Roku stick apps

Roku stick apps DEFAULT

With three different streaming devices, Roku pretty much covers all sides of the streaming video market. And, having been around since 2008, Roku now has a library with thousands and thousands of channels to choose from.

Don’t get confused by the term “channels”, though – on every other device, these are simply called “Apps”, but they’re Channels on Roku, even when they’re not exactly a, well, channel.

So, having so many channels to choose from on the Roku Channels Store is a good thing – but it can get a bit overwhelming, as there’s no real curation, and incredibly useful channels often sit next to useless duds.

So I’m here to help. While it’s impossible to cover all the good Roku channels (and new ones get released every week), this list will get you started with some of the best channels, in a variety of topics – perfect for someone who just got a new Roku device, or is looking to add some content.

Roku streamers side by side

Most of the channels listed here are free to install, though some then require a monthly subscription. Some channels (mostly games) require payment upfront.

Installing new channels on Roku is very easy – you can either do it from the Roku Channel Store (assuming you’re logged in with your Roku account), or directly on your Roku streaming device, by going to to the “Streaming Channels” section.

And if you still need to buy a Roku streamer, you can check our full comparison, and then buy one on Currys or on Amazon. There’s a reason we chose the Roku Stick+ as the best streaming device in the UK…

The Essential Roku Channels

Once you get your Roku out of the box, these are the apps almost every UK user is going to want. (In fact, some might have already been installed on your device by default).

1. Netflix

Netflix needs no introductions, as it’s practically synonymous with cord cutting and streaming TV, with a huge selection of films and original TV programmes.

Netflix interface on TV

Netflix no longer offers free trials in the UK, but once you subscribe, there are no long contracts – so you can unsubscribe and then re-join at any point.

2. Amazon Prime Video

One of the main competitors to Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video service offers films, TV programmes and originals like Star Trek: Picard as part of its Prime membership, plus the ability to purchase more films and TV shows on-demand. If you’re new, you can get a free 30-days trial to either Prime Video or the full Amazon Prime.

3. NOW (Formerly NOW TV)

Sky’s answer to Netflix and Prime Video, NOW is a subscription service that offers separate paid plans for TV programmes (and Kids), Sky Cinema and Sports.

There are ways to get some of it for free, or for cheaper prices than usual – check our NOW guide here.

4. Disney+

Disney’s streaming service is perfect for those looking for content for the whole family, or simply for fans of their five main worlds of content – Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.

disney plus screen captain marvel JPG

A subscription normally costs £5.99/month, or £59.99/year. Check out our comprehensive Disney+ UK review).

5. The Roku Channel

A free service from Roku themselves, that gives you thousands of free movies, TV programmes and kids content on demand. The Roku Channel in the UK features a selection of popular global and British TV series, including titles such as Homes Under the HammerThe CommanderSkins and Britain’s Best Bakery, alongside Hollywood hits and TV shows such as The Wicker Man, Hell’s Kitchen and Les Miserables.

In 2021, Roku also started adding Roku Originals – exclusive shows that they bought from the now-defunct Quibi streaming service.

The service is advert-based, with up to 8 minutes of adverts per hour, but there are no pre-roll adverts. See our full Roku Channel review.

6. YouTube

With a big-screen interface, 4K videos and the ability to “cast” selected YouTube videos directly from your phone – this ‘channel’ will give you the ultimate YouTube experience.

7. Apple TV

Apple’s streaming TV service lets you purchase movies and TV shows on-demand, as well as subscribe to Apple TV+, which offers original content, with shows like The Morning Show and For All Mankind.

Apple tv movies

Apple TV+ offers a 7-days free trial, or you can get a full free year if you buy an iOS device.

8. BBC iPlayer

While the BBC’s streaming channel can’t quite compete with the likes of Netflix yet – it has certainly improved over the years. Watch catch-up shows, get up-to-date BBC News, and binge on a selection of box-sets from the vast BBC archives. Just don’t forget to pay the TV licence fee

9. ITV Hub

If you like programmes like Love Island, X-Factor and Coronation Street, you can watch them all on-demand via the ITV Hub Roku channel.

ITV Hub on Roku

Remember, though, that the adverts are still there, and you can’t skip them… (though there ARE a few ways to watch ITV without adverts)

10. All 4

Channel 4, the popular commercial TV channel, also has its own on-demand Roku Channel. With catch-up episodes of shows like The Great British Bake Off, and hundreds of box-sets, you’re likely to find something interesting to watch – just remember, you can’t skip the adverts.

11. My 5

The selection of UK broadcast channels won’t be complete without Channel 5. You get catch-up episodes of new programmes, as well as box-sets of past-shows. From reality TV like Big Brother to popular Australian and American shows – the selection is decent, with – again – adverts being part of the package.

12. UKTV Play

A collection of channels owned by the BBC – Dave, Yesterday and Drama – where you’ll get on-demand boxsets of entertainment, comedy and reality shows like Taskmaster and classic episodes of Eastenders.

13. Plex

The perfect solution when you want to stream your OWN video files. From home videos to old VHS tapes and DVDs that you ripped to your computer (with a VHS to DVD converter). If you have the video as a file on your computer – you can stream it to your Roku, with the Plex channel. (You also need their desktop app installed on your PC).

Recently, Plex have also added their own ad-supported streaming service with old movies and TV shows, but the selection in the UK isn’t very impressive.

Note: While the channel is “free”, it also has paid premium features – see our full Plex review.

Roku Streaming Video Channels

With this being “the golden age of TV”, and with Roku being such a popular platform, there plenty more video ‘channels’ to choose from. Beyond the essentials, here are some more excellent ones:

14. Pluto TV

If you still want a “live” TV experience, Pluto delivers that and then some. You get 40 free streaming “live channels”, which you can flip through using the on-screen TV guide. From movies, true crime shows, sports and even cats – you’re going to find something to watch when you really don’t know WHAT you want to watch.

15. BT Sport

BT Sport airs sporting events from all around the world – from live Premier League games to UEFA Champions League, MotoGP racing, boxing and more.

BT Sport screenshot

You can either get it as a subscriber to one of BT’s other services (Broadband, TV, etc’) – or with the BT Sport Monthly pass, which is contract-free and costs £25/month. (Also see our guide on how to watch BT Sport for free).

16. BritBox

A subscription-based streaming service owned by ITV and the BBC, BritBox offers a big library of classic (and modern) British TV shows from ITV, BBC, Channel 5 and Channel 4, as well as classic British films.

BritBox also has a few originals – including the brand new reboot of Spitting Image, and drama programmes like The Beast Must Die.

BritBox normally costs £5.99/month, and you can also usually get a free trial (See our full BritBox UK review). After a long wait – we finally got a BritBox Roku channel in 2021.

17. Vevo

a great place to watch official music videos and live performances. So yes, you can also find most of this content on YouTube, but there are some exclusives – plus, it really is more convenient when you’re mostly looking to lose yourself in music videos.

18. Vimeo

A peculiar YouTube competitor, Vimeo is a video sharing service that’s ad-free and offers more control over who can watch your videos – so some creators prefer it over YouTube.

19. Shudder

A video-on-demand service dedicated to horror, with a curated selection of classic and new horror films and TV shows, such as Hellraiser, Halloween and several originals, such as the rebooted Creepshow series. (Read our full Shudder review here).

20. Acorn TV

Acorn TV is an American streaming service that specialises in British content, and it also has a UK-based version. Yes, I know that’s a mouthful – but it basically means a large catalogue of British programming (similar to BritBox – which is NOT available on Roku for now).

From fan-favourite shows like Doc Martin, A Place to Call Home, Detectorists, The Brokenwood Mysteries to some exclusive programmes like Queens of Mystery and London Kills. You get get a free trial, after which the service will cost you £4.99/month.

21. Amazing Classics

If you’re a fan of old, peculiar American films and TV shows – mostly weird, B-style horror films, sci-fi and comedies – then you’ll get your fix with the Amazing Classics app. It’s all free (with some adverts here and there), and you’re likely to find some fascinating stuff – as well as a lot of oddballs…

22. Crunchyroll

Anime lovers, rejoice! This is the official channel for the popular Anime VOD service, that includes the world’s largest collection of anime including Naruto Shippuden, Attack on Titan and Dragon Ball Super. You can watch some of the content for free, but the Premium tier gives you a wider selection, as well as shows that are added an hour after their original broadcast in Japan.

23. Rakuten TV

Another video-on-demand streaming store, where you can buy or rent the latest Hollywood films and some TV shows. They sometimes have special deals, so it’s worth a look, even if you normally use Amazon Video or Google Play Movies. And, since Roku in the UK comes with a shortcut button for Rakuten on their remote – the channel is most likely already installed on your device anyway.

24. TED

You’re probably familiar with TED, the non-profit organisation that posts inspiring talks, or as they call them – “ideas worth spreading”.


With the TED channel on Roku, you get a convenient interface where you can scroll through and stream hundreds of short TED talks, in a wide variety of topics.

25. CuriosityStream

A streaming service dedicated to documentaries and non-fiction, with shows about science, nature, technology and more. It’s subscription-based, and you can pay either monthly or annually (the pricing depends on whether you want Full HD or 4K video quality).

26. YuppTV

A streaming video service dedicated to South Asian (mostly Indian) content with thousands of films and TV shows in 14 languages. You have to sign up for a free account, and then you can watch some of the content – but there’s also a “Premium” tier with more content, which you need to pay for.

27. hayu

The ultimate destination for fans of ‘loud’ American reality TV shows. hayu offers more than 200 shows, mainly of the… ehm… let’s call it ‘guilty pleasure’ type. From Keeping Up With The Kardashians to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  See what we thought about hayu in our review.

hayu on roku

You can get a free trial, but after that, there’s a monthly subscription fee.

28. KidoodleTV

Watch a collection of content that’s safe for kids – popular shows like Paw Patrol, LEGO City, Wallace & Gromit and more. All the shows are available on-demand, and the library updates weekly.

There are no subscription fees, and instead the service is ad-supported.

29. BBC News

While you can get the full BBC experience via iPlayer, if you just want to stay updated by reading and watching the news from the BBC, this channel gives you exactly that.

30. Sky News

Prefer to get your news fix from Sky? You don’t need a contract with them to stream the Sky News channel live, as well as watch clips and news shows on demand.

Roku Utilities And Misc. Channels

The Roku streamers aren’t limited to video – from music services to radio and even a fireplace – there’s much more your Roku can do with this assortment of channels.

31. Spotify

With TV speakers getting better and better – not to mention high-quality soundbars – the Roku can serve as great music streaming device. Unfortunately, in the UK, most of the big music subscription services don’t have a Roku app… but at least we get the big one.

spotify on roku

With Spotify, which is one of the leading music streaming services, you can stream more than 50 million songs – either via the free, limited tier (with adverts), or with a monthly subscription.

32. Deezer

While not as popular as Spotify, Deezer is another good music streaming service, which offers 56 million tracks. It has a limited free tier (where you can only shuffle songs), along with an unlimited Premium plan.

33. BBC Sounds

Live radio streaming from the various BBC Radio stations, as well as on-demand audio programmes from the archives, and a selection of audiobooks and podcasts.

Some of the highlights available on BBC Sounds include the popular Desert Island Discs radio series, Grounded with Louis Theroux, true crime podcasts, standup comedy recordings from BBC studios, and more.

34. TuneIn Radio

Listen to live radio stations from around the world – more than 100,000 stations with music, talk shows and podcasts. It’s a great way to listen to stations from the UK, but it’s also a great way to discover new music from all over the world.

35. Live Animal Cams (Paid Channel)

There are several webcam channels on Roku – but this one is unique, in that it curates live streams from webcams placed at zoos around the world.

So if you ever wanted to sit and stare at gorillas, tigers, penguins and other critters streaming live from animal sanctuaries – this channel is for you. It costs £0.69 as of this writing.


Use your remote to reach for the stars… The NASA channel on Roku lets you watch live NASA-TV streams, look at more than 16,000 space images, thousands of space videos, and see what the Earth looks like from the International Space Station – in real-time. 

37. Fireplace TV

I know, I know – a “fake” fireplace on your TV won’t actually keep you warm. But it looks (and sounds) good, it’s better than a boring screensaver, and on those cold, winter nights, I can swear it makes me feel warmer… There are several Fireplace channels on the Roku, some cost money – but this is a decent free one.

Games For The Roku

I’m not a huge fan of gaming on streaming devices – and the Roku is no exception. So you’re not going to get any console-level games, and controlling the game with the Roku remote is not ideal – but still, some of these casual games can help you pass the time and are actually kind of fun.

38. Doodle Jump

Another smartphone classic (dating back to some of the earliest iPhone models), it’s a fun game of jumping around and trying to go as high as you can. And it works pretty good with the Roku remote.

Roku Premiere doodle jump

The game is free – but it has adverts.

39. Snake

Talk about classic games… this game dates back to some of the earliest mobile phones, and the Roku version keeps the “classic”, black-and-green look. Move your “snake” around as it gets longer and longer, trying to eat “apples” without hitting the wall – or your own tail. 

40. Chop Chop Runner

Running games are pretty popular in the “casual” market, and this cute little game (which will, at times, try to remind you of certain Mario brothers…) serves its genre well. You run, and jump, and try to avoid obstacles and enemies along the way. This is a paid game.

41. Super Stickman Golf

A combination of golf (where you aim your club in a fashion that might remind you of Angry Birds or Worms), and a puzzle game, this award-winning game will challenge you with 32 courses. This is a paid game.

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How to Add Apps on Roku in Three Ways

A Roku player allows you to watch thousands of movies and TV shows on apps (also called channels). Just like you download apps on your smartphone, you can also download channels on your Roku device. There are numerous paid and free channels that you can add in three ways: from the device, from the Roku website, or from the Roku mobile app. Here’s how to add apps on your Roku device:

Adding Apps Using Your Roku Device

  1. Press the Home button on your Roku remote. This will take you to the home menu.
    roku remote
  2. On the left sidebar, click on Streaming Channels option. This will open the Roku Channel store.
    Roku streaming channels
  3. Choose a category or select Search Channels and type in the channel you want to add. When browsing lists, you can press the Rewind button or the Fast Forward button on your Roku remote to go up or down a page.
    Roku category
  4. Press OK on the remote to learn more about a channel. This will display the synopsis and rating of the channel and show you screenshots.
    Roku channel
  5. When you find a channel you want, click Add Channel or Buy. If the channel is free, the button will read Add Channel. If the app requires payment, the button will read Buy with a price. Either method will install the channel on the home page of your Roku menu.
how to add apps to roku

Note: There are some free apps that require you to pay subscriptions or pay per view fees, such as YouTubeTV.

If you have a Roku account PIN, you might be required to enter it here.If you don’t have a PIN, follow any additional instructions for payment.

Adding Apps Using the Roku Website

If you’re away from your Roku device, you can add channels using your computer.

  1. Go to
  2. Then click Sign In. If you do not see this in the upper-right corner of your screen, you can expand your browser window or zoom out.
    roku com sign in
  3. Sign in or create an account.  
  4. Finally, choose a channel and click Add Channel. You can browse channels by category or genre. Or you can search for channels using the Search channel box. When you find a channel, you can click Details to see the synopsis, rating, screenshots, and the price.
how to add apps to roku

If you are purchasing a paid channel, you will need to complete additional steps.

Note: It could take up to 24 hours for a channel to be added to your Roku device with this method. This is because Roku devices automatically check the system for new changes every 24 hours. To get it faster, go to your Roku device and select Settings > System > System update, then click Check Now.

How to Add Apps Using the Roku Mobile App

You can also add channels using your smartphone.

  1. Download the Roku app. You can find this app on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
  2. Open the app and tap the Channels icon. You can find this on the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. If this is your first time using the app, you will then have to click Connect in the next window. Then you will have to pair your device by selecting it from the list that appears.
  3. Then tap Channel Store in the top menu.
  4. Scroll down to search by genre or tap the magnifying glass icon to search by name.
  5. Finally, select Add Channel.
how to add apps to roku

If this is a paid app, follow the instructions to purchase the channel. If you have a Roku account PIN, you will be required to enter it.

Note: Like channels added through the website, it may take 24 hours for your channel to be added to your Roku device if you add it using the mobile app.

If you’re having problems with your Roku remote, make sure to check out our guide on how to pair a Roku remote.

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HelloTech editors choose the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

Updated on August 31, 2021

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Roku - Official Remote Control

Stream hundreds of hit movies, TV shows and more on the go with The Roku Channel, use it as a second remote, enjoy private listening, and more.

The free Roku mobile app makes it easy and fun to control your Roku player and Roku TV™.

Use the Roku mobile app to:
• Control your Roku device as another remote
• Stream hit movies, TV shows and more on the go with The Roku Channel
• Enjoy private listening* with headphones
• Use your voice or keyboard to search for movies, shows, actors, and directors
• Cast videos, photos, and music to your TV
• Add and launch channels on your Roku device
• Enter text on your Roku device easier with your keyboard

To use certain features of the Roku mobile app, you must connect your phone or tablet to the same wireless network as your Roku device. Certain features require a compatible Roku device, and may require logging in to your Roku account.

Feature availability:
· Searching by voice is available in English in the US, UK, and Canada only.
· The Roku app is available in English only in Mexico.
* Mobile private listening is available for Roku Express, Express+, Roku Streaming Stick (3600, 3800, 3810), Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere+, Roku Ultra and Roku TVs.
** Subscription or other payment may be required to access certain channel content. Channel availability is subject to change and varies by country.

For more information and troubleshooting help, go to,


Whether you want to escape the cable company or to abandon the terrible interface that's built into your smart TV, a reliable streaming device is a wonderful thing.

Roku, Apple, Google, and Amazon all make options that might be right for you, but figuring out which platform to go with can be a pain. To help, we've gathered the best 4K HDR-ready TV streaming devices together for a battle royale—all streaming boxes, sticks, and cubes. Whether you're hoping to stream the latest episode of The Mandalorian or your favorite YouTuber, we've separated each of our favorites by what they do best.

Be sure to check out all our guides, especially for picking the best Roku, as well as the best TVs, best soundbars, and best smart speakers we've seen.

Updated September 2021: We've added the new Apple TV 4K and the budget Onn. streaming stick.

Special offer for Gear readers: Get a1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.


Stick apps roku

roku stick amazon fire tv stick

Roku and Amazon Fire TV are locked in an epic battle for your living room. Lots of people want a cheap, easy way to get streaming video from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, YouTube and Apple TV Plus on their TV, and two companies make the most popular gadgets for doing just that. In one corner is Roku, the most popular name in streaming devices. In the other corner sits Amazon Fire TV, the streamer made by one of the most powerful companies in the world. Both boast over 50 million users and offer numerous devices with similar prices and features. But which should you pick?

At CNET we've spent countless hours testing both over the years, and in general both work really well. Most of the Roku and Fire TV devices we've reviewed have received an 8.0 (excellent) rating or higher, so it's tough to go wrong. Roku and Fire TV just announced brand-new players for the 2021 holiday season -- the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max -- but they're very similar to existing products.

So how do you choose between Roku and Fire TV? To start, realize they have more similarities than differences. 

  • Both are super-affordable, starting at $30 for their cheapest players, and they often go on sale for less. 
  • Both have access to thousands of TV apps, including all of the major ones. Most apps look and behave basically the same on both.
  • The latest models of Roku and Fire TV are pretty much equally quick, responsive and reliable as long as you have a solid internet connection.
  • Both (except for the cheapest Rokus) offer remotes with TV volume and power buttons to control most TVs, so you can ditch the remote that came with your TV if you aren't bouncing around to other inputs. 
  • Both have multiple models, starting with basic streamers up to 4K-compatible versions with voice control built into the remotes.

So which one's better? 

Best overall: Roku

Our go-to recommendation is Roku over Fire TV. There are really just two major reasons.

Better menus. Roku's no-nonsense menu system places the apps themselves front-and-center and lets you arrange them however you please, just like on your phone. It gets to the apps and shows want quickly, without filling the screen with other junk. 


Using a Fire TV device means wading through a bunch of TV shows and movies in addition to the apps themselves. That would be fine if they were the TV shows and movies you're in the middle of watching, or might actually want to watch -- something Netflix's menus do well. But more often than not, it is hard to care about the TV shows and movies on Fire TV's screen. They just seem like stuff Amazon or its partners want us to watch.


CNET's Ty Pendlebury summed up the difference in his review of the Fire TV Stick. "If you like to graze for content, the Fire TV might be more appealing. If you know what you want already, or at least what app you want to watch, a Roku is probably a better choice."

Better search. Search results on Roku are straightforward and price-centric. You're shown how much a movie or TV show costs and can click through to watch or buy it -- and if it's free because you're a subscriber, you'll see that, too. Fire TV's results are much more confusing, with multiple options and false positives. And once you find what you want, you're shown just one primary service, and you have to click through to see "more ways to watch."

Now playing:Watch this: Which Roku is the go-to? We break it down


Which Roku or Fire TV streaming device is right for you?

Of course when you choose between Roku and Fire TV you're buying a specific device, not just the platform. For that reason, our advice below gets a little more specific. We break down our favorite devices in a variety of areas: price, 4K capability, voice control and more.

Here's a couple more things to keep in mind as we get into the recommendations.

  • We're talking only about streaming devices, not TVs. Both Roku and Amazon bake their platforms into TVs as well, which we also review. In general we prefer Roku TVs to ones that use Amazon Fire TV. Check out our Best TVs list for more details.
  • The newest streaming devices for 2021, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max, aren't yet available so we haven't reviewed them yet. See the 4K TV section below for more details.
  • Of course we've reviewed streamers from other companies too. Check out our list of best streaming devices for more options.

Best budget streamer: Fire TV Stick Lite


Roku is our favorite overall platform, but the Fire TV Stick Lite offers more features at the entry level than the similarly priced Roku Express. The Fire TV Stick Lite includes a voice remote, while the Roku doesn't support voice commands via the remote. We found the Lite's built-in access to Amazon's Alexa particularly helpful when navigating through menus and searching for content.

The Roku Express is still a fine choice for a bare-bones streamer. It brings all of the advantages of Roku we mentioned above, and performs perfectly well, but the Fire TV Stick Lite ultimately offers more features for the price -- making it a better option for those on a tight budget. 

Both the Roku Express and the Fire TV Stick Lite are regularly priced at $30, but can sometimes be found for less. 

Of course, there are a bunch of other more expensive Roku players and Fire TV streamers. Many of them are better choices than these basic versions because they don't charge much more for additional very useful extras.

Best for 4K TVs and best overall: Roku Express 4K Plus

Roku's $40 Express 4K Plus remains our favorite media streamer available right now. It offers the easy-to-use Roku interface, the voice remote that the cheaper Express lacks, 4K HDR streaming, wired Ethernet support with an optional adapter and only costs $40. That's $10 less than the competing Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. 

The Fire TV Stick 4K's main advantage over the Express Plus 4K is compatibility with the Dolby Vision HDR format, which might be important to you if your TV performs significantly better with DV than standard HDR. But for most people, that advantage doesn't overcome Roku's strengths.

Meanwhile, the newly announced Roku Streaming Stick 4K fixes this problem by adding Dolby Vision support as well as a faster processor and long-range Wi-Fi for $50. Roku is also offering a $70 package called the Streaming Stick 4K Plus which includes the Streaming Stick 4K and the Voice Remote Pro. 

Not to be outdone, Amazon's new Fire TV Stick 4K Max also features an upgraded processor, along with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. It will cost $55 -- $5 more than the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. 

Both of the new offerings from Amazon and Roku will be released in October, though it remains to be seen if either of these products can overtake the cheaper Roku Express 4K Plus as our top pick.


Best for voice: Fire TV with Alexa

If you care about using voice control to find TV shows and movies, Fire TV wins.

Every Fire TV device from the Lite on up has Alexa voice capability built into the remote. Most Roku players also offer voice remotes using Roku's own voice system, but the cheapest models lack that feature. 

Both voice systems let you easily search, launch apps and control playback (fast-forward, pause, etc.) via voice, but Fire TV also lets you do everything Alexa does, including control smart-home devices, get a weather report and answer questions, complete with on-screen results. Alexa's voice also talks back through the TV's speakers.

If you have an Alexa speaker like an Echo Dot, you can do pretty much everything hands-free on Fire TV (no remote required) with standard Alexa commands. Say "Alexa, watch Roma" and Fire TV launches Netflix and starts playing the movie, for example. 

Roku players work in the same way with both Alexa and Google Home speakers but not as well. Netflix doesn't work and you have to remember to say "Roku" at the end of every command ("OK, Google, launch Hulu on Roku"). Still, if you own a Google Home speaker already and want to use it for TV control, Fire TV isn't an option.


Best for private listening via headphones: Roku

Roku has long had a really cool feature on its higher-end players: A headphone jack built into the remote control itself. You just plug your headphones into the clicker and the audio on the TV or soundbar mutes automatically, and sound comes through the headphones instead, complete with volume control on the 'phones.

In addition, every Roku device offers private listening via the free Roku app on your phone -- just fire up the app and attach headphones to your phone. Roku is in the process of rolling out its OS 10.5 system upgrade which attempts to fix the audio lags that can occur when listening through Bluetooth headphones. Roku claims that up to four people can listen privately at the same time with audio that is automatically adjusted to work with each individual's headphones. 

Fire TV's only option for private listening is to pair Bluetooth headphones, but it's not nearly as effective. Amazon lacks a way to handle the audio lag (lip sync error) and you'll need to have a volume control built into the headphones.


Best for TV and device control: Fire TV (especially Fire TV Cube)

Both Roku and Fire TV offer devices with buttons on the remote designed to control your TV. It's a great feature because it allows you to ditch your TV's own remote and use the streamer's clicker for everything. In both cases setup is dead-simple -- the streamer automatically recognizes your TV and programs the remote wirelessly, without you having to do anything besides confirming it works -- but Fire TV is cheaper and more capable.

The cheapest Roku streamers that come with TV control remotes are the $40 Express 4K Plus and the new $50 Roku Streaming Stick 4K. The Fire TV Stick has a TV control remote for $40. These remotes have buttons for TV power and TV volume up/down and mute. 

Roku's remotes can only control televisions, but with Fire TV you can also control sound bars and even AV receivers. Yes, if your TV supports HDMI CEC and you have an HDMI soundbar, the Roku's volume and power buttons can probably control it, but Fire TV's remote can control pretty much any bar.


And Roku doesn't have anything like the $120 Fire TV Cube. A little box designed to sit near your TV, it combines all the capabilities of the Fire TV Stick 4K and all the capabilities of an Echo Dot, plus the unique ability to control a full-on entertainment system via voice. Using it can sometimes feel like magic, but it's not for everyone. Check out the video below if you're curious.

Now playing:Watch this: Amazon's Fire TV Cube gives you and Alexa hands-free...


By this point, you hopefully have enough info to decide for yourself which of the two most popular streamers works best for you. For our full reviews of Roku and Fire TV devices, as well as their competitors like Google's Chromecast with Google TV, the Apple TV 4K and the Nvidia Shield, check out our list of best streaming devices. 

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Best Roku channels 2021

The best Roku channels make it easy so stream blockbuster movies and popular TV shows. Even better, many of them are free! Not only that, Roku is constantly adding more new channels. And the platform is making it easier to access live TV channels; users can now pin the guide to their home screen.

With one of the best Roku devices, you can check out a ton of Roku channels, both free and paid (some of the latter will offer a free trial for new members). These include power players like Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock and HBO Max. 

But the list of best Roku channels doesn't stop with the big-name streaming services. Try PBS Kids for children's programming, CuriosityStream for science content or Twitch for free streaming of video gamers playing games. There's even a Peloton channel on Roku. 

A new Roku Live TV Guide is a great way to "channel surf." The grid-like feature allows users to browse free TV channels that are linear and live (linear means pre-programmed). The new Roku Live TV Guide is similar to the lineup you'd seen on a cable guide, with a list of channels down the side and the time slots across the top. It's an easy way to check out all the free live programming that Roku has to offer in addition to on-demand content.

The best Roku channels to add right now

Peacock (free and subscription)

Peacock is finally taking flight on Roku. NBCUniversal streaming platform launched in July on most major devices, excluding Roku. The companies have come to an agreement, though, and now Peacock is available as a Roku channel. Peacock comes in two tiers, Free (ad supported) and Premium. Both offer thousands of hours of movies and television shows drawn from NBCUniversal's iconic brands. Watch 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Battlestar Galactica and more with Peacock Free. If you want Peacock originals, you'll have to sign up for Premium ($4.99 with ads, $9.99 without).

Amazon Video (subscription and a la carte)

Whether or not you subscribe to Amazon Prime, the Amazon Video channel is a worthwhile addition to your Roku. Those who dish out the $99-per-year membership fee for Prime can stream a large selection of movies and TV shows. Amazon Video also offers a la carte purchases and rentals, as well as a growing number of original programs, including the acclaimed Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. For those who don't want a full Amazon Prime subscription, you can subscribe to Amazon Video only for $9 per month. Tom's Guide has also compiled an updated list of what to watch on Amazon Video, in case you're looking for recommendations.


Crackle (free)

Crackle is one of the best Roku channels for watching free big-budget movies, provided you don't mind sitting through a few commercials. If you cut the cord on your cable subscription but still miss zoning out in front of cheesy action comedies, this app is for you. The selection at Crackle rotates frequently, but there are usually some memorable films, like Gattaca.

  • Check out the best Roku VPN to access more content

Netflix (subscription)

Netflix pioneered the art of the marathon TV watching session, which earns it an easy inclusion in our list of best Roku channels. Whether you want to watch newer hits like Black Mirror, or classics like The A-Team, Netflix has something to suit your tastes. Netflix also boasts some of the best-made and well-received original programming, from Marvel tie-ins Daredevil and Jessica Jones, to revivals of popular nostalgic shows like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life and Fuller House. Check out our guide to the best Netflix shows for a comprehensive view on the best of big red.


Disney Plus (subscription)

Disney Plus brings Disney's massive library of content to the streaming scene. You've got animated princess movies, original Star Wars series, a good chunk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a whole lot of weird mid-budget live-action movies that you half-remember from your childhood. The service costs only $7 per month, which makes it a fair bit cheaper than other streaming services, too. Of course, if you prefer not to give Disney any more of your money or attention, that's fair, too; it's become a bit hegemonic in recent years.


YouTube (free and a la carte)

YouTube is not a TV or movie channel in the strictest sense, but in terms of the raw amount of video it offers, this service is unsurpassed. You'll find a little bit of everything: original web shows, small clips from popular movies and TV shows, music videos, narrated playthroughs of popular video games and just about everything else, from paid movie rentals to much racier fare.

HBO Go/Now (subscription)

While there's no (legal) way around dishing out a lot of money for HBO programming, HBO Go and HBO Now help make the investment worthwhile. These channels let you watch both past and current seasons of popular HBO shows, such as Game of Thrones, in addition to comedy specials and hit movies. While HBO Go requires an existing cable subscription, HBO Now is stand-alone streaming channel. If you're wondering why HBO Max isn't on Roku, it's because the companies are still working out a deal to include the new app.


Hulu (subscription)

Hulu is one of the best Roku channels thanks to deals with major networks, including Fox, NBC, The CW and ABC, and it uploads new episodes shortly after they air. The service has past seasons of popular shows on tap, and even hosts the entire runs of nostalgic series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Daria. A handful of decent Hulu originals, like Difficult People and Casual, sweeten the deal. Check out our guide to the best Hulu movies, shows and more.


FandangoNOW (a la carte)

At first blush, FandangoNOW is extremely similar to Amazon Video. Roku's default movie and TV show streaming service is exactly what it claims to be: a way to buy and rent movies that's pre-installed on every Roku device. While the selection isn't drastically different from competing services, there's no reason not to try it, especially since it now provides a small selection of 4K films.

Apple TV

Apple TV Plus brings a bevy of original content for $5 per month — even if it's not all that good. Viewers will be able to tune into shows like Dickinson, See and The Morning Show, starring actors such as Hailee Steinfeld, Jason Momoa and Jennifer Aniston, respectively. And if the shows aren't to your taste (they very well may not be), the Apple TV app also lets you access TV shows and movies they've purchased through iTunes.


Showtime (subscription)

Showtime has produced some of the most unusual and beloved shows on TV, including Shameless, Homeland, Billions and The Affair. If you get the channel as part of your cable or satellite package, Showtime Anytime allows you to watch the channel's TV shows, comedy specials, sports events and movies. Alternatively, you can subscribe to Showtime as a stand-alone service, with access to all of the same content.


Peloton fanatics don't need an actual Peloton bike to access the popular instructor-led classes; they can just download the app to their mobile device. Now, they can also fire up the Peloton Roku channel and select one of the cycling workouts to stream on a big-screen TV. There are also floor-based workouts available, including strength, yoga, HIIT, dance, and meditation. 

If you already have a Peloton account, you can sign into the channel with your credentials. New users can take advantage of a 30-day free trial; after that, the app-only membership is $12.99 per month. (You can sign up on your TV with Roku Pay.)

Sky News (free)

Sky News provides live broadcasts for the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. Although the organization originated in the U.K., it shares news that the whole English-speaking world can use, and it doesn't cost a dime. In addition to live reports, Sky News also offers cached feeds, allowing users to watch news highlights when it best suits their schedules. The channel provides live, 24/7 coverage.

CBS All Access (subscription)

CBS All Access gives users access to CBS programming in real time, as well as an on-demand library of more than 2,000 titles, from NCIS to Supergirl to The Twilight Zone. The main draw of the service, however, is Star Trek: Discovery, which is the first new serial adventure in the series since 2005. It's an excellent show, and at present, there's no other way to watch it in the United States. Thanks to the new Twilight Zone reboot also available on the service, CBS All Access merits a mention as one of the best Roku channels.

Sling TV (subscription)

Sling TV provides more than 20 beloved broadcast and cable channels, including ESPN, Cartoon Network, TBS and CNN. For those who want additional packages, from Spanish-language channels to additional kids' programming, Sling TV offers supplements a la carte. Sling TV is cheaper than a cable subscription and easy to access on a variety of devices, letting you watch your favorite shows in real time.


MLB.TV (subscription)

With games almost every night and 30 teams to follow, baseball is not a sport for the noncommittal. If you want to watch recorded home games, live away games, live broadcasts, replays and more stats than you can shake a bat at, MLB.TV delivers. MLB.TV is Major League Baseball's official streaming app, and will allow you to watch almost every regular season game from every team.

NBA (subscription)

NBA Game Time for the NBA app streams live basketball games for subscribers, but also has a little something for more casual courtside warriors. Through this app, fans can access live scores, team and player stats, game recaps, video highlights and up-to-the-minute information on league standings. However, be warned that the app generally can't stream local games, due to media company broadcasting restrictions.

WatchESPN (subscription)

If you can't pick just one sport to follow, WatchESPN has you covered. Although WatchESPN requires a cable or satellite subscription, you'll get plenty of bang for your buck. The channel allows you to access ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, ESPNU, ESPNews and ESPN Deportes live, 24/7. You'll also be able to stream recorded games from professional football, baseball, basketball, tennis and more.

NFL (subscription)

If you have both a Roku device and an obsession with American football, the NFL app is one of the best Roku channels for you. By default, the channel can play a number of free game highlights. With a Game Pass subscription and the NFL app, sports fans can watch every game from every team, all season long, right on their Rokus, from the opening skirmishes right up to the Super Bowl.

Pandora (free or subscription)

You've almost certainly used Pandora before. Whether you want background music for your household tasks or the soundtrack for a party, Pandora delivers. The concept is simple: enter a bunch of artists or songs that you like, then Pandora will analyze their commonalities and create a radio channel that suits your taste. You can even create multiple stations to suit various moods, tastes and events.

Spotify (subscription)

Spotify is fun way to listen to songs or entire albums from almost every major musical act of the last 100 years, from Mississippi John Hurt to the Rolling Stones to Katy Perry. Whether your tastes skew to classical, blues, rock, pop, punk, techno or show tunes, Spotify probably has what you're looking for. You can even supplement it with music from your own collection.


Disney Channel (subscription)

Roku's Disney Channel won't do you much good unless you already have a cable or satellite subscription, but if you do, it's one of the best Roku channels for kids. Disney Channel offers both live programming and prerecorded shows, ranging from Elena of Avalor to Girl Meets World. The channel also provides original made-for-TV movies, such as Descendants. There's not much for adults, though.

PBS Kids (free)

PBS has always prided itself on supplying quality programming without advertisements or cable subscriptions, and PBS Kids is no exception. The shows on the PBS Kids Roku app definitely skew toward a younger audience, with titles like Curious George and Sesame Street. Parents may be pleased to discover that classic shows they grew up with, such as Arthur and The Electric Company, are also present and accounted for.

PlayOn (subscription)

PlayOn uses your computer as a media server, and lets your Roku access more than 60 channels through it, including broadcast TV websites, such as ABC, Fox and CBS. This allows you to watch free primetime shows on your TV just a few days after they first air. PlayOn also lets you record videos online for later. Follow the link to install; it's a private channel.

Plex (subscription)

If you'd rather watch your own content than the highly curated fare on the other best Roku channels, Plex is one of the simplest and prettiest ways to do it. Plex will organize all of your content and stream it to your Roku, complete with seasons, cover art, episode descriptions and even a snippet of the theme song for TV shows. The app makes watching your own content just as visually appealing as watching Netflix.

Twitch (free)

If you prefer watching video games to playing them, Twitch is the channel for you. The popular network is the Internet’s first stop for live streams of video games, and you’ll see everything from Overwatch to Dark Souls to Pokémon. Whether you want Let's Plays, tips and tricks or competitive play, Twitch has a streamer to appeal to both your skill level and your taste in personality.

Starz (subscription)

While perhaps not as popular as HBO or Showtime, Starz still has a lot to offer. Whether you subscribe to it as a stand-alone service or activate it through your cable or subscription, you can access hit shows like Blunt Talk and Ash vs. Evil Dead. The biggest advantage of Starz, though, is that it's often the first service to get hit movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

CuriosityStream (subscription)

Imagine the informative, scientific entertainment of the Discovery Channel or National Geographic in their heydays; now imagine it in 4K. That's what CuriosityStream is, and it's absolutely worth the subscription cost. Whether you want to learn about nature, chemistry, geology or astrophysics, CuriosityStream has something to expand your mind. Deep Time History, which combines astronomy with world history, is particularly worth checking out.

The Weather Network (free)

While you're probably not going to get immersed in The Weather Network and watch it for hours on end, it's still pretty useful to know exactly what the weather is in your neighborhood, and how it's going to change over the course of the next few hours or days. The Weather Network is a free channel that shows you local weather, as well as conditions all around the world. You can check in with numerical information displayed up top, or watch full videos from meteorologists.

Vudu (a la carte)

Vudu may seem like just another a-la-carte service, selling you movies and TV shows that you can either rent or keep at premium prices. However, Vudu has a few major advantages that makes it one of the best channels on Roku. First of all, if you've bought any Blu-rays within the past few years, you may have redeemed your digital copies on Vudu, giving you a pretty respectable library to start with. Furthermore, the service offers 4K HDR content — something that not many other video streaming services do just yet.

The Roku Channel (free)

No discussion of the best Roku channels would be complete without the titular one. The Roku Channel may not have the largest selection of movies and TV shows — but said movies and TV shows won't cost you a penny, which seems like a fair trade-off. This channel offers a rotating selection of media, including popular films like Legally Blonde and Drunken Master, supported by periodic ads, as though you were watching a movie on basic cable. Roku has also added a Kids and Family section to the channel, providing friendlier fare for a younger crowd.

Google Play TV and Movies (a la carte)

If you have an Android phone or tablet, there's a good chance that you've bought some media on Google Play TV and Movies. (Even if you haven't, Google may have given you a few titles for free; it's worth checking out.) Google Play TV and Movies lets you buy or rent a la carte films and TV episodes, and in that respect, it's a lot like Amazon, Vudu and some other entries on this list. However, Google Play's big advantage is that it syncs extremely well with the Movies Anywhere program. This lets you access titles you've purchased from a variety of sources, including iTunes — which, of course, does not have a Roku app, and probably never will. You can also access titles you purchase here on any Android device, which is helpful if you want to take your content with you.

DC Universe (subscription)

DC Universe is worth checking out, if only because it offers something unique. At first blush, DC's streaming service is simply a way to showcase a few original video titles, such as Titans and Harley Quinn. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that it's also a grand repository of beloved DC movies and TV shows, from Christopher Reeve's Superman to Batman: The Animated Series. What really sets DC Universe apart, though, is that it doesn't restrict itself to video; it also offers comic books. From nostalgic single issues of Wonder Woman to postmodern deconstructions like The Dark Knight Returns, DC Universe offers fans a way to see what inspired its new shows firsthand.

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