Roku produces some of the most popular media players for streaming your apps. Nearly every video and music streaming service you can imagine is available in the Roku Channel Store. These include music platforms like Spotify, on-demand subscription services such as Starz, and TV replacement apps a la Philo. But these are just a few. We sifted through Roku’s impressive list of channels and highlighted the top Roku channels. Read on for more information.
Check out our list of Best Roku Devices in 2020 here.
The Top 7 Roku channels
No matter what you’re looking for, chances are Roku has a channel for you. There are subscription services for movies and shows, music, news, sports, and even exercise. Plus, if you want to cut the cord, there are plenty of cable-alternative plans. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Best overall streaming service: Netflix
At a glance:
- Award-winning original content.
- Download episodes and movies for offline use.
Netflix comes in at the top of our list for its immense popularity. It was reported in 2019 that Netflix reached over 150 million subscribers, making it by far the largest video streaming service in the world. Netflix offers three plans to choose from.
Netflix Basic is the streaming giant’s leanest plan at $8.99/mo. There are a few disadvantages, however. For instance,you’ll only be able to stream in standard definition (SD). And you can’t watch on more than 1 device, so you won’t be able to stream simultaneously.
Netflix Standard costs $12.99/mo. and has a few key upgrades. It’s capable of streaming in high-definition (HD) but not in 4K Ultra HD. And, you can stream on 2 screens simultaneously. That way, you can share with a friend.
Netflix Premium is priced at $15.99/mo. It features 4K Ultra HD streaming quality, letting you enjoy Netflix’s wide range of 4K titles. This plan also serves larger households well as you can stream on up to 4 screens concurrently.
2. The best for British TV: Acorn TV
At a glance:
- Popular British TV from networks like BBC and ITV.
- Exclusive Acorn Original series.
Acorn TV is a niche streaming service that provides the best of British TV. There are hundreds of shows and movies within its library, along with Acorn Original series. You’ll get access to shows like Loch Ness, Agatha Raisin, Belthazar, Midsomer Murders, Doc Martin, and hundreds more.
Don’t worry about commercials as Acorn TV is an ad-free service. And with the capability to stream on up 4 devices at the same time, other members of your household can enjoy content on their own screens. Unfortunately, Acorn TV doesn’t let you download content to watch offline.
Would you like to test drive Acorn TV? Try Acorn TV for a week for free when you subscribe.
3. The definitive app for black culture: BET+
At a glance:
- Most comprehensive library of black shows and movies.
BET+ is an extension of the BET cable channel. Its catalog is full of classic shows, movies, documentaries, standup specials, and original series. On top of that, BET+ has partnered with Tyler Perry’s production company to bring you some of his plays and other work. Some of what you’ll receive with BET+ include Bigger, First Wives Club, Tyler Perry’s The Oval, and Martin.
Since BET+ is ad-free, you can watch your favorite shows without interruption. Just make sure you have a healthy internet connection as you won’t be able to download content for offline use.
Like most other streaming apps, BET+ has a trial period of seven days.
4. Favorite for families: Disney Plus
At a glance:
- Home of Disney classics, Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century Fox movies and shows.
- 4 simultaneous streams.
Disney+ takes the best of Disney-owned content and offers it to you for $6.99/mo. The Disney+ plan is one-size-fits-all, meaning you won’t need to pay extra for more features. And there are some impressive features. For instance, Disney+ is ad-free and lets you watch on up to 4 screens simultaneously. There’s also the ability to download content for offline viewing (which is particularly useful for any parent with a grumpy toddler).
5. Best for personalization: Sling TV
At a glance:
- Affordable cable alternative service.
- Customize with add-on channels and features.
Sling TV offers three plans that can be customized with channel add-ons and feature upgrades. Sling TV’s plans are Sling Orange ($30/mo.), Sling Blue ($30/mo.), and Sling Orange + Blue ($45/mo.) Each plan comes with 10 hours of Cloud DVR storage.
Sling Orange offers the fewest number of channels with just over 30. This is partially due to the pricey Disney-owned channels available with its plan, like Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3. You won’t be able to stream on multiple devices simultaneously.
Sling Blue has over 50 channels with more news and sports networks like FOX News, MSNBC, FS1, NBC Sports Network, and a few more. Select areas can watch regional sports networks (RSNs) from FOX and NBC. So, be sure to check to see if you live in a designated location. You’ll also be able to share on 3 screens.
Sling Orange + Blue combines everything from Sling Orange and Sling Blue. This means that you’ll get all the channels featured on both plans. Sling Orange + Blue also combines the number of simultaneous screens, so you’ll get 4 altogether. (It comes with 10 hours of DVR storage, but you can upgrade to 50 hours for an extra $5/mo.)
If you want to give Sling TV a try, subscribe via the Roku Channel Store, and you’ll get seven days free.
6. Best for free TV: Pluto TV
At a glance:
- 250+ channels and thousands of on-demand movies.
- Plenty of ViacomCBS themed channels like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
Pluto TV is a free cable-alternative streaming service owned by ViacomCBS. It’s also one of the many Roku free channels. You’ll never have to pay a dime to watch, but you’ll need to sit through your fair share of commercial breaks. To enjoy limited features, create an account. One major perk with an account is the ability to jump back into on-demand content, picking up where you left off. And if you don’t want to create an account, that’s fine, too.
There’s a treasure trove of miscellaneous channels and shows on Pluto TV. It contains news networks like CBSN, CNN, NBC News, RT America, and Sky News. Many of the entertainment channels are dedicated to reruns. These channels include American Gladiators, Baywatch, Stories AMC, TV Land Drama, Crime Network, BET Her, MTV Pluto, and what seems like countless others. These channels seem to mostly be a smorgasbord of classic shows on repeat.
If you’re new to streaming services, Pluto TV is a great, no-pressure way of getting your toes wet. To start watching Pluto TV, simply download the app or visit Pluto TV’s website to start watching immediately.
7. Best for animation: Funimation
At a glance:
- Has more English dubs than any other anime streaming service.
- Offline downloads.
When it comes to streaming anime content, Funimation is one of the best services out there. Funimation has way more English dubs than any other service (including Crunchyroll). That said, Crunchyroll’s library is larger. So, if you don’t mind subtitles, then Crunchyroll may suit you better. Funimation offers three plans to choose from, plus a free subscription tier.
With Funimation’s free tier, you’ll gain access to ad-supported content. Your access will be limited to select titles, but at least you can enjoy it all in 1080p resolution.
Funimation Premium costs $5.99/mo. and opens up Funimation’s entire catalog of dubs and subs. You can also share with a friend since you’ll have 2 simultaneous streams.
Funimation Premium Plus is priced at $7.99/mo. and gives you everything Premium offers, but increases the number of simultaneous screens to 5. You’ll also be able to download content for offline use.
Funimation Premium Plus Ultra is Funimation’s best plan at $99/yr. Not only will you get all the features of Premium Plus, but you’ll also receive an anniversary gift — two free rentals per year, and free shipping.
Are you interested in trying out Funimation? When you sign up for any of the premium plans, you’ll get your first two weeks free.
The final cut
Over 32 million people in the US rely on a Roku streaming device, and there’s a good reason why. Roku offers several devices to fit your personal needs, all that support the devices top channels. For example, Roku Streaming Stick+ works as an inconspicuous set-top-box that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port like a flash drive. Or, if you have an older TV, the Roku Express Plus comes with composite and HDMI cables. And if you want the best, Roku Ultra is a wireless model and Roku’s most premium device.