

My list consists exclusively of channels offering films, video clips, documentaries, TV shows, radio shows, instructional videos, cartoons/animation, music, news, and weather. As I'm a Roku fan (and an enemy of the current cable TV company business model) I also like the idea of our Roku boxes here acting as a showcase of both the Roku and internet in general for relatives and other visitors, in the hopes of changing their TV viewing methods for the better. Hence, I especially like to show off what TV you can get on the box for free.

I personally don't like games. Plus, when I added some to my Roku for my visiting child relatives, they didn't like them either. Ipso facto, I removed them: so there's no games here.

I'm not into sports either. Which may be a moot point anyway, since there seems to be a general consensus that major sports fans have a tough enough time finding PAID access to the biggest events they wish to watch online: and there's pretty much no way they'll get much of that for free on Roku, or elsewhere. So you'll find little if anything sports-related here.

I don't collect anything but knowledge and money. So I have no DVDs, videos, music, or photos I want to run through my Roku from another machine. I also don't want to turn my Roku into a mini personal computer, since I already have a full blown PC for that, thanks. So you'll find no utility/file-sharing channels here either.

I'm not religious. Nor do I ever patronize 'shopping' channels. So there's zero religious or shopping channels in my list.

The Roku's only a few years old. Most of its channels, lots younger than that. Some channels don't survive and disappear, or merge with/change into a different channel. Some free channels eventually change to paid subscription-based channels. So both your list and mine will change over time.

Not all available Roku channels can be found in the Roku Channel Store. Quite a few are 'private' channels which may or may not ever be officially sanctioned by, and appear in, the Channel Store. A few of those private channels are in my list.

[Private channels can be added by going into your Roku account and entering the proper code for them. Those codes are typically available online in web sites affiliated with the channel in question, or cataloging it]

This list was originally compiled around mid-May 2015. I tried to arrange things so those channels likely to be most interesting to the majority of you will be nearer the top of their particular category.

The List:

Full length films, shorts, documentaries, video clips, and/or TV shows

News and Weather

Music or talk radio

Primarily instructional, educational, how-to, presentations, sometimes real world videos

Copyright © 2015 by J.R. Mooneyham. All rights reserved.