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 incredible, 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.
Most of the channels listed here are free to install, though some then require a monthly subscription. Some channels (mostly games) require payment upfront.
Do note that some of the free Roku streaming channels you might read about in US-based sites (like The Roku Channel which has ad-supported TV programmes and films), aren’t available in the UK, so we don’t cover them here.
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.
Table of Contents
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).
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 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 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 TV
Sky’s answer to Netflix and Prime Video, NOW TV is a subscription service that offers separate paid plans for TV programmes, Sky Cinema, Kids and Sports.
There are ways to get some of it for free, or for cheaper prices than usual – check our NOW TV guide here.
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.
5. 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+ offers a 7-days free trial, or you can get a full free year if you buy an iOS device.
6. 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.
(But if you’re looking for BritBox – they don’t have a Roku channel yet).
7. 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.
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)
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. UKTV Play
A collection of channels owned by the BBC – Dave, Yesterday, Really and Drama – where you’ll get on-demand boxsets of entertainment, comedy and reality shows like Taskmaster, Ghost Adventures and classic episodes of Eastenders.
11. Google Play Movies And TV
While Google doesn’t have a subscription service like Netflix, they do offer a comprehensive on-demand content store, where you can buy or rent movies and TV shows.
They often have deals and discounts, and video quality ranges from SD up to 4K.
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”, you’ll need to pay to unlock its full capabilities.
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:
13. 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.
Besides the major broadcasters who have their own apps, there are a lot more Freeview channels out there – and if you don’t want to use an aerial and a Freeview box – TVPlayer comes to the rescue… sort of.
While there’s no “official” Roku Freeview app (there’s a very limited one for smartphones), TVPlayer lets you stream some of the Freeview channels for free. And a longer list of live Freeview channels, and some on-demand programming, is behind a paywall with TVPlayer Plus.
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.
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.
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).
18. 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…
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.
20. 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
You can get the first month for free, but after that, there’s a monthly subscription fee.
25. 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.
26. 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.
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.
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.
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.
29. 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.
30. Firefox Video Cast
Unfortunately, there are now web browsers on Roku (as Roku doesn’t allow it) – however, with this video casting channel, you can use Firefox on your Android phone to cast videos from websites to your TV.
It’s not as smooth as casting to a Chromecast device, and it doesn’t always work (it depends on the video format you’re trying to cast) – but it’s something.
31. NASA TV
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. There’s a regular version and a separate, UltraHD (4K) version of the channel.
32. 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.
I used to play this tower defence game a lot on my smartphone – and while, again, it’s not that easy controlling it with a remote – it can still keep you entertained, as you use an arsenal of weapon-towers to stop the enemy from reaching your base. Note that this is not a free game.
34. 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.
The game is free – but it has adverts.
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.
36. 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.
37. 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.