The thousands of channels available on Roku will ensure that you’re never lacking in entertainment options. Whether it is sports, news or entertainment, you can stream all of it directly through your Roku device. This article was created to shine a spotlight on some of the best options available – the ones that truly stand out. Without further ado, here are the best Roku channels for free TV shows and movies in 2017.
It’s worth noting that in addition to channels that serve movies and TV shows, we’ll also provide some recommendations for getting your fix of news, music, and gaming live streams as well.
Top 21 Roku Channels for Free Movies and TV Shows
This channel has been a winner for several years. The reason is you can find a wide variety of free, big-budget movies from popular choices such as “Big Daddy,” “Desperado,” “The Quick and the Dead” and more. You no longer have to wait for your cable company to air them; you can watch them at your convenience. Who doesn’t love the action comedies from a decade or two ago? Yet, you get even more of a selection since Crackle often rotates their lineup.
Plus, you don’t have to register with Crackle to enjoy the choices; you can start watching content immediately. Every month, Crackle adds around 10 new movies. That is a lot less expensive than renting or buying. Everything is free, at any time. Additionally, you can make a list of your favorites to watch later. You may also enjoy some of Crackle’s original programs such as Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Supermansion, Joe Dirt 2 and more.
2. Pluto TV
This channel boasts a hand-picked lineup of news, sports, viral videos, cartoons, movies, TV shows and more. Your news options include Sky News, The Young Turks, NBC News, MSNBC and others. If you love tech, then you can watch Pluto TV’s tech channel, The Feed. It also has blockbuster films from Paramount. Kid-friendly content includes After School Cartoons, Classic Movies and Inspector Gadget. You’ll also like that it offers IGN, CNET, The Onion and even the Surf Network. Sit back, relax and let Pluto TV do the entertaining.
3. Nick Reboot
Who does not love Nickelodeon? This is the channel that defined my youth. Well, you can consume all of the classic Nick shows from the late 90s and early 00s to satisfy your craving of traveling back in time. Programming includes Doug, Pinky and the Brain and The Ren & Stimpy Show. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Animal Planet LIVE
One of the cutest channels on Roku is Animal Planet LIVE. On this channel, you get an insider’s view through an extensive number of live animal cams. You then can watch the daily lives of everything from kittens to marine life.
You’ll always stay on top of current events with the NewsON channel. You have a choice to stream newscasts from over 130 local news stations throughout the U.S. You can also watch live news or older newscasts–up to 48 hours. You don’t even need a subscription to watch NewsON; you can just launch the channel through your Roku.
You can’t go wrong with YouTube. This channel is free, but you can also purchase TV shows and movies a la carte. You’ll find everything on YouTube from original web shows to music videos, popular video games, clips from movies and more. You can also send videos from your phone to your TV to watch it on a larger screen, instantly.
8. Sky News
This is one of the most reputable news channels in the world. You can get live broadcasts from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It’s free, and something the entire English-speaking world can enjoy. From live reports to news highlights, you will receive 24/7 coverage.
9. PBS and PBS Kids
PBS has always been a go-to channel for high-quality programming without advertisements or the need for a subscription. In a world full of choices, it can be difficult to find kid-friendly content that you don’t have to monitor all day long. The PBS Kids channel on Roku offers a good selection of shows from Curious George, Arthur and The Electric Company, Sesame Street and more. With PBS, you have access to your favorite PBS shows such as NOVA, cooking with Martha Stewart, Masterpiece and Frontline.
10. Popcornflix and PopcornflixKids
Their logo states “Movies. TV. Free.” The name alone makes you want to watch. For starters, the content is very well-organized. You can see the genres right away, along with recommended content. Remember The Ninth Gate, Kingpin or The Burbs? You’ll find all three on Popcornflix. You’ll find solid selections in the horror film and cult comedies section. Plus, the documentaries are varied. Then, there are cartoons such as Inspector Gadget, The Legend of Zelda and The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog via PopcornflixKids.
Okay, so this one isn’t exactly streaming TV shows or movies. Nonetheless, we thought it would be worth including.
This novel channel allows you to watch video games, as opposed to playing them. It is the most popular live stream channel for video games from Dark Souls to Pokémon and Overwatch. If you’re having trouble with your own scores, this channel allows you to obtain tips and tricks you might not have thought of previously.
Twitch claims to be “home to the most dedicated and highly skilled gamers on the planet.” You can also watch some of the biggest gaming events in the industry from marathons to gaming competitions. Not to mention, you also have engagement options such as live chat and moderated forums. To determine what you would like to watch, you can browse by channels, videos, game titles and search terms. Then, all you have to do is click on the image.
12. Sports Illustrated
For the sports fans out there, this is a great free option. You can pull up sports news on demand and play it back to back, creating a great replacement for your usual cable sports news.
13. Tubi TV
Similar to Crackle, Tubi TV provides great TV supported by ads. There are some great finds in here, including Paranormal Activity 3, Igor, and Transformers. Combined with Crackle and PopcornFlix, there will always be something entertaining to watch for free. Grab a tub or bucket of popcorn; this is a combo you don’t want to miss!
14. Weather Underground
This is one of my dad’s favorite channels. For any other storm followers out there and those who want a consistent update on the weather, Weather Underground is here for you. Need to know if you should bring an umbrella today or grab a pair of shorts to throw on later? Go no further than this great free channel for all the weather information you need to make life just a little bet better. Just set up your personalized channel with your address for a forecast and weather predictions in your area.
16. Reuters TV
Who knew that watching the news could be a personalized experience? Choose the amount of time you have to watch: 10 minutes, 15 minutes or a half hour. Then get the news, pulled from the latest headlines. This way you are in the know and can update people or be the one to answer their questions with the latest info. You can even say “pass” to the stories you don’t want to see. You can watch live events or search for specific news as well.
16. AOL On News
Need one trusted source for all the latest news? From the nuclear weapon threats to the latest on our favorite royal family, this is where you can go to be informed of what’s going on in the world, from trusted sources, such as AP, WSJ, Reuters, NY Times and BBC.
18. CBS News
Need news 24/7? This channel pulls live streams from CBSN, the news network under CBS. It on-demand video from award winning news programs such as 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, and Face the Nation.
Vampire Diaries, The Originals, iZombie fans, where are you? The Flash, Arrow, and Reign for all the royals out there. This is one of my favorites! With this channel, you can catch up on tons of tier 1 shows on-demand, shortly after they air.
If you love watching the latest on Scandal or The Bachelor, this channel is for you. Modern Family or Fresh off the Boat for comedy lovers? Go no further than ABC. Enjoy full episodes of hot shows like Quantico or binge watch your old favorites such as My So Called Life or Ugly Betty.
That’s my jam! This is the place to watch all your favorite music videos – even the cheesy ones from when you were in high school. Or, discover the best new ones to dance to. The added benefit is continuous play for your own personalized concert session.
It’s Time to Cut the Cord
There isn’t a better time than right now to fire your cable company indefinitely. The average monthly cost for a cable TV package is around $62. Most of the channels are sleep-inducing. That’s probably why over 1 million American households have ditched their cable TV subscriptions. When many streaming services cost $10, or less, per month (Netflix, Hulu, CrunchyRoll and more)–it’s a no-brainer. With on-demand streaming serices, you don’t need to make an appointment to watch your favorite shows. You can view them whenever you want.
In fact, according to Nielsen’s recent “Total Audience Report,” Americans aged 18-24 watched around 2 hours and 24 minutes of traditional TV per day in the fourth quarter of 2015. Yet, in 2016, that number went down around 1 hour and 11 minutes to approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes per day during Q4 of 2016. The year-over-year transition from traditional TV to streaming TV continues.
Not to mention, in the past 5 years, 40 percent of this age group’s TV time has moved towards streaming content. Of course, we now have many ways to get streaming TV. One popular option is the Roku. With the variety, channels and price–it is a competitive player in the streaming market.
Some say there are better providers than the Roku. Certainly, everyone has a right to their opinion and favorites. Yet, the Roku is one of the original streaming devices still popular today for a wide swath of reasons. The Roku is a streaming media player which plays Internet content on your TV. It comes in six models with access to an astounding 3,500+ channels. Other features include:
- Shortcuts to Hulu, HBO Go, Netflix and more.
- View multiple content providers.
- Can use the app anywhere Wi-Fi is available.
- Some TVs come with built-in Roku capabilities
Roku offers so many TV channels, that you’ll have a difficult time deciding what to watch. Then, Roku surprises you with another feature: the ability to set up your own “private” channels and TV streams not vetted by Roku. If you love adventurous and ground-breaking TV, you can find it through the Roku.