Top 10 Free Channels on Roku

Get the most of your Roku with this list of the top 10 free channels

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Craig Hanks
Dec 10, 2020
Icon Time To Read8 min read

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Hey everybody, welcome back. Today we're taking a look at the Top 10 Free Roku Channels. Now, this is not a video where I'm going to go after hidden gems or stuff you've never heard of.

I will be talking about the best channels you can find for free on Roku. So, if you are a brand-new cord-cutter, this video is going to be a treasure trove of great information. If you are an experienced cord-cutter, if you've used Roku for a while, hopefully, there's something on this list that will jump out to you as a little bit of a surprise. With that said, let's dive in.

Like I said, hopefully, there's something here that's helpful to you.

Now, let's go ahead and dive in. I have my Roku pulled up here. I'm skipping past the things like Netflix and Disney Plus because those aren't free, right? So let's move to our first entry in our list of the top 10 free channels on Roku.

The Best Free Channels Available on Roku

  1. Roku Channel
  2. Tubi
  3. Crackle
  4. Filmrise
  5. Pluto TV
  6. XUMO
  7. Newsy Channel
  8. PBS and PBS Kids
  9. Youtube Channel
  10. Spotify Channel
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1. Roku Channel

This is the Roku Channel. It's going to be an obvious top 10 Roku channel choice because, if you're a Roku user, it's right there for you.

So, the Roku Channel and a lot of the ones that are going to come right after this are basically aggregators of content that is free and usually commercial-supported. In the Roku Channel you're going to get a lot of that. You can watch some good TV and movies that they've pulled together, commercial-supported.

The thing about the Roku Channel is that what they're trying to do here is actually not necessarily free. A lot of the stuff you'll get here is free, but then you can also pull in premium subscriptions from HBO, MGM+, Stars, etc., so that you can watch all of that stuff here in one place. They've got good organization for their content here, and you can take a look around yourself.

I think that the Roku Channel, of all of the free TV and movie channels that I'm going to show you here today, if it's not the best, it's right there at the top.

2. Tubi

So moving on to Tubi now. Tubi is my number two pick for the top 10 free channels on Roku. Again, Tubi offers free movies and TV. Are you seeing a theme here? Free movies and TV. Tubi is set up a bit like Netflix. You're going to have categories, it's in a tile format, and when you log in, you'll see all of that stuff in one place for you to peruse, and it's ... Yeah, again, a lot like Netflix.

You've got Recommended, Most popular, etc. You do have a category, Not on Netflix, which I appreciate, and when you click on these it opens it up. The only difference here is that it is commercial-supported, unlike Netflix. You know, you pay for Netflix so don't have to watch the commercials. With Tubi you do.

So, again, not much to talk about here other than their method of categorization, which I'll come back to again and again. Not talking a ton about the content that you do get on here because it's constantly shifting and everybody has different preferences so what might jump out to me might not jump out to you.

3. Crackle

Similarly, Sony has a service called Crackle, which you can log into, or if you don’t want to you don't have to log in, you can skip. If you log in then you can save preferences and profile stuff, but here they have a little bit different layout so that you can sort to the category that you want a little bit faster, a little more easily.

There are things that you'll have to log in for, like this Watch Later Tab. You log in and then it's going to save that profile. So if you want to save stuff to watch later, unfortunately, it doesn't save it to the device you have to log in so that they can save it to a profile.

So, again, you don't have to log in, but you can. Yeah, there's plenty of stuff for you to watch either way. You'll notice a lot of these things are shared between the services. You'll see Bewitched quite a bit, you'll see Third Rock From The Sun on several services because they all kind of get those really cheap or free licenses to get you that content.

4. Filmrise

Next up is Filmrise. Okay. So there are a lot of different Filmrise apps and you might be thinking to yourself, "Well, they're all the same." Right? They do have a lot of crossover content so if you were to get the Filmrise Free Movies and TV app, or the Filmrise Free TV app, there's going to be a lot of crossover.

The Filmrise Free TV version does have movies. I don't know why exactly these two are separated out, but once you come in here, again, it's going to be a little bit similar to something like Tubi, where you can look through it, just like Netflix.

You know, again, you're going to have to watch commercials unlike Netflix, but there’s a lot of good stuff on here. The one thing that I will mention is I like the way that they have organized TV, movies, and recently added. This is a nice feature on Filmrise because the content on these services, like I said, is constantly shifting and you lose titles, you gain titles.

So if you are jumping in, and you find yourself scrolling and seeing the same things over and over again, you go to the Recently Added Content and you can look by letter because they've conveniently got it sorted alphabetically. This way you can see the stuff that is more recently added so that you're not looking at the same thing that you saw six months ago, or whenever the last time that you logged in was.

5. Pluto TV

Okay, let's move on to something a little bit different. Pluto TV is another free option. Pluto TV, unlike the other ones where they are trying to emulate something like Netflix or Hulu or something like that. Pluto TV is actually a cable or satellite subscription, where you log in, you've got a live channel here, and you can scroll through all sorts of live channels. So it's not going to be the channels that you're used to, but it'll be some offshoots from those. There will be some niche channels that really want to get in on something like this.

Pluto is getting more and more popular and for good reason. There's a lot of great stuff on here for you to go through and you can go through categories as well. So if you want to watch news or movies or what have you, you can go ahead and sort that so that you can find the stuff you actually want to watch.

Here's a great example. So you're not necessarily going to get Comedy Central, but you can get the Comedy Central version that they put on Pluto TV for free, right? So it may not have their absolute best programming, but it's going to have some pretty good stuff on there. Comedy Central standup, right? All stand up, all the time. Pretty sweet.


Similarly, we have XUMO, X-U-M-O if you're trying to search for that on your device. So XUMO is going to be very similar to Pluto TV. You can get in here, you can check. They're actually going to have a section, unlike Pluto TV, where you can go in and check out some free movies that will, again, get you back into that kind of Netflix mode a little bit. You have On Demand and live stuff all in one place and all for free, again.

7. Newsy Channel

If you're cutting the cord and you don't have your cable news channels anymore, you can still stay up to date. There are a bunch of news channels out there on Roku and other streaming devices, but I narrowed it down to my favorite, which is Newsy.

The other ones are good too, but if I'm choosing my favorite news app that I turn to most often, it's going to be Newsy. It's not because they have better stories necessarily, but I do like that it feels more like a classic or an old school network TV news hit where they've got three to five-minute segments, just kind of giving you the facts of the day.

Newsy Channel does have a live stream, if I go down here, they do have Newsy Now, which is live TV. That is not free, they want you to pay two bucks a month for that, but all the rest of it is free and they even have some good short little documentary series.

Earlier today I was watching Why Video Games Are Looking More Like Movies, and it was a really fascinating little four- or five-minute segment on that subject. I really enjoyed it. So Newsy is a fantastic choice if you want that kind of content or if you just want to stay in the loop with a free channel on Roku.

8. PBS and PBS Kids

Let's go to a two-fer here, PBS and PBS Kids. Now this one you go online, you set up your account at You set up your account and then you activate your app on the Roku between those two.

Once you're in, you can access either PBS for yourself or PBS Kids for your kids. And they have all the PBS content that you could ever possibly want to watch. It's all right here and it's all going to be based on your area. Because PBS stations are a local affair so you have to sign in so that they can get you the local stuff that you are looking for.

9. YouTube Channel

Now maybe we file this one under super obvious and a little bit self-referential, but YouTube is a fantastic free channel on these streaming devices, including on the Roku. I highly recommend that you get it, use it, and love it.

YouTube obviously has millions, maybe billions of hours of great content out there now. Now it's not as easy to search on your TV as it is to search for content on your PC or on your phone, just because it's a pain to type things out, but they do still have their great recommendations.

I definitely love coming in here. If I need 10 or 20 minutes to kill and I want to watch something that YouTube is going to suggest for me, I'm going to find a lot of stuff in the app itself.

10. Spotify Channel

And that brings me to my last one. Again, maybe file this one is obvious, but maybe it's not obvious to everybody. Get Spotify. If you use Spotify, and most of us do, then you can get Spotify on your Roku.

It's nice if maybe you're doing chores around the house, maybe you're working in the kitchen and you've got the TV there and you don't really want to watch it, you just want to listen to something. Spotify on your Roku is a fantastic free channel choice.

So once you're into Spotify you can find your playlist, you can search for something, or you can have Spotify find playlists for you. And yeah, there's not really much to it. The only thing I would say here is that if you have a terrible TV, then it might not be as much fun to listen to it. I would definitely recommend if you are going to be listening to quite a bit of music with your Roku then go get a nice soundbar or I've got the Roku speakers hooked up to my TV, and those are fantastic. I really highly recommend them. Again, if you watch a lot of movies and you care about sound or if you're going to be listening to music, then yeah, invest in a good pair of speakers.

Recap: Top 10 free channels on Roku

All right, so there you have the top 10 free channels on Roku plus a bonus channel. Now there are some missing from here. Unfortunately, apps do get pulled sometimes. I wish I could have highlighted Twitch, but they don't have an app on Roku anymore. Reuters TV might've been my choice a year ago for the news option in the top 10, but that's gone, but this is what we do have.

Craig Hanks
Written by
Craig Hanks
Craig is a long-time writer, presenter, and podcaster, and he now runs the YouTube channel, where he strives to be far more charming and presentable than he is in real life. Within the umbrella, he has accidentally become a streaming expert after covering the streaming wars for almost three years. Craig is also the founder and host of The Legendarium Podcast, his outlet for his love of fantasy and sci-fi literature.

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