Will I have to pay for channels?

Some channels must be purchased or require a paid subscription, but many others allow you to watch movies and TV shows for free. One such example is The Roku Channel which features hit movies and TV at no cost to you, and will be available in the coming weeks on all current generation Roku streaming devices.

To find out more about the types of content available on these channels, learn what you can watch on your Roku® streaming player or Roku TV.

What are the different types of channels?

Every channel on the Roku Channel Store offers something unique. You can choose from four channel types – free channels, subscription channels, authenticated channels and rent-or-buy channels.

Free channels

Free channels offer a variety of free content from movies and TV shows to news and music. Popular free channels include The Roku Channel, YouTube, Crackle, Popcornflix, ABC, Smithsonian, CBS News, and Pluto TV. Free channels generally do have ads; however, there are also free channels that have no ads such as PBS.

After you get your Roku streaming device set up, learn how to find free movies and TV shows.

Subscription channels

Subscription channels charge you a monthly fee to stream an unlimited number of shows without needing a cable or satellite subscription. Many channels offer a variety of subscription options, including plans without commercials. Some popular subscription channels include Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.

  • Note: Some subscription channels offer a free trial (e.g., a 7-day free trial). However, when a free trial ends, that channel is converted into a regular subscription and you are billed on a recurring basis. To avoid this, cancel your subscription before the trial period expires.

Authenticated channels

Authenticated channels are also known as TV Everywhere channels. TV Everywhere channels offer subscribers access to additional content on their Roku device as part of their cable or satellite subscription; with no additional fees. For example, if you subscribe to ESPN, then you can access additional ESPN content by downloading the WatchESPN channel. Other popular TV Everywhere channels include ABC, NBC, FOX NOW, Watch HGTV, USA NOW, and HBO GO.

TV Everywhere channels are published by the network (e.g. ESPN, HBO, Showtime, etc.) and not the cable/satellite company (e.g. Comcast, Time Warner, etc.). However, some cable/satellite companies are creating Roku streaming channels that allow you to access all or most of the channels you get through your cable subscription without having a separate cable box (e.g. Spectrum TV, Comcast Xfinity, DIRECTV NOW).

After you get your Roku streaming device set up, learn how to find authenticated channels.

Rent-or-buy channels

Rent-or-buy channels allow you to rent individual movies or TV episodes without the need for a monthly subscription. Pay a one-time rental fee for a limited viewing window, or choose to buy and watch the title as many times as you like. Top rent-or-buy channels include Amazon Video, Fandango Now, Google Play, and VUDU.

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